The issues relating to a psudo-scientific nonsense interrfering with vaccines is still striking hard. There are anti vaccine groups for example most well known in the United States. While this has real demonstrable damage and it is quite clear looking at the rush for MMR vaccines in Wales that it can swing from one panic with a proposed Autism link to a panic about the diseases these vaccines were meant to combat.
This boils down to two things, firstly there is anti scientific thought. This is the most dangerous in my opinion as it forms a anti science viewpoint. While it is easy to wonder what harm this really takes thinking of a person sitting at a computer ironically wondering what has science ever done for me. My argument against this is two fold.
Firstly this breeds an anti scientific atmosphere which allows impressionable people or those who have not been informed otherwise to rely on the nonsense being put out.
Secondly this can lead to extreme examples in where people die from very easily preventable issues such as diabetes. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/02/us-daughter-pray-death.
Now the issue also expands to other things a good example being the ‘anti climate’ lobby. A delay in how serious we take climate change and the political power these ideas have is very dangerous. We live in a world where the country to first reach the moon in some states has issues with the teaching of ‘evilution’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District.
Now I’m sure you may be thinking that as a general person what does this have to do with you? Politicians make the political decisions right? Well yes and no. There needs to be a need to teach children better skills of comparing information as well as knowledge of the scientific process.
This ties into perhaps the most important thing media responsibility. There will always be those on internet forums who take an anti/apathetic to scientific advancement view. There will always be those who can benefit from any anti scientific feeling in the public but the media is in the important position to be trusted and able to inform the public. The daily mail being a massive offender in anti-scientific nonsense there is also the issue of the need to create sensualist stories rather than accurately reporting.
‘The need for balance’ is also an issue. The idea that if an opposing view simply exists it should have an equal view in many media debates. This of course is nonsense when it comes to issues of hard facts. But in addition to this the knowledge that correlation does not equal causation should be something we are all engrained with.
Look at the chart. It’s all chartlike it must therefore be true!
This of course leads to other issues with the media normally relating to X causes violence because of a one off event or stretched connection the blame usually in these cases falling on extreme music or video games. It seems to be a sad consequence of the human nature of being scared of what we cannot properly understand.
Of course they are some that can gain from the lack of scientific understanding, we also can’t rely on politicians and education to give us all the information we need. People should always be somewhat self informed. I am not proposing that children need to know the finer points of biochemistry but rather they know how science works. Technological advancement can bring great economic rewards to a country and also provide a benefit to humanity as a whole.
I can understand why somebody might think that this post is pedantic and seems to be missing the point. With all the important things going on in the world how much of an issue is this really? Well my answer to this hypothetical point is that well a lot of the damage here is far easier avoidable. Refrigeration, packaging and improvements to food production have a clear advantage and general scepticism over GM foods is an issue but to sum it up perhaps more eloquently. What is the price that we can put on the advancement of the human race?
- How parents feel now about boycotting MMR (bbc.co.uk)
- One million schoolchildren in England to be vaccinated as measles threat grows (nhsfightback.org)
- It’s 2013. Enough With the “False Balance” on the MMR vaccine (sciencebasedpharmacy.wordpress.com)