Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Practice Practice Pointer

Covid-19 vaccination hesitancy

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 20 May 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1138

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Rapid Response:

Re: “Information disorder”

Dear Editor

While I do not doubt that much of the apparatus demanded by David Menkes and David Scales [1] is already in place I question (as I often have done before in the columns) the appropriateness of the term “misinformation” since it fails to differentiate between information which is “false” and information which is deemed in some way “unsuitable”. Even if it were the former I doubt whether creating a bureaucratic class who always know what is true is a progressive move, and let us face it could even be dangerous if we shut our ears to the people who warn of “harm”. ( Last year I also wrote about the use of the term “anti-vaxxer” notably by the British Prime Minister [2], and I wonder whether - although politer - “vaccination hesitancy” [3] is any less problematic in its potential for gaslighting those who may have been injured [4]. )

Most worrying of all is where Menkes and Scales deploy the term “information disorder” perhaps opening the way for the psychiatric treatment of people who doubt “scientific authority” [1]. Would it not be better if we all just went back to discussing scientific evidence in a courteous way, free of fear?

[1] David B Menkes, ‘Effective responses to vaccine-related misinformation”. 25 May 2021,

[2] John Stone, ‘Regarding the Use of the Term “Anti-Vaxxer”, 27 August 2020,

[3] Azeem Majeed et al, ‘Covid-19 vaccination hesitancy’, BMJ 2021; 373 doi: 20 May 2021)

[4] Helen Haskell, 'Cumberlege review exposes stubborn and dangerous flaws in healthcare'. BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 06 August 2020)

Competing interests:, an on-line daily journal, concerns itself with the potential environmental sources for the proliferation of autism, neurological impairment, immune dysfunction and chronic disease. I receive no payment as UK Editor. I also moderate comments for the on-line journal ‘The Defender’ for which I am paid. I am also a member of the UK Medical Freedom Alliance

26 May 2021
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22