The following are two separate posts that appeared in the last month or so on a site called "Respectful Insolence," which is a very hard-line, pro-vaccine site. These posts urge readers to troll "anti-vaccination" sites, or sites with known vaccine safety questioners, and even give step-by-step instructions on how to create a non-traceable account to do so:
I am posting this information here because most parents (perhaps even the mods here) have no idea that this actually happens. I know I was both shocked and horrified when I stumbled on this. As someone who has had severe reactions to vaccines, and whose children have had severe reactions to vaccines, I feel that this kind of trolling is dangerous to the point of being life-threatening. I am highlighting some of that trolling advice, because it looks very much like some of the things we have seen recently at MDC, and I think it would be a good idea to keep this in mind when researching the vaccine decision.
I think, after reading this, we can all see the distinction between someone who is here to actually discuss vaccines, and someone who is here with an ulterior motive, as described below.
= Fight woo with woo if necessary. OK, put on your rubber gloves and swamp boots first, but none the less: When someone claims that "vaccines aren't 100% effective," trot out the quantum woo and claim that "since the universe is fundamentally uncertain, there are exceptions to everything including the so-called law of gravity, but none the less, getting your shots is as smart as not leaping off ladders." Devoted students of the sociology of woo ought to be able to come up with some good examples.
= Use emotional warfare on anti-vax blogs. Tell emotional stories full of tears and sobbing and unbearable grief and terror, about people in your own family or people you read about, who were sick with or died of terrible diseases. Don't hold back details about bodily fluids and suchlike: the more gross the better. This stuff has a way of infiltrating the minds of readers and subtly influencing their decisions, in a manner similar to advertising.
= "Prescribe the symptom," also on anti-vax blogs. Go in there and "agree with them" and then say things that appear thoroughly delusional, overtly nuts, blatantly and obviously wrong even to nincompoops, etc. Occasional spelling and grammar errors are also useful but don't over-do. The point of this exercise is to create an impression that drives away undecideds who may come in to check out these sites. It helps to do this as a group effort and begin gradually, so the sites appear to be "going downhill slowly."
There are plenty of other possible tactics along these lines.
Posted by: g724 | April 20, 2012 8:54 PM
Denise @ 76: The way to do it is to set up a fictitious email address. ...
[I am editing out the 4-step instructions of setting up a fictitious email address, as I do not think it is appropriate for MDC. If you need to ascertain that this site actually posted someone's instructions on how to do so for the explicit purpose of trolling "anti-vax" boards and boards where people are questioning vaccine safety, feel free to go to the site to do so. -T.]
Fifth: Now you're home free to get onto the anti-vax boards and any other objectionable boards you want to go after, and make all manner of noise to make them look ridiculous and drive away the undecideds. Yeee-hawww, round 'em up!
Speaking of rounding 'em up, you now have an untraceable email address for use in reporting illegal activities you may run across from time to time. If you run across anti-vaxers or others promoting illegal activities (such as sending contaminated material through the mail, some of the anti-vaxers do this with chickenpox-contaminated lolly pops and so on to "share natural immunity" and it's a felony), you can safely turn 'em in to the appropriate authorities without fear of retaliation.
That said, the option of simply going forth and making noise on anti-vax boards makes it all worthwhile. Every undecided you scare away from those boards, is one more family that will probably get their kids vaccinated.
Y'all need to pay closer attention to how hardball politics are played, or you're going to lose, and lose, and lose some more. How do you like fighting creationists and other flat-Earthers in the 21st century? How do you like fighting for contraception in the 21st century? How'bout faith healing and power-placebo water and crystal magic and all the rest of it? Read up on what happens in the pediatric wards of Christian Science "hospitals," and read up on dominionism, and the impact of home-schooling on science literacy, etc. etc. Do you think any of those wackos are the slightest bit deterred by propriety and politeness?
Sure it's not "nice." But infectious diseases don't care about your sense of propriety.
The goal is to make anti-vaxism as socially unacceptable as public nose-picking, and then repeat the exercise on parental use of quack "healing" on their kids. But beyond that, the goal has to be to stop playing "defense" and go on the attack, and push all of these forms of pernicious irrationalism right off the far edge of the table and into the proverbial recycle-bin of history. If people want to believe silly things that are harmless, that's their choice. But when they attempt to inflict quackery on their kids, or on the general public by becoming walking disease vectors, or write it into laws or public policies, that's where we have to stand up, step in, roll up our sleeves, and fight.
G724 April 26, 2012