In the last few weeks, we have been learning that “scientific” or “medical” research results may contain erroneous information. [Ref. 1] There is currently an outbreak of measles that is impacting a number of people. The Disneyland measles incident that started over Christmas vacation has been traced to unvaccinated people. Some people are pushing mandatory vaccinations. [Ref. 2] What is happening now is that there is a greater awareness of the severity of certain diseases. [Ref. 3] There are some interesting articles on how various diseases can spread based on the percentage of the population that have immunity to the disease. [Ref. 4] The discussion on the vaccination issue revolves around some false research results on autism that became a popular belief through wide-spread distribution on today’s communication media – the Internet. There are also sites that indicated unvaccinated children are less prone to diseases. [Ref. 5] Although, an attempt to review the referenced report turns up no information. The report appears to be no longer available. Consequently, these particular claims can not be validated.
There is a report this week from the medical community in the UK that childhood peanut allergy is developed by lack of exposure to peanuts during a child’s first 11 months. [Ref. 6] This is contrary to the previously given direction by medical authorities.
The question is how does one proceed. If only there were a simple answer. There is a plethora of contradictory information available on the Internet. A large quantity of published news articles are based on a single scientific/medical release. So, quantity alone is insufficient.
Unfortunately, in today’s environment of rapid publication and widespread of all information, whether accurate or erroneous, we have not developed the ability to separate fiction from fact. This “wild-west” approach to dissemination of information requires that each of us really think about the information we are receiving. We are overloaded with sources of information and can not pre-determine which will be factual and which are not. Each area of interest requires that we evaluate both sides of any issue to determine the validity of the claims. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer or directive. It requires individual effort on each of our parts.