Monthly Archives: January 2012

A History of Stupidity

One of the best examples of the dangers of irrational thinking is the anti-vaccine movement. They are thoroughly convinced that vaccines are one of the most dangerous inventions of mankind. From autism to outright death, they believe that vaccines will cause them all. It is not uncommon for them to claim that SIDS is an invention designed to cover up the supposed vaccine-induced deaths.

I recently wrote an article for the King’s Tribune magazine about an organisation called the Australian Vaccination Network who purport to be a vaccine information centre but in reality will do their best to wipe out the “scourge” of vaccination.

Needless to say, they are misguided and extremely dangerous. Vaccinations are one of the greatest developments in the history of humanity, having literally saved millions of lives over the last two centuries.

My article gives some of the history of vaccination plus a look at the AVN’s leader, Meryl Dorey and what people are doing to try and stop her.

A History of Stupidity

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Surf Coast SkeptiCamp 2012

Yesterday the fortieth world-wide SkeptiCamp event took place at Airey’s Inlet along the Great Ocean Rd. Around 35 people attended, ten of them giving talks. It was the second SkeptiCamp I had attended, the first being in Melbourne last year. I had such a great time at that one and got to know so many fantastic people that attending this one was kind of a no brainer.

Tim Harding

Tim Harding opened the show with a talk entitled “What is rationality?” He told us of a wonderful research study where people were given two choices of travel insurance. Both of them offered $100,000 in the event of death but while the first choice included death for any reason, the second policy only covered acts of terrorism. Bizarrely enough, most people preferred the second choice, despite it being more restrictive. We were taught the difference between irrational and non-rational, those things that fall outside the scope of rationality such as personal taste.

We were presented with the uncomfortable fact that rational beliefs can be false and irrational ones can be true. If you’re a member of a tribe and your witch doctor successfully predicts the weather 100% of the time, is your belief in his powers irrational? If scientists claim that no life can be supported by arsenic then how does your rational belief hold up when NASA proves them wrong? Some good questions were posed and there was a lot to think about during this talk.

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