PSYC 180 February 15, 2012
Seth Mnookin “Autism vs. Vaccines”
When stakes are high, people are more likely to jump to causal conclusions
o Public suspicions about chemicals and pollution
How we collectively decide what is truth
People make decisions based on instinct sometimes
Fear that there is a causal link between vaccines and autism
Vaccines are not 100% safe (just like how drinking water is not 100% safe, etc)
Andrew Wakefield – claimed that there was a link between autism and measles vaccines
o Lancet article (medical journal)
Can‟t draw a conclusion from a case study
Pragmatic solution to the fact that we don‟t think critically in relation to vaccines:
o Prenatal conversation with new parents about vaccines instead of making them
make the decision on the spot when they have the child.
o Discourse occurs between peers, not health care practitioners and their patients.
o Equivalent of office hours – designated vaccine expert – can address problems.
o When you find yourself certain about something, find some way to show that you
are wrong. (personal solution)
0-3 is when kids are getting their first shots. Also when they are getting diagnosed
Parents think this is causal
People ask why they should get a flu shot every year if vaccines are so effective
o Don‟t want to explain to them that viruses mutate, etc.
Measles is known; autism is unknown. Fear of known vs. unknown
You can‟t „un-scare‟ someone. This is why even though the Wakefield paper was
reclaimed, people are still skeptical about vaccines.
o Don`t confuse research with lab research – Seth is looking at a different kind of
Brian Ward: Vaccine – Myths and Realities
Anti-vaccination sentiments are not new – smallpox back then. Vaccine was cow puss
and people thought you would get bovine characteristics.
Many new vaccines in the next 5-10 years
o Advances in immunology
Target virtually any infection
o New uses for vaccines
Cancer, autoimmunity, fertility PSYC 180 February 15, 2012
o Government and philanthropic commitment
Myth 1: vaccines are not necessary
o Childhood diseases were disappearing before vaccines were introduced
o Polio eradication – eradication `on track` for 2010
Massive efforts to wrap up last few cases with national vaccination days
Polio is still with us because northern Nigeria decided that polio
vaccination was an attempt to sterilize muslim boys so they stopped being
vaccinated against polio
Thus polio re-spread 30 countries.
o 1975: Japan and Pertussis vaccine
o 1990s: UK and MMR causes autism
o Childhood illnesses remain serious threats – if you stop vaccinating, the
diseases will come back
Myth 2: vaccines are 100% effective
o Dr. Jay Gordo