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← An Open Letter to Bill Maher on Vaccinations

Dr Benway's Avatar Jump to comment 219 by Dr Benway

"Reassure the public" is clearly stupid. What doctor would say, "I'm about to do something that might make your child retarded. No worries, however, because if that happens you'll be set for life financially."

Neither individual patients, individual doctors, or individual court cases are adequate to establish cause-effect relationships between a medical intervention and its outcome.

In my opinion, a chaotic, international community of independent scientists capable of peer review and replication of each other's work, and capable of aggregating their collective experience into documents of consensus opinion, is the best trier of fact we can get. Our efforts should go toward protecting that community from extreme pressures to cheat or bullshit.

Read this excellent article, "The New Plague." It's about fear and the anti-vax movement. But one might replace "anti-Vax" with any number of popular anti-science camps: intelligent design, AIDS denialism, global warming deniers, anti-BigPharma, etc. The common theme is misunderstanding of how science works and mistrust of the scientific consensus.

"The true meaning of the word skepticism has nothing to do with doubt, disbelief, or negativity. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It’s the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion."

Tue, 20 Oct 2009 16:26:00 UTC | #407058