The 2010 sketch on anti-vaccination made waves on Reddit earlier this year as many drew similarities between what the duo discussed at the time and the controversies surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine in America.
Every now and then, the internet digs up and reminisces certain content from yesteryears that hold its own even decades after its inception. From photographs immortalizing unforgettable moments in history to videos encapsulating the wisdom of those who came before us, we've all been able to learn a lot from and about the past due to this. An old clip of the world-famous magicians Penn & Teller is a perfect example of this. The video, which shows the duo blasting the anti-vaxxer movement, resurfaced once again a few months ago as COVID-19 vaccines became the new villain in conspiracy theory circles.
According to Indy100, the clip is from the show Penn & Teller: Bulls***! where the magicians, Penn Jillette and Teller, tackle a variety of topics ranging from political to supernatural to more in each episode. The 2010 sketch on anti-vaccination made waves on Reddit earlier this year as many drew similarities between what the duo discussed at the time and the controversies surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine in America. "You may have heard vaccination causes autism in 1 out of 110 children," Penn says at the beginning of the expletive-filled clip. "F*** that. Total bull****. It doesn't!"
Watching Penn & Teller: Bullshit, they're attacking anti-vax and autism. Love it.— Ryan M. Adzima (@radzima) August 19, 2010
Penn and Teller then go on to make a case against the anti-vaccine movement by demonstrating the success rate of those vaccinated against infectious diseases versus those unvaccinated using bowling pins arranged in neat rows on both sides of the room. "In the 1920s, before the Diphtheria vaccination was common, there were thirteen to fifteen thousand deaths a year from that disease. If you got it, your chances of dying were about 40%," Penn continued before throwing a ball towards one side of the room which was protected by plexiglass, representing those who are vaccinated.
While no pins took the hit on Penn's side, the bowling pins on Teller's side — the unprotected side — weren't as lucky. The duo then proceeded to demonstrate their point for a range of diseases that are no longer a threat to humankind thanks to the development of vaccines. "We have vaccinations against all of them," Penn says in the video. "Which side do you want your child to stand on? So even if vaccination did cause autism — which it fu**ing doesn't — anti-vaccination would still be bullsh*t!" The clip won much praise in the r/videos subreddit with over 45k upvotes and 4.2k comments from Redditors.
"Imagine my surprise when I learned that the chickenpox vaccine started to be regularly administered a year or so after I contracted it from a chickenpox party (common and perhaps accepted in my youth)," commented PM_ME_YOUR__INIT__. "Visit any older, historical cemetery and see how many are kids. Diseases that we take for granted today were common killers in the past," wrote owdbr549. "As somebody who works in the field of infectious disease, I've always really liked this 'Sketch' - not strictly scientifically accurate, but a great visual demonstration," commented GrumpyOik.
Reddit user BatXDude also made an interesting point in their comment which reads: "Anti-vaxxers will discredit this by saying 'they not doctors' whilst simultaneously believing everyone on Facebook who is anti-vax." Another Redditor with the username itsdjc shared that they'd tried using a similar argument when discussing the topic with anti-vaxxers. "I've used this argument against anti-vaxxers as well. 'Well, let's assume that vaccines do cause autism, which it doesn't. You're saying you'd rather risk your child dying than having an even smaller chance of developing autism?' Honestly, it's a huge insult to autistic people," they wrote.