Case study: The Vaccination Problem
Vaccination is a topic of paramount social importance. We live longer and healthier lives, and medical research and innovation have been a driver for this for many years. Vaccination is one of the most important pillars of public health, but they also raise a lot of concern. In many countries some vaccines are mandatory. Where is the truth? What are the real choices we have - as individuals and as a society? How can we make sure that we have an informed opinion on this topic?
Recommended for: high school students, university students, adults
Tags: vaccines, healthcare, conspiracy theories, disinformation, eradicated diseases, herd immunity, religious beliefs
Building block 5. Vaccines safety and adverse effects
Vaccines are generally considered safe and effective but according to some sources are also to be blamed for causing autism. The topic of mandatory vaccination creates fertile ground for misinformation and disinformation. This building block explores the ratio between vaccines safety and adverse effects.
1. Frequency and severity of adverse vaccine reactions
https://vaccine-safety-training.org/frequency-and-severity.html [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
2. The science is clear: Vaccines are safe, effective, and do not cause autism
https://hub.jhu.edu/2017/01/11/vaccines-autism-public-health-expert/ [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
3. Doctors share vaxxer stories
https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/doctors-anti-vaxx-stories [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
4. Research fraud catalyzed the anti-vaccination movement. Let’s not repeat history
https://www.vox.com/2018/2/27/17057990/andrew-wakefield-vaccines-autism-study [Open from webarchive if link broken/inactive]
1. Fun video on vaccine fears and vaccine safety (made for USA)
2. What's the Truth Behind Vaccines?
3. Former Congressman: Vaccines linked to autism
4. Why do Vaccines Kill?
5. Deadly Deception, Exposing the Dangers of Vaccines
The learning outcomes represent the competences which learners are expected to develop as a result of the training intervention:
1. The learner will be able to understand and outline the nature of concerns and fears about the safety of applying vaccines.
2. The learner will be able to differentiate between non-expert and expert competence needed to assess different arguments and claims.
3. The learner will be able to understand and explain that vaccines may trigger adverse reaction, which range from "very rare" to "very common".
4. The learner will be able to differentiate between, and illustrate by examples, facts from opinions.
5. The learner will be able to list several factors which typically come into play when motivated cognition is observed.
6. The learner will be able to demonstrate improved ability to formulate fact-based arguments.
Suggested teaching methods
> Study of available materials online
> Use of mindmapping software
> Group reflection and self-evaluation of work tasks
> Online search
Suggested learning activities
> Go through the initial set of resources provided by the case study on its dedicated page.
> Use mindmapping free software to record the key findings in the readings: in support of both sides of the safe vs. harmful opposition.
> Discuss the findings.
> Collectively decide what additional information is needed so that informed opinion can be formulated.
> Carry additional search for information and add to the mindmap.
> Do fact- and source-checking on videos 4 and 5 using the Eggshell model. Before using the model, ask the learners how credible does the video look to them and why. Pay attention to the uploader profile and their other uploads. See any patterns? Discuss some of the claims in the video.
> Define, in the group, the meaning and relevance in the particular case of: opinion, belief, fact, expectation, deduction, hypothesis
> List the main arguments from all researched materials. And make a ranking of the plausibility of these arguments - quick vote
> Through deconstruction, attempt to describe why certain arguments rank high or low. Design a list of properties which characterise an argument as "good". Design a list of properties which characterise a source as "good" and "reliable".
> Go back to the ranking and re-evaluate. Discuss objectivity and subjectivity.
De Facto pillars
Motivated Cognition: Explain (or remind of an earlier explanation, e.g. in a previous building block) what motivated cognition is. Provide a list of typical factors which influence (facilitate or block) the cognitive process.
Motivated Cognition, Frames and Framing: Ask learners to think and identify which audiences/groups of people (group profile) are likely to be influenced and perceive as true the information contained in:
1) The two tweets by D. Trump (Tweet #2 from the resource list)
2) The tweet by Alan Freestone (Tweet #1 from the resource list)
Frames and Framing: Observe, during the above task, that there will be people who will outright reject as false the claims by Trump. Use this opportunity to talk about Frames and Framing. Many people have come to think of Trump as someone who frequently tells lies and disinformation. Once such a frame is constructed, the brain is quick to fit any new statement coming from him within the deceptive model of the frame. This is an extreme case of abrupt cessation of conscious cognition - a very strong frame leaves no time/place for digging deeper into the content. (Recognise the possible polarised views on Trump - use this as yet another confirmation of the resilience of frames.)
Additional online tools
You have selected a topic from the Disinformation Games area. Please be advised that this area hosts, or links to, resources that contain misinformation or disinformation. The presence of such materials is to assist in developing and sustaining skills for navigating and detecting disinformation. To achieve this goal – and with clear intent – none of the materials are explicitly marked as true or not true.