Cognitive biases in medicine are dangerous. Financial bias and confirmation bias are two of the most common dangers with the potential to allow bad medicine to persist in causing tremendous harm. I'm going to explain why these two biases are rampant in the vaccine debate and why physicians, scientists, and experts are so polarized in their view of the science of vaccines.
As a physician, scientist, and former medical editor, I am constantly aware and guarding against cognitive biases that can destroy my objectivity, ability to discern fact from fiction, and potentially corrupt my medical decision making.
Let me begin with a full disclosure. I disclose that I have no financial interest in vaccines. I don't sell supplements, books, or earn a single penny from the work I do to bring a reasonable and full analysis of the fraud, corruption, and pseudoscience that I have found to permeate almost every level of the politics, law, science, and medicine surrounding vaccines. When I speak or testify as a medical expert, I donate my time, testimony, and cover my expenses. On two occasions when I was called to speak or debate, once in New York and once in Washington, DC, I allowed those that insisted to cover my air travel and hotel expense. However, my typical standard is to bear all of my own expenses, including the lost income that results from closing my practice during my absence.
Despite the financial cost, and without consideration of the cost to my professional reputation and career, I bear the financial burden to guard against the cognitive biases that afflict the minds and medical decision making of so many of my vaccine providing and profiting colleagues.
Financial bias often arises when the provision of a medical intervention enriches the provider. When bad medicine is profitable, the evidence of harm is more likely to be misdiagnosed, misattributed, or ignored.
Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that causes a person to read and support only those issues that confirm what they believe. Confirmation bias can exist on its own. But, financial bias strongly predisposes to confirmation bias. Confirmation bias results in doctors and scientists neglecting the full analysis, all sides of the debate, and failing to confront alternative arguments.
Now, take a look at the bill below from an Oklahoma medical practice providing vaccines to children. Look at the charges and fees. Do you see the problem? If you don't, you must yourself be profiting from the vaccine business model.
The next time a pediatrician or other vaccine profiteer rattles off their cognitive bias cover stories about the "greater good", vaccines are "safe and effective," the "science is settled," etc., know with absolute certainty that they are deeply financially biased, confirmation biased, and dangerously ignorant of the truth.