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View Diary: Why People Distrust Science (250 comments)

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  •  Slight edit on your good point. (11+ / 0-)

    They have to prove their products work well enough to justify known harms.

    The FDA requires them to investigate known and unknown harms, such as drug toxicity, and to monitor harms that only appear after a drug launches and is taken by a large number of people.

    When harms are poorly characterized, and poorly understood, a drug can be pulled from the market. The extremely useful and effective drug Vioxx was pulled from the market because the risk of harm from long term treatment was not sufficiently understood to justify exposing patients to increased risk of death.

    I'll say that another way, the unintended effects when treating chronic pain with Vioxx over the long term - that is an urgent but non lethal problem.were not well understood.

    The drug was effective and safe for most people when used for short term pain management. But the uncertainty of the problem is what caused FDA to pull the drug and demand more research from all the makers of drugs in the same class.

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 10:16:02 AM PDT

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    •  An excecellent point and my philosophy of life (9+ / 0-)

      As someone who has crunched oodles of safety drug data, I think all of life is an equilibrium of risk/benefit .  All drugs are poisons, but some of them give you more benefit than their potential risk.  

      I think its a good metaphor about life.  We are not guaranteed good health, perfect employment or success in life.  We have to assess the data we have and go with the choice that seems to maximize  benefit over risk (and IMO, also not harm others!).  This is my problem with the anti-science crowd.  They seem to prefer not go through this process, but go with sensation, or what their friends think, or what some ignorant loud-mouth says.  Its frustrating to me.

      "Life is short, our work lasts longer" Rose Wilder Lane

      by HarpLady on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 10:23:46 AM PDT

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      •  Life is inherently risky (7+ / 0-)

        Most people don't want it to be. They know there's some risk, but they have no idea how to evaluate that risk, or even what info to look for to get that data, and no skill of how to look at it if they happen to stumble across it.

        The media is absolutely no help at all in this. If there's a small increase in an extremely rare cancer, they're all screaming omg the rate DOUBLED last year. They neglect to say that the number of cases went from 2 to 4 in the ENTIRE COUNTRY, it went from being super exceedingly rare to really exceedingly rare.

        Same with terrorist attacks. Your chance of being killed in a terrorist attack is vanishingly small. You have a much better chance of being struck by lightning. Same with shark attacks, or being mauled by a bear, or eaten by Bigfoot. (Ok, being eaten by Bigfoot might be a smaller chance - but not much smaller.)

        But people will worry about those things and then turn around and eat a horrible diet, not wear a seatbelt, and not see that the things they're doing, and that they have total control over, are much more likely to kill them than those random things that they have absolutely NO control over.

        •  People fear risks that they feel little control (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wishingwell, Lucy Montrose, JosephK74

          over much more than risks that they perceive they have control over, and this is true regardless of how much control they actually have. Thus, for example, most parents are far more afraid that their child will be sexually abused by a stranger than by someone closely known to and trusted by both the parent and child, even though the risk of the latter is 20 times higher. People tend to think of driving as one of the safest things they can do because they consider themselves good drivers and because nothing bad has happened to them yet.

          In the case of anti-vaxxers, sometimes the notion of control becomes truly delusional, with parents convinced that their love for their children guarantees that their children would survive any vaccine-preventable diseases. They don't stop to consider that, since children can and do die of VPDS, they're essentially saying that those kids' parents (read mothers) didn't love them enough. Nor do they consider that if they really did have that level of control, their love would also protect their kids against any harmful effects of vaccines.

          By the way, I've found that comparing a risk that someone overinflates to the risk of being struck by lightning doesn't work very well. People perceive, partially correctly, that most people who get struck by lightning do so when they're engaging in activities that they know carry that risk. What I've found better is to compare the risk to that of something that nobody thinks of as at all risky, but actually carries a higher risk than whatever they're worrying about (e.g. more kids are killed by TVs falling on them than <insert name of "risky" activity>).

          Personally, as a physician, I would be very concerned at a child becoming febrile after having ingested bleach or had it shot up his rectum—Orac (Respectful Insolence)

          by ebohlman on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 07:38:12 PM PDT

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          •  I think this is also why people fear plane crashes (0+ / 0-)

            more than car crashes, even though statistically you are much more likely to die in a car crash. You feel more in control driving a car. Even  when we're dying, we prefer to go out taking control.

            Real Democrats don't abandon the middle class. --John Kerry

            by Lucy Montrose on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 06:49:48 AM PDT

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            •  As an aviophobe (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lucy Montrose

              I concur that it is, for me, almost entirely about feeling out of control. From the moment that door shuts, I am now unable to do anything to preserve my life until the plane lands somewhere else and the door opens again. I can't get off. I can't ask the pilot to stop. I have no idea how to fly the plane myself. Even in a car, for example, I can always turn to my friend or whoever is driving--and usually, this is a person I have specifically CHOSEN to get into a car with and not a stranger--and say "hey could you slow down" or "why don't we stop and go to the bathroom" or whatever. I'm still partly in control of my fate.

              "What is essential is invisible to the eye."

              by greywolfe359 on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 09:42:06 AM PDT

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              •  It's important to remember, though (0+ / 0-)

                that fear of flying is hardly ever a result of not knowing risks, or not knowing how to assess them. It's really more an irrational (and known to the sufferer to be irrational) response to being in an enclosed space with lots of other people and not having the ability to get out of it at will. Although most self-identified geeks would have a hard time believing it, it isn't related to intelligence or academic ability at all.

                Where poor risk assessment comes in is when people view a certain number of people dying in a plane crash as being far more tragic (and warranting much greater corrective measures) than an equal or larger number of people dying in car crashes.

                Personally, as a physician, I would be very concerned at a child becoming febrile after having ingested bleach or had it shot up his rectum—Orac (Respectful Insolence)

                by ebohlman on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 02:29:33 PM PDT

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