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YouTube Breeding Harmful Scientific Misinformation 816

Posted by kdawson
from the playing-to-the-emotions dept.
Invisible Pink Unicorn writes "University of Toronto researchers have uncovered widespread misinformation in videos on YouTube related to vaccination and immunization. In the first-ever study of its kind, they found that over half of the 153 videos analyzed portrayed childhood, HPV, flu and other vaccinations negatively or ambiguously. They also found that videos highly skeptical of vaccinations received more views and better ratings by users than those videos that portray immunizations in a positive light. According to the lead researcher, 'YouTube is increasingly a resource people consult for health information, including vaccination. Our study shows that a significant amount of immunization content on YouTube contradicts the best scientific evidence at large. From a public health perspective, this is very concerning.' An extract from the Journal of the American Medical Association is available online."
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YouTube Breeding Harmful Scientific Misinformation

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  • Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wealthychef (584778) * on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:19PM (#21600085)
    I don't see why the fact that this misinformation is on youtube is a big deal. It probably just reflects actual public perceptions of science. Educate people, don't act shocked when uneducated people say stupid things.
  • Natural Selection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spleen_blender (949762) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:19PM (#21600089)
    I'm not one to support eugenics, but... this might be nature's way of working out its own kinks.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:19PM (#21600099) Homepage Journal
    We have to remember there is a large sub-culture in the US/Canada and Europe who still think that evolution is a myth, and the world was created 6,000 years ago.

    They make YouTube videos as well.

    Just because they can use tech doesn't mean they grok tech.
  • by Erwos (553607) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:21PM (#21600141)
    You honestly have to wonder how people can make super-important decisions for their children and themselves using _YouTube_ as their main provider of information. It's sad, but it's just like all those folks getting burned on their million dollar homes with sub-primes - you made a bad decision because you didn't do enough research, and you should be the one paying the price.

    You are simply never going to protect all the stupid people from themselves, and making the effort often only punishes the smart people who didn't make those mistakes. That's the unfortunate realization I've come to in my adulthood.
  • by _xeno_ (155264) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:22PM (#21600149) Homepage Journal

    I can't help but think that it could only help the gene pool if the type of people who would think "hey, let's go look up important medical information on YouTube!" were given bad medical advice. Darwinism and all that.

    (Except, of course, that this is more about misinformed parents harming their children. But still - I can't imagine why anyone would think "hey, I wanna find out more about immunization on YouTube!" I suppose they could be starting on a search engine and winding up at YouTube. But that ruins the joke.)

  • Vaccinations (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:24PM (#21600189) Journal
    I have a simple question .....

    Do you trust Pharmaceutical Companies to give you all the information you need to make an intelligent decision?

    Personally, I don't trust any of them.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:25PM (#21600205) Journal
    Because before YouTube it was harder for the uneducated or misinformed to get an audience, and that limited the damage they could do. What's particularly troubling is how the misinformed get better ratings and more hits than the well informed. Which indicates that if the NIH started posting actual educational videos on YouTube they'd probably just be written off as propaganda from "the man".

    It's the blind leading the blind out there. And not only that, they distrust the sighted.
  • by BradleyUffner (103496) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:25PM (#21600215) Homepage

    you made a bad decision because you didn't do enough research, and you should be the one paying the price.

    Except these people are harming thier children, not themselves.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:30PM (#21600317)
    Of course, as we all know the medical/pharmaceutical industries will always play down risks associated with vaccines (which there are many, as is well documented).

    I think this isn't so much proof of ignorance, but rather evidence that the "average" American actually has doubts about what we're being told and injected with.
    And I can't blame anyone one bit for feeling that way.
  • by dmarti (6587) <dmarti@zgp.org> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:31PM (#21600333) Homepage
    What do you expect, when medical titles such as JAMA (where this appeared, but they won't show it to you, neener neener) and the Massachusetts Medical Society's New England Journal of Medicine are behind expensive paywalls, and the quackery gets the full search engine optimization treatment?

    If mainstream MDs and researchers care about getting their point of view out to patients, so that people who find out they have a disease don't have to learn about it from YouTube, spam, and pharmaceutical company sites, they're going to have to start using more Open Access journals or get their existing journals to go Open Access.

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:31PM (#21600337) Journal
    Someone has the nerve to complain about the scientific quality of information found on YouTube??? WTF All I can say is these people haven't been watching much of anything from Hollywood or from mainstream news media. Here, again, we have the opportunity to show that teaching and guidance are required for just about EVERYTHING in life, and that includes what to believe of what you hear/read/and see. Check your source, get a second opinion, buyer beware, you get what you pay for. Seems like all that crazy old s**T that grandpa used to say might have some truth to it? hmmm

    I'm willing to bet that at least one of these concerned researchers went to a school where he was told that masturbation will make him crosseyed or make him go blind. Misinformation has been around since the advent of spoken language, and possibly before. It was only relatively recently that we all agreed (well most of us) that the earth is round.

    It is not medical information that needs to be filterd, or the fscking Internet... we need to teach people how to get through life without falling prey to every scam and rumor that falls into their world. I remember recently the many people who recommended Chantix to me to help me stop smoking... Guess what Mr smart research scientists.. they were doctors and experts, and I had no reason to not believe them till people started having psychotic episodes and killing themselves.

    Lets all just sing in 3 part harmony about the evils of not educating your kids, the public, your friends, and the world in general. The problem is not that there is misleading information out there, the problem is that people are so willing to be mislead.

    While we are on subject... ehh, people who are willing to be mislead are also willing to believe that the government's "need" to encroach on their rights is necessary. An EDUCATED public is a strong one, but that is hardly what big business and big government want.

    Educate people in general, not on just one little danger. Teach a man to fish..... nuff said
  • Re:Vaccinations (Score:2, Insightful)

    by caldaan (583572) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:31PM (#21600351)
    Absolutely,

    Especially when they continue to use mercury based preservatives in any vaccine, let alone one given to babies and small children. There have been studies that have shown the rise in autism directly linked to the rise in the use of mercury in vaccines in 3rd world countries. The reason why JAMA is technically right is because the pharmaceutical companies sure as hell aren't going to fund research that takes their product off the market.

    While pharmaceutical companies do make life sustaining drugs, trusting a corporation to protect anything but its bottom line is fool hearty at best.
  • by goldspider (445116) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (97ekardra)> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:32PM (#21600365) Homepage
    What makes these "researchers" think that people are coming to YouTube for medical advice? I'd bet that a lot (if not most) people are watching these videos for the absurd entertainment value they provide.

    It's one thing to simply count hits. It's quite another to infer the reason(s) behind them.
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:32PM (#21600367)
    Somebody mod this guy up.

    Here's something else I'd like to point out: Youtube merely puts out in the open what people think at home. Stupidity that used to be restricted to friends and family is now out in the open for all to see.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by darjen (879890) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:37PM (#21600457)
    From TFA:

    Of those videos, a staggering 45 per cent contained messages that contradict the 2006 Canadian Immunization Guide
    The main link seems to be a little scarce as to exactly what information is contradicting. And it would be helpful if the article itself didn't require JAMA authentication. Not to defend any videos or misinformation, but please excuse me for being a bit skeptical of what the government thinks about medical advice... Does anyone honestly believe that politicians know what is best for our health? Or that they care one whit about what is in our best interest?
  • Re:Big deal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:42PM (#21600547) Homepage Journal
    You left off the "...and the words of the politician support the agenda of the newspaper".
    What we've got to do is get past the assertion that we can automatically delegate thought to other people based upon criteria such as age, office, net worth, attractiveness, eloquence, etc.
  • by niloroth (462586) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:44PM (#21600607) Homepage
    Sadly, this will continue to happen for a lot of reasons, but mostly, like all conspiracy theories, it actually is comforting to believe that a shadowy world government is in charge. Or to think that the reason people are autistic, or get cancer, is because of vaccines. It lets people know that there are reasons for otherwise random events, events that could happen to them any day now, or to those they love. But if you can have something concrete to blame it on, instead of just the randomness and uncertainty of life, well, then you can get angry at whatever tangible entity you want.

    And things like youtube are perfect for the type of disinfo that these theories represent. The question now is how do we counter these claims? I would highly suggest listening to the Skepticality podcast ( http://www.skepticality.com/p_listentopast.php [skepticality.com] )ablout the documentary Flock of Dodos. The main theme is a discussion about how real science needs to learn to present its information and findings in a far more entertaining and easily digestible format. Just throwing facts and numbers at people, while it makes me happy, turns off the majority.

    This is kind of like the whole 9/11 truth issue. People who have seen the conspiracy videos on youtube can be almost immune to evidence about physics, metallurgy, demolitions, and such. Their eyes just glaze over when you try to use facts and numbers and evidence. But if you point them towards a source like http://www.youtube.com/user/RKOwens4 [youtube.com] which is comprised of simple arguments against the 9/11 truth theories, in easy to understand 3 minute chapters, then you start to make headway.

    This is the course science must take with the public. Like it or not. The alternative is far to dangerous.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by enjahova (812395) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:50PM (#21600721) Homepage
    Insightful? please.

    Before the printing press it was harder for the uneducated or misinformed to get an audience.
    Before the television it was harder for the uneducated or misinformed to get an audience.
    Before websites it was harder for the uneducated or misinformed to get an audience.
    Before blogs it was harder for the uneducated or misinformed to get an audience.
    Now its before youtube...

    You know, maybe we should go back to the old system, where the only form of written/tangible communication was bible scriptures copied in monasteries. That way the "sighted" could keep leading all of us poor little blind folks in their infinite wisdom.

    As for your "Insightful" cynicism about NIH videos being disregarded, I doubt that would have anything to do with their "the man" factor. I wonder why you can't find any medical information from "the man" in a google search, oh wait, you can. You can also find information (and misinformation) from independent sources! Not only can you search out a source you trust, you can compare what you find with the opinions, research and facts presented by other sources.

    Once people actually start thinking "oh, I'm feeling sick, I'm going to see if I can find something about my condition on youtube, instead of an easily searchable forum like the web" I'm sure there will be more accurate health related videos on youtube to balance it out.
  • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:51PM (#21600733) Journal
    There are a lot of people (see above) that are just saying "Whoda thunk there's misinformation on the internet," but this is not the point of the article. The point is that misinformation is being ranked higher than videos showing the scientific truth. Now for entertainment sake, that's fine. In this case however, many of the videos were meant to be informative or persuasive instead of strictly entertainment.

    We'll take a parallel into Hollywood. The fact that there's entertainment based off of lies or misinformation is no big deal. I don't know of too many people who think their car will randomly transform into a robot or their body is being used as a battery to power a giant ai network. The problem the article is hinting at is many of these videos are supposed to be informative and we break into the realm of documentaries or informational movies (i.e. Fahrenheit 9/11, An Inconvenient Truth, etc.) Now I don't want this debate to get political (although I think it may) but we'll further examine Fahrenheit 9/11. I personally am a democrat and when I saw this movie, I believed much more than I should of to be the absolute truth. Later on a fair portion of the movie was debunked, but because it was a compelling story in line with my own viewpoint, it was easy to believe.

    To add to this, I have heard many people tell urban legends to me (which I knew to be untrue) as the absolute truth. The point is that humans tend to believe what makes a good story and not necessarily the truth, which in many cases is too bad.

    I don't think it's unlikely or unheard of that there's misinformation on the net and I really don't feel that's what this article is getting at. Instead the article is pointing a blame-ful finger at the gullibility of human kind.

    Sometimes lies may be fun, but take them only at face value.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:52PM (#21600747) Homepage Journal
    I think this begs a larger question. Are people really using YouTube as an authoritative source of information for ANYTHING???

    I mean, hell, I thought most people knew that wikipedia, while indeed a nice place to start looking up topics, is hardly an authoritative source to be trusted as the gospel truth?!?!

    On the other hand...I didn't realize YouTube had any real content other than kids doing stunts, bootleg videos, guitar lessons, and the like. I didn't know there was anything the purported to be 'serious' on there.

  • Re:Not Quite (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eli pabst (948845) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:52PM (#21600749)
    One of the real dangers about people not getting their children immunized is that it allows the virus to remain in the population and repeatedly exposes immunized individuals to live virus which increases the likelihood of a resistant strain developing. So not only are they endangering their own children, but everyone else as well.
  • by nahdude812 (88157) * on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:53PM (#21600767) Homepage
    Unfortunately in this case (vaccines), depending of course on the disease, you'll wander around for a while as a carrier infecting others, some of whom a vaccine may not be sufficient protection for (in the case of for example Influenza, elderly or otherwise immunocompromised individuals). Such people may be able to tolerate one or two infections, but have their immune system exhausted and not be able to survive additional assaults. If the carrier had been immunized instead, their immune system might have been strong enough to keep them from ever being a carrier at all, saving the immunocompromised individual one of their "get out of death free" cards. Meanwhile the carrier feels sick for a few days, infects a few dozen people, recovers, and goes on to live their life like normal.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Altus (1034) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:55PM (#21600793) Homepage

    I trust the government more than I trust the web site that brought us "Leave Britney alone!"

    Medical advice from YouTube... what the fuck? Who on earth would go there for definitive advice on anything (except maybe old TV shows).
  • Re:Big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:58PM (#21600849) Homepage
    It is a big deal because communicable diseases, such as HPV and Polio, affect the entire society. In a democracy, if there is widespread disinformation about vaccinations, they will no longer be made mandatory. A voluntary lack of vaccination by the more reckless and stupid members of our society will eventually lead YOU AND ME to pay for the medical and social costs associated with higher-than-necessary rates of diseases like cancer.

    We now have the technology to eliminate one of the most common forms of cancer through mandatory vaccination, but there are people actively fighting this due their own ignorance! If we all lived on separate islands and never interacted with eachother, the philosophical argument could be made against mandatory vaccination. But we don't. We live in a society where every decision we make affects other people, so we must be pragmatic instead of idealistic when it comes to contagious disease.
  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcmonkey (96054) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:02PM (#21600923) Homepage

    If everyone around you is immunized, but you are not, there is ZERO BENEFIT to you getting immunized.
    Let me guess, you learned this from a video on You Tube? Immunization is like bricks in a dam. Strong bricks give you a strong dam. But one weak brick can spring a leak which can erode the dam until even the strong bricks fail.

    The only cases of polio were the ones caused by the immunization.
    Right. And so to prevent any more cases of polio, we just stop the immunization? It's the vaccine that's spreading the disease? Oh, I see, at the end. So I guess we just go to YouTube and a video there will tell us when we're at the end and can stop immunization for a particular disease.

    Going back to the first quote, let's just say for sake of argument you're right, about being a single person in the population who does not get immunized. Let's just say at that point you run a higher risk of getting the disease from the vaccine than from another source.

    How do you know when you're in that situation? How do you know, you're the ONE person, of all the people you may come in contact with, the one lone person who has system beat? (And of course that the only vector by which the disease will spread to you is through another unimmunized person.)

    Oh, that's right, you don't. So you've set up some fantastical situation that will never occur, even if your conclusion is correct.

  • Re:Vaccinations (Score:2, Insightful)

    by notgm (1069012) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:02PM (#21600935)
    can you point me to the original study, and the study debunking it? my problem with this mentality is that i don't know the truth about either side - when the average citizen cannot fully grasp the science behind the 'scientific reason', why should they be expected to trust it blindly? anecdotal evidence is just as convincing, if not more so. nobody here can prove to me that i should have a vaccination, and nobody here can prove to me that i shouldn't...but that doesn't mean both sides are wrong, or that either side can be right, for that matter. i've read that when they engineer the flu vaccination, they guess as to which strain is going to be most prevalent for the upcoming season, and if another one pops up, the vaccinations may as well be useless. where did i read that? beats me, but good luck proving or disproving it.
  • by king-manic (409855) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:03PM (#21600941)

    Okay, I'm feeding the trolls. I know I'm not supposed to, but I wish I had mod points instead.

    "We have to remember there is a large sub-culture in the US/Canada and Europe who still think that evolution is a myth, and the world was created 6,000 years ago."

    What the HELL does this have to do with Vaccinations? I know plenty of Atheist who don't like vaccinations either, because they don't trust the science that is performed for profit. This has NOTHING to do with Evolution or Bible believers, but is a snide comment. Hope you're happy in your smugness.
    Both viewpoints are part of a general popular movement against science and scientific knowledge. They feed into each other. They are also much more incestuous then you'd think. Phillip morris got their hands caught in propaganda campaign when they were forced by a court to release documents as part of a lawsuit. Apparently they've been funding anti-science initiatives to undermine the science that paints cigarettes in such a bad light. Creationist too have decided the best way to fight science undermining the indoctrination of their youth was to discredit it by causing controversy. Thus it turns out that a lot of Global warming opposition was funded by both big tobacco and ID proponents. Both attempting to under mine the common belief of the power and validity of science. Big tobacco by hiring the same scientist shills they hired to say "tobacco is not dangerous to your health" to say "we disagree that the world is warming", and ID proponents by funding various non-scientists to pound the same message.

    The audience for both are the same, the under educated masses of America. Who also believe vaccines are government mind control along with fluoride and that secretly a Cabal of jewish businessmen run the nation in conjunction with aliens they keep at area 51 etc...
  • by Tekdemon (627997) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:03PM (#21600959)
    The researchers do this kind of research to get a better feel of what patients believe when they come into the office. That way the physician (if they have a decent relationship with their patient) can hopefully educate them correctly.

    So they did the research to see what the public believes, and what kinda attitudes the public has (like how the negative ones got more comments, etc).

    Anyways, the problem here is also that other idiots not getting vaccines actually affects even the people who do, because the people who get sick can end up spreading an epidemic/pandemic around the world. Plus, new strains that your vaccine doesn't protect against can also mutate inside those people and then end up making the vaccine worthless, etc. Point is, less sick people is better for everyone.

    Plus, kids don't really deserve to have uneducated idiots make bad decisions for them.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by krazytekn0 (1069802) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:05PM (#21600987) Homepage Journal
    This isn't what politicians are saying! this is what scientists and health professionals are saying. Just because something is from an organization doesn't mean that it's from a politician. Do you really think there's any benefit for a government to spread inaccurate health information and endanger the money making and thusly tax paying potential of it's people? (If you answer yes here, then we'll just have to agree to disagree until you die of a curable disease) :O
  • Re:Big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sribe (304414) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:09PM (#21601081)

    What's particularly troubling is how the misinformed get better ratings and more hits than the well informed.

    Doesn't particularly trouble me. Seriously, think about it, who goes to YouTube for medical information? Paranoid loons who already harbor conspiracy theories about vaccinations and are looking for confirmation. Take away YouTube, and they'll just confirm their biases elsewhere.

    It's the blind leading the blind out there. And not only that, they distrust the sighted.
    Agreed 100%. And they'll stumble and fall with or without YouTube.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:12PM (#21601157) Journal
    It's the same phenomenon. People disregarding facts in favor of a goofy theory. YouTube is a place that they can get an audience for their goofy theory with little risk of being contradicted. This article is about people misinformed about vaccinations, but you'll see the exact same problem happening with people who deny evolution, people who think the 9/11/2001 attacks were planned by the US government, anything really.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ak3ldama (554026) <james_akeldama@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:19PM (#21601291) Homepage Journal

    Well a farmer cares about the health of his cattle right? A government has the same interest in the health of its citizens.

    This is slightly offtopic but I hate this perception. We the people give the government its power. They are not our rulers and we are not mere property of the state. Granted the precedent set by government telling us what is good, and unconstitutional actions such as outlawing ecstasy, have eroded both public perception of governments role in human health and our personal responsibility.

  • Cattle...? Thanks! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by norminator (784674) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:20PM (#21601311)

    Well a farmer cares about the health of his cattle right? A government has the same interest in the health of its citizens.

    Thanks for the comparison... I think we're all flattered to be considered livestock.

    And no, I don't think governments in general always are interested in the health of their citizens. I believe the GGPP was talking about the Canadian government specifically, and I don't know much about that government. I do know that ours in the US seems all too eager to sell us all down the river for short-term commercial interests. I don't trust pharmaceutical companies developing immunizations more than I have to. I still believe in immunizing my kids, but I don't believe we should be doing it at the rate they're telling us to. And I don't believe that combining 3 or more immunizations into a single shot is always such a great idea.

    I do think that immunizations are important, though.

    And considering that most medical research is funded by grants issued by government agencies, yeah I think they're pretty well qualified to provide such advice.

    ...Because the government would never come down on the side of a corporation rather than its own people... *cough*Haliburton*cough*
  • Re:Vaccinations (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EngMedic (604629) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:24PM (#21601377) Homepage

    Do you trust Pharmaceutical Companies to give you all the information you need to make an intelligent decision?
    no, you idiot, i trust the FDA. What do you think it's there for, besides creating mountains of paperwork?
  • by NiteShaed (315799) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:26PM (#21601429)

    It's not hard to conclude/perceive that something happened in the 70's and beyond. Was it in the vaccinations?

    Or maybe it was nuclear power. Or computers. Or the proliferation of color T.V. Or NASA bringing back moon-rocks. While my theories are sillier than yours, they do have something in common with it.....they're all unsupported by current available evidence.

    It's probably very easy for a lot of trepidation about vaccines because of past experience, anecdotal it may very-well be, however it does not help when polititians, school boards, professional organizations (AMA) AND big drugcos all gang up and require new vaccines mandatory as soon as the trial period is complete. I'm glad I don't have children in school (or children at all for that matter). I'd be leery too. (hope my tinfoil hat isn't showing)
    Nope, it's not glaring too hard, but still......Sure, you should be cautious about anything that someone wants to inject into your (or your child's) body. But the fact is, the vaccines we have today make you *less* likely to become ill, not more. The reason for compulsive vaccines isn't to further some dark plot, but to make sure you aren't a vector for disease that could affect the rest of us.

    Do you get the flu shot every year? That's a vaccine. Do you realize it's a crap-shoot as to whether -or- not it will even be effective against the "projected strain" the powers that be are pushing? I thought not.
    I don't get a flu shot since I'm not in a particularly high-risk group for a bad bout with it, but I know, and so does everyone else who pays attention to their doctor, the nightly news, or any of a thousand other sources that the projected strain may not be the one that actually hits. That's why it's a projected strain, and not a guaranteed strain.

    No wonder a good portion of society distrust vaccines in general.

    They distrust them because they don't understand them very well. This is a combination of the medical field not explaining it well enough to them, and their own lack of motivation to learn about them.

    Now, get off my lawn.
    Get of your lawn? I'm not coming within a thousand yards of your house! The only things I'm relatively sure I'm not going to catch from you are Polio and Tetanus! ;)
  • by Pendersempai (625351) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:40PM (#21601673)

    I still believe in immunizing my kids, but I don't believe we should be doing it at the rate they're telling us to. And I don't believe that combining 3 or more immunizations into a single shot is always such a great idea.

    And is there any actual evidence to support these beliefs, or is it more like a creationism thing?

  • by nunyadambinness (1181813) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:41PM (#21601703)

    Does anyone honestly believe that politicians know what is best for our health? Or that they care one whit about what is in our best interest?


    I do. I guess that's because I'm smart enough to realize, as would be the "politicians", that we're not talking about your health, or my health, we're talking about PREVENTING A FUCKING PANDEMIC.

    Not individual infections. Not a small outbreak. A worldwide, humanity crushing pandemic.

    Let that sink into your tiny little brain for a second. Hopefully, you'll realize why your post is so ridiculous.

    Forgive me for being so confrontational, but when your idiot ass decides to put me at risk because you're afraid of vaccines, you deserve to be called to task on it.

  • Re:Big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cwmaxson (1068504) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:47PM (#21601799)
    They aren't acting shocked. They're being completely reasonable. They've identified a problem (misinformation via youtube). Researched the problem, and found practical solutions (educate via youtube). Medical misinformation is a big deal, and they've reacted thoughtfully and appropriately.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by internic (453511) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:04PM (#21602121)

    What if the drug companies manipulate government and media to push drugs, vacinations, medicine, on people for profit. What if those users would really be more safe and healthy without it? Isn't it possible that a alarmist less accurate youtube video could spur people to have a more healthy skepticism when it comes to what they put in their bodies?

    Well, by that time it will be too late, because the fluoride powered transmitter in your tooth will have alerted the authorities to your plans, and the black helicopters will already be on their way to pick you up.

    You can be skeptical of the motives of drug companies, the media, or whomever, but you should not abandon reason or the scientific method, which is where a lot of the critics of "mainstream medicine" go off the deep end. You still should realize that the human body is a complex system and, thus, doing medicine requires significant education and expertise and learning anything about a system requires systematic, controlled experiments done on a large sample with rigorous data analysis. What the amounts to is that you have to be fairly selective in whose advice you take, and, even if it isn't the NIH, logic dictates that it should probably be some other relatively large organization that has people with enough expertise and resources for the necessary testing.

    The other key point is that however skeptical you are of the medical establishment you should be equally skeptical of anyone else who steps up to offer you an alternative. Sadly, such skepticism seems to be seldom applied to "alternative medicine".

  • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:13PM (#21602243)
    I can see using YouTube for finding "don't taze me bro" or "Star Wars Kid" or any number of other entertaining or interesting bits of ephemera, but seriously, if you're getting your health information from YouTube, you need to be seeing a MENTAL HEALTH expert.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:29PM (#21602513)
    The difference between public health statistics and personal health statistics is also enormous, and missed by people like you.

    It's called the law of large numbers. In any large population, extremely suspicious coincidences will occur with startling regularity. You will have entire families who fall victim to weird, debilitating illnesses shortly after each one receives a vaccine, simply by coincidence. Because the general population doesn't understand probability or statistics, these people then become "proof" that there is more going on than what the official line claims.

    And then people like you come along and make vague references to these cases, and infer without providing any references or data that there is no scientific proof of vaccine effectiveness, and make scary references to mercury while ignoring the well known effects and symptoms of heavy-metal poisoning.

    I know I probably won't convince you because you conspiracy-theory types generally can't be convinced, but maybe I'll convince some people reading your story. You tell a good tale but you're unable to back it up with facts. Get a clue.
  • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:55PM (#21603029) Homepage Journal
    Most things humans do effect the entire society. By that rationalization, you could justify pretty much any government control over our lives.

    People getting fat? Health care costs go up. Ban pizza. Mandate vegetable consumption.

    Auto accidents? Ban private cars. Mandate public transportation use.

    I've got two children, and I've had them both vaccinated. But lets not pretend that there are no dangers with vaccines. Our doctors were, to their credit, very upfront with us about that. You're essentially taking a chance, playing the numbers when you take a vaccine, as a percentage of people will always have adverse reactions. Those numbers of adverse reactions are statistically low, and your chances are pretty good, but I do have a friend whose daughter lost the use of her legs from a vaccination. It does happen. And as for the HPV vaccine, you can't call all those parents nutjobs when Gardisil has had some unexpected side-effects [news.com.au]. And should a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease be mandatory anyway?

    Non-vaccinated people are a danger to no one but themselves. If everyone else is vaccinated, they're safe. And far from under-vaccinating, the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that we may be over-vaccinating [sciencedaily.com]. Increasing disease resistance to drugs and immunizations is a far greater threat to the populace than any parent withholding a vaccine.
  • by norminator (784674) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:08PM (#21603249)
    I know that information like this is considered anecdotal, but I'm not expecting you to take it to heart, just to understand that I have my own reasons. I'm sure that you feel you're doing yourself a favor by assuming I'm an indoctrinated idiot because I expressed a belief (is the B-word getting to be taboo these days?), but there really are other, potentially valid opinions out there besides your own.

    My little sister had a seizure the day she received the MMR as a young child. Later on, she was discovered to be autistic. My wife's little sister had a seizure after receiving either the MMR or the DPT, I don't remember which. She was later on discovered to be severely mentally handicapped, and eventually died at the age of 6. I'm not saying that the shot was "The Cause" of these problems. In my sister-in-law's case, I'm sure there was a lot of other things going wrong in her brain and/or body, and it is very possible that the shot and the seizure weren't the direct cause, or even that they didn't have anything to do with her handicap in any way. As for my sister, there are plenty of cases of seizures after the MMR that seem to lead to autism. The studies that I am aware of have tested one factor or another in the immunizations (such as thimerosal), and found no direct link to that individual factor. I still believe that there is some kind of more complicated link between autism and vaccinations. I also believe that any autism that may be related to vaccinations probably also has other very significant factors, such as environment or genes, and that the vaccinations are not the sole cause of the autism.

    Again, I believe that immunizations are important and necessary. I just don't think we should be throwing so many of them at our tiny undeveloped children all at once. Autism is a serious thing, and if you haven't lived with someone who is autistic, then maybe you don't understand, but if there is a possibility that the risk can be reduced by spacing vaccinations, separating the compound vaccinations out, and eliminating/reducing unnecessary vaccinations, then I'm going to take those steps to try to reduce the risk to my children.

    The number of recommended vaccinations has increased dramatically over the last 30 years (have you seen the list?). Do you have any actual evidence to support the belief that this is 100% safe, or is it more like a creationism thing?

  • Re:Big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CowTipperGore (1081903) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:11PM (#21603315)

    It is a big deal because communicable diseases, such as HPV and Polio, affect the entire society.
    Yes, if you are talking about highly contagious pathogens like polio and measles. It is a big deal when the target is a virus capable of quickly spreading through normal human interaction. However, HPV does not fit that category. It is sexually transmitted and the bulk of infections are harmless.

    A voluntary lack of vaccination by the more reckless and stupid members of our society will eventually lead YOU AND ME to pay for the medical and social costs associated with higher-than-necessary rates of diseases like cancer.
    Those who disagree with your notions on vaccinations are stupid? Too bad rational discourse isn't possible. You jumped from communicable diseases like polio to cancer. How exactly did you make that leap? Can I catch breast cancer from the lady in the next office?! And, if you want to decrease the medical costs caused by the reckless and stupid members of society, perhaps you should start by getting rid of cars, ATVs, motorcycles, guns, cigarettes, alcohol, fried food, red meat, etc.

    We now have the technology to eliminate one of the most common forms of cancer through mandatory vaccination, but there are people actively fighting this due their own ignorance!
    Perhaps you would mind sharing this medical breakthrough? I certainly hope you're not referring to Gardasil.
  • Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:37PM (#21603817) Journal
    I think a lot of it is the drug lobby. When I was a kid, you didn't get the hepatitis vaccine. I got mine on the way to college. Why? Because there was no need to get it. What are the odds of you getting hepatitis in this country? 1.5 per 100,000 and most of those are "high risk" people, because it's hard to catch without having sex with someone who has it, or using a dirty needle.

    But now I've got my doctor telling me I have to get my infant kid vaccinated quick quick right now! He could get hep at any second!!! What a crock of crap. It's even less likely now than it was when I was a kid, because the infection rates are still dropping.

    Likewise the chicken pox vaccine. The mortality from chicken pox is off the bottom of the chart, but none the less, unless I wanna home school my kid, I have to get them the shot.

    I'm sure by next year, they're going to be calling for all infant girls to go ahead and get the hpv shot, because you can never be too careful about protecting your infant from STDs.

    I think a lot of people are getting leery of having their kids turned into pincushions to meet an arbitrary timetable attached to low risk infections. I think it's 15 vaccinations before 1 year? Out of those, easily half could be pushed back a year or two or three (or 18 in the case or the 3 course goddamn hep vaccination), so why subject your kid to that kinda crap?
  • by berwiki (989827) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:59PM (#21604211)

    And is there any actual evidence to support these beliefs, or is it more like a creationism thing?


    Sure, how about all the drugs the FDA has recalled over the past 40 years. Or the fact the scientific community STILL cannot make up their minds about the cholesterol in Eggs (good or bad).

    The point is, having a gut instinct vs. blindly trusting somebody you don't know is a legitimate, built-in evolutionary response.

    How many Botched surgeries have you seen online?? What about the doctor who killed Kanye West's mother??
     
    A medical degree does NOT make you omniscient and all powerful.
  • by JabberWokky (19442) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:02PM (#21604263) Homepage Journal
    To both of you: that was a damn fine example of two people with differing experience, knowledge and resulting conclusions laying out their views in a polite, well written and open minded manner. Maybe I need to start coming back to Slashdot.
  • .I'm calling BS. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by smitth1276 (832902) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:25PM (#21604585)
    I don't believe for a second that in any serious way "YouTube is increasingly a resource people consult for health information". People simply don't go to YouTube looking for medical information... that's stupid.

    A stupid premise is no less stupid simply because a researcher from the the University of Toronto says it.
  • by Pendersempai (625351) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:53PM (#21605045)

    The number of recommended vaccinations has increased dramatically over the last 30 years (have you seen the list?). Do you have any actual evidence to support the belief that this is 100% safe, or is it more like a creationism thing?

    Is having the vaccinations 100% safe? No. Is it safer than NOT having all the vaccinations? Yes. FDA testing is rigorous, and its mistakes are famous precisely because they are rare.

    I am sorry to hear about your sister and sister-in-law. It is predictable and perhaps even understandable that you would distrust pharmaceuticals after two such coincidences. Superstition is predictable and often understandable. It is not, however, rational.

    Usually we put up with superstition because it is quirky and harmless. In this case, though, it sounds to me like you may be compromising the safety of your children because of it, and I'd say that's a good candidate for the point where harmless superstition crosses the line into something more malignant.

    If another study comes out and vindicates your suspicion that there is indeed a significant risk of autism from vaccination, then you will have my sincerest apology. I would offer the same to a conspiracy theorist or a creationist if their beliefs were vindicated. But to value your own suspicions, supported as they are by two isolated anecdotes, above the conclusions of many studies designed to test precisely this possible connection between vaccination and autism, none of which (to my knowledge) have found any significant evidence of a link, seems like dangerous superstition.

  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pendersempai (625351) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:11PM (#21605283)
    The chicken pox example is a perfect demonstration of all that is wrong with your argument. Here is why a mandatory chicken pox vaccine at an early age is a great idea:

    1) Chicken pox is communicable, often before symptoms appear, so it puts everyone else at risk (including those who have been vaccinated, since the vaccination is not 100% effective).
    2) Chicken pox increases the risk that you will contract shingles later in life, which is a serious health risk.
    3) Chicken pox can cause serious scarring.
    4) Chicken pox, like other diseases, compromises your immune system until you fight it off.
    5) Chicken pox is extremely unpleasant.

    "I'm sure by next year, they're going to be calling for all infant girls to go ahead and get the hpv shot, because you can never be too careful about protecting your infant from STDs."

    As well they should. There are no side-effects, and HPV causes most cases of cervical cancer. It's also extremely common and completely asymptomatic in most cases. It can spread despite the use of a condom, so only people who remain completely abstinent for their entire lives can be confident they won't catch it.

    Now you can argue that it should be given at the start of adulthood rather than in infancy, and I guess that works as well (if there are no differences in administrability), but it seems to me that at best there's no reason why it should be one as opposed to the other and it's more of a "why not" question. (It also seems possible to me that the vaccine is more effective if given in teenage years, in which case this argument is of course moot.)
  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Watson Ladd (955755) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @07:51PM (#21605845)
    Mumps kills, Chickenpox infects the nervous system and leads to shingles later in life. Hepatitis A is spread by the oral-fecal route. Remember the polio epidemic in NYC during the 1950s? Polio is oral-fecal transmitted, and it spread like wildfire. This is what happens in unvaccinated populations.
  • No censorship! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by samantha (68231) * on Thursday December 06, 2007 @08:07PM (#21606021) Homepage
    So there is bad information on YouTube. So what? Only a fool depends on random heresy for important factual information. Are we to censor all information sources to protect fools? Are we to censor information sources to only those officially licensed to present the "proper" information? Tell the would be censors and busybody nannies exactly where to stuff it.
  • by rhakka (224319) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @10:07PM (#21607271)
    Seriously. Shit, 30 years ago women were still being told baby formula was better than breast milk, and that giving birth was a medical procedure that had to involve heavily drugging the mother (and baby) and pulling the infant out with forceps.

    That was "progress".

    But you know, having any distrust of the medical establishment, or any desire to have more than a few years of tests determine if some new concoction is ok enough to INJECT INTO A FUCKING CHILD, and you're obviously a raving lunatic.

    Certainly, accept the authority of others. without question! Otherwise, you're a luddite. right?

    To the others, let me put the plainly. The burden on proof is on the legitimacy of whatever you are trying to sell me and put in my child. Not on my skepticism of it. Ok? And that burden of proof is both high and onerous, because we were born with most of what we need to survive, and augementations to that I want evaluated very heavily before just assuming we've figured out something better than a few million years of evolution.

    Science is awesome, I love it to death, and I cheer on discoveries like mad. But have some perspective people. Until we have a damn good answer for what causes fibro myalgia, rising cancer rates, etc, then a dose of skepticism is a potential survival trait.

    "new" is not ALWAYS "improved".
  • Re:Big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ACDChook (665413) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @11:32PM (#21607891)
    Opening caveat: I am not American.

    I read a humourous article a few years ago talking about surprising survey results. Apparently over 1/3rd of Americans surveyed did not know that the Sun is a star. No offense Americans, but with that sort of quality education, well, you can understand why the rest of the world considers you to be a bit intellectually lacking.

    Even back in WW2 days, my grandfather remembers being struck by how utterly daft some of the American troops were he encountered while in the Australian Army. A guy I know who was in the SAS until a couple of years ago has told me about how easy it was to defeat the US forces in wargames, due to their arrogance and reliance on their technology.

    Now, I don't mean to be US-bashing, and I suspect the average American Slashdot reader will be a bit more intelligent and educated than the average American. But I think, as a populace, the American people need to get over their excessive patriotism, stop thinking they are automatically the greatest nation on Earth just because they are America, and realise that the rest of the world DOESN'T look up to them anymore, and that the whole country is kind of just a big joke now.
  • by eli pabst (948845) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:02AM (#21608131)
    Okay, let's pretend I'm afraid of vaccinations and didn't get them. How would that put *you* at risk?

    Unvaccinated people act as a reservoir for virus in a population, which allows people who have been immunized to be repeatedly exposed to live virus. This repeated exposure increases the likelihood that a resistant virus strain will develop which would put everyone at risk, including those who have been immunized.
  • Re:Meh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Copid (137416) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:53AM (#21608503)

    Chicken pox is self-vaccinating, and infection leads to stranger resistance than the vaccine.
    It also leads to... well... infection with chicken pox.
  • Perspective needed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by snowwrestler (896305) on Friday December 07, 2007 @01:59AM (#21608937)

    Shit, 30 years ago women were still being told baby formula was better than breast milk, and that giving birth was a medical procedure that had to involve heavily drugging the mother (and baby) and pulling the infant out with forceps.
    You are dramatically exaggerating the issues with childbirth 30 years ago. I was born 30 years ago and so were millions of other people. My generation enjoys much better health and lower incidences of debilitating or deadly diseases than the generation born 30 years previous to ours. In 1947, tens of thousands of children suffered the effects of polio, and thousands died. My generation in the U.S. never experienced those horrors, because wild polio was wiped out by the time we were born, by universal vaccination.

    The burden on proof is on the legitimacy of whatever you are trying to sell me and put in my child. Not on my skepticism of it. Ok? And that burden of proof is both high and onerous, because we were born with most of what we need to survive, and augementations to that I want evaluated very heavily before just assuming we've figured out something better than a few million years of evolution.
    There is dramatically ample proof that the vaccines currently given to children have legitimate positive effects. If you question that you might as well question penicillin, hygiene, double-blind studies and the rest of the bases of western medicine.

    I get your point, which is that it is up to scientists to prove that the things we inject into our bodies are as safe as possible. And scientists and doctors take that responsibility very very seriously. There may indeed be as-yet-unknown negative side effects to vaccination, and scientists acknowledge that possibility and try their best to study and look for it. But so far, they have not found a connection to things like autism or asthma.

    Maybe they will find problems in the future. But at worst that will create a tough question of trade off, because there is simply no question that the vaccines are very effective at fighting their respective diseases. If your child has a 0.0001% chance of developing a debilitating disease FROM a vaccine, or a 1% chance of dying from a different disease WITHOUT the vaccine, that is not such a clear-cut decision.

    Consider this tradeoff:

    a) We know for a fact that vaccines are extremely effective at preventing many nasty, often deadly diseases in children. Numerous studies have demonstrated clear evidence, as has our common experience with the dramatic decline of deaths due to diseases like polio, smallpox, measles, hepatitis, tetanus, etc.

    vs.

    b) Some people think some vaccines might be factors in the development of certain diseases, but numerous studies have failed to find a linkage--either it does not exist, or is such a weak connection that it is easily missed in the data.

    Please vaccinate your children.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:06AM (#21608983) Journal
    Who is stupid enough to go to Youtube for authoritative information about anything? I mean, I get why people might use something like Wikipedia for this (with all the pitfalls that can bring), but this just plain does not make sense to me.

    Who the hell goes to any single source for information when their health is what's at risk? I look for lots of authoritative sources. I've learnt from bitter experience to even check multiple drug safety sites before taking any prescription meds. You may think that's paranoid but I've personally seen well respected doctors prescribe meds that caused new problems or exacerbated existing ones. (I firmly believe my wife would be dead today if I hadn't stepped in and brought some information to a specialist's attention). When you have the best facts available, only then do you choose what to do with your health. Health can't be replaced, so it isn't something you risk.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Friday December 07, 2007 @06:24AM (#21610295)
    It's far more serious than that when it comes to vaccinations. In the population, there are people who simply can't be vaccinated because of immune disorders, and babies who haven't been vaccinated yet, or adults who just plain forgot to get it done. These people are protected by the 95+% herd immunity which prevents viruses from spreading so they die out. However if herd immunity drops to, say, 80% because of the half-assed research of some lawyer's lackey (*coughAndrewWakefield*), then the viruses can spread and find these vulnerable individuals. If we're talking measels, mumps, rubella, polio, and the other diseases which we kicked to the kerb with vaccination, well, other people's stupidity has left people crippled, sterile, disfigured, deformed, or dead.

    And that's just Joe Public opting out of vaccination for no reason. The election of governments is basically a popularity contest, and if a government starts following the factually unsound requests of a misinformed population, well then you start doing things like swapping MRIs for X-rays or exploratory surgery because an MRI has magnetic fields and soon you're utterly screwed.
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:45PM (#21625121) Homepage
    I'm amazed at the stupidity of the responses, and the moderators moderating it down to -1. How could you not see that I was explaining WHY people don't want to get immunized? The selfish response is to not get immunized. YES, IT IS THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS, YOU DOPE.

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