Dr. Joseph Mercola cites one of my articles on the psychological factors making doctors susceptible confirmation bias when it comes to vaccines.

Dr. Joseph Mercola in a recent article on how the CDC uses false statistics as a fearmongering tactic to increase vaccination rates cites one of my own recent articles on vaccines. My article was a response to an op-ed by Dr. Daniel Summers in the Washington Post. Here’s Dr. Mercola:

There are staunch mandatory vaccination proponents who would like you to believe that the vaccine safety science is in and the vaccine safety debate has long since been settled. They’re wrong. Very wrong.

In fact, the “debate” about vaccine safety science has not even strictly begun. There are huge gaps in the knowledge base in part due to the fact that well designed comparative studies of health outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated persons have not yet been conducted to draw credible scientific conclusions about long-term safety.

However, there have been compelling indications of harm for a long time. For example, studies have shown the flu vaccine weakens the immune system, making children more susceptible to more severe illness by hampering the development of certain types of immunity. A recent article by journalist Jeremy Hammond does an excellent job of distilling the problem facing unquestioning vaccine proponents:

“In a recent The Washington Post op-ed, pediatrician Daniel Summers argues that when it comes to the safety and efficacy of vaccines, there’s nothing to debate … Yet his own arguments illustrate why he’s wrong and why there is indeed a debate to be had. So why is he so afraid of having it?

Dr. Summers actually answers this question for us with some comments that explain his own demonstrable confirmation bias (the tendency to accept facts that support his own position while ignoring facts that contradict it). He writes:

‘If vaccines genuinely cause autism like their opponents claim, one of two things must be true of pediatricians like me who administer them. Either we are too incompetent to discern the relationship between the two, or we are too monstrous to care. One cannot believe that autism is related to vaccination without simultaneously indicting the overwhelming majority of physicians, nurses and other medical providers in this country.’

So there you have it. If his view was shown to be wrong, it would demonstrate that either he’s incompetent or he’s evil. It’s only natural that we can expect Summers, then, to be accepting of science that supports his view while dismissive of science that contradicts it.”

As a doctor, I can empathize with this psychological conundrum. It’s a terrible feeling to realize that, at some point in your life, you didn’t have the knowledge you should have had and you led your patients the wrong way.

But I can also attest to the fact that, if you are a physician, you can admit your mistake and correct course and it will not destroy you or your medical practice. On the contrary, it inspires trust in your patients. And when it comes to vaccines, a course correction by adopting a new approach is not only necessary but inevitable.

Read my full post “Vaccines: Daniel Summers in WaPo Says There’s Nothing to Debate. He’s Wrong.”

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