By this point, this article by Amy Wallace in the most recent issue of Wired magazine has been much-linked, much-read, and discussed to death. On the chance that a few of our readers haven’t seen it, I thought it wise to link to it and share a few thoughts.
I’m not qualified to conduct an in-depth discussion about scientific expertise, and how the splintering of information across the internet has afforded a fringe element the opportunity to cherry pick the facts – correct or not – that best support a conspiracy theory. But I am qualified to say that challenging ideas is critical to science; what we need more of right now is science.
I’m also eager to extend sympathy to those who have been adversely affected by rare side effects of vaccines. Rigorous research into the uncommon genetic triggers for these events will continue to move already-safe vaccines to be safer, rare conditions to be even rarer. I think this is something everybody can support.
The thing that bothers me is the slow-but-steady trickle of sensationalized “news” that stops just short of advocating an anti-vaccine platform. By publicizing extreme statistical outliers, these reports and the people behind them generate a certain amount of panic around routine seasonal flu shots. It’s refreshing to read a quality piece of science journalism like Wallace’s article, but I fear that in the face of such emotional, hysteria-promoting news, good science journalism might be hopelessly overmatched.
Have you read any engaging works of science journalism lately? Share them in the comments.
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