Stop sharing this insane warning about vaccines and drug use!

This photo was making rounds this past weekend on Facebook and Twitter. Many people who should know better were blinded by the appalling ridiculousness and passed it along as a demonstration of stupidity.

Stop. You are making things worse!

Even by trying to express outrage, you will be amazed at how many will not read an explanation but just pass it on out of context and thus assume it’s real.

See if you can spot the blatant errors in the picture.

Fake scare ad

It’s apparently been around since 2013. It was addressed in this piece last summer. Snopes finally addressed it today. Childhood Vaccinations Lead to Heroin Use?.

Problems easily spottable:

  1. The Something Awful tag – That is a humor site; this is a satire piece mocking the ridiculous position of anti-vaccination advocates.
  2. The phone number is an invalid number of digits.
  3. Unreferenced statistics that sound absurd on the surface.
  4. Beware of Poe’s law.

As this piece notes, this kind of satire seems more dangerous than effective. I could not find enough information to determine whether Feminists Against Vaccination, the facebook page with over 3000 “likes” that popularized this new wave of stupid, is real or satire itself.

They respond on one of the 20K+ comments to this picture: “We are shocked and offended that you would consider us a “satire” page. We exist to support women in their struggle against vaccination and the patriarchy. It is very immature of you not to recognize that.”

Umm…? I think I’m just going to turn and run away. Whatever it is, it’s not right. There is something disturbing about the idea that many of us would not put such insane propaganda past anti-vaxxers. Please don’t let outrage cause you to propagate information, even if you point out it’s fake.

  16 comments for “Stop sharing this insane warning about vaccines and drug use!

  1. Bob
    March 23, 2015 at 7:52 PM

    A real problem is ironic sharing gives bad content the same boost that good content gets from likes, as Tim has pointed out more than once on Virtual Skeptics (8PM EST Wed,, donations accepted, no refunds, buyer beware).

  2. March 23, 2015 at 8:54 PM

    A Twitter follower provided me a reference to the very unfortunately designed logo in the bottom right corner as well.

  3. March 23, 2015 at 8:55 PM

    As well as much of it being NON ironic sharing. People think it’s real.

  4. Overkill
    March 23, 2015 at 11:01 PM

    From the Snopes page:

    “…and the 1-800 number listed at the bottom of the ad was a few digits short of authenticity,…”

    That’s the correct amount of digits for an Australian 1800 phone number.

  5. ATraveller
    March 24, 2015 at 3:35 AM

    The issue with this kind of ‘satire’ is that it is indistinguishable from the work of people who are deadly serious and completely misinformed. My favorite example is the ‘banana video’ by Ray Comfort (link below).

    Btw, I doubt that page is satire. But if it is, then I hope that the people behind it soon realize that they are doing more harm than good.

  6. March 24, 2015 at 5:07 AM

    Oh, so that’s why I got into drugs.

    Seriously, as a recovering addict I am offended. There is already so much misinformation out there, and recovery itself (12 step programs) are filled with woo. More seriously, people are grossly under-informed on the risks associated with drugs. People spreading misinformation like that could rather share something that is real, not such utter rubbish.

  7. Adam
    March 24, 2015 at 7:29 AM

    Poe’s law in action.

    There can be a place for it. I’ve written critical comments on YouTube against some antivax / woo screed which were deleted by the clip owner. In such cases I turn the derp dial up to 11 and post a comment which is supportive but transparently paranoid, misinformed and outright dumb. If they allow that comment through (and they usually do), it does them as much harm.

  8. Adam
    March 24, 2015 at 7:36 AM

    I would have thought the logo would be a clue it was a joke.

  9. Kurt
    March 24, 2015 at 11:24 AM

    Something Awful is the same internet comedy site that brought us Slender Man.

  10. GrahamH
    March 24, 2015 at 11:29 AM

    I understand the concern about sharing.
    That said, I am far more likely to share this poster than a real poster. It appeals to my sense of humour to a much greater extent than something more obvious.

    Difficult call. To engage or not engage? However, this article gives me a third way. I can post to this link. May DN live long and prosper.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy
    March 25, 2015 at 2:34 AM

    In an Age of Extremes like today, no matter how crazy and extreme and over-the-top you go for satire, there’s going to be True Believers out there who are twice as extreme, twice as over-the-top, and DEAD SERIOUS.

  12. Headless Unicorn Guy
    March 25, 2015 at 2:35 AM

    I thought Slender Man was from some Creepypasta (online horror short story) site.

  13. March 25, 2015 at 8:03 AM

    It originated as a SomethingAwful contest. I believe it evolved on Creepypasta.

  14. Kevin
    March 25, 2015 at 12:02 PM

    The only thing remotely true about this is that the vast majority of those (us) who have drug problems were vaccinated. However, we also had baths, went to kindergarten (most of us), played silly reindeer (or childhood) games, etc. Of course, this poster says that such people are more likely, which I realize is a bit of a different claim. Still bogus though.

    It definitely is a sad comment on the state of anti-vaccine dialog that something that put together as satire, using extreme exaggeration and what was supposed to be obvious nonsense, could be taken up and spread around as serious messaging. Another example of extreme confirmation bias of a sort – only taking away the message that you want to have reaffirmed, no matter how impossibly wrong it is.

  15. Sarah
    March 25, 2015 at 8:46 PM

    The page appears to have been taken down.

  16. kiljoy616
    March 26, 2015 at 5:03 PM

    When it comes to magical believe they are neither sorry or care what harm they do, after all its all about the convictions or faith and nothing else makes sense to them.

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