Tag: answers

Anti-Vax Debate Techniques

It shouldn’t be a surprise that few people want to debate someone who is against vaccines, especially when you become familiar with their typical debate techniques.

Anti-Vax Debate Techniques

Since all arguments against vaccines have been refuted a thousand times, what do these folks do when they get in a situation where they have to talk to someone about vaccines or vaccine-preventable diseases?

At a gathering for the New York Alliance for Vaccine Rights and First Freedoms Community during the recent "alleged" New York City measles outbreak, Larry Palevsky (left) made wide use of many of the anti-vax debate techniques discussed below.
At a gathering for the New York Alliance for Vaccine Rights and First Freedoms Community during the recent “alleged” New York City measles outbreak, Larry Palevsky (left) made wide use of many of the techniques discussed below.

Science isn’t on their side, so they instead have to resort to fallacious debate tactics to try and trick and scare people into believing them, such as:

  1. copypasta – arguments, stories, or links that people save and repeatedly copy and paste into online forums and Facebook groups.
  2. gish gallop – trying to drown or overwhelm someone in arguments, often by posting copypasta.
  3. firehosing – similar to a gish gallop, but occurs “over time and in multiple venues.”
  4. JAQing off – these are the folks who say that they are “just asking questions…”, but aren’t really looking for answers.
  5. cherry picking – when someone chooses to only use information that fits their beliefs (often conveniently packaged in anti-vax binders), ignoring any and all other information that would prove them wrong.
  6. gaslighting – making someone doubt their reality.
  7. scare stories – telling vaccine injury stories are perhaps one of the prime tools that are used to scare parents on the Internet.
  8. vaccine choice – why do some people think that “they” are going to force their kids to be vaccinated without their consent?
  9. false balance – when all opinions are given the same weight, even those that have no facts to back them up or have already been disproven and discredited.
  10. dismissing everyone they disagree with as Big Pharma shills.

Whatever technique they are using, don’t fall for it.

You are not making an informed choice if your decision is based on misinformation and propaganda.

“Well, if you’re going to inform yourself about vaccines, I think anybody who’s truly informed will realize that getting a vaccine is much better than not getting one. If you’re choosing not to vaccinate your child, it’s because you’re getting, frankly, bad information about vaccines.”

Paul Offit, MD

Instead know that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Anti-Vaccine Debate Tactics and Techniques

Begun the Vaccine Wars Has

Star Wars imagery has long been a part about discussions about vaccines…

Parents of Earth, are your children fully immunized?
Remember this poster about vaccines?

Unfortunately, it has seeped its way into the other side too…

Begun the Vaccine Wars Has

The other side?

“It’s a trap!” – Admiral Ackbar

Yes, there are folks who are against getting kids vaccinated and protected and for some reason, they identify with the Dark Side of the Force.

“Your focus determines your reality.” – Qui-Gon Jinn

Does that mean vaccine advocates are the Jedi in this scenario?

“In my experience there is no such thing as luck.”

Obi-Wan Kenobi

However this plays out, let’s just hope vaccine hesitant parents aren’t stuck on Alderan…

“Somebody has to save our skins.”

Leia Organa

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

Let’s help them see through the misinformation and propaganda of those trying to scare them away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

More on the Vaccine Wars

Immunization Quiz

Think that you have done enough research about vaccines and are ready to take our immunization quiz?

Let’s see how you do…


Great job!

Good try, but you might want to do a little more research about vaccines.

#1 You might need a tetanus shot if…

Any contaminated puncture wounds, whether from a rusty nail, bite, or scratch, may require a tetanus shot and TIG if your immunizations aren’t current.

#2 DTaP stands for…

DTaP stands for Diphtheria, Tetanus and acellular Pertussis.

#3 If you miss one or more of your child’s sets of shots, you will usually need to…

In general, you do not need to restart the entire series of a vaccine if you miss one or more doses. You should schedule a visit as soon as possible to get caught up though.

#4 If your child has a possible side effect after getting his vaccines, you can report it to…

You or your Pediatrician can report possible vaccine side effects to VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

#5 Prevnar is a vaccine that protects against infections with the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, which commonly causes…

The Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria can commonly cause meningitis, blood infections, pneumonia and ear infections.

#6 In general, vaccines are…

Vaccines are neither 100% safe nor 100% effective, but they do offer the ‘highest degree of protection with the lowest rate of untoward effects’ and the benefits of getting vaccinated is thought by most professionals to outweigh the risks.

#7 Heather Whitestone, who was crowned Miss America in 1994, was deaf because of…

Newspapers reported that Heather Whitestone, who won the Miss America pageant in 1994, had a reaction to the DPT shot. In reality, her deafness was a result of a Hib infection.

#8 If you want to protect your healthy 6 year old against the flu, you can get him a flu vaccine in a…

Flumist, a nasal spray flu vaccine, can be given to healthy children who are at least 2 years old, so this child could either get a regular flu shot or the nasal spray.

#9 Which of the following vaccines usually aren’t given until your child’s first birthday?

The first MMR vaccine usually isn’t given until a child is 12-15 months of age, although it can be given as early as 6 months if they will be traveling to a high risk area or during an outbreak, with the dose repeated at 12 months. The first DTaP is given at 2 months and the influenza vaccine (flu shot) can be given to infants over age 6 months. The Td or tetanus vaccine is not given until a child is at least 7 years old.

#10 At what age can children begin getting yearly flu shots?

#11 You can get a flu vaccine if you are…

In general, you can get a flu shot if you are breastfeeding or pregnant. People with severe egg allergies should talk to their doctor before getting a flu shot, but they can still usually be vaccinated. There is no association between milk allergies and the flu shot.

#12 MMR stands for…

MMR is a combination of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines.

#13 Before going to college, students, especially those that will be living in a dorm should consider getting…

College students, particularly those who live in dormitories, have a slightly increased risk of getting meningococcal disease and should get a meningococcal vaccine (Menactra or Menveo). A menB vaccine is also now available.

#14 There are vaccines to prevent your child from getting infected with the…

There is currently no hepatitis C vaccine, but children and adults can get vaccinated with both the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines.

#15 In the United States, the oral polio vaccine is…

The oral polio or Sabin vaccine is no longer given to children in the United States because in a few people (about one in 2.4 million), it can cause polio. The oral polio vaccine is actually better at keeping the disease from spreading to other people though and is still used in many parts of the world.

#16 There are vaccines that can protect people against…

There are vaccines to protect against smallpox and anthrax, however there are no vaccines against SARS or the West Nile virus. The vaccine against Lyme Disease is no longer available. We do have a Rotavirus vaccine.

#17 You have lost your 5 year olds shot records and he is about to start school. You may have to…

Since Hib and Prevnar are usually only given to children under age 5, you would not have to repeat all of his shots. You will have to repeat some of them though (DTaP (4doses), IPV (3doses), hepatitis A (2 doses), hepatitis B (3 doses), MMR (2 doses), Chickenpox (2 doses)) if you do not test his immunity or titer testing does not prove that he is immune.

#18 If a women is pregnant, which shots should her kids not receive?

A pregnant household member, including the child’s mother, is not a contraindication to administration of any vaccine.

#19 Waning immunity is an issue for which of the following vaccines?

Vaccine-induced immunity to pertussis is thought to last for just a few years following the last dose. Measles and chickenpox immunity is long lasting.

#20 Your child should not get a vaccine if…

In general, vaccines do not need to be delayed for mild illnesses, with or without fever, such as a cold or if your child is taking antibiotics. Having had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine is usually a contraindication or reason not to get another one.


Did you ace the quiz?

Need to do some more homework?

Either way, we have over a thousand articles to help get you educated about vaccines.

More on the Immunization Quiz

About Those Binders of Anti-Vaccine Misinformation

Anti-vaccine folks don’t have to just turn to Facebook or the Sears Vaccine Book anymore – they are preparing their own binders of anti-vaccine misinformation.

There are a few versions of these binders of anti-vaccine misinformation going around.
There are a few versions of these binders of anti-vaccine misinformation going around.

How does that work?

Binders of Anti-Vaccine Misinformation

Apparently, they just collect and print all of the anti-vaccine articles from their typical copypasta arguments and load them all up into binders.

Including copyrighted material in your binders might make you want to stop selling them too...
Including copyrighted material in your binders might make you want to stop selling them too…

Here is one the entries from Ashley Everly‘s binder, from the section on “asymptomatic transmission and shedding:”

The rash started two days after his fever, too short a time for measles, and there wasn't even any documentation of prolonged fever.
The rash started two days after his fever, too short a time for measles, and there wasn’t even any documentation of prolonged fever.

Does it provide evidence for asymptomatic transmission or shedding of measles?


The child had a rash after having his measles vaccine and had the flu. He likely didn’t have measles. Not even vaccine-associated measles.

Anyway, as is typical for these binders, they only use one example that might reinforce their argument, but leave out all of the ones that don’t.

“In the end we are left with a powerful sense of knowledge – false knowledge. Confirmation bias leads to a high level of confidence, we feel we are right in our gut. And when confronted with someone saying we are wrong, or promoting an alternate view, some people become hostile.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is not just a curiosity of psychology, it touches on a critical aspect of the default mode of human thought, and a major flaw in our thinking. It also applies to everyone – we are all at various places on that curve with respect to different areas of knowledge. You may be an expert in some things, and competent in others, but will also be toward the bottom of the curve in some areas of knowledge.”

Steven Novella on Lessons from Dunning-Kruger

These binders are just like their Facebook groups – echo chambers of anti-vaccine misinformation.

They won’t help you do research about vaccines and they certainly won’t help you win any debates or arguments with someone who truly knows something about vaccines.

More On Those Binders of Anti-Vaccine Misinformation