Saturday, June 21, 2008

No vaccination against bullshit

Time carries a story about Gardasil, Merck's human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which is an attempt to prevent the cervical cancer that is a common sequela of its sexually transmitted and often asymptomatic infection. You probably have had it.

The Time story is completely useless. It's a he-said-she-said between parents whose children had some adverse health event after a vaccination and scientists who say there's no statistically significant correlation. But of course the anecdotes are much more vivid than the confidence intervals, so they get much more ink.

The constant exhibition in our media of post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies helps keep us all stupid. It's why most of us still believe that a full moon brings out the crazies - if we run into a crazy driver and notice the moon is full (or even almost), we leap to the false conclusion that the full moon caused the craziness.

1 comment:

Laura said...

AMEN!!! Unfortunately more people want to believe anecdotal evidence than be rational, hence my general shift into a much calmer isolated existence :-). Tired of arguing with people.