It’s all too easy to call someone stupid when they disagree with you. Understandable, but wrong nonetheless.
This does not mean they’re stupid.
The first type of person is difficult to argue with, and even when faced with overwhelming evidence is unlikely to change their mind. Calling them names doesn’t help—it’s probably safest to state the rational arguments, and walk away. Engage with people who are genuinely seeking truth, but for the politically motivated there is nothing you can do.
But being insulting, rude or dismissive to the second group is counterproductive, and makes you (and your cause) look bad. These may be intelligent people, but missing facts or skills to make sense of data, or who are too close emotionally to a problem to be entirely rational.
Just after my first daughter was born, the whole MMR/autism thing blew up. I was a senior scientist at a small biotech company in Cambridge. I had no idea whether the press reports could be believed, or what was behind those reports even if true. I didn’t have ready access to the Wakefield paper, and I wouldn’t have known how to deal with clinical data anyway. Unwilling to risk the MMR, my daughter’s first jab was a single vaccine. As a parent I was (and still am) emotionally invested in the health of my daughter. My resolve was only hardened by the actions of the then-Prime Minister, who refused to say whether his infant son had received the triple immunization, and the government’s nannying of the issue.
Then, when it became apparent that the basis for the autism link was specious, I changed my mind and consented to the MMR for subsequent boosters and my second daughter. That I changed my mind doesn’t mean I was stupid—it simply means I became more informed.
Which is why this video is important.
People who refuse vaccines for their children, or use homeopathy, might well be wrong. But they are not necessarily stupid, and we shouldn’t treat them as such.
Cross-posted from the work gig.