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Conspiracies


RavenSmith
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Say you're a pediatrician. You come across a patient's parents who express concern for vaccine-induced autism and it depends upon you to assuage their fears.

An example argument I've come across is that cases of mitochondrial dysfunction are potential hazards when a post-vaccine fever presents itself, leading to poor metabolism in the brain, resulting in permanent brain damage and autism-like symptoms.

If you attempt to explain the counter-science (not to mention the essentially nonexistent correlation), it doesn't matter.

How do you approach parents who are 100% obstinate to scientific research? How do you approach ANYBODY who is unwilling to read any further than a cursory glance?

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Not my field - but if they won't listen to the doctors and experts and continue to refuse to play ball, then maybe they should speak to social services... I wonder what they would have to say about the parents that are not vaccinating their kids?

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Say you're a pediatrician. You come across a patient's parents who express concern for vaccine-induced autism and it depends upon you to assuage their fears.

An example argument I've come across is that cases of mitochondrial dysfunction are potential hazards when a post-vaccine fever presents itself, leading to poor metabolism in the brain, resulting in permanent brain damage and autism-like symptoms.

If you attempt to explain the counter-science (not to mention the essentially nonexistent correlation), it doesn't matter.

How do you approach parents who are 100% obstinate to scientific research? How do you approach ANYBODY who is unwilling to read any further than a cursory glance?

 

 

If someone just won't listen to a reasoned evidence backed argument, (in this case) try appealing to their emotions, such as, we could never have stopped smallpox with this attitude, how many children are you prepared to let suffer on the off-chance you may be wrong?

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It's much more likely that an emotional appeal will be effective against an emotional argument. The only rational argument I haven't tried against this kind of cognitive bias is high intelligence. I think this type of thinking is, at its core, an attempt to understand a pattern using bad (or too little good) information. We tend to get information "pre-packaged" these days, as opposed to getting more or less raw data and informing ourselves. Our incredibly smart brains fill in gaps so they "make sense" rather than reflect reality. We can often trick ourselves that an explanation "feels right", and let that override reason.

 

It could work, I suppose, but most people aren't reasonable about being unreasonable.

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If it were me, as in any argument or attempt to persuade, I begin with an effort to genuinely understand the patient's parents fears from their perspective. I would try to get at the basis of their fears and use that information to help them make a decision that is ultimately in their child's best interests. The approach is not to convince them that their perceptions are wrong but that the correct perception or decision is their idea, although you may have led them to it. For example, if after asking, really listening, and not being arrogantly dismissive, I determined that their fears are based on something they've read, I'd ask "how well do they trust that publication?". The idea or objective here is to get them to think rather than feel. To do that, you have to ask questions that lead them to rational thought and to trusting you more than some disinformation. After all, their children wouldn't be in your office, if they weren't willing to trust you. Asking questions get them to think and use their own reasoning to arrive at your conclusions, which they will if your conclusions are sound.

Edited by DrmDoc
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Unfortunately, it comes down to:

 

If parents say no, it's a no.

 

(Unless their decision is actively threatening the health of their child; e.g. (this applies to Belgium), when parents of, let's say, a 12-year-old, refuse blood transfusion for their child because they are Jehova's witnesses, you could try all you want, in the end it's gonna be a no. When you find it necessary for the child to survive a surgery that it receives blood transfusion, you, as a physician, can contact a judge or (Crown) prosecutor, to at least inform them on the situation and safeguard yourself from judicial misery afterwards; the judge will put the parents out of their parental authority)

Edited by Function
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Unfortunately, it comes down to:

 

If parents say no, it's a no.

 

(Unless their decision is actively threatening the health of their child; e.g. (this applies to Belgium), when parents of, let's say, a 12-year-old, refuse blood transfusion for their child because they are Jehova's witnesses, you could try all you want, in the end it's gonna be a no. When you find it necessary for the child to survive a surgery that it receives blood transfusion, you, as a physician, can contact a judge or (Crown) prosecutor, to at least inform them on the situation and safeguard yourself from judicial misery afterwards; the judge will put the parents out of their parental authority)

 

 

There's no such thing as a fail safe, all we can do is hope.

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Lots of good advice. In the end-- as cruel as I know this will sound, you have to let the deniers fail/die/or suffer whatever consequences their bad decision brings about. We live in a very protected age. Everything has operating warnings. We have medical miracles. Many, many people, either consciously or unconsciously don't really believe their actions or decisions will have serious consequences. Someone or something will save them no matter how stupidly they may behave. Some people will only change when they have concrete personal proof that they are/were wrong. Cruel, but. I fear, true.

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It could work, I suppose, but most people aren't reasonable about being unreasonable.

 

If you are trying to make an argument based on reason / appeals to actual evidence, it may help to start with the question "what evidence would you need to see to actually change your mind?" One of the biases we confront is the tendency to weasel our ways out of uncomfortable information... actually changing your mind feels really uncomfortable. By forcing the other party to pre-commit to accepting a certain type of evidence, you can cut off an escape route, so to speak. It also reduces hindsight bias, and promotes thinking according to conservation of expected evidence (i.e. the eventual outcome of the study cannot support both sides of the argument).

 

Also, be sure to reward the other person when they successfully change their mind - this will condition them that the behavior is not a bad thing. A piece of chocolate or another tasty treat works nicely.

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Lots of good advice. In the end-- as cruel as I know this will sound, you have to let the deniers fail/die/or suffer whatever consequences their bad decision brings about. We live in a very protected age. Everything has operating warnings. We have medical miracles. Many, many people, either consciously or unconsciously don't really believe their actions or decisions will have serious consequences. Someone or something will save them no matter how stupidly they may behave. Some people will only change when they have concrete personal proof that they are/were wrong. Cruel, but. I fear, true.

 

Normally I'd agree, but with vaccines it isn't just about the receiver being protected, it is for the good of the whole community. If these diseases start to return because too many people haven't had their shots then that is a danger to all.

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Normally I'd agree, but with vaccines it isn't just about the receiver being protected, it is for the good of the whole community. If these diseases start to return because too many people haven't had their shots then that is a danger to all.

There is a moral obligation to ones community.

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If you are trying to make an argument based on reason / appeals to actual evidence, it may help to start with the question "what evidence would you need to see to actually change your mind?" One of the biases we confront is the tendency to weasel our ways out of uncomfortable information... actually changing your mind feels really uncomfortable. By forcing the other party to pre-commit to accepting a certain type of evidence, you can cut off an escape route, so to speak. It also reduces hindsight bias, and promotes thinking according to conservation of expected evidence (i.e. the eventual outcome of the study cannot support both sides of the argument).

 

Also, be sure to reward the other person when they successfully change their mind - this will condition them that the behavior is not a bad thing. A piece of chocolate or another tasty treat works nicely.

 

I agree; asking questions that appeal to reason is the first step to successful persuasion.

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But, often, throwing reason at belief is like chucking water on a duck's back.

 

The idea is to get the parents to think about their beliefs by asking questions leading them to probe those beliefs. This isn't necessarily an imposition of external reasoning but an effort to get them to rely on their reasoning rather than their feelings or beliefs.

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If the parents say no, it's a no. Sadly.

 

I disagree; in America, parents are legally required to submit their children for medical treatment where serious health issues are involved. For example, a parent that choses prayer over established medical treatments for a sick child could be subject to penalties that include having the child removed from their homes or having their parental rights restricted. Under our legal system, parents can be compelled to submit their children for required medical care which, under every reasonable circumstance, is morally, ethically, and legally right.

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