Notes On Skepticism

Anti-vaccination scientists have been around for as long as vaccination itself. Skepticism in science is a healthy thing – but as Alfred Russel Wallace demonstrated, there’s skepticism and skepticism:

If Darwin was at the center of the scientific establishment, Wallace was perpetually on its margin. Self-educated and perhaps not sceptical in some matters, he infamously became the dupe of spiritualists, his patronage giving credibility to their sleight-of-hand tricks that promised to put people in touch with the dead. He vehemently opposed vaccination on the eminently sensible grounds that there were risks involved in transmitting bodily matter between species and individuals. But he failed to see that even in that age of rudimentary hygiene the benefits of inoculation far outweighed the risks, and the medical establishment excoriated him for slowing vaccination’s public acceptance.

Here On Earth, by Tim Flannery

Interesting Links:

1. Take Down Vaccinautism from Persephone Magazine

2. The Hyper-Belief Problem from Martin S Pribble, who talks about the time when he was into New-Age stuff in his youth: “The thing I remember most …was the level of acceptance of ideas I possessed. I was very open-minded, and like the character “Storm” in the Tim Minchin poem, was so open-minded that my brains were spilling all over the place. I wouldn’t call this gullibility either; I was quite specific, almost scientific while working through the “New Age” ideas; they had to conform to rules as set out by “experts” in the field, and many of them crossed over into the beliefs and practices of other areas of mysticism.”

3. To save you looking it up, here’s Tim Minchin’s nine minute beat poem.

4. So is it spelt with a ‘k’ or with a ‘c’? (Who gives a shit. Why, I’m glad you asked.)

5. Why do so many people seem to think that scientists have some sort of plot against the rest of us? What could their motivation be, duping us all about climate change, for instance?

[Scientists] sit on the floor just to be near outlets for our laptops. We verbalize dissent and skepticism when presented with odd new findings. We color our hair in odd ways. We can barely decide where to go for lunch before the lunch break is over. We over-exuberantly exclaim our excitement for scientific findings, confusing the press. Frankly, I love us. But we’re not capable of duping seven billion people for our personal whim. We’re not even paid enough to try.

— Science Deniers Give Us Too Much Credit, from Skepchick

6. The Skeptical Science Website

7. Big Picture Science podcast

8. Why Science Fails To Persuade from Discover Magazine

The trouble is, I think there’s no shortage of skepticism out there. The problem is misplaced skepticism. Climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers are as skeptical as the next person.

9. Still questioning vaccination?

Still questioning? Designer Leon Farrant breaks down the indisputable efficiency of vaccines, which Bill Gates has eloquently affirmed. 
(↬ Forbes)