Ok, here's my rant. For years I've been asking the #scicomm pros: what do we do if we see the next Andrew Wakefield coming? What is your guidance on that? I have never seen an answer. They focus downstream on "hesitant" parents. Which is also needed. But it's not enough.
Parents are hesitant because they hear bogus claims from crap peddlers. These are amplified by networks of both opportunistic practitioners of various stripes (with detox potions, antineoplastons, movies to sell, for example), as well as just true-beleevers of claims--zealots.
And sometimes it's coming just from pranksters and fakenews peddlers. Some of it may actually be coming from malicious actors and crafted misinformation campaigns in, say, Russia. buzzfeed.com/danvergano/fac… Or #organic industry funded malcontents like USRTK.
This is true on every front, not just vaccines. It's cancer quackery, it's GMOs, now on gene editing claims. Naturopathy, etc. Seen it on longevity too. It's all the same shit, just a different day, as we say: SSDD. Claims, media, taking people's money. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
And often this is amplified by the media, either credulously or click-baity. Dr. Oz has done it. Media were fluffing the Food Babe for a while before the take-downs started to come out. And false hope of easy cures and simple fixes are abundant from them.
And sure, scientists need to be in the conversations more. And we need more critical thinking taught in schools. Some journos do great debunkers (I'm looking at @juliaoftoronto). All great. But it doesn't stop the active cranks that are the source of the problem.
I laughed yesterday at the months-long discussions to maybe have a "rapid-response" campaign. I support this, but it's day late-dollar short right now. And apparently only aimed at climate. scientificamerican.com/article/scient…
The #scicomm and science society folks need to get serious about tackling active misinformers and crap peddlers. I think the #GMO conversation really turned when we started doing that head-on.
But some people find this "uncivil" and distasteful. And it's not easy. You do become the target of the cranks for cutting in on their gig. When I called out a scientist for participating in the Russian GMO scam, he falsely accused me of industry influence.
Cranks have created bogus claims about me online. But I can withstand that stuff. Many people can't. But until professional #scicomm gets serious about taking on upstream crankery, you will get nowhere.
You need to include + support folks that have been doing this for years, the semi-organized poorly-named "skeptic"-associated like (but not limited to) @SkepticsGuide @gorskon @MarkHoofnagle @DrJenGunter @CaulfieldTim @HHSkepDoc @powerm1985. You need serious front line action.
And no, I don't have the kind of evidence that this works, because I haven't seen scicomm pros study this much. I've asked. Some strategies I have seen are dismissed by the serious thinkers because they didn't like the uncivilness of it. I don't think they *want* it to work.
But you don't have the evidence that it doesn't help, either. I often look back to the AIDS crisis trajectory. Getting in people's faces was uncivil. And it worked--on both biomedical research and in social acceptance of the gay community. It changed things completely.
I hope somebody studies it. But while the panels go on, and the social science surveys continue, cranks are out happily making promises to the credulous and are running the table. And we'll still have to clean that up later after they ran amok. What is your plan, exactly?
Coda: and you know what? Doing it the "right" way doesn't get you into a different place either. Do a survey, have academic credentials and degrees, peer review, cranks will crap on it anyway. That Fernbach paper? They accuse him of industry $$ and belittle his degree.
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