Hit anti-vaccination forces where it hurts: social media: André Picard
2019-05-13 from theglobeandmail.com
What is said online can cause real and lasting harm offline, IRL (in real life).
One of the most striking examples is how the viral spread of misinformation has led to a resurgence in childhood illnesses like measles and mumps.
Children will needlessly be sickened and die as a result.
But how can we – and should we – limit the spread of harmful anti-vaccination information, particularly through social media sites and search engines?
The depressing reality is that there is no truly effective technique for quickly changing people’s beliefs. There is no magic fairy dust that can be sprinkled over society so that citizens don’t believe nonsense and conspiracy theories.
But we have a pretty good idea of what doesn’t work. Badgering and insulting, such as calling parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children “irresponsible” and “bad parents” is largely ineffective.
Compelling vaccination and punishing refuseniks is easy but not necessarily the best approach; it tends to make anti-vaccinators dig in their heels and reinforces the impression they are being persecuted by the Big Brother state.
Bombarding people with scientific information also won’t change hearts and minds. No amount of data dumping can overcome anecdote and emotion.
The reality is that no one wants to hurt their children. For the most part, parents who don’t vaccinate, or delay or partially vaccinate, just like those who get their children fully vaccinated, believe they are doing what’s best.
Vaccinating your kids requires a leap of faith. It requires trust.
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