18 Responses to On treating with respect

  1. rpg says:

    Thanks Alice. It’s aimed as much at me as anyone else.

  2. Jackie Potter says:

    Thank you. You’ve put it beautifully. x

  3. Colin says:

    We are all emotional creatures and respond much more strongly to emotion than reason. This goes for scientists as much as anyone else. If you are trying to change someone’s mind about something you need to remind yourself of that about every 10 seconds.

  4. Stephen says:

    Nice work Richard. Relevant and topical. I’ve been thinking about this issue of ‘tone’ after recent eruptions on twitter about astrology and the alt. med. exhibition at the Science Museum (which I hope to visit soon). All the while I have been reading Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World” – always skeptical, Sagan is unfailingly understanding of the mis-understanding of others about ‘the science’. That strikes me as the way to do it.

  5. rpg says:

    Thanks all. (Wow, I pushed this live, then went into a meeting. Ninety minutes later twitter and my email can haz asplode.)

    The video is from Kylie, I read from the comments on Jackie’s own blog post.

  6. cromercrox says:

    I was in exactly the same position as you. Exactly. Very well put.

  7. Paula says:

    Very clear and insightful. Respect must be the basis of any discussion. Thanks, Richard,

  8. rpg says:

    Thanks Paula.

    Henry, yes: I saw your comment on Jackie’s post. Very difficult, it was.

  9. ricardipus says:

    The effects of Wakefield are astonishing in how far-reaching they are. When I tell people I work on the genetics of autism, what do you suppose the first question I get asked is? In fact, it’s almost the *only* question I’m asked.

    My kids are younger than yours (or Henry’s) and I think we may have more-or-less missed most of the vaccination controversy – which also seems to have been less strong here in Canada than in the UK. I don’t recall having any trepidation about the standard MMR triple, nor do I recall our family doc cautioning us against it. Whether this is because we were all well-informed, or alternatively not at all well informed about the controversy, I just don’t know.

  10. rpg says:

    I have a feeling it wasn’t big over the Pond. The madness confined more or less to these shores, I guess? Also having difficulty remembering if it was a big deal in Australia.

  11. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    I thought that was a very interesting point in Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science – in the UK the vaccine scare was over the combination MMR, while in the US it was over the mercury-based preservatives used in a different set of vaccines, and in France they worried about the Hep B shot causing MS. He argued that the fact the controversies were different in each location meant they were all much less likely to be true. Of course, though, the media in each location didn’t mention the fact that their counterparts in other countries were talking about completely different vaccine scares, so no-one was able to make that connection until well after the fact!

    Thus proving your point about ignorance (as in an honest lack of pertinent information) not being the same as stupidity. (Although the two do overlap, and willful ignorance is a whole other argument!)

  12. Great post. I would just add the possibility that many people whose political motivations (broadly defined) shape their response to issues where scientific evidence is germane, are unlikely to be able to see themselves as biased. Their political stance frames their understanding of the world, of arguments, and of what constitutes convincing evidence. It is precisely because of their stance (which to them is not their politics but their insight) that they can see what is right and what is wrong. Having myself recently been on the receiving end of a fairly aggressive and distinctly un-evidence-based volley from a self-appointed arbiter of what counts as ‘scientific’ I am more sure than ever that this is something that all of use, even the greatest ‘skeptics’, can be guilty of.

  13. ricardipus says:

    @rpg – Well, remember that two of the biggest proponents over here were big stars: Jenny McCarthy (American) and her then-boyfriend Jim Carrey (Canadian, I hang my head in shame). Definitely didn’t get as much play as on your side of the pond, but those two blowing smoke about it certainly raised the profile a lot.

  14. rpg says:


    And of course, Kieron, the self-proclaimed ‘enlightened’ can suffer the same disease.

    Cath, I hadn’t grasped the implications of the different country’s media telling different stories. I wonder if we’d get the same effect now, 10 years down the road with twitter and whatnot?

    Of course, Ricardipus: I was forgetting that your crew were/are anti-vax completely, not just anti-MMR.

  15. chall says:

    I love the video! Very good to get reminded and learn some new ways of thinking about it. It’s not all about facts but feeling in your gut etc… and the anecdotes…

    I would say that the anti-vax / anti-MMR here in the US AFAIK it is fairly big, but based in two different camps. The “educated people” who are opposed it partly based on mercury and adjuvants (in the US only alum is FDA approved for use in humans….) and then the people who think “the vaccines are contaminated and out to hurt our children” (people not trusting the government due to various reasons).

    You could see variation in the numbers of [child] vaccinations of MMR (as well as other vaccinations) in California, Texas and north-East New England corner compared to Iowa/Wisconsin/other places… there are some interesting hot spots ^^

    Then there are the incidents with “Gulf War syndrome” and family of soldiers who has gotten sick after “military shots” but that might be a very different ball game?!? But that has lead to a bit of distrust towards vaccinations. I’ve had some interesting discussions when I presented research on flu vaccinations last time – still have a hard time answering the “why would pharma want to make a bad vaccine?” since money wise it doesn’t make sense to me… but maybe it does?

  16. chall says:

    [one added fact, Cervarix is the only vaccine in the US that has an other type of adjuvant… ASO4 – alum and monophosphoryl lipid A. Just to be accurate in my former statement.]

  17. rpg says:

    Funnily enough I’ve just answered a comment about vaccine intolerance over at the other place: http://blog.the-scientist.com/2011/02/09/treating-with-respect/comment-page-1/#comment-5190.

    Glad you enjoyed the video, Chall!