The Problems with So Called “Consensus” on Vaccine Safety


Posted on April 16, 2016 by pragmaticalskeptic

Within the scientific debate on vaccine safety one of the main claims of those purporting vaccines to be completely safe is “Scientific consensus has reached this conclusion, therefore it is correct and should not be questioned,” but is that all there is to it? First, to answer this, we must analyze this so called maxim to see if it holds up to scrutiny.

When they claim that it is safe, who are they talking about it being safe for? Everyone? Or the majority? And from there we must ask, is it actually safe for everyone or has this been proven false with occurrences which clearly show it is not safe for certain people? The answer to this is no, it is not safe for everyone, and it has even been shown that less than 10% of vaccine injuries are picked up by VAERS.1 How can there be “consensus” on a subject for which there is not an adequate amount of reporting? How can they reach the conclusion that it is even safe for the majority when that very claim is based on an insufficient amount of evidence within itself? These are all questions you must ask, and as I will show, there is much more to the vaccine debate than what meets the eye.

Now, let us look at some of the fallacies being used when one claims their contention is right because a majority of scientists supporting their claim happen to say so:

Appeal to Scientific Democracy – the contention that if the majority of scientists believe something to be true, regardless of epistemological merit, then it must be assumed as true.

Appeal to Scientists Fallacy – an argument that is misrepresented to be the premise held true on the part of the prevailing group of scientists; or concludes a hypothesis (typically a belief) to be either true or false based on whether the premise leads to a more successful career in science.

There are also many other fallacies that will be used next to the ones above, usually in a similar manner:

Appeal to Skeptic – citing a skeptic as an authority, recitation or expert witness on a subject or observation, when a skeptic in reality provides no particular relevant expertise. In recitation rules, not qualifying as an authority. Under the Rules of Federal Evidence, skeptic testimony is the lowest ranked of any kind, being ranked under eyewitness testimony, not possessing any particular expertise other than a specious claim to know the scientific method, or lacking in the court’s Duty of Candor.

Appeal to Skepticism Position – the argument assumption or implication that an opinion possesses authoritative veracity or a proponent possesses intellectual high ground simply through allegiance to a consensus skeptical position on a topic.

Appeal to Skepticism Status – the declaration, assumption or implication that a consensus skeptical position on a topic is congruent with the consensus opinion of scientists on that topic.

These are commonly used fallacies that should be pointed out when in an active debate on this topic, and many other topics for that matter. Further, there are many scientists and doctors who are skeptical of vaccines, and when they do speak out, they are usually stereotyped as being “anti-vaccine” (the commonly used straw man) even when they present important data, honest questions, and professional inputs. They are mavericks in a sense, for they actively question so called “scientific consensus” as they research further and deeper into this realm of controversy.

In addition to this, yes, there is scientific evidence which shows the very mechanisms of how vaccines can cause harm.2 As evidence mounts we are continuing to see how vaccines are related to both autoimmunity and autism, which has huge implications for what the vaccine industry, health professionals, and many others must face. This also raises philsophically important matters regarding health policy and informed consent for consumers. After all, they deserve to know both the benefits and risks of a medical procedure which when examined closely, has the potential to cause harm in genetically susceptible indivuals (MTHFR).3

In conclusion, the claims of vaccine safety being “correct and settled” due to so called scientific consensus is false. Many fallacies are commonly employed by the pro-vaccine lobby (those who want mandatory vaccines) when they give faulty reasoning to their claims, and I find it to be of upmost importance that these are discussed in the public sphere. Many have been harmed by vaccines and their observations are waved off as mere “anecdote,” which is part of what is known as an “anecdote error” (commonly used by social skeptics). Despite the fact that there is evidence of vaccines causing harm and deliberate malfeasance within mainstream research purporting vaccines to be completely safe, we still have social skeptics and health professionals ignorantly suggesting medical advice in an area they haven’t delved far enough into beyond what they are told by authority.






Definitions worth learning:

Anecdote error – a refusal to follow up on an observation or replicate an experiment does not relegate such data to an instance of anecdote

Straw Man – an argument based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. Any man can be made to appear irrational and vile, if his opponents only are allowed to speak on his behalf.

Straw Man Conformance Fallacy – an argument formulated according to the idea that since a person or group believes or considers subject A to be a potentiality, then an opponent insists that they therefore have endorsed extreme misrepresentations of subject A as well. Usually tendered at the end of a discussion or in a format where no retort is allowed.

Straw Man Conundrum – when one habitually misrepresents their opponents, the question arises: Does this stem from a shortcoming in effort, or a shortfall in acumen?

Straw Man Profiling – profiling of an individual based on an extreme or misrepresented version of their position. Any man can be made to appear irrational and vile, if his opponents only are allowed to speak on his behalf.

Straw Man Proof – when one makes up or spins an overly negative representation of another person’s position or a set of ideas/observations, and contends that this condemnation, and an implied sleight-of-hand bifurcation, therefore proves their own position or stands as scientific proof of their own idea.

Other fallacies I mentioned in this post were retrieved from

Cases of deliberate malfeasance:

Reprinted with permission of the author.