How to Sort through the Noise.png

How to Sort through the Noise

(Adapted from “Tips for Evaluating Immunization Information on the Internet,” Multnomah County Health Department.)

As you do your own research about vaccines, keep a few things in mind:

  • The information provided should be based on sound scientific study. If it is, it will usually be endorsed by groups or institutions dedicated to science, such as professional associations or universities.

  • Transparency. A good health website should show who is responsible for the site and a way to contact the webmaster.

  • Look at some other articles on the website and see if they have an agenda. If most or all of the articles are one-sided, such as a website that exclusively attacks conventional medicine without ever defending it, there’s a good chance it’s not telling the whole story.

  • Beware of suggestions of “conspiracies.” There is a robust network of honest scientists who monitor vaccine studies without financial ties to industry. And, as explained later in this guide (see “Aren’t Vaccines Just Moneymakers for Pharmaceutical Companies?”), vaccines create such little profit that maintaining a vast global conspiracy would cost way more money than what pharmaceutical companies could make from it.

  • Media attention does not necessarily mean a claim is true. You may see a celebrity advocate for or against something, but it’s important to dig beneath the media attention and see what experts in the field say.

When evaluating a particular claim or study, know that an honest perspective is a balanced one. Legitimate studies will not cherry-pick their results or leave out relevant factors or variables. And, when in doubt, you can turn to your trusty search engine and type: “Debunk _____” (insert whatever claim you’re reviewing). Chances are that, if a particular claim does not hold up, others have already done the work for you and demonstrated its inaccuracy.