Category: medicine

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

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

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

The Quack Doctor:

Pictured above – an advert for, and illustration of, Sequah, the travelling snake oil salemen Caroline Rance talked about in today’s podcast. It pained me to cut so much of Caroline’s interview out when editing the show (which is usually the case for DigiHuman guests) because she had so many stories of age old quackery. Check out her blog, some is funny, some tragic, some downright icky… but all fascinating.

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 2, Snake Oil