Tag: echo chamber

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?

Nope.

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

How Do Anti-Vaccine Folks Respond to New Information?

Ever wonder why most anti-vaccine folks don’t change their mind and get their kids vaccinated and protected when they “do their research” and “get educated” about vaccines?

You would think that they would, considering that anti-vaccine talking points are all based on myths and misinformation.

How Do Anti-Vaccine Folks Respond to New Information?

While some do change their mind, even before they are faced with an outbreak or their child getting sick, the biggest reason that others don’t is that they are stuck in an echo-chamber of like-minded folks.

This discussion is a good example of how this works.

The original poster wasn’t aware that measles was on the rise all over the world and that people are dying.

How do you respond to the fact that people are dying of measles?

So do they understand that reason behind the deaths is because those folks were unvaccinated?

Why didn’t “extreme poverty, poor nutrition, and a lack of sanitation” cause more measles deaths in Ukraine, Philippines, and Brazil before now?

Nope.

It’s always the vaccine with these folks…

It is anything and everything except that they weren’t vaccinated!

According to whom? You can actually go to the national health sites for each of these countries and find the data for yourself, if you were really interested in doing research.

And that they aren’t in America!

That’s not America… yet. Our measles cases are rising though and sooner or later we will start seeing measles deaths.

So what’s wrong with their thinking?

To start, these countries aren’t underdeveloped!

Brazil and the Philippines are newly industrialized countries and while Ukraine is considered a developing country, it is hardly the developing country without sanitation and nutrition that these folks make it out to be.

The problem in all of these countries isn’t a lack of nutrition, clean water, or health care. It is that too many folks are unvaccinated!

That becomes easier to see when you look at where else we are seeing a lot of measles deaths – the rest of Europe.

In the past 12 months, there have been 22 deaths from measles in Romania, Italy, France, and Greece.

Are folks in Italy suffering from malnutrition? Do they not have clean water?

There have been 64 deaths in Romania since there outbreaks started a few years ago.

Although Romania is a developing country, it isn’t a lack of clean water and sanitation that is causing measles deaths. It is that too many people in Romania are unvaccinated!

And too many people are listening to anti-vaccine propaganda.

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

More on How Anti-Vaccine Folks Respond to New Information

Believe It or Not, Chicken Pox Parties Are Still a Thing

Do you remember having chicken pox?

Oh boy, I sure do!

I was about six or seven years old and it was bad. Still, I’m not sure if I remember because I had such a bad case or because it made me miss Halloween that year.

It was almost certainly both, as I remember being covered in spots from head to toe.

What I don’t recall is having many visitors. Why didn’t my mom throw me a chicken pox party!

I also don’t remember going to a chicken pox party to get sick.

Believe It or Not, Chicken Pox Parties Are Still a Thing

Whether or not chicken pox parties were ever that popular, the approval of the chicken pox vaccine in 1995 should have put an end to the practice.

After all, why intentionally expose your child to a potentially life-threatening disease, when a safe and effective vaccine is readily available?

“Chickenpox (varicella) is generally a much milder illness in children than in adults, with considerably lower rates of severe disease and death. Varicella is also virtually universal in many populations, meaning that very few individuals escape infection over a lifetime. Thus, a sound logic underlies the idea of chickenpox parties, at which susceptible children can acquire the contagious causative pathogen, varicella zoster virus (VZV), from their peers. However, chickenpox is not without risks, even for children of this age; severe, complicated, and occasionally fatal varicella occur in previously healthy children, as well as the immunocompromised (who are at very considerable risk).”

Hambleton et al on Chickenpox Party or Varicella Vaccine?

Most folks understand that. They get their kids vaccinated and have helped get chicken pox under very good control, with outbreaks of chicken pox declining over 95%.

“Each year, more than 3.5 million cases of varicella, 9,000 hospitalizations, and 100 deaths are prevented by varicella vaccination in the United States”

CDC on Monitoring the Impact of Varicella Vaccination

Apparently, not everyone has gotten the message though.

Remember when CPS had to investigate the mom who was having chicken pox parties in Plano, Texas a few years ago?

“On the page, parents post where they live and ask if anyone with a child who has the chicken pox would be willing to send saliva, infected lollipops or clothing through the mail.”

CBS 5 Investigates mail order diseases

Or when anti-vaccine folks were selling and mailing lollipops contaminated with chicken pox to folks so that they could skip the trouble of finding a chicken pox party?

And then there’s that time that a family served chicken pox contaminated punch at their chicken pox party. Oh wait, that was The Simpsons

Chicken pox party - The Simpsons did it.
Chicken pox party – The Simpsons did it in the Milhouse of Sand and Fog episode in Season 17.

So what are they up to now?

Folks are still advertising chicken pox parties in anti-vaccine Facebook groups.
Folks are still advertising chicken pox parties in anti-vaccine Facebook groups.

More of the same…

Does she know that the chicken pox vaccine likely decreases your risk of getting shingles later in life?
Does she know that the chicken pox vaccine likely decreases your risk of getting shingles later in life?

Apparently, there are still plenty of folks looking for chicken pox parties to infect their kids.

Why?

It is easy to see a lot of cognitive biases at play in the decision to host or bring a child to a chicken pox party, including ambiguity aversion (prefer what they think are the known risks of getting the disease), bandwagoning (they think everyone else is doing it, because in their echo chambers of anti-vaccine propaganda, everyone might), and optimism bias, etc.

There is also a very poor perception of risks, as the risks from a natural chicken pox infection are far, far greater than any risk from the vaccine.

Don't forget to tent!!!
Don’t forget to tent and share breath!!!

In bigger news, Facebook has groups who’s mission is “finding pox,” so that parents can get their kids sick!

The mission of PX Colorado is finding pox!
The mission of PX Colorado is finding pox!

How many other PoX type groups are there on Facebook?

How many other parents are intentionally not vaccinating their kids and intentionally exposing them to chicken pox?

Do any of them quarantine or isolate their kids for 10 to 21 days after the chicken pox party, so as to not expose anyone who is too young to be vaccinated, too young to be fully vaccinated, or has a true medical exemption to getting vaccinated, including those who are immunocompromised?

Do they understand the consequences of having these pox parties?

The latest chicken pox party hostess is apparently a nurse - at least for now...
The latest chicken pox party hostess is apparently a nurse – at least for now…

Of course, an investigation from CPS, the health department, or a medical board isn’t the most serious consequence that should discourage folks from hosting or attending a chicken pox party.

Chicken pox can be a serious, even life-threatening infection. Sure, many kids just get a mild case, but others get more serious cases and have bad complications, including skin infections, encephalitis, sepsis, or stroke.

And some people do still die from chicken pox, which is supposed to be a mild, childhood illness.

“This report describes a varicella death in an unvaccinated, previously healthy adolescent aged 15 years.”

Varicella Death of an Unvaccinated, Previously Healthy Adolescent — Ohio, 2009

Fortunately, these deaths have been nearly eliminated thanks to the chicken pox vaccine.

And that’s why parents who are on a mission for “finding pox” should rethink things and switch to a mission to get their kids vaccinated and protected.

More on Chicken Pox Parties

Anti-Vaccine Censorship on Facebook

If you ever wander into a holistic parenting group or a vaccine group that claims to offer “both sides” to educate folks about vaccines, you will, or at least you should, quickly notice that all of the posts and replies sound eerily alike.

This toddler might end up with tetanus because of bad information in this anti-vaccine group.
This toddler might end up with tetanus because of bad advice in this anti-vaccine group.

If a parent asks about a tetanus shot for their child’s wound in one of these groups, no one will suggest that they rush to their pediatrician and get it.

The only disagreements you might see are whether they should treat the wound with colloidal silver, black salve, garlic, urine, activated charcoal, tea tree oil, raw honey, essential oils, or some other non-evidence based therapy.

Anti-Vaccine Censorship

It is no accident that folks get uniform advice against vaccines in these so-called vaccine “education” groups.

The comment that got me banned from posting on Phyicians for Informed Consent.
As often happens on anti-vaccine sites, my comment about tetanus shots was quickly deleted and I was banned from posting further messages.

Anyone who goes against the “vaccines are dangerous” mantra of these groups typically has their comments quickly deleted and gets banned from the group.

Why?

“Echo chambers abound for many other conditions which are not medically recognised, from chronic Lyme disease to electromagnetic hypersensitivity. But perhaps most worrisome is the advance of anti-vaccine narratives across the web. The explosion of dubious sources has allowed them to propagate wildly, undeterred by debunking in the popular press. We might take the current drastic fall in HPV vaccine uptake in Ireland, driven by anti-vaccine groups like REGRET, despite its life-saving efficacy. While organisations including the Health Service Executive have valiantly tried to counter these myths, these claims are perpetuated across social media with little to stop them.”

Echo chambers are dangerous – we must try to break free of our online bubbles

To create an echo chamber of anti-vaccine myths and propaganda and help reinforce all of their anti-vaccine beliefs. And of course, to help scare parents who might be on the fence about vaccines.

After all, it is easier to feel confident in your decisions when you think that everyone else is doing the same thing. Of course they aren’t though. The great majority of people vaccinate and protect their kids.

It is only in these echo chambers of anti-vaccine misinformation that anyone would think that it would be okay to not get an unvaccinated toddler proper treatment for a cut, to skip a rabies shot after exposure to a rabid bat, or to not get travel vaccines before visiting high risk areas of the world.

That’s the power of confirmation bias.

And whether or not you realize it, confirmation bias is likely one of the reasons that you aren’t vaccinating and protecting your kids.

That’s why you need to step out of these echo chambers if you want to understand that vaccines are safe and necessary.

What to Know About Anti-Vaccine Censorhip

Anti-vaccine groups routinely censor, ban, and block messages from people who correct misinformation about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases.

More on Anti-Vaccine Censorship