I Need a Weapon Stronger Than Facts (Debunking Bad Science)

tell me again about your scientific source

I’m tired people, I’m really tired. I’ve gone off about vaccines quite a few times, trying to convince people vaccines are safe and should be used (1,2,&3). Honestly it isn’t the writing about it that takes the time and makes you tired, nor is it the arguing. It is how it creeps into your head when you are idle. You find your mind drifting, how can these people really think that vaccines are hurting people. These days my mind drifts about a lot of what’s going on in the world, but that is a story for a different blog.

But really, what more can I say to them?

Misinformation spreads faster than the illnesses the vaccines are trying to curb. It’s like whack-a-mole. Toward the end of the game after you put your token in, three or four would go up at a time and only knew I had two hands (which was effectively one because the mallet was so big in my hands). Also, the payout was never good, what am I going to get with three tickets?!?! I really don’t need another plastic pirate eye patch.

Shaming doesn’t work, as it rarely does and you end up looking worse. News of outbreaks doesn’t work. Pictures of kids with the diseases don’t work. Speaking from my scientific background doesn’t work. Trolling their Facebook page doesn’t work. The facts generated by that data I give them are just no match for that friend of a friend of a friend. But this isn’t The Oracle of Bacon, this is real life where real sources should be used.

When it comes down to it, I need a weapon stronger than facts.

Because fighting for cures is one thing (races, vigils, and awareness ribbons are great), but it is exhausting fighting to even fight for the opportunity to find cures. It is exhausting fighting against the people who believe we have all the answers, but think we hold them to watch people die. It is exhausting fighting against people who reject the cures we find only to spread lies of what we do, which they know nothing of.

They argue to prove that the science is wrong with no understanding of the real problem. They do it to win. They do it to make scientists look dumb. They shift the argument to do so which makes it difficult for people who deal in facts and expressing trends of data to keep up. Here is a great example of that principle.

I fight to save lives. WE fight to saves lives. If I am preaching to the choir then the choir needs to SING LOUDER. I have seen the pictures of bad infections in the most vulnerable group. Children. Google the pictures if you dare. We can stop that, and MUCH more. No one needs that grief or heart break. Fighting the spread of misinformation takes away from fighting disease. People walk miles and miles for the help you openly refuse.

So what do we do? What is a weapon stronger than the truth?

Perhaps a different approach is needed versus an fact assault. We need to ask the questions, not try to answer them all. Maybe if they can realize that they don’t have the real answers, then they might seek the answers or the facts. Maybe it is possible to ask questions to give information.

So as a starting point, before truly engaging, ask a person,

“Are there a set of facts (or anything under the sun) that I could present to you that would change your mind?”

This has to be the first question, because if the answer is no, you need to be able to move on because it will be lost cause to engage. Your sanity might depend on it, otherwise you are back to playing whack-a-mole for another eye patch or worse yet, the back scratcher (some of those are more useless than candy corn, shots fired).

A reasonable person should say yes or at the very least they don’t know. If either, ask what it would take and hopefully then, you can at least have a discussion. At the very least, they might be open to it. Maybe the new heard immunity can be against those that refuse to even look or consider facts and continue to speak from ignorance. (Wait, am I still talking about just vaccines?)



One response to “I Need a Weapon Stronger Than Facts (Debunking Bad Science)

  1. Pseudoscientific hucksters can spew bogus claims much faster than they can be refuted by facts. Even if you devote all your time to the effort, engaging them in a “debate” is a trap, as it only serves to elevate their ideas to something worthy of consideration, while they blithely ignore all refutations and keep going. You’re on the right track; rationalists must question their epistemology, and stay on that level.

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