Anti-anti-vaccine campaign.

Jun 22, 2012 | Skepticism, Vaccination | 1 comment

I got a rush of blood to my head this morning and created a “cause”.
(Unfortunately, it’s faded away.  It’s no longer on the net).

If you don’t want to click on the link, here’s what it says:

Most people who post or share anti-vaccine propaganda on Facebook are not fanatics. This campaign is about politely but firmly encouraging them to stop doing that. Remarkably, this works and will help clean up the conversation on Facebook.

Opposition to vaccines has existed as long as vaccines and it’s not going away. Social media, and particularly Facebook, have emerged as a powerful way for antivaxers to spread their message. Every time someone shares an anti-vaccine link it is seen by a large number of people, and the more often they see it the more credible the message may seem to uninformed people.

I have had a policy of never letting antivax propaganda going unchallenged. I will politely respond with questions, arguments and links. Sometimes I am alone in challenging, but often other friends of the poster will join me. I make it clear that I respect their right to their opinion, I strongly disagree and that Facebook is a public forum and I object to their posting propaganda here.

Usually the poster will stop posting anti-vax material. It becomes too much trouble, and they aren’t all that committed to converting anyone else. If the poster is a fanatic and keeps posting, I hide their posts but continue to challenge anyone who reposts their nonsense.

This works. I virtually never see antivax propaganda on my wall any more. If I do, I challenge.

If you are willing to take this on as a practice, and invite your rational friends to take this on as a practice, we can go a long way towards cleaning up the Facebook environment. It’s a small, but real step towards a rational future.

(If there is interest in this campaign, I will create a website with collections of short, simple retorts to anti-vax propaganda and associated links to make the job of countering arguments just that much simpler.)

When I created it I put down a goal of 5000 pledges.  I had no idea what made sense, but it sure sounded like a good number.  I put it on Facebook and mentioned it in the Australian Skeptics Facebook page.  After a number of hours there hasn’t been a rush, so I decided to make my goal a little less daunting.  Now I’m hoping for 50 pledges.  If I encouraged 50 people to take a very small action to decrease the amount of anti-vaccine nonsense swirling around the internet, I’d be very happy. If I got  50 pledges I know I’d be justified to put together a website to support those 50 people.  And if I did that others would undoubtedly find it useful.

By the way, here’s someone else’s website that has most everything you need to know about vaccines:

Maybe this is a start of a germ of an inkling of a thought about why I started blogging.  Maybe I can find a way to make myself useful.

Please go to the site and pledge.  Not only will you be making a difference, but you will also be stroking my ever fragile ego.  And who wouldn’t want that?