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Vaccinations and whether the act of vaccinating children should be up to their parents, or if the government should mandate vaccines, is a highly discussed topic. Parents argue that vaccines keep their children safe, and prevent serious outbreaks from occurring, generally making communities safer and healthier. Many public schools have already made vaccines mandatory in order for a child to attend their schools, yet many parents argue that they should have full control over decisions made for their child’s health. Sandy Reider, a Harvard Medical School graduate, wrote “The Science is Not Settled”, an article that attempts to persuade readers of the little influence vaccines truly have in society and how a parent should keep their right to choose whether their child be vaccinated or not. Sandy Reider successfully uses logos, along with ethos, to persuade her audience the potential harm of making vaccines mandatory.
The site the article is from is named reason.com, “Free Minds and Free Markets”. Although this is not a well know source and the site provides little to no information about them, it is mainly for opinion based articles. This site also has a television show and a print magazine, along with the collection of opinion articles found on the website. It is not a concern that the site is not well known because the articles are opinion based and many articles are written by well-educated and experienced men and women. This article is written by Sandy Reider, a Harvard Medical School graduate with her masters. Sandy has her own primary care practice in Vermont and is the medical advisor to the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice, a nonprofit organization that is working to defend parents’ rights to make medical decisions for their children.
Reider uses mainly a logos strategy in her article but towards the end she also uses ethos in attempt to persuade the reader. From beginning to end, the article is filled with many facts about vaccines and their history presenting the logic on the subject. For example, she includes many facts such as this one: “Diphtheria mortality had fallen sixty percent by the time the vaccination was introduced in the 1920’s” (Reider). The majority of the article is filled with statistics relating to vaccines which is effective in convincing her audience. On top of the facts, Sandy also acknowledges the other side of the argument and rebuts any claims that support mandating vaccines with more evidence on the subject. She acknowledges the argument that vaccines have played a crucial role in decreasing the mortality rate for many diseases, and then moves on the present historical evidence conveying that many declines in mortality for diseases occurred before vaccines were introduced. Stacy’s strategy of using logos proves to be effective and her little use of ethos towards the end of the article presents a convincing argument as well. She states, “There is a considerable difference between giving a seriously ill child a proven life-saving medicine versus subjecting a completely healthy child to a drug that is known to cause severe, or even potentially fatal, adverse effects, however small the chance”. This relates to ethics and the question of whether it is morally right to potentially expose children to any dangers that could occur from vaccines. Making the safe assumption that the main audience of the article is parents, this would most likely cause a parent to think directly of their child and hopefully how they would want to protect their child.
Sandy presents a strong and well organized argument with a lot of evidence, but there are no sources found in the article whatsoever. This takes away from her argument and strong evidence because the audience is now unsure whether her facts are reliable. Although they are realistic and logical, it is impossible to know is they are trustworthy. This ultimately destroys the entire argument. Another negative is that the article consists solely of words against a white background. With the article containing a lot of facts, this can make it difficult to keep focused throughout the article because there is nothing attempting to catch the reader’s attention. If there were graphs or anything else that would keep the reader’s attention, the article would be even more effective than it presently is.
This article, “The Science is Not Settled” presents many strong arguments on why it is a parent’s right to choose whether their children get vaccinated and how vaccines still carry many risks. Although this is the case, it is important for the audience to look closely at where an author is getting their information and facts. Sandy Reider is well educated and has experience in the medical field and her article contains a lot of well-used evidence, yet the crucial act of citing sources is completely ignored. The article is well written and effective in persuading the audience, but without sources, how can the evidence be trusted? The debate on vaccinations is still a strong topic and the question of whether they should be mandated or not is important to ask. Both sides have strong arguments but it is very crucial to cite sources in order to make the arguments completely reliable.
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