Baseless Skepticism on Malaria Vaccine
Lance D Johnson from natural news published an electronic article called: New malaria vaccine injects subjects with 50,000 live parasites that invade the liver… claims to be “100% effective”. In this article Johnson tries to bring doubt to the efficacy of research published in Nature(journal) regarding a new form of malaria vaccination.
The First method Johnson uses to trick his readers is his writing style and grammar. The rhetoric used in the article published on the anti-science site Natural News is indicative of language expected from an intellectual. From the perspective of an individual with little scientific background the arguments read logically. This is derived from the dialect of academia which is usually inaccessible to individuals with limited education. Just because he sounds smart doesn’t mean he is smart. As one of my favorite rappers put it: “This slang that I speak don’t change that I’m deep”.
The second method Johnson uses to make his readers doubt the findings are broad generalizations about vaccines, claiming healthcare has burdened the world with dependence on more immune system stimulants that weaken long term humoral defense systems. Considering the rate at which viruses and pathogens evolve it is beneficial to regularly update vaccines, if maintenance of good health isn’t a priority to his readers they are welcome to abstain from vaccination. To say vaccines, weaken humoral defense systems is absurd because the purpose of vaccination is to strengthen the immune system. Subtle lies of this nature throughout his article builds the sense of doubt as you continue reading. References to plant based anti-parasitic blood cleansing compounds are stated in the article. If you select the links to these compounds you are redirected to another pages on the Naturalnew.com domain with a short abstract from a research paper taken out of context.
The last and most effective thing Johnson does to convince his readers to doubt the 100% efficacy of the vaccine is to ask good reasonable questions and provide no answers. For example: “How is this really any different from just getting malaria and treating it with drugs?” and “Will the injected live parasites find a way to survive inside people over time?”. It would be difficult to have any insight on these questions without reading the original publication or interviewing researchers who worked on the project. The vaccine is still in the clinical trial phase, there are still years of development left before it is available to the market. Ironically Johnson cited two trustworthy articles as his sources. One citation was an article from Deutsche Welle (Germany's public international broadcaster) and the other from Science Daily (they cited the Nature publication). Considering Johnson writes for Natural News I doubt any respectable scientist would want to answer any of his questions despite how reasonable they may be. He might also lack the background to fully comprehend the findings originally cited in the nature publication. By citing two valid articles Johnson is able to construct his own article on Natural News to fit his agenda while limiting hard science.
Through elitist rhetoric, over generalization, and the presentation of reasonable questions Johnson is able to create an article that seems as valid as any other in order to promote the anti-vaccination sentiments of his Natural News.
Posted by Michael Aflakpui (group A - Week 4)