“Natural” is such a pretty word. It conjures up all sorts of nice mental pictures: waterfalls, butterflies, the slow return to spring after a long winter. When someone makes reference to nature and all things natural, odds are that’s the kind of thing you’re meant to think of in response. Presumably they’re not expecting you to think of amoebic dysentery.
The trouble is that there are horrible things that are also entirely natural. Nobody really celebrates freezing to death in January or being pursued by predators, as natural as they may be. But for skeptics of evidence-based medicine, “natural” is a handy go-to word to make the target audience share their skepticism. Modern medicine isn’t easily found in nature, the thinking goes, and so it is something of which to be wary at best.
This kind of rationale clearly undergirds the practice of a recently-profiled pediatrician who doesn’t vaccinate her patients routinely. "I think we're just messing with nature,” says Dr. Stacia Kenet Lansman of vaccinating children on the standard schedule (or, in the case of several preventable illnesses, at all). We are then meant to imagine immunizations plowing, bulldozer-like, through the primroses of a child’s pristine immune system. (Never mind that the immune system is quite capable of handling all those vaccines and more.) Nature is not to be messed with!