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While researching my earlier diary on vaccination and misuse of statistics, I landed at mothering.com as part of a Google Search. Turns out, they have a "Vaccination Debate" forum where a few sensible mothers with handles like prosciencemum and teacozy were being drowned out by all sorts of anti-vaccine horror stories. So I thought, even if I'm not a mother, I'd stay a while and lend a hand. My style was a little more aggressive than the others', and I also had the time and login privileges to check the anti-vax data, which as a rule was distorted or absurd. (I'll do another debunk diary some time, in which Example One will be their chart superimposing increased vaccination coverage in one small Japanese city running a special catch-up program with increased diagnoses of autism in a metropolis 375 miles away.) Those who are interested in specifics should check particularly their Measles thread.

I guess a did a little too well, because the management there—I didn't know at first, but the moderators are all non-vaccinators—changed the rules. The result is one weird idea of "debate".

Details on the other side of the orange suppuration.

Now prohibited:

  • Use of the technical term free rider, which they confused (despite citations) with freeloader. Guilty consciences.
  • Posts explaining why everyone should vaccinate.
  • Posts that non-vaccination will "threaten" [their scare quotes] herd immunity.
  • Posts claiming that non-vaccinated children are a threat to others. [which they are!]

In other words, almost every cogent argument in favor of vaccination programs is prescinded from the forum by decree. The most important reason for mandatory vaccination is precisely that failure to do so threatens susceptible individuals and that as long as most parents continue to vaccinate, the abstainers (including those who can not be vaccinated for genuine medical reasons) are, in the economics sense, free riders. It's not like the argument for mandatory car seats, where only your own child is at risk.

And this, mind you, is in their "Debate" area! The rules are stricter in their "I'm Not Vaccinating" section, although, as I always wish to be fair, the management also choked off the discussion there of how to forge vaccination reports in jurisdictions where it is difficult to get a Personal Belief Exemption.

Although there is precedent for continuing to argue against such staggering bias, I’m disinclined to try. Meanwhile, just since my last diary, we have a measles outbreak in New York, mumps in Ohio, more pertussis in California. I do feel, however, that their fear they can't refute the data shows we wielded our weapons well. It's a free country, and it's their website, and they can ban any words they want.

Should my GBCW post there be “You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.” or "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."?

Originally posted to Andrew Lazarus on Sat Apr 19, 2014 at 10:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.

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