Saturday, February 14, 2009

Vaccine against Stupidity, anyone?

One of more depressing trends of lately has been the constant flood of fabricated "controversies": cases where ignorant and misguided yet fiercely determined people have been able to get media to represent "both sides of the issue", and causing countless shit storms of misinformation, which just further spreads stupidity. Kind of how virus infections like common cold spread, come to think of it.

List of such topics is long, including things like "evolution controversy", "greenhouse effect ain't", "scientology is victim of anti-religious governments", "solar-power is blocked by powerful oil producers" and so forth. These things seem to be escepially prone to occur whenever there is even a hint of the Big Conspiracy; usually by a large loosely defined international entity of some sort; anything from the United Nations to Big Pharmaceuticals and Cabal of Climatologist seem to qualifiy. But perhaps the most worrisome is the still on-going perverse tale of "vaccinaction deniers". You know, those misguided and harmful parents (and occasionally, celebrities) that claim that vaccinations should be stopped, based on scant evidence and strong conviction. The most common allegation against vaccination is the missing link known as "vaccinations cause autism"; allegation completely unsupported by actual facts and research. And obviously this all is caused

There are plenty of good (and scary) articles on the subject, but the latest one to catch my attention was from "That's Fucking Stupid" web site (love the name btw). So not only are some american celebrities infected with contagious stupidity, but so are some of them english folks too. And the article also refers bunch of stuff from Bad Science, another worthy web site.

While the immediate concern is the health of children of these sorry individuals, an even more relevant question is the fate of the people who do take vaccinations (and their kin). That is, the rest of us. Ultimately we may pay the biggest price, due to loss of "the Herd Immunity". To simplify, when big enough slice of population has immunity, those without immunity will still get decent protection; and conversely, if there is not enough overall protection, ones without protection are even more prone to get the disease. It boils down to basic statistics and epidomological spread of diseaser, but has been well-established over time: with high enough vaccination coverage (coupled with effective treatments for those who do catch the disease), even not-so-effective vaccines work well. So: thanks to Jenny M and other numbskulls, my family becomes bit less protected against potentially lethal diseases.

This all makes me wonder we will ever get Cure for the malaise known as Common Stupidity.

Before that happens, best we can do is to learn from books like "What Intelligence Test Miss: the Psychology of Rational Thought" (another book I found via SciAm Mind). Here's hoping for the second coming of the Age of Reason.

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