NZ Doctors Called Sarah Speaking Out with Science

October 27, 2021

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Vaccines

Last week we talked about how the Doctors Stand Up For Vaccination (opens new window) group had released its list of names of six and a half thousand doctors who have signed a letter in support of COVID vaccination. This letter was in response to a declaration created by Voices for Freedom, casting doubt on vaccination, that was signed by 56 doctors.

I processed the list of names last week and found that there are more doctors called Sarah, Andrew and about a dozen other names who are in support of vaccines than the total of all the anti-vaccine doctors.

I had an idea of what to do with the list, so late last week I purchased the domain name nzd-sos.com (opens new window), which is very similar to the anti-vaccine website address of nzdsos.com (opens new window), with just a dash added in the middle. I made the site look the same as the anti-vaxx site, but instead of being titled "New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out with Science", my site is called "New Zealand Doctors called Sarah Speaking Out with Science", and it lists the 104 Sarahs who have signed the pro-vaccine letter. You can also choose from a drop-down list of names, and the text on the site changes to match that name - Davids, Sues, Kates, Michaels, Catherines, etc.

It was a lot of fun building the site, and then on Friday, when Siouxsie Wiles tweeted about it, the site received a lot of visitors. Many of them enjoyed the light-hearted way it poked fun at how few anti-vaccine doctors there are in New Zealand - and I’ve been told that includes the people who collated the pro-vaccine doctor list - Doctors Stand Up for Vaccination (opens new window).

But others, from the Voices for Freedom group, were not so happy, and were demanding to know who made the site, and saying that someone had hijacked the original website. It was no secret who was responsible, as I’d added the name of the NZ Skeptics to the site in several places, including the copyright at the bottom of the page - but apparently these anti-vaxxers didn’t bother to actually read what I’d written. What’s more funny is that these people have been posting their upset at my website on the Voices for Freedom Facebook page - except Voices for Freedom have been banned from Facebook for spreading misinformation, and don’t have a Facebook page. It turns out that the current Voices for Freedom Facebook page is another parody effort - actually called Voices for FreeDOOM (opens new window) - and lots of anti-vaxxers are posting on the page thinking it’s the real deal. Honestly, these people are not paying much attention. The description of the fake page says it all, really:

"Voices for Freedom are a bunch of political candidates and grifters. They provide a platform for misinformation and stand strong to exploit people during the pandemic."

Since my parody site has gone live, the Voices for Freedom group have updated their NZDSOS website three times, to try to make it look different to my one - but each time they’ve done this it’s just taken me a few minutes to make some changes to my site, and it’s back to looking identical again.