News Headlines Article

When it comes to vaccination, people trust online commenters as much as doctors
Washington Post

As measles spreads across parts of the U.S. like some 21st-century plague, many concerned persons have begun to wonder how anti-vaccination beliefs still persist, exactly.

Maybe it’s the manifestation of a deeper culture war, some suggest. Maybe it’s rooted in psychology. Or class inequality. Or good old-fashioned stubbornness.

Now there’s evidence that this particular strain of nonsense incubates in the same petri dish as most other Internet inanities. According to a forthcoming paper from researchers at Washington State, consumers making decisions about vaccines are heavily influenced by … online comments. They’ll even trust the medical opinions of the anonymous Internet hordes over, say, the government agency charged with monitoring such things.