Last month, Bryant University welcomed Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak about issues ranging from capitalism to climate change. Advocates for environmental preservation, including Mr. Kennedy himself, are generally seen as the pro-science coalition. They tend to be the ones who support their position with mainstream scientific findings. The opposition? They’re often seen as dismissive of this same science. Like most environmental activists, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is fond of citing this mainstream climate science in order to establish a consensus about the threat of climate change. And yes, there is a consensus that the planet is warming, and that human activity is contributing to it. 97 percent of climate scientists agree on this.
Someone should inform Mr. Kennedy that the same consensus surrounds the issue of vaccine safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a large body of evidence validating the safety of vaccines. If that is not good enough, the World Health Organization, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and dozens of studies in peer-reviewed medical journals have also validated the safety of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine, and have disproved the alleged link between thiomersol and autism.
This well-established consensus has not stopped Mr. Kennedy, a man with no formal medical education, from making claims to the contrary. In an interview with Russia Today, perhaps the only outlet that would give these fringe theories a platform, Mr. Kennedy asserted that, “the [vaccine] schedule was changed in 1989, and if you look at that generation, it’s the generation where you see these extraordinary epidemics of neurological disorders, ADD, ADHD, hyperactivity disorders, speech delay, language delay, misery index, and autism.”
In 2015, Kennedy went a step further, calling the hazards of vaccines “a holocaust.” Certainly the absurdity of that metaphor needs no explanation.
It is this unhinged rejection of mainstream medicine that makes Mr. Kennedy’s lecture about topics like climate change particularly interesting. He indulges in scientific findings when they support his climate narrative, yet dismisses medical findings surrounding the safety of vaccines. In this regard, I cannot think of a greater hypocrite to lecture students about science than Mr. Kennedy.
He is not alone on his crusade against vaccines and the CDC. He has the backing of media “performance artist” Alex Jones who has repeatedly defended the theories of Mr. Kennedy, and other anti-vaccine charlatans by asserting that vaccinations are a globalist attempt to control the masses.
Even then-candidate Donald Trump has shown deference to Mr. Kennedy’s anti-vaccine claims. In the second Republican debate, he went toe-to-toe with Dr. Ben Carson on the issue, claiming, “a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine, and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very very sick, now is…