Scientific illiteracy

Vaccinations seem to be another of those activities that push some people’s buttons. See Randall Hoven in Hey Professors, Pay Up. The topic is Bachmann’s claim about vaccinations causing mental retardation and two professors offering rewards for proof of the claim.

The scientific illiteracy on parade is in Hoven’s trolling public databases for incidents whose descriptions appear to support his point of view. He then pretends it makes the case and demands his reward. He does note that there are problems with his view but does not let those problems alter his viewpoint.

“Of course, just because symptoms followed the vaccinations does not mean the vaccinations caused the symptoms. (Although in case 339718, the remarks do indicate that the vaccine was the cause of the encephalitis that led to the symptoms.)

I don’t know about you, but that tradeoff does not appear obvious to me. I’m glad so many fact-based pundits find these numbers easier to fathom.”

A couple of the comments note the science problems — and the responses note the illiteracy problem. See those by Platiquemos and KHaygoodMD.

Besides the proper assessment of risk, there is also an example of the exaggeration for political claims. The vaccination claim was in regard to a Governor’s executive order that was never completed and the ignoring of a part of that order that made it optional rather than mandatory. These sorts of errors are indicative that reason and integrity are being pushed aside so that emotion and ideology can take the forefront.

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