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Denialism

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Paul B.
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case study
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  1. Introduction
  2. Denialism as Discourse
  3. Background
  4. Vaccinations, autism and denialism
  5. Conclusion

The use of term 'denialism' has proliferated and its academic explanatory power is used to examine and study the cause of false beliefs and misperceptions. The concept itself is devoid of concrete meaning it has been stretched in various academic and other directions to accommodate various political and intellectual agendas.

Multiplicity of opinions on the idea renders its discriminatory power next to nothing. Yet in spite of it the term seems to be very popular and is widely used in mass media and academia. This particular paper seeks to examine and explain why and how do people continue to believe that vaccinations cause autism, in spite of substantial evidence that their belief is not true? The paper studies various existing definitions and an approach to the study of denialism and on the sidelines of the main question posed argues that denialism can be best explained as a discourse or an idiom rather than a concrete academic term.

[...] The conventional understanding of discourse has it that it is a form of written of spoken communication, also it can be stated that it is a from of debate (Stevenson, 2010). However, in academic field the idea of discourse is a bit different. It is about how people get to make sense of the world around them and how do people ascribe meaning to things. One of the underlying assumptions of discourse analysis is that those meanings and definitions we have regarding the world around does not exist independently of our minds. [...]


[...] Apparently people counting on the expertise of Dr. Wakefield and his associates overreacted and levels of vaccination in Great Britain had drastically fallen. For many the mere fact that the published article was inconsistent with actual state of affairs and that it was based on subjective assumptions and disguised as objective truth would have been enough to stop the panic. Yet the situation developed in opposite direction, it was expected that by the 2010 the Europe would have been free from measles but after the incident the goal was unviable (Specter, 2009). [...]


[...] Here once again the very rationality and ability to think rational of people is at stake. It has been proven by numerous studies that getting vaccinated against MMR diseases far more outweigh the presumed threat of autism. And it has been established that the probability of a child who had been vaccinated and the one who had not been have equal chances of developing autism. The studies conduced by the Institute of Medicine and other organizations have proved that there was no direct link between vaccination and development of autism. [...]


[...] People who do not have expertise of the matter tend to take their opinion for granted without examining the subject matter. In other words the opinions held by the celebrities and professors are heuristic for many people. The people with motivated reasoning neither question their expertise on the matter nor try to independently evaluate the situation. This reinforces their pseudo-scientific arguments and buttresses their beliefs. Conclusion The aim of the present paper was to demonstrate why people continue to believe in pseudo-scientific beliefs although presented with solid and validated scientific data. [...]

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