While I do not feel it necessary or enjoyable to talk about the specific issue of vaccination and the widespread suspicion about them, which at least according to several writers  was supported by a single unreplicated and severely deficient study, I do find the issue of trust to be a highly relevant one. Often, I wonder if scientists (and science-friendly commentators) are often talking about the wrong issues when they seek to defend vaccines and other elements of medicine. They act as if discrediting a study will demolish the position of those who disagree with them, failing to realize that what is really necessary is for the stewards of our public health to gain (or regain) the public trust so that their pronouncements can be met with something other than intense skepticism. What is at stake is not a strictly narrow position about vaccines, but about faith in the system of public health, and the coercive power of government to require vaccinations (or any other number of behaviors) does not in fact reduce the massive suspicion by which government (and public health) is held in some countries (like the UK and the United States). To gain this trust, it will be necessary for public officials first to recognize that the basis of the problem is mistrust, mistrust that has in many cases been earned by corrupt decisions on the part of government and business and medical elites and fanned by misinformation from those who have similarly corrupt reasons to cast aspersions on the political and scientific elite because of their own quackery. My own position, as might be imagined, is fairly acerbic to every vested interest tempered only by my own concern for the well-being of the population at large.
I mention this not because I have any great expertise in the problems of public health, but rather because the question of trust is so essential to many of the problems I wrestle with as an intellectual at-large. One of the issues that has come to my attention this week has been the problem of a measles outbreak at Disneyland. At least some of the articles I have read about it have blamed the anti-vaccination movement for the outbreak of measles, which seems like the attempt to use a crisis to score some cheap political points supporting pseudoscientific opinions with the surface appearance of possessing scientific authority. This misuse of rhetoric is all too common, unfortunately, as every human endeavor is hopelessly entangled with corrupt politics in our present world. It is our task to remain uncorrupted, as best as we are able, with all the resources we are able to gather for those ends. I do not know why measles broke out. There are plenty of people who do not get vaccinated for MMR beyond their late teens, which is when I had my last vaccine for it myself when it was required for my college engineering course as a sixteen year old at the University of South Florida during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. Since the booster shot is only supposed to last for about ten years or so, that would mean that every college educated person beyond the age of about 26 to 28 or so would probably not have any protection against measles, and would not be expected to get it, and those who were not college educated might not have any protection beyond their early to mid 20’s. Whether one is pro- or anti-vaccines, it would appear that the vulnerability to measles would be pretty high for the general population at large, especially since few people get any vaccines once they leave the public school system at all, unless they happen to be required for international travel (as is sometimes the case). This would indicate to a fair-minded observer that the outbreak of measles was not due to a political issue, but rather due to a larger public health issue where fragmentary medical coverage and coordination of medical coverage, as well as questions of the efficacy of vaccines over time, appears to a much more serious factor.
It is not only issues of public health where shadows of a doubt and the problem of trust loom large. In our own lives, trust is a huge problem as well . I asked for (and received) permission from a coworker to share his story, which is instructive in this case. This morning, as I was finishing up my usual morning reports, I found out that a coworker of mine was now officially homeless because his former live-in girlfriend/baby mamma had thrown him out on the suspicion of unfaithfulness for driving a female coworker home. Now, I happen to believe that he and the coworker in question did not do anything untoward with each other, as my coworker is a gentleman in his own fashion. That said, for a man to drive any woman alone (or at all, sometimes) is certainly a risky matter that can cause immense difficulties when others are suspicious of motives. What was at stake was not the reality of any kind of bad behavior, real or imagined, but rather that there was an absence of trust in someone spending time with the opposite sex in a situation that could even remotely be construed as intimate and private, and there is no question that driving someone can be the source of all kinds of intimate conversation even where no physical contact is involved.
Yet how able are we to identify and address such problems of trust. Clearly, now that my coworker has been told to pack his bags and get out, leaving his former partner alone with their two small children, it is a bit late to be trying to rebuild trust. Yet one wonders what could have been done ahead of time as one seeks to learn lessons. For one, it is clear that the woman is immensely suspicious and insecure. Such women (and men) are not particularly hard to find. Whether such suspicion was fed by the bad behavior of parents or previous partners, or the person themselves, if such a quality exists, it is a reality that must be dealt with, however unworthy those suspicions are. What could have been done to increase trust, though? Would having two children with a woman without any discussion or thought of marriage be the best way to have a trusting and loving relationship? Probably not—it is generally most obvious, and probably most useful, to deal with concerns about safety, especially where those concerns are at least partly legitimate, by working to increase security. If one likes someone well enough to be intimate with them, one should love and care for them enough to give them the best security that is possible in this world. They may be suspicious anyway, but at least one will have been honorable and above board in doing all that was possible to create the best environment for trust. It is a shame that problems of trust are so large in our world, and that so few people seem willing to do anything about them to build trust, as if they assume that trust will take care of itself, and that the needs of people for security and safety are not worthy of our attention and our utmost effort. Such lack of love and concern, it would appear, has its own reward, and not one that any of us really want.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: