Yes, Vaccination is 18th Century Science

Yes, Vaccination is 18th Century Science

Bill Nye, more popularly known on television as the “Science Guy,” continues to rail against the informed consent rights of individuals when it comes to vaccination. In a recent NowThis Future segment on Facebook titled “Bill Nye Takes On: Anti-Vaxxers,” Nye urged, “Everybody, you have to get vaccinated. This is 250-year-old technology.”1 

Vaccines, oh yes, they protect you from germs. But every bit as important is they protect ME from YOU. When you get infected because you didn’t get vaccinated, that germ mutates inside you cause they reproduce so very fast—viruses, bacteria reproduce at an extraordinary rate. Little errors or imperfect, uh, reproductions are made in their DNA, and this new germ that you created in your body could infect me in a way that my vaccination does not protect me.1

Nye ended his marketing spiel by re-emphasizing, “It ain’t about you. It’s about ME! Two-hundred-and-fifty years!”1

Earlier this year on his Netflix series Bill Nye Saves the World, Nye went through his self absorbed—”It’s not about you, it’s about me” routine, except that he opened with, “People who don’t get vaccinated are potential trouble” and closed with, “So you could make a very strong argument that you’re required to get vaccinated. That’s like a law, a rule.”2

Nye performed his routine again in an interview with Patt Morrison published this past summer in the Los Angeles Times. He opened with, “And for all the anti-vaxxers out there, you have to get vaccinated. I don’t care about you. If you go ahead and get sick and die, knock yourself out.” Then he inserted, “The reason I insist you get vaccinated is to protect me from you. Me!” And then he closed with, “You are the petri dish of death for the rest of us. Vaccines were discovered in the 17-freaking-hundreds, people.”3

It’s formulaic. Nye takes a simplistic explanation about germs and how vaccines are supposed to protect us from them and wraps it up in a fear-based message aimed at generating paranoia against anyone who does not submit to every single vaccination recommended by the government. Everybody has to get vaccinated, and those who don’t get vaccinated are potential trouble? A veritable petri dish of death?

Nye is nothing if not transparent in what he is pushing. Obviously, it’s not science—which makes sense given that Nye is not a scientist. Nye is primarily an entertainer, which is great training for memorizing scripted lines. Bear in mind, the “Science Guy” thing is merely a public persona created when he was the host of a children’s TV show in the 1990s called Bill Nye the Science Guy.4

But Nye is not content to use fear to influence people to get vaccinated and pressure others to do likewise. In his NowThis Future commercial he adds a different element to his message: shame. Nye points out that vaccination is “250-year-old-technology.” It’s an evolution of his “17-freaking-hundreds” phraseology in the Times interview. The insinuation is that because this technology is so old it must surely be both safe and effective.

The logic goes like this: The mere fact that the technology is still in use after all this time, in and of itself, is proof that it works and is safe. Thus, anyone who may continue to have doubts about it should be ashamed for not being smarter than that. I mean, how can any intelligent person possibly argue against 250-year-old technology, 18th century science, right?

By that reasoning, we should still be adhering to the medical practice of bloodletting to cure or prevent illness and disease because it is 3,000-year-old technology. Bloodletting was practiced by surgeons (and barbers) well into the 19th century. Thankfully, that ignorant and barbaric “science” did not survive, despite the fact that it had been around for so long and was widely accepted.

Eventually, through the research efforts of independent-minded physicians like Pierre-Charles-Alexandre Louis (1787-1872) of France, the danger and ineffectiveness of bloodletting was exposed, even though doctors had long believed it was a safe and effective medical procedure.5 6 7

That’s the way science works. It evolves through the process of uncensored inquiry, debate and dissent, challenge and rechallenge, experimentation and discovery. The same is true for the science of vaccination.

Of course, the underlying assumption is that the scientific process cannot, should not be and is not stymied. Unfortunately, that is precisely what Nye attempts to do each time he speaks about vaccination and urges the public to believe that the science of vaccination is settled and there are no more questions to be asked or answered.


1 NowThis Future. Bill Nye Takes On: Anti-Vaxxers. Facebook Oct. 26, 2017.
2 BUILD Series. Bill Nye Explains Why He’s Pro-Vaccine. YouTube Apr. 20, 2017.
3 Morrison P. Bill Nye on the terrifying ascendancy of American ‘dingbatitude’. Los Angeles Times July 19, 2017.
4 Sottek TC. Steve Martin and Carl Sagan inspired Bill Nye’s ‘Science Guy’ character. The Verge May 23, 2013.
Bloodletting. Wikipedia.
Greenstone G. The history of bloodletting. BCMJ 52 (1), pp. 12-14 January-February 2010.
Morabia A. Pierre-Charles-Alexandre Louis and the evaluation of bloodlettingJ R Soc Med. 99(3); March 2006.

Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers.  The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.


22 Responses to "Yes, Vaccination is 18th Century Science"

  1. Al   December 12, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    It would be great if you set up your articles so a click would post a pic, a summary, and a link to your web site on Facebook. I would do that…

    • Kate Gowen   December 13, 2017 at 10:27 am

      If you open the page in a browser, the browser will provide the share option.

      The top right corner three vertical dots on the page give you the “open page in browser” option.

      Then the header of the browser should give you the share option.

  2. JohannE.   December 12, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Isn’t his whole argument negated by his own statement that vaccines work. If they work so well, isn’t he and all who vaccinate, protected from anyone, anti-vaxx or not, who is ill….? So, if you are vaccinated, what are your worried about…?

    • Ann   December 12, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Yes, Johann E., my thoughts too. If vaccinations work as Bill Nye and others proclaim, he is protected. The unvaccinated should be the ones at risk, because there is shedding of live vaccines for a few weeks after vaccination. But in reality, it’s likely the ineffectively vaccinated (live or not) who are at risk because their immune systems are damaged by the vaccinations to begin with! Look at all these cases of measles (or whooping cough) in people the health departments claim have been vaccinated– some even two or three times! I am amazed that people don’t understand exactly what you are saying. I would never vaccinate myself or allow it for a loved one.

  3. Julie Williams   December 12, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Bill Nye is campy propagandist. Just an empty suit spouting scripted drivel and nonsense for the credulous and uninformed public. Don’t vaccinate and have happy healthy and smarter children and they see you as their competitors. A dumbed down obedient but smaller slave population is what they want for the plantation they wish to own entirely.

    • Stephen Sanborn   December 13, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Julie….an absolute bullseye.

    • Kayla Wildman   December 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Stephen’s right, Julie, you hit an absolute bullseye. The puppet-masters pulling Bill Nye’s strings won’t appreciate your bald statement of the rotten truth, but it is the truth — thanks for stating it so powerfully.

  4. Raul   December 12, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Just wondering if the first vaccines had adjuvants, or substances like squalene, aborted fetal cells, green monkey liver cells, or preservatives or antibacterials. How effective were they historically?

    Were they produced under sterile conditions, or have specific production standards?

    Does Mr. Nye have any science background?

    The idea of a mutated/immune system altered virus is assumed in influenza and influenza-like viruses, but is it true with MMR, polio, pneumococcal, dpt, hib, etc.? This almost makes scientific sense, but also explains why vaccines do not work. They infect us even if vaccinated and are altered upon release from our bodies. Hence, even the vaccinated are infected, have few symptoms and alter the virus on exposure to others.

    An effective vaccine suggests there is no alteration of the virus with infection, even of “un-vaccinated/under vaccinated” persons.

    Just thinking……

  5. Katrina   December 12, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    I agree with Bill Nye. It’s not about YOU, it’s about ME! ME and MY health. I don’t want the junk in those vaccines in MY body. Bill, if you want the junk in those vaccines in YOUR body be my guest, but stop pushing them on everyone else. If they protect you like they should then you should be safe and not need to worry, right?

    One problem I have with his statement is he thinks it should only apply to pro-vaxxers and screw everyone else. I should have a right to say NO to vaccines if I want to, just like someone can choose vaccines in they want.

  6. Lisa   December 12, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    I have absolutely zero moral imperative to do anything at all that subjects me to something that could cause harm to myself for the benefit of someone else. And neither do you.

  7. Bill   December 12, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Nye is NOT what he presents himself to be. This comment isn’t relevant to vaccines, but it’s relevant to Nye. It’s easy to find youtube.vids from Nye’s old shows, where he gives some seriously twisted sexual explanations to kids…. Just sayin’…. So-called “Science”, is not, and should not be, the sum total of life. Nor should it be blindly worshipped, as Nye does….
    (c)2017, Tom Clancy, Jr., *NON-fiction

  8. Brian   December 13, 2017 at 8:55 am

    The other issue with Nye is his flawed scientific argument about how NOT vaccinating leads to mutations in the harmful bacteria. It’s actually the other way around…

    “With antibiotics, different strains quite often adapt in the same way to become resistant,” says Nicholas Croucher, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and first author on the paper. “With vaccines, it is quite different. What we see is a decline in the prevalence of bacteria that are susceptible to the vaccine. This, in turn, opens the door for bacteria that can evade the vaccine to fill the niche and become the dominant strain.”

  9. D. Smith   December 13, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Bill Nye, the idiot guy. He spouts rehearsed nonsense. A brain the size of a pea, for sure. Not one lick of common sense. He’s a danger to society.

    I have an autoimmune disease and I’m here to tell you that vaccine SHEDDING is the biggest danger of all. Hey, if Billy Boy wants to get himself shot full of debilitating chemicals and poisons, let him, but it’s not for me and I stay away from people and places where vaccines are given.

  10. DM   December 13, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I wonder if Nye is a fan of Darwin’s theory, Survival of the fittest? In his argument that the unvaccinated will get him sick he appears to say that he is not one of the fittest that will survive.

  11. William Schmittmeyer   December 13, 2017 at 10:33 am

    In NAZI Germany they physically put you on the train to Auswich.Today people line up and pay to get their shots.So much easier to cull the population.

  12. Kimberly McGrail   December 13, 2017 at 11:08 am

    IF good ole Bill is so smart, why does he miss the FACT that many, if not all, vaccines leave the recipient contagious AND dangerous to others?? It certainly seems so. The standard DPT all parents are forced to subject their children to renders them contagious for 2 months! Now, of course they are urging grandparents to get the vaccine to protect their grandchildren, but oddly I have seen them informed that they couldn’t safely have contact with the children they are supposedly protecting! Hey Bill…why aren’t you being scientific or honest?

  13. Carol Jackson   December 13, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Al, I am able to post these to FB by clicking on the “share” button and then “FB”.

  14. Lori bedee   December 14, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    I hope my unvaccinated children sneeze on Bill.

  15. MikeTheSpike   December 15, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Someone just walk up to him and cough on him….he would probably shriek like a little girl and pass out.

  16. kent   December 23, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    bacteria is the cause of diseases, mostly, polio excepted. bacteria lives on sugars (NOT HONEY unless it is watered down with sugared water. Profiteers do that.

    get the refined sugars out of your diet.

  17. Bob Martin   December 26, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    I had the H1N1 Flu vaccine in 2010 10 days later became a quadriplegic and spent 8mths in hospital.In over 150 years science has not confirmed either way a cause or not but the number of deaths and diseased bodies after a vaccine is proof enough for me Bob Martin GBS Survivor, Canada.

  18. Alice   April 28, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    The MMR vaccine contains a live virus. But the ones who haven’t had it put into their bodies are the ones spreading it, ok…


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