April Fools! But, an “ad” claiming this is currently making the rounds on FaceBook, Twitter, and across the Internet. Could it be true? As Snopes.com says, “FALSE.”
But, at least one group of anti-vaccine zealots (and many more vaccine skeptics) jumped onto this obvious parody like pigs into mud and it’s gone (and is still going) viral.
Here’s the “Public Service Advertisement” … with the appropriate “FAKE” warning added. See if you can spot the blatant errors in the picture.:
Just in case the image is too small for you to see it clearly, it depicts a drug addict slumped in a corner with the text “Their first injection was a vaccination. Protect your children from vaccinations.” It goes on to claim, “Vaccines leave a lasting psychological belief that injecting is beneficial. Studies have shown that children who are vaccinated are 85% more likely to inject heroin then those who are not.”
Here are some hints, easily spottable, that point to this being fake (as pointed out by Doubtful News):
- The Something Awful tag – That is a humor site; this is a satire piece mocking the ridiculous position of anti-vaccination advocates.
- The phone number is an invalid number of digits.
- Unreferenced statistics that sound absurd on the surface.
- Beware of Poe’s law.
The Skeptics Web site has pointed out other clues:
- Spelling error: “benefical”.
- No anti-vaxx organisation name.
- The logo in the right corner is independently famous for being inappropriate.
The most effective satire is nearly impossible to distinguish from the truth. As such, occasionally a graphic or quote which has been created as a parody is shared on social media, creating confusion, fear and outrage among a wide range of people… particularly those not familiar with the source and their particular brand of humour.
One such example is currently doing the rounds; a graphic which appears to be an anti-vaccination claim, which seems to suggest that childhood vaccination leads to heroin use, due to needles being regarded as something positive.
I’d like to reassure anybody concerned that this has not been created by an anti-vaccinationist (though, being familiar with the wide range of bizarre claims made by anti-vaccination campaigners, I can understand why it could be read as real).
Furthermore, in case I need to clarify this, there is no known causal link between vaccination and intravenous drug use later in life.
This graphic was created as a part of Something Awful’s Photoshop Phriday in 2013, in which SA forum participants tried to create over the top parodies of anti-vaccination posters.
After showing some examples of actual anti-vaccination memes, the SA admins issued a challenge: “If they can take anti-vaccination posters to this level of absurdity, imagine what we can do!
Unfortunately, this one has escaped its context and repeatedly gone viral.
As they say, “You can fool some of the people all of the time!”