After years of polite (as possible) debate and deflected abuse I’ve been banned from the ‘VINE’ Vaccine Information Network for posting… vaccine information. They now have a ‘new policy’ – apparently inspired by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny (who as it happens has no wiki page) – of deleting anything that doesn’t promote an anti-vaccination strategy however ill-informed or oft-refuted.
The owner, to his credit, has for years tolerated my dissenting arguments, until now. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vaccination-Information-Network-VINE/69667273997
VINE is a charming place that also promotes chemtrail conspiracies, homeopathy prophylaxis, germ-theory and HIV-AIDS denialism. I actually don’t have a problem with an open discussion of any ideas -in fact I welcome it – and will change (and historically have changed) my views in the light of better evidence.
In the case of VINE I’ve learned much, much more about vaccination, and the extent of anti-vaccination conviction, and actually in so doing have found the anti-vaccine position to be even weaker than I first thought – but it could have turned out differently.
Now I value debate with a spectrum of opinions, however there are people there all to eager to offer self-satisfied unqualified, incorrect, direct and dangerous medical advice to the vulnerable. Don’t vaccinate. Treat pertussis with homeopathy. Do not fear HIV. Not so nice, and my regret is that those looking for genuine information, unfortunate enough to visit VINE may be vulnerable through confirmation bias and the human brain’s propensity for self-delusion. A shame.
So, in lieu of any compelling arguments they’ve gone for censorship of any dissent, an Us and Them mentality and an echo chamber of misinformation. There’s a word for that:
(I rechecked spelling)
Ironically, I think this behaviour actually hurts the movement’s purported – and ostensibly noble – aims of ‘vaccine safety’ relegating it to moon-hoax, AIDS-denialist status, and eventually even an irresponsible media will tire of its blatherings as they become yet more distant from reality.
VINE is a tiny ‘island’ (as it proudly calls itself) of the ‘enlightened’ few, but perhaps this move is representative of the typical life-style of such movements.
1) An attempt to debate the information openly and honestly.
2) When ideas fail to stand up to honest debate, appeal to conspiracy theory.
3) When appeal to conspiracy theory becomes too repetitive and increasingly klunky: Ban all dissent, and draw a line around the enlightened ‘Us’ and the stupid and/or corrupt ‘Them’
As Steve Novella would attest, our brains reward us for any resolution of cognitive dissonance, but I’m careful to be as wary of this as possible and welcome challenge to my pre-existing notions however painful that sometimes is. The enforced separation of a human brain from any possibility of alternative views, is rational suicide. The human brain hunts down with hunger anything that will confirm its pre-existing beliefs and in the absence of a better viewpoint, will gorge on any old junk-food for thought. The owner of VINE is now declaring the satisfaction of banning anyone who doesn’t buy the anti-vax gambits, and I don’t doubt for a moment that he is receiving repeated dopamine hits with each removal of potential dissent.
Ultimately there will always be a market for anti-science propaganda that appeals to emotion and exploits the fallibilities of the mind. It’s inbuilt (Bruce Hood: http://brucemhood.wordpress.com/about-supersense/)
However I predict that this latest anti-vaccination tactic will deepen the conviction of a few but isolate these ideas from a wider public. Ultimately a better thing for public health. And yes, I’m fully aware that I got a dopamine hit when I came up with that potential outcome.
Any comments are, as it happens, welcome here.
(aka Shill, Big Pharma Shill, NWO whore, idiot, sheeple, corrupt, moron, meddler, septic and arrogant scientist)