follow CCP

Recent blog entries
popular papers

Science Curiosity and Political Information Processing

What Is the "Science of Science Communication"?

Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem

Ideology, Motivated Cognition, and Cognitive Reflection: An Experimental Study

'Ideology' or 'Situation Sense'? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment

A Risky Science Communication Environment for Vaccines

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government

Ideology, Motivated Cognition, and Cognitive Reflection: An Experimental Study

Making Climate Science Communication Evidence-based—All the Way Down 

Neutral Principles, Motivated Cognition, and Some Problems for Constitutional Law 

Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus
 

The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Science Literacy and Climate Change

"They Saw a Protest": Cognitive Illiberalism and the Speech-Conduct Distinction 

Geoengineering and the Science Communication Environment: a Cross-Cultural Experiment

Fixing the Communications Failure

Why We Are Poles Apart on Climate Change

The Cognitively Illiberal State 

Who Fears the HPV Vaccine, Who Doesn't, and Why? An Experimental Study

Cultural Cognition of the Risks and Benefits of Nanotechnology

Whose Eyes Are You Going to Believe? An Empirical Examination of Scott v. Harris

Cultural Cognition and Public Policy

Culture, Cognition, and Consent: Who Perceives What, and Why, in "Acquaintance Rape" Cases

Culture and Identity-Protective Cognition: Explaining the White Male Effect

Fear of Democracy: A Cultural Evaluation of Sunstein on Risk

Cultural Cognition as a Conception of the Cultural Theory of Risk

« What is the relationship between science curiosity & science comprehension? A fragment . . . | Main | What antagonistic memes look like: the case of the Zika virus »
Thursday
Jul212016

What antagonistic memes look like: the case of the HPV Vaccine

From the new APPC/CCP Working Paper, Culturally Antagonistic Memes & the Zika Virus

2.1. In general

* * *

“Memes” refer to ideas and practices that enjoy wide circulation and arouse self-reinforcing forms of attention as well as spontaneous adaptation and elaboration (Balkin 1998; Blackmore 1999). A small subset of these sorts self-replicating ideas and practices, the ones we call “culturally antagonistic memes” refer to highly evocative, highly inflammatory argumentative tropes used by members of one group to stigmatize another.

When they figure in debates over risk, these contempt-pervaded tropes invest positions on them with affective resonances symbolic of opposing groups’ values or identities.  In the resulting discourse climate, individuals will come to perceive risk regulation as “express[ing] the public worth of one subculture’s norms relative to those of others, demonstrating which cultures have legitimacy and public domination” and thereby “enhnanc[ing] the social status of groups carrying the affirmed culture and degrad[ing] groups carrying that which is condemned as deviant” (Gusfield 1968, p. 59). Conducted in the idiom of instrumental consequences, the stances diverse citizens adopt on which activities genuinely threaten society and which policies truly mitigate the attendant dangers are become rhetorical subterfuges in an “ongoing debate about the ideal society” (Douglas &Wildavsky 1982, p. 36). 

This process is effected through a decisive switch in the sort of information processing that is characteristic of the AH-CCT model. From a reliable and consensus-generating guide to valid decision relevant-science, the affective heuristic and cultural cognition at this point combine to generate a divisive, nontruth-convergent source of identity-protective cognition (Sherman & Cohen 2002; Kahan 2010).

By fusing contending positions on a risk or like facts to opposing group identities, antagonistic memes effectively transform positions on them into badges of membership in, and loyalty to, competing groups. Because this state of affairs pits opposing groups’ knowledge-certification systems against one another, the forms of information-processing associated with cultural cognition and the affect heuristic will under these conditions necessarily lose their power to generate truth-convergent forms of consensus across them.

This switch will not cause such information processing to abate, however.  There is rarely any personal action that an individual can take that will affect the level of danger that a societal risk poses to him or anyone he cares about; his decisions as a consumer, voter, or participant in public debate won’t matter enough, for example, to affect the course of climate change, or the regulation of fracking, or the siting of nuclear waste facility.  In contrast, such an individual’s personal behavior, including the attitudes he evinces on issues infused with social meanings, will typically have tremendous significance for the impressions that others form of his character (Sherman & Cohen 2002; Lessig 1996).  As a result, it will be individually rational, if collectively disastrous, for individuals to form habits of mind that reliably produce identity-affirming rather than accurate ones when societal risks become infused with meanings that divide their groups from others (Kahan 2015b).  

Hi, it's me again! Click me to say hello!Indeed, these habits of mind will become seamlessly interwoven into the capacities essential for assessing scientific information. “Motivated system 2 reasoning” refers to the tendency of individuals to use their proficiency in Numeracy, cognitive reflection, and science comprehension to ferret out and credit identity-congruent evidence and explain away the rest (Kahan in press_b).  Much as a virus does to the genetic material of an otherwise healthy cell, identity protective cognition effectively insinuates itself into reasoning dispositions essential to recognizing the best available evidence (Kahan 2013; Kahan, Peters et al.  2013).  Their cognitive faculties having been redirected in this fashion, the individuals most adept in these forms of reasoning will end up the most polarized on culturally contentions risks (Hamilton 2011, 2012; Kahan, Peters et al..  2012).

Identity-protective cognition is thus not a not a natural outgrowth of but rather a pathological deformation of the processes associated with the AH-CT model. The trigger of this pathology, moreover, is the advent of culturally antagonistic memes (Figure 1).

2.2. A concrete illustration

Many persistently contested science issues fit this pattern.  But we will focus on one that we believe is particularly well suited for illustration: the U.S. experience with the HPV vaccine.

I dare you: click me!

The HPV vaccine confers (near-perfect) immunity to the human papilloma virus, an extremely common s

exually transmitted disease that cause cervical cancer.  The vaccine also has the distinction of being the only childhood immunization recommended for universal administration by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that is not now on the schedule of mandatory school-enrollment immunizations in the United States.  Legislative proposals to add it were defeated in dozens of states in the years from 2007 to 2008 as a result of intense political controversy over the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine (Kahan 2013).

Although the proposal to add the HPV vaccine to the list of mandatory vaccinations divided the public along predictable lines, the conflict over it was in fact not inevitable.  Only a few years before nearly every state had endorsed the CDC’s proposal for universal administration of the HBV vaccine, which likewise confers immunity for a sexually transmitted disease, hepatitis-b, that causes cancer (of the liver).  The HBV vaccine is now given in infancy, but at that time it was an adolescent shot, just like the HPV vaccine.  During the years in which legislative battles were raging over the latter vaccine, nationwide vaccination rates for the former were well over 90% (ibid).

Like every other childhood vaccine that preceded it, the HBV vaccine was considered and approved for inclusion in state universal-immunization schedules by non-political public health agencies delegated this expert task by state legislatures.  The vast majority of parents thus learned of the vaccine for the first

time when consent to administer it was sought from their pediatricians, trusted experts who advised them the vaccine was a safe addition to the array of prophylactic treatments for keeping their children healthy.  Just as important, regardless of who these parents were—Republican or Democrat, devout evangelical or atheist—they were all afforded ample evidence that parents just like them were getting their kids vaccinated for HBV.  This is a science communication environment in which the AH-CCT model can be expected to generate largely convergent affective reactions across all groups—exactly the outcome that was observed.

The HPV’s vaccine path to public awareness, in contrast, was much more treacherous. Seeking to establish a dominant position in the market before the approval of a competing shot, the manufacturer of the HPV vaccine  orchestrated a nationwide campaign to establish immunization mandates by statutes enacted by state legislatures.  What was normally a routine, nonpolitical decision—the administrative updating of states’ mandatory-vaccination immunization schedules—thus became a high-profile, highly partisan dispute.  People became acquainted with the vaccine not during visits to their pediatricians’ office but while viewing Fox News, MSNBC, and other political news outlets. There they were bombarded with reports on the “slut shot” (Taormino 2006) and “virgin vaccine” (Page 2006) for school girls, a framing enabled by the manufacturer’s decision to seek fast-track FDA approval of a women’s-only shot as part of company’s plan to vault over the conventional, less speedy, depoliticized administrative-approval process (Gollust, Lorusso et al.  2015).

These media stories and resulting social media reaction were replete with what we are referring to as “culturally antagonistic memes.”  “Trust us: Vioxx, Now Gardasil,” declared a viral internet feature that mocked the manufacturer’s own advertising campaign (Figure 2). “HPV vaccine: Republicans prove themselves morons once again,” sneered liberal commentators (2011). “They value your virginity more than your life,” another righteously intoned; “there was a time when only the loony left believed that the loony right favored death over sex; not any more” (Goodman 2005).  Individualist-oriented commentators retorted: “Let’s use teenage girls as lab rats for a monopoly” (Erickson 2011).

These are exactly the conditions one would expect to fuse a risk issue to antagonistic social meanings, thereby triggering identity-protective cognition on the vaccine’s risks and benefits (Fowler & Gollust 2015; Bolsen, Druckman & Cook 2013).  Studies confirmed that exactly that happened (Gollust, Dempsey et al.  2010; Kahan et al.  2010).

References

“HPV Vaccine: Republicans Prove Themselves Morons Once Again.” Why Evolution Is True. (Sept. 14, 2011).

Bolsen, T., Druckman, J.  & Cook, F.L.  The effects of the politicization of science on public support for emergent technologies.  Institute for Policy Research Northwestern University Working Paper Series (2013).

Bolsen, T., Druckman, J.N.  & Cook, F.L.  The influence of partisan motivated reasoning on public opinion.  Political Behav. 36, 235-262 (2014).

Bolsen, T., Druckman, J.N. & Cook, F.L. Citizens’, scientists’, and policy advisors’ beliefs about global warming. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 658, 271-295 (2015).

Douglas, M. & Wildavsky, A.B. Risk and Culture: An Essay on the Selection of Technical and Environmental Dangers (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1982).

Douglas, M. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (1966).

Druckman, J.N. & Bolsen, T. Framing, Motivated Reasoning, and Opinions About Emergent Technologies. Journal of Communication 61, 659-688 (2011).

Erickson, Erick. Let’s Use Teenage Grils as Lab Rats for a Monopoly. RedSate. (Aug. 17, 2011), at http://www.redstate.com/erick/2011/08/17/lets-use-teenage-girls-as-lab-rats-for-a-monopoly/

Fowler, E.F. & Gollust, S.E. The content and effect of politicized health controversies. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 658, 155-171 (2015).

Gollust, S.E., Dempsey, A.F., Lantz, P.M., Ubel, P.A. & Fowler, E.F. Controversy undermines support for state mandates on the human papillomavirus vaccine. Health Affair 29, 2041-2046 (2010).

Gollust, S.E., LoRusso, S.M., Nagler, R.H. & Fowler, E.F. Understanding the role of the news media in HPV vaccine uptake in the United States: Synthesis and commentary. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 1-5 (2015).

Goodman, Ellen. Abstinance-only crowd laments cancern breakthrough. Boston Globe. (Nov. 14, 2005), at http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2005-11-14/news/0511140054_1_abstinence-papilloma-virus-vaccine.

Gusfield, J.R. On Legislating Morals: The Symbolic Process of Designating Deviance. Cal. L. Rev. 56, 54 (1968).

Hamilton, L.C. Education, politics and opinions about climate change evidence for interaction effects. Climatic Change 104, 231-242 (2011).

Hamilton, L.C., Cutler, M.J. & Schaefer, A. Public knowledge and concern about polar-region warming. Polar Geography 35, 155-168 (2012). 


Kahan, D. Fixing the Communications Failure. Nature 463, 296-297 (2010).

Kahan, D., Braman, D., Cohen, G., Gastil, J. & Slovic, P. Who Fears the HPV Vaccine, Who Doesn’t, and Why? An Experimental Study of the Mechanisms of Cultural Cognition. Law Human Behav 34, 501-516 (2010).

Kahan, D.M. A Risky Science Communication Environment for Vaccines. Science 342, 53-54 (2013b).

Page, Christina. The Virgin Vaccine. Nerve. (June 28, 2006), at http://www.nerve.com/dispatches/cpage/virginvaccine.

Sherman, D.K. & Cohen, G.L. Accepting threatening information: Self-affirmation and the reduction of defensive biases. Current Directions in Psychological Science 11, 119-123 (2002).

Taormino, Tristan. The Slut Shot. Village Voice., (Aug. 15, 2006), at http://www.villagevoice.com/news/the-slut-shot-6427195.

 

 

 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (19)

Am I using a evocative, inflammatory trope if I note my frustration as a reader of yet one more examples of opaque, academic style writing? I am not surprised that this work isn't more recognized given the level of abstraction of writing up to now.

In this piece "antagonistic memes" seem to be defined as:

highly evocative, highly inflammatory argumentative tropes used by members of one group to stigmatize another.

contempt-pervaded tropes ... degrad[ing] groups carrying that which is condemned as deviant”

This definition seems to assume an notion of us vs. others -- what some writers refer to as "the other".

Thinking back on your previous writings I don't recall (at least a consistent) focus on this theme of "stigmatizing", "contempt" or "degrading" of groups other than our own. I do think this definition of a Culturally Antagonistic Meme is clearer than those I recall from previous writings.

And yet .... In this blog piece it's left up to the reader to draw the connection between a phrase such as "Lets use teenage girls as lab rats for a monopoly" as stigmatizing. I suggest that is a mistake. Clear, unambiguous writing illustrates (shows examples of) the key points and explicitly points to how the examples are specific illustrations of the general, more abstract idea.

For example the text for figure 2 would be improved by a reference to stigmatizing, contempt, etc. Thus the "lab rats" phrase indicates contempt by positioning the actions of the vaccine manufacturers as using innocents (teenage girls) in sub-human conditions (as lab rats).

July 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCortlandt

@Cortlandt--

No, you aren't stigmatizing.

It's hard for me for me to do more than *show* examples of contenpt-evincinng & stigmiatizng & degrading; what makes them so is membership in an community of people who share conventions & experience that invest locutions like these w/ information about attitude &intention of speaker.

If you don't see it, you don't see it.

I sure do.

As for previous writings, consider what I've said about 97% consensus as bumper sticker that says "you are a fucking idiot" etc. Also the Cognitive Illiberal State.

Sorry the writing style strikes you as opaque.

What's your metric of "recognized" & baseline for for judging how recognized the work should be? I am being inflammatory etc in suggesting that I doubt you actually have any? Or a well-considered theory about what sort of audience it even makes sense to assess when gauging the recognition of the *class* of "acadeic writing" the "opaque ... style" of which makes it less "recogniezed" than it could/should be?

July 22, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Dan, I think one can do more than *show* examples (depending upon what you mean by *show*). I'm advocating for a *explicit discussion* of how the example illustrates the ideas of contenpt-evincinng & stigmiatizng and/or degrading memes. Thus my suggestion for the text for Figure 2.

"The first example suggests that supporters of the vaccine are also supporting a monopoly that employs innocents (teenage girls) in a contemptible manner (as lab rats)."

I'm also advocating that you use the idea a contenpt-evincinng & stigmiatizng and/or degrading memes as type of meme, distinct from other memes and descriptions of the larger phenomena. And that you use it more consistently. I, at least, find it "compelling" and one of the easiest ideas to understand and relate to.

I am coming from my own frustrations and struggles to understand various criteria for assessing adult development. The assessment criteria that I studied was said to have inter-rater reliability but even with some training I had limited confidence in my understanding of how to apply it. What was helpful in developing actionable knowledge in the sense suggested by Chris Argryis were fully worked out examples that explicitly related passages from interviews to the abstract, summarized criteria. These explicit examples allowed me to test my understanding. The text I suggested for Figure 2 is one example.

FYI: I'm thinking in terms of a set of criteria for rating the culturally (or otherwise) antagonistic content of any piece of writing.

Also, I'm thinking that the contenpt-evincinng & stigmiatizng and/or degrading criteria is not the only type of Culturally Antagonistic Meme that you are proposing. A second type is suggest by:
"People became acquainted with the vaccine not during visits to their pediatricians’ office but while viewing ... political news outlets."

While there are similarities & differences that second type is sufficient distinct in my mind to be identified as a separate type or mode. Conflating these types or modes of symptoms tends to confuse the issue in my mind.

In contrast to the second type, a important mode of non-antagonistic communication is suggested by:
" ...regardless of who these parents were—Republican or Democrat, devout evangelical or atheist—they were all afforded ample evidence that parents just like them were getting their kids vaccinated "

July 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCortlandt

I think that you are missing (again!) substantial parts of the interesting stories here. I dispute your statement that the HPV vaccine delivers "near perfect" immunity. See the Information I gave in a comment 2 posts ago on this paper. There already are cervical cancer treatment mechanisms available IF women get regular Pap smears. The fact that the VA cine does not cover all cancer causing forms of the virus means that the need for Pap smears continue yes in perpetuity. As I noted previously cervical so cancer rates are actual up. That means that a concerted effort to get Pap smears to poor women might have been a .ore cost effective give approach. Wouldn't make for profits to Merck however.

HBV vaccine like HPV does have a long lag time between vaccine and public health outcomes. However it doesn't ha e the incompleteness problem nor does it ha e a Pap smears like test or the association with women's yearly health clinic checkups.

But if you look at literature produced by anti-vaxxers or those interested in schedules that delay certain vaccines, HBV is frequently mentioned.

Why so much more fuss about HPV? Kerfuffles need to be two sides. Fanning the flames of the HPV one emphasized a meme beneficial to Merck. Namely that only anti science nut cases not feminist gynecologists would oppose the vaccine. I'd add that since that time there is growing knowledge of oral and other site cancers for which there is no Pap smears like test and thus growing overall acceptance of the vaccine.

July 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia. Weis

Dan -

==> Only a few years before nearly every state had endorsed the CDC’s proposal for universal administration of the HBV vaccine, which likewise confers immunity for a sexually transmitted disease, ==>


As I understand it, the spread of HPV is an inherently more "sexualized" issue than the spread of Hepatitis B (i.e, there are transmission pathways other than through sex). Don't you think that might play a part in the greater polarization around HPV?

July 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua-- sex & dirty needles are two primary modes of transmission of Hepatitis B (once infected, mothers transmit to babies, just like HIV). It's hard to imagine the issue was less controversial b/c dirty needles also contribute.

But it's one case. There are many other weird juxtapositions. We have to get over the mistake of fixating on the numerator

July 23, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Cortlandt--

I sympathetic but I guess lazy. I think it will be difficult to figure out "stigmaizaing " & "cntempt evincingin" from close textual parsing; too much depends on tinterpretive context.

Consider "97% consensus..." Very contempt evincincing. But you need a lot more than text to see why

July 23, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Gaythia--

You almost surely have your medical ducks in a row. But do you think the "toxic memes" care? You aren't calling anyone (me, e.g.,) a shill for industry etc. for not being as attentive as you to legtimate points about the case for universal HPV vaccination.

BTW, the case for universal HBV is also not the usual one. In any case, the objective isn't herd immunity; it's to bring a high-risk subpopulation into a regime of prophylactic protection through the univesal-vaccination regime, which unlike any other part of our public health system is not maldistributed to a significant diegree based on race & wealth. In other words, universal immunizing is being used to plug a hole in the health-coverage system that is not related to herd immunity; the vaccine is wasted on the vast majority of people to whom it is administered -- as HPV vaccine might well be if you consider how effective regular pap smears are in detecting cervical cancer in incipiency, well in time for effective treatment; value of vaccine increases in proportion to how likely vaccinated groups are not to get regular pap smears (orders of magnitude more lives will be saved in developing world than in US but US definitely has a gap in this part of public health regime too)

Is using using universal vaccination to subsidize/assure effective protction of subpopulation agaisnt HBV morally acceptable? It's debatable, I suppose (I think so but who cares what I think?). But not debated, at all, in public discourse generally. Interesting.

July 23, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

In my opinion the tendency of vaccine advocates to get engaged by and bogged down into duels with anti-vaxxers,especially online narrows and distorts the whole public conversation on vaccines in general.

As another example, as measles cases are traced out from initial points of exposure like Disneyland, through new cases in many states, it is becoming increasingly apparent that older people who were vaccinated as children are now contracting the disease. The last time this sort of vaccine failure happened in the late 1980s a booster shot was added. Some public health advocates are now proposing that people ebor before about 1992 get a booster. It may be time for a new measles vaccine altogether. Preferably one that could be administered to younger infants. There is ongoing research in those directions but I presume big pharma is not as motivated as it might be. Plus, any mention of vaccine failure online kicks anti-aircraft vaxxed into high gear with a (false) argument that letting kids get measles might be a better idea. There is impetus to keep the conversation narrow.


I disagree with Joshua that the public is the group to be held responsible for this. It is science communicators who need to have the best understanding of the science of science communication.

July 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia. Weis

Auto fill is so delightful. Anti-vaxxers not aircraft.

July 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia. Weis

Anti-vaxxers not aircraft.

July 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia. Weis

== > I disagree with Joshua that the public is the group to be held responsible for this. It is science communicators who need to have the best understanding of the science of science communication. ==>

To' be clear


I wasn't suggesting to absolve science communicators from having an obligation to investigate the best forms of science communication; it seems to me to be a non-starter that they should research the best way to achieve their goals. Shouldn't everyone?

However, I also believe that real change in these "polluted" dynamics is not likely as long as the public seeks to find any variety of proxies for ideological warfare. People so motivated can turn the best communication practices into justification for "who I am," rather than "what I know" responses. IMO, locating cause for the communication breakdown *only* with the "communicators," runs the risk of sbsolving the public of their responsibility tou exercise their own agency to be careful evaluators of information. IMO, in addition to investigating communication techniques on the part of science communicators, there should be focus on creating communication environments where people are encouraged to understand and accept accountability for their tendency towards cultural cognition and motivated reasoning.

July 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I think that the logic here gets a bit circular because I believe that public education and a social culture that respects inquiry over obedience are important features that in turn support such actions on the part of the public.

So the question here isn't so much about people's inherent tribal identity issues as it is the targeting of those identities by powerful special interests looking to further their own agendas..

More globally this is about how to hang onto democracy and thwart oligarchy in times of disruptive change. A continually up and down battle. Have you read David Grabber's Debt: The First 5000 Years?

July 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia. Weis

Dan wrote: "What's your metric of "recognized" & baseline for for judging how recognized the work should be? I am being inflammatory etc in suggesting that I doubt you actually have any? "

I'm mostly working off of the many comments that you have made Dan about the impact and use of the science of science communication. I'm thinking you don't have a operational metric either. Or do you??

So no, I don't have a formal metric.
I think the work is worthy of notice. I'm not so focused on how recognized it *should* be or is, but rather how understandable and actionable the writing about the research is.

My informal metrics are:
1. How often I get out my notional "editors pen" while reading stuff.
2. How comfortable I am with recommending a paper or article on it's own. That is, without a lot of supporting commentary & interpretation of the sort that science writers often do.
3. My own level of confusion and questions generated by what I see as inconsistency, hand-waving, or missing details or explanations.

July 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCortlandt

Dan wrote: "I sympathetic but I guess lazy. I think it will be difficult to figure out "stigmatizing " & "contempt evincing" from close textual parsing; too much depends on interpretive context."

Ironic, but this does touch on the how scientific is the science of science communication.

I think the attempt to get more precise is valuable. It's leads me to the idea that stigmatizing is only one dimension of the issue. I'm critical of your work because it appears there is a set of issues at play but those issues are unclear from your writing and/or varies from piece to piece. It could be there is a fairly well defined set that is still waiting to be identified.

My candidate for inclusion in the set is the distinction between advocate and honest broker to speak with Roger Pielke Jr. I suggest that the identification of some antagonistic communication lives in the difference between the two.

For instance, a honest broker of policy alternatives would point out the different justifications for making a vaccine mandatory.
As one of your previous articles suggested, many policy goals would also be met by recommendations that would make vaccines "available immediately even without mandates through private insurance and a host of programs designed to assure universal access to childhood vaccines".

On the other hand, I would expect that many would question the justification for the advocacy move of making the vaccine mandatory when the disease in question is not easily transmitted like the common cold.

I would note in passing that persons who have civil libertarian or public policy concerns about mandatory programs would be sensitive to any discussion or advocacy that does not address the issue as one of some gravity might very well be experienced as showing a form of contempt.

It seems to me that examples such as I have suggested are not that hard to parse -- especially in a multi-partisan group.

July 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCortlandt

@Cortlandt--

What would be unscientific would be to think the properties that make a statement one properly classified as evincing contempt or stigmatizing can be discerned from the words -- the text -- w/o context. That's what you seemed to be asking me to supply.

And in response to my query about what evidence you have for determining whether a body of research is as "recognized" as it could/should be, you say its "How often you "get out your notional 'editors pen'" & recommend it to friends. I suspected it was something along those lines--that's why I said I didn't think you genuinely had any.

July 27, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Gaythia -

Don't know if you'll still see this...

==> I think that the logic here gets a bit circular because I believe that public education and a social culture that respects inquiry over obedience are important features that in turn support such actions on the part of the public. ==>

Agreed.

But here...

==> So the question here isn't so much about people's inherent tribal identity issues as it is the targeting of those identities by powerful special interests looking to further their own agendas.. ==>

I don't know that it's meaningfully one more than the other. I think it's both. Perhaps not in equal measure, but I don't know that it makes sense to focus on one as opposed to the other, as there is, in fact, a circularity as you say. Neither exists in isolation from the other, IMO.


==> More globally this is about how to hang onto democracy and thwart oligarchy in times of disruptive change. A continually up and down battle. Have you read David Grabber's Debt: The First 5000 Years? ==>

I haven't read the book...and looking at the reviews I don't see the connection you're making...could you elaborate?

July 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I think that the "circularity" of the existing conversations is something that intelligent science communication ought to explicitly try to avoid. In the case of childhood vaccines for example, the only target audience that really matters is parents of new infants. There is an existing awkwardness in the transition from obstetrician to pediatrician in modern medicine that is not conducive to having a strong bond with the trusted medical source right at the time vaccine decisions need to be made. This could be addressed structurally within the medical profession. But in general, parenets do trust their medical professionals, and do accept vaccines. The continuing controversy between anti-vaxxers and their opponents, keeps the (false) idea that vaccines are controversial alive. Fighting anti-vaxxers makes for a high level of self-righteous publicity but it is not good. Good science communication would not focus on teaching the controversy, but rather effectively addressing the concerns of actual parents and ensuring vaccine availability to all.

On 5,000 years of debt: Graeber is an anthropologist who is looking at history through a lens of debt as fueling the emergence of the rise of a class society. It also fosters social and technological change. As opposed to a static culture of hunter gatherers or simple farm village. The development of complex science takes both an open society, but also one in which not everyone is grubbing for food. Technologies arising from advances in science can be disruptive to existing cultural structures and foster new class distinctions which in turn can lead to protective monopolies. I think that it is a good book on the ups and downs of those trajectories.

July 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

@Dan

I now regret that I introduced the idea (meme?) as expressed in the phrase "this work isn't more recognized". It seems I have stumbled badly in my attempt to constructively communicate some ideas about more effective communication!

FYI: I thought I was reflecting or paraphrasing things that you had written. I was working from memory and perhaps I conflated your work with that of other commentators (Chris Mooney perhaps?).

The idea I was attempting to make reference to was that of a emerging "science of the communication of science"; a perspective and understanding that communicators of science might well be advised to take more heed of.

------------------------------------------------------------

I have a somewhat related, but I think separate, concern that springs from my own attempts to develop your work into a set of guidelines for writers. As a part-time nonfiction writer I hoped my critiques, comments and thoughts might have made some contribution . . .

July 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCortlandt

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>