Episode 66: Vaccines: Tackling Viral Misinformation

In this episode we are joined by Richard Clarke, a PhD researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine! Richard is a member of the the Vaccine Confidence Project, an initiative that monitors public confidence in immunisation for the purpose of detecting public concerns around vaccines. These concerns can have massive implications for the effectiveness of vaccine programmes and as such researchers must address them as early as possible.

In this episode we explore what researchers can do to effectively communicate science on-and-off-line (it turns out caps lock, insults, and twitter mobs aren't very convincing...), and the results of his research that suggests that on the whole people are less vulnerable to online pseudoscience than we might think. We also chat about his involvement in the Skeptic community, and the role that public trust in authority plays in vaccine hesitancy.

Richard's PhD focusses on the information seeking behaviours of mothers as they make a vaccine decision during pregnancy. In his studies Richard applies research from the psychology of decision making, trust and the field of information science to quantitatively investigate how mothers engage in information gathering to aid decision making with respect to the pertussis vaccine currently offered during pregnancy.