Hey Reddit, glad to be back for my second AMA. You can find the first AMA HERE

My first AMA was addressing how my story blew up, and the strange place I was in with the news cycle placing attention on myself and my family. That’s a completely different situation than this senate hearing, and I figured we could address some of your questions in this post. So send them my way and I’ll try to answer as many as I can!

Also, HERES a picture from the testimony in my very dapper suit.

Edit: for those that don’t know what this is all about, I made a Reddit post a few months ago that blew up. From there, larger and larger articles and stories were written about me and my family. Eventually I spoke before congress on the importance of vaccines and the dangers of misinformation. You can find the full committee hearing HERE some examples of the coverage of the committee include

TIME MAGAZINE

CBS

and the WASHINGTON POST

Edit: watching a school play and will be busy until intermission. Will come back and get some more questions done then!

Edit 2: I’m going to bed, and tomorrow I’ll try to answer some more questions as I go through them!

Edit 3: thanks for an awesome AMA Reddit! I’m 99% sure this is my last AMA, just because this story will probably die down from here. I loved being able to take this opportunity and create actual change (for those that don’t know, FB recently announced changes to crackdowns on anti-vaxx content). The link to that story is HERE. I love you guys and this community is amazing, thanks again!

Comments: 1246 • Responses: 66  • Date: 

ExcitingWall1801 karma

Was testifying before Congress intimidating? What was the thing you least expected?

ethanlindenberger2452 karma

Yes! It was scary as heck, I was prepared but not ready for the stress of seeing everyone there.

I least expected how nice the senators were, and just how many people showed up to protest

ExcitingWall758 karma

What, realistically, do you think Congress or this particular committee can do about the anti-vax crisis?

ethanlindenberger1531 karma

Obviously you have the school exemptions which could be removed and cause a huge increase in vaccination rates in school aged children. You also have increased funding to pro-vaccine groups that are trying to reach people with good information, those things help

Wiredpyro1433 karma

How difficult is your relationship with your mother post vaccination? And further, post hearing?

ethanlindenberger2865 karma

Doing something that your parent avidly stands against is always going to cause issues. I compare her beliefs and my rebellion to a pastor finding out his son is an atheist. That's how fundamental these ideas are to her, so it obviously causes strain. Plus, saying I'm "The poster child of the pharmaceutical industry" causes some frustration.

So were working on it I guess

Wiredpyro467 karma

Do you guys at least still talk? Is there any semblance of a normal relationship?

ethanlindenberger1157 karma

I’ve been busy since telling her about the committee, she even flew to California to speak to a prominent anti-vaxx speaker. So because of that, it’s 100% not normal but I’m trying to keep things loving and respectful

coolbutalsofunnyname436 karma

Is she? Trying to keep things loving and respectful, I mean?

ethanlindenberger940 karma

In some regards, no because it sometimes doesn’t feel that way. I try my best to remind myself she cares about us and these ideas come from that care

Catalia_NN739 karma

Have you or anyone else presented the following argument to you mother: that unvaccinated children are the ones really in danger (without mentioning newborns or people with compromised immunity) and because of herd immunity she had the luxury to not vaccinate her own children?

Thank you and great job!!

ethanlindenberger945 karma

I have! She denies the idea of herd immunity, believing that vaccines don’t help stop preventable disease, so the entire premise doesn’t match up with my mothers beliefs

LogDecember672 karma

Do you think the committee you spoke to was receptive of what you said?

ethanlindenberger1026 karma

Absolutely. They invited me for a reason, and wanted to hear a first hand perspective on why vaccines are so important and how dangerous misinformation is. The questions asked were great and the senators were very glad to have me present.

LogDecember378 karma

Would you ever want to go back as a Senator?

ethanlindenberger736 karma

Haha I have a few years before that options on the table but who knows. My brother joked about it and said for me to become a pastor for like 8 years, then get a bachelors in polisci, and then become president lol. Stranger things have happened

LogDecember235 karma

Well the age limit is 30 but you could run for the House before hand

ethanlindenberger406 karma

Of course, and I guess for me I’d have to expand beyond just vaccines and I’d try to bring awareness to a lot of bipartisan issues. For a lot of controversy, especially political ones, I always try to find solutions and see both sides arguments. I’m honestly the most liberal person in my family because of that, as often times my siblings or family will just stick to republican and right leaning ideology and nothing else.

So maybe that’s what we need, and I guess if we get there we’d let the people decide on that. Who knows

RequiemFiasco589 karma

How much do you blame the advent of facebook and other social media for the views of your mother? Did she have any real life friends at church or in other social circles that shared her antivax views?

Thank you for speaking about this in such a public setting, I think you handled yourself admirably during the hearing.

ethanlindenberger764 karma

Thank you so much! And to answer your question I’d say that not only herself but the people around her have been swayed by misinformation. Especially online. The roots of her beliefs may not have come from social media, but it was defiantly encouraged and reaffirmed through the platform. So I blame them for not properly handling their misinformation and monitoring how much their site is being taken advantage of to spread lies. Dangerous lies at that

KickAssMiles399 karma

What's cooler than being cool?

ethanlindenberger557 karma

Absolute zero?

22grande22342 karma

Why does your mom feel she has so much skin in the game? I read your last AMA. Shes vaccinated and your younger sibling is mid teens. Why make such a hard stance on this topic when theres many other things that could effect her directly?

ethanlindenberger511 karma

I think with the gravity of what is claimed, that vaccines are dangerous and are pushed by big pharma to harm children is what causes this hard line stance. Especially because not many people believe these things, it causes a black sheep mentality that only you see this danger

usg353d311 karma

What's next in your young life?

ethanlindenberger955 karma

School and figuring out if I’m going to ask a girl I like to prom. It’s still hard finding a date even after being famous lol.

Myregularaccountant838 karma

Do it. Tell her you won’t get her sick now

ethanlindenberger1001 karma

Haha good point. It’s just ironic to me that asking a girl to prom is more nerve racking in a way then speaking to congress.

Myregularaccountant1566 karma

I’m almost up to date on my shots. The last shot I need is a shot with taking you to prom.

That pick up line comes free of charge

ethanlindenberger1147 karma

My god. I actually might use that not even joking

OCHNCaPKSNaClMg_Yo316 karma

After prom you can use "now im going to give you an injection too ;)"

And then you stab her neck with horse tranquilizer and harvest her organs for the beast.

ethanlindenberger396 karma

After reading the first part: “Woah slow down there man”

After reading the second part: “that’s oddly specific”

TheMadSun201 karma

You're 18 and (I assume) graduating high school. What's your career plan for post-secondary and onward? Anything to do with vaccines?

ethanlindenberger402 karma

I’d say that ministry is still my primary goal in life, but a stance on vaccines and their importance is something I would love to do full time if given the option. Depends on where God leads me and what is presented to me

WardenWolf192 karma

What do you hope to see Facebook do about the huge anti-vax groups with thousands of followers? A few months before this all blew up, I actually started a Change.org petition to get Facebook to ban content and groups that promote anti-vaccination rhetoric (can provide proof if asked). Sadly it didn't get any attention. Is this what you are hoping to see as well?

ethanlindenberger293 karma

Pinterest did a similar thing as well, baring searches and jazz. A lot of the anti-vaxx community has built their platform off this idea that the first amendment is being infringed but stoping the spread of these thoughts online, but that’s not true. FB has every right to outright remove info or make warnings that this information is misleading. I’d like to see heavier strikes on their content.

Say we find a middle ground. FB wants to fact check info and claims if it’s false, it will rank lower in people’s feeds. But what if it’s a “three stiles and you’re out” policy? That way people can also appeal to have it reexamined. That would be both fair and productive

WardenWolf112 karma

Honestly, I'm hoping they give it the same treatment as material that promotes bullying or child abuse and just ban it, because it IS child abuse.

My opinion is, if your kid comes down with a preventable disease because you didn't vaccinate, you should be charged with abuse for subjecting them to it.

ethanlindenberger153 karma

I’ve heard that before, and I totally get where you’re coming from. But to start, especially with the political climate right now, education seems to be the best solution

Astrixzzz151 karma

What was your initial reaction to seeing that your story was featured on Philip DeFranco?

ethanlindenberger277 karma

I actually almost cried. I have watched the PDS for years, I think I started watching his show in 2016. It’s insane seeing how he spoke to my situation and I’m so glad my story has created an actual dialogue that could cause change. A friend told me it was on the show and I started freaking out, and once the episode was over I just felt so overwhelmed with gratitude

Astrixzzz71 karma

That’s awesome to hear thanks for the reply

ethanlindenberger92 karma

Of course! Great question

your_not_stubborn148 karma

Why do you think your mom was open to believing in these conspiracy theories?

ethanlindenberger258 karma

Part of its mentality, that some people are prone to more outlandish ideas because of high amounts of skepticism and arrogance. I think there’s that on a personal level, and I think that the information that she originally saw which predates FB was from friends and family. That is misleading because of trusted people around you spreading lies, only now with social media it’s so much easier

your_not_stubborn78 karma

How far does her skepticism extend-- as in, is she skeptical of evolution, skeptical of creationism, skeptical of the idea that thousands of migrants are crossing our Southern border to destroy America, or skeptical of nuclear power?

ethanlindenberger181 karma

Skeptical about basically what you’d expect. She’s a Christian conservative and has some views that I don’t agree with that fall into some of the examples you’ve brought up

whodey9859144 karma

Has your mom started to see the benefit of vaccines?

ethanlindenberger304 karma

No, part of the issue is that with the information shes seen and dug her heels into, in her mind there is no benefit. With the news and really the nation gravitating towards my beliefs rather than hers I don't think that's helping either

EthanM_18144 karma

Something non-vaccine or Congress related: what do you enjoy doing in your free time? Any sports, clubs or instruments you enjoy?

Also, thank you for bringing honor to the Ethan name :)

ethanlindenberger204 karma

I lead the debate club at my HS, and I play the drums. Good question and nice to meet you Ethan!

peytonkaa73 karma

In your interview for the news, your mother said something along the lines of “I’m just proud he’s standing up for what he believes in” when she was asked what her opinion was. How long did it take for her to get to that point? In my opinion I felt there was some underlying tensions. All I know is when I proposed me getting a vaccination my mother didn’t want me to get she said I could through gritted teeth. Has she really been proud of you for doing this or was she just saying that? What was the initial conversation like?

ethanlindenberger161 karma

I think it’s just a public response that is easier to swallow for a lot of people and doesn’t really make her look angry at what I’m doing. She was not down at all when I explained my opportunity to go to DC but like I’ve said in other comments, were working on it. She did a fox 8 interview when I left for my flight and said some mean things so it’s weird for sure

firkin_slang_whanger59 karma

What was your mom's basis for not believing in vaccines in the first place? Religion? Jenny McCarthy? Or just simply reading and following the wrong information on the internet?

ethanlindenberger127 karma

Could be all of them. She’s claimed she’s done “research on both sides” but with the way she treats opposing views I doubt it was that simple. She most likely cherry picked info and heard person stories from people around her

benrocks929153 karma

Whats it like handling all of this new fame stemming from just walking to the doctors and getting a vaccine?

ethanlindenberger112 karma

Strange, because I know this platform is important and that what I have to say has value, but I know that the controversy around my mom is 99% of the reason this is even news.

And it’s also inspiring in a way, that doing something that small you think is important can take you to a national platform that has the potential to cause real change.

Always be true to yourself, even if the people around you don’t want you to be

readmore6552 karma

Maybe I missed it but where does your dad weigh in on vaccinations?

ethanlindenberger155 karma

He was vaccine hesitant, saying needles scared him and he didn’t really know all the facts. His thing was young kids, not people my age and stuff. He was actually pretty supportive with me getting my shots a few months ago.

Now, he’s starting to see the facts and I think he’s come a long way.

Fishmastaflex50 karma

How much time does your mom spend on Facebook? Does she actively participate in anti-vaxx discussions?

ethanlindenberger75 karma

I believe so. It’s her go to Social media platform and she has always shared videos and links to stories from anti-vaxx communities

craftycraps38 karma

I saw your story on the local news where they interviewed your mom and she said something to the effect of, "3 months ago he was asking where to get a vaccine and now he's in front of Congress acting as if he's an expert because of what he read on the internet." So my question is, where does your mother get her information? If it's the internet, how does that make her argument more valid than yours? Also I think you are very brave to be doing all of this and I commend you!

ethanlindenberger64 karma

You noticed the same flaw in her logic I did. I was asking where to get vaccinated on a very casual level, the subreddit was even r/nostupidquestions. That’s the whole point. Most people don’t understand Reddit, including my mom, and on top of that my research isn’t made invalid for seeking advice from other people. She gets her info online obviously, because the internet is the greatest informational tool in history. The problem is she doesn’t know how to identify a false claim from a real one

Myregularaccountant36 karma

Any tips for other kids thinking about getting vaccinated against their parents will?

ethanlindenberger92 karma

Be kind, be respectful, and try your best to present the truth. If that doesn’t work decide for yourself what you want to do once you’re of age to make that decision on your own.

You have a choice, and people will support you even if it doesn’t seem like it

CaptainDAAVE21 karma

Was there absolutely no way to get your own vaccines before 18 without suing for a divorce from your parents?

ethanlindenberger59 karma

Depends on what state you live in. For a lot of people, the issue also comes from the repercussions of going against your authority. Even if the option is on the table, that thought is scary to a lot of teens especially if their parent is anti-vaxx

CaptainDAAVE19 karma

So if you got cut on rusty old metal would your mom just have watched you die rather than get a tetanus shot?

ethanlindenberger78 karma

Actually a tetanus shot was one of the only vaccines I ever received. After I cut a razor lol so I guess when I’m on deaths door vaccines are an option

meluckycharms12335 karma

When will you notice the autism setting in? /s

Awesome job man!

ethanlindenberger12 karma

Thank you!

ToneBone1234534 karma

how do feel about some of these comments

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgkFZRjKvYM&t=206s

saying you really didn't get vaccinated and other crap?

ethanlindenberger121 karma

I did get vaccinated and still have the shot record. These people don’t care because it’s just that outlandish someone would disagree with them and take a stand against their lies

BlueberryGarcia32 karma

Is your mother's Anti-Vax stance due in part to religion?

I keep up with local FB groups from my hometown in rural Texas (currently in the city) and a lot of them say stuff like, "God designed your body perfect, why would you used man made medicine?". Paraphrasing obviously, but this is the sentiment carried by a lot in the Texas ant-vax crowd.

I'm curious if your situation is similar?

ethanlindenberger96 karma

It might be, she’s used that argument that it’s just not something supposed to be in our bodies and I always respond with something like “neither are scalpels but they help get rid of tumors.”

darklordoftech31 karma

Do you think that the federal government should do something to ensure that it's legal nationwide for minors to get vaccines without parental consent?

ethanlindenberger48 karma

That is an option, but the implications are pretty major for people that don’t want to risk their relationships. If education can end up resonating with people, then why not try that first. I think solutions like that should be discussed if we can’t find any developments through proper education and a fight against misinformation

thebiggayanon30 karma

Which committee did you speak before?

ethanlindenberger70 karma

Health, education, labor, and pensions. Chairman Alexander was the senator who was kinda the guy administrating everything

Pancernywiatrak28 karma

You’re all over the world news!

I’ve first seen your original post on reddit, then reddit again and suddenly - bam, you’re on my TV (in Poland)

How do you feel?

ethanlindenberger50 karma

Tired. Haven’t been getting a lot of sleep and I’m trying to stay off social media and get stuff done but a lots happening and I want to embrace this experience, you know? Super strange as I think about the fact that most people now are looking at me as this role model for teens.

majorjobs27 karma

Hey Ethan, I also want to talk in front of a Congressional Hearing - how did you do it (what groups or congresspeople sponsor you)?

I want to talk specifically about teenage mental health and things that need to be raised awareness on.

ethanlindenberger61 karma

So for me it was unique because of the fact that I kinda had this fame going into it around my name, my story was already blowing up and for you that’s probably not the case. Chairman Alexander’s team just contacted me and asked if I was interested, so for you, you’d have to see what committee your interested in speaking to, and see if a committee hearing is taking place that is related.

If that’s all figured out, just send email, text, and call some people to see what you can do. Also contact groups that push for the importance of teens mental health and ask if they can help get the committees attention. If they’re interested, you’ll get a call to explain what you even have to say.

Once that’s done, just hope they’ll bring you in :)

majorjobs17 karma

Interesting, thanks for the info!

ethanlindenberger30 karma

Best of luck with your pursuits, and thank you for trying to bring awareness to important issues

universeofdesign22 karma

Have you ever asked your mom "what evidence, if any, would change your mind?" Did she have an answer? Assuming nothing could change her mind it amounts to pure irrationality...

ethanlindenberger57 karma

I think I have, but from what I remember she just reaffirmed the importance of looking at both sides and with proper evidence the truth will be revealed. But when you think everything running counter to your claim is funded by big pharma, you don’t get very far

Weoutherecuzz21 karma

Favorite dessert?

ethanlindenberger62 karma

Probably chocolate lava cake, but like a small one. I don’t eat a lot of sweets and a big desert makes me feel sick

bunksteve19 karma

Has this whole experience changed the way you relate to your religion/the things you were brought up to believe? Or has that largely been a non-factor in all of this?

Good luck, man. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders. It’ll be hard for a while but... worst case scenario? In due time you’ll be out on your own and you’ll find plenty of people who love and support you. Then you can make your own family. Not one to replace your old one. Just to have the one that you need.

ethanlindenberger45 karma

My religion has been tested in the sense I see people unsung really misguided religious appeals in their arguments, saying “you can’t be a Christian and pro-vaxx because abortion.” That stuff makes me beyond angry, and with the behavior of people around me it’s been a test of patience and forgiveness. In a way, it’s made a faith stronger. My faith is my own and is entirely separate from my parents, just like a lot of thing obviously. Great question!

FirelitZephyr18 karma

If you ask the girl to prom, I’ll ask my longtime crush out.

Fair?

ethanlindenberger26 karma

Fair. Will PM you when I do so. We'll figure out how to traverse this weird world of love together stranger.

AmaOmo17 karma

How likely do you think it is that your mother will ever change her mind about vaccination?

ethanlindenberger49 karma

.001% check out the Adam ruins everything video on why people don’t change their minds. It’s something where I’ve accepted those conversations may not sway her, but the people around me

Curlamus_9915 karma

Will you try to persuade your mother to vaccinate her other kids? Or will they have to wait until they are adults?

ethanlindenberger46 karma

I’m going to try my hardest to convince my parents, and to try and make sure they stay safe and protect the health and safety of other people as well

4_0_4error14 karma

For your college essay do you mention anything about this media attention? Or do you completely avoid it as best possible? (Because I know they want you to talk about personal things, moments if growth, your family, changes)

ethanlindenberger48 karma

I actually had to write a paper on vaccines and everyone joked about only using sources about me lol

But no, I haven’t done that. I avoid it because I don’t wanna come across as a jerk

JuanSnow42013 karma

What’s the highest level of education your mother reached? Do you think there is a direct correlation between education levels and those who use places like “vaxtrutherforgod.org” as sources?

ethanlindenberger24 karma

I don’t think she went to college, and I’ve always tried to explain good research and what’s valid but it never resonates

cordless-3112 karma

Favorite video game? You better not say Fortnite

ethanlindenberger53 karma

aPeX dUh

Nah my favorite video game of all time is probably Titanfall 2. Super underrated game

Campbellgr312 karma

Nice suit. Where’d you get it? I’m looking for a new suit.

ethanlindenberger29 karma

My best friend bought it for me, was about $200 and we went all around the Sandusky area in Ohio to get all the pieces. I don’t remember what specific store we got it in because we went all around town to find it

KakarotMaag10 karma

Getting out of Ohio?

ethanlindenberger30 karma

Probably. I’d love to live somewhere that isn’t so dang cold

viriiu9 karma

As i understand it, anti vaxxers belive that doctors are paid by "big pharma". Does your mother belive that the pharmaceutical industry has control over the entire world? Like that every doctor in every country is paid by them to lie about vaccines? Because that's what I can't understand as a Norwegian with our healthcare. Does she belive that every doctor with years of education in Germany, Iceland, Japan or wherever is just a corrupt shill?

ethanlindenberger11 karma

Yes! She’s even shared videos out right claiming “trust parents not doctors“ i’ve never understood it but I remember it always coming back to big Pharma

altasobscura6 karma

Do you plan on making a career out of your interest in vaccination issues?

ethanlindenberger18 karma

Depends on who approaches me and for what cause. I would love to make a career out of this, but more accurately I would love to do this full time. I obviously can’t without getting paid, even if it’s just a little bit that would be enough.

So we’ll see, if I’m approached, great! If not, I’ll probably end up looking into it but it depends

Corbett61155 karma

Every Ethan I've ever known has been a notorious piece of shit.

What are you hiding?

ethanlindenberger32 karma

Nothing, I think you should just find better friends man. Not every Ethan is bad

fuzzycuffs3 karma

Any death threats so far?

ethanlindenberger13 karma

I mean not that many I know of, people hate my guts though lol

TheSweetieman2 karma

What do you think caused you to start breaking away from your mother's beliefs about vaccines enough for you to decide you wanted to get the vaccines for yourself?

ethanlindenberger2 karma

When my curiosity and small bits of evidence were just brushed off. It’s that whole thing with the CDC “wanting you to think vaccines are bad.”

Quizzter2 karma

How do you feel when people from the Anti Vax movement just ignore everything you say because you're being "payed" by doctors and pharmaceutical companies?

ethanlindenberger4 karma

I just kinda laugh at that, because I haven’t made any money at all. My brother actually was requesting money sent to his PayPal for traveling to DC to defend “medical freedom.” So it’s kinda frustrating that I’m a way it’s super hypocritical

_spenccc2 karma

First off, hats off you you sir. I cannot imagine going through something remotely like that and then go on to speak to congress. Persevere, stay strong, and keep going. We need people exactly like you talking about this issue and the potential consequences it may inflict upon our country.

So, When you speak to Anti-Vaxer’s about this issue what’s your go to argument? (polio, malaria as examples)

How big is this issue now and bad do you personally think it could become?

Thanks for everything you’re doing truly.

ethanlindenberger4 karma

1) my go to argument is the autism debate. There’s so much evidence debunking it I always try to hit that home. 2) I think this issue is super important, especially on an information level. FB actually announced change coming to their anti-vaxx approach today, so things are improving 3) thank you for your support!

I_was_saying_boournz2 karma

Are you making any money from all this attention? I ask in hopes that you are so you can move out.

ethanlindenberger10 karma

I am not, as much as I’d like to move out capitalizing on this story doesn’t seem like the most honest way to do that

RedAdamGamer182 karma

Have you experienced differences in your body after being vaccinated or is it all pretty much the same?

ethanlindenberger19 karma

It’s the same, vaccines don’t dramatically change your body. You don’t grow an extra arm that seats away measles from the air. So it’s the same but I feel much safer knowing those diseases are much less likely to every reach me

InappropriateTA0 karma

This is going to be worded poorly/insensitively, so sorry.

WTF? Honestly, WTF? I've seen some of your responses about trying to maintain a normal relationship and keeping things loving and respectful. I guess I can get the loving part, but respectful? How can you respect someone that is so willfully ignorant, especially when it comes to putting others at risk?

For me, it's akin to saying you're trying to be 'respectful' of someone's beliefs that are blatantly bigoted and racist.

ethanlindenberger37 karma

I suppose for me, if I maintain respect and speak authentically to the extent of my moms misinformed/false beliefs, it’ll do more good for me in the end than getting mad. Even if I feel this way, my logic is that rational people see the difference between her and I, even on an emotional level.

For example, when I first told my mom I was going to testify in front of the senate, she ended up going off about how the “government was using me,” and said some pretty nasty things which I won’t get into detail about. My siblings, even ones that previously agreed with her, all were shocked at her reaction and my respect I held the entire time. Even if it’s undeserved, that stuff wins people over and that’s important

InappropriateTA10 karma

Then you are a much better person than I am, or maybe it's youth and naiveté (not trying to be dismissive or disrespectful).

I think it may be idealistic (unrealistically so) to think that you can and should maintain respect for someone, especially if they don't respect you and (at some level) you believe they don't deserve respect.

I wish you the best of luck.

ethanlindenberger34 karma

Of course, there’s my youth and my beliefs. As a Christian I think one of the most amazing commands Christ made was to love our enemies and those that hate us, as anybody will love people that respect and are kind to them. That’s just natural, but it’s entirely unnatural to love and respect people that in no way deserve it.

And it does work, my siblings have almost entirely come around in certain regards because of the way I handled the rude behavior and disrespect

No_life_I_Lead-4 karma

Lots of great questions but in all seriousness; how much is BiG PhArMa payInG you and are you getting some form of commission or maybe a kind of royalty for doing an ama?

ethanlindenberger7 karma

20 trillion billion dollars for each comment