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Why do some parents refuse to vaccinate their children? Why do some people keep guns at home, despite scientific evidence of risk to their family members? And why do people use antibiotics for illnesses they cannot possibly alleviate? When it comes to health, many people insist that science is wrong, that the evidence is incomplete, and that unidentified hazards lurk everywhere.
In Denying to the Grave, Gorman and Gorman, a father-daughter team, explore the psychology of health science denial. Using several examples of such denial as test cases, they propose six key principles that may lead individuals to reject "accepted" health-related wisdom: the charismatic leader; fear of complexity; confirmation bias and the internet; fear of corporate and government conspiracies; causality and filling the ignorance gap; and the nature of risk prediction. The authors argue that the health sciences are especially vulnerable to our innate resistance to integrate new concepts with pre-existing beliefs. This psychological difficulty of incorporating new information is on the cutting edge of neuroscience research, as scientists continue to identify brain responses to new information that reveal deep-seated, innate discomfort with changing our minds.
Denying to the Grave explores risk theory and how people make decisions about what is best for them and their loved ones, in an effort to better understand how people think when faced with significant health decisions. This book points the way to a new and important understanding of how science should be conveyed to the public in order to save lives with existing knowledge and technology.
Sara Gorman, PhD, MPH, is a Project Manager at Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health, where she works on global mental health, increasing the quality of evidence in the global health field, and alternative funding models for global health. She has written extensively about global health, HIV/AIDS policy, and women's health, among other topics, for a variety of health and medical journals, including PLoS Medicine, the International Journal of Women's Health, and AIDS Care. She has worked in the policy division at the HIV Law Project and as a researcher at the Epidemiology Department at Harvard School of Public Health. She has also analyzed mental health policy under the ACA for the Vera Institute of Justice and researched the effectiveness of semi-mobile HIV clinics in rural Kenya for HealthRight International.
Jack M. Gorman, MD, is CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of Franklin Behavioral Health Consultants. Dr. Gorman was on the faculty of Columbia University's Department of Psychiatry for 25 years, eventually serving as Lieber Professor of Psychiatry. He then became the Esther and Joseph Klingenstein Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and Professor of Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.