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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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

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Gates Foundation

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