After a baby was confirmed at NJ's first measles case this year, amid news of measles outbreaks in other states, many are wondering why parents aren't vaccinating their children. NJ.com has a very interesting look at why some parents are gambling with their children's health—and the well-being of others.
Princeton professor and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman said, "People are much more afraid of their children dying from a vaccine than they are from a child dying of an illness that spreads naturally. If something would happen to their child after being vaccinated, their decision becomes a focus of enormous regret." From NJ.com:
Kahneman explained the way the brain works in his 2011 best-selling book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow," in which he described the thought process in two parts, System 1 and System 2. System 1 is the automatic, reflexive process that fires when an event causes an emotional response. System 2, as he described it, is the thought process involving slow, deliberate, conscious effort.
It's System 2 thinking that is in use when an individual considers the benefits and risks of vaccines, but by then, fear of harm to the child has engaged System 1 thinking, Kahneman said.
"That's why a single example of a particular child being harmed is more effective and sells more newspapers than a story about an outbreak," Kahneman said. "We are really wired to respond strongly to individual cases that touch our heart."
George DiFerdinando, Jr., professor of epidemiology at Rutgers University (and a former NJ deputy health commissioner), also suggested that parents who opt against vaccinating "can get away with this as long as measles isn't imported into Disneyland... [But now] It's no longer a hypothetical community risk."