Dr Anthony Fauci Tackles the Issue of Antiscience Sentiments

August 30, 2020

There is a certain element of antiscience sentiment in the United States and Europe that Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, finds troubling.

There is a certain element of antiscience sentiment in the United States and Europe that Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, finds troubling.

Transcript

Thinking about outbreaks like the measles one from a few years ago, what can health care leaders do to keep emphasizing the importance of public health and restore the public trust in science?

That's a tough one. There, there is indeed, a certain element of antiscience sentiment, not only in our own society in the United States, but globally. My colleagues in Europe, I think, having a worse time with that than we're having here in the United States, and the situation the United States is troubling. I think the point in the example that you gave about the sort of skepticism about vaccine safety, and the conspiracy theories that vaccines are being used to hurt people, as opposed to help them, is really quite troubling.

A lot of it relates to a fundamental antiscience feeling, because of kind of moments of pushback from authority, and science tends to fall into the category of authoritative. People don't like that. They don't like people telling them what to do. But sometimes you go to the extreme, and you don't listen to things that you should be doing, because you think people are telling you, you have to do that. That's a problem.

But a lot of the vaccine stuff is misinformation, you know, dating back to the now infamous fraudulent reporting of certain negative consequences of measles vaccines with autism and things like that. That really set us back. Because one, something that's incorrect, particularly in the era of social media and the era of the internet, when something that's incorrect, gets propagated, it becomes very difficult to erase it. Because it's out there.

This is not the way it used to be pre-internet, pre-social media, when if something was false, you've corrected and that was it. Not so now, even if you correct it, it's still lingering in there somewhere. That's one of the problems.