Archive for vaccines

Skeptical Blogging and Preaching to the Choir

Posted in conspiracy thinking, pseudoscience, skepticism with tags , , , , , , on June 26, 2010 by cpolsonb

The first time I seriously considered starting a blog was at a local Perth Skeptics event. The guest speaker was Kristjan Wager who runs the ProScience blog. He was talking to us about skeptical blogging in general, what got him started, what it involves and how he has found it. One of the guests there asked a rather pointed question about whether skeptical blogging serves any practical purpose, and whether we are merely “preaching to the choir” as they say. I’ve heard this sort of sentiment repeated elsewhere; the view that the blogosphere is merely an “echo chamber” of like minded individuals patting each other on the back. These people argue that our efforts would be best served elsewhere, maybe handing out leaflets on a street corner or engaging in direct confrontation of forums. In my short time as a blogger I have found that the reality is actually very different.

Thanks to the in-depth traffic statistics that wordpress keeps for all it’s blogs, I have been able to observe where the majority of my traffic comes from. Contrary to the echo chamber hypothesis, my statistics indicate that a good deal of traffic comes from search terms not typically associated with the skeptically mindset. Right up front the big exception to this conclusion is from very top search term “richard dawkins” or “dawkins” which has accounted for a full 9.54% of my total views. Who’s to say however that all those people searching for dawkins are doing so from a skeptical mindset? After dawkins the most popular search terms of all time are “omega point theory criticism” which I will concede seems like a directly skeptical search. Then you get into “global temperatures” & “earth’s atmosphere” which while still scientific indicate that non-skeptics may be stumbling upon my skeptical rundown of climate change denial.

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Vaccines in the Local News and AVN Update

Posted in health, News, pseudoscience, skepticism with tags , , , , on February 28, 2010 by cpolsonb

This little article comes from the February 23rd edition of the “Eastern Reporter”, the local community newspaper in my slice of Perth. I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything science or pseudoscience related in future issues and reporting my thoughts.

Not really a whole lot to say on this one, just pleasing to see something pro-vaccination in the media. It’s not even all that surprising and it’s sometimes easy to forget that most people seem to be largely sensible, mature, intelligent and generally pro-science. Like most issues it’s the vocal minorities who tend to have the loudest voice, amplifying gradually as you diverge from the mean until a sudden decrease in amplitude once you enter timecube territory.

Perhaps this caught my eye in particular as it comes hot on the heels of the deceptively titled “Australian Vaccination Network” appearing the be on the verge of collapse. For those of you who weren’t aware the AVN (headed by Meryl Dorey) is the stronghold of the anti-vaccination movement in Australia since it was founded in 1994. Since that time they have launched a continual mis-information campaign spreading dangerous lies and paranoid conspiracy thinking under the guise of “public awareness”.

Click to read open letter to parents from the Australian Skeptics

Even the title of their organization is deceptive, why can’t they just call themselves what they are, the “Australian Anti-Vaccination Network”. Just last year in 2009 a complaint was filed by Ken McLeod in conjunction with the Australian Skeptics against the organization to the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission. In addition to this the Australian Skeptics published an excellent advertisement in “The Australian” last year providing an evidence based retaliation to claims of the AVN and a plea to the parents of Australia.

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