Monday, March 3, 2014

The frustrations of public health

Amanda Marcotte:
In other words, learning that they were wrong to believe that vaccines were dangerous to their kids made vaccine-hostile parents more, not less likely to reject vaccination. Mooney calls this the "backfire effect," but feel free to regard it as stubborn, childish defensiveness, if you'd rather. If you produce evidence that vaccination fears about autism are misplaced, anti-vaccination parents don't apologize and slink off to get their kids vaccinated. No, according to this study, they tend to double down. 
This is just so depressing that it is not even humorous.  It suggests that attitudes towards medical treatment are fundamentally irrational.  This has a ton of scary implications for the over-use of popular therapies (antibiotics) and under-use of  unpopular ones (vaccines).  In a sense, it has been too long since we saw the large numbers of deaths that diseases like smallpox used to inflict and we have lost our fear of these diseases. 

Even a paternalistic regulatory regime is going to find dealing with these problems to be challenging. 

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