Tag Archives: vaccines

A butterfly flaps its wings on Twitter, and a vaccine map goes viral

CFR vaccine preventable diseases mapIf you follow the problem of vaccine denialism (like most skeptics do) and are on social media, you probably saw a cool interactive global map of disease outbreaks this week. It was created by the Council on Foreign Relations – there’s a picture of it here and a link below the fold.  

Just in the last week it was posted by many major websites including Kottke.org, Mother Jones, L.A. Times, The Verge, Wired, The Atlantic Wire and even Forbes. And of course all those posts – and the direct link to the map – were being wildly passed around on social media.

Whenever I see something like this going viral, I dig a little bit before I retweet or repost it.  Sometimes there’s a better version of the post to link, or the one you saw didn’t attribute it to the original author correctly. I like to make sure I send out the best possible version of something, not just the first one I saw.

When I dug into this vaccine preventable illness map, I found out an interesting thing that almost all of the major media posts missed. Namely, this map is not new.  In fact, it’s over two years old – it was released in late October 2011 as this press release indicates.

So why the heck is it going viral now?

I did a little digging and found an interesting thing. Most of the major media posts can be traced back to a single influential blog. And that blog’s post can be traced back to a single Twitter post that set the entire chain in motion.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Slate snubs skeptics in an item on misinformation in Google

Yesterday Slate posted a piece by Evgeny Morozov that asked the question, “Does Google have a responsibility to help stop the spread of 9/11 denialism, anti-vaccine activism, and other fringe beliefs?” On its face it is an interesting question, one that goes right to the heart of what this blog is about. But except for a one nugget of wisdom which I applaud, the bulk of the article reveals the author’s naivete about matters skeptics deal with every day.

The article comments on a peer reviewed paper in Vaccine that analyzes the “tactics and tropes” of the anti-vaccine movement. Unfortunately I don’t have access to that journal to comment on the paper directly. But I can say the author of the Slate article could have avoided some pitfalls had he availed himself of the large body of skeptic literature in addition to that one paper.

News flash: we’ve been fighting these battles for decades, and are well familiar with the tactics listed. We’ve even been going head-to-head with these communities in Google and on Twitter and in the rest of Web 2.0, using the very same techniques. The evidence easy to find in Google, I’m not sure why Morozov can’t see it.

In the rest of this article I’ll point out how the piece’s proposed solution lacks vision, and suggest some other avenues that don’t require Google to get involved.

Continue reading

Content Roundup: December 2011

December wasn’t as busy as the previous two months, at least online. My day job and holiday preparations took up most of my time, as I am sure is true for many others. But I still got some interesting things posted, and did some housecleaning in the blog here with a new graphical theme and toolbars at the top.  Meanwhile there were several interesting references and conversations on other blogs that related to the projects here.

If you were busy too and missed some of the action during the month, here’s a way to catch up.  This is the monthly roundup – links to all the content I’ve been involved with in the last month. It includes this blog as well as the material I post on other blogs, my podcasting activities, my best posts on Twitter as well as key shout-outs or mentions elsewhere.

Read on to see what you missed!

Continue reading

Content Roundup: October 2011

Wow, October was busy for me. Maybe not Novella-level busy, but I’ve had a faster pace of posting over at JREF’s blog, and high interest in my social media posts. So if you missed some of the action during October, here’s a way to catch up.

This is the monthly roundup – links to all the content I’ve been involved with in the last month. It includes this blog as well as the stuff I post on other blogs, my podcasting activities, my best posts on Twitter as well as key shout-outs or mentions elsewhere.

Click through to read more.

Continue reading

Content Roundup: September 2011

Time for another monthly roundup – links to all the content I’ve been involved with in the last month. It includes this blog as well as the stuff I post on other blogs, my podcasting activities, my best posts on Twitter and so on.

So if you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to during September, here’s your handy way to catch up.

Click through to read more.

Continue reading