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« Well, things are going slowly in the kitchen, so here's another "vaccine risk perception" appetizer -- on the house | Main | "So what?" vs. "You tell me!" »

Busy lately but tomorrow -- lots of data on vaccine risk perceptions

I'm not dead (I was abducted and held captive by aliens for 70 yrs, but they kept their promise to return me to present without anyone experiencing me as having been absent, so that has nothing to do with it), just deep underwater.

But tomorrow some interesting things: the results of a large national opinion study of public perceptions of the risk of childhood vaccines (including an experimental component on the impact of typical forms of communication about public attitudes and behavior). 

A preview ... 

The trope ...




... some actual evidence 

Tune in for more details!

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Reader Comments (5)


So what variables are associated with belief about vaccines?

Would be nice to see similar charts showing beliefs about climate change related to: beliefs about GMOs, beliefs about gun control, beliefs about the efficacy of mammograms, beliefs about the deterrence effect of the death penalty, and beliefs about evolution.

The excerpt you provide says that the Internet plays a big role in promoting beliefs that are not consistent with the prevalent views among scientists. The chart you provide does not contradict that claim, or perhaps other parallels that the article refers to. I couldn't find a link... does the article actually say that the folks who question the benefits of vaccines are the same folks who don't believe in evolution or are "skeptical" about climate change?

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua


now's your chance to hypothesize.

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdmk38

Hypothesize or speculate? I would speculate or hypothesize that there is not a correlation between GMO, vaccines, gun control, climate change, etc other than inadvertant. Rather, there is a similarity in what the persons are willing to risk compounded by to what they are risk adverse leaning. These groups may be generally delineated with say a Z score or something similar, along cultural lines. I would expect at least one surprise along the lines of the group culture identity or proferred explanation in the literature.

Was some of this recently done over the telephone? If yes, some of the questions should have been run through a de-biasing routine.

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Pittman

I would guess that there is an association between beliefs on climate change and beliefs on gun control, evolution, and perhaps the deterrence effect of the death penalty.

Of course, that does most definitively not mean, for example, that all "skeptics" are anti-gun control or that all "realists" are pro-gun control - only that there is probably overlap with political identification. GMOs and mammograms probably not much at all. My guess there is that those issues would track in a way that is similar to views about vaccines - appealing to those on both sides of the political spectrum who are generally distrustful of the scientific and/or medical establishment.

BTW - if you should happen to get kidnapped by aliens again, say hi to Snorgtron 724 for me. He's definitely the nicest Martian I've met yet.

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Maybe we didn't notice your off with the aliens episode, but are you sure that they clued you in on what you missed while gone? In my opinion, much of the underpinings of this research paper have been washed out by the tide of current events.

I think antivaxxers are a sideshow, and not the best lens for observing the forces at play. But on the other hand, a little introspection ought to have revealed that this was a communication fail. Science communicators, in general, failed to focus on the real concerns of real members of the general general public and basic issues of public health. Instead, they went off on a self righteous battle against the antivaxxers and the forces of antiscience. This pretty much guaranteed that every time a pro-science pundit opened his or her mouth, Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy were reintroduced to the conversation. This granted these extremists a much longer stay in the public arena than the usual 15 seconds of fame that such nut cases might otherwise have been allocated. It also meant that key public health issues were missed.

But at the moment we are in a serious fix. Our democratic process is being held hostage. Powerful forces are working to suspend, if not eliminate the practice of public science and especially regulatory science: And, also today, it was announce that Big Corporate GMO (Monsanto) is committing to the expenditure of over a billion dollars for the purchase of Big Data corporate climate: And at the same time, Monsanto and a few Big food allies are spending a bit of pocket change (14 million dollars) to defeat a GMO labeling bill here in Washington State. It is not surprising that the public makes linkages between these issues. Corporatists already are.

Who controls Big Data is huge. Just ask the NSA. Or Google.

Basic issues as to who controls our public processes are in play.

In a world filled with well funded smoke, mirrors and bonafied merchants of doubt, the idea that a few jokers managed to sneak in a false, and somewhat extraneous, autism thread perhaps ought to be not too surprising.

But I do think that it is very important that our science communicators speak with clarity, and with attention to the details and nuances of the topics at hand. For example: Native species can be toxic or invasive in ecologically destructive ways. GMO technology can be used in ways that are beneficial or harmful. Big Pharma does not develop or introduce vaccines in a manner that is entirely altruistic either. Climate is complex, and ought not to be mixed with observations of day to day weather. An attitude of "trust us, we're the experts" is contrary to a democracy. Science advocates need to convey that level of uncertainly, and that need for appropriate monitoring and regulation, for which mechanisms of disclosure are necessary. We need to be cognizant of the economic forces at play. Blue collar males are being clobbered by the technological advances of our modern society. We need to be sensitive to the fact that climate change mitigation, to many is a personal threat, more than an environmental opportunity. Otherwise, it should not be surprising that the response of much of the public, to many of these issues, is outright rejection.

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

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