You could also call this, "How To Write an an Article Bashing Vaccine Critics, in 10 Easy Steps."
Step 1) Paint yourself as a former member of the group you wish to attack ("them"), starting with the title, and continuing with every possible "crunchy" alternative to Western medicine.
Title: "Growing Up Unvaccinated."
First paragraph: "I wasn’t vaccinated. I was brought up on an incredibly healthy diet: no sugar till I was 1, breastfed for over a year, organic homegrown vegetables, raw milk, no MSG, no additives, no aspartame. My mother used homeopathy, aromatherapy, osteopathy; we took daily supplements of vitamin C, echinacea, cod liver oil."
Take it even further.
"I wasn’t even allowed pop; even my fresh juice was watered down to protect my teeth, and I would’ve killed for white, shop-bought bread in my lunchbox once in a while and biscuits instead of fruit, like all the other kids."
Step 2) Show how dangerous it is to be one of "them."
"As healthy as my lifestyle seemed, I contracted measles, mumps, rubella, a type of viral meningitis, scarlatina, whooping cough, yearly tonsillitis, and chickenpox.
Take it even further.
"In my 20s I got precancerous HPV and spent six months of my life wondering how I was going to tell my two children under the age of 7 that Mummy might have cancer before it was safely removed.)"
Step 3: Introduce a red herring, using the polarizing term "anti-vaccine advocates" instead of the more truthful "vaccine critics" or "vaccine questioners" or "vaccine safety advocates."
"So the anti-vaccine advocates’ fears of having the “natural immunity sterilized out of us” just doesn’t cut it for me." (Note: this is a red herring, because the concerns about vaccine safety are not that "the natural immunity is sterilized out of us." This is actually a very clever double entendre. There is some concern in the Philippines that vaccinating young women for tetanus (probably a DTP) resulted in a high rate of sterility amongst those young women. Some have questioned whether this was deliberate. But very few in the US are aware of this debate, and it's not a concern with US vaccines. What IS a concern is autoimmune reactions to vaccines.)
Step 4: Use personal anecdotes to imply that vaccination results in better health for all, and that lack of vaccination results in poor health for all.
"My two vaccinated children, on the other hand, have rarely been ill, have had antibiotics maybe twice in their lives, if that."
Step 5: Add denial of existence of any other side of the issue.
"I struggle to understand why I know far more people who have experienced complications from preventable childhood illnesses than I have ever met with complications from vaccines." (And she knows the personal medical histories of people, HOW?)
Take it even further.
"I have friends who became deaf from measles. I have a partially sighted friend who contracted rubella in the womb. My ex got pneumonia from chickenpox. A friend’s brother died from meningitis." (Note: the author, age 37, was born around 1977, and would have grown up amongst the most vaccinated children in history. Since the occurrence of vaccine-preventable diseases was so low, and the rate of complications from such diseases even lower, [except for meningitis], it is highly unlikely that she is even telling the truth here.)
Step 6: Discredit "them" by painting your former self (as one of "them") as a vacuous, gullible cult devotee, with extreme beliefs and bizarre behavior.
"I was studying homeopathy, herbalism, and aromatherapy; I believed in angels, witchcraft, clairvoyants, crop circles, aliens at Nazca, giant ginger mariners spreading their knowledge to the Aztecs, the Incas, and the Egyptians, and that I was somehow personally blessed by the Holy Spirit with healing abilities. I was having my aura read at a hefty price and filtering the fluoride out of my water"
Take it even further.
"I was choosing to have past life regressions instead of taking antidepressants. I was taking my daily advice from tarot cards. I grew all my own veg and made my own herbal remedies."
Step 7: Imply that "they" are paranoid and delusional, and that "their" sort of thinking made you sick.
"It was only when I took control of those paranoid thoughts and fears about the world around me and became an objective critical thinker that I got well."
Take it even further.
"It was when I stopped taking sugar pills for everything and started seeing medical professionals that I began to thrive physically and mentally."
Step 8: Introduce another red herring, based on a false assumption.
"If you think your child’s immune system is strong enough to fight off vaccine-preventable diseases, then it’s strong enough to fight off the tiny amounts of dead or weakened pathogens present in any of the vaccines." (Note: one's ability to fight off a virus acquired in the community has nothing to do with one's predisposition to autoimmune and allergic reactions. So that's both a false assumption, AND a red herring, since most people criticizing vaccine safety are not worried about fighting off dead or weakened pathogens. They are concerned about autoimmune reactions, and the lack of understanding of those mechanisms in the medical community.)
Step 9: Imply that vaccine critics lack compassion and a sense of responsibility. Imply that they teach their children to be self-serving and unreasonably frightened. Imply that they disdain people with disabilities. But be very careful not to SAY so. Extra points if you can sound like you are earnestly begging.
"I would ask the anti-vaxxers to treat their children with compassion and a sense of responsibility for those around them. I would ask them not to teach their children to be self-serving and scared of the world in which they live and the people around them. (And teach them to love people with autism spectrum disorder or any other disability supposedly associated with vaccines—not to label them as damaged.)" (I have to admit, that was brilliantly done.)
Take it even further.
"Most importantly, I want the anti-vaxxers to see that knowingly exposing your child to illness is cruel...I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy watching children suffer." (Also brilliant; she has just implied that vaccine critics are cruel, and enjoy watching children suffer.)
Step 10: End by implying that all vaccine critics are leeching off of those who vaccinate.
"Those of you who have avoided childhood illnesses without vaccines are lucky. You couldn’t do it without us pro-vaxxers."
Take it even further, and add a threat.
"Once the vaccination rates begin dropping, the drop in herd immunity will leave your children unprotected. The more people you convert to your anti-vax stance, the quicker that luck will run out."
And there you have it. A formula to write a hit piece, disguising yourself as a former member of the group you wish to attack.
ETA: There are several inconsistencies and errors in Ms. Parker’s little piece which also deserve mention.
Edited to add, 1/24/14
There was another article, published in April 2013 by The Guardian, that is suspiciously similar to Amy Parker's piece.
Very similar formula, very similar writing style:
The author, Sophie Heawood, used to be "one of those who refused vaccinations," and she now "flinches with shame."
Paint yourself as a former member of the group you wish to attack ("them").
She had a fridge full of organic vegetables! And a washing machine!
Oops, time to take it up a notch: she also breastfed, and read alternative health forums!
Show how dangerous it is to be one of "them".
People move in from other countries, bringing dangerous diseases with them!
Aaand, take it up a notch: author's friends, when she was growing up, died of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Use personal anecdotes to imply that vaccination results in better health for all, and that lack of vaccination results in poor health for all.
Talk about pertussis. Her daughter caught pertussis!
Take it up a notch: talk about how the whole family came down with pertussis. (But wait? The whole family? She never says that SHE grew up unvaccinated, or that her husband was unvaccinated, or that anybody else in the family was unvaccinated. How did they ALL come down with pertussis? Could it be that...the vaccine didn't work?)
Imply that vaccine critics lack compassion and a sense of responsibility.
Talk about how "disgusting it is to watch your child needlessly suffer." (Sound familiar?)
Resume discussion that vaccination results in better health for all, and that lack of vaccination results in poor health for all.
Talk about diphtheria. Dangerous. Kills one in five.
Take it up a notch: talk about picture of infant with neck swollen and ready to burst. (Note: diphtheria is indeed a dangerous disease. However, from 1986-1995, there were only 38 cases reported in the UK. ONE case was reported in 2008.)
Talk about polio.
Take it up a notch: her parents have friends who still limp from polio. (But we don't know whether they got polio from the oral polio vaccine or from wild polio..)
Talk about meningitis.
She had friends who died from meningitis! (But don't talk about which strain, how they might have gotten infected, what underlying medical conditions they might have had, whether they were treated properly by the doctors, etc. (Note: yes, meningitis can be deadly. But it's not accurate to say, as she does, that it has been effectively suppressed. Vaccines only account for some strains, and efficacy for those covered strains is not really known, nor is it known how many cases of meningitis might be CAUSED by other vaccines.)
Re-paint yourself as a former member of the group you wish to attack (Remind us that she's "one of us.")
She has a "hunch" that vaccines aren't good.
Take it up a notch: she's so scared of vaccines, her MOTHER has to take her child in for jabs. (Oh, yeah, that's REALLY convincing.)
Imply that all vaccine critics are leeching off of those who vaccinate.
"And yet some of us are still coasting on herd immunity provided by other children, which is no longer enough, because of the growing number of people like me."
End with a threat.
Quote Roald Dahl's journal. ""Got to hospital," he wrote in his diary. "Walked in. Two doctors advanced on me from waiting room. How is she? I'm afraid it's too late."
Same formula, isn't it? It's just stirred up a bit.
Interesting how both articles are from the UK. The Lake District is, what, about 100 miles from Hackney (the suburb where Sophie Heawood is from)? Oddly enough, Sophie Heawood's article did NOT appear on "Voices For Vaccines." I wonder if she helped Amy Parker write her piece....
Edited by Taximom5 - 2/10/14 at 6:18pm