Online Russian trolls hyped vaccination scares

Putin's army pushed our buttons over the anti-vax agenda during the 2016 US election, and likely beyond. The Russians do this to help spread distrust in the government, distrust in vaccines and to sow general discord.

Vaccines are good. Do not be fooled.

Via the BBC:

Troll accounts that had attempted to influence the US election had also been tweeting about vaccines, a study says.

Many posted both pro- and anti-vaccination messages to create "false equivalency", the study found.

It examined thousands of tweets sent between 2014 and 2017.

Vaccination was being used by trolls and sophisticated bots as a "wedge issue", said Mark Dredze from Johns Hopkins University.

"By playing both sides, they erode public trust in vaccination, exposing us all to the risk of infectious diseases," he said.

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European measles outbreak infects 41,000 people, killing 27 of them (so far)

Anti-vaccine shenanigans have lowered Europe's average vaccination rate below the threshold to adequately provide for herd immunity. Following the decade's lowest year of measles cases in 2016, the rate of measles cases in Europe in 2018 is already headed for the stars. Read the rest

More parents deem vaccines "unnecessary"

Coinciding with a mumps outbreak on Long Island, a new survey by the American Academy of Pediatricians, has shown that increasing numbers of American parents deem vaccines "unnecessary."

Via WaPo:

The AAP paper's publication coincidentally comes during a week when there's yet another outbreak in the United States of an infectious disease we can prevent through immunizations. Since August, at least 36 people have contracted mumps — whose symptoms include puffy cheeks and possibly serious respiratory symptoms — in one Long Island town.

Health officials said that some of those infected had been vaccinated, leading them to wonder whether there is a new strain going around, but that they still believe immunization provides the best precaution and urged everyone in the area who has not gotten the measles, mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine to get it right away. "We're trying to prevent this from getting larger,"Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau County health commissioner, told ABC News.

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Watch Penn and Teller's anti-anti-vaccine rant

Penn and Teller's classic takedown of anti-vax bullshittery. And if you don't know, now you know.

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Six cases of measles confirmed in Tennessee outbreak. Measles was eradicated in the U.S. in 2000.

Public Health officials in Shelby County, Tennessee today confirmed six cases of measles in the county, up from two last Friday. Victims of the measles outbreak are "widely diverse" in terms of age, gender and where they live, authorities said. Read the rest

Woo with a body-count: measles epidemic follows anti-vax scare

Wales is in the grip of a measles epidemic, thanks to the anti-vaccine scare more than a decade ago. Once the critical mass of herd immunity dropped below a certain threshold, in came the old, deadly -- and utterly preventable -- disease. Read the rest

Correlation between autism diagnosis and organic food sales

Redditor Jasonp55 has a neat demonstration of the perils of confusing correlation with causation, and his well-chosen example makes this a potentially useful chart for discussing this issue with friends who won't vaccinate themselves and their kids.

/r/skeptic, I was practicing GraphPad and I think I may have discovered the 'real' cause of autism... (imgur.com)

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest