I’ve long been a fan of the YouTube channel SciShow, despite them having nearly a million times more subscribers than my own channel Risk Bites! Hank Green and his team have produced some extremely accessible and smart videos on public health since the channel started three years ago, and these should be at the top of any list of educational resources on the science of public health.
Yesterday, the team posted a particularly good video on the anti-vaccination movement. Unlike many commentators from within the science community, instead of vilifying parents who don’t get their kids vaccinated – or are hesitant about doing so – Green takes a science-grounded look at why people reject vaccines.
Green leaves no doubt from the get-go that there is no link between vaccines and autism. But he is sympathetic to why people may come to this conclusion, based on how our minds work and the inbuilt biases we all have. This reflexiveness is not only refreshing – it’s also critical if we are to address major public health issues like measles that depend on trust, empathy and partnerships, as well as the science that underpins the decisions we collectively make.
To push this home, Green concludes:
“Next time you find yourself frustrated about the decline in vaccinations in America, remember that it’s only because of the dramatic success of vaccines that we could even think of having this debate, and that those anti-vaccine activists are being driven by the exact same logic traps and cognitive biases that every one of us suffers from. Only by understanding and accepting these psychological pitfalls that we’re all so susceptible to will we be able to solve this problem. And that’s what science is all about.”
Watch the full video above – I’d highly recommend it