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Thread: Why we need to teach science in school

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    Default Why we need to teach science in school

    I continue to note with concern the increased spread of the Measles outbreak in South Wales, now officially an epidemic.

    Congratulations to all those moronic parents who refused to allow their children to be given the MMR vaccine. Thanks to your stupidity, some child will probably die of measles complications, or some woman who comes into contact with the disease will mis-carry her baby. One is inclined to think that the original scaremongerer Andrew Wakefield should be charged with manslaughter in this circumstance. Its odd that the BBC still refer to him as "Dr" Andrew Wakefield, when in fact he was struck off by the GMC.

    Teaching people science allows people to discriminate between what is scientifically-verified evidence and what is speculation. The whole sorry MMR saga illustrates how important it is that we have a scientifically literate population. Personally, I would like the see the MMR vaccine compulsory, and would like to see parents charged with neglect if they refuse to allow their child to be vaccinated.
    Last edited by Northumbrian; 04-13-2013 at 11:51 AM.

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    It's 100% the fault of Andrew Wakefield. The media and reporters (specialist and general) and others should have researched more fully the information they passed on. But media and parents (who only wanted what was best for their children) can't really be blamed — they could not get a definitive convincing response from the health authorities...

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    Ever tried to decipher the so called information for safe use on a packet of headache pills. There are usually thirty good reasons to throw them away and put up with the headache. How much harder then if just one Quake, doctor is given national coverage by the press, questioning the safety of your child. As ever the only two questions we should be asking , are , Who put him up to this? And Why?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mack View Post
    Ever tried to decipher the so called information for safe use on a packet of headache pills. There are usually thirty good reasons to throw them away and put up with the headache.
    The difference being that putting up with your headache will not put the well-being of others at risk, unlike refusing to have your child vaccinated with MMR. I don't believe that anyone put Wakefield up to it, although I can understand your suspicions given the rather nefarious way in which pharmaceutical companies can sometimes operate. I think Wakefield just wanted to make a name for himself, and the media happily obliged by giving sensational coverage to his unfounded claims.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patman Post View Post
    It's 100% the fault of Andrew Wakefield. The media and reporters (specialist and general) and others should have researched more fully the information they passed on. But media and parents (who only wanted what was best for their children) can't really be blamed — they could not get a definitive convincing response from the health authorities...
    The health authorities and the government of the day (I think it was Blair) did respond appropriately that there was no evidence of a link between MMR and autism. The problem was that once the media had sensationalised Wakefield's claims, some parents who were not scientifically literate or were distrustful for other reasons refused to accept the official advice. Many also held the unscientific opinion that because Measles was apparently no longer around, it was not necessary to innoculate your child against it. Once again, any parent who was capable of reading and understanding an article in a popular science magazine (say New Scientist), and who had a basic understanding of the scientific method would not have come to the conclusion that withholding MMR from your child was the right thing to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Northumbrian View Post
    The health authorities and the government of the day (I think it was Blair) did respond appropriately that there was no evidence of a link between MMR and autism. The problem was that once the media had sensationalised Wakefield's claims, some parents who were not scientifically literate or were distrustful for other reasons refused to accept the official advice. Many also held the unscientific opinion that because Measles was apparently no longer around, it was not necessary to innoculate your child against it. Once again, any parent who was capable of reading and understanding an article in a popular science magazine (say New Scientist), and who had a basic understanding of the scientific method would not have come to the conclusion that withholding MMR from your child was the right thing to do.
    So why wasn,t this clown just blasted out of the water by the multitude of scientific intelligence out there? How can sixth form science make that much difference , if the whole scientific body could not show certainty and leadership? This wasn,t the first time such a scare had influenced the use of a vaccine, it happened with , Whooping cough, and the pressures that went with dismissing the fears and accepting the considered benefits, were of the sort that stayed with you for months, before you could be sure your child was OK. Medical science is not infallible, and thats what parents in general do know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mack View Post
    So why wasn,t this clown just blasted out of the water by the multitude of scientific intelligence out there? How can sixth form science make that much difference , if the whole scientific body could not show certainty and leadership?
    He was blasted out of the water - he got struck off by the medical council (eventually - these things take some time). The scientific community tried to make their point clear, but you cannot blame them when the media get hold of a speculation and sensationalise it. After all, the speculation (MMR jab causes Autism) was far sexier from a media point of view than the reality (MMR prevents Measles, Mumps and Rubella and has no proven connection with Autism). Parents whose kids had been diagnosed with Autism after they had been given the MMR jab were interviewed on the news (though of course the millions of parents whose children had been given MMR but didn't have Autism were not interviewed!). Obviously the parents of the Autistic kids believed the MMR jab was to blame, despite the fact there was no proven causal link. Unfortunately, the scientifically illiterate are more likely to sympathise with those parents, than a man in a white suit talking about double-blind tests and standard deviations. Of course, once a speculation is circulating, it is never easy to prove a negative. It is like trying to disprove the existence of Ghosts or UFO's. Despite all common sense that such things don't exist, it is actually hard to scientifically disprove them!

    Its not a question of understanding the science, which is obviously very specialised. It is about understanding how the process of science operates. How a hypothesis has to be tested many times and peer-reviewed before it becomes an accepted theory. How a positive result has to be statistically significant from the "random noise" in any study. Even GCSE science, never mind A level, should give a citizen a rudimentary understanding of these ideas, and thus equip them to discriminate between speculation and a proven link.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mack View Post
    This wasn,t the first time such a scare had influenced the use of a vaccine, it happened with , Whooping cough, and the pressures that went with dismissing the fears and accepting the considered benefits, were of the sort that stayed with you for months, before you could be sure your child was OK. Medical science is not infallible, and thats what parents in general do know.
    Obviously medical science is not infallible. However, it operates on the best evidence that it has available to it at a particular time. With any new drug or vaccine, the positive benefits are weighed up against any proven side effects - and new drugs are extensively tested and trialled to find any side effects. Of course mistakes like Thalidomide have happened in the past, and some people are paranoid and mistrustful. However, can you really advice a parent that the most caring and responsible action is NOT to put their trust in medical science? I certainly couldn't.
    Last edited by Northumbrian; 04-14-2013 at 06:54 PM.

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    We weren't taught about measles. Yes poor news though and it's coming to London !
    I just had my jab today after hearing the news.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheese monster View Post
    We weren't taught about measles. Yes poor news though and it's coming to London !
    I just had my jab today after hearing the news.
    I can't remember measles being so virulent when I was a kid..you got spotty..had a week off school..

    As for Andrew Wakefield..the jury is still out...I think there must be many parents asking themselves why that after an MMR jab my child became autistic..when they weren't before..

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    Listening to Wakefield on the radio last night made me realise what a dangerous nutter he's turned out to be. There he was, not only still peddling his well-disproved theory about MMR, but also extolling the virtues of diet as a cure for autism...

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