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The antivaccine movement on Facebook: Small world networks, conspiracy theories, moral outrage, and paranoia

Facebook has become a hub from which antivaxers spread misinformation. A recent study looks at what they’re saying and how FB pages facilitate the spread of antivaccine misinformation.

Regular readers might be puzzled that, so far in 2018, there has only been one post. There is a reason for that, besides my having decided to take a blog break from right before Christmas to a couple of days ago: Puppies! It turns out that taking care, cleaning up after, and playing with the puppies is taking up a lot of time I’d normally use blogging. Sadly, though, our time with these lovely puppies is coming to an end, as they will be going back to the shelter Sunday to be put up for adoption. They’re so damned cute that I can’t believe they won’t find forever homes really fast.

Still, that’s no excuse for not cleaning up a loose end from 2017. Some of you might remember that in the usually slow news week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, there was a brief flurry of articles about a study on the antivaccine movement online. This time, unlike previous such studies that I’ve discussed, it wasn’t about Twitter, which amplifies antivaccine messages, in some cases due to the use of bots. In contrast, this study by Naomi Smith, Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Federation University Australia (Gippsland), and Timothy Graham, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian National University, Australia, with a joint appointment in the Research School of Social Science and the Research School of Computer Science, was about antivaccine activity on Facebook and entitled Mapping the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook.

Before I get into the study itself, just let me just vent briefly about a pet peeve I had about the media coverage of the article. One of the findings of the study was—surprise! surprise!—that most antivaxers on Facebook are women. This is about as startling to anyone who’s perused antivaccine Facebook groups (as I have) as the sun rising in the morning and setting at night. The reason is almost certainly very simple: Women still provide the vast majority of direct child care and make most of the decisions about the medical care of their children, as the authors point out. Yet what sorts of headlines did I see? These:

My reading of the study was that, while this was one major finding of the study, it is not the main one by any means and certainly not the most important, probably because it’s about as close to a “Well, duh!” finding as you can imagine. Worse, the headlines could provide fodder for antivaxers to claim misogyny. It’s been a common and not entirely unjustified complaint among antivaxers, such as when pro-science advocates harp on Jenny McCarthy’s history as a Playboy Playmate to dismiss her, although far more often it’s vastly overblown. Far better was a headline like, Study Shows What’s Really Going on in Online Anti-Vax Groups, because it does.

So what did the study find? First, let’s look at how it was done. The authors chose Facebook because it is the most popular social network, and they chose a purposive sample six large public antivaccine Facebook pages. Basically, a purposive sample is not a random sample. Sometimes also called judgmental, selective, or subjective sampling, a purposive sample is a sample selected based on characteristics of a population and the objective of the study. Such a sample can be quite useful in research situations when researchers need to examine a targeted sample and where proportionality is not the main concern. The authors explain their rationale:

We have chosen to focus on Facebook as it is still the most popular social network site in the world and has the broadest user base. A purposive sample of six Facebook pages was selected by triangulating data (Denzin, 1970) from both Australia and North America, providing two important, albeit considerably different, sites of current anti-vaccination activity (see Table 1). Purposive sampling also helped us identify sites that were relevant to the anti-vaccination movement, and provided interesting and important insights on the anti-vaccination movement. In addition, conducting large-scale data analysis (detailed below) the sites were also reviewed before data collection to ensure the timeline for data collection (14 April 2013 and 14 April 2016) would be analytically useful (Smith & O’Malley, 2016).

The authors ended up settling on six public facebook pages, with the number of Likes as of December 3, 2015 in parentheses:

I was actually surprised at how few Likes most of these pages had, while at the same time being disturbed at how many Likes Sherri Tenpenny’s page has. In any case, I have at one time or another perused most of these pages, with the exception of RAGE Against the Vaccines, which, oddly enough, I had never heard of before.

The authors used a range of analytical methods to answer two questions:

  1. What are the networked properties of anti-vaccination communities on Facebook, including their size, shape, and connectedness?
  2. What types of anti-vaccination discourses are present within these communities?

Let’s take a look at the second question first. The authors did topic modeling on the complete set of comment text to determine what topics are likely to be driving antivaccine discourse using a method known as Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). Conceptually, in natural language processing, LDA is a generative statistical model that represents a set of text documents in terms of a mixture of topics that generate words with particular probabilities. The exampled used to illustrate the concept was this comment: “Kill one person, go to jail, kill thousands and pay a fine. Where is the justice?” which might be largely generated from a topic labelled Crime and Justice, associated with words such as criminal, abuse, murder, crime, jail, justice, experiment, fraud, kill.

Antivaccine topics
Antivaccine topics on Facebook

I must admit that I was rather surprised that vaccine injury didn’t feature more prominently, although it didn’t surprise me at all that conspiracy theories like chemtrails and quack topics were represented at a high level. This finding also did not surprise me:

The qualitatively labelled topics point towards several key pre-occupations of the antivaccination communities, constitutive of the Facebook pages examined. Primarily, the results of the topic modelling suggest that the anti-vaccination community is very concerned with the institutional arrangements that are perceived to be perpetuating the harmful practice of vaccination. The sentiment across all topic models (with the exception of Topic 9) is quite negative in tone, suggesting that users of the anti-vaccination pages feel not only morally outraged about the practice of vaccination, but structurally oppressed by seemingly tyrannical and conspiratorial government and media. Topics 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 10 all appear to accord with conspiracy-style beliefs in which the government and media are key actors in underplaying, denying, or perpetuating the perceived harms caused by vaccinations. These include: media cover-up or denial of the extent of vaccination injury and death (Topic 3); Bill Gates’ involvement in the spread of Zika virus within Brazil and beyond its borders (Topic 5); and chemtrails (Topic 10), which is a belief that the vapour trails emitted by aircraft are chemical compounds sprayed by the government and designed to subdue the population and/or control the weather (Oliver & Wood, 2014).

The prevalence of conspiracy-style thinking is unsurprising. Survey research undertaken by the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies indicates that 55% of respondents in 2011 agreed with at least two of the conspiracy theories they were presented with. This suggests that conspiracy-style thinking is relatively prevalent in the general population, and perhaps particularly pronounced among those who hold anti-vaccination beliefs (Oliver & Wood, 2014).

If conspiracy-style thinking is highly prevalent in the general population (and the rise of fake news is a definite indicator that it is), then the antivaccine movement represents conspiracy-style thinking on steroids.

Regarding the first question, the authors found that antivaccine networks are an “effective hub” for distributing antivaccine misinformation designed to encourage grass roots resistance to current vaccination policies and this:

Our analysis suggests that anti-vaccination networks, despite their relative size and high levels of activity, are relatively sparse or ‘loose’, that is, they do not necessarily function as close-knit communities of support with participants interacting with each other in a sustained way over time. However, this does not necessarily mean that anti-vaccination networks provide no support. Simply participating in a community of like-minded others may reinforce and cement anti-vaccination beliefs. Our data also suggest that participants are moderately active across several anti-vaccination Facebook pages, suggesting that users’ activity on anti-vaccination is more than just a product of Facebook’s recommender system. Liking and actively commenting on a number of anti-vaccination pages across Facebook suggests that those who are involved in this network may develop a pattern of activity and involvement across multiple pages, creating a filter bubble effect that reinforces anti-vaccination sentiment and practice. However, it is difficult to discern from the data to what extent the filter bubble is created through users’ own agency and activity, and how much is influenced by the algorithmic structure of Facebook, whereby Facebook actively targets users with content they would be more likely to click on and relate to.

So we have a loosely knit network of antivaccine FB pages, although one thing I have to wonder about this study is whether the sample size of pages was large enough to make such sweeping generalizations. My misgiving about this aside, several observations did ring true to me as someone who’s lurked in these forums. For instance, the authors found that posts and memes were highly shared, with eople frequently “sharing” posts on their own Facebook pages or on their friends’ pages. Overall, there were more than 2 million shares across the six groups studied during the two-year period, which means that an antivaccine FB page’s reach goes far beyond just the members of the group who frequent that page. What would be interesting to me is the question of which social network is more efficient at increasing traffic to links to antivaccine articles, FB or Twitter. My guess is that it would be FB, based on personal experience. Remember that time I got into a minor Twitter kerfuffle last year with William Shatner, who has over 1 million followers on Twitter? He actually linked to one of my posts, and I was shocked that the bump in traffic that I received was minor at best. On the other hand, looking at traffic sources when I have a traffic spike often reveals FB as the source.

Another aspect of the networks antivaccine FB pages exhibit what the authors refer to as “small world” networks. Small world networks have two characteristics that allow message to move through the network effectively. First, in these networks small groups of nodes are highly clustered and interconnected. The second characteristic is that large groups of nodes in the networks are sparsely interconnected. Such networks are robust and resist damage. Specifically, randomly removing nodes from such a network will have little effect on the effectiveness and dynamics of the network. If one node shus down, the network continues to function, barely noticing.

Finally, let’s circle back to the observation that women dominate antivaccine FB pages. Here’s what the authors say about it:

The gender composition of anti-vaccination movement reflects dominant cultural understandings of parenting. That is, that the parenting and care of children is primarily a maternal concern. Women are still more likely to stay at home and care for children (Medved, 2016), and this care includes making decisions about healthcare choices. Historically, vaccination was seen to be ‘a mother’s question’ (Durbach, 2005, p. 60), women’s maternal instincts were to the privileged as forms of knowledge as mothers were argued to be best placed to tell if their children were healthy or not. In the contemporary anti-vaccination movement, our analysis suggests that anti-vaccination, is now, more than ever, ‘a mother’s question’. The anti-vaccination movement is now primarily lead by women. Notably, one of the most popular anti-vaccination pages on Facebook ‘Vaccine Info’ is run by Dr Sherri Tenpenny. Given the gendered nature of participants on anti-vaccination pages, we can conclude that the anti-vaccination movement is a significantly ‘feminised’ social phenomena, although the issue it addresses is not gender specific.

This all rings pretty true, and it certainly is true that antivaccine pseudoscience is the pseudoscience that transcends many boundaries, particularly political. It is not surprising that it also transcends gender boundaries. In any case, there’s little doubt that the antivaccine movement glorifies “maternal instinct, with mothers of autistic children frequently claiming special maternal knowledge as a rationale to dismiss science that does not support their belief that vaccines caused their child’s autism.

The other finding of this study that rings true is the moral outrage that dominates antivaccine groups. I’ve noted and documented that this sort of outrage not infrequently manifests itself in references to the Holocaust, with comparisons of vaccines with mass poisonings and likening pro-vaccine advocates to Nazis. Another form I’ve noticed this moral outrage taking is a fantasy of ultimate vindication, in which “they” are forced to admit that antivaxers were right all along. This is sometimes even combined with fantasies of retribution, in which visions of punishing the “Nazis” who made their children autistic with “toxic vaccines” (or at least demanding their unconditional surrender). It’s how “they” view “us,” as evil enemies. It’s why they game and abuse reporting algorithms to trick FB into silencing pro-vaccine voices.

Sadly, I can’t disagree with the authors’ conclusion:

This ‘righteous indignation’, in combination with the network characteristics identified in this study, indicates that anti-vaccination communities are likely to be persistent across time and global in scope as they utilise the affordances of social media platforms to disseminate anti-vaccination information. Concerns about vaccination reveal a community that feels persecuted and is suspicious of mainstream medical practice and government-sanctioned methods to prevent disease. In a generation that has rarely seen these diseases first hand, the risk of adverse reaction seems more immediate and pressing than disease prevention (Davies et al., 2002).

This, too, is a “Well, duh!” conclusion, one that anyone who’s studied the antivaccine movement for any significant length of time will know these observations to be true. That’s not to say that there isn’t value in demonstrating these conclusions by another method, particularly when it sheds light on how antivaccine misinformation spreads. Devising strategies to counter the exaggerated fears of rare adverse reactions in people who’ve never seen the horrors that vaccine-preventable diseases can inflict without heightening the paranoia already so ingrained in the antivaccine movement.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

74 replies on “The antivaccine movement on Facebook: Small world networks, conspiracy theories, moral outrage, and paranoia”

Well, vaccines can certainly be made safer with calcium phosphate adjuvant. Also, raising the antigens with free amino acids would easily circumvent any issues arising from anaphylactic sensitization. These changes towards safety wouldn’t be expensive, nor difficult, but would serve to make for vaccines that nearly everyone would be happy with.

I was a little surprised that their choice of page didn’t include pages like NVIC, which is really large, or VIN. I think the Australian audience may be somewhat different in focus on pages.

(That’s not to discount the value of what they did. I would, however, have liked more explanation on choice of pages)

Good point that I should have mentioned. It’s about the same size as Sherri Tenpenny’s group, which is now over 200,000 Likes.

Another non-surprise – that one of the “topics likely to be driving antivaccine discourse” is agriscience fear and loathing, namely anti-GMO sentiment.

The irony here is that while these people are raging against Monsanto, other corporations are gleefully exploiting their fears to make money (witness the current Gerber ad campaign that emphasizes it would never inflict GMOs on Baby).

In a way every baby is a GMO, an undirected hybrid of two organisms, often with less predictable results than directed GMO experiments. And then we release them into the environment to reproduce at will.

Having eaten Gerber’s meat-based baby food (for a class on infant nutrition) “inflict” is exactly the word I would use to describe their food. Simultaneously tasteless with an odor reminiscent of having stepped in dog poop.

While I generally really respect Marion Nestle, I’m very frustrated by her position on GMOs (and more annoyed that the crazed pro-GMO/anti-GMO hoard made her turn off comments on her site).

I can’t view this article (d/t a paywall), but based on your review I feel it’s a few years behind where the anti-vaccine movement is now.

When the authors state “This ‘righteous indignation’, in combination with the network characteristics identified in this study, indicates that anti-vaccination communities are likely to be persistent across time and global in scope as they utilise the affordances of social media platforms to disseminate anti-vaccination information.”, I agree this is a complete “no-duh” statement unless somehow Zuckerberg’s New Years resolutions included punting them off FB (unlikely)

Not only will these groups persist upon time, but they’ve become the foundation of a rapidly growing bootstrapped structure for the anti-vaccine movement. In my email in the last two weeks I’ve received rather well-done promos for a variety of anti-vaccine on-line “seminars” called “Vaccines Revealed”, “The Epidemic of Broken Brains”, “Heavy Metal Detox”, and “Injecting Aluminum”, as well as multiple anti-vaccine press releases from “Physicians for Informed Consent” and solicitation from several anti-vax “holistic pediatricians”. Also we now have the existence of “[YOUR STATE] for Vaccine Choice” Facebook pages/web sites along with rabid/rapid large-scale responses to even the slightest pro-vaccine legislation (coordinated by the NVIC). Add to that continued lack of any sanctions in the US against anti-vaccine physicians (who spearhead and give false credence to all the AV chiroquacks/naturoquacks) as well as any public condemnation from groups like the AMA/AAP/AAFP against anything/one in the AV movement (which would really help a lot of very confused parents I’m seeing in clinic who are increasingly delaying/skipping vaccine based on all the AV tripe they can’t help but come across” and we have a perfect combination for an anti-vaccine “cyclone bomb”.

A few years from now, after all the VPD outbreaks happen, another group of academics will publish on the outbreaks and retrospectively state more should have been done then. What’s maddening is this is preventable now.

It would be interesting to correlate the geographic locations of the anti-vaxers on FB with the locations of relevant disease outbeaks (measles etc.).

Method: Extract all proper nouns (one to four words in a row beginning with capital letters), filter out person-names (this step probably requires live human hands-on), correlate with authors, correlate with outbreak locations, run cluster analysis.

This would probably be a publishable paper. At which point it could be brought to the attention of FB management, with a softly-worded implication that if they fail to act, bad publicity will follow.

TMR started with a group of women who knew each other from college and met on facebook attracting new friends. I see that they have 60K likes. Another site I used to watch is the Vaccine Machine with 50K: they’re a lot quieter now- a few years ago they fairly bubbled with recommendations for friendly doctors and home cures.

I don’t look into the more private groups that arose on facebook where I suspect much “counselling” is going on by veterans to newbies; I notice that original TMs present less posts on the TMR site. I think they’re active elsewhere ( they’ve said as much)

I am often sickened by anti-vaxxers’ self-portrayal as feminists: in fact, their attitudes remind me of aspects of the worst stereotypes used to insult women. They gossip; they portray their own children as special whilst slighting others; they base their decisions on emotions and self- interest; they worship material perfection and an outdated lifestyle where women kept house and children as their utmost concern.

Kinder, Kuchen, Kirche? Well, not quite but there are spiritual moms and home maker moms. And to be fair, a few bemoan their inability to manage work outside the home because of their children’s disabilities. I think that their anti-vax careers as writers, speakers, researchers and activists may be a substitute for roles outside the home. Many have written books already. Maybe we should consider their so-called activism as self-help gone wrong. I have referred to their clan as awful group therapy.

Another trend to be noted is how they link up to woo: whenever a ( so-called) vaccine or autism docudrama screens or a woo-meister charges the government with crimes- they accept without question.

Just to reinforce that, we have several anti-vaccine activists call for sequestering babies at home for the first six months – something impossible for a working mom. Or for that matter, very very hard for a mom that has more than one kid. Or exclusive breastfeeding for over a year – again, doesn’t quite work with a career.

Sequestering a baby for six months? Unless the parents are so fabulously wealthy that they can afford a full-time nanny, that is not and has never been practical. Sooner or later the mother will have to go shopping, or to a medical/dental appointment of her own, and bring the baby with her. Anybody who seriously advocates this is so out of touch that she should be asked what color the sky is on her home planet.

Then there are the mental health effects on the mother. BBC News had a feature a month or two ago about mothers who sequester their babies for the first month or so–this is apparently common practice among ethnic Chinese in the UK. It’s a practice which is sure to enhance feelings of isolation, which often come with post-partum depression. That has to be the opposite of empowering for the women involved. And anybody who advocates a practice that makes women less empowered rather than more empowered is, IMHO, not a feminist. As Denice suggests, it’s a bit too reminiscent of Kinder, Kuche, Kirche.

Sequestering a baby for six months would result in the developmental delays they blame on vaccines.

Never mind the mental health of the parents doing the sequestering.

Vaccine Machine? Isn’t that the group run by former RI regular who used to comment as “Sid Offit”?
And please forgive me for a moment for channeling Lilady with the disclaimer that I don’t do Facebook.

I’m not surprised that his site would be less active now.

Chris Hickie mentions seminars-
in addition to ( pseudo) educational conferences like Autism One and AoA’s doppelganger, there are eConferences and webinars on TMR – mostly related to woo merchandising such as de-tox footbaths or spiritual healing which are free of cost. Null insists that he will forego all live lectures and stick solely to webinars ( at 20 USD each) which will be available worldwide- many of his self-produced ( fearmongering) documentaries focus on vaccines and autism because that’s where the interest is. Anti-vax docs like Tenpenny, Brogan, Bark et al are featured performers.

A few new “journalists” like Jeffery Jaxen and Del Bigtree have jumped on the anti-vax bandwagon as well: Bigtree hosts “Highwire”. The faithful link to both of these creatures habitually. Facebook helps them rook the public.

Orac writes,

The anti-vaccine movement on Facebook.

MJD says,

Anti-vaccine Mom’s/Dad’s on Facebook and anti-vaccine antibodies in medical science.

@ Orac,

Can you help clarify the term “anti-vaccine”?

Narad writes,

Hi, I self-publish!

MJD says,

Very proud of you, Narad.

Can you provide a reference?

Plural/possessive confusion is the hallmark of a writer one should never take seriously. Sigh. And he still doesn’t get it after you pointed out the error. Double sigh…

Orac HAS clarified “anti-vaccine” for you.
Multiple times.
The fact that you don’t like his answer because it describes you is irrelevant. You are being thoroughly disingenuous by repeating that question over and over even after it has been answered.

@ Julian Frost,

A quick search in the official FDA website ( using the term “anti-vaccine” presented one citation that was not directed at anti-vaccine antibodies (i.e., Anti-Vaccine Society / J. Gilray, 1802).

Based on this single historical reference, it appears the FDA doesn’t recognize the term “anti-vaccine” in the same context that Orac often uses it.

Therefore, Orac’s use of the term “anti-vaccine” is antiquated and unscientific.


By these criteria, vaccine safety advocate is also antiquated and unscientific. the movement orginated as soon as peoples inoculated other peoples and child with cowpox.

Now your point is??


Alain asks,

Now your point is??

MJD says,

Orac’s “anti-vaccine” = Very negative

MJD’s “vaccine safety advocate” = Very positive

That’s my point, Alain. 🙂

Anti vaccine activists are not safety advocates. You can’t remove risks that aren’t really there, so what they do doesn’t improve safety.

Everybody cares about vaccines safety – parent that vaccinate certainly do. And there are a lot of people working on it. Most of them scientists and policy makers that antivaccine activists attack.


A quick search in the official FDA website ( using the term “anti-vaccine” presented one citation that was not directed at anti-vaccine antibodies (i.e., Anti-Vaccine Society / J. Gilray, 1802).

I found two more. In “Communicating Risks and Benefits: An Evidence-Based User’s Guide”:

The credibility of the source of hazard communications can vary tremendously even within sub-populations; for example, medical professionals view government health authorities as
a credible source of health risk information, whereas many anti-vaccine activists do not.

And in “”:

The difficulty I’m having with this is that there’s a huge anti-vaccine movement in the United States, and we’re putting here that there is an increased for Kawasaki’s, but we’re going to wait and see if we can prove that there’s an increased risk.

Your argument is invalidated.

Dorit Rubenstein Reiss writes,

Anti vaccine activists are not safety advocates.

MJD asks,

Is there precedence in the United States judicial system wherein the term “anti-vaccine” has overcome indefiniteness?

MJD writes that “Anti-vaccine Mom’s/Dad’s on Facebook and anti-vaccine antibodies in medical science.” This is a meaningless post.. It’s not only not a sentence – it lacks an object or a verb – it can’t even be construed as having any content.
You might as well post “orangutans and particle accelerators in daycare”. It’s a little more random than what MJD says that MJD says, but it’s equally pointless.

This here is some primo word salad:

MJD asks,

Is there precedence in the United States judicial system wherein the term “anti-vaccine” has overcome indefiniteness?

Teendoc writes,

Plural/possessive confusion is the hallmark of a writer one should never take seriously.

MJD says,

Punctuation never saves lives.

Punctuation never saves lives.

Try that on a prescription pad or on a medical record. Even punctuation can be important in medical records for later impact in life.


“Eats shoots and leaves” vs “Eats, shoots, and leaves”. Little bit different there.

Also, 0.1, 1.0 and 10. Those differences can really matter when you’re talking about dosages.

In the spirit of mutual cooperation, and the betterment of medical-science communication, I propose that the term “anti-vaccine” only be associated with antibodies.

Therefore, the title of Orac’s post should read:

The vaccine safety movement on Facebook: Small world networks, conspiracy theories, moral outrage, and paranoia.

And I propose that you STFU. I am utterly fed up with your disingenuousness and your mendacious redefining of terms because the truth makes you look bad.
That you don’t like it that “anti-vaccine” is an accurate description of your views on vaccines and latex causing regressive autism, even though the available evidence strongly refutes you, is neither here nor there. Attempting to change the definition of words is dishonest.

Thank you for asking, Pharma Shill.

All vaccines that are on the CDC’s recommended schedule.

Vaccine hesitant individual’s should talk to their doctor about the risk/benefit of any vaccine of concern.

I’ve been wanting to say that for a long time…


Define ‘vaccine hesitant individual’ and ‘vaccine of concern’, with supporting references from the FDA web site. You do want to be scientific, don’t you?

And then provide a list of vaccines of concern from the schedule, complete with evidence as to why they are of concern.

I won’t hold my breath.

rw23 writes,

Define “vaccine hesitant individual” and “vaccine of concern”…

MJD teaches,

The phrase “vaccine hesitant individual” is defined herein as any individual that refuses, or willingly delays, forced immunity (i.e., vaccine) which thereafter may affect their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

The phrase “vaccine of concern” is defined herein as any vaccine (i.e., forced immunity) having contraindications including those described in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Appendix A – Pink Book titled, Guide to Contraindications and Precautions to Commonly Used Vaccines.

In my opinion, the FDA, CDC, and Orac lack the leadership to clearly define the meaning of the term “anti-vaccine” which thereafter causes confusion, fear, and hatred.

I am am auto safety advocate. I believe that we should do everything we can to remove the plague of armored fighting vehicles from our streets and highways because of the epidemic of traffic accidents they cause.

MJD “In my opinion, the FDA, CDC, and Orac lack the leadership to clearly define the meaning of the term “anti-vaccine” which thereafter causes confusion, fear, and hatred.”

Is my definition (presented to you earlier) clear enough?

If you argue against the use of vaccines, you are “anti-vaccine.”

Does it bother you that my definition puts a label on you that you don’t want?

Chemmomo writes,

Does it bother you that my definition puts a label on you that you don’t want?

MJD says,

Stop labeling me as “anti-vaccine”, please.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary states that the word “anti-vaccine” is in the bottom 20% of words based on popularity.

In my opinion, using an unpopular word as a label may be libel.

One thing is certain, the indefiniteness of the word “anti-vaccine” can empower insolence in many ways.

Q. How is respectful insolence and the word anti-vaccine similar.

A. Both can be used to provoke confusion, fear, and hatred.

@ Eric Lund:

Unfortunately, some of them trumpet a more superficial feminism such as TMR’s girl power which amounts to alcohol fuelled kaffeeklatschs and warrior mom fantasies a la Jenny McCarthy – which Kim Rossi ( AoA) took all too literally by studying karate and becoming an instructor ( see @ kimrossi1111)

Self-aggrandisement and inability to self evaluate are not forms of self-empowerment :
believing yourself to be a scientist ( Teresa Conrick, Zooey O:Toole)
:, a political/ cultural analyst/.artist ( Adriana Gamondes) or a media specialist ( Ann Dachel who’s been awfully quiet of late) or author ( too many to list) doesn’t make you one,
Feminism isn’t a role playing game.

I’ve commented elsewhere that the Internet is great at community-building: it just tends to not be too specific about the kinds of communities being built. It’s great at allowing people who feel oppressed or ignored to get together and commiserate, without checking to see whether or not they’re actually being oppressed or whether they actually should be ignored.

It’s a good chunk of why conspiracy theories have gone from ‘that guy screaming at the TV while down at the pub’ to multi-million dollar businesses over the last couple of generations.

And I’m not seeing a good way to fix the problem without even worse side effects, especially not now that all these people have dug themselves in, and have enough reinforcement from each other to maintain their willful ignorance.

(I’m remembering an old post from FidoNET, of all places, which opined that in order to get a serious thread derailment you needed to have at least two people with the same idea reinforcing each other. One lone voice would often eventually go away; two would allow them to keep each other going.)

DW:they portray their own children as special whilst slighting others.

That only seems to be true of their non-autistic, non-vaccinated kids. The autistic kids are a dead loss as far as they’re concerned.

EL: Oh, god, I totally agree. My sis-in-law had a serious case of cabin fever by the time her baby was two weeks old. Even today, she’s ecstatic when she gets to take shopping trips without the baby.

@ PGP:

They obviously brag about their neurortypical kids
BUT they also find ways to show off their kids who have disabilities or differences-
Kim is always telling us how beautiful her daughters are while she bemoans the fact that she’ll never be a grandmother, etc.
Jameson details how DISABLED her son is, or they try harder than anyone; others describe each and every symptom and illness

Of course, these children are victims of a cruel pharma plot but the MOTHERS are the biggest victims. It sometimes sounds like a contest- who is the biggest martyr (you should see a TMR group discussion video at Autism One- each TM fights to grab the spotlight )

They use kids’ disability as a way to show off their own heroic efforts and write books.

They use kids’ disability as a way to show off their own heroic efforts and write books.

Tangential to that, I will soon have enough material to write my own biography.

Sooner this week, I went to the governmental office for health insurance and asked for my entire list of medical consultations & hospitalisation from birth to now. It’ll take 20 days to process. After that is the chase for medical record for relevant medical consult from that list.

I’m about to ask the foster care office for my records too (I’ve been placed in foster care for one year at age 3 month).


Kim is always telling us how beautiful her daughters are while she bemoans the fact that she’ll never be a grandmother, etc.

Someone ought to tell Kim that autistics can have intimate relationships, including gasp sexual relationships that are double gasp consensual, and mind blown have children.
The biggest obstacle to Kim becoming a grandmother is her attitudes towards her daughters.

One of the things I discuss in a session I teach on science communication is where on the internet to put your effort. My conclusion has been focus on twitter, not facebook. The reason I came to this position has been the recognition that facebook creates echo chambers. The whole friends and blocking of uncomfortable voices tends to reinforce conspiratorial thinking. It should come as nk surprise that facebook has enabled the cohesion of loose overlapping networks in a way that would be difficult elswhere.

Obligatory disclosure, I am a member of an even larger group than the likers of Fans of the AVN. That is banned by the AVN.

The whole friends and blocking of uncomfortable voices tends to reinforce conspiratorial thinking.

As opposed to followers and blocking of uncomfortable voices? Twatter makes Reddit look paradisical for science communication, and Reddit is barely readable. If you want to communicate on the Internet, do some actual writing.

I don’t know what Twitter is for, but I enjoy the jokes and dunking and general silliness, plus fun conversations with some smart people and so on. Also Chelsea Manning.

I only follow people I find interesting and/or funny, though.

Also for screaming into the void and, for better or worse, finding out the news before you see it anywhere else. I found out about the Las Vegas shooting while it was happening, in the middle of the night, because I was foolish enough to check Twitter before I went to sleep. One of my Twitter buds had a friend who was at the concert.

Also for screaming into the void

I do that all the time with no need for a computer.

My twitter feed is full of good science, but that’s because I follow people like our kind host and others from the old ScienceBlogs and whatnot. So I guess I’m filtering out unwanted voices the same way, by choosing not to follow them in the first place.

For another example of the phony I’m-not-antivaccine-I’m-just-pro-vaccine-safety argument, there’s the recent online review of Richard Moskowitz’s antivax book “Vaccines – A Reappraisal”.

From the review:

“(the book)” gives the lie to the commonly held myth that those who oppose vaccinations are anti-vaccination.”

Later the reviewer states: “The horror of vaccines is not their terrible lack of efficacy or the widespread damage they do, but that they are being falsely promoted as safe and effective when they are neither.”

Rational folks would say that ranting about “the horror of vaccines” gives the lie to one’s pretense of not being anti-vaccination.

I figure that if someone lies about their basic position on an issue, they’re probably also lying about the claims made to support that position.

DW:” They use kids’ disability as a way to show off their own heroic efforts and write books.”

That we can agree on. May I say that Rossi’s willingness to show off her daughters has always creeped me out? It’s like she’s TRYING to sell them off. (I’m sure that if arranged marriages were legal, they’d already be married off. Another reason why I hope Rossi’s ex grows some balls and flees the country with them.) I’m not really sure about Jameson, but I suspect if she wasn’t trapped in suburbia and her martyr complex, she’d be long gone.

CP: “My conclusion has been focus on twitter, not facebook.”

Are you familiar with twitter at all? It’s like Hyde Park on steroids, only with less coherence and more shouting. I don’t know what Twitter was intended for, but considering it as a medium for communication is ludicrous.

It’s disappointing not to be able to find any info on when the next Woo Boat sails (the “Conspira-Sea” cruises appear to be on hiatus). Fortunately though, Dr. Andrew Weil is taking up some of the slack on an upcoming Seabourn cruise.

“The launch of the Mind and Body Wellness Program with Dr. Andrew Weil deepens the already wellness-focused Seabourn spa program that offers a wide range of body massages, facials, fitness and beauty treatments. Lending itself to the program is the powerfully aromatic Thai Poultice massages that use the traditionally prepared steamed herbs of Camphor, Kaffir Lime, Prai, Turmeric and Lemon Grass in muslin poultices to melt away stress and tension, or nourishing desecrated Coconut that nurtures the body with soothing fats and lipids. Guests will also find Deeper than Deep Hot Stone Massage, Bamboo Massage and Freestyle Massage to engage their minds and bodies.”

I didn’t know you could desecrate a coconut. Isn’t that bad juju?

““Conspira-Sea” cruises appear to be on hiatus”

They should harness all the hot air they generate and hire a dirigible. Call it a consp-air-acy cruise.

If they don’t have enough hot air to make headway against the downdraft on their movement they can burn the substantial quantities of coal found in their stockings this past xmas.

the powerfully aromatic Thai Poultice massages that use the traditionally prepared steamed herbs of Camphor, Kaffir Lime, Prai [sic], Turmeric and Lemon Grass

Given that not all of these are herbs in the first place, I don’t see why they don’t toss in some durian for good measure.

Ahh, the delightful malapropisms of spellcheck! Desecrated coconut has been a family joke for generations. I’m both amused and depressed to read anybody write it seriously.

“nourishing desecrated Coconut that nurtures the body with soothing fats and lipids”

This message was brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

I’m annoyed at the poultices. What a waste of good herbs? Also, what is a bamboo massage? Do they whip people with a bamboo stalk?

Right. Kaffir lime, turmeric and lemon grass sound like something I often get at a Thai place. Only needs galangal or ginger.

Now I’m hungry and only have crab cakes.

@ Julian Frost:

A while back, she was supporting a workers’ union for institutional care IIRC .

Her ableism is apparent when she raves about how she adores teaching karate to neurotypical kids. Out dated attitude.

I know her daughters have autism but she shouldn’t turn it into martyrdom by crucifixion or suchlike..
I guess it provides material for books she’s writing.

Her ableism is apparent when she raves about how she adores teaching karate to neurotypical kids. Out dated attitude.

Indeed. My experience practicing Karate was that martial arts are disproportionately beneficial for autistics.

Narad: “I don’t see why they don’t toss in some durian for good measure.”

I suspect because it’s massively unappealing. I’ve had durian chips, and I remember describing them as ‘salty gasoline.’

Someone brought durian candy and bacon jelly beans into work on the same day and the general comment was “Who spilled beta-mercaptaethanol?”

The British League of Nerds podcast interviewed a Dr who went to visit one of those Anti-Vaccine conferences (“Get Your Life Back Now!”) and it was full of pseudo-medicine/science and conspiracy theories, the Dr in question commented that a lot of the more extreme material (Like claiming the human body is a ‘battery’ and that illness is caused by ‘short circuits’.) rarely reaches the Drs at the frontline, but is clearly driving peoples decisions.

PGP85 – the participants massage the bamboo – it helps them get in touch with their inner vegetable.

JO: That’s ridiculous. The rich must practically be a different species.

As part of our continuing series on the latest and ?greatest in the antivax literature, there’s a new book out by the illustrious Pixie Seymour entitled “Agnotology in Vaccines”. Ms. Seymour, with a background in “marketing and natural health”, weighs in on the evils of vaccination from an Australian perspective, with cogent observations such as:

“Your job, until your child turns 18, is to protect them from a world that would eat them, metaphorically speaking.”

VacLib and other such groups are agog over these insights. Buy your copy today!

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