Welcome to Groundhog Day – the measles version.
We’re repeating a dangerous situation from just four years ago in a more extreme fashion.
Back in February 2015, I wrote a blog post How to protect the herd about a measles outbreak. People were already becoming more skeptical of doctors, scientists and other experts.
In the post, I also expressed concerns about some organizational leaders and employees wanting to ignore science rather than embrace it.
Since then, the anti-vaxxer and science denier movement continues to grow in numbers, geographies, and influence. In these circles and others too, facts are fiction, not nearly as important as feelings.
Yet, we have to acknowledge we’re now experiencing a public health crisis. Measles is a highly contagious and dangerous virus. Even though it was declared eliminated in 2000, as of April 26, 2019, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 704 individual cases of measles in 22 states this year, the most since 1994.
If you believe in science as I do, you want to encourage people in your communities as well as work to listen to the experts and follow their advice. But you can’t rely on facts to encourage true believers to change their minds and ways. You must appeal to values.
For more on this topic, including my story about mumps, measles and chicken pox as a child and my stealth behavior as an adult to use science in my work, read my 2015 blog post How to protect the herd.
And here’s hoping we can escape Groundhog Day and stop ignoring science and incurring more outbreaks of what should be an vanished disease.