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Health

Vaccination as heterodoxy

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanMay 25, 2012 8:00 AM

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Apparently Mayim Bialik, Ph.D. neuroscience, is skeptical of vaccination. This just goes to show you that "science education" itself is no guarantee of immunity against acceptance of false propositions. Rather than reason from one proposition to another independently humans operate in an ecology of ideas. Bialik's general suite of beliefs about mothering and her social milieu make her stance on vaccination rather unsurprising, notwithstanding that she has a doctorate in neuroscience. I'm mildly familiar with social pressures in regards to vaccination. In some communities on the West coast of the USA which emphasize "consciousness" it is now the dissenting position to accept vaccination as necessary. I myself regularly get flu shots and DPT, and I had no qualms about vaccinating my daughter. On the contrary, I wanted her to be vaccinated. But this is not the default position for many, and over the past six months I've seen just how communities of self-reinforcing opinions emerge which deny established science. For someone with a weaker science background I can totally understand why being skeptical of vaccination might be a reasonable decision. Not only is your community validating and encouraging this decision, but there are persons with authority and stature, such as Mayim Bialik, who are also hewing to this position. Meanwhile, whooping cough is making a comeback. I recall back in the aughts when Americans shook their heads at Thabo Mbeki's AIDS denialism. But now I can see somewhat how this sort of heterodoxy might flourish and gain traction. The basic logic of herd immunity is simple, but fear for one's children is a powerful thing.

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