Are Vaccines Harmful? A New Study Shows Anti-Vaccination Websites ‘Distort’ Science for Their Conclusions

scientifc researchA recent study of 480 anti-vaccination websites found that most of the sites show unscientific views about vaccinations that use pseudoscience and misinformation to spread the idea that vaccines are dangerous. 2/3rd of the anti-vaccination websites studies claimed that vaccines cause autism but multiple studies have shown there is no link between autism and vaccines. About 2/3rds of the websites used anecdotes and not scientific evidence to support their claims. About two-thirds of the websites used information that they represented as scientific evidence, but in fact was not, to support their claims that vaccines are dangerous, and about one-third used people’s anecdotes to reinforce those claims, the scientists found. Near 1/3 of the 480 websites used scientific studies but then misinterpreted the findings, meaning that they just didn’t get the “science” right. 

About the Study

  • 480 websites, blogs, and facebook pages with content about childhood vaccines
  • Found the sites using search terms like “immunization dangers” and “vaccine danger”
  • Researchers examined the content for
    • Vaccine misinformation
    • Sources of the misinformation
    • Types of persuasive tactics to convince people that vaccines are dangerous
  • Presented American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting in Chicago on Nov. 3, 2015

Common Problem With the Anti-Vaccine Websites

  • Correlation Does Not Imply Causation  When to things happen it doesn’t always mean that one is causing the other. This was a common problem with most of the websites found.
  • Anecdotes and Stories Used Instead of Evidence – Stories are easy and tend to be subjective. Science is hard and factual.

 

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