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Vaccine deniers use logical fallacies to prove superiority

The natural immunity fallacy.
The natural immunity fallacy.

I frequently employ the term Logical Fallacy to demonstrate a logical or rational failure of a particular argument, especially those who adhere to anti-science or even pseudoscience points of view, like antivaccinationists. Logical fallacies are used to win arguments, despite the merits of said argument.  It’s also used to divert the reader (or listener) to a totally irrelevant point, but has the illusion of being logical.  

There are several definitions of what constitutes a logical fallacy:

A logical fallacy is, roughly speaking, an error of reasoning. When someone adopts a position, or tries to persuade someone else to adopt a position, based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy.–Logical Fallacies

An argument that sometimes fools human reasoning, but is not logically valid.–Fallacious Argument

In logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is usually an improper argumentation in reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption. By accident or design, fallacies may exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor (appeal to emotion), or take advantage of social relationships between people (e.g. argument from authority). Fallacious arguments are often structured using rhetorical patterns that obscure any logical argument.–Wikipedia

Generally, in discussions or debates, those who lack scientific evidence (which is based on the logical scientific method), have only one choice–resort to one of many logical fallacies. Over time, distinct types of logical fallacies that help define a failure of a pseudoscientific argument. Let’s look at one that is popular with the antivaccination crowd.
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How pseudoscience tries to fool you

Editor’s note: This article has been updated and divided into a multi-part article. The comment section has been closed, so go to the new article if you want to make a suggestion, make a comment, disagree, or make us laugh. 

Pseudoscience is enticing partially because it’s easy and partially because it gives black and white false dichotomies about the natural world, including medicine. Pseudoscience tries to make an argument with the statement of “it’s been proven to work”, “the link is proven”, or, alternatively, they state some negative about scientifically supported therapies. It really  has an appeal to it because it digest complex analysis to a simple “yes, this works.”

For example, real science has debunked the “there is a proven link between vaccines and autism,” a common and popular pseudoscientific belief.  Or that most alternative medicine (CAM) therapies work based on numerous logical fallacies that suspends reason, and accepts “belief” in the therapy, something that evidence-based medicine just doesn’t do.

So, I decided to highlight what separates real science from pseudoscience. We’ll explore what exactly makes an idea scientific (and spoiler alert, it isn’t magic), and contrary to real science, what makes an idea “pseudoscientific.” So sit down, grab your favorite reading beverage, because this isn’t going to be a quick internet meme. I intend to show you the lies of pseudoscience, and how it’s used with creationism, vaccine denialism, alternative medicine, or whatever you want to debunk. Read More »How pseudoscience tries to fool you

The history of the anti-vaccination movement, includes a theme song

The rousing anti-vaccination hymn.

Sometimes I run across articles and posts just because someone I follow on Twitter or Facebook will post a link that I happen to catch.  Of course, I miss about 95% of what’s posted because I just don’t have the time to read them all.  One person’s postings gets checked more frequently, since she focuses on vaccines, autism, and health care myths of all sorts.  I ran across her while reading comments that followed an article in the LA Times (the story has long been deleted from my overloaded memory cells).  She was responding to someone who maintained parents of autistic children were cheating the government out of disability payments.  Let’s just say she was much nicer than I was.

Today, she posted a link to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia‘s History of Vaccines blog, which I had never seen before.  I could go on about how much information is out there in the internet, but I pick and choose what I read and don’t read.  This blog will be on the “must read” list.Read More »The history of the anti-vaccination movement, includes a theme song