The brave teenager who angered his anti-vaxxer parents by self-vaccinating testified before Congress about his decision.

It’s extremely difficult to change the minds of people who believe vaccinations cause autism or brain damage because of a psychological concept known as cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is the tendency for people to accept facts that fit their existing beliefs and see cause-and-effect that doesn’t exist, like the nonexistent link between an MMR shot and signs of autism.

Ethan Lindenberger, an 18-year-old high school senior from Norwalk, Ohio, never received shots for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), chickenpox, or even polio, because of his parents views.


Realizing that he would never change them, he got vaccinated against their wishes.

His decision first caught the public’s attention in November 2018 when he posted about it on Reddit. “My parents are kind of stupid and don't believe in vaccines. Now that I'm 18, where do I go to get vaccinated?" the post was titled.

"As the title explains, my parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme,” he wrote. “It’s stupid and I've had countless arguments over the topic. But, because of their beliefs I've never been vaccinated for anything, god knows how I'm still alive."

"But, i'm a senior in high school now with a car, a license, and money of my own," he continued. "I'd assume that I can get them on my own but I've just never had a conversation with anyone about the subject.”

Lindenberger’s decision was a “slap in the face” to his mother who said she did not immunize him because "it was the best way to protect him and keep him safe,” she told Undark.

On Tuesday, March 5, Lindenberger testified before Congress at the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions about his decision to self-vaccinate.

“As a child, it intrigued me that people disagreed with my mom about vaccines,” Lindenberger told the panel. “My decision to get myself vaccinated was based on the health and safety of myself and other people, so I approached my family physician who encouraged me to get vaccinated,” he said.

He also spoke out on why people choose to believe unscientific information. “Many people don’t resonate well with data and numbers – they resonate better through stories,” he told the panel.

“We see that with the anti-vaccine community. A lot of the foundation they build with parents is on an anecdotal level, sharing stories and experiences," he continued. "That speaks volumes to people because it reaffirms, especially for my mom, that her position is correct.”

Lindenberger’s brave decision to take his health into his own hands and speak out are important. The more people who understand the psychological mechanisms that lead people to believe dangerous and unscientific information, the less people will fall for conspiracies such as the anti-vaxxer movement.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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