Stoking the Culture of Alarmism

Stoking the Culture of Alarmism

There are lots of articles in the mainstream newspapers and magazines aimed at scaring the public into getting vaccinated against every disease, illness, or disorder for which there is a vaccine. The authors of these articles commonly seek to instill fear as a means of convincing you to heed the recommendation of medical trade groups and public health officials to get vaccinated or risk contracting a viral or bacterial infection that could seriously harm or kill you or your children.

One of the most alarmist op-ed articles I’ve read lately was written by Julie Gunlock in The Wall Street Journal. The piece is titled “Is Your Child Safe From Antivaccine Activists?”1 

It focuses on the supposed threat posed by measles. Gunlock noted that if there is a five percent reduction in vaccinations against this childhood disease, the number of measles cases in the United States each year could increase by at least a factor of three. She referred to this possibility as “alarming” and warned that we might witness such a cataclysmic event if the number of nonmedical exemptions for schoolchildren keeps rising.1 

Gunlock wrote:

Parents who cite religious, philosophical or personal objections to vaccination are like conscientious objectors in the war on disease. But they are putting their friends and neighbors at risk because they have fallen for antivaccine propaganda.1 

This narrative is frequently used by those who seek to generate resentment and hostility against anyone who chooses to make independent and informed decisions regarding vaccination. The idea is to coerce such individuals to forswear their independence and thoughtfulness by sounding the alarm against them, thereby threatening to turn them into social outcasts.

The idea is also to create paranoia within the vaccinated community to the point where people start to become suspicious of anyone who they believe does not fully share their views on vaccination and even hesitant of going out in public for fear they might “catch something.” Observe how cleverly Gunlock manages to ratchet up the alarm and fuel this paranoia…

Why is measles a particularly danger? First, it can linger for up to two hours in the airspace where an infected person coughed  or sneezed. Contemplate that the next time you’re waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Second, a person with measles is infectious for days before showing any signs of the disease, and the early symptoms can easily be dismissed as nothing more than a cold. Measles can lead to pneumonia, or to encephalitis, which can cause blindness and permanent brain damage.1 

Gunlock specifically cited the 667 cases of measles in the U.S. in 2014, calling it a “record since 2000,”as if the country were in the middle of a major epidemic of life or death proportions—a country of more than 320 million people.

What Gunlock failed to mention was that nobody died and that most recovered just fine, as in the measles episode from the 1970s TV sitcom The Brady Bunch.2 

She did not mention that outbreaks of measles occur even though the U.S. has a very highly vaccinated child population. As Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has pointed out, the measles cases in 2014 occurred even though 95 percent of the children entering kindergarten in the U.S. had received two doses of MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine, as had 92 percent of school children ages 13 to 17 years.3  

Those percentages are above the 90 percent level that James Cherry, MD, a UCLA pediatrician and infectious disease expert, has said must be reached for measles vaccine acquired “herd immunity” to be in effect.3 

Gunlock also neglected to inform her readers that measles outbreaks are cyclical—that the number of measles cases in the U.S. consistently goes up and down from year to year. There is no steady upward trajectory of this infectious disease, as implied by Gunlock. The 667 reported cases of measles in 2014 were followed by 188 cases in 2015 and an estimated 70 cases in 2016. Previously, there were 187 cases reported in 2013, 55 in 2012, 220 in 2011, and 63 in 2010.4 

Gunlock likely omitted these details because they would deflate her intent to alarm and weaken her apparent mission to rile people against antivaccine activists and those who may sympathize with some or all of their work.

It is ironic that Gunlock would resort to alarmist tactics to begin with. Gunlock is the director of the Independent Women s Forum (IWF) Culture of Alarmism Project—an initiative to fight against the use of alarmism to “promote regulations” that expand the power of government when it comes to messaging on health-related matters.5 6 

You would think Gunlock would be repulsed by the methodology she fervently rails against. In her book “From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back,” Gunlock writes:

Alarmists understand that parents naturally worry about the health and well-being of their children and will do just about anything to keep their kids safe. By leveraging this natural anxiety, alarmists gain the trust of parents and convince them to perpetuate the myths of danger…7 

That is precisely what Gunlock sought to accomplish in her recent op-ed stoking the Culture of Alarmism with misinformation about the benefits, risks and failures of vaccines.


1 Gunlock J. Is Your Child Safe From Antivaccine Activists? The Wall Street Journal July 31, 2017.
2 Measles… Back in the DayThe Vaccine Reaction Mar. 15, 2017.
3 Fisher BL. Measles in Disneyland: Third MMR Shot and Vaccine Exemption Ban? NVIC Newsletter Jan. 28, 2015.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles Cases and Outbreaks.
5 Independent Women’s Forum. Julie Gunlock.
6 Independent Women’s Forum. Culture of Alarmism.
7 Gunlock J. From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back. Oct. 31, 2013.

20 Responses to "Stoking the Culture of Alarmism"

  1. Lori Quaresimo   August 11, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I am wondering if Gunlock wasn’t hired by the government. She talks about measles. I had German measles when I was a child and nothing happened to me. Government has no place in the lives of the individual when it comes to making choices about what we the parents think is best for our children. The Pharmaceutical Industry doesn’t care if their medications and vaccines work. They only care about how many vaccines and medication they sell. It’s only about the money. If we have to be told by our government how to raise our children then we have lost our liberties. We shouldn’t have to follow some rule book put out by the government on how to raise our children. Who decides how many vaccinations our children need and how do they come up with that number? Why do they keep adding more and more mandatory vaccines to the list? Drug stores never used to advertise vaccines. Now everywhere you look there are signs saying to get your flu or shingles shot. I never ever received a flu vaccine. I had the flu one time in my lifetime. If I ever get the flu again that will be just another strain of the flu my body naturally will immunize against. This is how our bodies are supposed to work. This is why we have a natural defense system built into out bodies. I was taught that in school. That is why when we have an infection our white blood count goes up. I had the chicken pox when I was three years old. There was no vaccine for chicken pox. Everyone got it. We expected it. It didn’t kill us. The worst thing was the itching. All we hear nowadays is disinfect this and disinfect that. I don’t believe in all that. I want my body to recognize bacteria and viruses so it learns how to fight against them naturally. If our bodies were never introduced to things in our environment it is not going to learn how to fight against them. Something needs to be done with the Health Industry and the Pharmaceutical Industry.

  2.   August 11, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    many of these diseases which were eliinated in the usa are beign brought in by illegal immigrants. nobody knows who they are, how they got here. they bring in diseases like tb too. that is a major factor for measles and other childhood diseases. it is rampant in the illegal immigrant quarters.

  3. ingrid durden   August 11, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Why are they afraid ? if the vaccine is so good, they shouldn’t. If they are afraid the vaccine does not protect them then it is useless to vaccinate ! And no, measles nor the other sicknesses kill you. I had all of them before vaccination became widespread, and I was a premature baby (7 mo)

  4. Colorado   August 11, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Well, everyone needs funding I guess, some have support bases, others have to sell their voices, apparently. “We have the right to choose and approve what chemicals come into our house and into our bodies.” Our decision to opt out is based on ethics, and the obvious freight train of unethical activity going on with big pharmaceutical companies and their obvious subversion of liberty regarding personal choice. They can paint it any way they like until they turn blue, the argument of choice will continue to revolve around the principals of liberty, indefinitely.

    If you’ve never reviewed the NVIC activist and legislation update lists, you certainly must look and review this list. It’s illuminating, to see the power of this industry in one consolidated list of very recent activity. Scroll downward.

  5. Sharon Intilli   August 11, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    I hope you wrote in response to the Wall Street Journal because in this newsletter, you are preaching to the choir and it is those very people that read alarmist op-eds like Gunlock’s that need to see the other side of things. In other words, they need truth.

    Thank you.

  6. Linda Adsit   August 11, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Ms. Gunlock seems to have made a 180 degree turnabout. That in itself is disturbing. Something dramatic apparently happened in her professional life that causes her to now be diametrically opposed to her former position.

    • TeeJae   August 12, 2017 at 7:28 am

      Everyone has their price. Just saying.

  7. vinu arumugham   August 11, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Gunlock should be alarmed by the number type 1 diabetes cases caused by the MMR vaccine.

    Role of MMR II vaccine contamination with GAD65 containing chick embryo cell culture in the etiology of type 1 diabetes

  8. Cypher   August 11, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    If you ever get into an online battle with anyone who regurgitates the same tired line “Vaccines eradicated the dangerous infectious diseases, point them to this:

    “In conclusion, the largest historical decrease in morbidity and mortality caused by infectious disease was experienced not with the modern antibiotic and vaccine era, but after the introduction of clean water and effective sewer systems.”

    Journal of pediatrics, December 1999, vol. 135, p663

    Tell them if they have a problem with it to take it up with Journal of Pediatrics.

  9. IMNAHA   August 11, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    This is one of the oldest tricks in the book: it’s called controlled opposition AND it works!Someone should research if this Gunlock person even exists outside the blogosphere.

  10. William Schmittmeyer   August 14, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Measles never harmed anyone when I was a kid 60 years ago.Everyone got it and as a result had lifelong immunity.And also helped your immune system to learn and fight off many other illnesses.Now with 30 years of massive vaccinations only getting worse every year It seems everyone has some kind of immune problem.The medical mafia has gotten rich off of the suffering caused by the encephalitis (swelling of the brain) which is not caused as she states in this article by not getting vaccines but by vaccines which the mercury,aluminum,accumulate in fatty tissue (the brain)and eventually cause autism,Alzheimer’s MS,lupos,and so much more.There are so many shills out there like DR. Offit who get paid to lie.Do your own research and see how you have been lied to since you were born and believe and carry those untruths you have been brainwashed into believing until the end and the sad part you also brainwash your children.

    • Doc   September 15, 2017 at 3:57 am

      Exactly. Well said William.

  11. David Foster   August 22, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    I guess when it comes to writing pro-vaccine commentary, anyone is qualified. The author of this Op/Ed is Julie Gunlock, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science major and has written on food and culture. She is director of the Culture of Alarmism project at the Independent Women’s Forum, which remarkably ironic given that her entire Op/Ed is meant to influence by alarm.

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