The Reality of Vaccines with Sonya Pemberton

Sonya Pemberton is an Emmy-winning science documentary maker.

She’s recently made JABBED - love, fear and vaccines; URANIUM - Twisting the Dragon's Tail, and now, #VITAMANIA all about how many if any vitamins we need daily. 

We got in touch when a few months ago I put a photo of myself getting some vaccination shots up on instagram.

We have a baby on the way. 

I don’t want that baby to die of a disease that belongs in a Dickens novel. 

Vaccines are proven effective by the scientific process, so therefore I use vaccines. 

It’s a pretty simple thing to say. 

But some people lost their fuckin’ minds at me. 

There’s a lot of very convincing, very flawed information out in the world about vaccines. 

To the point that people were accusing me of wanting to kill my child, and accusing me of being on the take from pharmaceutical companies. 

I explored a bit more as to why people might believe such things. Things that clearly aren’t true. 

And I started to discover that if I took the attitude of “I’m right and you’re stupid” that wouldn’t change anything. 

If I acknowledged the fear and the incredible wanting to cause no harm to their child - and that being the root of the desire to explore if vaccines were safe - well that’s a different story. 

If you google something for long enough eventually you’ll get an answer that confirms your opinion. 

That’s how algorithms work. 

You get more of what you click on. 

Then you eventually vanish down into a filter-bubble of confirmation bias. Where you never see anything other than the kind of things you click on. 

If you spend long enough on FB and You Tube, you’ll quickly come across a conspiracy theory - no matter what it is you’re looking for. 

Things start to get scary. 

Eventually, wanting to feel less alone, or looking for others in a time of fear people reach 

out to others who are also concerned - primarily in Facebook groups. 

There they find a welcome ear, and support and more confirmation that they’re making the right decision. 

That’s when it gets kind of cult-like for me. 

There’s an appeal to purity that kicks in, and threat of exclusion if you ever leave the group or say anything against that group. I see it in the vegan community all the time. 

So people start to identify as a part of that group or movement, even if it’s a movement based on collective delusion that’s been disproven time and again. 

Once that identity is set in - any challenge to the base belief of that identity is seen as heresy and ends up pushing people deeper into that delusion. 

And that’s where the incredible reactionary positions and violent language happens. 

It’s really confronting. 

It would be super scary to be in it because you’d have a belief that the world is out to get you and me and your kids. 

I could tell you it doesn’t, but they told you I’d say that didn’t they?

As we learned from Jo Thornely, that’s straight up cult-talk 101. 


In the middle of all of this noise and anger when I was just trying to talk about something that’s real, I was contacted by our mutual friend Caroline Pegram who looks after Dr Karl. 

She told me I should have Sonya on the podcast - because of the extraordinary film she made - Jabbed, a film all about vaccines and how they work and the history of vaccines which goes back hundreds and hundreds of years. 

We managed to make that conversation happen. 

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