Attended a talk on ‘Vaccine Wars in the 21st Century’ by Dr. Gregory Poland from the Mayo Clinic at the University of Minnesota Rochester Campus
Major points Poland covered were on how we live in an age where information is confused with knowledge. Broadly he went over how the immunization rates are dropping and anti vaccine messages are being trumped. Quoting recent outbreak and the short story snippets behind them he covered diseases like measles and mumps. Stating that mistrust in people despite safe and effective vaccines was biased of, of emotions, heuristics and data they see.
Citing examples where the majority of audience failed to read an extra “in” in the phrase “Paris in in the spring” in a diamond shaped box among other tidbits of data and a simple math question of spending $1.10 where the bat costs exactly a $1 more than the ball – what could be the price of the ball 1c/5c/10c/20c, Poland justified how public (the audience in this case) messes up in understanding data.
He went on to cite examples of Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy regarding the measles vaccine and video hype of Desiree Jennings. He concluded the talk by pointing how people fail to see the data that they need to see to make ‘good’ decisions instead of getting vaccines for fear or by requirement/coercion.
Did the talk motivate the audience to spread the word about getting vaccines and being ‘good’ – that’s difficult to say. But the talk was certainly entertaining.
With so much information available, and I use the word information because what the general public sees is certainly not data. Interpreting data and getting information out of it is some hard work but forming a bead of knowledge from information is to each their own. Its difficult to say how a ‘vaccine war’ story unfolds – while you’re in the middle of it – the decision is solely yours, the end could work for you or totally not.