Recent debates about whether or not vaccines cause autism have raised some very important questions. One of these is if there are too many vaccinations in our society, how much exposure children need to survive and thrive.
The other, arguably more controversial question, is whether or not it’s ethical to experiment with less than optimal levels of vaccination in order to see what effects that will have on the health and well-being of the public.
There are several reasons why we should be careful about testing theories like this. First off, science doesn’t work when people test things out on each other! If someone believes that eating only tomatoes can cure their cancer, then they might try it for themselves.
Second, even though experimenting on humans may seem “natural,” it’s actually unethical because you never know what kind of effect your tests could have on us.
Third, just because something worked before does not mean that it works now. We learn from past experiences, but sometimes those lessons are forgotten or ignored. For example, studies show that taking aspirin during pregnancy can prevent heart defects, so most pregnant women agree that is a good thing to do. But now researchers find that maybe avoiding alcohol while you are trying to conceive is also helpful.
Fourth, even if a theory seems totally logical, that doesn’t make it true! Just look at Einstein — he was smart, but still wrong more times than he was right.
The Goldilocks Theorem
The theory of evolution has been criticized for not having any testable predictions. Some scientists claim that because evolutionary theories do not make specific predictions, they cannot be verified or falsified. This is an argument against using evidence to prove their concept!
The opposite side of this argument says that since evolutionary theories predict certain things, then these theories can indeed be tested. For example, the Theory of Evolution predicts that life will continue to evolve and survive no matter what environment it is placed in.
This means that if we were to put evolutionary theories to the test by creating very different environments with living organisms, they would still thrive. Take coral, for instance: corals are a type of marine organism which develop complex relationships with other sea creatures such as algae and bacteria. They must constantly reproduce to keep up with the demands of space.
But due to climate change caused by human activity, water temperatures have become too hot for coral to survive. When waters get warmer, less oxygen is dissolved into the liquid, making it more difficult for plants and animals to breathe. Without enough air, people can’sltreat themselves or each other- so conservation is extremely important (for humans).
Because coral depends on its surrounding environment to live, there are ways to help save them. By protecting them from changes in temperature, humidity, light exposure, etc., people can help preserve the health and survival of our oceans.
The LHC and the Higgs boson
In 1985, two physicists worked together to test an idea of how fundamental particles are organized in space. They conducted their experiment at CERN, one of the world’s largest particle physics research facilities located near Geneva, Switzerland.
The men devised what is known as the “dipole model.” According to this theory, every elementary particle (such as an electron) has an opposite charge twin that travels with it. These so-called positrons were first detected by scientists in 1932 when they observed gamma rays emanating from the top of Mount Cook in New Zealand. Gamma radiation comes from atomic nuclei breaking down into lighter elements such as electrons and protons.
In the dipole model, there is no middle man — instead, both types of particles exist simultaneously as parts of each other. This was considered untenable until the duo came up with the concept of creating a beam made only out of either positive or negative charges. By shooting beams containing equal amounts of both kinds of matter onto a target, researchers can determine which ones separate away from the others.
That’s why Carl Weber and Wolfgang Panofsky needed lots of extra copper shielding to protect them from the powerful streams of negatively charged matter coming straight for them. When they finally got around to taking pictures, they noticed something peculiar about the shape of the shield.
The scientific method
The term “scientific theory” is often used to describe what we know about nature, the universe, and ourselves through our knowledge of science.
However, this use of the word theory is not consistent across people or even within an individual. In fact, there are many different definitions for what a theory is!
In order to clearly define the term theories, we must first look at its component parts.
Theory = reasoning that explains something
Why did you grab that book off the shelf? You probably wanted to read it because you thought it would make sense to you. It gave you some insight into other books in your collection, so you decided to add it to your reading list.
A theory is just like one of those books – it makes logical sense and correlates with other things you already understand.
When you believe in a theory, you feel confident in what it tells you. You may also think more highly of the thing it describes because you trust it.
That is why having a good theory is important. If someone else’s theory seems sensible to you, then you should stick with it until you prove it wrong!
But how do you determine if a theory is correct? That is where the concept of test comes in.
You can choose any part of a theory as a test and see whether it agrees with another part of the theory.
A double-blind trial is an experiment that cannot be detected by someone who does not know what treatment or test group people are in. For example, if you were trying to determine whether or not taking a certain pill makes your skin better, you could not tell which ones worked for people just by looking at their skin.
A similar thing happens when determining the effects of exercise. People’s perception and opinion may influence how they feel about the way they look, so they might try harder to exercise with the hope of changing how they look, making it more difficult to determine the true effect of the workout.
With a placebo control, researchers give some participants a fake drug or intervention while others get the real deal. Because the participant doesn’t know which one he or she got, his or her perception can’t affect the results.
Double-blinding is one of the most effective ways to do experiments because people will likely agree on whether something works even if there is a difference between the treatments.
A placebo effect happens when you believe that your health can help make a product work better for you, so you use the product even if you don’t think it will do anything.
A placebo effect was most famously seen in studies of antidepressants. Antidepressants are drugs that were designed to treat depression, but some people who took placebos got happier.
In fact, antidepressants are usually not effective until they have been prescribed after a rigorous review process. But because of the placebo effect, some individuals feel improved just by using a drug that they believe is helpful.
However, this only works for things that people perceive as helping them — medication that doesn’t actually work often creates false expectations or beliefs about how well someone will be feeling, which then create more pain than before.
By believing in and expecting benefits from a placebo treatment, you may be wasting your time or harming yourself, depending on what you’re asking the treatment to do.
Your body learns through repetition – whether mental or physical – why certain treatments didn’t work, so it makes sense that trying another one would probably fail too, no matter what the manufacturer claims.
And while there’s nothing wrong with seeking out a placebo cure, making an informed decision about whether or not to try a therapy is important. You want to know if it really works or if it’s a waste of money, at least cost-effectively.
Real world tests
Recent debates about whether or not vaccines cause autism have shown that testing theoretical hypotheses in a controlled environment is important, but conducting real-world experiments to determine causal relationships are impossible.
Theories which claim that vaccinations contribute to mental health issues such as Autism can influence other behaviors, potentially making it difficult to assess effectiveness.
Claims like these often go beyond describing potential risks associated with immunizations into statements about how “the government” puts chemicals in our food, water, and medicine, and how they affect us negatively.
These claims may influence parents’ decisions about vaccination for their children, and could even lead to unneeded fears of medical procedures.
It is very difficult to conduct an experiment in the real world – where there are no controls! If someone decides not to vaccinate their child, it will always be along side kids who do, so we cannot use this lack of vaccination as a control group.
Because there is never a time when every kid gets vaccinated, we must look at past trends to determine if there is a correlation. Many studies already exist, so researchers compare how many kids were exposed to a vaccine within a certain timeframe to see if there was a change in incidence rates of autism.
A major limitation of studying correlations is that you cannot prove one factor causes the effect — only that they occur together more than chance would dictate.
Sources of Confidence
Source confidence is an important factor in determining whether or not to accept a theory as true. When sources have little to no credibility, this can be very concerning.
Conspiracy theories thrive off of lack of trust in institutions. For example, many people believe that the government is involved in rampant murder and cover-ups. Others think that our leading corporations are not only corrupt but also actively harmful to society.
Such beliefs go beyond simple distrust – they add fear and hatred to already unstable situations. By adding fear to fear, we can easily encourage violence and destruction.
Sources with low credibility may also contribute to false beliefs by providing inaccurate information or misleading data. This could be done purposefully, to help spread a falsehood, or unintentionally due to personal bias.
It is important to evaluate source credibility before coming to conclusions. In fact, it’s your duty as an informed individual.
Sources of Confidence
Source confidence is an important part of assessing any theory. Evidence can be weighed against other evidence, or even contrasted with another theory to determine which one seems more reliable!
Conversely, if there is no direct proof supporting one theory over another, then we must weigh the sources of confidence for each theory. For example, when determining whether God exists, you would not trust a book that says He does not unless you have strong reasons why you believe it. You would likewise reject a theory about evolution because you do not feel it has enough verified examples.
It is important to remember that even though two theories may both seem very solid, this doesn’t mean one is definitely better than the other- only that they are equally well supported by the available verifiable facts.