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The Benefits of Vaccination Essay

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Updated: Sep 7th, 2022


Currently, society approaches countering deadly diseases through herd immunity. The scientists insist that for humanity’s good people should think collectively rather than individually. One such scientist, Marcus du Sautoy, wrote “Why aren’t people listening to scientists?” in Los Angeles Times, arguing that although there is a risk in vaccinating, it is primarily tiny (Du Sautoy). He begins building his credibility with both universal and personal facts along with reputable scientific data, applying the convincing facts. He sufficiently employs emotional appeals and, by the end of his article, strengthens his credibility and, therefore, his argument sustaining dialog with the audience.

Rhetorical Context

In his article, Marcus starts with setting the stage through the description of the contradictory situation in society’s trust in scientific evidence. He describes the simple truths in their perception by a child on an intuitive level. He continues by discussing that intuition and scientific evidence are different in their nature and might contradict each other. Hence, the issue of society’s distrust of scientists based on intuitive simplified perception in terms of lack of understanding the scientific grounds arises. Du Sautoy suggests that possible solutions hide in the scientists understanding of people’s psychology and take it into account while presenting their conclusions. The crucial part of practical science is a robust argumentation over the data’s interpretation. Du Sautoy states that the government and the public are often confused by the lack of definitive, clear answers to the questions they have. Although today’s skeptical age should be making people listen to scientists, some politicians use a challenging approach to well-tested scientific theories to gain unprecedented popularity and followers. The rejectionists dismiss the experts refusing the idea that the last persuade the best interests.

The Author and the Audience

In 2010, the author of the article, du Sautoy, gained an OBE award for his service to science (“Marcus du Sautoy’). He is “Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford where he holds the prestigious Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science and is a Fellow of New College” (Topping). He is a well-known author for The Independent, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, and The Times. The Guardian refers to du Sautoy as the “de facto public face of maths” (Topping). In May 2016, his fourth and, currently, the latest book was published under the title “What We Cannot Know,” highlighting the limits of human understanding and science (Topping). In the given article, this topic proceeds to discuss the pros and cons of vaccination and its followers and rejectionists.

The author’s audience consists of both the society and the representatives of the scientific world. The public needs certainty, and this need is one of the biggest challenges for scientists, as the tension between unknown and known significantly affects people’s deeds and thoughts. Du Sautoy calls the scientists to “bridge the gulf in understanding by engaging more with the public, particularly when it comes to research that will have a big impact on society” (Du Sautoy). He considers the scientists obligation to provide the public with a genuine exchange rather than one-way lecturing.

Logos and Pathos

According to du Sautoy, science is very clear about the role of vaccination in preventing disease spread. Each virus is characterized by the so-called “reproduction number” – the quantity of secondarily infected people in an unvaccinated society (Eisenberg). For example, the reproduction number of influenza varies between 2-3, whereas the same rate of smallpox reaches 5-7 (Du Sautoy). Du Sautoy stresses the rightness of epidemiologists, who proposed to inoculate around 80% of the Earth’s population, stating that it will result in successful smallpox eradication (Du Sautoy). The percentage of people to be inoculated was counted based on the smallpox rates, which turned out to be correct.

Marcus urges people to realize that unless some new data shows that the model people got acquainted with is erroneous, such revelations should not refute all scientific research and achievements. He gives a vivid example of discovering a new subatomic particle. People knew nothing about it before, but it does not fundamentally change the current understanding of gravity or biology in no time.


Du Sautoy refers to the growing cases of measles as evidence. He refreshes in the audience’s memory the WHO’s statistics of 2015: there were over 134,000 measles deaths recorded, which is around 370 deaths daily or approximately fifteen deaths per hour (Du Sautoy). The vaccine for measles is available worldwide, but its reproduction number is still high (12-18) (Guerra et al.). Hence, it is possible to eradicate measles only through inoculating over 90% of the population (Du Sautoy). Meanwhile, several doctors are spreading rumors regarding the interrelation of rubella, mumps, and measles vaccine with autism. Despite the efforts of thousands of scientists to disprove and debunk those rumors, the fear persists.


Marcus du Sautoy effectively persuades his readers in the wrong attitude to scientific evidence on vaccination, gaining his power by the end of the article. He successfully uses the approach of simplified analogies as examples to explain to people the issues they could not understand before. His audience realizes that the scientists are eventually ready to share their knowledge and conclusions and clarify the ways they worked out their theories. Although du Sautoy uses accessible language and his speech is not burdened by incomprehensible layman terminology, the whole article remains a scientifically sound opinion. It is noteworthy that he successfully appeals both to the ordinary audience and the representatives of the scientific world, encouraging them to fully share information and knowledge.

Works Cited

Du Sautoy, M. Los Angeles Times, 2017, Web.

Eisenberg, Joseph. . School of Public Health, 2020. Web.

Guerra, Fiona M., et al. “The Basic Reproduction Number (R0) of Measles: A Systematic Review.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases, vol. 17, no. 12, July 2017. Researchgate.

. n.d., 2020. Web.

Topping, A. . Green Heaton, n.d., 2020. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "The Benefits of Vaccination." September 7, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-benefits-of-vaccination/.


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