Tag: debate

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

Is It Rational to Be Anti-Vaccine?

Why do some people think that they are making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children’s vaccines?

Are parents making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children's vaccines?
Are parents really making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children’s vaccines?

Is it because they “know” that they are right?

Or because others reinforce their beliefs?

Is It Rational to Be Anti-Vaccine?

Whatever the reason, we should be clear that skipping or delaying vaccines, leaving your child at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease and putting others at risk, is really not a rational decision.

“It is not the case, of course, that people make decisions about vaccination based solely on rational, evidenced-based, scientific perspectives.”

Timothy Caulfield et al on Injecting doubt: responding to the naturopathic anti-vaccination rhetoric

Instead, people often seem to skip or delay vaccines after fear helps a number of cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies take hold and change their perception of risk into something that is much different from reality. That fear is stoked by misinformation and propaganda they see on the Internet or hear from friends and family.

Or they become influenced by the idea that their child has been damaged or injured by a vaccine, even though in the great majority of cases, it has been shown that vaccines do not cause those problems.

“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

So call it what you want, but no, in general, it is not rational to be anti-vaccine, especially considering that:

Do you know what the biggest clue that it isn’t a rational decision in most cases?

Changing Your Mind About Vaccines

When a rational person is given new evidence or information that not only challenges their worldview, but blows it out of the water, what do they do?

They change their mind.

“It is irrational to hold any view so tightly that you aren’t willing to admit the possibility that you might be wrong.”

What would it take to convince you that you were wrong?

When do anti-vax folks change their minds?

“I don’t feel I’m putting my child at risk. There’s nothing that’s going to change my mind on this on that specific vaccination.”

More often than not, it is after one of their kids gets sick or there is a disease outbreak nearby.

Instead of changing their minds in the midst of disease outbreaks and immunization mandates, some parents decide to break the law

If you are not vaccinating and protecting your kids, what would it take to get you to change your mind about vaccines?

Do you need to see double blind placebo controlled studies, studies with saline placebos, studies with vaccines tested together, or long term safety studies?

Do you need to remind yourself what the pre-vaccine era was like? Or understand what will happen if too many people stop vaccinating their kids?

Don't wait until it's too late to vaccinate your child.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to vaccinate your child.

Whatever it takes, hopefully you don’t wait too long and regret your decision.

Of course, no one wants to intentionally harm their children. But you can’t do what’s right and make a rational decision if you are relying on bad information and advice.

More on the Idea of Rational Anti-Vaccine Beliefs

Bobby Kennedy’s Vaccine Injury Debate

Why do some folks think that vaccine injuries are so common?

Unlike Bobby Kennedy, the CDC explains that severe injuries from vaccines are very rare.
Unlike Bobby Kennedy, the CDC explains that severe injuries from vaccines are very rare.

Oh, the usual suspects…

Bobby Kennedy’s Vaccine Injury Debate

Hopefully everyone sees what Bobby Kennedy is doing here.

He is mixing up a lot of different things, hoping you won’t notice and that you will walk away scared to vaccinate and protect your kids.

First things first.

Does the CDC say that 1 in 1,000,000 may be injured by shots?

Actually, no.

That sounds like the rate for severe vaccine injuries, like anaphylaxis and death.

What Bobby Kennedy is talking about though, that Federal Study, is a report, Electronic Support for Public Health–Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (ESP:VAERS), that was conducted at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Inc.

“Preliminary data were collected from June 2006 through October 2009 on 715,000 patients, and 1.4 million doses (of 45 different vaccines) were given to 376,452 individuals. Of these doses, 35,570 possible reactions (2.6 percent of vaccinations) were identified.”

Electronic Support for Public Health–Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (ESP:VAERS)

The study identified all possible reactions, including minor reactions, like pain and fever, and wasn’t looking at just vaccine injuries, unless that is what you consider to be a vaccine injury. And since the study was looking at VAERS and possible reactions, they were not even necessarily causally related to the vaccines that the kids were given.

What else does Bobby Kennedy say?

“Slide 3 is a table from HHS’s 2016 Neiss-Cades survey published in JAMA reporting an astonishing 19.5% of children under five who are admitted to emergency rooms for drug reactions are suffering vaccine injuries.”

Bobby Kennedy

What kind of vaccine injuries?

They are vaccination reactions – any adverse effect from a vaccine. They could be fever, hives, or a febrile seizure – we don’t know. Importantly, only a very small percentage of those kids who went to the ER were hospitalized.

Lastly, Bobby Kennedy wonders how a pediatrician might claim to have never seen a vaccine injury.

It’s easy to understand his confusion.

Getting listed in a vaccine insert doesn't automatically make something a vaccine injury.
Getting listed in a vaccine insert doesn’t automatically make something a vaccine injury.

Most people reserve the term vaccine injury for the more severe reactions covered under the Vaccine Injury Table, like anaphylaxis, VAPP, thrombocytopenic purpura, and intussusception.

And they use the term side effects for the more temporary reactions that are thought to be caused by a vaccine.

All of these vaccine adverse events can be reported to VAERS online or using a downloadable form.
All of these vaccine adverse events can be reported to VAERS online or using a downloadable form.

That’s very unlike those folks who consider anything and everything that happens after a child is vaccinated, even if it is many months later, to be a vaccine injury, including things like ADHD, diabetes, and autism, etc.

More on Vaccine Injuries

Is the TODAY Show Stoking Vaccine Fears?

We know that historically, the media has done a very good job of scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

From pushing vaccine misinformation and vaccine scare stories to providing false balance about vaccine stories, many in the media have promoted myths and fake controversies when reporting about vaccines.

Things have been getting better though.

Is the TODAY Show Stoking Vaccine Fears?

Or have they…

The TODAY Show later deleted this tweet about vaccines.
The TODAY Show later deleted this tweet about vaccines.

Do you see what’s wrong with the TODAY Show story about Jessica Biel?

Are they really asking whether or not vaccines are safe?!?

It’s not a debate!

Vaccines are safe!

HuffPo called out the Today Show for posting an irresponsible message about vaccines.
Even HuffPo called out the Today Show for posting an irresponsible message about vaccines.

Did they really get called out by HuffPo for irresponsibly covering vaccines?

You might realize how ironic that is if you remember just how bad HuffPo used to be, regularly posting some of the worst anti-vaccine stories. Have they gotten better?

The HuffPo is better, but certainly not perfect, by any means…

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr is not a vaccine skeptic!

The TODAY Show’s Coverage of Vaccines

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that the TODAY show has scared parents away from vaccines. After all, they are the ones who aired excerpts of Vaccine Roulette, the show which many people credit with starting the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Autism is not associated with vaccines. It isn't a debate!
Autism is not associated with vaccines. It isn’t a debate!

More recently, the TODAY Show had Robert De Niro on to talk about Andrew Wakefield‘s VAXXED.

The TODAY Show fixed their mistake and irresponsibe headline that could stoke vaccine fears.
The TODAY Show fixed their mistake and irresponsibe headline that could stoke vaccine fears.

After so many missteps in the past, the TODAY Show shouldn’t be making these kinds of mistakes anymore.

If they do, there will be plenty of folks ready to call them out.

More on the TODAY is Show Stoking Vaccine Fears