The Dunning-Kruger pandemic in the anti-vaccine world

Dunning Kruger

Along with unscientific claims, logical fallacies, and outright misinformation, we love to use the Dunning-Kruger label to dismiss the anti-vaccine activists’ claims. Many of us throw around Dunning-Kruger so much, that I thought maybe I should dig into it a bit more.

Despite the consistent, robust, and overwhelming evidence presented by the scientific community about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, the epidemic of the Dunning-Kruger effect has become the foundation of the anti-vaccine world, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. To be fair, this is not an issue just with the anti-vaxxers – many others use their Dunning-Kruger bias as a form of science denial of anthropogenic climate change, evolution, GMOs, and many other areas of well-established science.

Let’s take a look at the Dunning-Kruger effect and some research that shows us just how prevalent it is among the anti-vaccine zealots.  

Continue reading “The Dunning-Kruger pandemic in the anti-vaccine world”

Anti-vaxxers don’t want to be called “anti-vaccine” — boo frickin’ hoo

anti-vaccine

A few days ago, some anti-vaxxer on Twitter complained that she didn’t want to be called anti-vaccine. She said it was a personal attack on her. And that she really wasn’t anti-vaccine.

Well, that’s just an incredibly laughable position that is unsupported by anything in reality. These anti-vaccine activists want to appear rational, thoughtful, and scientific, when, in fact, their position is anything but rational, thoughtful, or scientific.

We call someone anti-vaccine because they refuse to accept the vast scientific consensus about every vaccine on the market. No matter how many times we talk about a large, well-analyzed, unbiased study about a vaccine, they ignore it, and then they give preference to anecdotes and false authorities that confirm their pre-ordained conclusions about vaccines.

Now, just to be clear, parents who sit on the fence because they are confused about vaccines are not anti-vaxxers. They aren’t promoting anti-vaccine nonsense, they are trying to find good evidence to support getting vaccinated. I try to target this group lately because they seem to be working in good faith about vaccines. I’ve had numerous people over time that information I’ve prevented has moved them from “vaccine-hesitant” to pro-vaccine. That’s my mitzvah.

I’m going to write about true anti-vaxxers who present bad information about vaccines while complaining that they are being characterized as “anti-vaccine.” They deserve the label, and I’ll show you why.

Continue reading “Anti-vaxxers don’t want to be called “anti-vaccine” — boo frickin’ hoo”

Do physicians study vaccines? Yes, and anti-vaxxers get this all wrong

doctor with a face mask reading a medical chart

Anti-vaxxers love to state that physicians don’t study vaccines. Of course, those same anti-vaxxers use their Dunning-Kruger-infected minds to claim that their 30 minutes of Google University research makes them the only experts on vaccines.

Using that logic, I could become an authorized Ferrari mechanic after watching a 30 minute YouTube video on repairing an engine.

On the other hand, a fake Ferrari mechanic isn’t going to do much harm except to the privileged internet billionaire, while a fake vaccine expert harms children. And when I write “fake vaccine expert,” I mean about 99.99% of the anti-vaxxers that spout their ignorance to their internet sycophants.

Let’s talk about whether physicians study vaccines. Most of you will know where this is going.

Continue reading “Do physicians study vaccines? Yes, and anti-vaxxers get this all wrong”

Vaccine science — why I do research better than anti-vaxxers

person putting a drop on test tube

How many times have you read a comment from an anti-vaxxer that states, “I’ve done my vaccine science research, and it says vaccines are bad.” That comment seems to imply two things – that the anti-vaxxer believes they have done real vaccine science research, and those on the science/medicine side have not done real vaccine research.

What I’ve found is that the anti-vaxxer research into vaccine science is based on their Google University education rather than actual scientific education. Vaccine science is hard, and it cannot be done in a few hours searching for unimpressive memes.

The typical anti-vaxxer understates how hard vaccine research is while overstating their actual skills and experience in comprehending real scientific research. I suppose this is a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect – a cognitive bias wherein people without a strong scientific background fail to recognize their actual ineptitude in the field and mistakenly overrate their knowledge and abilities as greater than it is.

On the other hand, I’ve done real scientific research that gives me a relatively decent background in vaccine science. And I’m going to state, without any remorse, that I am no Dr. Paul Offit, Dr. Peter Hotez, or any of the hundreds of researchers at the CDC and WHO. My background in vaccines is a result of my education, which is a lot more than a few hours on Google.

Continue reading “Vaccine science — why I do research better than anti-vaxxers”

Google University is not the same as real scientific research in vaccines

Google university

I’m sure everyone has run into the type – a science denier who thinks their two hours at Google University makes them as knowledgeable as a real physician or scientist. This arrogance manifests itself in ridiculous discussions with anti-vaccine activists who claim to have “done the research,” and who believe their pseudoscientific research is more valuable than real scientific research.

This Google University education utilized by vaccine deniers, really all science deniers, can be frustrating. I frequent a couple of large Facebook groups that try to help on-the-fence anti-vaxxers understand what constitutes evidence and what doesn’t concerning vaccines. Recently, one of the anti-vaccine true believers kept saying she knew more than a nurse with a public health master’s degree. The arrogant anti-vaxxer kept claiming that she “did her research.”

Because of this absurd overvaluing of their Google University research, I want to review a handful of points that every science denier seems to use that make us laugh. All but one applies to any type of science denial, but we’re sticking with vaccines. Because we can.

Continue reading “Google University is not the same as real scientific research in vaccines”

The massive Dunning-Kruger epidemic observed in the anti-vaccine community

Dunning-Kruger effect

Over the past couple of decades, we have seen a rise in contentiousness with respect to vaccination policy across various countries. May of these anti-vaccine parents are convinced that vaccines can lead to autism, despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that debunks that claim. This has even led to pet owners refusing to vaccinate their dogs because they think that dogs will get autism – they can’t. These parents often claim to know more than scientific and medical experts – and we often accuse these people of being afflicted by the “Dunning-Kruger effect.”

Despite the consistent, robust, and overwhelming evidence presented by the scientific community about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, the epidemic of the Dunning-Kruger effect has overwhelmed the anti-vaccine religion. To be fair, this is not an issue just with the anti-vaccine world – many of us observe this form of science denial in anthropogenic climate change, evolution, GMOs, and many other areas of well-established science.

Let’s take a look at the Dunning-Kruger effect and some research that shows us just how prevalent it is among the anti-vaccine zealots.   Continue reading “The massive Dunning-Kruger epidemic observed in the anti-vaccine community”

Vaccine research – it doesn’t mean what the anti-vaxxers think it means

vaccine research

How many times have you read a comment from an anti-vaccine zealot along the lines of “do your research, vaccines are bad.” That comment seems to imply two things – that the anti-vaxxer believes they have done real vaccine research, and those on the science/medicine side have not done real vaccine research.

Typical of nearly every claim made by the anti-vaccine religion, this is another one where they understate how hard vaccine research really is while overstating their actual skills and experience in comprehending real scientific research. I suppose this is a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect – a cognitive bias wherein people without a strong scientific background fail to recognize their actual ineptitude in the field and mistakenly overrate their knowledge and abilities as greater than it is.

On the other hand, I’ve done real scientific research and worked hard at it. Time to explain. Continue reading “Vaccine research – it doesn’t mean what the anti-vaxxers think it means”

Climate change denier is accurate – AP stylebook disagrees

climate change denier

I’m going to guess that a discussion of the AP stylebook isn’t a typical subject discussed in a skeptic blog. But the AP is worried that “denier” is too pejorative, and recommend that the term not be used, which made me take notice. I’m going to take umbrage with their recommendation and state emphatically that “climate change denier” is an accurate description.

Sure, it may be pejorative, but it’s based on the fact that those who deny real science, that is, the conclusion derived from a powerful and robust consensus of expert scientists in a field of study, willfully ignore said evidence and invent their own pseudoscience. Not only do I state that a climate change denier is a factual representation of those beliefs, I also think that a GMO denier, a vaccine denier, an evolution denier, and a Holocaust denier are essentially equivalent – each ignores the massive and robust mountain of evidence to come to an unsupported conclusion.

I think the use of “denier,” to anyone who rejects the scientific consensus, is accurate and acceptable. And it’s like several of orders of magnitude better than the “climate change skeptic” used by the deniers to make it sound like their denialism is actually scientifically based. Because real scientific skepticism is an honorable pursuit in which constantly questioning and doubting claims and assertions is based only on the accumulation of evidence. It requires the use of the scientific method, where claims, facts and theories are relentlessly tested and reviewed.

Deniers attempt to co-op the word “skeptic” when they really are just doubters and cynics who can’t be bothered with evidence or cherry pick just enough evidence to support their pre-conceived notions.

I want to look at what the AP Stylebook has recommended. I would like to know if my pre-conceived notion that denier is an accurate description for anyone who rejects the scientific consensus.

Continue reading “Climate change denier is accurate – AP stylebook disagrees”

Mashing up the Walking Dead and science denialism

The Walking Dead and science denialism

I am really impatient with science deniers, so I saw something that will allow me to mash up two of my favorite subjects – the Walking Dead and science denialism – and it makes me happy. I know, you want to know how I can possibly combine the Walking Dead and science denialism – you’re just going to have to read on!

I know it’s shocking, but I find it difficult to be really civil towards science deniers. Partially, it’s because no matter how much evidence you present, science deniers rely on logical fallacies like strawman arguments, arguments from ignorance, post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies, and so many others.

Or they rely upon all of their biases. Confirmation bias, yes. Selection bias, yes. Cognitive biases, yes. And that logical fallacy that’s also a form of bias – cherry picking. The denialist’s favorite fruit has got to be cherries, because they’re picking them all day long.

Then toss in a big dollop of Dunning-Kruger effect, and it’s really difficult to take any science deniers very seriously. They take themselves seriously, despite their total lack of affirmative or negative evidence.

The only thing that matters in science is evidence. That’s it, that’s the beginning and the end of the story. I don’t care if you’re a man, woman, alien, immigrant, liberal, conservative, a janitor, a professor, black, white, or a Nobel Prize winner. If you lack evidence, you have nothing.

If you think there are debates to be made in settled science, that means you get the denialism card, no matter who you are. If you are an MD, and think that vaccines don’t work, then why should I consider your opinion on anything in medicine to be valid, when you’re denying some of the basic principles of medicine – the Germ Theory, for example.  Continue reading “Mashing up the Walking Dead and science denialism”

Opinion – vaccine deniers annoy the shit out of me

This is part of my series of opinion pieces. As I’ve written, it is not meant to be supported by evidence or data – unless I link to evidence. Then it is.  

Vaccine deniers, or anyone who is antivaccine for any reason, are a difficult group. They have ideas that are just unsupported by any factual evidence. They have an opinion that they’ll hold on to as if it were a commandment from Thor.

Again, as I’ve written before,

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]Even if you believe that your opinion is right, does not make it so. It’s still wrong. And just because you can troll the internet finding others who share that misconception, again does not move it into the realm of fact, it merely means you’ve found like-minded people who are also wrong. Your wrong opinion is still wrong, and it has no validity. None.[/infobox]

The opinion that vaccines are neither safe nor effective is simply wrong. The vaccine deniers want to claim there is a scientific debate. No there’s not. The vaccine deniers want to claim that their opinion is more valid than the mountains of evidence. It isn’t.

Let’s make this clear – the antivaccination cult is wrong. We’re going with that assumption, because it is valid, and it is supported by mountains of evidence. And just because they whine loudly, they’re still wrong.

So how do they get there? Here are some of my “opinions” of what led them to being so wrong.

Continue reading “Opinion – vaccine deniers annoy the shit out of me”