Misinformation damages public perception


Graphic by John Yun.

Information spreads through the news, spoken word and social media.

John Yun, Features Editor

Having accurate, reliable information can not be stressed enough in this heavily digital era where information can be spread with a click of a button. Not only are there many false websites filled with incorrect facts but there are also many ads and pamphlets in the streets that try to convince people into believing in skewed information. Being misinformed can negatively affect you and the people around you. Currently, the fear of vaccinations has caused a recent outbreak of measles, a disease that can become fatal, in the United States, where the disease was eradicated in 2000.

In October of last year, ultra-Orthodox Jews came back from Israel after celebrating Sukkot, a biblical Jewish holiday. During this time period, Israel was in the middle of an outbreak, and several of these ultra-Orthodox Jews brought the virus to the United States.

The people that were affected were not vaccinated, a result of “The Vaccine Safety Handbook” magazine that was targeted towards the Hasidim. The magazine was designed to scare them into avoided vaccinations by stating that vaccinations caused autism and contained cells from aborted human fetuses, according to the New York Times.

Although scientific studies have shown and proved that vaccines are safe and highly effective, this handbook has been trying to spread false information regarding them. According to the New York Times, the messages of this handbook by the group called Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health has been spread quickly by being shared on hotlines and in group text messages.

This misinformation has caused more than 400 confirmed measles cases in New York, highlighting the importance of giving access of reliable facts and data to the public.

Some ultra-Orthodox Jews have declined vaccination due to their kosher dietary laws, which should be respected. However, this fear may have been grown out of false information from the magazine that said vaccines had the DNA and blood of other animals. This claim was contradicted by many prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis have agreed that vaccines are kosher as facts show that the products are highly purified after being grown in animal cells, according to the New York Times.

Seeing this example, it is evident that the advancement of technology has allowed any type of information to be spread quickly and vastly, regardless of whether the information is correct of incorrect. Not only can this information give people the wrong ideas, but also destroy the way they live.

In no way is this article attacking the misinformed but rather condemning those that spread false information that could lead to serious problems for society as a whole. People should watch what they say and spread because it could have detrimental effects on the lives of others.