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Simon Kuper’s recent piece “Beware of the dangers of natural fetishism” (Spectrum, Life & Arts, September 4) was disappointing. In it, he addresses the anti-vaxxer movement as well as groups against nuclear power and genetically modified foods, describing them as nature fetishists “who believe that modernity kills”.
One would have expected Kuper to take a more nuanced approach, with some insights from social scientists.
As Professor Heidi Larson says in her book: Caught: how rumors about vaccines start and why they do not go away, the public’s response to vaccines (and by implication other so-called scientific issues) “is not just about science — it is also about values”. Of course, the public needs a better understanding of science, but scientists and those who use their work need a better understanding of the public.
Understanding the public involves addressing the whole ecosystem of aversion to these technologies, and it contains the lack of confidence in governments, large corporations and experts in many different fields, many of which are based on real experience and not just ideology.