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Letter: Pundit should always rely on evidence, not beliefs
First Published Mar 29 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Mar 29 2014 01:01 am

Rich Lowry ("The foolish anti-vaxx campaign," Opinion, March 18) correctly and appropriately points out that there is no empirical evidence supporting the belief that vaccination causes autism.

In making his case, he appears to embrace the fundamental principle that beliefs should be based on solid empirical evidence. Most of us give lip service to this principle, but rarely employ it. The basis for human belief is much more likely to be ignorance, oversimplification, ideology, emotion, group pressure and self-interest than empirical evidence.

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We are inclined to cite evidence only when it aligns with our particular interests. If Mr. Lowry is honestly committed to the principle of evidence-based belief, he should be critical of any belief having weak empirical support, regardless of who believes it.

Consider the following weakly supported or counterfactual claims: There is no man-made global warming; humans are not the product of biological evolution; the free-market economy solves all economic problems; American health care is the best in the world; poor people are lazy.

I eagerly await future columns in which he honestly and rigorously assesses the empirical evidence for these beliefs.

Howard B. Parker

Salt Lake City




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