See anything wrong with the pie graph above? Other than the 63% portion is clearly bigger than the 70%? Wait–63%…70%…60%, that makes 193%! What the H? Why people still believe anything Fox News has to say is beyond me. And it has nothing to do with their political affiliation which is clearly opposed to mine. There are good reasons to believe some conservative opinions. Fox News, however, seems to just say whatever they want and expect no one to verify their sources which is an odd thing to do with the internet never further than 3 meters from anyone on average (ok, I made that stat up, at least I’ll admit it). But Fox News’ misinformation isn’t just annoying, it can be dangerous.
I recently logged onto to facebook to find that someone I know had posted a Fox News interview with an “infectuous disease expert” about the H1N1 vaccine. I used quotes in the previous sentence because, though he is an MD, he’s actually an expert in something completely unrelated. Nevermind that he has zero expertise about infectious diseases or vaccines, what kind of doctor gets on national television to give advice about something he knows hardly anything about? It’s dishonest and violates one of the most important principles of medicine: do no harm. By giving people false information he could cause a parent, who only wants the best for their kid, to do something stupid like not get their kids vaccinated because, in his words:
[The vaccines contain] 25,000 times the level of mercury than would be considered toxic if it was a food or water.
Shit. I’d rather my kid get the swine flu than mercury poisoning. What kind of parent would let their kid get that vaccine? Well, hopefully an informed one. Surf over to the Canadian government’s H1N1 vaccine site and we find:
Thimerosal is a different form of mercury than the mercury known to cause health problems. The amount of mercury in the H1N1 flu vaccine is much less than the daily limit recommended for environmental exposure to mercury. For example, there is significantly less mercury in the vaccine than you would find in a can of tuna fish.
So either we should only be eating 1/25000th of can a tuna a day or Dr. Kent Holtorf of Fox News needs to a little more research before he starts advising a nation on its vaccine regiment. And some people will think it’s a big conspiracy by the government and pharmaceutical companies to sell us medication we don’t need. I’ll admit there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of pharmaceutical companies but, even though I disagree with Stephen Harper on most things, I’m still not worried he’s out to get me. David Suzuki said it best when asked by the Globe and Mail if he would get vaccinated:
I will when my turn comes up. I’m just astounded at people. Do they think doctors, scientists and government are out to poison them or something? I just don’t get what the objections are to this. What does that imply they think about the health experts?
Currently employed in a place crawling with health experts, I have yet to attend a meeting where the goal is to reduce public health. It’s good to be skeptical about things, but unbalanced skepticism–being more skeptical of one side of an argument than an other–isn’t really skepticism at all.