White Paper Polio — Cassie Hoffman

  • I did a Google search for conspiracy theories revolving around the international efforts for vaccinations for the polio virus. I found an article from the newspaper The Guardian titled “Vaccines, the CIA, and how the War on Terror helped spread polio in Nigeria,” that discusses why complete public trust in the polio vaccine is unattainable because of fear of alternate viruses being included in the vaccine. It reveals three different conspiracy theories about the possible malicious intent of the distribution of the vaccine in the Middle East and Africa.
  • The article can be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2011/jul/15/1
  • “In Nigeria, as in Pakistan, Muslim clerics played a key part in driving these rumours, playing on anti-American sentiment and fears that America’s wars were part of a wider war on Islam.” — This is a consequential claim, saying that Muslim clerics caused the public to believe that vaccination of the disease is really a broader attempt at a war with Islam, making citizens less apt to accept vaccinations for fear of underlying viruses intended to eradicate them from the area.
  • “In a male-dominated culture with a strong tradition of polygamy (in the Islamic north at least), where children are seen as gifts from God, the power of men is measured by the size of their families, and different political, ethnic and religious groups compete to be the most populous, fertility is an especially sensitive issue.” — This is also a consequential claim, saying that because “the power of men is measured by the size of their families,” fertility is crucial so that people can have more children, increasing their social ranking. The belief that the polio vaccine may cause infertility greatly reduces the chance of vaccination being accepted.
  • “From a Nigerian’s perspective, to be offered free medicine is about as unusual as a stranger’s going door to door in America and handing over $100 bills.” — This is a categorical claim, saying that a stranger offering free medicine door-to-door is unusual. The fear of uncertainty and lack of recognition of those delivering the medicine would cause Nigerians to be reluctant to accept vaccination.
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2 Responses to White Paper Polio — Cassie Hoffman

  1. davidbdale says:

    First, this is a Google search, Cassie, so you owe me an Academic Search Premier source. (Not a problem for this assignment, but it does create a debt.)

    Secondly, I love this source. That you went deliberately looking for conspiracy theories indicates you know how to sniff out counterintuitivity, which I admire.

    What you say about the consequential claim is certainly true, Cassie. The claim is also an attempt to characterize the clerics’ motive. That they “played on anti-American sentiment” sounds entirely unfair to an American. Because it characterizes the clerics as willing to be unfair to achieve their goal of interrupting the eradication effort, it casts doubt on the rightness of their effort. But playing on anti-American sentiment is only unfair if the Americans are blameless. If evidence indicates the Americans are not to be trusted, the clerics are heroes. Right?

    Your fertility section is very strong, marred only by a Grammar Failure and a missed opportunity to be clearer. I trust you’ll find the GF. The opportunity you missed was to say: “The belief that the polio vaccine may cause infertility greatly reduces the chances for vaccination to be accepted.”

    I love the $100 bill illustration and applaud its author for making the case so vividly. I thank you for highlighting its effectiveness

    Nice work!

    Fails for Grammar Rule 7.
    Go to Grammar Basics (always available in the sidebar) for help finding the fatal errors. Fix them to reveal your true grade and this note disappears. 🙂

    Grade Recorded.

  2. davidbdale says:

    Grammar violation cleared. Grade revised.

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