Are we listening?

May 27th, 2009

The science is in,
but the people aren’t listening.
How do we get them to listen?
When they no longer hear the sounds of laughter,
the sounds of normal childhood,
through the walls of their homes.
How do we get them to listen?
When they are preoccupied,
looking for something, anything,
whatever took their little one from under their noses.
How do we get them to listen to us?
When they are the ones with stories
that they can tell each other,
that they can use to warn others of
the danger.
Have we really listened to them?

There is an amazing article this week in PLoS Biology by Liza Gross discussing the history of the Autism/Vaccination war. I highly recommend giving it a read.

 McCarthy emerged as a hero for some parents by telling her story. Personal stories resonate most with those who see trust in experts as a risk in itself—a possibility whenever people must grapple with science-based decisions that affect them, whether they’re asked to make sacrifices to help curb global warming or vaccinate their kids for public health. Researchers might consider taking a page out of the hero’s handbook by embracing the power of stories—that is, adding a bit of drama—to show that even though scientists can’t say just what causes autism or how to prevent it, the evidence tells us not to blame vaccines. As news of epidemics spreads along with newly unfettered infectious diseases, those clinging to doubt about vaccines may come to realize that several potentially deadly diseases are just a plane ride, or playground, away—and that vaccines really do save lives.

3 Responses to “Are we listening?”

  1. SteveN on May 28, 2009 6:54 pm

    I enjoyed that as well. We really need to understand why people such as Jenny McCarthy believe their strange, science-denialism.

  2. wagdog on June 3, 2009 1:45 am

    > We really need to understand why people such as Jenny McCarthy believe their strange, science-denialism.

    Nothing strange about it. Reading through the article it is easy to see all the psychological forces and statistical quirks at play: survivor bias, selection bias, confirmation bias, correspondent inference, escalation of commitment, appeal to authority, groupthink, likeability bias, availability heuristic, and representativeness heuristic.

    Similar forces and more are at play in global warming denialism.

  3. Tom Zinnen on June 3, 2009 1:21 pm

    Great juxtaposition. We’ll get farther in sharing science with the public when we ask “Are We Listening to Them?” just as often as we ask “Are They Listening to Us?”

    Can you confirm for me the authorship of the poem “Are We Listening?”

    I’m assuming the author is you (Kirsten Sanford) but I want to make sure it’s not from Liza Gross. I didn’t see the poem at the PLOS article.


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