What Media Tells Us about Covid
How to understand the messaging of Covid-19
ACCESS TO MEDIA
We all heard that Donald Trump had his Twitter account removed in Jan, but so did thousands of average citizens supporting him. The Parler social network platform, similar to Gab 2 years earlier, also had their business closed down in Jan 2021. Parler is a refuge for about 20 million subscribers, many trying to get away from those who would censor right wing political views. The Tech Giants who were their ISP, hosting service, App stores, etc. all denied them service on the same day.
Why, when the Critical Media Literacy Conference of the Americas 2020 posted their sessions warning of the dangers of media censorship, did they have their videos pulled down from YouTube?
Two judges in Portugal had to appear before a judiciary disciplinary committee after an appeal by the regional health authority for their ruling. They had ruled that four German tourists held in a hotel because of a positive PCR test should be released. They cited published research referred to in my previous blog, saying that the Ct used in many European labs meant that a positive PCR test could, in theory, have a 97% rate of fallibility. The court couldn’t find out what the Ct was on the complainant’s positive test, so the judges ruled that it could not be recognized by the court as reliable evidence. In a split decision, the regulatory body decided not to discipline them for this decision. Even so, this could send a chilling effect across the country for any average citizen / scientist questioning the official stance on Covid policies.
Access to Science
In the last few Blogs, I have told you how science is a tool for us to use, not a leader for us to follow. It is a method of inquiry, that is always in flux as scientists try to reproduce lab results, rejecting or refining theories proposed by their peers. Making policy decisions, on the other hand, requires values, principles, and a vision of the type of society we want to be. I pointed out that science cannot make value judgements or determine policy.
I suggested that science requires an environment in which they can openly propose a theory which might offend someone without fear of reprisals. I outlined situations where this no longer seems to be the case.
We saw the relevance of some scientific details surrounding testing for Covid and determining the seriousness of the threat posed by this virus. We looked at the pros and cons of public health policies like flattening the curve and lockdowns in terms of the Principle of Effectiveness and the first Medical Principle of ‘Do No Harm.’
‘Why do we care?’ you say. My point in telling you all this, was not so you become better chemists.
However, in the 21st Century, we need to be able to tell fact from fiction or we will just believe everything we hear. Or, maybe worse, disbelieve everything we hear. Society is quickly forming into two camps — us and them. We need to ensure that we do not fall into that ideological trap, or worse yet, let our country fall into that. We are capable of finding out the good from both sides of the argument to make the best decisions possible at the time. And, always leaving way for newly discovered facts to adjust our approach.
But think about it! In the untold hours of Covid-19 coverage you have heard in the past year, how much have you heard about the major impact these scientific details have on the story? Why are they not public knowledge?
We need to make sense of the science around us on a daily basis. You can not open a package of food, clean your house, get to work, without having to use some chemicals that all have some advantages and disadvantages. Somebody along the way will undoubtedly start telling you about the disadvantages of one of them, telling you that you should never use it again.
You can not listen to the news for 2 minutes without someone voicing their opinion about some scientific fact (probably skipping over other pertinent facts). How much of it comes from his ideology and how much is comes from the data? I realize for non-scientific people that it is difficult tease apart, but IT IS now becoming essential to daily life.
Our Favorite Subject — Statistics
Whenever I hear a statistic given in a news report, I always want to hear the surrounding statistics required to make sense of that number. Otherwise, it means nothing to me! So, depending on which individual statistic you put in your article, you can make it sound like things are getting better, or getting worse.
Here’s where bias comes in. Science diligently guards against this. Mainstream media used to. Friends at the bar never bothered.
Science balances itself with peer review, if left alone to do it’s thing. Mass media have editors whose job it is to balance out their coverage, Social media is the equivalent of your friends at the bar. Now, it seems this is the only level of scientific discourse we are getting!
On a professional level, I don’t understand how a journalist can’t properly source the information. It’s not difficult. Whether it is because the science was too complicated for them to do anything but copy the next guy, like in high school chemistry class, or a more nefarious reason, is not for me to say. To my mind, it doesn’t really matter.
Whatever, the reason, the important thing is just to be aware when we are reading something science-y, what parts are we not being told? Is the information complete? What questions aren’t being answered? And in science, it doesn’t matter if the results are coming from USA, France, or China, If the data can be replicated, and the conclusions are logically supported by the data — it’s good. Whether he voted Dem or Rep!
Who’s Asking the Questions?
Thanks to the WHO, around the world, policy makers have unquestioningly followed one specific epidemiological model. This modelling data was used to justify lockdown policies, in many countries around the world. Sadly, for the past year now, many brilliant epidemiologists, scientists and physicians have been trying to warn us about the weaknesses in this model from the beginning, but we weren’t told by the press.
The fact that thousands of scientists felt the need to sign the Great Barrington Declaration is quite telling, I thought. It shows, for one thing, that the science certainly is not settled. There is disagreement on interpreting the data among scientists, who have a very different view than the official CDC or government statements. This also indicates that for some reason, their view is not being heard through normal scientific channels like journal publications. And despite the fact that tens of thousands of scientists signed it and many have produced their own scientific studies with different conclusions, you may not have seen any reference to it in mainstream or social media.
Journalists aren’t asking the tough questions. Instead, those who call for a public debate with experts in all fields and on all sides of the issue in order to shape sane and balanced public policy are shut down.
Mainstream media, Big Tech owners of social media platforms, and political parties have all actively contributed to the marginalization of legitimate dissenting views. It looks like it is now OK to slander people you don’t agree with to an unprecedented level, labelling them conspiracy theorists, enemies of the state, and dangers to society.
Rather than addressing the shortcomings of our leadership and our healthcare system, which I thought the press was supposed to do, censorship of credible voices is now the order of the day. Whenever anyone has presented scientific arguments counter to the official policy, they’ve been smeared in the corporate media and then again by the public in social media. It’s as if they want to further divide citizens and polarize the country, while scaring legitimate dissenters into silence.
I’ve even heard mainstream media raising the question if dissenters should be denied eligibility for healthcare or be required to pass some kind of social credit score like in China or vaccination passport in Israel. It’s easy to see how that could lead to dissenters becoming second class citizens. This is not the way to keep a free and democratic society!
Why are the media having so much impact on political decisions? It seems like FaceBook blows up about the dangers of travelling and the government decides to pass a law effective next week. On other issues, it takes them years to have committees study it, etc.
So why don’t politicians resist the media calls for these closures? Nobody wants to be the one who did something different and be held responsible for thousands of deaths in the court of public opinion. This produces fear. Fear causes people to narrow their choices, go with their gut response, stick to the familiar.
Don’t believe everything you read !
Also, take note of what wasn’t said!
It is necessary in the 21st Century to be able to recognize the misuse of science when you see it, and not be fooled by politicians, media outlets with an agenda, or friends of friends on FaceBook. The important thing is just to be aware when we are reading something science-y, what parts are we not being told? Is the info complete? What questions aren’t being answered? How much of what you read is just someone’s ideology, or opinion and how much is logically derived from the data?
I realize for non-scientific people that it is difficult to determine. But, I’m hoping I can help you in finding all of the science that is affecting our life and making sense of it, because it is absolutely becoming more and more important to be able to make an informed opinion.
Follow me to see the next Blog: Cognitive Dissonance for Millenials in Covid Times — The effect of Covid-19 policies on our youth.