For a long time, vaccines have proven to be a safe and effective way of preventing many contagious illnesses. However, there are websites that are filled with information trying to convince parents that vaccines don't bring any benefits.
Now, a study has confirmed that these websites only deliver misleading information based on pseudoscience with the aim of promoting the anti-vaccine philosophy.
The study was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the results of which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health association on November 3, Tuesday in Chicago.
For the study, researchers used big search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing to gather a list of websites that promote anti-vaccination. They ended up with 480 web pages comprised of blogs, personal websites, health websites and Facebook pages.
Furthermore, 65.6 percent of these websites claimed that giving vaccines to children is dangerous to their health; 62.2 percent claim that immunization causes autism and 41.1 percent of them say that vaccine damages the brain.
Most of these sites use scientific evidence and anecdotes to support their claims. While they may have provided sources of their scientific evidence and cited peer-reviewed studies, researchers discovered that anti-vaccine proponents have misrepresented the studies as well as misinterpreted the study results.
According to study author Meghan Moran, the anti-vaccine websites have one thing in common--they all made a correlation for causation.
For instance, most websites claimed that when there was an increase in the immunization rate, the diagnoses for autism also increased. Moran commented that "Just because two things happen at the same time, that doesn't mean that one is causing the other."
Moran added that while it's true that there was an increase in autism rates, it does not mean that it was caused by giving vaccines.
Experts have long argued that anti-vaccine philosophies are based on false facts, but this latest study is by far the most comprehensive study on the different literatures about anti-vaccine that exist on the web.