I saw this today and was wondering what you guys think about it. Apparently a new study showed that when "balance" is given in the media about vaccines people are more likely to question the safety of vaccines. Even more so than if the only thing they heard was an anti vaccine article on its own. She makes the point that, say, if you were covering a story about circumventing the globe and you interview a geographer to get their view point you don't then get a representative from the "Flat Earth Society" to weigh in for balance. It's called false balance, "a term to describe giving more time to opposing view points than the evidence actually supports."
"In the study, 320 undergraduate students were assigned a news item presenting either claims both for and against a vaccine/autism link (false balance), a purely anti-vax "vaccines-definitely-cause-autism" article and a "there is no link" article.
Unsurprisingly, the participants who read the article saying vaccines cause autism indicated they would be less likely to have their children vaccinated in the future. But what was surprising was those who read the false balance article were even less confident about the safety of vaccines than the "vaccines-definitely-cause-autism" article.
The authors suggested the reasons for this may be that false balance elicits a stronger perception that experts are divided, or that experts truly are uncertain whether vaccines cause autism (let me make this crystal clear, there is no good evidence to support a link between vaccines and autism...)
I thought the findings were pretty interesting and was wondering what you guys think about it? Should the media stop giving "false balance" on vaccines?
Edit: Oops forgot to add the link to the article http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/16/anti-vaccination-activists-should-not-be-given-a-say-in-the-media
Edited by teacozy - 10/17/13 at 6:01pm