There is a primitive part of the human brain, an ancient part, a near-reptilian part, that causes us to fear the unseen, the unfamiliar, the shadows in which our imaginations hide the direst threats. And back in the Pleistocene, when any nocturnal venture from tree or cave might have resulted in being eaten by something sabre-toothed or mega-clawed, the ability of our imaginations to fill the dark with Lovecraftian horrors probably saved many a homonid’s hide.
But that was long ago and far away — now, man’s greatest danger isn’t some lantern-eyed monster, still and lurking just out of site. Today, the greatest danger to man is…himself.
Since the extinction or subjugation of our great predators, the human race has found a new creature to fear. Like a great wolf, it hides unseen. Behind any tree, in an corner; it’s small enough even to skulk in the palms of our own hands, and in the very places we go to heal. Microorganisms have long since replaced toothy predators as prime killers of men, ever more so as the population has increased, and congregated in tightly packed urban areas.
Since the advent of intercontinental travel, first by horse, then boat, then airplane, plagues and epidemics have followed mankind like invisible lions stalking the herd. But, much like the rest of our predators, we eventually found a weapon to hold these invisible killers at bay. It was called “vaccination.”
But the Pleistocene brain never sleeps, and there’s always a replacement fear waiting in the darkness.
For about the last century (and only the last century), the human race has been for the most part blessedly free of plague epidemic, thanks almost entirely to vaccination. But as humans will do, many have filled the shadows of their imaginations with a new threat — the vaccine itself.
Last night, PBS’ Nova aired “Vaccines: Calling the Shots,” in an effort to both expose and debunk the disturbing, and dangerous, untruths conjured by a few primordial imaginations. Of course, it’s easy to write off these “Vaxxers” as examples of Social Darwinism at work — and that might be the case. But unfortunately, plagues tend to be somewhat socialist by nature; that means that every single person who decides not to get vaccinated, or not to vaccinate their children, has just created the next potential Patient Zero.
And worse, Patient Zero may not be just the vector for an existing plague organism. These organisms do have a nasty tendency to mutate once inside a host, constantly seeking the perfect combination of DNA strands that will allow them to survive treatment, escape from that host and infect others. This strain now enters an unprepared population, a completely new creature born immune to all existing antibodies and treatments.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly how plagues are made.
Because one person, Patient Zero, lacked immunity to the original organism, providing it with a perfect laboratory for genetic experimentation.
One person…that’s all it takes. Patient Zero.
Someone once said “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” In this world of imaginary demons, of conjured monsters seething through every perceived shadow, truly it can be said:
The only thing we have left to fear is ourselves.
And that is a thing worth fearing.
Watch NOVA’s “Vaccines: Calling the Shots” in the link below: