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Title: Convincing a sceptical public : the challenge of public health
Authors: Cummings, L 
Issue Date: 2020
Source: In B Watson & J Krieger (Eds.), Expanding horizons in health communication, p. 249-274. Singapore: Springer, 2020
Abstract: Public health communications are an everyday occurrence. However, compliance with them and the recommendations they contain is often limited. One reason for poor compliance is the failure on the part of experts to construct public health messages that accord with the rational resources of the public. This chapter examines how one set of rational strategies, a group of cognitive heuristics based on the informal fallacies, has the potential to facilitate decision-making about public health issues. Among the informal fallacies, the argument from ignorance plays an important role in public health communication. A comparative analysis is undertaken of the use of this argument in the public health communications issued by the Department of Health in Hong Kong and Public Health England in the UK. It is argued that there are qualitative differences in the use of the argument from ignorance across these two contexts. Specifically, the public in Hong Kong is encouraged to reflect on epistemic conditions that are integral to the rational warrant of this argument. These conditions are less often acknowledged by public health agencies in the UK. Greater rational evaluation of these conditions, it is argued, leads to better decision-making in matters relating to public health.
Keywords: Argument from ignorance
Cognitive heuristic
Informal fallacy
Public health communication
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 978-981-15-4388-3 (print)
978-981-15-4389-0 (eBook)
DOI: 10.1007/978-981-15-4389-0_12
Rights: © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020
This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of a chapter published in Expanding Horizons in Health Communication. The final authenticated version is available online at:
Appears in Collections:Book Chapter

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