Measles are good for you. That’s the ludicrous message being put forward by Stephanie Messenger in her book Melanie’s Marvelous Measles. Published in early December 2012 and aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 10, the illustrated book follows the story of a girl, Melanie, and her education about the measles disease and the associated vaccine. The book is no fairytale, but it certainly would not be classed as non-fiction either. I say this because it is dangerously biased to the author’s disillusioned views. If you think I am overreacting, read over the book’s introduction:
Melanie’s Marvelous Measles was written to educate children on the benefits of having measles and how you can heal from them naturally and successfully. Often today, we are being bombarded with messages from vested interests to fear all diseases in order for someone to sell some potion or vaccine, when in fact, history shows that in industrialized countries, these diseases are quite benign and, according to natural health sources, beneficial to the body.
The opening line should be enough to indicate where this book is going if Stephanie argues the benefits of voluntary disease contraction rather than its prevention. She claims “vested interests” spread fear about all diseases. This is both a misrepresentation of the vaccination campaign and a strawman argument of disease awareness efforts. Health services vaccinate in order to save young children from the harmful symptoms of measles which kill thousands of people each year. She exaggerates the efforts of medical professionals to spread the information that highlights the dangers of very infectious diseases, like measles. The campaigners are not fear-mongering. Stephanie has even grouped the generic term “potions” with vaccines. “Potions”, to the regular reader imply magical properties popularised in fantasy media. Inferring that vaccines are relatable to such pseudoscientific nonsense is a devious tactic to establish her position as an anti-vax proponent whose arguments should be listened to over those of qualified medical persons.
I will not be addressing the many issues within the book because thankfully many other skeptics and skeptical organisations have taken to attack her position (Skepchick and PZ Myers, to name a few). I want to encourage the rational readers out there to speak out about the publication and distribution of books like these, which will cause real harm to real people. Amazon.com sell both the paperback and e-book versions of the book. I have reported this book as dangerous material through an email to the Amazon team. I did not receive a response. Others, like those at Merseyside Skeptics, have voiced their opinions to Amazon also. Simply by leaving a negative review of the book through your Amazon account opens an opportunity to bring wider attention and scrutiny to the book.