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View Diary: The belly of the anti-science beast (150 comments)

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  •  how the goalposts move and what to do: (1+ / 0-)
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    The anti-vaxer is afraid.  Fear is a neurochemical soup, and those chemicals, like psychoactive drugs, have half-lives and durations of action.

    She speaks to you from within that state of fear.

    You reply.

    Her fear has still not worn off, so she replies from within the state of fear.  Clearly you haven't persuaded her because she's still afraid; or rather, she is still afraid so she believes you haven't persuaded her.  

    You reply again.

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

    To you it appears as if she's moved the goalposts.  

    To her it appears that you have not assuaged her fear, so her fear is still valid.  

    One way to get through to someone in that condition is to keep the conversation going for long enough to get past the half-life of the fear, which I'm going to estimate is about 2 hours (4-hour duration of action is typical of most psychoactive drugs with a few obvious exceptions such as LSD).  

    Another way to get through to them is to deliberately induce an emotional state that is not neurophysiologically compatible with the state of fear.   Two come to mind:  humor and love.   I would suggest starting with love: love of your families, your children, your country.  Love is the neurochemical opposite of fear (adrenal hormones vs. endorphins & oxytocin (the trust chemical)).  

    Start with love and then go to humor, but it has to be non-adversarial humor: G-rated funny stuff that anyone can laugh at.  I don't know that we know the neurochemistry of humor, but functionally it appears that laughter has a few things in common with mild epilepsy: a self-reinforcing feedback loop that appears to be primarily electrical rather than chemical (you can observe the affected area of the brain in terms of EEG signals).

    Having done those things, you reduce the other person's fear, and then can make a reasoned arguement and have it addressed at its own level.  

    This is nothing more than applying the findings of one branch of science, toward the public debate about other branches of science.

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