As a response to the series of articles where we looked at the need for healthy, rational scepticism when it comes to the motivations of researchers, their funding, and the implications of research results that we read about in the news, it is now time to take a look at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, and what happens when scepticism becomes ignorance.
This kind of ignorance can result from a wide range of causes, some of which we have looked at before, such as confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, and so on, and we will examine more as we look deeper into this theme.
To get the ball rolling for this topic, let’s begin by focusing on how ignorance is leading to one of the most serious outbreaks of disease in the developed world in modern times. Measles, a disease that is almost totally preventable by use of safe and effective vaccines that have been in use for decades, is now spreading throughout the world because of the “anti-vaxxer” (anti-vaccination) movement.
That there is a “movement” that promulgates misinformation like this is bad enough, but the fact that it has gained followers globally shows you how gullible and paranoid people really can be. Is it a coincidence that the source of some of these outbreaks is in ultra-religious communities?