When is it reasonable to demand more studies?

The Logic of Science

I recently wrote a post in which I reviewed the scientific literature on vaccines and autism, and the responses from the anti-vaccine crowd were predictable. The most common of these responses followed the basic format of, “but it could be X, and scientists haven’t thoroughly studied X yet.” This line of reasoning is very common in anti-science circles. It shows up often in debates on GMOs, climate change, natural remedies, etc., and it is honestly somewhat of a confusing topic because, unlike many arguments used against science, this one is not automatically fallacious. There are times in which it is a completely legitimate argument, but there are other times when it is only somewhat legitimate, and other times when it is totally invalid. Thus, these arguments fall along a spectrum and there is no clear and universal set of rules for determining whether or not a particular argument is valid…

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