A brief history of anti-vaccinationism

Rob Brotherton

Monday, February 18 2013 at 7:30PM

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40-42 Chalk Farm Road
London NW1 8BG

Rob Brotherton

What's the talk about?

Over the last 15 years anti-vaccinationism has become a familiar and destructive force within the U.K. and overseas. In 1998 a small, dubious, and ultimately discredited study alleging a link between the MMR vaccine and autism ignited media debate and public anxiety. Vaccine uptake fell, and outbreaks of previously rare diseases ensued. The science is clear: no such link exists. Yet anti-vaccinationism persists, fueled by conspiracy theories and personal fears. 

The fact that these claims have survived despite continual empirical refutation is hardly surprising given the long history of anti-vaccinationism; anti-vaccination movements sprang to life alongside the very first smallpox vaccine and have dogged the medical profession ever since. This talk will present a brief history of anti-vaccinationism, from the 18th Century to the present day.

Rob Brotherton is a doctoral candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he was awarded an ESRC scholarship to carry out a PhD examining the psychology of conspiracy theories. Rob is Assistant Editor of The Skeptic (www.skeptic.org.uk) and blogs at www.ConspiracyPsych.com