Friday, April 28, 2017

Faking news

Recent news that an unvaccinated Portuguese girl has died of measles (1) is a constant reminder that ignorance can exact a high cost. A single individual with a fraudulent study (2) may have caused humanity, a high level of disutility. Humans often fall prey to small N experiments and it further reinforces the need to eradicate ignorance.


Humans have always been susceptible to small experiment bias. However, small experiments may have played a substantial role in human progression. If the outcomes are of very high probability, small experiments may have been sufficient to learn - such as taking the right run at the fork, gets you killed by the waiting lion. A few experiments may have been sufficient to establish truth in this case. However, to prove that vaccination causes autism takes a few more than a dozen.


Education systems around the world may have to incorporate a better understanding of statistics into their curriculum. Understanding that truth is not revealed by one or few experiments is important and that may allow large swaths of the world population to get over "fake news." Faking news has become a strategic weapon. If a population is susceptible to believing what they see or hear, without asking for proof, ignorance will unambiguously rise to the top and that could have unpredictable negative effects on society.


Education has to evolve appropriately to add value to society.




(1) http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/04/riskiest-vaccine-one-not-given


(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136032/