Category: health

Desperate teens of anti-vaxxers are turning to Reddit for vaccination advice:

The infrastructure of social media can spread a lot of bad medical and scientific information but there are times when it can help cut through the quackery.

As a kid, Ethan wasn’t allowed to be vaccinated. Ethan’s parents are one of the up to 10 percent of Americans who are against some form of vaccination, often believing that preventing disease in children is a government conspiracy.

But Ethan is not his parents. When he turned 18, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He wasn’t sure where else to begin, so he turned to Reddit.

“Where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?” Ethan asked his fellow redditors in December.

Ethan’s post flooded with over 1,000 comments from users offering their encouragement and support, along with practical advice.

“Good on you for getting your vaccinations,” one user responded. “It’s never too late and you’re not only protecting yourself but those around you who truly can’t get vaccinated.”

Ethan told the Daily Dot that some redditors even offered to give him money via GoFundMe or PayPal if insurance didn’t cover the shots. “People were really supportive, and that was really cool,” he said. “I had the blessing of Reddit. They were supporting me on a decision my mom freaked out about.”

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil

Desperate teens of anti-vaxxers are turning to Reddit for vaccination advice:

The infrastructure of social media can spread a lot of bad medical and scientific information but there are times when it can help cut through the quackery.

As a kid, Ethan wasn’t allowed to be vaccinated. Ethan’s parents are one of the up to 10 percent of Americans who are against some form of vaccination, often believing that preventing disease in children is a government conspiracy.

But Ethan is not his parents. When he turned 18, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He wasn’t sure where else to begin, so he turned to Reddit.

“Where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?” Ethan asked his fellow redditors in December.

Ethan’s post flooded with over 1,000 comments from users offering their encouragement and support, along with practical advice.

“Good on you for getting your vaccinations,” one user responded. “It’s never too late and you’re not only protecting yourself but those around you who truly can’t get vaccinated.”

Ethan told the Daily Dot that some redditors even offered to give him money via GoFundMe or PayPal if insurance didn’t cover the shots. “People were really supportive, and that was really cool,” he said. “I had the blessing of Reddit. They were supporting me on a decision my mom freaked out about.”

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil

Britt Hermes: Confessions of a (former) Naturopathic Doctor:

A good interview with Britt Marie Hermes on the backlash she got for speaking out against naturopathic medicine, we couldn’t get into how she’s been targeted by the naturopathic community for her work and her blog – https://www.naturopathicdiaries.com/.

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil

Britt Hermes: Confessions of a (former) Naturopathic Doctor:

A good interview with Britt Marie Hermes on the backlash she got for speaking out against naturopathic medicine, we couldn’t get into how she’s been targeted by the naturopathic community for her work and her blog – https://www.naturopathicdiaries.com/.

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil

FromTheLabBench:

Paige Jarreau’s blog is one to add to your lists of science blogs (I’m not the only one with a list right? Right?). Not only does it have cool science content, but it offers real insights for scientists about how to spread their work with the world. 

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil

Consider this a lunctime lecture… so long as you aren’t squeamish. Caroline Rance was a great guest to have – I’d love to do a podcast with her all about the fascinating stories and products she’s unearthed in her research. Listen to her talk, and dive into her blog if you like a bit of weird medical history (and really, who doesn’t?).

https://thequackdoctor.com/ 

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil

What is naturopathic medicine? – Naturopathic Diaries:

Big thanks to Britt Marie Hermes for sharing her story on today’s show. Her blog is excellent and gives great details on the dangers of unverified treatments presented as medicine.

The central concepts of naturopathic medicine were founded in a pre-scientific era and have failed to evolve with advancements in medicine and science. The naturopathic tenets combine the debunked theory of vitalism with precepts well-established in conventional medicine, such as disease prevention, patient education, and lifestyle counseling. Naturopathy’s blend of scientifically archaic ideas with practices already ingrained in medicine does not make for a superior system of healthcare. It amounts to a group of under-qualified health practitioners trained in dubious and debunked therapies (i.e. homeopathy and botanical remedies) trying to engage in the practice of medicine. Naturopathic therapies are not increasingly supported by scientific evidence. In fact, science increasingly substantiates the failures of these therapies as safe and effective interventions. The practice of naturopathic medicine, as taught by accredited naturopathic programs in North America, is unscrupulous and dangerous.

How do I know? I  practiced as a licensed naturopathic doctor in the United States for three years. I left after discovering that the naturopathic profession is rife with professional misconduct and unethical treatments, including:

  • ozone therapy
  • high-dose vitamin therapy
  • intravenous injections of vitamins, minerals, and herbs
  • homeopathy
  • hydrotherapy
  • naturopathic spinal manipulations
  • energy medicine
  • healing touch
  • alternative cancer therapies
  • the illegal use of unapproved pharmaceutical medications
  • experimental therapies for diseases including cancer and chronic illnesses

Naturopaths are advertising and talking about these practices behind closed doors. But in public, naturopaths claim these therapies are “evidence-based.” As a former member of this community, I feel ethically compelled to speak out against the quackery that comprises naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathic Diaries provides accurate information about naturopathic education, training, and common practices in an effort to protect patients. This information contests materials put out by the naturopathic profession, which I believe are misleading and often times, blatantly false. Naturopathy does not convey the same credibility or deserve the same respect as medicine.

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil

One factor of the spread of Snake Oil we didn’t have time to cover in this week’s show (insert subtle show plug here – 

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil) was how lazy scientific journalism grants some credence to quackery and/or pseudoscience. 

Thankfully Myles Power has covered this in a few videos, here is a recent trio of videos on the infamous gay frogs, but his whole channel is worth a look.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6NDtIU8liw – Part 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9eLiBmQC68 – Part 3

Scientists Who Selfie:

Seriously though guys, scientists have the best selfies. I never get to pose with snapping turtles in my day to day job… argh, I made a wrong choice somewhere!!!

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil

‘Vast Majority’ of Online Anti-Vaxxers Are Women:

We didn’t get into the fine detail of Dr Naomi Smith’s research into the dynamics of Anti-vax communities online, but the research is fascinating, and vital to understand. I hope there’s more to come in the future.

To get a better idea of how anti-vaxxer Facebook communities function, Smith and co-researcher Tim Graham, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Australian National University, who has a joint appointment in the Research School of Social Science and the Research School of Computer Science, dug into the groups’ posts, likes, shares and comments. They found the following:

  • Anti-vaxxer posts are highly shared, meaning that people frequently “shared” posts on their own Facebook pages or on their friends’ pages, Smith said. In all, there were more than 2 million shares across the six groups during the two-year period, she said. “This means that the page’s reach is much greater than the number of people who ‘like’ it,” Smith said.
  • Participants were moderately active across several anti-vaccination Facebook pages, “suggesting that users’ activity on anti-vaccination is more than just a product of Facebook’s recommender system” — a system that recommends like-minded groups to people, Smith said.
  • Despite their large size and high levels of activity, anti-vaccination groups are relatively loose-knit. “That is, they do not necessarily function as close-knit communities of support with participants interacting with each other in a sustained way over time,” Smith said. [Top 10 Golden Rules of Facebook]
  • Even though they are “loose,” these groups show features of “small-world” networks. “In small- world networks, information diffuses quickly and easily through the network, in this instance through user-generated comments,” Smith said. However, it’s difficult to say whether these small-world effects are due to the nature of the anti-vaxxer movement itself, or are an artifact of Facebook, a platform that can help spread information quickly, Smith said.
  • The sentiments expressed in these Facebook pages were “quite negative in tone, suggesting that users of the anti-vaccination pages feel not only morally outraged about the practice of vaccination, but structurally oppressed by seemingly tyrannical and conspiratorial government and media,” Smith said. Moreover, many posts had conspiracy-style beliefs placing blame on the government and media, Smith said. A 2011 survey found that conspiracy-style thinking is common among the general public and more pronounced in anti-vaxxers, a 2014 study in the American Journal of Political Sciencefound.
  • Anti-vaxxers had concerns about state-sanctioned harm and interference with their autonomy. “In particular, anti-vaccination Facebook pages commonly compare vaccination to the Holocaust, illustrating a strong sense of persecution,” Smith said.

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil