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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.
    • 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.
      • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Funny)

        by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:34PM (#21600401) Homepage

        it was harder for the uneducated or misinformed to get an audience,

        Oh? The newspapers cover their every word up to the time when one of them gets elected.
      • 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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jdavidb (449077) *
        Because before YouTube it was harder for the uneducated or misinformed to get an audience, and that limited the damage they could do.

        Huh? I'm pretty sure this IntarWeb thing has been around a lot longer than Youtube, giving people [url=http://www.nearlyfreespeech.net]nearly costless speech[/url] to the world.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sribe (304414)

        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 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.

      • Oh come on... (Score:4, Informative)

        by raehl (609729) <raehl311@AUDENyahoo.com minus poet> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:55PM (#21601951) Homepage
        Do you really think the JAMA or NEJM is the appropriate resource for medical information for your average consumer? They're not. What is in there isn't written for that audience, nor should it be.

        I think this is a non-story. There are people who are suspicious of to downright hostile towards immunizations. Those people are probably not that bright. So where do people who are not that bright and wouldn't be taken seriously by any mainstream media go to air their 'information'? YouTube. Where do people who share their opinions go to get video of the opinions they want? YouTube.

        There's a reason the videos with poor information are rated higher. And it's simple. It's because only the idiots who believe it are watching videos about immunization on YouTube and rating them. People who are not idiots are not watching these videos at all.

        There have always been dumb people. The only difference between the 'old days' and now is we've made communicating easy enough that even dumb people can do it, so you're now more likely to run into a dumb opinion or bad information. But smart people can continue to do the same things they've always done: Ignore it.
    • by motek (179836)
      I can't be sure of that, but I have an impression you somehow suggest these researchers blame youtube. It isn't so - or at least TFA doesn't say anything of the sort. Rather, they simply state the facts.

      My interpretation of these facts is that the general public is uneducated, panicky and superstitious. And, more importantly, it has been like that all along. It was just that superstition and dubious reasoning never had a forum that powerful. And now, it is all for everybody to see and appreciate. The famous
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lord Ender (156273)
      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 ca
      • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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? Ca

  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Did you know you can fertilize your lawn with used motor oil?
  • WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Elemenope (905108) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:19PM (#21600095)

    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.

    • by RelliK (4466)
      Probably the same people who think vaccination is eeevil. But then, if you get your health information from youtube, you deserve the darwin award. So I see no problem.
    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Who is stupid enough to go to Youtube for authoritative information about anything?


      I don't know, but it strikes as a on par in dumbness as going to Bill Gates for help on setting up and securing your Linux box.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Intron (870560)
      "Who is stupid enough to go to Youtube for authoritative information about anything?"

      Both the Republican and Democratic parties?
    • by MarkGriz (520778) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:50PM (#21600723)
      The popular website known as "Slashdot" is riddled with questionable legal advice.

      Though it *is* the best place to find a poorly constructed car analogy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by syousef (465911)
      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 paran
  • 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.
  • A study found mis-information... on.. the internet...? Where's the shocker here?
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BradleyUffner (103496)

      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 Erwos (553607)
        That's their right to some extent. Parents should and do have tremendous latitude in making decisions for their children. But we can help the kids more by informing the parents of the science involved, not by getting a nanny state involved.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)
      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.
  • 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.)

  • by Thansal (999464) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:23PM (#21600169)
    Seriously.

    Those people that go to YOUTUBE for HEALTH ADVICE?

    Kind of like the age old:
    Mr. Idiot has joined #IRC
    Idiot: Hey guys, I hate this stuff 2 hours ago and my eyes are starting to turn green, any ideas?
    IRC1: Go to a Dr.
    IRC2: Go to a Dr.
    IRC3: Go to a Dr.
    IRC4: Call poison control THEN go to a Dr.
    IRC5: Take pictures and post them for us!

    Who does Mr. Idiot listen too? IRC5.

    Let em die.

    (no, I am not ACTUALLY suggesting eugenics by not educating these idiots, it is just tempting)
  • by wamerocity (1106155) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:23PM (#21600175) Journal
    ON my medical application, I coined the new word "Google-gnosis" describing the problem with people self-diagnosing based on information found on the internet, making the point that Doctors are now going to have to make more of an effort to know what information and misinformation is out there, and how Doctors are going to have to spend more time teaching people correct information to dispel popular myths that get spread around. This is case in point for me. Maybe I should bring this up in my next interview...
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:55PM (#21601961)

      ON my medical application, I coined the new word "Google-gnosis" describing the problem with people self-diagnosing based on information found on the internet, making the point that Doctors are now going to have to make more of an effort to know what information and misinformation is out there, and how Doctors are going to have to spend more time teaching people correct information to dispel popular myths that get spread around.

      Sadly the verdict is still out on whether or not taking the first Google result is significantly less accurate than going to the doctor, and doctors are increasingly turning to Google themselves to help diagnose patients. The last study I saw placed Google's accuracy at about 65% and doctors at 69% for a first diagnosis. As someone who has spent much of the last year going to what are supposedly some of the better hospitals in the nation with little luck, my faith in the medical community is pretty much obliterated. Most any rational person would turn to Google and research their symptoms and possible diagnosis. The sad part is when you go back to the doctor and realize they spent half an hour reading one of the many articles you did and they are unable to answer any additional questions and don't even know some of the information you do. Taking a look at studies of how long it takes to be properly diagnosed if you have anything unusual (several years of seeing doctors) is just depressing.

      Personally, I wish doctors would ignore what information their patient knows or thinks they know, but I sure wish they'd do some research themselves and actually have a fucking clue what they're talking about after you spend a week playing phone tag while violently ill, only to find out they haven't bothered to do their homework on your condition.

      • by zstlaw (910185) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:15PM (#21604447)
        Actually there is a difference between what you can access and what documents a really good doctor has available.

        Recently a close relative was diagnosed with stage IV medullary thyroid cancer. According to everything I could find (using only medical sites) his outlook was 100% mortality within 5 years.

        My sister works at a hospital and had access to journals that cost several-thousand per year (according to her) and she saw treatments that raised his life expectancy to 5 years with a 10 year cap on life expectancy.

        We went to the best thyroid surgeon we could find. He actually knew the doctor who had written the papers my sister had found as they attended the same conferences. Furthermore he had access to follow up studies detailing promising treatment plans that actually gave a 5% possibility of being completely cured. Now my relative was not 100% cured -- but I would put his life expectancy up in the 10 years category so he has 2 times longer to live than anyone could have expected and he might live even longer than that.

        So basically each tier we went up the studies were more relevant and contained newer treatments. We were all reading articles by the same doctors, but my sister had access to newer data, and the expert knew what the study author was doing today.

        On one last note. It is worth noting that medullary thyroid cancer is hard to diagnose and the local doctors misdiagnosed it several times. My relative self-diagnosed it online and paid for the additional tests (which are not normally performed in the US) to prove that he had the rare, almost untreatable version of the disease. But he also became despondent because he _knew_ he had only a year or two to live from the same documentation I found. It was only the expert in the field that knew of any way to potentially cure him.

        So the web can help you look up possibilities. But the data you see and the treatments are quite old. When I have symptoms I go online to look up common maladies and when I go in to my doctor I tell her what I researched already to save her time. Often times she can dismiss a couple options quickly, but several times it has been quite useful. If my relative had not done the same, I wouldn't be visiting him this Christmas as he would be dead.

        Several doctors had misdiagnosed the type of cancer, and even at Mayo several residents were shocked that the patient had gotten the diagnosis as none of the residents had gotten it right on the walk-through session. So doing self-diagnosis might help, but even with the right knowledge and education the residents and local doctors were wrong. The patient has a more time and interest to look at every possible option while the doctor has several people he needs to see today so they tend to lean towards common maladies as they are just more likely to be right.
  • Well, duh. Why would I produce a video and/or watch a video that says something mainstream that everyone already knows? That's not news. I'm going to produce something that is different from the norm. And people are going to gravitate toward videos that tell them something they don't already know.

  • by AJWM (19027) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:27PM (#21600253) Homepage
    ..as evolution in action.

    (see also "Darwin Awards")
  • Hopefully they aren't including videos such as this one [youtube.com] in the group that portray vaccines in a negative light.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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 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
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m a i l . com> 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 phorest (877315) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:44PM (#21600595) Journal

    I'll spout some anecdotal evidence, though YMMV.
    Being an old-timer, I can tell you that when I went to school all we had were polio vaccinations and tetanus. Out of a class of about 200 kids, 1 in 25 may have had bizarre allergies, (milk, grass, wheat, eggs etc.) Now it seems that most kids have some type of allergy or asthma, yet we live in such sterile times. It's not hard to conclude/perceive that something happened in the 70's and beyond. Was it in the vaccinations?

    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)

    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.

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


    Now, get off my lawn.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by doublem (118724)
      There's a lot of research that suggests that it's actually our ultra-sterile environments that are causing all the allergies. Immune systems designed to fight off parasites and bacteria are instead turning on our own bodies.

      For example, some folks are deliberately infesting their bodies with relatively benign intestinal parasites as a way to gain relief from allergies, and it's effective. The histamines that attack our sinuses are intended to attack parasites. Give them a parasite to attack and the nasal al
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NiteShaed (315799)

      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 no

  • 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.
  • This is news? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by overshoot (39700) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:47PM (#21600667)
    A rumor is halfway around the world before the truth can get out the door.

    This weekend I had a chat with a fine gentleman who is one of the youngest polio survivors in the USA. He's in pretty good shape (he's in his 50s) but from visits with many others he knows what his future is like. Apparently, those who recover from polio do so by "swapping in" spare neurological paths -- the same ones that keep the rest of us functional as time takes its toll. Well, his "spares" are already used, so any additional losses as he ages are coming straight from function.

    Measles? Look up the numbers. Case mortality for measles in the USA has been steady for over thirty years at 2/1000. In 1964, there were about 400,000 cases reported. Back when it was nearly universal, every state had well-filled schools for the deaf and blind -- most of them there thanks to neurological sequelae to measles, and which are still just as common as ever on a per-case basis. Those schools are empty now.

    I have a smallpox vaccination scar on my arm, and wear it proudly. Most of you don't. You're welcome.

    If you listen to the anti-vaccinationists, the vaccines are immeasurably worse than polio, measles, and smallpox. The best answer to that was stated by George Santayana [wikipedia.org]. The rest is commentary; go and learn it.

  • 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.
  • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot <{slashdot} {at} {pudge.net}> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @02:57PM (#21600823) Homepage Journal
    When Jenny McCarthy goes on to Oprah, to the delight of millions of viewers, to say that "science" is wrong because "my son is the science" that proves vaccines cause autism ... I don't think YouTube is really a significant factor in this discussion.
  • by Experiment 626 (698257) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:06PM (#21601011)

    I can get investment advice from stock spam, legal advice from Slashdot, and now medical advice from YouTube... however did people manage to make major life decisions before the Internet?

  • by sherriw (794536) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @03:54PM (#21601945)
    Wow. Who are these idiots looking for medial advice on YouTube? Before this article I would never even have considered it!

    Next stop, MySpace for financial advice, and Slashdot for relationship advice. Ha!

    Really, you get what you deserve people. Darwin awards for all of them.
  • 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 PortHaven (242123) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @04:53PM (#21602985) Homepage
    Not all concerns on vaccinations are invalid. We have to be careful not to fall prey to making "science & progress" a religion and deifying it.

    1. Vaccines are a great thing and have saved millions of lives.

    2. They have a great track record but not a perfect one. Overall they are well worth it for society.

    3. Just because a study shows no signs of claimed issues does NOT mean such claims are invalid. Anyone having worked in a production environment is aware that some production batches are sub-par. QA is designed to catch most of these. But anyone that has bought a defective product knows it's never perfect. So a study merely shows that a good batch does not have harmful effects. It is very difficult for a "scientific study" to take into account the effects of those who have received vaccinations from sub-par batches of production.

    4. Many claims of concern are circumspect, baseless and without merit. While others are more indeterminate. A few throughout history have after much criticism, denial, etc been shown to in fact pose risk.

    5. Another valid concern is the tendency to apply too many vaccinations concurrently to a young child who's immune system is still in development. What affect does receiving three or even five or more vaccinations in a short period have on a very young child? Furthermore, the assumption all children will respond the same is not valid. And to some parents too great a risk. (ie: there has been evidence that some children have more difficulty metabolising certain agents than others - likewise, some may have more difficulty handling numerous strong immune responses simultaneously). Simply spreading out the vaccinations a bit might a wise thing to do.

    But it can be far too easy to merely criticize such parents concerns on the basis of the dogmatic belief in science. Decrying them as heretics in what should be science and not a religion.

  • by BrianRoach (614397) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @05:08PM (#21603277)
    The people who are going to 'YouTube' for medical information ...

    Are exactly the people who you want to not be vaccinated from deadly diseases.

    This is a self-solving problem.

    - Roach
  • No Surprise (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wolff000 (447340) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:20PM (#21604531)
    Stupid people say stupid things it is as simple as that. What we need to do is educate the young and hopefully they will be able to tell what their parents are saying is wrong. We don't teach any where near enough science in the states.
  • Public Health (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gizmo_mathboy (43426) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @06:31PM (#21604711)
    The group does better when all of it's members are vaccinated. There might be individual cases where the vaccinations *might* be harmful to the individual.

    It would be interesting to compare the rate at which individuals are being verifiably harmed by a vaccination versus the chance of catching the disease.

    I have been vaccinating my kids but I'm trying to spread the shots out over time, making sure that there is no thimerosal being used and generally looking at alternative vaccination schedules (from places like Canada and Scandinavia).

    It's one thing to engage in a behaviour that is self-destructive and yet another that can be group destructive.
  • 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 argStyopa (232550) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @08:53PM (#21606521) Journal
    - Cats playing piano
    - fart videos
    - stuff crashing & people hurting themselves
    - a study in the limitless narcissism of humanity ....yeah, clearly, that's where I'm going to find the best medical advice! And it's FREE!

Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature. -- Rich Kulawiec

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