Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who Needs Perspective When Fear Sells?

I keep telling myself that this is a chemistry blog and I should write about chemistry more. I think it would be kind of fun, for example, to do a nice little primer/tutorial on pH or pushing electrons. Unfortunately every time I sit down and scan the web, I come across some very seriously misinformed views and anti-science paranoia. I find I’m like a moth to a flame, I can’t resist the impulse to rebut all the burning stupid out there. Lately it’s the Daily Mail, a UK Tabloid, that’s getting under my skin. They have another scare story about vaccines, this time focusing on the swine flu vaccine.

I thought I’d write a post about it, but at the time I was just too fucking bored with this sort of bullshit. I did however email the story to a bunch of people who make it their business to care about this sort of thing and Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, emailed back with Steve Novella’s take on the ridiculousness of the Daily Mail’s insinuations.

All of Novella’s points, as he himself highlights, are essentially expressed in the article. What the article does however, and it’s painfully obvious they’re doing it, is play down these points and play up perspective from a vocal minority of people with dubious authority and tenuous relevance to the situation at hand. So much of it is framing, and I can’t help but find it extremely distressing. If framing is a substitute for facts, then we’re in real trouble people.

1 comment:

  1. As a UK bod, I can tell you that this is run-of-the-mill for the Mail. It's a terrible peddler of mis-information and scare tactics. There's a fantastic blog (not mine I hasten to add!) which exposes this on a regular basis, at


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