Public resistance to scientific claims is commonly regarded as a cultural war on science that threatens public health and the future of liberal democracies. An “us vs. them” mentality creates hostility between vaccine advocates and vaccine critics while misappropriating “science” as the point of fracture. This talk challenges popular framings of vaccine hesitancy as “public misunderstanding of science” and “death of expertise”, demonstrating instead that public resistance stems from poor trust in scientific institutions. The recharacterization of vaccine hesitancy offered in this session encourages conciliatory efforts in place of combative positioning and frustration regarding vaccine refusal . I offer general recommendations for how vaccine outreach efforts can be modified in light of a public mistrust framework.
By the end of this session, participants will be able to:
• Describe an alternative framework for understanding vaccine hesitancy
• Evaluate the arguments in favour of this new framework
• Evaluate the challenges to dominant narratives of vaccine hesitancy: public scientific illiteracy and anti-science sentiment
• Analyze the justifications and arguments for and against the competing frameworks
• Explore new directions in vaccine outreach stemming from the different framing of vaccine hesitancy
Presented by: Maya Goldenberg
Maya Goldenberg is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph. Her research in philosophy of medicine and philosophy of science examines the intersection between science and values. She is currently writing a book on vaccine hesitancy and public understanding of science. Dr. Goldenberg is also Graduate Faculty Member at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto.
The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.
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