Sunday, April 26, 2009

Children Are Dying Over Ignorance

Back when I was a young man, a study by epidemiologists suggested that persons living near power transmission lines experienced an elevated risk of developing cancer and several other conditions. There was an outcry, and thorough scientific studies commenced. The studies were of the highest standard: double blind with controls. As the results were published and peer review confirmed those results, the concerns over the safety of power transmission lines abated as it was determined that there was no increased risk of disease from living in proximity to them.

But oh how the times have changed. The short attention span news cycle and the failure to educate our citizens in the basics of critical thinking have resulted in segments of the population that will believe whatever they see on the television or on the internet. And somehow the marginally educated celebrity has replaced the career scientist/specialist as the source of "reliable" information. And because the information available on the internet can be accessed indefinitely, long debunked stories are allowed to persist forever.

This is the case with the anti-vaccination movement. A "study" was published about 10 years ago by a doctor that suggested a failure to ensure the safety of certain vaccines, suggesting that they cause serious neurological disorders such as autism. Never mind that the study itself, and the doctor behind the study were long ago debunked as frauds, a certain celebrity decided that this (lacking any other explanation) was the cause of her child's autism. She uses her celebrity to pose as an activist for the cause of autism, but she is really nothing more than an opportunist trying to profit from the hysteria she is creating. It really is disgusting.

And children are dying.

Dr. Phil Plait is a scientist, father, and president of the James Randi Education Foundation. He has been vocal in his blog on this very topic. Today he posted a link to one of the most heartbreaking stories of a tragedy that could have been prevented. Please check out the link below.

The Australian antivax movement takes its toll | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine
The antivaxxers claim to be concerned about children… but their total lack of critical thinking, their denial of the research, and their wholesale belief in conspiracy theories and antiscience rhetoric is making children sick. And some of these children are dying.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009


This video should be watched by every child in every school....oh hell, this should be watched by EVERYONE.