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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Goodreads | Mark Roth (Pittsburgh, PA)'s review of Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All

Goodreads | Mark Roth (Pittsburgh, PA)'s review of Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All:

We are currently going through an epidemic of Whooping Cough here in NW Illinois and even adults are being urged to get re-vaccinated. Herd immunity has been lost through lack of vaccination. There is a strong anti-vaccine community around here still, despite the revelations about Watson who, we now know, faked a lot of the data with regard to autism. I think much of the antagonism originated with the massive campaign to vaccinate everyone against swine-flu during the Ford administration which increased the number of Guillain-Barre cases, a very small risk (0.1%) but widely reported in the press. See also The Swine Flu Affair: Decision-Making on a Slippery Disease* written at the request of Secretary of HHS Califano in 1977.

Califano, in his introduction, points to some of the difficulties government officials face when dealing with policy decisions:
. First, how shall top lay officials, who are not themselves expert,deal with fundamental, policy questions that are based, in part, on highly technical and complex expert knowledge-especially when
that knowledge is speculative, or hotly debated, or when "the facts' are so uncertain? When such questions arise, with how much deference and how much skepticism should those whose business is doing things and making policy view those whose business is knowing things-the scientists and the experts?

How should policymakers-and their expert advisers-seek to involve and to educate the public and relevant parties on such complicated and technical issues? To , what extent can there be informed and robust -public debate before ahe decision is reached?

Increasingly, the' questions that Presidents, cabinet officers and other officials, confront involve extraordinarily technical complexities and uncertainties : defense policy and disarmament choices involving sophisticated and expensive weapons systems, for example ;' health policy decisions involving subtle questions of scientific possibility and probability.

You also see the same kind of unscientific thinking with regard to raw milk, any discussion of which brings out the crazies.

*You can read this free online at 

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