Op Ed

I Will Not Follow the Herd

I wish I had educated myself more before my first daughter was born. I can never undo my choices, and I will forever worry about the unnecessary danger I put her in, all the chemical exposure, the potentially life-threatening risks I put her through.

I’m smarter now, and after spending countless hours on Google, have become a self-described expert, and have made a better decision for my second daughter: we will not be using car seats. I know, it’s a little unorthodox, and a little crunchy, and I’m sure there are bureaucrats who would throw a conniption fit if they knew (which is part of how I came to my decision, as you will see) — but I refuse to put my children at risk. Here’s why:


Seat belts are “made of synthetic fibers such as nylon, polypropylene or polyester.” Synthetic fibers. Why would I expose my daughters to synthetic material when I’m trying to keep them as natural as possible?

Nylon, for example, is made out of “synthetic polymers known generically as aliphatic polyamides.” Aliphatic polyamides! A quick Google search found a link between that word, “aliphatic,” and brain cancer. BRAIN CANCER.  Polypropylenes have been linked to colorectal cancer: “early epidemiological studies of polypropylene production workers and carpet manufacturing employees who use polypropylene reported a significant excess of colorectal cancer.“ And this link tells me that polyester is “the worst fabric you can wear,” in a list of TOXIC FABRICS.

And I’m supposed to put this up against my NEWBORN BABY’S SKIN? No way.

Seat belt injuries

You don’t see a lot about this in the news, but there’s a reason for that, and that reason is Big Business. Do a Google search and you will soon find millions of articles about seat belt injuries. Nobody denies that they happen. “The increase in road traffic accidents and the seat belt compliance rate contribute to higher rates of injuries resulting from seat belt use.” Right there on the page — more seat belt compliance leads to more injuries.

If you have the stomach for it, do a Google image search for “seat belt injuries.” Beware, though, they can get graphic. “The most severe injuries that can be caused by (or exacerbated by) seat belts include fractures, dislocations, internal bleeding, spine injuries, and intestinal injuries.”

Beyond that, seat belts kill“[I]n a head-on collision as low as 30 miles per hour with one foot of crush, the seatbelt will exert a force on the wearer of 30 times his body weight, i.e., enough to kill him.”



This is a big one, so I’m going to have to break it down.

a) Kids with autism have overwhelmingly spent time in car seats.

Every single child I know who has autism spent time in car seats, most of them for many hours EVERY WEEK. Think about how many hours of toxic chemicals that adds up to by the time the child is 18 months old, when signs of autism first tend to show up.

b) Car seats trigger autism in otherwise healthy children.

A friend of mine turned her son’s car seat around, no doubt releasing dangerous chemicals in the air, and later that day noticed signs of autism. Before she turned the seat around, he was completely normal. Her son got diagnosed within a few months. If only she had never agitated those chemicals, or better yet, never let her son sit in a car seat at all, he could have lived a neurotypical life.

c) The Amish don’t use car seats and don’t have Autism.

d) As seat belt usage has increased, so has autism.

Seatbelt prevalence
The prevalence of seatbelt usage from the 1980s to today (Source: NHTSA).
Prevalence of Autism
Autism has gone up as seat belt usage has gone up (Source: Autism Speaks).

As the rate of seat belt usage has gone up, so has the rate of autism. When you look at the superimposed graphs together, you can see that both started at the same point in the early 1980s, and jumped to the same point by now.

Seat belt usage vs. autism
Seat belt usage vs. autism

The population got fed the KoolAid about seat belts, started putting those chemicals on our babies’ skins, and now we are riddled with autism. Thanks, government regulations.


The people who tell me that I “must” use a car seat for my baby tell me that she will DIE if I don’t use them. This is a deliberate attempt to scare me into doing something unhealthy and frightening for my child, and I will not be a Sheeple and follow this fearmongering blindly.

The threats of car crashes are way overblown. In 2012, there were 25,580 fatalities. This is out of a population of 320 million. You do the math.

Seat belts don’t even work

In 2012, 122 people died while using seat belts. If seat belts are so great, why are people dying while using them?

Car safety without seat belts

The fact of the matter is that fatalities from car crashes were going down before seat belts even arrived on the scene. Things like windshields, brakes, and dashboards, to name a few.

Deaths from crashes
The rate of car crashes were going down before seat belts were introduced, then went back up with the introduction of seat belts (Source: Wikipedia).

The seat belt wasn’t invented until 1958, after fatalities had already been decreasing for decades (notice that fatalities went up after the introduction of seat belts). Safety has been increasing over time, and seat belts just got in the way of that.

Natural immunity

That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. How are my children’s bodies going to learn to be flexible, to heal, to become strong if there is no exposure to the occasional bump and bruise?


Why the push from the government for everybody to use car seats and use seat belts? It’s obvious.

With 4 million babies born in the U.S. annually, and each requiring three child restraint seats before age eight, Americans buy as many as 12 million seats a year.

Twelve million seats each year. And don’t forget, you aren’t supposed to buy used seats, and the average cost of an infant seat is $100 or more. Big Business is keeping us buying these completely unnatural, highly toxic, ineffective and unnecessary items, and Big Government is forcing it down our throats.

I know my choices may not be popular, but here’s the thing: choosing not to use a car seat (or any restraint) affects nobody except me and my own children. If I want to use shoddy internet research and bias-confirmation searches to make my own choices, I face my own consequences.

This is in stark contrast to the exact same types of “research” which are used to justify the anti-vaccination movement, which puts everybody at risk. If you think my methods are terrible, which they are, apply them to the anti-vax movement. And get angry that these same sloppy reasons are being used to justify a resurgence of measles, of whooping cough, of diseases which were supposed to be eradicated. Through a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between causation and correlation, confusion between anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence, and an inability to wade through all the crap there is out there on the internet to find out what is scientifically sound, people who choose not to vaccinate put us all at risk, the weakest among us at the most risk of all.  All one has to do is decide on a hypothesis, and Google will provide “evidence” to support it.

That doesn’t make it real.

By Susan

I am old and wise. Perhaps more old than wise, but once you're old, you don't give a shit about details anymore.

43 replies on “I Will Not Follow the Herd”

Not gonna lie, your question gives me the heebie jeebies. In general, last names (and sometimes first names) aren’t given on the site for privacy purposes. I’ve personally shared this with people in my life so it’s not like I’m afraid they would find out about what I’ve written, but it’s a little creepy to have a stranger ask me for my full name. That’s what you’re doing, right? Asking for my full name?

If you’d like to send me a personal message, feel free, but for now I’m going to refrain from giving my full name, because my spidey sense is buzzing.

Sorry to freak you out. I was definitely not asking for your full name. It was my first time reading or re-posting to FB from this site and my friend commented that she thought it was odd you would write about a contentious topic and not use your full name. Then she inferred it was because you didn’t stand fully behind your pro vaccine article (I don’t agree with her at all. I loved it and am very pro vaccine). I was more or less just asking why full names weren’t used on this site. It’s just not something I see often. Sorry for the weird vibe!

Thanks for the explanation. I guess you can look at it two ways: either I don’t use my last name on the site because I don’t want people in my real life to know how I feel, or I don’t use my last name on the site because I’m worried about harassment from people who don’t agree with me. It’s definitely the latter. I would hate, for example, for my children to face internet hatred because of what I have to say. Maybe that means I’m not all in? I guess it could be taken that way.

Speaking as an editor, we allow our writers to use whatever name they’re most comfortable putting out there. Some of our writers do use their full name, mostly the ones who already have an internet presence writing under that name so that all of their work can be linked together. Others are more comfortable using just a first or last name, and many use a completely unrelated pseudonym. We’ve been lucky not to attract too much of the wrong sort of attention here, but some members of our team have had brushes with cyberstalkers elsewhere and we want to protect them as much as we possibly can.

To add on to what has been said, we have a lot of writers who talk about things that are either deeply personal or pretty controversial, so we want them to have the ability to write freely without having to worry about negative impact on their jobs.

That doesn’t mean they are saying something terrible or that they don’t stand behind it, though. For example, we have one person who writes about her experiences as a burlesque dancer. That’s an art form with a LOT of (unfounded and sexist) stigma around it, so using a pseudonym protects her in her daily life.

Personally, though I have been published as a writer elsewhere using my full name, I choose not to use my last name here because the tone of what P-Mag lets me do is different than what I have done elsewhere. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve written, but as someone who has more of an academic and straight-journalism background, keeping things separate makes sense.

You had me going there for a minute, Susan. And then you started throwing around terms, and I thought, “Oh, thank God. This is satire.” It’s absurd reasoning, isn’t it?

(Also, there are TOTALLY Amish children with autism. It’s not as highlighted in the Amish community, but they are absolutely there. And let’s be realistic, here. Autism rates are probably not actually skyrocketing. Diagnoses of autism are skyrocketing, because we actually recognize it now.)

I appreciate this article pointing out the dubiousness of some of the claims around an anti-vaccination stance and how such a stance may endanger others.

However, I really wish essays meant to critique the anti-vaccination stance, at least the ones I’ve read, would at least pay lip service (though, ideally more than that) to the fact that not everyone has equal access to healthcare, not everyone has equal access to the educational toolset to “wade through the crap”, and that a many vaccinations readily available to those who can access them were unethically tested on poor people and especially poor people of color both in the United States and in “developing” countries which has bred a lot of distrust.

Something to consider. Thanks for sharing your position.

At least in the US, vaccine refusers tend to be educated, wealthy, and white – so they should have the toolset to wade through the crap.

This is a small study, but it reflects what I’ve seen elsewhere:

“Of the 11 participants who reported declining or delaying vaccination for 1 or more of their children, 3 were parents of 6 unvaccinated children with measles (50% of case-families). Nearly all were white and college-educated, and 9 (82%) had incomes higher than $100 000. They reported substantial skepticism of the government, pharmaceutical industry, and medical community. They believed vaccination was unnecessary, because most vaccine-preventable diseases had already been reduced to very low risk by improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene and were best prevented by “natural lifestyles,” including prolonged breastfeeding and organic foods. In contrast to the immunity produced by disease, they felt that vaccines could damage the immune system while producing a number of other immediate and long-term adverse health conditions, particularly those involving the child’s neurologic system.”

Now, if I were in Afghanistan and the United States government ran a fake vaccine drive in order to find Bin Laden, you bet your ass I would think long and hard about vaccines. But in the US, people are not tending to refuse out of ethical reasons or because they are disadvantaged – they are doing so because they are convinced (unnecessarily) by bad science. My idea was to point out that you can make the internet support ANY hypothesis, if you don’t want to think critically about it.

You are correct. The majority of caregivers that outright refuse vaccinations appear to be white, wealthy, college educated according to various studies . Certainly, those most vocal about supposed ties to autism (among other Ableist and non-sensical claims) seem to be in a position to know better.

That said, I personally know quite a lot of PoC and/or poor folk who are unvaccinated and choose to remain so as adults for myriad reasons having to do with classism, racism, and colonialism. They certainly don’t make up the majority, but their experiences are that much more important to parse out, I think, given their marginalized positions relative to the image of the wealthy, white, educated anti-vaxxer.

Thanks again for sharing.

Marena, I think an article on this topic would be an interesting and important complement to this article that Susan wrote about the white, highly privileged anti-vaxxers. (Maybe complement is the wrong word because Susan’s is satirical, but it would definitely help provide a broader view of the issue, and the serious reasons behind PoCs/poor people’s choice not to vaccinate.)

I chose “tickled” for this article because you had me going for a while! I was reading your article thinking: “No, I like Susan. She’s usually so spot on..” and then I got to the bottom and actually said “phew!” Excellent comparison and article!

A lot of people have taken it seriously from the start, which is surprising to me (I guess), because CAR SEATS! CAR SEATS! Everybody loves car seats! But then I realized how accustomed we have gotten to seeing things that don’t make much sense at all.

OMG the car seat brigade! They actuallz make me hate the things.

To be honest, I read the first few paragraphs and then thought “DO NOT ENGAGE”, fumed a bit about stupid fecking idiotic ideas borne of complacency with medical and social progress (and google), and went to bed :p

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