A Facebook group Feminists Against Vaccination have posted an anti-vaxx advert:

enter image description here] Source

Their first injection was a vaccination. Protect your children from vaccinations. Vaccinations leave a lasting psychological belief that injecting is benefical. Studies have shown that children who are vaccinated are 85% more likely to inject heroin than those who are not. Vaccinations. Don't lose your child to drugs. Call 1-800-128-093 for more information. WWW.SOMETHINGAWFUL.COM

I think this advert is likely to be a hoax and/or satire - i.e. not merely factually incorrect, but posted as a joke - based on the following circumstantial evidence:

  • Something Awful watermark (which doesn't prove it originated there)
  • Phone number is too short for the North American Numbering Plan.
  • Spelling error: "benefical".
  • No anti-vaxx organisation name.
  • The logo in the right corner is independently famous for being inappropriate.
  • The premise that vaccinations leave a lasting psychological belief is extraordinary, and the huge size of the claimed effect is over the top.

None of this proves anything definitively.

I didn't spend enough time reading Feminists Against Vaccinations to confirm whether they posted this in good faith. (Poe's Law applies here.)

However, I have seen Facebook friends post it - not believing it was true, but thinking it was a genuine propaganda. This other source also seems to accept that this is genuine anti-vaxx propaganda.

My motivation: It would be nice to have a definitive takedown, here at Skeptics.SE, to show that this is not genuine anti-vaxx propaganda, so I can link to it the next time I see this on Facebook. Is there evidence that this is a hoax originating from Something Awful, rather than from an anti-vaxx organisation? As a good skeptic, however, I try to keep an open mind to the evidence. If people can demonstrate that it is a real advert, that would be a good answer. If they can further show that there are high-quality studies showing this effect, I would be flabberghasted, and willing to change my mind about vaccine risks.

  • 23
    Are you sure this isn't satire? The Somethingawful forums are known for creating photoshopped images and parodies.
    – Mad Scientist
    Mar 20 '15 at 6:35
  • 1
    I think it IS satire, and I think it is being shared by people who don't realise it. Worth debunking?
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 20 '15 at 7:11
  • 3
    Relevant meta questions: meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/1692/… and meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/1880/… . IMO: keep this question, as people treat the ad as real. Mar 20 '15 at 12:06
  • 3
    It could even be true statistically :P. Not checked obviously, but lets assume un-vaccinated children have a way higher death-rate; they don't grow old enough to try heroin anyway. So those vaccinated children have a way better expectancy to come of "herion-using-age" :)
    – Nanne
    Mar 20 '15 at 12:57
  • 4
    The name of Feminists against Vaccination is clearly satirical; most of their posts are either pro-vaccine, or themselves satirical. Please post some evidence that this claim is taken seriously by anyone.
    – gerrit
    Mar 20 '15 at 15:06

The meme claims that:

children who are vaccinated are 85% more likely to inject heroin than those who are not.

Because the claim didn't mention which type of vaccines will cause heroin injection, and had the slogan "protect your children from vaccinations", the meme's target was all vaccines, therefore paraphrasing the claim would lead to:

Any vaccine given to children will make them inject more heroin than others.

The following is not true, because there has been one vaccine (at least) which blocks compulsive intake of heroin.

In the report, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have reported successful preclinical tests of a new vaccine against heroin. The scientific report concluded that the vaccine:

can be used in conjunction with available treatment options. Thus, our vaccine represents a promising adjunct therapy for heroin addiction, providing continuous heroin antagonism, requiring minimal medical monitoring and patient compliance.

The meme also claims:

Vaccinations leave a lasting psychological belief that injecting is beneficial.

The following is far from being true because according to the Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov) and Prevention (CDC), vaccine side effects are minor and go away within a few days.

It is also worth noting that: The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which serves to report, analyze and make incidences of adverse side effects of vaccines, reported many serious effects of vaccine such as permanent disability, or death. However, the website does not cite down any psychological effect of vaccines, not even one.

The meme also notes a website at the left corner, somethingawful.com, noting copyright owner or producer of the meme, which makes the meme classified as a parody/humour meme:

enter image description here

Going through the website, I could easily find the rest of memes, along with the heroin meme. For example, they have a meme saying, that vaccines cause homosexuality: enter image description here

And another meme is saying that vaccines cause everything single disease in this world:enter image description here

Creators of those memes refer to themselves as Goons.

It seems also that they have weekly activity called "photoshop phriday":

where Goons will modify existing images to create parodies through using image-editing softwares (like Adobe Photoshop).


This meme was be debunked through this approach:

  • Hypothesis: All vaccines cause increased heroin injection.
  • Findings: One vaccine caused decreased heroin injection.
  • Conclusion: Therefore, not all vaccines cause increased heroin injection.

The claim is false, regardless of whether it is made as a parody or not.

  • 3
    A heroin vaccine? That's interesting! I remember reading, several years ago, about a successful/promising vaccination for cocaine, but I didn't know there was research being done on opioids. Mar 20 '15 at 14:40
  • 1
    I find it curious how the people who seriously believe these things assume for granted that some things are inherently bad, like injecting "genetic material" or "viruses", without stopping to wonder if they actually are or why. If someone tells them that 80% of our very own DNA is made up of viruses they'll probably freak out!! Mar 20 '15 at 14:52
  • 2
    @AndreasBonini They'd be right to freak, that claim is incorrect. First, it would be "X% of our DNA is derived from viruses" known as endogenization; less vivid than "our DNA is made of viruses". Second, it's 8%.
    – Schwern
    Mar 20 '15 at 20:31
  • @Schwern: interestingly, your 8% figure appears to be correct. That's strange since my genetics professor said 80% just in last week's lesson and he's not the type of person to make this sort of mistake.. I'll try to ask him about it Mar 20 '15 at 22:19
  • 2
    @AndreasBonini - there's a significantly higher # of people who believe that "Genetically modified" food is inherently bad. People believe all kinds of unscientific nonsence.
    – user5341
    Mar 21 '15 at 1:28

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .