Vaccination Is Neither Red Nor Blue


The erroneous belief that vaccines cause autism has little basis in partisan politics:

Yes, there may be a parent at your kid’s organic vegan locally sourced small-batch co-op nursery school who thinks it’s true, and dangerous lunatic Jenny McCarthy, the nation’s most prominent propagator of this theory, is a Hollywood celebrity and many Hollywood celebrities are liberals, but that doesn’t mean that liberals in general are more likely to believe in the fictional vaccine-autism link.

So here is some empirical data, from Dan Kahan of Yale Law School and the Cultural Cognition Project. Kahan did a study that included a survey and some experiments testing both what people believe about the topic and how they react to different kinds of information about it. And it turns out that not only do very few people believe that childhood vaccines pose a danger, liberals are no more likely to believe that than conservatives; in fact, they’re slightly less likely to believe it.

Ria Misra focuses on another finding from the study, that “vaccination rates and public acceptance of it are extremely high”:

But reports on both the science and the safety of vaccination don’t convince anti-vaxxers, and may even polarize them more.  So what should we be doing instead? Kahan says that the best way to promote vaccination may be to report on the already existing high vaccination rates, creating a kind of peer-pressure to vaccinate as a public good

Previous Dish on vaccines here, here, and here.