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Old 07-31-2012, 08:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am somewhat amused and confused by how militantly pro-vax sites often refer to themselves as skeptical.

 

Here is the dictionary definition of the word skeptical:

 

 

skep·ti·cal/ˈskeptikəl/

 
Adjective:
  1. Not easily convinced; having doubts or reservations.
  2. Relating to the theory that certain knowledge is impossible.
 
Synonyms:
sceptical - skeptic - sceptic - suspicious - incredulous
 

 

 

I do not really get it - most pro vaxxers embrace the mainstream view of vaccines (am I wrong?).  I would not say they are skeptical of vaccines.

 

Unless they are skeptical of the vaccine skeptics (non and sel/del)?

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Old 08-07-2012, 07:54 PM
 
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Yes, that is what they mean. They mean skeptical of the claims of people who are against vaccines.

 

Skeptical does not mean contrary! To be skeptical, you do not have to hold the minority opinion. In fact, holding an "alternative" position just because it goes against the mainstream is very antithetical to the values of a skeptic. A skeptic does not rebel for the sake of trend. A skeptic is simply a thorough evidence-weigher, and tries to consider each argument on its merit alone.

 

The skeptical movement is pretty heavily associated with the atheist movement here in North America. In general, they are a pretty pro-science and pro-western medicine bunch.

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Old 08-07-2012, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, that is what they mean. They mean skeptical of the claims of people who are against vaccines.

 

Skeptical does not mean contrary! To be skeptical, you do not have to hold the minority opinion. In fact, holding an "alternative" position just because it goes against the mainstream is very antithetical to the values of a skeptic. A skeptic does not rebel for the sake of trend. A skeptic is simply a thorough evidence-weigher, and tries to consider each argument on its merit alone.

 

The skeptical movement is pretty heavily associated with the atheist movement here in North America. In general, they are a pretty pro-science and pro-western medicine bunch.

 

Thanks for clarifying - particularly the bolded - it sheds some light on some things.


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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Old 08-07-2012, 09:24 PM
 
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No probs!

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Old 08-12-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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I do get tired of the word being used in an intellectually arrogant and self-congratulatory context, as if to convey, "I've put a lot of thought into this. Therefore you haven't. Therefore I'm right and you're wrong." So "skeptical" ends up meaning that people are only "skeptical" of claims that refute their biases and prejudices.. To a degree, whether or not we want to admit it, we're all selectively skeptical.

It's kind of like hearing "please do your research." Statements like that--apart from being just downright condescending--aren't arguments but appeals, I.e. substitutes for arguments.

What's remarkable is that when you read the comments section after online articles, including those about vaxxes, there are very few real arguments...just name-calling, hate-mongering, and appeals. The few arguments that you see are just the same 'ol cliche talking points from either side. When it comes to public debate in North America, vaccines are the new abortion.

I'm digressing...but also explaining in a round-about way one of my reasons for backing off from this forum a little. sulkoff.gif

In God we trust; all others must show data. selectivevax.gifsurf.gifteapot2.GIFintactivist.gif
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Old 08-13-2012, 01:57 PM
 
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MichelleZB - nice job in explaining it. Skeptics really are open to all possibilities, and face them all in a science based, evidence based way. They may use the body of scientific knowledge as a basis for building their knowledge, but will not discount an idea just because it goes against the main stream - only if it goes against the science. 

 

My choice of parenting style really has a lot to do with science based choices - breast feeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, attachment based parenting, not crying it out (and much more supported here on Mothering) as well as a lot of the green living styles (local food, conserving energy etc) have excellent scientific evidence (and also common sense) backing them up. As does (in my opinion) the choice to vaccinate and make use of modern medicine in other ways. 

 

 Yes as skeptics we should be open to potential problems, and keep researching the safety and efficacy of these drugs (and that does happen - although faster would be nicer). That's partly why I come here, and I've learned a lot. 


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Old 08-13-2012, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok…this is not a snarky question, but a genuine one…..

 

Most pro-vaxxers I have argued with over the ages seem pretty rigidly set on "vaccines are good and non-vaxxers are wrong."  I am not throwing stones, I am sure non-vaxxers seem pretty rigid, too. 

 

*I* have not seen much evidence of "openness to all ideas." 

 

Is it that:

 

1.  they have researched the info and made up their minds so the "open to all ideas" has passed?

 

2.  Do skeptics get caught up in arguing and debating (again, btdt, not throwing stones) and that is why they come across as rigid?

 

And (honest question - and I do not mind if you turn around and ask me)  do you really think most of those who call themselves skeptics are open to all ideas concerning vaccines - even ideas that go against what they currently believe?


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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Old 08-13-2012, 02:26 PM
 
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Beware of where 'science' can lead you. It wasn't all that long ago the 'science' supported bottle feeding while trashing breastfeeding, claimed smoking was fine, and touted separation parenting and crying it out instead of attachment parenting. The science that supports your examples was the result of individuals who questioned the accepted 'science'.

I am still waiting for studies that really question the issue and not just a collection of data that supports one idea or the other.
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Old 08-14-2012, 02:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

Ok…this is not a snarky question, but a genuine one…..

 

Most pro-vaxxers I have argued with over the ages seem pretty rigidly set on "vaccines are good and non-vaxxers are wrong."  I am not throwing stones, I am sure non-vaxxers seem pretty rigid, too. 

 

*I* have not seen much evidence of "openness to all ideas." 

 

Is it that:

 

1.  they have researched the info and made up their minds so the "open to all ideas" has passed?

 

2.  Do skeptics get caught up in arguing and debating (again, btdt, not throwing stones) and that is why they come across as rigid?

 

And (honest question - and I do not mind if you turn around and ask me)  do you really think most of those who call themselves skeptics are open to all ideas concerning vaccines - even ideas that go against what they currently believe?

 

I think that the snarkiness comes from frustration mostly. I do entirely agree that some skeptics websites are very rude, treat all anti-vaxxer as idiots, and in doing so I think reduce their chance to engage and educate.

 

 I am going to say that for the most part skeptics have read about the "anti-vax" ideas and researched them, usually feel comfortable they've debunked them, and get frustrated going round with it again because someone's read about it on NVIC (or somewhere similar). I have days when I feel that way (e.g. about thimerosol content, or vaccines causing autism), and some of the (what I consider bascially lies) which are posted on some websites. 

 

I do honestly think that skeptics are open to ideas. In fact if they're not they shouldn't call themselves skeptics. What they are generally quite rigid about is the process of science - the peer reviewed article, the rigourous testing, not believing any study right away, the weight of evidence, the requirement to have not just correlation, but also a physical model explaining the link. 


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Old 08-14-2012, 02:37 AM
 
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Beware of where 'science' can lead you. It wasn't all that long ago the 'science' supported bottle feeding while trashing breastfeeding, claimed smoking was fine, and touted separation parenting and crying it out instead of attachment parenting. The science that supports your examples was the result of individuals who questioned the accepted 'science'.
I am still waiting for studies that really question the issue and not just a collection of data that supports one idea or the other.

On the contrary - I think all these examples are a fantastic testament to science getting it right. Science isn't an answer written in stone, it's a process of improving our understanding of the world. You see all these examples - they got it wrong, found evidence to the contrary, and then the accepted wisdom of "science" changed. For breast milk this happened even against the significant monetary interest of the formula companies. This gives me faith in the process of science to check the safety and efficacy of vaccines. It might be slow, but if there's a problem there science will find it and vaccines will change. They already have - there are many examples in vaccine science of the contents of vaccines changing, both to improve how well the vaccines work, but also to reduce side effects. 


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Old 08-14-2012, 05:21 AM
 
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Ah! You said if there's a problem science will (future tense) find it. You have (sort of) admitted there might be a problem, but think we should all follow current practices anyway and wait for science to make corrections. Would anyone be doing any investigation if it were not for some folks saying vaccinations are not safe and refusing them? Breastfeeding had advocates who refused to go along, and because of their refusal there was the research done. Same with the tobacco industry. You should have more respect for the anti-vax folks. It is because of their objections that there is some kind of change, and at this point, I don't think we can predict where science will be leading ten years from now.

I question how anyone can claim something is 'perfectly safe' in one breath, and admit reduction of side effects or other improvements in the next! Either it is safe, as is, or we need to look at it more closely. If it needs changes, should we be using it before it is ready?
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by prosciencemum View Post

 

 

 I am going to say that for the most part skeptics have read about the "anti-vax" ideas and researched them, usually feel comfortable they've debunked them, and get frustrated going round with it again because someone's read about it on NVIC (or somewhere similar). I have days when I feel that way (e.g. about thimerosol content, or vaccines causing autism), and some of the (what I consider bascially lies) which are 

 

I do honestly think that skeptics are open to ideas. In fact if they're not they shouldn't call themselves skeptics. What they are generally quite rigid about is the process of science - the peer reviewed article, the rigourous testing, not believing any study right away, the weight of evidence, the requirement to have not just correlation, but also a physical model explaining the link. 

Philosophical and a little OT:  Doesn't lying involve intent?

 

If I say something I believe is correct, but am in fact in error, I am not lying - I am just misinformed, or have come to the wrong conclusion, etc.

 

You are right - they should not call themselves skeptics if they are not open to ideas. Perhaps some of them are open to new ideas (I guess that is something individuals need to decide for themselves).  I suppose arguing with non-vaxxers or venting on a skeptic site have little to do with whether, in their quiet moments, they actually are open to ideas.  Arguing can be polarising and venting, is, well, venting.  


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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Old 08-14-2012, 07:23 AM
 
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Philosophical and a little OT:  Doesn't lying involve intent?

 

 

 

Perhaps your right. But continuing to propagate untruths that have been explained to be wrong to you (as for example Jenny McCarthy) does get quite close to deliberately lying, and at the very least is frustrating to many people - myself included in that! ;)


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Old 08-14-2012, 07:27 AM
 
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Ah! You said if there's a problem science will (future tense) find it. You have (sort of) admitted there might be a problem, but think we should all follow current practices anyway and wait for science to make corrections. Would anyone be doing any investigation if it were not for some folks saying vaccinations are not safe and refusing them? Breastfeeding had advocates who refused to go along, and because of their refusal there was the research done. Same with the tobacco industry. You should have more respect for the anti-vax folks. It is because of their objections that there is some kind of change, and at this point, I don't think we can predict where science will be leading ten years from now.
I question how anyone can claim something is 'perfectly safe' in one breath, and admit reduction of side effects or other improvements in the next! Either it is safe, as is, or we need to look at it more closely. If it needs changes, should we be using it before it is ready?

 

A good scientist will always admit the possibility of having missed something in the data, and continue to work to look for things. People are studying the safety and efficacy of vaccines. So far they have shown they are very safe for most people and do protect against VPD. You can't wait until you prove there's absolutely no risk, because for one, that's not possible to do, and secondly you are putting at greater risk of VPD all the people who aren't vaccinated in the meantime. That latter thing is considered unethical. 


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Old 08-14-2012, 07:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think that the snarkiness comes from frustration mostly. I do entirely agree that some skeptics websites are very rude, treat all anti-vaxxer as idiots, and in doing so I think reduce their chance to engage and educate.

 

 

forgot to add:

 

Skeptic websites can do what they want.

 

If they are just set up as a skeptic websites for skeptics to talk amongst themselves, then I have no business complaining that they are very rude or treat non-vaxxers as idiots.  

 

If their goal is to engage and inform, then yeah, scaling back rudeness and assumptions about non-vaxxers intelligence would be the way to go, as it is a complete turn-off 


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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Old 08-14-2012, 07:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Perhaps your right. But continuing to propagate untruths that have been explained to be wrong to you (as for example Jenny McCarthy) does get quite close to deliberately lying, and at the very least is frustrating to many people - myself included in that! ;)

Explained by whom?  You?  Other skeptics?  

 

Prosciencemum - you write reasonably well, and you are usually quite civil smile.gif.  And the end of the day, though, you are just another mum writing on the internet.  I do not assume you have more knowledge than I, or that your POV is correct and mine is wrong. There are a few areas where people make mistakes and can/should be corrected.  Getting a stat very wrong, for example.  Most of the stuff we argue about is somewhat subjective - or at the very least, a case can be made either way.  Simply disagreeing with you does not mean I am wrong  (and Jenny McCarthy is a good example:  I might be a fan, you might not, there is no right and wrong in this).

 

This is not personal - I feel the same way towards all posters.  


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Old 08-14-2012, 08:42 AM
 
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A good scientist will always admit the possibility of having missed something in the data, and continue to work to look for things. People are studying the safety and efficacy of vaccines. So far they have shown they are very safe for most people and do protect against VPD. You can't wait until you prove there's absolutely no risk, because for one, that's not possible to do, and secondly you are putting at greater risk of VPD all the people who aren't vaccinated in the meantime. That latter thing is considered unethical. 
Even if the good scientist does, will the skeptics? Admitting is not always done without there first being those who challege the science. And how is trading one set of problems for another more ethical? Everyone has the right to question the scientists. Everyone has the right to use their OWN observations, instead of believing the scientists' observations. Everyone has the right to choose what is done to their bodies and what risks they prefer to accept. Parents make those decisions for their children, especially the very young.

What is annoying to me is an attitude of "I'm right, and you just have to take my word for it, it do your own reading but come to my conclusions".
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:19 PM
 
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There's a difference between being open to all ideas, and agreeing with all ideas. A skeptic (in theory) will listen to every idea, but that doesn't mean that they won't reject it after testing or verifying. I think some of you are being too hasty to accuse them of being rigid! A skeptic has to be flexible, has to be open to changing their mind, or they won't really be a skeptic, will they?

 

At the same time, there are other qualities valued by skeptics. I think a really great resource for understanding the skeptical frame of mind is from Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World, which is a lovely book and I recommend it to anyone. Carl Sagan is a really wonderful man, and you can still watch his miniseries Cosmos with your kids to learn all about space!

 

Micheal Shermer has done a video based on Carl Sagan's ideas about what he calls the "Baloney Detection Kit". If you really are interested in how a skeptical person sees things, it's a good place to start! Enjoy.

 

Edited to add the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUB4j0n2UDU

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Old 08-15-2012, 06:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Can a non-vaxxer be a skeptic?


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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Old 08-19-2012, 08:37 AM
 
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MichelleZB - nice job in explaining it. Skeptics really are open to all possibilities, and face them all in a science based, evidence based way. They may use the body of scientific knowledge as a basis for building their knowledge, but will not discount an idea just because it goes against the main stream - only if it goes against the science. 

 

My choice of parenting style really has a lot to do with science based choices - breast feeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, attachment based parenting, not crying it out (and much more supported here on Mothering) as well as a lot of the green living styles (local food, conserving energy etc) have excellent scientific evidence (and also common sense) backing them up. As does (in my opinion) the choice to vaccinate and make use of modern medicine in other ways. 

 

 Yes as skeptics we should be open to potential problems, and keep researching the safety and efficacy of these drugs (and that does happen - although faster would be nicer). That's partly why I come here, and I've learned a lot. 

This.
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