Misinformation in the COVID-19 Era
DANGERS & DELUSIONS
Please refer to my first essay in the series, here.
NOTE: THIS VERSION IS NO LONGER UPDATED – Final edition here.
This page maintains the up-to-date Appendix Directory to minimize double editing.
PREFACE: Despite some 8+ months in writing, I have decided to keep this as a “Public Preview” as I still have numerous points to add (including the entire 5th part) and more extensive references – but felt that there was no more time to lose. So in its current form – it is done. In the final version, I will be splitting these into separate essays and posting each one in my Medium blog.
That said, if you glance at this and decide “I’m not reading this, it’s too long” – then you may be falling into the fear-based unresearched posting frenzy that I am precisely targetting in this series. Learning anything worthwhile takes time. Knee-jerk debunked paranoid posting takes us one step closer to Idiocracy.
To be clear, especially to certain specific colleague readers if you are reading this and feeling personally attacked – what I am addressing here is the dangerous trend and calling it out as such – and thus I am more scathing than I would be in person (that said, there are lines, and some have been crossed – and people do need to be called out as well). I’m taking this seriously as a cult-like misinfodemic, because it can easily become a mental health issue, which I address with more compassion & provide optimistic solutions for, in the upcoming Part 6.
This pandemic will pass, as all the previous ones have. The world will both change – and be the same – as with the previous pandemics. Disaster capitalism will go on capitalising, and we’ll look back and see that all the conspiracies & anti-mask movements – amounted to nothing but a population grasping at things to make sense in a world far more complex than the simple answers these conspiracies provide.
The following is often admittedly blunt.
It pains me to see how many knee-jerk unresearched posts friends & colleagues of mine make. While I can’t appeal to my own authority (calling myself out here) – I spend every single morning of my life, and most of the in-between moments of my day, reading and sorting the thousands upon thousands of articles I have saved to my Pocket app (I’ve been named some 3 years [I’ve lost count] as their “Top 5% of Worldwide Readers”). I manage and review so much content & obsessively consult my textbook library (everything from activist politics to cognitive neuroscience wuuut) that I then post every day since Facebook began, to the point where I have created a Facebook community geared towards like minded, open minded yet factually grounded peers.
So, I have been at this for a while. This is why, quite frankly – much like talking to a teenager – it is exhausting trying to educate people who clearly believe themselves to already be educated. Instead, I have decided it best (especially for my own mental health) to reframe from engaging online, and instead write longer form pieces such as this.
Any of that snarky? Yes. You were forewarned in my previous article. This is because if it was any other conspiracy, or typical anti-vax topic I wouldn’t give it the time of day – but this is dangerous – not just in this COVID-19 era, but for the advancement & enlightenment of humanity in general to learn our mistakes in the post-Trump era. Especially as we are trending anti-science, hurtling towards irreversible climate change. I have little patience, especially as a healthcare professional working hard to legitimize my own field against a backdrop of kooks, quacks, and arrogant/colonialist skeptics.
Some of this expands on points made in the first part, as I have since had time to elaborate on them, and I do recognize I repeatedly hammer my points, but I hope it does not come across as excessively repetitive due to this – no time to lose.
So my thesis here is on one hand how healthcare practitioners, especially “alternative” ones do a dangerous disservice by jumping onboard with anti-science and conspiracy; and on the other hand the misinformation from the mainstream medical community monopolizing the narrative claiming “nothing can be done to boost immunity”. Finally – this is as much an observatory study of the conspiracy/anti-vax/anti-mask/QAnon/conspirituality phenomenon, as it is a plea to their reason, and as such I avoid wading into detailed science – so no accusing me of hypocrisy please – I leave the science, to the scientists.
DANGERS & DELUSIONS
So, as you can likely tell – I’m seriously tired of the misinformation going around. Please stop posting news articles – especially cherry-picked ones – and stick to peer-reviewed science-based facts. If you cant provide citation, at least post things in a questioning nature “does anyone know more about this?”, otherwise you shouldn’t be sharing/fear-mongering on social media, until you are able to adequately do so with a basis of intelligence.
Don’t forget – these larger journalist/medical organizations are made up of dedicated scientists, researchers, and health professionals from all walks of life. If you are to start raising excessive skepticism about the data they are providing – then you may as well start scapegoating them and other government bodies for climate-change efforts – as you are likely treading into “denialism” territory. Why not deny the holocaust, at this point? The logic is the same, nothing can be trusted – right? At the expense of lives due to vaccine-denialism.
It is for the next set of reasons, that I have called “shame” on what I am seeing being posted. While shaming I admit is not (always) the most effective approach, I do believe a lot of what I am seeing is grossly irresponsible and at times this needs to be called out – albeit perhaps more from a compassionate educational approach. Sometimes.
But other times – enough is enough, so at this point this is no f*k’s given. Onwards!
Part Three: VACCINE VEXATION
This section is in direct response to public posts/podcasts referencing this hogwash article – I have reworded and significantly expanded my original comment so that reading the reference article is not required (nor recommended). (Also this.)
Anti-vax essays often begin with a reasonable hypothesis – but then rapidly degrade into a mess of motivated reasoning without providing anything substantial, emotional argumentation, sleight of hand, cherry picking, and fear mongering. There is little, if any actual science in these articles – having no professional licenses to access medical journals or research communities, these are the works of an amateur reporters forced to “fill in the blanks”, connecting dots to further their obvious agenda.
When it comes to the vaccine I am asked “what expense at what risk?” A free vaccine, already used in hundreds of thousands of cases that might cause an extremely rare mild allergy vs. a life threatening infectious contagious disease that can leave even healthy young people with lasting damage?
Hit pieces like this rapidly do not stand the test of time. The vaccine has already been used. So far so good. We are doing the best we can, with what we’ve got – all in an effort to prevent deaths. Any prevention, at the expense of mild symptom side effects – is worth it, even if the vaccine proves to be less effective in the wild, months from now. This is the same argument I’ve been making with specific supplements & preventive TCM herbs (if this is your first time reading my writing and are immediately turned off by my mentioning of Chinese Medicine, please begin here) when lives are at risk – and data shows these options to be “generally recognize as safe” then what are we waiting for?
This essay provides literally no information that is not already known by top scientists – but cherry picks data to create a haze of confusion with an anti-vax agenda. So let’s take some samples to return the cherry-picking favour.
The article claims that Fauci has “moved the goalposts” as “Fauci said he and his colleagues would “settle for … the primary endpoint to prevent clinically recognizable disease.”” This endpoint is nothing to scoff at or take out of context as this author sees fit. Fauci acknowledges that these are early vaccines, and further – by reducing the risk of individual severity and death, we in turn prevent hospitals from being clogged, likely saving further lives by extension of freed hospital beds. This “settling for” series of statements is totally moot – especially when yes – we do want to prevent clinically recognizable disease. Science develops, we have seen many about-faces and new developments in this journey. So I’m frankly unsure of what this authors point is. So who has claimed “lofty promises?” Citation, please. This essay is riddled with unrecognized fallacy news references to make it look well researched.
We have to use all the tools in the toolbox – from masks to imperfect vaccines, every bit helps. Once we gather data from the first wave of vaccinations, we will see how effective it is in the wild. And then we improve the next generation. Until then – there is ample data to show the benefits outweigh the risks. We “settle for” any positive results – any lives saved that would not have been otherwise. Do you honestly think they would release a vaccine that would willingly hurt people – especially our elderly & front-line hospital workers who receive the shots first? At the cost of class-action lawsuits & historical disgrace? Once again: So far so good. So on the contrary to what this article says – its “reckless” to simply let the virus continue its rampage – we must do what we can, now, study the early data & results, adapt/adjust, and continue to move forward.
We’ll get to the mandated topic if that time comes (it won’t) – until then these are needless scare tactics – may as well add microchips to the mix. This isn’t deflection, it is key: these vaccines won’t be released to the general population for months to come – that’s months of data collection & course correction by medical professionals such as Paul Offit, whom I’m sure would not appreciate having his points taken out of context on an anti-vax website. If this authors points are already well established – then what, exactly, is the purpose of articles such as these? Science is already collecting data, and we have no time to lose, period.
The author claims “[the vaccine] more than likely carries a risk than a drug”? No data shows this. Which “a” drug exactly, are we talking about here? Essentially ineffective antivirals? Which one? This is called fear mongering. Many pharmaceuticals carry significant risks – vaccines are child’s play in contrast, especially when considering a *pandemic infectious disease*. High blood pressure is not contagious – and often the medications have severe interactions and side effects. These effects are known, and prescribed accordingly. I work to mitigate these side-effects daily in my professional practice. As more risks appear with the vaccine, more data will be compiled, and we will better know who to target. Until then – an actual contagious killer pandemic rages on. How’s your Grandma?
Vaccine science is harder to study because it involves the active deliberate transmission of pathogens – and thus will always have a small power/data sample size. That said, vaccines are not untested, we are passing forward the same research & technologies used since wiping out smallpox etc. – and specifically the data & results obtained from the SARS epidemic. This is why the medical community can release them confidently. We do it every year with the flu vaccine. Pets are vaccinated in any given moment. While the specific mRNA methods might be novel in COVID, they are not “new” (also this) and are what allowed us to produce these to save lives in record time. This is a historical achievement. And again, as mentioned, these are medical professionals who are at risk of substantial class-action lawsuits should anything go wrong. As I keep hammering – so far, so good. Science.
While I’m aware I’m making a vague appeal to authority – I also suggest that authors like this do the same: she does not know as much as she presents herself to, asking questions to stir seeds of doubt – but does not essentially answer or provide hard data on anything. The essay then continues on, presenting a series of “what ifs” & side effects during early-stage studies. As if the rollout of the vaccine wouldn’t immediately be halted and aggressively studied once unknown adverse effects are detected.
This is science doing science. The research stage is rarely pretty. Neither is a pandemic. But articles like these manipulate what should be routine reports into a sinister frame with a premeditated agenda to cast doubt in the reader: One man with chills who broke a tooth after receiving the vaccine in an extraordinarily rare case – but the article leaves out that he said it “was worth it”. These are purely framed as fear-mongering – we are already aware of potential and rare side effects – far better than dying of COVID while your loved ones can’t even be by your bedside. If these vaccines save even a mere hundreds of lives – and one of them is your grandparent – would it not be worth it for a chipped tooth in a trial case? Especially considering it can happen during the actual infection? Trust me, the Western world isn’t exactly clamouring for advanced Chinese herbal formulations to mitigate side effects – while we’re making historical inroads, we’ve got to use what we’ve got.
“…But it is unclear why an injected vaccine would need to have the equivalent of a visual day-glow marker. mNeonGreen has unknown antigenicity.” Exactly – the author of this paper has no idea, and perhaps should investigate and research deeper, interviewing professionals from these companies, than pointless scare tactics, and until then reframe from these suggestive statements. Any medication on the market contains stabilizers and seemingly questionable ingredients especially to the general consumer. I’m not advocating the use of unnecessary “additives” (we all know what that is doing in the nutrition world), but unfortunately – this is nothing new. However in this case, the author should admit that she simply doesn’t know what she is talking about, interview someone who does, or say nothing at all. Anything else is cherry-picking.
Honestly, I can go on and on picking each one apart (like the unreferenced polio point – fear by association from an event decades ago?) as this essay is essentially a laundry list of out of context points and silly conclusions like these. And as such is completely unconvincing to the trained eye, and I await to see it refuted by medical professionals in the field who do actually know what they are talking about (as opposed to… You know… Someone with an MBA.) This amounts to simply framing already known and established data with an anti-vax end-goal with a sensationalist title. This essay provides nothing not already known – professionals are already working on the safety concerns. To me, this all deflects from the real concerns.
Further… I think we owe it to indigenous peoples, don’t you think?
I (admittedly quickly) zoomed in on this one to demonstrate that articles like this appear researched, but in reality are a disgrace to the thousands upon thousands of research scientists to save what will likely be hundreds of thousands – to millions – of lives. Needlessly posturing without hard data subverts this work and worse, is complicit in an overarching agenda themselves that may lead to further deaths.
And finally, as vaccines continue to roll out, I am glad to not have spent too much time dissecting this piece, since – it has simply proven to be flat out wrong, as hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of them have already been administered. Thus: this is nothing but scare tactics.
I would not be surprised if the so-called “Children’s Health Defense” was unwittingly recruiting QAnon supporters in an unholy alliance – nothing pushes forward an agenda like tugging on the universal heart strings as the safety of children. It’s the perfect carrot for the stick of cult onboarding. (Yes I’m fear-mongering, I admit this and unlike these articles, its obviously tongue-in-cheek).
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a freakin fringe TCM practitioner who’s entire raison d’etre is to protest the some of the deadly and often unnecessary approaches of the capitalist pharmaceutical industry (unnecessary when compared to safe & effective alternatives). But I also deeply consider myself a scientist, and moreover I know when to call a spade a spade. We have every right to be wary, cautious – but do so in a more detailed, actually researched study rather than an opinion piece that contributes to public misinformation and frenzy. In a mental health societal breaking point. During a pandemic. And you want to wait for a fantasy “perfect” vaccine? Shame.
This is not a “mild illness” – the US passed the death toll of the recent flu seasons combined (also this, and this) Dying directly or by complications, these people would still be here. Period. Asymptomatic or not, you can’t predict who you will transmit to – and then subsequently kill. Sounds to me like a small risk for a huge gain – the saving of countless lives at minimal cost. The total opposite of conspiracy attitudes online.
See the difference? Science doing science. Doctors doctoring. Researchers gathering data. Limitations & flaws admitted. Everyone united on a common front, doing the best they can, with what they’ve got, in a capitalist medical system.
I will be blunt – I believe that any healthcare provider stoking any unfounded un-researched rumours contributing to anti-vaccine doubt – are grossly irresponsible – and simply do not have the public’s best health interest in mind, and thus should have their licenses revoked (assuming they even have one) – despite what they think. Have you stopped to consider the feelings and the contrast of professional responsibility of the nurses witnessing slow painful choking deaths on the front lines?
That sais, to be extremely clear: it is absolutely okay to question the narrative, to raise personal skepticism as any scientist should. But during such a public frenzied period I believe this should be done delicately with utmost care and from my 2 point posting angle guidelines (my conclusion in this article, below).
We the people are all praying for a vaccine, yet articles like these – especially from someone with an MBA (like – wut?) writing on a clearly biased website, are demonstrably participating in mass hysteria which will cause nurses, elderly, and immunocompromised people to question and abstain vaccination – at the cost of their lives. (Seriously, will I need to give a list of all the publicly skeptical people who have/will die from COVID?) All for what? Some hypothetical microchip? Fear-mongering well documented adverse reactions – while people are dying in a pandemic? Can you not question the unreasonableness of these assumptions?
And yet somehow it is us, professionals world-wide, who are “brainwashed” by the “fake news”…
As the first wave of vaccines rolls out, I believe unsubstantiated posts like these will cause so many to abstain, more deaths to follow, and to drag this out longer due to a further erosion in trust in science. I have far too many nurse/doctor friends & colleagues at the end of their ropes and fed up with this. (Seriously – read that link, and see where all this misinformation leads.)
TAKING COMPLIMENTARY MEDICINE BACKWARDS
This applies to both anti-vaxxers and anti-TCM. How much of this is preventable simply by the government acknowledging the effectiveness of TCM formulas especially in stage 1 & 2 of my resource document?
On the other hand, easily refutable conspiracies are tarnishing our reputation and preventing me, and other healthcare providers from doing just that – inspiring and caring for health. I long to get back to my quick tips and recommendations, coming to the defence of my industry (which has been effective in battling epidemic infections for centuries) – but instead I now find myself coming to the defense of our nurses, scientists and rational thinkers by writing mind numbing (yet extremely cathartic) articles such as this. This should not be the case – we should not be defending reason and our front line emergency workers. It should go without saying.
My impulsive reactions on social media are precisely because we are in a critical age where people need to be educated on the fundamentals of science & fact checking. I am simply disappointed in some fellow colleagues whom I respect as even both friends and colleagues with a following & voice who can help push TCM (as well as non-COVID medicines such as ayahuasca, iboga, and the many traditional medicines of the world) to receive more acceptance & respect from the mainstream medical community – completely slip down the rabbit hole and disgrace our professions – especially in this critical time.
I’ve put much effort into a science based TCM COVID document (and fully admit, I can be even more thorough, but again alas, it is here I write) to help legitimize our cause and tools to help prevent needless suffering. Now more than ever, “complementary” healthcare practitioners need to be raising the bar, be taken seriously to push our respect forward. I strongly believe that unresearched anti-vax/conspiracy posts from a voice with a following such as many of the healthcare influencers I am seeing sets us all back, and delegitimizes the work I, and so many other TCM Doctors are doing to avoid stigma of being another “hogwash unscientific medicine”. This moves us in the opposite anti-science direction that we Eastern Medicine practitioners are fighting so hard to be seen as legitimate equals to help take the burden off hospitals through preventative and complimentary care.
It’s no wonder the mainstream community isn’t exactly clamouring to promote “alternative” treatments. The people promoting them are too often anti-science paranoid quacks, ruining it for the rest of us.
FOR THE PEOPLE
When, in the history of ever, has a grand conspiracy been proven to have occurred? One of this scale over the general population? I myself used to be loosely “anti-vax”, or at least highly skeptical. But I dove in, looked at the science on both sides, educated myself, and have come to see them as a modern miracle on par with other human achievements like the moon landing & particle physics.
Science & engineering built the phone in your hand. There are things we know. If we couldn’t trust them, the (4G) phone in your hand you use to post your 5G nonsense wouldn’t work. Our pets get vaccinated day in, day out – I think we can generally trust certain industries by now. Yes, I’m aware how passive that sounds – but consider that this is the world of medical professionals coming together in a pandemic. So let’s do more interviews with advanced front-line vaccine researchers, shall we? We’ll review the results when we get out of it, to be better prepared for the next one. (Woops, that sounds familiar).
That said, certain industries, (for purposes of debate) I get the capitalist “need” to compete, like sure, I get it. But healthcare R&D should be for the people and not the bottom line. From such a system, the general population will come to trust the drugs being prescribed and I wouldn’t have so many totally disillusioned patients coming to me with a fistfuls of meds that do nothing to cure the concern – “just stay on the meds for life, here’s your bill!”
And this is the result since vaccines are generally not a thing that can be capitalized on – they are generally used to prevent contagious pathogens with a well defined casual factor (as opposed to say antidepressants, with multi-factorial/interwoven causes). So vaccines generally end up being very trustworthy as a result, and because of its “1-2 shot” nature doesn’t rack in billions to the industry by keeping people hooked on pills. In contrast to others, the vaccine industry is simply not a money grab  – but the general population remains skeptical precisely because of the general distrust of the industry as a whole. If it were socialized truly, we wouldn’t have this. Truly socialize pharmaceutical healthcare. Full stop. As if humans only innovate healthcare when motivated by profit and not genuine human compassion, concern, and decency.
My beliefs is that over time, the meds such as antidepressants produced from this paradigm would begin to deviate to different and more genuinely beneficial approaches due to different underlying motives: ones not concerned with the bottom line.
Part Four: SLIPPERY SLOPE to SUPREMACY
So while publicly shaming as I have done may not be the best approach, I admit; but likewise these fear-based posts are equally as “knee-jerk” and ineffective. As I have hopefully demonstrated, I feel all healthcare practitioners carry a large burden of maintaining public trust by providing factual information, and thus should be held accountable.
But now I turn to influencers in general, especially in the yoga community, with whole tens to hundreds of thousands of followers acting as though they themselves the subject of some grand conspiracy, poised with insider information, fighting against censorship and mandatory masking. (Oh no, you can’t rely on your talentless beautiful face to get what you want!) Delusions of grandeur is a psychiatric illness characterized by “a false impression of one’s own importance.” I’m truly not saying this in any condescending way but perhaps it might be time to get off the internet, take a look outside your echo chamber? A magical fact-based world awaits you!
As I keep repeating, of course you’re allowed to question things – that’s not the point, the point here is framing. Ask the questions – but I do not believe that posting them as factual statements – especially when you have a substantial following, helps anyone. Nor does participating in suspicion publicly without again asking if anyone knows more in the subject (see my recommendations in the conclusion).
This is the vanity of Instagram – those with followers participate in an anti-science feeding frenzy, which then spirals into the follower’s friends & families, etc. It is sensationalist, and by definition will never garner the same professional peer reviewed respect as factual slowly discerning, well researched voices (see appendix). This is why I say “shame on you”, as it is an abuse of power which I myself will now publicly challenge even my future self – should he have any substantial following – to uphold.
Because yes – these claims in so many posts are demonstrably false, there is simply little to no evidence to back them up let alone connect the dots to draw conclusions. By literal definition, this is fearmongering. That is not an attack on you, that is calling a spade a spade. So to be clear once again, especially to specific colleague readers, I’m not necessarily singling anyone specific out, if you are reading this and feeling so (though sometimes that is certainly required). I am seeing this as a trend and calling it out as such: Sensationalism goes viral – detailed science & journalism, does not.
Just as so many yoga influencers say in their videos, they are not a medical doctors, but neither are they actual journalists (also this). They must own that. Notice how these renowned investigative journalism websites… aren’t reporting any conspiracies? I myself do my best to avoid making any bold claims, instead I simply ask influencers to double check your own. As I first hammered on in my previous article, I must again stress: It is simply not anyone’s job to fact-check *your* claims. The onus is on anyone who makes the claim. Period. And when challenged, claimers should not reframe/divert the argument to force challengers to do the research, but instead be able provide citation for themselves, for the betterment of civil discourse. You make the claim, you back it up. Period. Don’t make others do your work for you - that is frankly a slimy, reframing the argument, easy way out. Especially with a big following, it’s all too easy to contribute to mass hysteria.
If that’s your role, then so be it – we fundamentally disagree. I just see my role as an educator, and an activist to target my voice to very real places where real action can be made. By diverting attention away from the target of disaster capitalism to these conspiracies – while people with followings are silent on other well documented atrocities – to me is complicit. Its standing at the scene of a crime, pointing others in a speculative direction, while the murder continues in another.
So many influencers are quite simply framing the narrative, and it is important to not fall victim to this. It should not be those of us who are relying on science and critical thinking to be backed into a corner as I am witnessing online - outnumbered by swarms of anti-science defensive comments. If I ever come across as arrogant, its simply because I am fact-checking, which by-definition gives us all a solid platform to stand on. And that threatens irrational Trumpian-type fundamentalists or old-guard physicians. Fact checkers should not be the minority and the ones on defensive here.
So – Maybe your post was flagged as misinformation because it almost certainly was. Ever consider that? Or were you too busy thinking that the Deep State was singling and oppressing little old you? Yes – the whole world, the world of professionals, scientists, and specialists are wrong, the consensus amongst mainstream media journalists are wrong, the metanalyses are wrong – and you, with your lack of any formal education or professional research experience – are right. There’s a reason why you’re a minority against the *gasp* mainstream professional medical consensus – and its not because you are more #woke than others. What is more logical here?
And even if there is truth to any of these claims, which there no doubt might be! It would have so much more impact and taken much more seriously (perhaps even by actual professional bodies and journalists!)… if it wasn’t buried in an avalanche of easily debunked bullshit.
Every time I have looked into someone’s flagged post myself, it’s easy to find that it does, in fact, contain incorrect or misleading information (aka “alternative facts”). I have never myself had a post flagged – because I do my own *actual* fact checking. And as mentioned in the intro – I post a lot.
It comes down to the fact that the risks of misinformation during a pandemic and an election outweigh the benefits of a purely uncensored platform. Mark my words – when the pandemic is over, we will see much less of these flagged posts – because the costs and risks will not be as high. If you don’t like using these privately owned social media tools with the user agreement that you accepted, then by all means – join Parler with the rest of the Trump & QAnon supporters – because that’s where this leads.
You know what I appreciate more than anything? Factual consistency. Ensuring you haven’t talked yourself into a self-congratulating loop of endlessly shifting goalposts wrapped in new age/pseudo-science nonsense.
I’ve now seen conspiritualists & supposed wellness “professionals” claiming their conspiracies always prove correct – conveniently ignoring the massive elephants in the room (see: my database on debunked Covid bullshit). All while gaining followers by preying on people’s naivety & fears.
These conspiracy theorists refuse to acknowledge they were wrong (countless times) then simply shift the goal posts to another conspiracy: The virus isn’t real! Oh, it is? Well, hospitals are lying about overloads! Oh, they aren’t? Okay, if this is real its because Bill Gates planned this to microchip everyone! No? Then it was Operation Dark Winter! Oh, that’s correlation not causation. Then it was caused by 5G! No? Well then the vaccine is population control! Oh, it’s performing as they all do and saved your Grandma – fair. But you can’t tell me to wear a mask! Oh they work? Well then… no matter what SOMETHING must be a conspiracy, I’m right about that, even if I was wrong every time before!”
And what’s worse is it too often comes nicely cushioned by a holier-than-thou arrogance – “If you aren’t seeing this, then you need to open your eyes and learn to think critically” – When really… They themselves aren’t even demonstrating the basics of critical thinking:
… That, or this meme or tweet is the truth and you’re a sleeping sheep for not realizing the same as I do.
Yet why do the articles keep coming? And why am I the one debunking them? You should be doing that yourself before you send or share them. THAT, is my thesis here, and if anything my single takeaway from this entire article series, as you may have noticed by now. These are all beyond gish-gallops. At what point do you start to question your own base assumptions, instead of others? That – or, continue to dig in your heels – and affirm yourself as anti-science, anti-logic, anti-dialogue and in the end, anti-humanity.
And then eventually just left surrounded by their own self reinforcing echo chamber essentially out of the loop that the rest of the world had moved on, to a debunked fairly normal reality: Wear a mask, avoid unnecessary contact, take your herbs, get the shot, and we’ll return to our lives the way we’ve done before.
Shifting goal posts without tacitly admitting one is wrong and then correcting course is anti science, even when one continues to post “science like” articles: this is missing the very essence and core idea of what it means to be a scientist. Unbiased search for truth, not avoidance of fact and continuing to believe regardless. “Well this might be wrong, and this might be wrong, and that might be wrong but either way I’m right”.
“Okay best 2 out of 3” “Okay best 4 of 7” “6 of 11”…
This is drawing lines between dots, while the dots themselves have no foundation either in relation to the narrative to actual factual science, or to reality itself. Discredit the dots and all you are left with lines. It is these lines that conspiracy theorists cling to and focus on – the dots can then become irrelevant. It does not matter about fact a or fact b, what matters is the official story cannot be trusted and you are being lied to. When in actual factual reality – they are only deluding themselves: For they alone, have created this mirage. This mirage that can neither be proven nor disproven, thus the ultimate distraction. From disaster capitalism.
So let’s focus on what can be proven.
And what’s now even worse, I’ve even seen signs of a growing ridicule towards “fact checkers” amongst these types. How delusional do you have to be to be to openly resentful of fact-checkers – and by extension, reality itself?
As a mental health professional, I could, and perhaps should demonstrate a little more compassion here. But so much of this is willful ignorance at this point, egos deliberately driving their heels in deeper, that once again – enough is enough. These people deserve to be held accountable – in a contagious pandemic, they are dangerous.
THE SLIPPERY SLOPE
There are legit critiques that we all know are happening – these are the same capitalist critiques us actual activists (yanno, rather than “health rangers”) have been making for decades – these are not conspiracies, these are systematic political oppression facts.
I have failed to see any single coherent critique of the handling of the pandemic, they are all disjointed and easily slip into the conspiracy narrative. They fail to recognize that this is state capitalism doing what it does, to us activists this comes as no surprise and is nothing new. (See: Shock Doctrine/Disaster Capitalism)
It seems that only now are (white)
Karen’s people waking up to this, and instead of pointing their targets accordingly, with little background in having their privileges taken away, they rapidly spiral into incoherent anti-vax paranoid pseudo-science and down the slippery slope into the far right fringes that fueled the very same white supremacist rise we’ve witnessed in the trump era. Q supporters standing lock-step with white supremacist terrorists.
Masks and vaccines are not taking your precious “freedoms” away. If you believe this, then please drive without your license… and seatbelt. These actions are preserving other people’s freedoms to not get sick, especially when the virus disproportionately attacks underprivileged poor segments of the population. Precisely because of capitalist distribution of wealth. Vaccines work – and have saved millions of lives, especially marginalized peoples. If you are a supposed health warrior – why not speak up for the voices of the underprivileged? Oh right – because you decided to go live it up in Costa Rica. In a pandemic. The system benefits you.
So instead of attacking the actual roots of these systemic problems (name it: free market/state capitalism), this to them is the equivalent of biting the hand that feeds them, so they delude themselves into mistargeted conspiracy circle-jerks. Where else can you go, when you are already at the top of the food chain? Imaginary cults again, appears to be the answer.
SETTING YOUR TARGETS CORRECTLY
Note, in this context I am using the term “state capitalism” to describe the governmental privatizing of fundamental human rights such as healthcare – while the “free market” deregulates controls on polluting industries and pharmaceutical marketing – all of which stem from decisions of State lawmakers – themselves capitalists. This section will be expanded greatly in future edits.
It is not George Soros or Rupert Murdoch, these are symptoms. Both of these thrive in and uphold the greater system of free market state capitalism that was there before their births, and will survive their deaths. Your problem is not (entirely) with right wing republicans or left wing democrats. As I state in the first article – no conspiracy required, these are wings of the same system and how capitalism works. The problem is the system itself – no conspiracies required. The system depends on us fighting amongst ourselves. It thrives via this distraction and uneducation of the people. But if you create the conspiracies, phantom targets & false divides so the people fight each other, so they can go on with business as usual. Banking billions off the backs of workers and at low low cost of the future of the planet itself.
Despite the fact that we, the people hold the power in every workplace, and are being fooled into forgetting that. Let’s start helping the indigenous take back the land, learn how to grow our own food, and start building our own trade networks, shall we?
So again, do these conspiritualists have any defined concept of what, exactly, they are fighting for or even against? Are they Libertarians perhaps? Anything besides a reasonably defined political stance is a mis-mash of uneducated conspiracy doubt towards… essentially everything? To me seems like an adolescent rebellion against parents (“you can’t tell me what to do!”) more than any defined political praxis. Precisely because (and this is worth repeating) a) most white folk have never experienced privileges being taken away and b) the system benefits them.
The conspiracy angle is missing the point – we need to be naming our targets accurately: the problem is free market/state capitalism. This is what allows Walmart to function as “essential” while small businesses fail. Bezos makes billions while his workers can barely pay their bills. Disproportionate allocation of wealth? Social media benefitting off the spread of conspiracy? (Yup, the conspiracies just might be the conspiracy!) Disproportionate vaccine distribution? Capitalist medical systems or not interested in simple solutions that don’t make them money? Terrible living conditions & exploding COVID cases in privately owned/for-profit long term care homes? Obscene hospital bills? (Only in ‘Murica!). Capitalism. Capitalism. Capitalism. This is where you can join the rest of us – the very same people who came out in record-setting millions in the Black Lives Matter protests, to protest the same profiteering colonialist systems of oppression that keep the poor poor, and the mega rich, richer. Which side of history would you like to be on?
My Posting Guidelines
Based on all of the above criteria, if you cannot substantiate your claim, that quite simply, in this lethally critical time – then you should either:
1. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.
Don’t jump to conclusions (say, on forced vaccinations knocking on your door). Avoid promoting and keeping your opinions offline until you can verify the research. Even better: bring your concerns directly to peer-reviewed industry/vaccine research specialists (not yanno… MBAs and YouTube researchers who will only confirm your own biases) before posting online. Is that bar too high? Good. It should be.
2. QUESTION YOUR ASSUMPTIONS, AVOID CONCLUDING.
If you do decide to post, post only in the context of asking for factual verifiability, and clearly state so. Post things in a questioning nature rather than a blunt claim as fact – which by nature will immediately create argument rather than civil discussion. “What do people think about this article?” “Can someone verify if this true?”
That’s it. 2 options. Otherwise ipso-facto, you are contributing to public misinformation & hysteria. Which you are free to do – we have free speech. But just be aware that by definition, it is misinformation, and contributes to all the dangerous concerns I have raised in these essays.
STAY TUNED to my final and optimistic (you know me!) Parts 5 & 6 :)
REFERENCES/FURTHER READING: (yanno… for those after the actual “TRUTH”)
- ⭐My Debunk Database
- Kelly Brogan’s Covid-Denying Conspiracy Machine | GEN (medium.com)
- Yoga influencers are battling to quash QAnon conspiracy theories – Insider
- Leading New Age Conspiracy Influencers Plan Their Retreat to Utopian Lagoon (vice.com)
- New Agers and Wellness Influencers Are Falling for Far-Right COVID Conspiracies (vice.com)
- ‘I’ve been called Satan’: Dr Rachel Clarke on facing abuse in the Covid crisis | Books | The Guardian
- The Real Conspiracies Are Right In Front Of You | by Jessica Wildfire | An Injustice! | Jan, 2021 | Medium
- The Great Reset Conspiracy Smoothie (theintercept.com)
- Beyond ‘trusting the experts’ – Canadian Dimension
- Laurel Bristow: Teaching People How to Spot Bad Science Is a Public Health Tool – Mother Jones
- Naomi Klein on Coronavirus and Disaster Capitalism (vice.com)
- QAnon Is More Important Than You Think – The Atlantic
MRNA & VACCINES
- mRNA vaccines — a new era in vaccinology (nature.com)
- How mRNA Technology Could Change the World – The Atlantic (ampproject.org)
- Unlocking the potential of vaccines built on messenger RNA (nature.com)
- Study says Pfizer vaccine immunity is so strong, it might prevent COVID-19 transmission – BGR
- Reverse Engineering the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine – Articles (berthub.eu)
- Talk:RNA vaccine – Wikipedia
- An Appreciation for Vaccines, and How Far They Have Come (ampproject.org)
- Skeptical Raptor – Science of vaccines, cancer, nutrition, evolution
- Anti-Vaxxers Misuse Federal Data to Falsely Claim COVID Vaccines Are Dangerous (vice.com)
- Medical experts v anti-vaxxers: the Covid-19 information battle | World news | The Guardian
INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW:
More on the way!
 This is precisely what I mean by fear mongering and not providing enough data to show the reality. Wild and more deadly polio has been essentially eradicated in Africa, the author does not state this. There have certainly been vaccine-caused cases of polio to resurge but a) the numbers while obviously sad and a known setback are so far extremely low by contrast, and b) the programs are halted – even after two cases which could actually prove to be a problem allowing wild polio to potentially return. Can you not see how the author is skewing information to cast doubt in the reader by deliberately not telling you these facts? Science & engineering obviously suffer setbacks (*ahem* Challenger *ahem*) but does that mean we abandon ship? No, these issues are complex, and science knows it, and learns, adapts, and goes on sciencing for the betterment of humanity. How else do we eradicate polio, how else would we know if the vaccines work or not if we don’t use them.
 As Laura Bristow states: “(On battling misinformation on social media): People will say, “Oh, this person is saying this, can you address this?” And it’s hard for me—I have to resist the temptation to address those specific accounts outright, because it gives the false idea that we are equivalent. I have the vast, vast majority in the scientific community backing up what I’m saying with mountains of research, and these people have cherry-picked a few studies that are not even applicable to COVID or to recent research.”
 Have you noticed how this was essentially Trump’s first attack: Seed doubt in the mainstream media. Make people question official narratives. Turn to Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and Conway’s “alternative facts”. Create a parallel reality of the “Deep State”. Thus begins the downward spiral into distrusting our medical professionals, science, reason, and feeds anti-vaxxers while birthing to QAnon, and Proud Boys, and strategically hunts… taa-daa: actual anti-fascists. Anti. Fascists. How much more clear can you be? And look who was supposed to be the saviour: Trump himself, the fascist in chief. Fortunately reason & compassion won. Barely. But did you fall victim to this game, like a good German?
 In this excellent examination of mRNA: “Andrew Lo, a professor at MIT’s Laboratory for Financial Engineering, says that most vaccines lose money. The reason is that many shots sell for a “fraction of their economic value.” Governments will pay $100,000 for a cancer drug that adds a month to a person’s life but only want to pay $5 for a vaccine that can protect against an infectious disease for good. Lo calculated that vaccine programs for emerging threats like Zika or Ebola, where outbreaks come and go, would deliver a -66% return on average. “The economic model for vaccines is broken,” he says.”
(To which I say – broken or in need of socialized public funding? Just because it is not turning a profit does not mean the “model is broken”. I understand the livelihoods of the incredible researchers involved, and yes there should be rewards, but medicine should be approached with an altruistic mindset above all and not one of only getting involved for your ROI.)
 On “Operation Dark Winter” military training exercises: Like, they run through drills – we did it all the time in grade school to be prepared. Correlation does not equal causation. Don’t you want governments to be prepared for pandemics? And further – if this was the master plan all along – hasn’t it been a woeful failure in the US – yet successful in other countries as places like Taiwan return to normal? And aren’t they encouraging the fair & equal distribution of resources? I don’t particularly see their population being turned into slaves and vaccinated with microchips, or global domination here.
I’m sure the military and scientists also have obscure “Events” for asteroids hitting the earth. Does that mean they will cause it? So please, before you hastily post these reactionary topics, please do further research & consideration of options before adding more noise, fear, and confusion to an already difficult time, taxing people’s mental health more than anything in several generations. These obvious gaps in logic apply to essentially every Covid conspiracy. Obvious – to everyone… except those who are #woke.
 More compassion & solutions will be in Part 6.