by John Ellis
Below is a link to an important and informative paper authored by epidemiologist Dr. Tara C. Smith and law professor and vaccine advocate Dr. Dorit Reiss. I urge you to read it. Not only to help serve as a bulwark in your own mind against the fallacious arguments and downright lies being exponentially spread online, but also as an aid for those unpleasant conversations you may find yourself in with COVID-19 deniers (or antivaxxers, for that matter). To whet your appetite, here’s an extended quote from the abstract:
This article draws on a broadcast popular among the anti-vaccine community to map out six themes used by the broadcast to mislead viewers about COVID-19. The themes are the claim that “they” – government and pharma – are lying to you, claims that COVID-19 is an excuse to remove civil liberties, viewing everyone as an expert, claiming that science cannot save us, skewing the science, and a claim that “they” are out to harm the viewers. The article points out that similar themes are used to mislead followers with anti-vaccine information. It highlights the concern that these themes will not only mislead people who are already anti-vaccine about the pandemic, but may draw in people who are not anti-vaccine but are seeking information about COVID-19, and suggests some options for dealing with the misinformation.
With their methodology, Drs. Smith and Reiss interact with noted antivaxxer Del Bigtree’s weekly show Hightower. Along with disgraced “doctor” Andrew Wakefield, Bigtree produced the anti-vaccine documentary Vaxxed. The antivaxxer movement has now set their deluded and deceitful sites on the pandemic that is wreaking havoc across the globe, taking lives, and destroying families and communities.