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The Anti-Vaxxer Arc: A step-by-step guide for an anti-vax invasion of a pro-vax page

September 3, 2012

Hi Reader,

Today is a very special day, and not just because it’s a national holiday. No, much more importantly,  I have a guest contributor for this post. Yes, this means that there are now twice as many blog authors here as there are readers, but you know, it’s all about the quality here at Skewed Distribution. So let’s give a warm welcome to Chillin’ Out Vaxin, Relaxin’ All Cool, also known as COVRAC, who can usually be found at his most excellent Facebook page.

Anyway, COVRAC and I decided to write about the phenomenon known as the Anti-Vaxxer Arc. This occurs when an anti-vaxxer gets overly-excited, decides to invade a pro-vax page, and graces its denizens with his or her mad science skillz. I know you are familiar with this scene, reader, as the basic structure rarely varies. But just for fun, here are the steps you need to follow if you are an anti-vaxxer who wants to stick it to a pro-vaxxer.

Step 1: The Invasion

Barge on to Facebook page, blog, or message board that is largely populated by individuals who understand and appreciate the safety and benefits of vaccination. Be secure in the knowledge that you, and only you, possess information and logic unmatched by the world’s experts–all of whom are apparently either paid off by Big Pharma, or were on holiday when the latest ZOMG bombshell dropped on Natural News.

Step 2: The Opening Salvo

Declare that you are “not anti-vaccine” or are “pro-vaccine choice”, and that you have “educated” yourself about vaccines.  The “educated” part is the most important, as it established that you are indeed educated.  The very fact that you are aware of your educated status and can declare it so confidently is a clear signal to the uneducated to stand back or they will receive a most unpleasant education themselves, if you catch my drift.  It helps to play “Maneater” by Hall and Oates at this point to get you in the mood.

Step 3: Commence Ignorance

Begin making incredibly misinformed and ignorant statements, none of which has any scientific support, and using the word “educate” in every third sentence.

Examples include, but are by no means limited to:

  1. Vaccines do not work
  2. Diseases were already declining before vaccines ever existed!
  3. My grandparents weren’t vaccinated and they are still alive!
  4. It is better to get these diseases “naturally!”
  5. If only everyone breastfed, we wouldn’t need vaccines!
  6. Vaccines are full of deadly toxins and will incinerate you upon contact!
  7. Bill Gates is using vaccines to cull the global population because… see #6!

Step 4: Total Science Fail

When asked for any scientific support for above statements, provide “articles” from discredited medical professionals like Mercola, Tenpenny, or Humprhries, or links to sites like Alex Jones, Natural News, or  These sites have really nice web design and you are sure that they are reliable. Well, not Whale, but really you don’t have too much else to choose from if you don’t use Whale, now do you?

Step 5: Surprise Counteraquack

Since you have never before tried out your belief system anywhere other than an anti-vax website, get a nasty shock when people provide references to scientific papers that directly refute all of your statements.  You have never been challenged before on your beliefs, so this can get pret-ty uncomfortable in a hurry.  If you comment back at all, use the best web vocabulary you have at your disposal, such as “LOL,” “LMAO,” and the highly effective consonant replication method (eg. OKAYYYYYYYYYYYY, SSSSSKEWEDDDDD!).

Step 6.  Lather, Rinse, Once More into the Breach

Try to change the subject to a different Thing That is So Bad About Vaccines. There are so many to choose from when you have Whale, aren’t there?  Say a little prayer of thanks for Whale (and for living in a state where you can get a religious exemption by simply bearing false witness), and continue to repeat steps 5 and 6 until you are late for your Reiki treatment.

Step 7. Fall Back to Conspiracy

Well, for shoot.  You’ve unloaded all your big guns and nuttiest links and you’ve been met with a wall fulla scientific studies and information from suspicious acronyms like the CDC, FDA, and NIH. You even tried to post some links to scientific studies that you found on Whale, but they were not as convincing as you expected, though you have to admit to not reading or understanding them all that well yourself. You know what you know (and what nerds would take the time to read those studies anyway) so that poppycock must be…conspired poppycock! The only tactical maneuver available is to handwave this scientific assault away by claiming that the peer-reviewed literature, as well as the governments (all of ‘em!), are in the thrall of pharmaceutical companies.  Here is when you get to use the second best farm animal/human portmanteau ever (the best being “galpaca”).

Step  8. Become The Victim

Get your feelings hurt when people begin to get frustrated, and yes, perhaps even angry, when you refuse to address the scientific evidence presented and they respond with some creative sarcasm. Start whining about how “mean” people are being when you are being so polite and you are NOT anti-vax and you “just came to the site to ask questions/educate people/have a dialogue/not troll because you are educated and not a troll.”

Step 9. Parting Shots

Well, this “poor sweet victim” routine hopefully persuaded some underdog-loving readers, but it really doesn’t satisfy. Time for total protonic reversal – insult the posters who are refuting your claims! Some possibilities include calling them “pharma shills”, telling them they “haven’t done the research”, or declaring them “brainwashed”.  If you were particularly pwned, wish harm upon those shilly shysters.

Step 10. The Agony of Defeat

Hmmm… This is not going well.  You’re pretty much getting plastered with scientific evidence, and yes, you now really have pissed off some people because you defended child abusers and/or insulted the mentally disabled. There is only one way out. Prepare for your extraction by announcing that all of the posters at the site you invaded are rude and uneducated and that you have better things to do with your time, so you are LEAVING WITH CAPITAL LETTERS PREFERABLY!

Step 11. Get Out of Here It’s Going to Blow

Flee the scene. But don’t forget the self-destruct system – you wouldn’t want this pwnage falling into the hands of those evil Vulcans with their forsaken logic and science and their meddling dog, too. If on Facebook, delete the thread that you started which clearly demonstrates how sadly misinformed and unknowledgeable you actually are about vaccines.

Step 12: The Refractory Period
Hey, remember that scene at the end of Memento where (spoiler alert on a twelve-year-old movie that you probably are not going to see if you haven’t already but really you should) he deliberately forgets what just happened so that he can go on believing what he wants to believe?  Do that. Will you lie to yourself to be happy?  In your case, yes you will.

Which leads us back to…

Step 1: The Invasion

COVRAC and I know that my reader has had sightings of this phenomenon, so please feel free to share!

From → vaccines

  1. Hi, I’m COVRAC and I approved this message.

  2. Exactly this. Exactly.

  3. Stacy permalink

    Haha! Love it! So true! Well done, COVRAC and Skewed!

  4. And, just as I read this post…

    • That is hilarious, Hank! I read that very post and thought, wow! She’s bundled up our huge blog post into a single, brief comment.

  5. steph permalink

    bunch of entertaining bull.

  6. Indeed, Steph! That is exactly how I would describe the contents of an Anti-Vaxxer Arc! Well said.

  7. Autismum permalink

    No “vaccine injured” (ie. autistic) child? No right to an opinion on vaccine safety, efficacy or package design unless you believe all are just awful. I love it, just love it, when I get told that.

  8. informedvaxer permalink

    LOL you forgot rabble on about not much that actually pertains to the topic, like when Suzanne Humphries goes on and on about poop replacement therapy that is needed because the patient took too many anbiotics. But the topic is pertussis. Or Hilary Butler going on and on and on and on about god knows what, to the point that you forget what you are actually supposed to be talking about.

  9. Exactly how it is! Thanks for my morning giggle ;)

  10. Mary permalink

    It seems like good writer got good $ ! Good job………. Angel and Demons your work?

    • Sigh. If only we got paid for our online work.

    • Oh, yes, Skewed, I might have forgotten to tell you I am Dan Brown. My people may be contacting your people about royalties owed at some point.

      • Dammit, COVRAC! Now our lawyers will be battling it out for our miniscule cut of the profits of this blog!

        P.S. Love your work!

        • chrisw permalink

          Oh but hang on, don’t forget you are being paid by the big pharma companies anyway, you shilly shysters lol

        • If only I could find the Big Pharma Money Pot! Then I could pay someone to remodel my kitchen instead of doing it myself, and I could blog all day long! Do you know where it is?

  11. You’re brilliant. In Part Two, you’ll have to include the tactic of claiming pro-vax parents who post about why they vaccinate are simply fictional characters invented by a supremely talented mimic. Oh, who also finds random photos of mothers and their children online and posts them along with the “stories” to add to the verisimilitude.

  12. <3 This is so amazingly good.

  13. Anonnie Muss permalink

    I’m a member of a lot of those natural parenting groups and I agree wholeheartedly with this post. Although, you can remove the word “vaccination” and fill in just about any other natural parenting topic. Sharing what one believes is one thing, but being an idiot and/or trolling to get that message out is ridiculous and only helps to hurt the message in the long run, especially when it’s riddled with quotes from Jenny McCarthy and questionable “scientific” studies. Sometimes I want to smack people on certain natural parenting pages and groups, but then I would get called a troll for sharing my difference of opinion and someone would call cps on me because, since I vaccinate and/or disagree with the consensus, I must be abusing my children. Thanks for this, I will be sharing the link… a lot!

    • Thanks, Anonnie! We like sharing, outside of the setting of contagious disease.

  14. Allison permalink

    I get the “you don’t have children, so you have no valid opinion” to dismiss my provision of multiple links to scientific research.

    Last time I checked, scientific facts don’t have an opinion.

    • Feeble Tinker permalink


      Obviously your years of actual research (and your co-author’s) pale in comparison to the experience of harboring a tiny human and then expelling said human into the world. I KNOW my CHILDREN. I am THEIR Mom!!!! (<See what I did there?)

      Totally kidding by the way; I actually really appreciate everything you do to counteract the woo (I'm a FB lurker).

    • Nor do they have children! No wonder they get dismissed so fast!

      From now on, all links to the medical literature must be vetted by Octomom.

  15. Chris permalink

    This was fantastic! Another tactic is to tell a long story of woe of how their child was injured by vaccines, but then when it is repeated the story changes. And even though the child suffered all matter of maladies, they were never taken to the doctor or officially evaluated.

    I remember one parent years ago who claimed the child had seizures, but never ever visited a neurologist. Since I called 911 when my son had full blown seizures and he ended up in the ER, this was from a now vaccine preventable disease. I was flabbergasted that someone would not have sought out qualified medical attention.

    Allison, I love the “you don’t have autistic children so you can’t comment” reasoning. Then they get all upset when I tell them my son was damaged by an actual disease (see seizures above). Some have even said that kids like mine should be victims of “survival of the fittest.”

    I have encountered some of that activity here. One anti-vax guy had an amusing reaction when I asked him a simple question (a loony bin version of moving the goal posts).

    • There are a lot of elements that are common among antivaxer comments online, and yes, the unverifiable and oft-shifting anecdotes are one of the most prevalent. Some element of the anecdote calvary might have been appropriate in the arc.

      Who knows? Someday we may do a special edition where we add that and also more ships in the space battle scenes.

      • Chris permalink

        Space batter scenes… :-)

      • Chris permalink

        Oops, I should be in bed…

        Space battle scenes! :-)

        Though space batter does bring up some interesting visuals. Especially in regards to Mr. S of “thevaccinemachine” just below. He is an amusing innumerate person.

  16. C O V R A C
    Compleatly Oblivious to Vaccine Related or Associated Cognition

  17. Feeble Tinker permalink

    Yes and YES. This is so exactly spot-on.

    I did notice, however, that you failed to include the AV Grammar Handbook. If one is really going to follow your guide, one would need to be properly schooled on spelling (who needs it?!?), ellipses (can’t ever have too many!!), and of course, exclamation marks (use as many as possible!!!!).

    It might also be nice to have a little addendum about emoticons. “When to apply the Smiley vs. the Winky”. “The Sticking-Tounge-Out: too controversial?” – you know, real handy stuff like that.

    Thanks for the chuckle guys – I will never read aver posts the same now.

    • Thanks, Tinker! At point we had written some fictional examples of parts of the Arc, complete (compleat!) with the text issues you mention. Again, more cutting room floor material that we can shovel on our rich, adoring fans when the Blu Ray comes out.

    • And the odd spelling, like dis-ease.

  18. Chris permalink

    I saw this on Pharyngula: If only... Enjoy.

  19. Hi hi hi! Two of my favorite doughty anti-anti-vax warriors! I missed this until just now.

    Remember Grandma Marsha’s ploy of posting tens of papers, none of them cited correctly, that she claimed “proved” that vaccines were useless and dangerous. They were either useless Wakefield or Geier or Shaw productions, or didn’t actually say what GM claimed.

    • Thanks, Liz! I consider this high praise.

      I’m all too familiar with Marsha’s gallops. I don’t think she would ever delete her posts, though. She’s too fond of her own work.

  20. Shaliza permalink

    You two are like the dynamic duo! Great writing, awesome laughs, and ain’t it the truth! :)

    Thanks for a much appreciated bout of incessant giggling. I have a stitch in my side thanks to you two!

    • Thank you! Be sure to follow Skewed, and if you haven’t done so, follow my facebook page as well. More stitches and science to be had.

  21. Officially the most comments I’ve ever had on one of my FB posts:

  22. Reblogged this on humanathema and commented:
    Pretty spot-on…see the tactics used in what so far is the most-commented-on Facebook post I’ve ever made:

  23. Paola S.O permalink

    I’m a physician from a developing country. In my peds rotation at the biggest pediatric hospital there, I had to witness how several unvaccinated kids died/got severe complications from measles encephalitis. This was during a country outbreak of about 200 cases in 2011 ( The sad thing? the genotype was uncommon to my country and common to the USA. It probably came from an unvaccinated tourist and affected children from poor, indigenous communities with a marked lack of access to healthcare. So, uninformed, moronic anti-vaxxers are also killing people in the poor countries they visit. Please remind them of that!

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