Thursday, April 1, 2010

NOT an April Fools' Joke... seriously.

If you are a new junkie of any of the following stripes; Western Canada, Vancouver, Anti or Pro-Vax, Infectious diseases that ought to be nearly eradicated.... You may have heard that there has been a measles outbreak in the greater Vancouver area.

It's all covered in this article.

All issues with the quality of reporting aside - which to be honest, I haven't effectively assessed - I take a certain level of solace from this article.  Not because an outbreak of measles amongst the un-vaccinated serves to further the proof of the efficacy of vaccines.  This is absolutely one of those cases where one hates to be right - like that hunch I had that there were no WMDs in Iraq.  What pleases me is the plus/minus ratio in the comments.

Take a peek at the comments.  The number of thumbs up to thumbs down on each comment can serve as a predictor of the comments.

Are the votes on the comments more than two to one thumbs up?  Then the chances are that the content is (gratifyingly) based on rational thought and real science.

Are the votes on the comments more than two to one thumbs down?  Then chances are the content of the comment is (written by poster 'loandtreys_mom' and) based on at least one logical fallacy and is rank and file anti-vax bullshit.

If the votes are pretty much even there is a pretty good chance that the content is incomprehensible.

I really want to take the comforting position that this means that the average joe has tuned in to the fact that vaccinations are generally good and that anti-vax propaganda tends towards unmitigated intellectual sewage.  But that is kind of what standard CAM (and other magical thinking) dreams are about, isn't it?  Taking the comforting explanation to an uncomfortable circumstance.

The commenters on both side of the argument are self-selected; it's hardly a scientific sampling of public opinion... but some days we critical thinkers need a sign that we're having a positive effect... even if it is a possibly spurious one.  No sign at all is just too soul-sucking to consider, and only leads to skeptical burn-out.

So here we have just a little extra nitrous for the tanks.

Happy April Fools' Day, fellow skeptics.

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