The fear a 12 year old Mexican can raise

I think I’ve told you this before once or twice, but let me just repeat the story again. When I was a kid, I was always interested in all things having to do with science and technology. Dad was a car mechanic, his two brothers fixed televisions and radios. They learned their respective trades through books and manuals that my grandfather bought for them on his trips to the US. So I learned from them how to look at complex systems, see what’s broken, and go on a course of action to fix it.

Later, when I expressed interest in science some more, mom bought me a microscope. I must have been in 4th grade then. I went to public school in Mexico from first to fifth grade. Starting in sixth grade, we moved to the States. Anyway, I had that microscope and would put things under the lens only to be amazed time after time. There were living organisms in drops of water, even potable water. There were these neat crystals in a few grains of common sand. Leafs were made of small units that I did not fully comprehend.

To help me comprehend all that, mom and dad bought me books. I had encyclopedias and textbooks on science, and I absorbed them all in full. There were many times when I cut short play time outside with my friends to finish up reading about a topic of interest. However, because we were not well-off, I didn’t get a chance to fully take advantage of my intellectual curiosity. There just wasn’t enough money to send me somewhere with a better science and technology curriculum. Even when we moved to the States, public school was more about the basics (and a lot of Texas history on how “the Mexicans” killed all those innocent Americans at The Alamo).

By the way, I was fully bilingual by the sixth grade. Not only was English taught in school, but we lived on the border and I had American cousins. English was not a foreign thing to me.

I’m telling you all this in order to set-up the story of Marco Arturo, a 12-year old child prodigy from Mexico, and the irrational, xenophobic, and bigoted reaction he’s getting from the anti-vaccine crew. See, Marco posted a video about how vaccines cause autism…

Or, rather, how they do not. That video now has 7.2 million views. (For comparison’s sake, Andrew Wakefield’s chock-full-o-lies “documentary” on vaccines and autism has only been seen by about 30,000 people, and I’m being generous in that estimate.)

How did the antivaxxers take it? Well, here you go:

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That post from “Levi Quackenboss” is discussed here and here. In essence, the replies attacks on Marco from the antivaxxers have resorted to personal attacks, to questioning if he is even a real person, and to wonder how in the world a Mexican kid could know English and be so well-versed in science and technology.

Yeah, I kind of wondered that myself. Oh, wait.

In my experiences with the antivaxxers, I have come to find out that they have a very egocentric view of the world. It’s all about them, them, them. If they experienced something, then everyone must have experienced the same thing. If their child was diagnosed with autism after the vaccines, then it must be the vaccines, and everyone getting vaccines will be autistic. (And the way they characterize autistics? Come on!) If they were not as eloquent and understanding of science as Marco is now, then Marco must be fake. He must be being coached.

And, even if he was being coached, there is nothing in any of his statements about vaccines and autism that are wrong. As much as they try to attack him, they can’t poke a single hole in his science. There simply is no evidence that vaccines cause autism, and whatever “evidence” is being bandied about is all about character assassination, conspiracy theories, and conflicts of interest. It really makes me sad for the antivaxxers they are so insecure in their beliefs that they are now allowing a 12 year old child from Mexico to live rent-free in their minds.

Finally, the undertones of racism. “Quackenboss” claims that kids in Mexico can’t possibly be as bright as Marco. And, if they are, they are being coached as part of some multi-national conspiracy. They claim that Mexico is pretty much a slum where children can’t be bothered with science and technology. As I sit around at my ancestral home in Chihuahua,* I see that this is not true. Yes, Mexico has a lot of challenges, and children here deserve better, but there are many of us who are lucky enough to have parents who instill in us a sense of wonder about nature and then foment that wonder with books and tools and great people/mentors to lead us on our way to discover more and more.

So kudos to Marco Arturo. I see a bright future ahead as a science communicator, scientist, and fighter of the good fight.

*I’m down here because dad is having some health issues. More on that when we’re ready to be more public about it.

I'm a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen

16 thoughts on “The fear a 12 year old Mexican can raise

  1. Thank you for not only dispelling antivaccine myths but also for calling out Robyn/Quackenboss on her racist, hateful blog posts. Jealously does not suit the antivaxers very well.

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  2. Thank you for not only dispelling antivaccine myths but also for calling out Robyn/Quackenboss on her racist, hateful blog posts. Jealousy does not suit the antivaxers very well.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It never ceases to amaze me at how people on the anti-vaccine side of things can be so vile toward others. I mean, feel free to disagree with the kid, but the violence and racism in their comments is just uncalled for. It really is a sad statement on how they view the world around them.

    Thank you for writing about this, and best wishes for your dad.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I could have seen my own children doing that at age 12 since they were fascinated by science and grew up in a science and medicine literate household. So I thought Marco was great. Those people bashing him are vile human beings.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a poisonous worldview one must have to attack a precocious, bright and granted, sarcastic 12 year old child. One should re-examine one’s worldview when one feels compelled to attack any child, anywhere.
    Rather than correct a perceived flaw in logic with facts, one attacks and even considers a life threatening physical attack upon a minor child displays a very, very serious delusion.
    Seriously, “kick to the jugular” is a life threatening attack, one endangers both airway and major circulatory pathways to the brain, threatening to make that bright child as stupid as the one issuing the threat.
    Absolutely disgusting!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I knew after watching Marcos video he was a gifted child as he reminded me of classmates I had when I was in the gifted program in school. I was absolutely delighted with him and thrilled his video reached so many people with mostly positive responses from viewers.

    Of course, the fringe antivaxxers have made this all about them and to see their immature rantings about feeling insulted has mostly made me laugh as they lack the self awareness to see how ridiculous they appear. However, those that cross the boundaries of appropriate behavior and devolve into threats, doxxing, and harassment are vile people and deserve every bit of mocking and scorn coming their way. It’s one thing to cross those boundaries with an adult, though not any less wrong, and another entirely with a minor child. We as a community need to support him as he’s more than worthy of our support.

    I sincerely appreciate your article and thank you being a source of support for Marco and calling out those who think it’s ok to harass a child because they’re feel feelz are hurt.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Reblogged this on autistasangeles and commented:
    The scary thing is antivaxxers are attacking a child posting his personal information. These antivaxxers need to psychiatric treatment.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “(and a lot of Texas history on how “the Mexicans” killed all those innocent Americans at The Alamo).”

    Or more accurately described as their attempt to get rid of illegal alien squatters. 😉

    “Yes, Mexico has a lot of challenges,…”

    They have been improving, and we hope there is a better future. By the way, at dinner we got seated at the bar where we saw Mexico beat Uruguay with three points to one on Univsion as part of Copa America. Those last two goals were epic. (we found if there was a line waiting for this particular Indian restaurant, there is usually place at the bar, plus tall hubby gets more leg room and the bartenders are more social — the food is still good and plenty).

    “So kudos to Marco Arturo. I see a bright future ahead as a science communicator, scientist, and fighter of the good fight.”

    Yes! Oh, wait… I live near a large university where many parents at my kids’ schools were graduate students from around the world including Mexico and Chile. Those are the two most memorable, since the Mexican mom was getting a PhD in electrical engineering and praised my seldom used Spanish. The Chilean parents’ son was a good friend of my daughter and were a bit freaked when their son started to use a words they did not know because the Spanish speaking preschool (the one I put my younger son on the waiting list for, but never got a call) was staffed by folks from Mexico. As I watched the last minutes of the Mexico/Uruguay game I wondered if they had issues with the several dialects (since the players were probably from all over the Americas, Spain, Philippines, etc).

    It was probably racism that kept Carlos Finley from being suitably recognized for him recognizing the connection between mosquitoes and yellow fever. Oh, also not every Hispanic has a Spanish last name.

    “*I’m down here because dad is having some health issues. More on that when we’re ready to be more public about it.”

    Lo siento. My father is almost 90 years old, I keep expecting a call from my sister… the only sibling who still lives near him.

    By the way, I am not trying to be flippant. I am actually sincerely trying to control my anger and only posting what I deem appropriate for a public forum. As a child I was bullied, specifically for being a bright kid like this young man. The bullying in one particular small town near a particular Midwest military base, which is why I very much dislike the use of my entire full name (no, those letters you keep claiming come after “Chris” are not my given name, it was odd enough to elicit taunting). So I am offended they claim this child is a “bully.” Also I spent a third of my childhood in South and Central America (my first language was Spanish, I speak it as well as any three year old), I really honestly know better — even though I was shielded as a child from several political realities (which included having an armed guard living in our house), I had the perspective to realistically evaluate them later.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. so, those people claim “its all about the children, we want to save them getting harmed trough vaccines” and at the same time, they are bulllying a 12-year-old, who made a satirical video about them; perfect example of a bunch of hypocrites, thats what they are.

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