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What leads to trust or mistrust of scientists and physicians?

Given all the denial of the science behind vaccines, GMOs, evolution, and climate science, you might think that Americans in general distrust scientists and physicians. It’s actually not true. Trust in scientists and doctors remains high, but there are still areas where mistrust of scientists is a significant problem. What can be done?

One of the things I write a lot about, both here and at my not-so-super-secret other blog is science denial. This denial of science takes many forms, including denial of the conclusions of climate science that the earth is warming due to human activity, denial of evolution, denial of the science showing that vaccines are safe and effective and do not cause autism or myriad other conditions for which antivaxers blame them, and many more. Here, most commonly, we tend to write about denial of vaccine science and the antivaccine movement, although other relevant topics include HIV/AIDS denialism (the denial that HIV causes AIDS), denial by a number of cancer quacks that chemotherapy works, and a more general denial of scientific medicine by a number of practitioners of “natural medicine.” This science denialism is virtually always coupled with one or more conspiracy theories. The one I discuss the most is the antivaccine conspiracy theory that claims that the CDC “knows” that vaccines cause autism but has covered up and suppressed the evidence demonstrating that. Cancer quacks like to claim that a cure for cancer exists, but that big pharma, oncologists, and the government are keeping it from the people and suppressing knowledge of it in order to maintain their income and profits. Given this level of suspicion, you’d think that the public harbors a low degree of trust and a high degree of mistrust for scientists and physicians, A new poll released earlier this month by the Pew Research Group shows that that’s (mostly) not true:

In an era when science and politics often appear to collide, public confidence in scientists is on the upswing, and six-in-ten Americans say scientists should play an active role in policy debates about scientific issues, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The survey finds public confidence in scientists on par with confidence in the military. It also exceeds the levels of public confidence in other groups and institutions, including the media, business leaders and elected officials.

If you look at the accompanying graph of one of the overall conclusions of the poll, the percentage of Americans who say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in scientists to act in the best interests of the public, you’ll see that 86% of Americans trust scientists to act in the best interests of the public, up from 76% in 2016, with 35% saying they have a “great deal” of confidence, up from 21% in 2016. For medical scientists, the percentage is 87%, up so slightly over 84% in 2016 as to be within the margin of error. By way of comparison, business leaders only total 46% positive responses, with single digit percentages of respondents answering that they have a “great deal” of confidence in business leaders to act in the public interest. Elected officials fare even worse, with only 35% positive responses and even lower single digit percentages answering that they have a “great deal” of confidence in them, although, oddly enough, the percentage was only 27% in 2016. (Given the state of our politics in 2019, I’m finding it odd that more people express more confidence in our politicians to do right by the public, even if the overall confidence level remains abysmally low.)

When Pew gets into the weeds, there are a number of interesting findings regarding who has confidence in scientists and which kinds of scientists are the most trusted. Indeed, it’s rather akin to looking at a state’s overall vaccination level, seeing that it’s high, and dismissing concerns about low vaccine uptake even though there are pockets of low vaccine uptake in the state that could predispose to outbreaks. Trust in scientists and physicians might be high overall, but there are nonetheless major areas of concern. I’m going to concentrate mainly on the Pew Research Group’s findings with respect to public trust of medical and nutrition science.

Americans trust practitioners more than scientists, but distrust nutrition science

The Pew survey asked respondents whether scientists in six different specialties can be counted on to act with competence, present their recommendations or research findings accurately, and care about the public’s best interests—or, in the case of physicians, their patients’ best interests. In addition, Pew asked about potential sources of mistrust, including issues of transparency and accountability for mistakes or misconduct. One conclusion of this poll is that Americans tend to trust “science practitioners” (such as physicians and dietitians) more than they trust science or medical researchers. For example, a majority of respondents (54%) say that dietitians do a “good job providing recommendations about healthy eating all or most of the time,”” compared with only 28% who say nutrition scientists do a good job conducting research all or most of the time. Personally, I wasn’t surprised by these figures, given how the media report scientific and epidemiological studies of nutrition, particularly the narrative of, “Food X prevents cancer” followed later by a report of a study that finds that Food X either doesn’t prevent cancer or causes cancer. Indeed, given the uncertainty in a lot of nutritional research, coupled with the sensationalistic way the media like to report on nutritional research, it’s not at all surprising that there is so little trust in the research. What I do find surprising is that Pew would spin a finding that only a little more than half of people trust dietitians to be a positive finding, or that these are positive:

In addition, 47% say dietitians provide fair and accurate information about their recommendations all or most of the time, compared with 24% for nutrition scientists discussing their research. Six-in-ten Americans (60%) think dietitians care about the best interests of their patients all or most of the time, while about half as many (29%) believe that about nutrition researchers when it comes to concern for the public.

Again, those are pretty low numbers. The numbers are even lower for environmental health scientists and practitioners:

In contrast, public levels of trust in environmental health specialists and environmental research scientists are roughly the same. For instance, 39% of U.S. adults say environmental health specialists do a good job versus 40% for researchers, and 35% say each provides fair and accurate information all or most of the time.

Those are horrible numbers and could easily be one reason for how easily denialism of environmental science can take root.

When it comes to physicians, the numbers are considerably better, but still not the greatest. Although 74% of the public view physicians mostly positively, there are still problems:

Similarly, the public tends to view medical doctors more positively than medical researchers when it comes to their concern for the public’s interests and providing trustworthy information. For example, 57% of Americans say doctors care about the best interests of their patients all or most of the time, compared with 35% for medical researchers. About half the public (48%) believes that medical doctors provide fair and accurate treatment information all or most of the time, compared with 32% who say this about medical researchers in discussing their findings.

Less than three-fifths of the public think that doctors care about the best interests of their patients all or most of the time? Only 49% of people believe that doctors do a good job (another finding of the survey)? We have a major trust problem here.

Sources of mistrust and trust in scientists

What could be the reasons for this lack of trust? Pew asked respondents about conflicts of interest, transparency, and scientific misconduct. Half of the respondents say that misconduct is a big problem (15% very big and 35% moderately big) among medical doctors, with 48% answering the same (14% very big and 34% moderately big) about medical researchers. Among the other scientific specialties examined, the percentages ranged from 24% for dietitians to 42% for environmental research scientists. Again, we have a trust problem here.

One set of potential reasons:

No more than 19% say that scientists across these six specialties are transparent in revealing potential conflicts of interest with industry all or most of the time. A larger share – ranging from 27% to 37% – believes scientists are transparent only a little or none of the time. Similarly, fewer than two-in-ten Americans say that scientists admit and take responsibility for their mistakes all or most of the time.

If you want to know why antivaxers are so quick to invoke the “pharma shill gambit” when attacking scientists, physicians, and vaccine advocates, look no further. Yes, it fits their conspiratorial mindset and they invoke this gambit so often as to make it easy to joke about it, but it’s also a criticism that has a chance of gaining traction, given how many people view scientists as insufficiently transparent about their financial conflicts of interest.

There are also large numbers of people who believe that scientists don’t face sufficient consequences for misconduct. Depending upon the specialty, up to half of US adults say that scientists and physicians face serious consequences for misconduct “only a little” or “none of the time.” Specifically, 53% say that about nutrition researchers; about dietitians, 47%; about environmental researchers, 48%; about medical researchers, 45%; and about environmental health researchers, 42%. Oddly enough, only 30% say that medical doctors rarely face consequences for professional misbehavior.

We know what fuels mistrust, but what fuels trust in scientists? Pew found that people’s level of familiarity with scientists and their level of factual knowledge about science “can be consequential for public trust in scientists.” To sum it up, people with higher levels of factual knowledge about science tend to hold more positive and trusting views of scientists. However, the effect of these factors in promoting trust in scientists tends to be more limited than the effect of transparency, conflicts of interest, and admitting mistakes are in driving down trust in science. For example, among physicians, the percentage of respondents who say that doctors provide accurate information about their recommendations all or most of the time is 44% in those who know a little bit about doctors and 56% among those who know a lot. The percentage given the same answer to the question is 34% among those with little science knowledge and 58% among those with a lot of science knowledge. For medical science researchers, the percentage giving the same answer to the question is 17% in those who know a little bit about medical researchers and 53% among those who know a lot about them. Those with low science knowledge only give those answers 22% of the time, while those with high science knowledge respond that way 41% of the time.

Another unsurprising finding is that race plays a role in trust in science. For example, a large majority of black Americans (71%) and Hispanics (63%) respond that misconduct by medical doctors is a very/moderately big problem. Compare this to the finding that only 43% of whites give the same response to the question, and you can see that minorities distrust physicians way more than Caucasians do. The same is true regarding people’s opinion of medical researchers. A larger percentage of blacks (59%) and Hispanics (60%) say that misconduct by medical research scientists is a very big or moderately big problem, while only 42% of whites do. It’s not news to physicians that minorities, especially blacks, are much less trusting of doctors. Given the history of medicine in the US, racial inequities in medical care, and the ongoing relative paucity of black physicians, increased suspicion is not unreasonable. Even though medicine has been trying to alleviate medical disparities based on race, recruit more minorities into medicine, and reduce implicit bias among physicians, that history is hard to overcome.

Partisan political differences influence views of scientists

No discussion of sources of mistrust of medicine and science would be complete without the examination of political effects. I’ve noted in the past, for instance, that, although antivaccine views are roughly equally prevalent on the right and on the left, right now the most prominent and politically active antivaxers tend to be on the right. So it was of great interest to me to see how partisan political beliefs influence trust in scientists.

Not surprisingly, there were wide differences in trust noted, but those differences tended to focus in certain specialties. For example, comparing the responses of people who are Republican or independents who lean Republican with those of people who are Democrats or independents who lean Democratic, Pew found huge differences in trust of environmental practitioners and scientists. (For purposes of brevity, I will just refer to each as Republicans or Democrats, with independents leaning towards each party lumped in with party members.) Way fewer Republican respondents (40%) reported having a mostly positive view of environmental research scientists than Democratic respondents (70%) Similarly, more Democrats (73%) than Republicans (46%) have a mostly positive review of environmental health specialists. Differences persisted for nutritional scientists, with 57% of Democrats and only 43% of Republicans trusting nutrition research scientists, the equivalent split being 63%/58% for dietitians. When it came to physicians and medical researchers, the differences collapsed to near or at the margin of error, with the Democrat/Republican split on this question being 77%/73% for physicians and 70%/67% for medical research scientists.

The obvious conclusion here is that areas where there is more partisan disagreement about policy show a wider partisan split in favorability rating. This split is even more pronounced when it comes to public perception that a given scientific discipline provides fair and accurate information most of the time. When it comes to the findings of environmental research scientists, only 19% of Republicans trust them to do this, while 47% of Democrats do; for environmental health specialists, the Republican/Democratic split is 25%/43%. On the question of whether environmental scientists care about the best interests of the public all or most of the time, the split was 22%/50%, and for the question of whether they do a good job conducting research all or most of the time, the split was 26%/51%.

There are a couple of remarkable things about these results. First, although I wasn’t surprised that Republicans would be very distrustful of environmental science, given Republican alignment with the interests of business, that climate science is a huge part of environmental science, and that climate science denialism has over the last couple of decades become baked into GOP ideology, I was amazed that the percentages saying they trust environmental scientists were so low among Democrats, less than 50%. One must wonder if the decades-long campaign to demonize climate scientists has had an effect on the public overall. Second, there’s a devastating finding in this section that shows just how politically polarized environmental science has become. When Pew compared the percentage of people with low, medium, or high science knowledge who say their view of environmental researchers is mostly positive, they found that science knowledge didn’t matter for Republicans. Only 39-41% of Republicans did, regardless of level of science knowledge, while the percentage increased from 48% of Democrats with low science knowledge to 89% among Democrats with high knowledge. As for the percentage of respondents saying that environmental researchers provide fair and accurate informational all or most of the time, the results with the same. For Republicans, only 18-20% agreed with this statement, regardless of their level of science knowledge. Among Democrats the results increased from 29% (low science knowledge) to 65% (high science knowledge). In other words, among those who are or lean Republican, level of scientific knowledge doesn’t affect their opinion of environmental scientists, and similar results were found when the same questions were asked about environmental practitioners.

Truly, climate science denialism and denial of environmental science appear to have become inseparable from GOP ideology and identity, and that’s a huge problem given that it hasn’t always been that way. Remember, the EPA was created during the Nixon administration, and as recently as the 2004 election cycle and even beyond, many Republicans were not hostile to climate science and accepted that human activity is contributing greatly to climate change.

There also remains distrust of science on the Republican side in other areas, just not as strikingly different from that of Democrats. For instance, only 17% of Republicans compared to 29% of Democrats agree that nutrition research scientists give fair and accurate information most of the time; oddly enough, there’s essentially no difference in responses to the same question about dietitians (Republicans, 46%; Democrats 49%). There’s a similar pattern in terms of the percentage of respondents agreeing with this statement when applied to medical research scientists, with only 29% of Republicans agreeing, while 35% of Democrats agree. Partisan differences notwithstanding, I was appalled at how low both percentages were. When the same question was asked about medical doctors, 46% of Republicans compared to 52% of Democrats agreed.

So, although the overall view of scientists and physicians is favorable, and most people say they trust them, there are some big problems. When minorities don’t trust scientists, that’s a problem. When a whole political party rejects well-established scientific findings as part of its ideology, that’s a problem. When so few people trust certain branches of science, such as nutritional science, that’s a problem.

What to do about trust and mistrust of scientists and physicians

Overall, this survey provides a rather mixed picture of Americans’ trust in scientists and physicians. While overall trust is high, there are pockets of major mistrust based on scientific discipline, political differences, and race. Fortunately, the survey’s findings suggest some strategies that might alleviate that mistrust.

One finding is that people would be more likely to trust scientific findings if researchers were to make their data publicly available. Specifically, 57% would be more likely to trust research if the data were publicly available, with 35% saying it wouldn’t matter and, bizarrely, 8% saying it would make them trust the research less. Open access to data is, of course, more achievable. For instance, to public genomics data, most journals require that the raw data be deposited in one of several genomics databases, and promising to do so is often required more often as a condition of funding by grant agencies. That’s an outlier, though. Open access to data is still not required in the vast majority of scientific disciplines, although the proliferation of online supplemental data sections for journal publications does make some progress in addressing the open access question. Of course, as a scientist myself, I have to wonder how far it is practical to go with this strategy. Does anyone want to see my experiment where I forgot to add one reagent and therefore got a bizarre result?

Similarly, 52% would trust research findings more if the research were reviewed by an independent committee, with 37% saying it would make no difference, and 10% saying it would make them trust the research less. Of course, I can’t help but wonder what the heck an “independent committee” would be. Pew doesn’t define it, and those who know enough about science know that peer review is essentially a small independent committee of two to four reviewers (most of the time), while study sections that review grant applications tend to be large committees of a dozen or more scientists. As they say, the devil is in the details, and it’s not clear just what form of an “independent committee” to review research would increase trust in the results of that research.

Funding sources matter, too:

Industry funding stands out as a factor Americans say leads to lower trust. A majority of Americans (58%) say they trust scientific findings less if they know the research was funded by industry groups. The effect of government-funded research is less clear. About half of U.S. adults (48%) say learning that a study has been funded by the federal government has no impact on whether they trust its findings. The remainder is closely divided between those who say government funding decreases their trust (28%) and those who say it increases their trust (23%). Similar factors inspire public trust in practitioners. About two-thirds of the public (68%) say they are more likely to trust practitioners’ recommendations more if that practitioner is open to getting a second opinion. About one-quarter (23%) say a practitioner’s willingness to get a second opinion makes no difference, and just 7% say it decreases their trust.

Among practitioners, the answer is obvious: We really have to be a lot more transparent about our industry ties and acknowledge that even small gifts can influence our thinking. I’ve heard more doctors than I can remember vehemently deny that a dinner or gift from a drug rep influences them, but those denials are not consistent with what we know from science about human psychology.

Unfortunately, more government funding of research, while in my opinion a desirable thing, is not desirable to all:

Opinions about government-funded research differ by politics. Among conservative Republicans, just 9% say that government funding increases their trust in research findings, while 41% say it decreases their trust. In contrast, liberal Democrats are more inclined to say government funding increases (34%) rather than decreases (21%) their trust in scientific research. These findings are in keeping with political divides over support for federal spending on scientific research and an array of other government policy and spending priorities.

As long as there remains a partisan divide on the question of research funding, I don’t know that scientists can do anything other than try to be as transparent as possible about their funding sources, because increasing industry funding risks increasing mistrust among liberals and increasing government funding risks increasing mistrust among conservatives.

In the end, we as scientists and physicians should be heartened that we are among the most trusted groups in the US. We should also be concerned and perhaps even alarmed at the warning signals contained in this survey sounding the alarm about public distrust of specific scientific disciplines by specific subgroups of Americans. More transparency of funding sources and industry ties could help alleviate some of that distrust, as could more open access of data, but the specifics of how we achieve these things will not be simple or uncontroversial.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

145 replies on “What leads to trust or mistrust of scientists and physicians?”

Well, over here we have a running joke that starts with: “American scientists have found out that…” (and what follows is something completely over-the-top). Another of that ilk is “Soviet science knows of such cases”. The thing is, there has been too much credulous and click-bait reporting of (often valid) studies, which has caused such reaction.

You also have to look at the rise of Postmodernism in university humanities fields, where it is held that science, reason, objectivity, logic, empiricism are ‘social constructs’ created to oppress non-whites and so should be replaced with ‘whatever feels right is right’ (e.g. Magic)

That is not new, it was big in the 1960s and 1970s. Even the military was testing LSD and psychic abilities, because reasons.

I was always told that as a female I was not supposed to like math and science. There were actually colleges that refused to even allow women. Or pay women, Lise Meitner had to work for free at the university in Germany. So, lo and behold those barriers were gone when I started to major in engineering in the late 1970s. Only to have some women told me that the math and science I was learning was male stuff, and that I should do science of the female type. Something that was never truly defined.

Home Economics (in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s), then nutrition (because that’s cooking and cooking is for women), then maybe botany (because flowers are girly).

Frankly, when I was an undergrad in the 00’s there was still a strong current of “biology is for girls” or “biology is easy”. Because the math wasn’t as impenetrable. Or to be more precise, because the math wasn’t calculus. It’s pretty irritating.

Oddly enough, these were self described feminists. I think they were thinking of natural healing with herbs and finding stones with the right energy vibrations. They were the ones that had stayed away from those hard “guy” courses in high school.

Well in the 19th Century it was held that females lacked the mental/physical stamina to do well in the sciences. Which is a complete nonsense.

The 21st Century equivalent that is being taught by university Humanities departments is that science, being a ‘social construct’ created to oppress is as mentally/spiritually incompatible with females as it is with non-whites and should be replaced with emotion, instinct and ‘other ways of knowing’ (e.g. Magic)

Languages, literature and teaching. Because of all the stuff about “female brain” that is allegedly better at languages – and teaching is almost like mothering.

Even botany (plant science, to give it its formal name) is a hard science these days. From Ken Thompson’s “Darwin’s Most Wonderful Plants”: ” For example, some recent research on the extremely clever nanoparticle composite glue used by ivy to stick to trees and walls used (among other things) a Phenomenex BioSep-SEC-S4000 silica gel filtration column, an Agilent 6000 ILM/AFM equipped with Nanosensors PPP-NCHR-20 silicon cantilevers with spring constants of 4–20 Nm-1, and a Malvern ZetaSizer Nano ZS (the latter, naturally enough, to measure the zeta potential of the ivy nanoparticles). All followed by a spot of scanning electron microscopy. “

Deodand: “The 21st Century equivalent that is being taught by university Humanities departments is that science, being a ‘social construct’ created to oppress is as mentally/spiritually incompatible with females as it is with non-whites and should be replaced with emotion, instinct and ‘other ways of knowing’ (e.g. Magic)”

It still the same as it was fifty years ago. The science illiterate have been around for centuries. This is why homeopathy still exists.

I’d agree with that.
In addition, there have been a few periods of time when particular movements especially expressed revolutionary fervor against science and technology ( at the start of the Industrial Revolution in the UK for one/ post WWI The Krisis of Wissenshaft -sp ?- which questioned technology and innovation that fed the engines of war**)

but within our lifetimes, the 1960s-1970s seem an era when a back-to-nature revival flourished alongside an anti-expertise vibe that railed against traditional institutions and authorities. Then, the 1990s re-evaluation of social values and New Age spiritualism and perhaps NOW, post 2010, perhaps more politically bent.
So it’s always been around but there have been peaks

** Pardonez my bad German-English

Certainly. I think that we may be in a “renaissance” of bad science/ woo/ altie BS

— It’s Die Krisis der Wissenschaft . I had to correct it- my prof would kill me for that

The thesis that woo is the product of ‘science illiteracy” is contradicted by all the evidence offered in this sub-thread. Which all attribute woo not to an absence of knowledge, but a presence of powerful human interests. So the corollary of the literacy thesis is that fluency in some body of knowledge would overcome those interests… for which i fail to see ANY evidence whatsoever, scientific, historic, anecdotal or otherwise. there’s no shortage of brilliant scientists who go totally off the rails once they leave the boundaries of their own field (Shockley, Pauling), antivax MDs, antivax researchers with science PhDs etc.

By “revolutionary fervor against science and technology at the start of the Industrial Revolution in the UK”, I assume Denice is referring to the Luddites. That “Luddism” has become a term for “anti-science” is a prime example of overt propaganda evolving into the received wisdom of ideology, in this case including the notion that ‘science’ is somehow value neutral. If you want to take a Windriven-ish stance that ‘science’ references only the abstract concept of the professed rules of scientific inquiry, not what work ‘scientists’ actually do, then the Luddites were in no way anti-science. I’d venture that’s true in any case, as I doubt they had any concept of ‘science’ at all. Even calling them ‘anti-modern technology” is an ideological distortion. What the Luddites were was an early form of (loosely) organized labor, rebelling against the capitalists who were condemning them to poverty, sickness and even earlier premature death by replacing them with machines. So they broke those machines, and only those machines.

The post-WWi reaction against the “technology and innovation that fed the engines of war” wasn’t anti-science. Again, the anti-technology ethos was still targeted and richly deserved. The more extreme reactions – e.g. Dadaism, absurdism, etc. – were essentially anarchic, against everything, but that’s metaphoric artistic expression, not literal social policy. At the same time, in the same European places, you had an embrace of a progressive vision of science, from Bauhaus architecture to the ‘scientific’ nature of the technology of photography. (c.f. Moholy-Nage, and Benjamin’s The Work of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction).

Denice’s characterization of the 1960s-1970s as “an era when a back-to-nature revival flourished alongside an anti-expertise vibe that railed against traditional institutions and authorities” is another distorted stereotype. Even for the drop-out counterculture – how can you class them as ‘anti-science’ or even ‘anti-tech’ when they embraced Buckminster Fuller and ‘expanded consciousness via advanced chemistry’? Unless you really want to equate ‘science’ and ‘tech’ general with the establishment institutions of the time. Was it somehow “anti-science” to condemn Dow Chemical for producing napalm?

Having lived through all of this as a young adult (born in ’53), I reject the notion that woo came along with either protest or the counterculture. Sure the take on science in thew counterculture may have been non-traditional, or weird, (e.g. especially John Lilly), but it was still science. But the essentially separatist counterculture was only one part of the larger Zeitgeist, and in many ways opposed to the social engagement of New Left activism (e.g. Port Huron Statement) which had a largely skeptic ethos if anything. Where I see the woo coming in is when so many of the hopes for progressive change came crashing down with Nixon, and then the slide into post-Watergate disillusionment. this is exemplified, for me in the story of Rennie Davis – who went from Chicago 7 anti-war organizer to blissed-out disciple of New Age scam Guru Mahara Ji. This is detailed in the absolutely brilliant guerilla-TV documentary Lord of The Universe along with acidic commentary by Abbie Hoffman in a sequence where he watches the footage of Davis. i’d say it’s essential viewing for anyone interested in why people get attracted to woo. It’s mostly sympathetic to the regular folks drawn toward the guru, while exposing the guru’s family for the scammers they were, and treating the hard core converts like Davis as tragic fools. If you Google the title, you should find somewhere where you can view it free online. It’s about 1 hour long.

@ sadmar:

Notice that for the earlier examples I say “against science and technology”:- which was realised amongst artists who wanted to go back to the old ways, away from cities( 19th Century-poets in England- Wordsworth, Coleridge; also Thomas Hardy; US Hudson River School of art/ 20th century – people like Freud in rx to the atrocities of modern warfare; other experimental psychologists)

My more recent examples highlight people railing against “authorities and institutions” rather than science per se Of course, they accepted technology AND science where it suited them- many embraced computers.
I DO feel that rejection of authorities/ and self-education – which can be meaningful or necessary- may have paved the way for the belief that anyone can do anything
someone with a business degree can be an expert on Autism or an alt med nutritionist can overrule what research has ascertained over decades about cancer or vaccines.

Alt med and woo thrive in this arena- most of them believe that they’re doing science although they reject what they call “the Orthodoxy” or “Monotheistic ( sic) science”,

I have a different perspective mostly because I read histories of mathematics and science. One thing that makes me aware that this nonsense is not just a 21st century “post modernization” is that Sokal did his hoax in 1996, and then there is this tome written in 1963: Anti-intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention this 1957 classic: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science by Martin Gardner.

Too bad for Deodand it’s hard to add graphics to comments here, so he didn’t get to append an image of Pepe to his little butt-hurt white-boy screed.

Imma guess I’m the only commenter here who wrote a PhD dissertation on PoMo, attended a variety of academic conferences and panels on PoMo, helped assemble a historically important journal issue on PoMo, and taught an undergraduate seminar in PoMo. And what i see in Deodant’s remark is not remotely a description of any of that work I’ve actually done, but a regurgitation of talking points from constipated conservatives like Bill Bennett and reactionary analytic philosophers like Martin Gardner (yes, I know skeptics adore him, but as he aged he turned into what I can only call a crank). These folks have no clue what PoMo actually says, as they use the label as a catch-all for any and all types of “theory” that inflame their prejudices, no matter how contradictory and contesting those ideas may be among the scholars who actually work with them. So the moral panic over PoMo is built on exaggerated negative stereotypes of Poststructuralism and certain trends in Cultural Studies. Specifically, social constructionism was central to Structuralism (Saussure, Levi-Strauss), and continued on through Poststructuralism (Derrida, Foucault) and British Cultural Studies (Hall, Hebdige, McRobbie).. all of which preceded PoMo by decades. But then Deodand wouldn’t know that Cultural Studies scholarship included a lot of empirical studies (e.g. David Morley).

Four aspects of Deodands BS, typical of the genre:
1. “Science, reason, objectivity, logic, empiricism are ‘social constructs’ CREATED TO oppress non-whites”. Nope. Straw man. None of the thinkers in question advance conspiracy theories. The argument is that subtle biases, unconscious and/or structural, yield an effect that contributes to oppression along lines of race, class and gender. another straw man: including ‘logic’ as something to be overthrown. Uh, these folks are dealing in what are essentially philosophical argumentation, which rests on the premise that logic not only exists, but will ultimately win the day.
2. The complainants just throw up their hands as if the mere thesis of social construction is so outrageous that it can be dismissed instantly out of hand. They don’t engage the arguments. They’re the ones forsaking ‘logic’ for outrage. Down underneath, they know they can’t win the debate, so sooner or later they just walk off in a huff.
3. Saying that any of these scholars want to ‘replace science, reason, objectivity with ‘whatever feels right is right (Magic)’ is just a damned lie on both ends. Got a primary source citation example endorsing Magic? No? Right. And you assert these thinkers – virtually all of whom are expressly anti-fascist – endorse ‘‘whatever feels right is right”? Uh, try again. And, of course, the folks who call out science practice for embodying and extending questionable social agendas (e.g. Aronowitz, Ross, etc.) just want a better science, not some triumph of superstition and scams.
4. Finally, the moral panic element of the condemnation is very much a form of woo in itself. These panics have appeared periodically since the advent of urbanization and mass communication. The narrative is always the same: the herd – be they ‘the masses’ or ‘the kids’ – are wandering through the pastures of life as tabula rasae, and when any ill-wind of alleged BS wafts by, the infection quickly spreads, energizing the previously placid to turn into a stampede overrunning all that is decent, true, cultured, whatever. Blame the nickelodeons, blame the comic books, blame TV, blame heavy metal, blame video games. As comical as all of these turn out to be in hindsight, they’re all more plausible than the notion that a few humanities classes in a college curriculum turn the students enrolled into some nightmarish SJW anti-science horde. For one thing, college coursework in toto is only a small part of all the experiences that make young people who they are (e.g. vs. the college social scene, alumni networking etc.) For another, contemporary theory is still but a minority trend in humanities education – which remains fairly traditional overall despite all the cherry-picked pub to the contrary, and then place that in the context of all the other courses liberal arts students take in chem, bio, psych (lots of neuroscience there now), econ, poli sci, foreign languages, math, comp sci… all of them going in quite a different direction than any sort of critical theory.

in short, self-proclaimed defender of reason, objectivity, logic, empirical evidence does nothing but sh!t on those standards in practice…

Strange thing is, those people who don’t trust science, still trust computers, aeroplanes, and cars, all products of the same science, they don’t trust. No-one doubts the existance of gravity.

“No-one doubts the existence of gravity”. Then, for the sake of your sanity, blood pressure, and faith in humanity, I would advise not looking into flat earther claims.

But no-one doubts gravity enough to jump from the window on the tenth floor and expecting not to drop down.
Not even flat-earthers are that stupid.

“Not even flat earthers are that stupid.” Uh, they kinda are. Sure, they would expect to fall down from a height, however this would not be due to a non-existent force (in their minds) called “gravity”, but because of “density” or some hand-wavey electromagical whatsis. The flerfer (disc)worldview is a veritable cornucopia of stupid. For a summary and righteous takedown of their main talking points I would recommend the relevant videos by scientist YouTuber Professor Dave.

This is why Ben Goldacre is involved in Alltrials. Doesnt solve all the problems but would allow independent confirmation of published results. Also opens the floodgates for anyone with a book on statistics and a bee in their bonnet to carry out crappy analysis and claim to discover secret X……

I’m always amazed at the misuse of biostatistics on so many papers, especially some of the recent “simple” analyses by anti-vaccine loons. It’s as if they don’t understand the very basic principle of the Central Limit Theorem.

As I see it, people tend to differentiate science between those that directly impinge on their immediate life-styles and personal well-being, or comfort, and those that don’t. The latter includes the “hard” sciences, such as physics, chemistry and mathematics, while the former include the medical, or life, sciences and the environmental sciences, and possibly information/computer sciences. Most non-science people would consider that science is beyond their ken.

Science, like most other fields of human endeavour, has unethical practitioners, and, in particular, attracts parasitic charlatans, opportunists and doomsayers seeking fame and fortune at the expense of scientific truth. The softest, contemporary targets for the parasites are the medical and environmental sciences, because these fields of research are intimately bound up in life and living, and the concomitant timidity, fears, self-doubts, and hopes of the people. Religions and the religious leaders have made great capital from exploiting these human frailties, and pseudo-scientific charlatans have preyed on the same weaknesses.

As a boon to the charlatan class, the news media are hungry for sensationalism, much of which is centred around blame and fear of the enemy within. So, the seeds of conspiracies are sown, of cover-ups, of profiteering, of denial of individual rights and control by fear and scapegoating prevail. .

In consideration of the two biggest anti-science movements that are currently active I offer the following.

IT”S N0T YOUR FAULT:: Autism and other horrible disabilities in children are caused by COMPULSORY vaccinations.
Greedy Big Pharma using shonky science, and gutless Governments abusing your individual rights are to BLAME.
So, don’t feel GUILTY (or responsible)

IT”S N0T YOUR FAULT: Climate change is an act of Nature and is not caused by human activity,
It’s a CONSPIRACY of the extreme left and it’s cabal of shonky scientists.
So, humans shouldn’t feel GUILTY, or believe that their lifestyle and activities are to BLAME.

Thus, take a fear, find an enemy or someone to blame, and tell the people not to feel guilty because it wasn’t their fault. Then, offer them the means to salvation.true

Therefore, the life and living sciences must open their eyes to the opportunities that are created for parasites by their taciturnity, and counteract these intruders by being very open about their research, and being quite clear about degrees of certainty, possible risks. They have to preempt the attacks and ensure that they, not mischievous news media, identify any deviant members of the scientific community. They must quickly expose and make amends when mistakes are made.

Fight propaganda with propaganda. Just the sort of sensation that the news media would lap up.

Sad isn’t it.

The brilliant essays by Orac exposing frauds and profiteers go unheralded, yet these are the sorts of writings that should be at the forefront of the war against lies. Do you know of any like-minded billionaires who would take up the cause?

IT”S N0T YOUR FAULT: Climate change is an act of Nature and is not caused by human activity, It’s a CONSPIRACY of the extreme left and it’s cabal of shonky scientists. So, humans shouldn’t feel GUILTY, or believe that their lifestyle and activities are to BLAME.

Great comment. I would add to this the frightening revelation that some/many do believe that climate change is real but take the blame game to an extreme such as the notion that some of the gun massacres are results of an ideology that seeks to blame overpopulation for climate change. I fear that given the violent rhetoric of anti-vaxx “leaders” and the misplaced anger and prejudices of anti-vaxxers along with their loss of credibility and influence, it may only be a matter of time before some extreme violence is perpetuated by someone.

While much of this is concerning, it’s interesting that there has been an overall rise of trust in recent years, and I can’t help but wonder why.

Is it a reaction to the Trump administration? To the March for Science’s visibility? Because it’s hard for me to think on something that changed in scientific behavior itself these past years otherwise.

That’s not to discount the many valid concerns you highlighted, of course.

Millennials coming of age? I mean, so many of them are growing up and becoming adults in an era of increased STEM curricula and companies like Tesla, Space X and others making science and “geeks” more culturally acceptable.

That may possibly explain some of it Rene; my children and their peers are aware of anti-vaxx dogma and think it’s pretty stupid. Millennials also seem painfully aware that they are left holding the bag for previous generations’ cock ups on climate.

If it is millenials. I’m with Science Mom in guessing it’s climate change mainly. But there’s no doubt the perception of the broad field of STEM curricula has changed in the common culture. My guess though, is that this is essentially neutral to ‘trust in scientists’ I think the “cool geek” factor is secondary phenomenon– in the sense that it’s a by-product of something more fundamental. And that is that STEM education is now seen as the key to a good job, financial security, but also beyond that to “success” and social influence. So yeah, Elon Musk is one avatar, but even more telling ones are BIll Gates and Mark Zuckerberg – the geeks are now the wealthiest people on Earth, the ones everybody else wants to suck up to, and so on.

So, on the one hand, the young may have a positive view of ‘science’ because it’s part of STEM, and lots of them and their cohorts aspire to STEM careers. On the other hand, the ‘cool geeks’ have so much power, they’re scary. They’ve become the template for Bond-Villain-type film roles.

Let’s face it, at least since Hiroshima if not before, much of the work of science has been absolutely terrifying to those not involved in it, and even a fair number of those who are – e.g. Steven Hawking’s fears about A.I. actually creating something akin to Skynet. Or take this hardly reassuring article on quantum computing from WaPo:

I find it ironic that it seems like people blame undisclosed conflicts of interest as a major reason for distrusting scientists, yet is seems unlikely that many people who hold that stance could possibly know enough scientists to be able to judge whether or not people they don’t know have conflicts of interest. This particularly with environmental scientists. How many climatologists are you friendly with? And, while people meet doctors, they may not meet epidemiologists.

Why don’t conflicts of interest weigh down the like of Mike Adams? For one, he is clearly fraught with them. Why don’t people hold quacks to the same standard that they hold scientists whose names they may not even know?

Exactly. Alt med entrepreneurs are ALL conflicts of interests:
–they present “data” or stories that scare people then they sell them products to fix the “problem”
–their “investigations” attack anyone who contradicts their message

Adams and Null are the two quacks I know best so I’ll focus upon their methods:
to gain trust of their audience, they first present themselves paradoxically
that is, they are just plain folks from small towns and farms from god-fearing families who have BASIC good values : they are not the dreaded elitist Ivy League East or West Coast liberals or “corporatists” BUT
simultaneously, they are true, great original geniuses who have incredible intelligence and educations PLUS they “studied” closely other great original, genius-y mavericks ( i.e. quacks). They now have all of the answers.

Somehow, their money making activities, business models and wealth are not focused upon: both mention their charitable activities ( Null has several registered) and how they live simply. Their screeds describe an enemy ( SBM, sceptics, the government, corporations) as corrupt, criminal and bilking the public any way they can. The woo-meisters are the protectors of the public.

Due to my background in psych, I can’t say enough about the cumulative effect of their gospel being expounded on a near daily basis to their fans: they emotionally present their material, they repeat it interminably and they try to get the follower to become actively involved- i.e. go to a protest, write to representatives, change their lifestyle, emulating their models. If you do so, you will get their coveted stamp of approval.

A big part of the conflict-of-interest gambit is projection. Adams et al. know that they get the bulk of their income from the products they sell on their shows/websites, and assume that scientists and medical researchers do the same. The irony is that scientists and medical researchers are generally required to disclose their funding sources in their publications. And while it is undoubtedly true that some of the medical research that supports products that XYZ Corp. manufactures is funded by XYZ Corp., most of it is funded by sources other than XYZ Corp. It is reasonable to be skeptical of research funded by XYZ Corp. that demonstrates that MagicPill(TM), a product of XYZ Corp., cures (some forms of) cancer. Adams et al. try to make it look like most papers are in this category while hoping that such skeptics do not turn the same lens on them.


blockquote>I find it ironic that it seems like people blame undisclosed conflicts of interest as a major reason for distrusting scientists…


This is so annoying to me too. Who’s more likely to have a conflict of interest? Someone who has studied their field for literally years, or a non-expert? The non-expert.

In addition to efforts that should gradually increase trust in medical practitioners and research findings (greater avoidance of even the appearance of conflict of interest, willingness to publish negative study findings etc.), there also needs to be emphasis on teaching critical thinking skills in schools, starting at the elementary level.

Way too many people fall for pseudoscience and conspiratorial views about the practice of medicine/science, a number that could be diminished considerably if they learned to spot fallacious thinking and nonsensical attacks on experts.

What we have now is a widespread distrust of experts and a delusional belief that “research” conducted at one’s favorite websites is equal to or better than the education and experience of individuals in climate science, agriculture, immunology etc.

“Why don’t people hold quacks to the same standard that they hold scientists whose names they may not even know?”

Demagogues have a built-in advantage that is lessened once people learn to see through their tactics.

“There needs to be an emphasis on teaching critical thinking skills in schools,” is a prime skeptic trope, or cliche, if you will.

i doubt most who repeat it have ever been teachers at any level of education in any field, much less specifically one with a pedagogy centered on critical thinking (however defined). Well, here are some observations from someone with 35 years experience in the above:

• Despite all the lip-service academic institutions are prone to give to “critical thinking”, in practice it’s actually a negative. Schooling in America breeds intellectual passivity and conformity. The primary values are instrumental and economic – will the graduates get “good” jobs? The socialization is mainly about fitting in. If you ask critical questions, you make waves; you get labeled a troublemaker. At my last professorship, i actually proposed a required entry-level Gen Ed class that would have had a major component of critical thinking skills, including recognizing common logical fallacies and so on. Just crickets or derisive snorts in response.

• Learning to spot “fallacious thinking” and “nonsensical attacks on experts.” are hardly congruent. Critical thinking isn’t about spotting other peoples fallacious thinking, it’s about spotting your fallacious thinking. Which you may well have acquired as received wisdom from some “expert”.

• Students in the humanities are far more likely to be exposed to general critical thinking pedagogy, and be more adept at engaging with it than those in the sciences, who caem upo through their majors focused on knowing “the right answers” for machine scored tests. By and large, in the college interdisciplinary program where i served as an advisor, the students from the sciences simply refused any sort of self-interrogation about their projects. Ask them a simple ‘why?’, and they froze. (The exceptions were, no surprise, students with a primary major in science and a secondary major or strong minor in the arts or humanities.)

ANY pedagogy from a specific class, or even a college major, has only a small role in affecting student thought and behavior. I recall a professor in an intermediate level class at a school I visited who complained that the instructors at the entry level couldn’t have been teaching the fundamentals she expected students to enter her class with, because the students seemed clueless on those things. Yet, when I spoke to those instructors, and looked at their syllabi, those were actually key points of emphasis. Just because the kids didn’t get it doiesn’t mean we didn’t teach it. And just because we taught it doesn’t mean the students got it.

• Even the students who do “get it” may only partly get it, and if they ever do put it to use, may “do it” wrong. No dive in an undergraduate education is all that deep, or thorough, or replete with full-scale error correction.

Even for the students who mostly “get it right” there’s no assurance what they’ll do with it outside the classroom. E.g.. “critical thinking skills” can be quite useful in scamming other people (e.g. advertising).

Nevertheless, I’m all for more emphasis on critical thinking skills at every level of education. I just don’t expect TPTB to embrace that with open arms, nor expect it to be any sort of panacea to any extent we are actually able to do more of it.

As a simple teacher in high school, I always try to teach my student at least a little critical thinking. I talk about vaccines every year, at the start of flu season, for example.
Sometimes authorities also help, although not in the way they intended. Last year there was a huge panic over here about one of those supposedly dangerous internet games that allegedly led some children to suicide. And we were instructed to discuss it with our students. So I did – I talked about fake news and moral panic.

What can be done

You have (unfairly)been indoctrinated to ignore the human experience with vaccines which provokes people into assuming that you are obtuse & invites the possibility of a conspiracy.

Stop calling people antivaxxers. Still worth it to you to ‘gain trust’? Didn’t think so.

You have (unfairly)been indoctrinated to ignore the human experience with vaccines which provokes people into assuming that you are obtuse & invites the possibility of a conspiracy.

Oh give me a break. Your so-called “human experience” was put to the test and failed miserably. You’re biased and can’t see past your “human experience” to understand you’re suffering from confirmation bias and a fair amount of cognitive dissonance. I would add that you, in particular also display a fair amount of narcissism and delusions of grandeur. Although those attributes can readily be observed in most anti-vaxxers.

Stop calling people antivaxxers. Still worth it to you to ‘gain trust’? Didn’t think so.

If you and others don’t like the term than don’t be anti-vaxxers. We can distinguish between anti-vaxxers and vaccine-hesitant; the latter are the group that we should work to gain the trust of. The former are lost causes who will never be swayed from their positions and seek to prey upon parents, turning them into the vaccine-hesitant or anti-vaxxers so you can validate your anger and beliefs.

The fact that she blithely suggested my family members with alpha 1 just “self-isolate” despite not even knowing what the disease is was pretty much the nail in the coffin of me taking her even slightly seriously. She’s so full of inconsistencies and nonsense that if she told me the time of day I’d doublecheck,

You have (unfairly)been indoctrinated to ignore the human experience with vaccines which provokes people into assuming that you are obtuse & invites the possibility of a conspiracy.

Nothing like a little threadjacking in the morning, eh?

@ Narad,

My best posts today will be found on Orac’s ‘Sayer Ji’ thread from Friday.

Indoctrinated, huh? You have no idea how education works.

You’re an antivaxxer. A duck is a duck. Look at the hundreds of posts (I’m wagering) you’ve made here already, with basically no evidence of personal evolution on your part; you do not hear the points made to you and do not appear to do anything but engage in a game of either goalpost shifting or dodgeball about everything. There is zero evidence of metacognition in basically everything you’ve written. As someone who is totally unreachable, you’re deserving of the label. There is nothing scientists can ever do to convince you of anything, except to totally capitulate and say that you’re in the right, never mind that it can’t be proven to you that that isn’t true. If ridicule is the only thing that reaches through your cloak of zealotry, I say you deserve it. Antivaxxer.

What’s really funny, FP, is that sceptics- and psychologists- STUDY indoctrination, propaganda, advertising and conversion – many of Orac’s posts involve looking into the processes that make a person susceptible to woo and how to overcome them. Didn’t Feynman warn people about ” not fooling yourself'” – i.e. having self-awareness in order to prevent obvious mistakes due to self-protective blindness.
In fact, above I explain how woo-meisters win people over and get them to dis-regard obvious COIs. Build themselves up as moral, ethical excellent people from humble backgrounds who have become brilliant innovators and truth tellers hell bent of saving others from tragedy engendered by ruthless monsters like doctors.

-btw- metacognition is a skill that not all adults develop equally- as we can sometimes tell.

The longer I’ve been in science, the more I’ve seen that most of the scientific method revolves around exactly that: “making sure you’re not fooling yourself.” In principle, that’s a big part of why there’s peer review and why collaboration is important. There’s a reason for deep literature searching. Painting someone by their credentials and acclaim is dangerous if they are making a bad argument and, if they aren’t willing to listen to or discuss the shortcoming of their proposals, they can’t put themselves in a frame that can advance past being wrong. Everybody gets things wrong. Einstein got things wrong. Feynman got things wrong.

Moreover, in modern science, the subject is so complex and dense that basically nobody can do it alone. It has to be teams of people checking each other. When was the last time a singleton won the Nobel prize? Working in teams apparently makes us faceless, but it also means that you have to listen closely to the consensus. Brave mavericks are rarely ever right and if they are, they need an unusually persuasive argument.

I think it makes matters extremely hard when people with zero competence think they can or should chime in about how the consensus has panned out. Do people like Christine deserve a say? She has no idea what the consensus really is or even what scientists are trained to do, yet she thinks she has a say in how science should be? The hubris is extraordinary. It’s like asking a three year old how tax law should be written.

When was the last time a singleton won the Nobel prize?

Yoshinori Ohsumi got Physiology or Medicine in 2016, Dan Shechtman for Chemistry in 2011.

It is true, but I stand by my point. This is the exception, not the rule. And, as time goes on it has become more so.

I do admit when I’m wrong, and I didn’t do a search ahead of the statement. Thanks Narad.

It may be paradoxical, but it seems like one way to built up public trust in scientists, while adhering to the strengths of the scientific method, would be to focus more on publicizing the admission and correction of errors when it occurs. If your university, lab, corporation, foundation, etc., spots and/or fixes an error, put pressure on your administration and PR/media reps to make that announcement widely known.

@ Copyleft,

Thanks for posting. I almost choked on my Frappe to see common sense written here.

Oh, and you claim, “Vaccines are not profitable.” I call BS, again.

Let’s be generous and assume that 1 in 20 cases of measles requires hospitalisation (it’s more). The profit on the medication used for just one hospitalisation is easily more than 40 times the profit earned from one vaccine.
Seriously, have you never heard/read the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”?

@Julian – Yes…”an ounce of prevention”…love those sayings, like “two birds one stone” etc…Speaking of prevention, since we know immunity can wane – Why not recommend titers? Another curiousity, the media in their spreading of fear conveniently fail to mention those in the population who unknowingly have no immunity to measles even though they have been vaccinated .All the more reason to get titers and see who needs another jab.

Why not recommend titers?

Because titre tests often cost more than a vaccine.

Another curiousity, the media in their spreading of fear conveniently fail to mention those in the population who unknowingly have no immunity to measles even though they have been vaccinated

Another disingenuous antivaxxer talking point, and one that has been deconstructed multiple times already here.
MMR vaccination rates are typically at over 90%, yet the percentage of fully vaccinated measles victims is usually less than half. Let’s assume a population of 1,000 with 900 vaccinated and 100 unvaccinated, and 50 measles cases in the vaccinated and unvaccinated each, which is an accurate representation of recent experiences. Crunching the numbers returns an attack rate of 1 in 2 for the unvaccinated and 1 in 18 for the vaccinated. In other words, vaccines confer over 90% protection. As further proof, outbreaks are typically centered in undervaccinated areas.
Vaccine failure is less of a factor than deliberate undervaccination and vaccine refusal.

Julian: That’s not a valid argument unless the firm manufacturing the vaccine also is the source of the meds for hospitalization. Unfortunately, the reasons why childhood vaccines are NOT subject to the profiteering some pharmas have shown in other product areas are too complicated to frame properly in a simple ‘sound bite’ rebuttal.

Yes, the pharmas have repeatedly placed profit over people. But the pharmas are MASSIVE multinational corporations selling all kinds of stuff, out of many different divisions and subsidiaries all operating semi-autonomously.. So you have to consider what percentage of those products have ever been problematic. And that’s not that high a number. Then you need to examine what characterizes the products where profit has been egregiously put before people, and what distinguishes them from the larger mass of products that are beneficial or at least benign. For example, are you going to stop buying Band-Aids because Johnson & Johnson has been implicated in enabling the opioid crisis? Of course not. But then the overall corporate mantle of J&J is almost irrelevant to how the very different divisions of the company that produce those very products operate, what kind of executives head up the relative operations, and so on.

An analogy: the federal government has repeatedly screwed over some of it’s citizens. but you still drop your mail at the Post Office trusting it will be delivered. In any large organization you will find some pockets of sin. But it’s foolish to throw out the baby with the bathwater by condemning the whole enchilada.

Thank You!

And while we’re at it, please stop tarring the scientists an techs with the brush meant for sales, marketing and the corporate bigwigs, most of whom couldn’t even put on a pair of gloves, let alone hold a pipette.

Huge companies are, inherently, huge, and the people who actually do the work have little to no control over things like prices.

“little to no control over things like prices”

Little? Although not pharma my experience at the research/development level is no input and usually no knowledge of pricing. Later in my career when I set and negotiated prices I never consulted development groups and, frankly, they had no interest. Indeed, that end of the business was just voodoo to them. But they did appreciate feedback that customers were using and liked the products they built and supported.


I wouldn’t say some of that tar never spills over on certain research scientists, but even there It would be a tiny minority in just a few corners of the overall corporate maze.

It’s an admittedly small sample, but the med or science techs I’ve know are all good people…

Perhaps you should read an economy textbook. Sales is not same thing as profit, you would have any number of costs.

At the suggestion of Copyleft, let’s begin this process of honest acknowledgement, shall we? Instead of decrying antivaxxers as the only source of Measles outbreaks; are you all ready to admit to another factor? Vaccines:

Measles-specific antibodies wane in the absence of boosting by the wild-type virus

The number of potential measles-susceptible individuals progressively accumulates

Vaccine-induced immunity is less effective than naturally acquired immunity

At the suggestion of Copyleft, let’s begin this process of honest acknowledgement, shall we? Instead of decrying antivaxxers as the only source of Measles outbreaks; are you all ready to admit to another factor? Vaccines:

I can feel the collective shame of nurses when you invoke your nursing degree. Run the numbers sweetie and tell us how many were infected annually pre-vaccine and then compare to the number of those infected post-vaccine even with one dose.

@ Science Mom,

how many were infected annually pre-vaccine

Yes, before the vaccine; MANY more people caught the Measles. You can only catch the Measles once. If you don’t want to, get vaccinated.

And during the next outbreak; you may catch the measles anyway while those who already had it; won’t.

Very simple & unworthy of compulsory laws & media blackouts. You do you.

And during the next outbreak; you may catch the measles anyway while those who already had it; won’t.

Is there some reason you don’t bother to look at numbers? Why don’t you tell me what the measles prevalence is now compared to pre-vaccine. Is that so hard?

Very simple & unworthy of compulsory laws & media blackouts. You do you.

My aren’t you the drama queen. Media blackouts, really? Perhaps it’s just that anti-vaxxers are boring as shit.

You only read the bullet points, didn’t you? Protip: Those are often written by comma jockeys. L-rd knows I’ve suffered the task.

^ Jesus, Elsevier, get some competent copy editors. “Confidence internals”? I strongly suspect that somebody “edited” this paper because of the substitution of “owing to” for “due to” early on, but it’s a linguistic mess.

If you read the paper, it said “may wane”.
Another paper to consider
Irja Davidkin, Sari Jokinen, Mia Broman, Pauli Leinikki, Heikki Peltola
Persistence of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Antibodies in an MMR-Vaccinated Cohort: A 20-Year Follow-up
The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 197, Issue 7, 1 April 2008, Pages 950–956,
Number was 97% after 20 years.

I just posted this cognitive dissonance inducing citation on Friday’s thread:

Unfortunately, vaccination against measles and varicella in
one generation increases the possibility of infection in the

Any interest in acknowledgment or just continued meltdowns from the ‘scientific community’? I don’t want this to be a traumatic experience, so I won’t proceed to more topics until something as easily reconciled as this one … is.

Any interest in acknowledgment or just continued meltdowns from the ‘scientific community’? I don’t want this to be a traumatic experience, so I won’t proceed to more topics until something as easily reconciled as this one … is.

Sure I’ll bite. You don’t have any reading comprehension and cherry-pick the bits you like. Read the whole paper. Vaccines have reduced morbidity and mortality in all age groups and it’s the un/undervaccinated that are the source for infections in populations with vaccination rates below herd immunity and/or clustered.

@ Science Mom,

it’s the un/undervaccinated that are the source for infections in populations with vaccination rates below herd immunity and/or clustered

Are the US or the UK below herd immunity? I was told here that I may not consider those populations as relevant.

This would be way more fun if I could. I will let you call the shots (no pun intended). Global public health or just first world public health?

Are the US or the UK below herd immunity? I was told here that I may not consider those populations as relevant.

There are pockets of both that are below herd immunity threshold. The UK overall has lower vaccine rates than the US. I don’t give a flying fig about what “you were told”. Just compare apples to apples.

I am impressed that your search for validation and confirmation took you all the way to a below-the-bottom-of-the-barrel journal from a one-man-scam predatory publisher like “Southern Cross Journals” (“”).
Nope, not interested in engaging some paper-shaped dumpster-fire. Right now I have some cat puke to clean up.

One factor in public distrust of science may be the increasing attention given by both the scientific community and news media to examples of misbehavior (data manipulation, plagiarism etc.). Pressure laid on by watchdog groups (Retraction Watch is one example) is a good thing, though publicity given to sleazy elements in science also feeds public suspicions.

It’s worth adding that sleazy behavior in regard to vaccine research is heavily associated with antivaccine advocates (Wakefield, the Geiers, Shaw & Tomljenovic and so on). The general public may not always make the distinction that it’s antivaxers who are overwhelmingly responsible for corrupted vaccine research.

@DB – Classic end to your reply with the notorious AV crew. Synopsis – Yep, we’ve got our bad guys, but, but, but look over here, remember these bad guys. I’m laughing over here. Who pays you, really?

I’m laughing over here.

As befits a chucklehead. Quick: Where does most fabricated research come from? This is not vaccine specific.

Antivax crew is paid by antivax foundations. Geiers run a child castration business based on assumption that autism is mercury poisoning, and published papers for supporting his business (older one was an expert witness, too).

@ DB,

Wakefield, the Geiers, Shaw & Tomljenovic

Since I only cite peer-reviewed research from none of the above, may I please have my conviction reduced from ‘Felonious Antivaxxer ‘ to a “Misdemeanor Antivaxxer’?

Or will you still have to throw me in the river to see if I float?

Since I only cite peer-reviewed research from none of the above, may I please have my conviction reduced from ‘Felonious Antivaxxer ‘ to a “Misdemeanor Antivaxxer’?

Citing research that doesn’t come from the most egregious anti-vaxx cranks doesn’t lend you any credibility when you a.) can’t tell the difference between editorials and studies and b.) cherry-pick and perform frantic arm-waving to weave some wild-eyed “theory” of causation. You are an anti-vaxxer, own it and learn to love it or stop making squawky anti-vaxx sounds.

@ Science Mom,

I’m going to fix your above comment to delete the labels & glittering generalities so we can see exactly what your point of contention is:

Citing research doesn’t lend you any credibility when you a.) can’t tell the difference between editorials and studies and b) cherry-pick causation

Is this accurate? Here is my reply:

A. Most editorials include supporting citations for their basis that you are free to reference. I am in a discussion, not preforming a meta-analysis.

B. I have only provided a theory for causation. I have yet to see my theory discussed by anyone; pro nor anti. It is impossible to cherry-pick your own theory.

I suppose Dorit is qualified to opine on whether or not I have done an adequate job to defend my credibility so far?

Is this accurate? Here is my reply:


A. Most editorials include supporting citations for their basis that you are free to reference. I am in a discussion, not preforming a meta-analysis.

Another example of your ignorance of the hierarchy. Your editorials may provide citations but use of said citations are easily cherry-picked, distorted, what have you. And in turn, you pick the bits that support your pre-conceived biases. Your so-called discussion is based upon hand-waving.

B. I have only provided a theory for causation. I have yet to see my theory discussed by anyone; pro nor anti. It is impossible to cherry-pick your own theory.

You don’t even know what a theory is nor how it is even derived. Try again. Your “theory” was discussed and I’m discussing it now. It’s problematic because you didn’t connect any dots, just saw some words that you banged together, think you’re brilliant and are butthurt because the rest of us don’t appreciate your awesomeness.

Oops, forgot to mention other antivaxers involved in research papers that wound up being retracted – including Rimland & McGinnis, Hooker, Shoenfeld, and that anonymous individual who faked a Karolinska Institute affiliation in order to publish a paper claiming that HPV vaccination was linked with higher cervical cancer rates.

Maybe the dynamic antivax duo here can enlighten us as to which studies cited by pro-immunization advocates have had to be retracted.


@ DB,

I’m not sure that to state the obvious would be the best defense against an the inevitable future allegation of conspiracy. If you insist, I could dredge up the appeals written by Carbone, Gadzar & Butel to retract the multiple SV40 studies done by the Shah, Strickler & Goedert et al.

Note that you would never have to defend yourself against charges of conspiracy. You are much more valuable in your present state of blind faith than you would be as drafted into a conspiracy.

This blind faith is interesting. If you opinion in based on facts, you have blind faith, and if it is based a personal tragedy, it is superb science.

@Narad – I dunno, the CDC? Nah. Probably not those guys. However, they do like to hype the severity of the flu every year. There is a power point presentation by Mr. Nowak of the CDC. I’ve pulled it up before. Wanna see it again? I’d have to look for it.

We are heading into flu season. Maybe a look into the Magic 8 Ball will tell us which strains will be dominant. Will two jabs be recommended for this year? Stanley Plotkin and his wife, against known recommendations, had two flu shots last year. I wonder if Medicare paid for the second one?

Tell me who get that power point presentation, and how. It was very unspecific, too. Real slides would have contained specific media campaign, I guess the writer did not know any US newspapers. And what about scientific journals, and foreign health authorities ?

You did not answer my question: who get these slides, how and when this meeting happened. I tried to find them via National Academics of Sciences website, without success. Page source had only link, and this is different in different sources. And one would certainly expect a specific media strategy, not one slide of scare sentences.

Stanley Plotkin and his wife, against known recommendations, had two flu shots last year

One each? That sounds fair enough.

@Julian – I looked up the cost…a titer is slightly more. Regarding your number crunching: citation please. Thank you.

As you wish.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Jan. 25after the statewide measles case count climbed to 26 in the first few weeks of 2019. All but one of the cases were reported from Clark County, Washington…
In a county report that followed the outbreak, officials found that of the 71 overall cases reported by April 29, 61 of them included unvaccinated patients. In seven other cases, vaccination statuses were reported as “unverified.” The other three patients had received one dose of the MMR vaccine.

And from the CDC, although I realise you probably won’t believe it.

The majority of cases are among people who were not vaccinated against measles.

@ Narad,

Jesus, Elsevier, get some competent copy editors. “Confidence internals”? I strongly suspect that somebody “edited” this paper because of the substitution of “owing to” for “due to” early on, but it’s a linguistic mess

Yours is a tortured existence; isn’t it?

Yours is a tortured existence; isn’t it?

In point of fact, it is, but not because of this particular depredation of my trade, which you couldn’t function in if your life depended on it.

Her comments started at 10:30am this morning (Eastern) and we are now at 4:30pm. That’s six solid hours of commenting, with most comments only ten or twenty minutes apart. Now, THAT is a tortured existence, one which demands respect and validation from a bunch of random and/or anonymous commenters on a discussion board online.

And to think that so many of those comments are clearly explained by the epidemiological transition (or epidemiological shift). [] She’s almost as bad at epidemiology as the gnat. Almost.

Antivaxxer: Measles vaccine bad! Cause worse disease! Antibodies, blah, blah, blah!

Scientist: One of the well-documented example of epidemiological shifts has been documented from Greece, following the introduction of MMR vaccine in public health program of the country. When the MMR vaccine was introduced in 1975 in Greece, the coverage with the vaccine was around 50-60% of the cohort, which reduced the incidence of diseases in the targeted population; however, shifted the average age of infection to older population. However, the susceptible cohort of un-vaccinated continued to increase over period of time with epidemiological shift to older age groups. By the early 1990s, specially those unvaccinated girls reached in the reproductive age group, still susceptible to rubella virus disease. In such cases, if the infections happened during the time of pregnancy, it led to development of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) in fetus/infants. In 1993, it was noted that Greece had the highest incidence of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). This example highlights the need and importance for high coverage at the time of vaccine introduction and sustenance of the coverage in the subsequent cohorts. This situation is sometimes referred to as “perverse outcome,” where disease severity increases with age at infection: Vaccination can increase the burden of severe diseases, by raising the average age of infections. The total number of infections falls but the total number of severe disease increases, e.g., CRS, measles, encephalitis, and orchitis due to mumps.

@ Rene,

Thank you, that was very interesting. I was going to be flip but I’ll save it because I’m more interested in what you wrote.

@ Rene,

I was making up for yesterday when I was out of town to move a kid into her university dorm. It’s not like it consumes much energy or ability to discuss things here. Once you remove or ignore the labeling & glittering generalities ya’ll don’t have much left with which to counter my points.

“We really have to be a lot more transparent about our industry ties and acknowledge that even small gifts can influence our thinking. I’ve heard more doctors than I can remember vehemently deny that a dinner or gift from a drug rep influences them, but those denials are not consistent with what we know from science about human psychology.” Thank you for saying this. It seems like concerns about conflicts of interest are often dismissed rather than acknowledged as a problem that contributes to the lack of trust.

As they say: lies, damned lies, and poll numbers. OK, I exaggerate. We’re not really talking lies (objectively false), but more the counting of things that aren’t really things. Generic complaint stated, I’ve got something more specific on my mind here.

I’m mystified why anyone would pair the public perceptions, including “trust/Mistrust” of scientists and physicians, or imagine these could be evaluated by similar measures. Pretty much everyone has some personal experience with physicians, and in situations where those individuals have direct influence and authority. OTOH, few regular folks have similar knowledge of scientists. If they know any scientists personally, they probably don’t know what those people actually do, nor does that work impact them in any immediate personal way.

Thus, while your trust of “physicians” likely reflects your trust of your physicians based on first hand experience, your trust of “scientists” is likely based on representations received from mass media (or, now, also social media): stories about science and/or scientists in the news, the representations of science and/or scientists in popular fiction.

As such, i’m far more interested in the raw numbers for physicians than the fact they’re higher than those for roughly parallel researchers: As Orac wrote:

Less than three-fifths of the public think that doctors care about the best interests of their patients all or most of the time? Only 49% of people believe that doctors do a good job? We have a major trust problem here.

OK, give me more details of the who, where, why and how? i’m not up for reading the whole study, so forgive me if there’s good granular info in there (I’m skeptical). But the stat about second opinions seems to speak to some plausible hypotheses…

Last night’s John Oliver show had a pretty devastating takedown on sexism and racism in medical practice. You should all find a way to watch it, if you haven’t already. Having seen it, i can’t help but wonder how much it goes to explain those low numbers. OTOH, the horror stories offered as exemplars struck me as suggesting that women and non-white patients are just MORE likely to run afoul of some of the endemic problems in medical care: arrogance, not listening, acting mechanically, etc. (All of which, I’m thinking, show up in that ‘2nd opinion’ result…)

I also couldn’t help but wonder if there’s any connection between the gender issues in mainstream care and the apparent higher susceptibility to certain forms of quackery among women.

I’d have to guess that there is a connection, sadmar. Plus as Chris and others say. women were often discouraged from studying
science and maths …so they may also be easier to fool. As a feminist, I have to admit these things- woo and anti-vax have many female fans

On the OP– I ask as a woo-surveyor, how much does alt med invective play in people’s distrust of medicine and related science?
I don’t know but I assume it has an effect. Some thoughts…

A few figures here interest me: moderate trust in dieticians and lower support for nutrition science….
Woo meisters disparage traditional dieticians and nutritionists ( such as hospital based dieticians and governmental data)
they have a more rarified perspective on what these disciplines should entail- the food pyramid is ALL wrong; meat is poison and gluten is the devil itself. Do people believe this? Well, they do BUY gluten free and vegan alternatives. Those products are
now big business. Do the ideas that fuel purchases come from SBM? Or elsewhere?

I do wonder what is the net effect of woo/ anti-vax is on the numbers we see. Since the 1970s or so, a generalised distrust of institutions has developed ( much of it warranted based on the history of that era) and experts are frequently seen as dishonest or compromised PLUS anyone can be a critic and an expert as we have seen, even here at RI. It is common for alt med or anti-vax believers to argue with actual experts and believe that they are winning. ( See tape of Jake vs Orac)

@ Denice

I do wonder what is the net effect of woo/ anti-vax is on the numbers we see.

When typing a comment on another thread, I started musing about something in this direction. Or maybe the opposite direction.
It was about a measles outbreak in a school in French, and the twist that at least one of the family physicians following the kids ‘forgot’ to report measles cases to the sanitary authorities, thus delaying the awareness of the outbreak and the decision to implement containment measures, if needed.
I was just wondering – if the parents at this school were asked about their trust in their physician, I suspect they will have stated how overjoyed they were to have a very friendly physician, sympathetic to their concerns and not putting them to undue inconveniences, like vaccinations and quarantines.
Conversely, if asked about their trust in scientists – you mean those eggheads who exaggerate everything, like the risk of contagious diseases?

As stated before on this thread, a high trust in one’s physician and a distrust of scientists could be the result of the amount of personal interaction – a lot with the former, not much, if any with the latter. But the quality of these interactions also count. A physician ‘understanding’ the concerns of his patients will get good points, whereas a scientist is just a party-pooper.

” far from the typical SF stereotypes….”

But IIRC you’re not far from the world’s most scenic Taco Bell!
I finally ate something there this year, as I watched the surfers ( Pacifica)

Many Asian markets here as well,, Even a whole Japanese mall.

As I noted, the survey seems mute on who among the public lacks trust and why. For all we know, many of the respondents mistrusting “nutrition science” may think that discipline is the source of “meat and gluten are bad” tsk-tsking and just want to have a guilt free cheese steak now and then.

As for antivaxers, judging by comment threads on mainstream sites like NYT and WaPo – where they subject to brutal and repeated derision (mostly deserved) – I’d go with Athaic’s second hypothesis, a boomerang effect of increased respect for physicians. That is because folks outside the AV bubble see measles outbreaks as real threats to their children.

I basically live on meat and wheat, but I suspect there are real health issues with how meat functions in many Americans’ diets – which is all but mooted by the fact meat production on the current scale IS poisoning the ecosystem. I tried out a Beyond Meat burger and it wasn’t bad. The Impossible Burger is supposed to be even better, but you can’t get that at the grocery store, just restaurants for now. I’m rooting for their success so maybe the p[rices will come down to where I can afford them.

Do they mistrust the standard textbook nutritionists ( SB) OR the woos who continuously demonise the average diet? Perhaps some subjects dislike SB, some woo ?
People have interesting ideas about what an appropriate diet is ( see NN, PRN, AoA, FoodBabe, Mercola, Jordan Peterson et fille, Silicon Valley Meat Only Dudes, etc).

About those burgers…
the Impossible seems to get good reviews- it’s being tried out at a burger fastfood place and a Mexican chain.
The ingredients seem to be alright: it gets the red “blood” appearance from soy stems or roots IIRC

Personally, I haven’t had any red meat for decades but I used to get frozen veggie burgers as added vegetables and one brand featured options- mixed vegetable, mushroom or bean- I had the first two which were actually good but very lightweight / low cal. ( 70 calories vs 200)
AS I mentioned previously, there is a trend towards this and many options available. Are they eschewing meat because of environmental concerns, trying to lose weight/ cut out fat or because of woo-ful vegetable worship?
But customers are buying. Also seen in higher end restaurants.

People have interesting ideas about what an appropriate diet is.

Yeah, a lot of DIFFERENT ideas. And a lot of those people with different ideas are “experts” in the sense that they have M.D.s, publish best-selling diet books, and so on. As I noted we have no idea who the survey respondents included in the category of ‘dietary scientists’. I’m thinking it’s more probable that they put those best-selling diet gurus in that category (and are largely ignorant of dietary science as an insider would understand the term). Thus the distrust of dietary science could simply be skepticism about the steady progression of fad diets, with each new prescription seemingly the complete inverse of the previous fad. actual dieticians and nutritionists, especially the kind you see for appointments, may be killjoys but they’re way more down to earth and consistent.

Are they eschewing meat because of environmental concerns, trying to lose weight/ cut out fat or because of woo-ful vegetable worship?

It’s a spectrum, no doubt, but I’d say actual woo-ful vegan worship is fairly rare. I say that because said worship is definitely a thing in The City, Silicon Valley, the North Bay… Part of what defines that though is a kind of cultural elitism dependent on class position and income. hipster veganism isn’t cheap, it’s like the Veblen-good version of a ‘health-food diet’. it’s quite distinct, methinks, from the mass culture vegetarianism exemplified by the salads at Mickey-D’s and those Morningstar Farms veggie burgers.

My neighborhood is far from the typical SF stereotypes of neo-hippies or tech-bros etc. It’s mostly Asian immigrants – Phillipino, Chinese, Japanese, Korean.. Among the foods these cultures are really into is Spam. Seriously, the Asian Pacific market has a huge section of Spam, which comes in more varieties than you could imagine or find in a Safeway, Kroger, Shop-Rite etc. Still, the local Costco keeps getting more and more mass produced food products with some sort of marker signaling ‘healthy!’ on the label. Organic, gluten free, no GMO, “all natural”. So yeah, the vague promises of “minus the bad stuff!” helps sales among the common folk. i honestly don’t think this has much connection to NN, PRN or even Food Babe. i mean, you see ‘gluten free’ and ‘no GMO’ on products for which no versions contain gluten or GMO’ed ingredients anyway. These are just marketing buzzwords now – capitalism doing what capitalism does – which means they’re mainly shallow and casual. These labels are just the current iteration of marketing hype. In the 50’s it was ‘special ingredients’ (Colgate has Guardal!) and since whenever there always “new and Improved!”. Which headache remedy do you buy? The one with the secret added ingredient or the one without? Which scrubbing pads do you buy, plain old Brillo or New and Improved SOS?

bring that up to 2019. Say you want potato chips. There are two choices at Costco – good old Lays and Kettle Brand. The later has a small No GMO logo, the first doesn’t. You want the best for your family, so which do you buy? The one with the better promise. It also doesn’t hurt that Kettle Brand chips are objectively much better than Lays, which is often the case with mass marketed foods – the ones with the health claims are often higher quality in general. You don’t think any more or any deeper about that label. The chips are good. You buy more the next time you shop for snacks. It’s not the end of the world. Trust me, advertising can’t stand still. Hype come with planned obsolescence built-in. In 10 years or so, the promises on the packages will all be something else.

‘Kay. I waited until I accounted for only 15 (now 16) of 109 comments, as to not be so annoying.

@ Sadmar,

the horror stories offered as exemplars struck me as suggesting that women and non-white patients are just MORE likely to run afoul of some of the endemic problems in medical care

This is absolutely true. Women are NOT more ‘susceptible to woo’ & it doesn’t matter if were were discouraged from scientific education; women have great capabilities for scientific understanding & in a way that is unique from men.

Women are marginalized by healthcare providers as patients & they are marginalized as prospective healthcare providers as students.

I’d be willing to bet that an in-depth study that included separate results focusing on women regarding their OBGYN providers & experiences, when compared to women & men in general with their general practitioners; would be very revealing.

My casual observation has been that initially, women will gravitate towards female GYNs but become disillusioned fairly rapidly due to what they perceive is a callous attitude for their c/o pain or other concerning symptoms. I wonder if women in that specialty are subjected to a ‘if you can’t beat them; join them’ type of environment & if it results in them becoming even more patriarchal than the patriarchy?

I have had experiences with way more ‘women’s healthcare’ providers than the average woman my age & I used to brace myself walking in for an appointment; trying to steel my nerves for the inevitable condescending tone. My current GYN is my most favorite ever; an older white male who is only slightly patriarchal.

When a door is slammed in my face, I will find an open widow. If that window leads to ‘woo’ is it my fault? Because what I would do; is to take whatever from that which works for me, do the best that I can with what I have & that is also what is happening to parents … regarding vaccines.

. . . women have great capabilities for scientific understanding & in a way that is unique from men. . . .

Interesting. Care to expand and clarify that?

“If that window leads to ‘woo’ is it my fault”

Nothing is your fault. Nothing is ever your fault. Your beliefs in random nonsense have been forced (forced!) upon you by the mean old skeptics. No one will ever blame you for anything, since you have no control over your own actions.

P.S. Is Orac paying you to mock the antivaxxers?

In other anti-vax news – in a convoluted way

There’s a story today about the atrocious activities of the Falun Gong and its support for DT, Their news outlet, the Epoch Times, is well known to me BECAUSE a friend of Orac’s ( heh) wrote articles for them ,,,, maybe still does.
Jake Crosby

It may be complicated. Jake still has a profile as a writer on their website, but has only one article in the last 4 years.

I didn’t know Epoch Times was a Falun Gong news outlet, but perhaps I should have guessed.

And what about Kerri Rivera and industrial bleach, Geiers and child castration and DAN! doctors of nonexisting results. Plus, of course Wakefield fraud and retraction of any number of antivaxxer “scientist’s” papers.

Adding on to Aarno’s comment, what about the myriad cancer and stem cell quacks injuring and killing people? Doesn’t that count?

(Is it “the myriad” or just “myriad”? I never know which is correct.)

Indeed. We caught Andrew Wakefield taking a bribe to fake results, but how many other antivax “studies” were bought and paid for? We caught the cheerleader who pretended that vaccines caused her to walk backwards, but how many other antivax stories were made up by people desperate to get their names in the paper?

Appalling. It was only a matter of time really given the violent rhetoric anti-vaxxers use, but appalling none the less.

@Aarno You did not answer my question: who get these slides, how and when this meeting happened.

At the 2004 “National Influenza Vaccine Summit,” co-sponsored by CDC and the American Medical Association, Glen Nowak, associate director for communications at the NIP, spoke on using the media to boost demand for the vaccine.

This is paper by Peter Doshi, a graduate student of anthropology. Perhaps he does not know anything about influenza and pneumonia.
A citatIon:
Dean T. Eurich, Thomas J. Marrie, Jennie Johnstone, and Sumit R. Majumdar
Mortality Reduction with Influenza Vaccine in Patients with Pneumonia Outside “Flu” Season
Pleiotropic Benefits or Residual Confounding?
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Vol. 178, No. 5 | Sep 01, 2008
Notice that these are Canadians. CDC plot goes international, it seems.
Notice, too, that is about elderly people. A young antivaxxer probably would not get pneumonia.

From that link: “Doshi completed a fellowship in comparative effectiveness research at Johns Hopkins and received his Ph.D. in history, anthropology, and science, technology and society from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

His degree is in anthropology. He does not have any real background in chemistry, biology or medicine… except as an anthropologist. Hence the opinion paper he wrote when he was a graduate student.

Do you actually read the papers you cite?

@AArno – There is mention of Glen Nowak and his 7 step recipe for media to boost flu vaccine uptake near the bottom of the piece. This is exaggeration and fear mongering.

More fear mongering:
Niranjan Bhat, M.D., Jennifer G. Wright, D.V.M., M.P.H., Karen R. Broder, M.D., Erin L. Murray, M.S.P.H., Michael E. Greenberg, M.D., M.P.H., Maleeka J. Glover, Sc.D., Anna M. Likos, M.D., M.P.H., Drew L. Posey, M.D., M.P.H., Alexander Klimov, Ph.D., Stephen E. Lindstrom, Ph.D., Amanda Balish, B.S., Marie-jo Medina, M.S., et al., for the Influenza Special Investigations Team*
Influenza-Associated Deaths among Children in the United States, 2003–2004
December 15, 2005
N Engl J Med 2005; 353:2559-2567
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa051721
Or, a case of really studying the problem.

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