People who believe that they are more knowledgeable on autism and its causes than medical professionals are more likely to support parents’ rights not to vaccinate their children
against communicable diseases.
As a study published in the Social Science and Medicine journal
found, 34 and 36 percent of Americans think that they know more or just as much as doctors and scientists respectively about the developmental disorder. Out of that population, 30 percent said that parents should be free to choose to not vaccinate their children. Among the rest of the people who do not think they are smarter than medical professionals, only 16 percent supported that right for parents.
The authors of the study described their findings as an instance of the so-called Dunning-Kruger effect, the phenomenon that people who lack knowledge in a certain field are often not only poor judges of their own skill in that area but also of the skills of others. This effect is also called meta-ignorance, or the ignorance of one’s own ignorance.
The researchers also found that 42 percent of people placed high trust on information from non-experts like celebrities when it comes to autism and 38 percent thought that non-experts should play a major role in policymaking.