It’s five o’clock. You just got home from work. You walk into the kitchen, grab an ice, cold coke, and plop yourself down on the couch. As you flip on the TV, Jenny McCarthy’s and Jim Carrey’s enticing voices fill your living room. You quickly become captivated by their heartbreaking story of how vaccines caused their poor son to get Autism. You watch as Jenny’s eyes swell up with tears and can’t help but to be enraged by Doctors everywhere. “I will never, ever”, you find yourself saying out loud “give my child a vaccine!”
There is one issue with this scene: there is NO link between vaccines and autism. This fact has be proved time and time again in numerous studies. Why, you may ask, do McCarthy and Carrey still believe there is? Even worse, who allowed them to spread potentially very harmful falsehood to the public?
Well, there is one main culprit in this situation: the scientific community. First off, scientists do not make their findings accessible to the public. They often release important results, such as the lack of linkage between autism and vaccines, in reports that are filled with complicated scientific jargon. This results in non-scientific people, such as McCarthy and Carrey, trying to understand the results. Sadly though, these people simply do not have the tools or the know-how to understand ever part of a study. They are not ignorant but they are merely not an expertise in a scientific field, which is the majority of the public. The wrong interpretations of the non-scientific people though, are the ones that are shared with the public, therefore spreading harmful falsehoods. Even when these falsehoods become a common belief the scientific community still fails to address it in an understandable way.
As a scientific writer, it is my along with other scientific writer’s responsibility to ensure that these falsehoods no longer persist. We need to be the intermediate between the scientists and their jargon filled-studies and curious, information, seeking public. Translating the science writing and making it available to the public via science writers in social media sources is the only way to ensure that correct facts are distributed to the public.