Ethical Challenges in Health Policy

Location

Harkins 300, Providence College

Event Website

http://www.providence.edu/hpm/Pages/Conference.aspx

Start Date

31-3-2012 2:30 PM

End Date

31-3-2012 4:00 PM

Description

In the 20th century, vaccines were heralded as one of the greatest medical inventions in history. In the late 1990’s, however, the myth of vaccine-caused autism caught fire. Despite mountains of evidence disproving the link, panicking Americans eschewed vaccines and turned against their physicians. Why did Americans turn their backs on doctors, scientists, and the health industry? This paper follows the vaccine controversy of the last thirty years, looking in particular at the relationship between science and the media. This paper analyzes the contrast between discussion of the hypothesized link in scientific circles and in popular news sources, seeking to understand how average Americans learn about scientific discoveries and why, in the case of vaccines, fear mongering celebrities and journalists were more persuasive than scientists and doctors. This study shows how the mystery of autism, American resentment of the elite, and mistrust of the government empowered the sensationalist anti-vaccine movement and sparked a fear of vaccines that went against all science and reason.

 
Mar 31st, 2:30 PM Mar 31st, 4:00 PM

Sick With Fear: Popular Challenges to Scientific Authority in the Vaccine Controversies of the 21st Century

Harkins 300, Providence College

In the 20th century, vaccines were heralded as one of the greatest medical inventions in history. In the late 1990’s, however, the myth of vaccine-caused autism caught fire. Despite mountains of evidence disproving the link, panicking Americans eschewed vaccines and turned against their physicians. Why did Americans turn their backs on doctors, scientists, and the health industry? This paper follows the vaccine controversy of the last thirty years, looking in particular at the relationship between science and the media. This paper analyzes the contrast between discussion of the hypothesized link in scientific circles and in popular news sources, seeking to understand how average Americans learn about scientific discoveries and why, in the case of vaccines, fear mongering celebrities and journalists were more persuasive than scientists and doctors. This study shows how the mystery of autism, American resentment of the elite, and mistrust of the government empowered the sensationalist anti-vaccine movement and sparked a fear of vaccines that went against all science and reason.

http://digitalcommons.providence.edu/auchs/2012/panelc1/2