Despite the scientific consensus that vaccines are responsible for wiping out a wide variety of infectious diseases in the United States, the current measles outbreak has politicians on the left and right weighing in on whether parents should be able to choose whether or not they vaccinate their children. Given the recent statements from a number of possible 2016 election contenders, you would think that vaccines are a widely divisive political issue. But according to data, they’re not.
In 2014, Dan Kahan, the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and professor of psychology at Yale Law School surveyed 2,316 U.S. adults in order to assess public perceptions and attitudes about vaccines. He wanted to know whether the often-repeated idea that the public is increasingly fearful of vaccines was true, and whether political parties were really spit over vaccines’ risks and benefits. He found the answer was largely no.
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