Paul Holmes 10 Jan 2011 // 9:56PM GMT
There are several recorded instances in which a cult leader has predicted the end of the world, and followers have gathered to witness (and participate in?) such an event. Obviously, in every case we know of, the end of the world has failed to materialize. And so one might imagine that the cult leader and his/her members would slink away, embarrassed by the inaccuracy of their predictions and the foolishness of their beliefs. In reality, such failures tend to strengthen the convictions of true believers (a phenomenon detailed in a paper called The Effects of Disconfirming an Important Belief). All of which is a long way of saying that healthcare communicators anticipating a decline in anti-vaccination hysteria now that the British doctor who started it all has been exposed as a fraud, hack and charlatan, and his oft-cited study revealed as corrupt, are probably in for a rude awakening. Look for those who have invested heavily in this flawed belief to double down, and their attacks on the medical establishment to intensify.