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Climate Hustle

Inoculating against science denial

Posted on 27 April 2015 by John Cook

The ConversationScience denial has real, societal consequences. Denial of the link between HIV and AIDS led to more than 330,000 premature deaths in South Africa. Denial of the link between smoking and cancer has caused millions of premature deaths. Thanks to vaccination denial, preventable diseases are making a comeback.

Denial is not something we can ignore or, well, deny. So what does scientific research say is the most effective response? Common wisdom says that communicating more science should be the solution. But a growing body of evidence indicates that this approach can actually backfire, reinforcing people’s prior beliefs.

When you present evidence that threatens a person’s worldview, it can actually strengthen their beliefs. This is called the “worldview backfire effect”. One of the first scientific experiments that observed this effect dates back to 1975.

A psychologist from the University of Kansas presented evidence to teenage Christians that Jesus Christ did not come back from the dead. Now, the evidence wasn’t genuine; it was created for the experiment to see how the participants would react.

What happened was their faith actually strengthened in response to evidence challenging their faith. This type of reaction happens across a range of issues. When US Republicans are given evidence of no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, they believe more strongly that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. When you debunk the myth linking vaccination to autism, anti-vaxxers respond by opposing vaccination more strongly.

In my own research, when I’ve informed strong political conservatives that there’s a scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming, they become less accepting that humans are causing climate change.

Brute force meets resistance

Ironically, the practice of throwing more science at science denial ignores the social science research into denial. You can’t adequately address this issue without considering the root cause: personal beliefs and ideology driving the rejection of scientific evidence. Attempts at science communication that ignore the potent influence effect of worldview can be futile or even counterproductive.

How then should scientists respond to science denial? The answer lies in a branch of psychology dating back to the 1960s known as “inoculation theory”. Inoculation is an idea that changed history: stop a virus from spreading by exposing people to a weak form of the virus. This simple concept has saved millions of lives.

In the psychological domain, inoculation theory applies the concept of inoculation to knowledge. When we teach science, we typically restrict ourselves to just explaining the science. This is like giving people vitamins. We’re providing the information required for a healthier understanding. But vitamins don’t necessarily grant immunity against a virus.

There is a similar dynamic with misinformation. You might have a healthy understanding of the science. But if you encounter a myth that distorts the science, you’re confronted with a conflict between the science and the myth. If you don’t understand the technique used to distort the science, you have no way to resolve that conflict.

Half a century of research into inoculation theory has found that the way to neutralise misinformation is to expose people to a weak form of the misinformation. The way to achieve this is to explain the fallacy employed by the myth. Once people understand the techniques used to distort the science, they can reconcile the myth with the fact.

There is perhaps no more apt way to demonstrate inoculation theory than to address a myth about vaccination. A persistent myth about vaccination is that it causes autism.

This myth originated from a Lancet study which was subsequently shown to be fraudulent and was retracted by the journal. Nevertheless, the myth persists simply due to the persuasive fact that some children have developed autism around the same time they were vaccinated.

This myth uses the logical fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc, Latin for “after this, therefore because of this”. This is a fallacy because correlation does not imply causation. Just because one event happens around the same time as another event doesn’t imply that one causes the other.

The only way to demonstrate causation is through statistically rigorous scientific research. Many studies have investigated this issue and shown conclusively that there is no link between vaccination and autism.

Inoculating minds

The response to science denial is not just more science. We stop science denial by exposing people to a weak form of science denial. We need to inoculate minds against misinformation.

The practical application of inoculation theory is already happening in classrooms, with educators adopting the teaching approach of misconception-based learning (also known as agnotology-based learning or refutational teaching).

This involves teaching science by debunking misconceptions about the science. This approach results in significantly higher learning gains than customary lectures that simply teach the science.

While this is currently happening in a few classrooms, Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs) offer the opportunity to scale up this teaching approach to reach potentially hundreds of thousands of students. At the University of Queensland, we’re launching a MOOC that makes sense of climate science denial.

Our approach draws upon inoculation theory, educational research into misconception-based learning and the cognitive psychology of debunking. We explain the psychological research into why and how people deny climate science.

Having laid the framework, we examine the fallacies behind the most common climate myths. Our goal is for students to learn how to identify the techniques used to distort climate science and feel confident responding to misinformation.

A typical response of scientists to science denial is to teach more science. But that only provides half of what’s needed. Scientific research has offered us a solution: build resistance to science denial by exposing people to a weak form of science denial.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 32:

  1. The very basis of science is questioning belief, but we can't have little Johnny going home from school unsure about the existence of god, his parents won't accept even the hint of such a thing. Science and religion are opposites and shouldn't be able to coexist within a sane mind. 

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] I appreciate that it is a fine line on this  topic, but please note the comments policy "Rants about politics, religion, faith, ideology or one world governments will be deleted." Can everyone please be very careful to keep comments addressed to points in the article and avoiding rants.

  2. Excellent article.  A nit:  Correlation does "imply" causation, and indeed is necessary for causation.  It's just not sufficient.

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  3. Unfortunately, it seems to me that it is just as possible (perhaps even easier?) to 'inoculate' people with misinformation.

    Look at the whole, 'The hockey stick is broken' myth... setting aside the fact that it is false, even if the 'hockey stick' had been erroneous, that would not have contradicted our understanding of AGW at all. Yet, 'skeptics' are able to take a less than optimal statistical technique (i.e. principal component analysis) in MBH 98 and use that to inoculate people against the study as a whole... and then leverage that rejection of the 'hockey stick' into rejection of AGW as a whole. Denial built upon delusion built upon misinformation.

    We see the same thing with Himalayan glaciers = IPCC false = no AGW and various other 'skeptic' arguments. It is the same concept of knocking down a weak argument to take advantage of human tendency to then reject the entire line of reasoning... just with the addition of the original 'proof' itself being false.

    Obviously, 'inoculation' is a useful tool to halt the spread of misinformation, but how do you get through to someone who has already been successfully inoculated against reality?

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  4. @Sunspot
    Be careful about such claims.  Yours are after all a form of dogma as well.  The idea that science and faith cannot exist simultaneously did not really come into existance until the Skopes trial.  However I would say that attempting to refute science using little more than faith cannot succeed on its merits.

    However, I might be willing to argue that science cannot exist at all if viewed through a political lens.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] You have incorrectly spelled "Scopes." The trail, over the teaching of evolution, is officially The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes. 

  5. Full disclosure: I am non-religious, in the usual sense.  Attacking religion is a bad idea.  After all, we are faced with a situation where the universe and human interests are not aligned.  We die. We suffer injustice. We suffer from imperfection.  We drop our keys in the toilet.  We can understand all of these conditions from a scientific perspective, but it won't stop us from trying to build narratives to cover the basic fact that human interests and the universe are not aligned.  Any single version of the religious narrative may be wrong from a scientific perspective, but it may be critical to remaining sane in bewildering conditions.  The non-religious have their own fictions, of course, and for the same reasons.  One of the great questions of the 20th and 21st centuries is whether or not the value of the individually-derived narrative will rise above the collectively-derived narrative.  We'll still be telling ourselves stories, though, regardless.  

    Note, of course, that this doesn't mean we shouldn't act on the best information--presumably what science provides, and religion shouldn't try to describe the physical universe.  What science doesn't provide is meaning and purpose.  We have to figure those out for ourselves.

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  6. Tom Dayton @2, a further nitpick.  "x implies y" if, and only it cannot be the case that x is true and why is not, ie, if x is sufficient for y.  You can flesh out "cannot" as a logical relationship or a causal relationship, but "implies" indicates sufficiency in either case.

    It is true that nowadays there is a common meaning of "implies" which means merely that it hints at, but that is not the meaning used in the the common claim that "correlation does not imply causation".  Indeed, it is probably a bastardized meaning that comes from the inflation of language evident when you see politicians or reporters say that they "refute an accusation" when they merely mean that they reject it (as if, like God, their claiming something makes true).  (A refutation, of course, reqires the actual giving of evidence (ie, a rebutal), and the evidence actually proving the point,ie, that the rebutal is successful, and not merely rhetorically).

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  7. @CBDunkerson, What an excellent question!

    "Obviously, 'inoculation' is a useful tool to halt the spread of misinformation, but how do you get through to someone who has already been successfully inoculated against reality?"

    I've been teaching a form of counselling for 30 years. I'll give you my take on it.

    I think we need to start with the common personal decision making aparatus - feelings. Most people from my experience decide most everything based on their feelings. Feelings can be manipulated to be made up of a large part of the past so the person walks around with a pseudo-reality made up of old attitudes and painful emotions as if it's all real. These become self perpetuating. Self fulfilling justifications.

    As an example - an argry man can become convinced that everyone is defensive. If they are not defensive in the first second of a conversation with him I expect they will be by the second or third second.

    I see ideologies as being the pseudo realities that hold all the painfull past in place. When a person is very relaxed and open I don't have much trouble with a sensible discussion of climate change. Very few are that relaxed and open!

    The world views I've come across occupying climate denial are those of the right wing, the religeous evangelical, the haters of communism, those working for fossil fuels. Of course a clear headed right wing, evangelical anti communist fossil fuel employee could be an ally to climate science. It's about cultural blind spots.

    A workable path out of this blocked up pseudo real life is through relationships that have trust and humour. Once those features are in a life - a relationship with someone who does know about climate change science and who is also trusted personally, humour is able to be used to begin to break up the rigid mass of the pseudo real. The ideological blocks of pain filled attitudes after a big laugh are loosened up for a little while.

    With skillfull humour and a good relationship the approaches that John Cook discusses become with in reach. Then his recommendation about weak denial inoculation looks work able to me. Having done that with denialist friends I know that it's possible for me to acheive that.

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  8. DSL@5 Agreed.  I was going to say that many deniers have been taught that climate denial is 'of a piece' with their entire Spiritual viewpoint.  Appearing to attack elements of that viewpoint, rather than restricting oneself to the matter of AGW, reinforces the paranoic vision they've been spoonfed.  If someone imagines that accepting your arguments will land them in h_ll, you will not prevail.  On the contrary, if your evidence matches what they see outside the door each day, and also what certain Spiritual leaders, like the Pope, are saying, the chances for success are higher.

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  9. Religion is about choosing to believe in a heavenly government so the idea that religious belief makes carbon dioxide irrelevant is absurd even to the religious..

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  10. Hi.

    My first post here. I have been fighting the good fight on YouTube comments. This article fits very well with what I have expeirenced there. I always figured I would not convince the person I was arguing with but hoping to sway lurkers who might be open to the facts.

    Besides religion, I think the hardest nut to crack is the conspiracy aspect. Those who are scared to death that Climate change is an excuse for the UN to step in and take their property and force them into some kind of ghetto. If they talk of Agenda 21, it seems like game over.

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  11. At times I begin to think that the business of pondering the basis of denialism is a waste of time - in the end I find myself coming to the inescapable conclusion that it is just a matter of stupidity - in the end when lives or livelyhoods are threatened then neuronal processes begin to reflect on reality.  Note contrite parents of disabled (or worse) kids who werent immunized.  Also note that there is a surprising lack of gw denialism amongst local authories on the coast or within insurance companies or small oceanic states.

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  12. My view on this matter have more holistic basis, a basis that applies to more than just the matter of excess CO2. It is in line with, but slightly different from, many of the comments made.

    - Many religious people understand the problem of excess CO2 production by human activity. They consider it to be another unacceptable result of the socioeconomic system that encourages people to pursue their desires regardless of the ability to understand the unacceptability of pursuing those desires. And many non-religious people share that 'worldview' and pursue advancement of civil society and humanity being a part of the robust diversity of life on this amazing planet.

    - The desire for freedom to get away with unacceptable pursuits is a 'collective view' encouraged by mass-marketing mass-consumerism. And that collective of like-minded people often politically pairs itself with the collective of people who want to get away with restricting the freedoms of others, unjustly persecuting them if they behave in ways that do no harm other than disturbing the unjustified but firmly believed values of those who selectively interpret religious texts to suit their interests. Both collectives share the desire to get away with actions that can be understood to have no real future, are meant for the enjoyment of the members of the collective to the detriment of others.

    - People's desires, not just their feelings, can strongly motivate their investigation into, and way of thinking about, an issue. A scientist that allows their personal desires to influence their work will not be as successful as they could be. A person in the global community can, at least temporarily, enjoy more success in satisfying their desires if they deliberately dismiss or discredit any better understanding that is contrary to their interests as long as hey can get away with the unacceptable things they want to get away with. And those people will fight to protect their 'freedom to do what they please' (even fighting against methods of catching them breaking driving rules). The success of such people is what needs to be stopped. And that can be accomplished by pointing out the unacceptability of their desired pursuits, but like an addict, a person locked into a damaging cycle of behaviour, you have to get them to admit that what they desire is indeed unacceptable. Until they take that first step there can be little success made by attempts to change their minds.

    - And like any other harmful addiction, the real problem is the motivations for a person to fall into the addiction. The real trouble-makers are the ones who deliberately tempt people into the damaging addiction. This can be seen to be what is going on regarding the matter of the production of excess CO2. It is a very desireable thing that many people have developed a massive damaging addiction to. And it is not a national issue. The addiction is a significant part of the global economy with varying degrees of addiction in all nations.

    Which leads back to the root problem. The power of misleading marketing, which itself is a field of science. I learned about it in my MBA training. And we were advised by our Professor that the temporary success of misleading marketing can be very tempting, but can not be expected to last. That makes it an appealing action to promote a 'dud' movie to maximize the revenue before improved public awareness from people who actually see the movie spreads. That is also what makes it appealing in politics where the effect only has to last through the time of an actual election. Of course after a series of successes through deliberately misleading marketing the success will fade, but a decade or two of such unacceptable success is all that some poeple want to get away with. Some are even pleased to get away with one political win that gives them 4 to 5 years of ability to get away with damaging unjustifiable actions.

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  13. Dr. Judith Curry has posted some thoughts on this subject at her blog if anyone is looking for a few laughs.

    I won't post a link, those who follow the propaganda from 'that' side of the argument will know where to look.

    Jen.

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  14. I think one of the best ways to argue with the "faithful": that is to say someone that basis his opinion on faith rather than belief is simply to ask them penetrating questions.  Don't ever, if you can help it, give them your opinion.  Wethere there faith is Christianity or climate denial, they can tie themselves in knots and the questions remain like trogen horses in their minds.  The problem is to start them thinking rather than just parroting the faith based line.

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  15. Very informative.

    William and the trust of this article make a very good point. Knowledge does not come from being buried in massive amounts of information. However, if this knowledge accumulates over many years of serious disciplined study, it will ultimately lead to expertise and the ability to make coherent arguments within said discipline. However, knowledge also comes from being asked the right questions, engaging the mind and then exploring the logical consequences of the answers. At the end of the WW2, psycologists working for the Allies were engaged to de-program the Nazi ideology of the extremists in the Hitler Youth, who had been brought up in an environment where anti-Semitism, eugenics and militarism were the norm. That de-programming involved asking the right questions, allowing those whose views had been distorted, to engage their minds and explore the logical consequences of their firmly entrenched beliefs. Their de-programming did not come from being told that they were wrong and burying them in massive amounts of information. In fact, the non-threatening questioning techniques used, allowed the psycologists to de-program most of the young Nazi extremists in about a week.

     On an alternative point, made elsewhere in the article and discussion, is that correlation does not necessarily imply causation, as has been already pointed out. But it can imply a reliability and consistency. However, it does not imply the validity of the relationship being correlated. Also, if there is no correlation then there can never be validity. In other words, validity implies correlation but correlation does not necessarily imply validity. That has to be done through logical argument using relevant knowledge and understanding.

    As for CC deniers versus CC acceptors. It is unlikely that there will ever be 100% consensus on either side. It is an argument that has to be won in the probabilities. Deniers seem to want 100% certainty, but considering the chaotic phenomonen being studied that is very unlikely. On the other side, acceptors seem to want 100% acceptence and 0% denial. This again is unlikely considering human nature. The best you can hope for is, as John points out in this article, an inocculation point, a critical mass of acceptors, which leads to wide spread acceptence in the public consiousness which should then lead to support for positive political action. Only then, will denial be seen by the public as merely a fringe idea, to be banished into the realms of other questionable and unsubstantiated scientific theories. How you do that effectively in the time frame needed is, of course, the million dollar question.

    I do believe that the acceptor side of the CC debate will eventually become widely accepted in the public mind. The basic science is well understood by scientists and will eventually penetrate through to the public. However, will it be in time to take the positive action needed to alleviate the worst aspects of AGW? One can only hope.

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  16. Although I agree with the general tenor of the article I challenge anyone to read 'Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and The Forgotten History' 2013 and still believe that vaccinations achieve any real benefits. Most things that they vaccinate for have very little risk in societies with good sanitation and nutrition. Everything that is vaccinated for was already well on the way to either being erradicated or had receded to a minor condition. Polio had become a very rare condition with a temporary upswing in the 50's, most probably due to DDT poisoning which has the same symtoms. After vaccinations for polio began many conditions that had similar symtoms were differentiated from polio whereas before they were often classified as polio. These conditions are not affected by polio vaccination. That is just the tip of the iceberg with regards to the level of misinformation about how 'vaccines safed us from all of these dangerous deseases'. Some of them actually make it morelikely to get it more severely after a few years. I consider myself a very objective person and the science on human created climate change is overwhelming. The science behind vaccinations effectiveness and safety is not.

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  17. Straight Talkin, you are deluding yourself. Setting aside your fiction based dismissal of the effectiveness of the polio vaccine... smallpox? Diptheria? Rubella? Tetanus? Heck, measles?

    If you really believe that vaccines haven't vastly reduced the number of infections from these and other diseases you just are not grounded in reality.

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  18. StraightTalkin, that is a pile of nonsense. I'm not interested in books, where anyone can say anything they want. Peer-reviewed scientific evidence leaves no doubt as to the efficacy of vaccines. The recent outbreak of measles in various places in the US where gullible people believe books or blond bimbos instead of their pediatrician have shown all we need to know about the effectiveness of vaccines.

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  19. StraightTalkin, see figures 1, 2, and 3 here: 

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6204a1.htm#Fig2

    The time series is explained extremely well by the spread of vaccination programs and outbreaks in unvaccinated populations.  If you accept the vaccination mechanism for these diseases, you should at least find the mechanism highly plausible for other diseases.

    Good sanitation and nutrition will help prevent disease, but they won't cause the precipitous declines described by those graphs.  Kids were washing their hands in the 1950s and 60s.  Nation-wide (US) improvements in nutrition do not coincide with the precipitous declines described by those graphs.

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  20. @ Straight Talkin

    One of my old university chums is now a head of department at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. In about 2 months time, they will be running a course called... "Epidemiological evaluation of vaccines: efficacy, safety and policy". Perhaps you should drop them a line and explain that they've got it all wrong.

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  21. I think you, and the consensus for that matter, are missing the point. I don't agree with the science of human cased climate change because of the consensus. I agree because the science is compelling. All human beings, including scientists, can get into silo thinking and accepted norms. Stop trying to convince everyone that they should believe because 97% consensus of scientists in the field. Outline the scientific reasoning in as clear and simple terms as possible. Educate people effectively. Saying something is fiction based does not make it so. With in the context that they are measured I am sure vaccinations are effective. The real point is how many people were dying per population number. All of them were already very low and dininishing, and had been for decades. The deaths from scurvy tracks perfectly with the death from measles. Vaccinations did not save us from scurvy. The information, IMHO, clearly demonstrate that improved sanitation and nutrition were the key drivers in reducing, and almost completely removing, the danger from these deseases. Besides focussing on the wrong measures, the graphs you quote are classic cherry picking examples.

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  22. Straight talkin, you're not being any more convincing. No amount of sanitation can save one from scurvy, only vitamin C from fresh fruit and vegetables will do that. You could at least bother to do a minimum amount of research on the disease you pick as a comparison. It is as if you don't know anything at all about the subject

    About the consensus: nobody at SkS attempts to convince anyone to "believe" in climate science findings because 97% of relevant scientists do too. Deniers are touting the false idea that there is significant disagreement in the scientific community about climate change while, in fact, there isn't. That is what the consensus is about. The consensus exists because there is a consensus in the results of the research, just like there is, as a consequence, in the opinions of the researchers.

    The scientific evidence about immunizations is every bit as compelling as it is about climate, and that is why there is also a consensus among relevant scientists about the benefits of immunizations. You cited countries where "sanitation" is lacking. It is interesting to note that diseases that lend themselves to immunization regress enormously in these countries when people are immunized, even in the absence of significant progress in sanitation. I expect now that this is off-topic enough that moderation is going to have no more patience for it and signal to us that rants about immunizations are off-topic and will be deleted.

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  23. Well I guess, since this is hinted at in the OP, it is on topic. It is interesting to see how Straightalkin formed an opinion about Measles by linking with scurvy when the 2 diseases have totally different pathophysiologies, and can truly not be comapared.

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  24. Philippe Chantreau, You misunterstood my point about scurvy. I know that nutrition i.e. Vitamin C erradicated deaths from scurvy. The point I was makling is that long before vaccinations for measles were introduced the reductions of deaths from measles tracked perfectly with the reductions in deaths from scurvy as nutrition improved, to the point of insignificance.

    My point regarding consensus is that although it is always worth taking into account, it should never be placed on a holy pedastal.
    Could you direct me to research that demonstrates you statement 'It is interesting to note that diseases that lend themselves to immunization regress enormously in these countries when people are immunized, even in the absence of significant progress in sanitation.' ?
    I am always willing to change my viewpoint based on new and convincing information.

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  25. Just to expand a bit. Some years ago I was in almost convinced by the climate contrarians that we weren't causing the problem. Then I found skeptical science and it systematically demolished the climate deniers arguments. So I understand that arguments can sound convincing even when they are not really based on a whole picture scientific analysis. I always seek to get to the bottom line. I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor am I naive enough to not think that vested intersts do sometimes win out in corrupting situations, and have the capacity to have a corrupting influence on the scientific community and society generally. As the old quote goes 'Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom'

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  26. Really? Why should I do your work?

    In 1966, the year I was born, a massive campaign of containment and eradication was launched in Central and West Africa against smallpox. In 4 years, the disease was essentially eradicated, before there was any chance to improve infrastructure and sanitation in any significant way. Eradicated in 4 years. One does not realize what a feat that was in these spoiled, worry free days of the 21st century. As of the mid-2000s, the WHO determined that the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazza) still had only 0-25% of its population using improved sanitation, yet the disease was eradicated there as well as in other countries part of the campaign. Other countries aren't that much better on the sanitation side, 40 years after the campaign. Some other countries, such as Gabon, have a rather small population, which makes access to sanitation easier.

    I still bear on my shoulder the mark of the smallpox vaccine received in Brazzaville in the early 70s. I'm proud of it. In the former Zaire, smallpox eradication took all but 41 months, despite tremendous challenges in infrastructure and, you guessed it, sanitation. By an ironic and cruel reversal of circumstances, polio, eradicated as well as smallpox, is now on the rise in RDC because of imported cases. Perhaps some of the westerner fruitcakes who don't "believe" in vaccinations, who knows?

    http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/africasan.pdf

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22188930

    Interestingly, in the Congo Brazza, smallpox vaccination conferred also some immunity to monkey pox, which is now on the rise because of the end of massive immunization campaigns. The risk of developing the disease is 5 times greater for non immunized subjects:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/37/16262.full

    I'm done wasting my time with you, it is obvious that you are clueless, if you were not, you would already about all this. The sincerity you claim obviously does not apply to pet theories of yours. What we really need in this world is a vaccine against Dunning-Kruger.

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    Moderator Response:

    KC: ad-hom snipped.

  27. Philippe, with your permission, I'd like to quote that in full on my FB timeline (although I'll remove the references to the above poster).

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    Moderator Response:

    [Rob P] No more about vaccines thanks. Any further comments will result in deletion.

  28. Feel free Tristan. Rob, vaccines are mentioned at length in the OP. Although it has to do more specifically with the false link to autism, and it is given as an illustration for the ideas developped in the post, I'm not sure it's fair to expect the thread to be free of comments about a significant aspect of the OP.  I will nonetheless respect your request, despite my intention of further investigating the claim that measles dropped to insignificance because of sanitation, a claim of which I am highly skeptical. Thank you for allowing as much as was said.

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  29. If you're trying to discover what myths might distort the science, why don't you start with The Apocalypse. This comment is directly referencing the article's position, "explain the fallacy employed by the myth." 

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  30. cormagh - What is the myth, and what is the fallacy?

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  31. Rob P & Philippe C

    Rob, I've just seen your moderator comment saying enough about vaccines.

    In the interim, however, I had emailed one of the Heads of Department at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. As it was a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, his reply only arrived about 30 minutes ago.

    Obviously you can delete this, or, since it is verbatim from an authoritative source, you might care to let it stand...

     Hi Bill

    I'm sure that sanitation helped, but eradication is dependent on a vaccine. Measles is highly transmissable amongst the non-vaccinated, especially when immunisation rates falls below about 85-90%. Above this, herd immunity makes widespread transmission less likely. I had measles as a kid, but don't seem to remember that sanitation was any worse than at present (probably worse in my house at the moment!).

    Best

    John

    Cheers    Bill F

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  32. Bland Denial is merely one component of the strategy first published by Peter Clyne in "How not to pay your debts - a handbook for scoundrels". Clyne proposed that successful evasion (of scientific truth, or obigations, or indeed debts) required these 4 steps: Deny, Delay, Confuse, Part-Pay (in an endlessly recurring sequence with slight amendments for each recycle). For example:

    1. Deny: (climate change is a myth)
    2. Delay: (More research is needed, wrong to act precipitously)
    3. Confuse: (Climate change is multifactorial, therefore wrong to focus on one single cause)
    4. Part-Pay: (okay climate change is here, but its not man-made)

    Spice this up with some crooked language and logic, as Cook suggests, and there you have it. Add to this industry sponsorship of scientists and regulators to add some much-needed bias, and, well, here we are.

    I'm reminded of the Upton Sinclair quote: 'It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.'

    Alice.

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