Media Shouldn't Include Anti-Vax Opinions

Avatar for Cmmelissa
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Registered: 11-13-2008
Media Shouldn't Include Anti-Vax Opinions
Wed, 11-13-2013 - 3:41pm

What do you think about this author's opinion that mainstream media should not include anti-vax information because it provides a false balance of information: 

A recent study reports that stories about vaccines that include false balance are actually more dangerous than those that are purely anti-vaccine. Yes, you read that correctly. Stories that offer both sides of the coin can have a greater negative influence on people’s decision to not vaccinate than those that are purely anti-vaccine.

Let’s drill down on it a little further. In the study, 320 undergraduate students were assigned a news item presenting either claims both for and against a vaccine/autism link (false balance), a purely anti-vax "vaccines-definitely-cause-autism" article and a "there is no link" article.

Unsurprisingly, the participants who read the article saying vaccines cause autism indicated they would be less likely to have their children vaccinated in the future. But what was surprising was those who read the false balance article were even less confident about the safety of vaccines than the "vaccines-definitely-cause-autism" article.

The authors suggested the reasons for this may be that false balance elicits a stronger perception that experts are divided, or that experts truly are uncertain whether vaccines cause autism (let me make this crystal clear, there is no good evidence to support a link between vaccines and autism, but as an urban myth it is an unsinkable rubber duck).

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What do you think?