Contributed by
Oct 1, 2008

As has been pointed out in this blog before, Jenny McCarthy is antiscience and Amanda Peet is a hero. Ms. McCarthy campaigns that vaccines cause autism (which is wrong wrong wrong) and Ms. Peet has been vocal that there is no connection, and vaccinations are important.

Ms. Peet is getting the expected earful of vitriol, ad hominems, and out and out lies from the antivax community.

Now, I am not one for online polls; they are useless for actually getting any information, but sadly they do get picked up by the media on occasion, and so they might have some impact. Having said that, you might want to take a look a poll on Ecorazzi, a site that supports "green" causes. A search on the site makes it seem that they support antivax causes, though they are not virulent about it, and are surprisingly fair to people like Peet.

Still, check out the poll. It's been Pharyngulated, so we're OK there now. I am more concerned over the comments under the poll. Read them and see how far we have to go.

Critical thinking is hard, very hard. But it becomes almost impossible when core emotional values are at stake. And nothing strikes to the very heart of our humanity like children who are hurt, sick, or in danger. That means that dealing with antivaxxers will always be extremely difficult, and it's again why I cheer Amanda Peet. Vaccines don't cause autism. Vaccines are one of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- medical breakthroughs of all time. And we need to keep making this point, over and over again.

But that fact -- that vaccines work -- as simple and clear as it is, won't be useful if we can't talk to the people who are hurting so badly over this. And I'm not sure how. This is a basic issue with skepticism and critical thinking, and one I wrestle with often. There is no one simple answer to this problem. More's the pity.

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