So skeptical we’re vulnerable


Tabitha Southey: “On swine-flu conspiracy theories.”

It’s as if humanity had come a full 360 degrees. We’ve moved from the credulousness that thrives on ignorance (excusable when we were actually ignorant), to a healthy skepticism, to just skepticism, to cynicism. And this led increasing numbers of people right back to credulousness again.

The impulse to question (sit in on any undergraduate class if you don’t believe me) is currently perhaps validated above the impulse to learn, or at least to learn first. And into that educational void, far more entertaining and easily communicated conspiracy theories have flooded.

The anti-vaccination movement, whose conspiracy-like claims shift as they’re repeatedly debunked, thrives on a kind of reborn superstition, mainly by connecting vaccination to autism. It’s a perfect example of pseudo-religious irrationality in that it offers conscientious parents a simple way to protect their children against something complex and frightening – autism.

Which would be great, if it were remotely true, because it would mean that bad things don’t happen to good people. Which would be really great.

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