An opinion piece published today in JAMA Pediatrics posits that government has a role in regulating content in social media platforms. This should send chills up the spine of anyone with even a mediocre working knowledge of the US Constitution. The authors begin by acknowledging that free speech is a fundamental right but then immediately begin to dismantle it, revealing a heart of arrogance that presumes their fellow citizens are not able to discern truth for themselves. They write about “balancing” free speech rights opposed to limiting harms caused by “misinformation” (defined as claiming “vaccines cause death or other harmful adverse effects against the evidence.”)
The authors claim exposure to “misinformation” has lead to an increase in unvaccinated children. But vaccination rates are both stable and high over time.
They worry about “herd immunity”, apparently assuming that use of vaccination will mimic the truly robust real immunity that develops as a result of exposure to infection or spontaneously acquiring and recovering from an infection. A modeling study predicts that the widespread long-term use of vaccination will actually increase the pool of “susceptibles”.
The authors state they want to use what they call “misinformation” (previously defined) to better understand those who are “vaccine hesitant”. Those who hesitate to use vaccines do so for many reasons, among them personal experience with vaccines and reading factual, medically accurate information from mainstream, primary sources (like vaccine drug inserts or the CDC Pink Book). Are drug inserts, the MMWR, or the CDC Pink Book sources of misinformation?!
They do not acknowledge that it is the “vaccine hesitant” who continuously call for more and better quality studies that would explicitly reveal how effective or how dangerous vaccines are. It is the vaccine risk aware who understand that we do not need yet another epidemiological study that can only indirectly imply risk, safety, or effectiveness. It is the vaccine risk aware who demand vaccines be studied by the gold standard of double-blind placebo-controlled trials as are other medical procedures and drugs. It is the vaccine risk aware who grasp that it is not “science” to use a non-placebo by comparing a vaccine to another vaccine or to an excipient that is not biologically inert. It is really odd that those who champion vaccines and trumpet just how “safe” and “effective” they are cannot stomach the thought of exposing their precious to the rigors of gold standard research – they are the “research” hesitant. I think the term “science hesitant” is even more applicable. I think if they were so confident in the expected results they would be clamoring for multiple gold-standard studies simply to show up the so-called “vaccine hesitant”.
They show a startling lack of self-awareness in refusing to recognize that it is the government’s own research that has spread vaccine “misinformation” through the previously discussed on-going “fraud” of refusal to do gold-standard research. But there is other research tainted by allegations of outright fraud (CDC Whistleblower Dr. William Thompson, Paul Thorson who allegedly misappropriated US Taxpayer funds, just for starters).
This opinion piece appeals to the authority of government in regulating speech, which history has shown does not generally end well. On the contrary, it is the freedom of speech of various kinds that has produced much good, for example, the invention of the printing press allowed for more widespread literacy and greater education. The internet has been compared to a modern day printing press. Not liking or agreeing with content is not sufficient to suppress it. The free market is the ultimate hive mind – and good ideas, like good products, will tend to float to the top.
The market for vaccines is already not free – their use is coerced (again by government via work or school mandates) and they have total liability protection. If the product were so stellar people would demand to use it without mandates and if it were safe there would be no need for liability protection.
They conclude their call for censorship by recognizing the concerns of the vaccine risk aware have about vaccine safety and their lack of trust in pharma companies and government agencies tasked with ensuring vaccine safety yet failing to do so (like the HHS – see icandecide.com for more information). Yet they conclude not that there is a need for more and better vaccine research to answer the legitimate questions and concerns of the vaccine risk aware, but instead want to research the vaccine risk aware to understand them better (though they had already identified the motives of the vaccine “hesitant”)! In other words, they already understand what the vaccine risk aware want but have no desire to meet them there (ie: join with them in advocating for gold standard research, repeal of liability laws, demand answers to allegations of fraud and corruption). Hint: the best way to correct “misinformation” is to do higher, better quality research – like double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trials, like comparing the health of the unvaccinated with the vaccinated. Pro tip: don’t insult the intelligence of “the herd” by condescendingly and arrogantly attempting to control speech or content.
What they propose is ultimately anti-science, as science is not settled and no one person or entity (other than God Himself) can claim to know all truth. The process of science is frustratingly slow and throttling the free flow and exchange of ideas and information will further slow this process. Knowledge does not belong only to those who wear white coats and have multiple degrees – it is open to all who have brains and are breathing.
The public are responsible for their own health. Adults are capable of reading and evaluating information regardless of its source and are certainly capable of asking questions if they need more information after considering content. Parents have every right to decide for their minor children if they will accept or decline vaccinations.
We need more information, not less. We need less government interference, not more. As human beings and citizens we deserve better than censorship. These types of efforts undermine health literacy rather than strengthen it.