Anti-vaxxers protesting in Melbourne, Australia.
Anti-vaxxer movement is often portrayed as a powerful force. They are anything but.
People reject science such as that about climate change and vaccines, but readily believe scientists about solar eclipses, like this one reflected on the sunglasses of a man dangerously watching in Nicosia, Cyprus, in a 2015 file photo.
(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
People universally believe scientists' solar eclipse calendars, but vaccine warnings or climate predictions are forms of science that strangely do not enjoy equivalent acceptance.
Dozens of studies and numerous reviews have demonstrated the safety of vaccines.
In an era when opinion often trumps evidence in public health issues, it's time to support and invest in evidence-based medicine to protect the public from dangerous, poorly informed beliefs.
Edward Jenner, who pioneered vaccination, and two colleagues (right) seeing off three anti-vaccination opponents, with the dead lying at their feet (1808).
I Cruikshank/Wellcome Images/Wikimedia Commons
Some people have objected to childhood vaccination since it was introduced in the late 1700s. And their reasons sound remarkably familiar to those of anti-vaxxers today.
This man needs to trust you before listening to your public health message. No wonder bombarding him with facts doesn’t always work.
Reassuring people "not to worry" about public health issues like vaccination or fluoridated water doesn't work. Nor does telling people "don't panic". So, what does?
If someone is spouting pseudo-science, should scientists risk legitimising them by getting into a debate with them?
Some scientists refuse to debate or appear with those they consider to be unscientific. But is this the best approach to combat anti-science narratives?
Protecting the herd means a certain proportion of the population has to be immunised.
When a high proportion of a community is immune it becomes hard for diseases to spread from person to person – a phenomenon known as herd immunity.