Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jenny McCarthy Bodycount

A special sort of scientific denialism is the antivaccination movement...

The Jenny McCarthy Bodycount website credits McCarthy's high profile "vaccinations cause autism" activism with the preventable illnesses and deaths that have occurred as parents chose not to protect their children. Be sure to visit History of the Anti-Vaccination Movement and Links pages there.

What's the Harm?

Some people will ask the skeptic "what's the harm" of disbelieving in vaccination, believing in supplements, complimentary and alternative medicine in particular, or Woo in general?  "Even if this stuff isn't provable aren't adults are free to believe whatever they like?"  "It's all in good fun, right?"

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, there is a substantial body count, a long list of serious injuries, and billions of dollars lost to poor thinking about important issues that no amount of misapplied postmodernism or moral relativism can make right.  At his What's the Harm website Tim Farley chronicles many examples of the downside experienced when we relax our critical processes with regard to pseudoscience, medical quackery, and the paranormal.  In addition to the case studies the Resources and Press pages are rich sources of additional information.

Do You Know Any Anti-Vaxers?

In that case you may need some science to make the case for vaccination...

Mark Crislip's Quackcast #45 has a nice summary of the current crop of anti-vaccination arguments and their refutations.  Be forewarned, Crislip is contemptuous of people who think children should suffer and die from preventable diseases.

A Nation of Cowards

"A Nation of Cowards" was published in the Fall, '93 issue of The Public Interest, a quarterly journal of opinion published by National Affairs, Inc.  While 9/11 changed some attitudes about the individual's responsibility to the community - for better and worse - I think much of Jeffrey R. Snyder's essay still holds up.  What do you think?