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Dept. of Face Palm Isn't Enough

Darwin!
So: Just How Do We Fix This?

A depressing little story from Mother Jones about the obstacles medical science faces when attempting to change the minds of anti-vaxxers.

When facts fail, do we look at how we deliver them? Do we look at what makes people reject them? Do we try to see the world from the nay-sayer's point of view in hopes of finding an argument or fact that might change her mind? Do we do all of those things?

Well, that's easy, I suppose. We do all of those things. But, lord, it's depressing to realize yet again that facts won't change peoples' minds.

(And it's depressing to realize that as a human, I could easily fall prey to the same blindness in other areas. Science? Not so much; but other areas? I'd better be willing to acknowledge my own biases.)




This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/293769.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
apostle_of_eris
Mar. 5th, 2014 04:57 pm (UTC)
a) You can't fix stupid.

b) You have mis-identified the problem. The root of the anti-vaxxer thing is one (1) paper which is known to have been faked. The reason facts don't work is that it's not about facts.
A great many people have never learned to distinguish between the functioning of their emotions and the functioning of their reason. "You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into."
kaffyr
Mar. 8th, 2014 02:50 am (UTC)
The reason facts don't work is that it's not about facts.

You should read some of the comments I made over at DW concerning this. My interest will always lie in figuring out how to break the mental logjam, or breaking down the mental walls between "I will never believe anything but this" and "Wait ... this is really uncomfortable to think about, but ..."
jessalrynn
Mar. 5th, 2014 05:56 pm (UTC)
Too many people have jumped on this bandwagon for the wrong reasons. Sadly, most of those reasons are the same reasons as why Snopes.com doesn't successfully stop chain emails.

The freak out isn't dependent on truth or science. It's depending on panic. There's always a line in these discussions that some vaguely ominous sounding someone "doesn't want you to know" about it. They literally nip our attempts to use reason with that one sentence. We, trying to explain the true facts, become part of the conspiracy.

Then there's the various religious aspects, and the various naturalist aspects, and we're now fighting against enemies who've found a way to pitch their bivouack together.

Finally, it's always an uphill battle against the "then it can't happen to me" front. The condition, being over-diagnosed as it is, terrifies people, because it effects their children. But if they don't make the same "mistake", it can't happen to their kid.

Send out a spam email that the "insert random letters here" doesn't want you to know that the report was faked, that it was on Oprah on an unspecified date, and that this saved some celebrity's child, and you'll probably make better headway. I'm sorry, but humanity is just LIKE this.

There was a crazy bitch who purported to cure kinds of cancers in the 80s with fallacious logic and fake medical supplies. My husband's genuine science company still gets at least one call a month from people wanting to buy her stuff from them. She was struck off, here and in Mexico, but her victims are panicked people desperate for any answer that isn't "I'm sorry".

Hope you guys have better luck.
kaffyr
Mar. 9th, 2014 03:29 am (UTC)
The freak out isn't dependent on truth or science. It's depending on panic. There's always a line in these discussions that some vaguely ominous sounding someone "doesn't want you to know" about it. They literally nip our attempts to use reason with that one sentence. We, trying to explain the true facts, become part of the conspiracy.

It's in the same horrible space as trying to overcome not being able to prove a negative: "You can't prove xxxxx doesn't exist/didn't happen/isn't out there/aren't conspiring against us."

She was struck off, here and in Mexico, but her victims are panicked people desperate for any answer that isn't "I'm sorry".

That's the tragedy of it. There's a chapter in Carl Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World," called The City of Grief. In it, Sagan quotes sections from letters he'd received from people, talking about their belief in the afterlife, or their belief in UFO landings, their beliefs in higher beings or what-have-you. And a heart-breaking number of these comments illuminate the great longing that people have for comfort, for surcease from grief, for a Great Father or Mother to soothe hurts. In many cases, it's not spelled out, it's just a hint - but when he presents comment after comment after comment, the weight of the grief and fear is just ... well, illuminating and heart-breaking, as I've said. And that desperate desire for an answer that isn't "I'm sorry" is too often behind attitudes like the anti-vaxxers, as superficially different as they might be from people who believe in angels.
a_phoenixdragon
Mar. 5th, 2014 06:03 pm (UTC)
Well, I'll be the first to say that I didn't like the new vaccine (I say new, but it's been a few years) for girls and women against cervical cancers. I was rather suspicious of it, but only because they felt the burning need to advertise it on the telly. I hate this idea of commercialising healthcare and it brings immediate suspicion and a sense of mistrust when they 'advocate' for something on the television. I talked with a doctor about it after spouting my distaste and learned otherwise - but I can see how easy it is to naysay vaccines and other lifesaving medications with how they handle 'informing the public' about them.

But then, I never was a genius, lol!!

*HUGS*
kaffyr
Mar. 9th, 2014 05:40 pm (UTC)
Wow ... taken too long to answer this; can I plead that part of my problem was spending the whole frakkin' day putting together a bed? And that Friday I didn't really even look at the computer for personal use?

I hate this idea of commercialising healthcare

That I can empathize with. Every time I see ads for "Cancer Care Centers of America" I grit my teeth. They undoubtedly save lives, and I think that they may do research that can help people, so one point for them, but I definitely don't like the idea that they're a for-profit venture. The majority of hospitals are not-for-profit in my experience. Even if they make a lot of money, it's ploughed back into hospital operations. For-profit places are beholden to the shareholders and/or owners, and, well, you're right; medicine shouldn't be commercialized.

One of the things that's different about the vaccine - or anything that non-commercial groups advocate for on radio, TV or elsewhere, is that a lot of those ads also include links to verifiably non-commercial groups that provide some background and context. And if the ads come from a non-governmental or non-commercial agency, I look at the ads as PSAs. There's a much greater chance that the term "ad" in those cases really does mean advocacy - "Here's something that could save a life" - rather than advertisement - "Here's something that will make me rich if you buy it."

In the case of the folks who believe that childhood vaccinations lead to autism, they are basing their belief on one, count'em one, study whose author has been exposed as a sham and a fraud. They refuse to believe the truthfully dozens and more than dozens of studies from all parts of the world, done in proper scientific double-blind tests, that vaccination doesn't lead to autism. What's more, they put other peoples' children at risk by doing so. Because childhood vaccinations against polio, diptheria, influenza, etc. have saved the lives of uncounted babies and children, for decades, and a Titanic's load worth of scientifically and statistically verifiable proof that they've been doing so. There's a league's worth of difference between rejecting that, and what you're talking about; an understandable leery look at commercials touting a new and relatively unstudied vaccination.

Even more important to note: When you were suspicious of the anti-cervical cancer vaccination, you did the right thing: you asked a doctor and, based on the Doctor's logical explanation, you adjusted your worldview. These folks won't, or can't, and that's what I can't understand.
a_phoenixdragon
Mar. 10th, 2014 02:40 pm (UTC)
Tis okay, honey...think we're all having pretty busy, hectic days.

Yeah, there is just something distasteful about full out advertising for medicines and hospitals. And most of them...it's the warnings that get me. I have long been jaded about them, because of the 'for profit' angle and PSAs warning about products that have been adverted - it just makes me suspicious of the medical world and that is sad...especially since my father was a doctor and I was raised to believe in medical science. The shoddy for profit treatment of people's trust nowadays makes me more wary than trusting though.

I know which bitch you mean!! OMG...and yeah, vaccines have been used for over a hundred years, with nothing but good results. I'm not at all surprised that even though she has been debunked, that hysterics are still listening and sticking stubbornly to ignorance rather than sense. Some people just don't WANT to hear the truth and that is a sad fact.

*HUGS*
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