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Antivaccine nonsense Computers and social media Medicine Politics Popular culture

Are Russian bots being used to sow division over vaccines? Maybe.

A study released yesterday has led to numerous breathless headlines in the media about Russian bots on Twitter sowing discord about vaccines by spreading polarized antivaccine and provaccine messages. The stories imply that this is a huge problem. But is it? There’s no doubt that this study showed some Russian bots Tweeting polarized messages about vaccines, but, contrary to the news stories, it doesn’t support the concept of a widespread Russian effort to stoke conflict about vaccines. It’s unclear whether the Russian effort was opportunistic or experimental, but it wasn’t huge.

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Antivaccine nonsense Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Pseudoscience Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Antivaxers on Twitter: Fake news and Twitter bots

A new analysis reveals that there are antivaccine bots on Twitter. Why am I not surprised?

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Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Popular culture Pseudoscience Quackery Science Skepticism/critical thinking Tales from the helicopter

The Cleveland Clinic: Promoting dubious diet advice on Twitter and beyond

I’ve mentioned on quite a few occasions that there’s a quote attributed to philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer that is much beloved of cranks: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. I also like to point out that Schopenhauer probably never said […]

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Antivaccine nonsense Clinical trials Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery Science

Humpty Dumpty and cranks, quacks, and antivaccinationists

One of my favorite quotes from classic literature comes from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, when Alice encounters a rather strange character named Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty, as you will likely recall, was a giant egg with whom Alice got into an argument about the meaning of words: And only ONE for birthday presents, […]

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Antivaccine nonsense Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Twitter as an amplifier of antivaccine messages

Before 2005, I did pay attention to the antivaccine movement, but it wasn’t one of my biggest priorities when it comes to promoting science-based medicine. That all changed when Robert F. Kennedy published his incredibly conspiracy-packed black whole of antivaccine pseudoscience entitled Deadly Immunity. Sadly, almost exactly ten years later, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. hasn’t […]