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vaccine open-mindedness

Vaccine open-mindedness – confessions of a science nerd

Sometimes a reasonably intelligent anti-vaccine troll will show up to an internet discussion. Although they’re filled with various logical fallacies, like cherry picking, they will often say “you should be open-minded about vaccines causing autism.” The thing is my vaccine open-mindedness is the precise definition of what should be open-minded.

People conflate “open-mindedness” with “you should accept everything stated, because of insert logical fallacy here.”

Let’s use my favorite example, sasquatch, the mythical ape-like creature that inhabits everywhere, as far as I know.

A close-minded person would say, “sasquatch exists, damn the evidence.”

A pseudo-open-minded person would say, “sasquatch exists, because the Federal government is suppressing the evidence. Furthermore, just because we don’t have evidence today, we know we’ll find it tomorrow.”

A real open-minded person would say, “sasquatch does not exist, because of the utter lack of evidence. However, if someone brings irrefutable evidence, I will reconsider my position.”

In other words, a really open-minded person doesn’t have to be open-minded to the hypothesis proposed, just open to the evidence. I am pretty certain that sasquatch does not exist – that’s not being close-minded. Because what I would actually say is that “I reviewed the highest quality evidence, and I found nothing that would support the hypothesis that sasquatch exists.”

As someone once said, “keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.” In fact, scientific progression is utterly dependent upon open-mindedness.

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Pseudoscience, science and false dichotomy

It’s always interesting to observe how people make arguments to defend their points-of-view or to debunk the opposing point.  In general, arguments will employ various logical fallacies to confuse the other side or even to convince the audience that the other side is wrong.  In the science vs. pseudoscience world, we mostly find that those arguing for a pseudoscience (creationism, anti-vaccination, global warming denialism, homeopathy, and many many others) use logical fallacies to discredit the science. Of course, we can find many instances of science itself using the same fallacies to dispute alternative scientific ideas or theories.Read More »Pseudoscience, science and false dichotomy