The next time you find yourself in a head-smacking debate with an anti-vaxxer, don’t even bother to engage.
A US study has just found that there is no way you can change the mind of someone who has consciously chosen not to vaccinate their children.
Depressing, we know.
The study, published in Pediatrics, tested four theories each designed to dispel the myths surrounding the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The results will disturb you.
The first group, “Autism correction”, were explained (with actual science!) that it’s completely false to claim that there is a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
It assured parents that the MMR vaccine is “safe and effective”. The second group called “Disease risks” involved telling parents of the risks – like you know, DEATH – associated with contracting the measles, the mumps, or rubella.
Group three, “Disease narrative”, were told a true story about a 10-month-old who nearly died after contracting measles from another child in a doctor’s waiting room. The fourth and final group were shown disturbing images of children who have diseases, which could’ve been prevented by the MMR vaccine.
The only group that had a significant breakthrough amongst the 1,759 Americans surveyed was group one, which focused on correcting misinformation around autism.
As for “Autism correction,” it actually worked, among survey respondents as a whole, to somewhat reduce belief in the falsehood that vaccines cause autism. But at the same time, the message had an unexpected negative effect, decreasing the percentage of parents saying that they would be likely to vaccinate their children.
So even though the parents now understood there wasn’t no link between vaccines and autism, they STILL weren’t prepared to vaccinate their children against these preventable childhood diseases. In fact, it made them more defensive about their choice.