Health Care and Life Sciences
Context: The readings in this set discuss three contemporary situations about which large groups of people have adopted beliefs and have persisted in believing them in spite of overwhelming factual and scientific data. The false beliefs discussed in this set are: ? That Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks ? That climate change is not occurring or isn’t important ? That childhood vaccinations cause autism. Prasad et al claim that “the presence or absence of correct information” is not the cause of false beliefs or misperceptions. Instead, those misperceptions result from various kinds of “motivated reasoning” (1). Washington and Haydn also claim that lack of information does not explain people’s denial. They say that instead it is due to “psychological, emotional, and behavioral barriers” (8). They present five types of “denial arguments” that apply to almost all “denial movements” (9).
Question: Why and how do people continue to believe that vaccinations cause autism, in spite of substantial evidence that their belief is not true? To answer this question, use the explanations offered by Prasad et al in “There Must Be a Reason,” and by Washington and Haydn in the two selections from Climate Change Denial, to analyze the history of the vaccination controversy presented by Specter in “Vaccines and the Great Denial.” Be sure to define and employ relevant key terms, which may include “motivated reasoning,” “denial arguments,” and “denial movements.
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