Sarah Dzubay, a biology student, in her essay “An Outbreak of the Irrational,” presents reasons for anti-vaccine supporters to change their position by thoughtfully considering and refuting their essential arguments. Dzubay starts with an insightful example about measles, the disease that has returned to modern-day civilization due to some people’s reluctance to vaccinate. Then, to further back up her position, she describes the notion of herd immunity, which means that if a specific majority of people are vaccinated, those who are left unvaccinated will remain safe. Thus, if the number of people who refuse to inoculate grows, it can threaten the entire community. The author then proceeds to rebut common arguments of those who oppose vaccination, particularly that vaccination can positively correlate with autism and long-term adverse health issues in newborn babies. Lastly, she refutes the claim that vaccines are introduced in order for giant pharmaceutical companies to gain economic profit. The author thus employed scientific evidence and history of diseases with a convincing and considerate, albeit critical tone, to dissuade anti-vaccine supporters.
Sarah Dzubay’s stance is that people should get vaccinated because of the scientific evidence of its positive influence and the harmful consequences of not doing so. Her tone was critical, validating, and inspirational throughout the paper. To point out that anti-vaccine supporters are wrong, Dzubay employs a critical tone, which can be traced in her following choice of words that describes the actions of anti-vaccine supporters: “irrational and dangerous” and “selfish” (Bullock et al. 809- 810). The accusatory tone is also present in descriptions of vaccine opposers’ arguments as “scientifically incorrect”, “not reputable”, “outdated and unfounded”, and as failing “to bring any benefit to society” (Bullock et al. 810-812). In the sentence “It is time for anti-vaccination advocates to open their minds”, the author assumes they have a closed mind, pointing to her accusatory tone (Bullock et al. 812). Thus, she masterfully uses a critical tone to make vaccination opposers question their stance.
Apart from a critical tone, she also applies considerate, validating, and empathetic tones. These can be evident in the following sentences: “The fear of vaccines is not unwarranted” and “While watching their child have seizures was a terrible experience …” (Bullock et al. 809-811). These phrases win her audience’s trust by showing her understanding of their position. Furthermore, it is essential to note that she is not invalidating their feelings; she instead accuses their actions and misleading sources. Lastly, she uses an inspirational, patriotic, almost chivalrous tone, which can be evident in the following diction: “duty,” “community,” “responsibility,” “protect,” “nation’s health,” and “greater good” (Bullock et al.810-812). She is thereby encouraging and inspiring her readers to take responsibility.
Sarah Dzubay’s primary purpose is to dissuade people who are against vaccination. The author aims not only to criticize and accuse them but change their minds and unravel the origins of their dangerous delusions. By explaining herd immunity, Dzubay wants to remind people that vaccination is not an issue of individual concern; therefore, it is not the time to be selfish (Bullock et al. 812). Generally, she wants to inspire people to hold accountability and remind them of their “duty to think … of the greater good” (Bullock et al. 812). The purpose is particularly evident in her last sentence: “We must all claim our roles as responsible protectors of our nation’s health” (Bullock et al. 812). Eventually, she aims to raise the number of educated people about the effectiveness of vaccines and the misleading nature of vaccine opponents’ arguments.
The author’s primary audience is vaccine opposers and those who have experienced harmful effects of vaccination; the secondary audience is people with varying degrees of expertise and those who are neutral or supportive of the issue. By dissecting and rebutting the reasoning of those who advocate against vaccines, she attempts to convince them of the contrary (Bullock et al.). Additionally, her intended audience is people traumatized by vaccination: “People should use their negative account of a negative experience with a vaccine should …” (Bullock et al. 811). Eventually, Dzubay addresses “all the people” throughout the paper: “we must all claim,” “protection for all,” and “we” (Bullock et al. 810-812). Thus, although she mainly addresses those who are against vaccination, the paper speaks to all the people, as the issue at hand affects everybody.
To conclude, the author thoughtfully delivered her arguments and rebutted to dissuade those who oppose vaccination and raise awareness about vaccination in general. The author’s primary strategy was to dissect the reasoning behind the choice to oppose vaccines to shed light on their misleading nature. She masterfully combined critical and accusatory tones with empathetic and validating tones to reach maximum efficiency. This piece is beneficial for those against vaccination and the wider population, with a supportive or neutral stance and varying degrees of awareness.
Bullock, Richard H, et al. The Norton Field Guide To Writing With Readings And Handbook. 5th ed., W. W. Norton & Co, 2019.