The "Misinformation" Industry and the Dangers of Machiavellian Science
calcified thinking in medicine is deadly
Most of us only started hearing the term “misinformation” when dissent against lucrative narratives started gaining traction.
Have you ever asked yourself why?
Robert F. Kennedy gives us a clue here:
“Many of the things I’m going to say today would be slanderous if they weren’t true. And, if they are not true, then Merck should sue me. But Merck won’t do that. And they won’t do that because in the United States, truth is an absolute defense against slander.” - RFK Jr.
There are laws to address the spreading of false information. We need to start asking ourselves why the authorities are circumventing legal avenues and trying to win in the court of public opinion instead. And why some are trying to leverage public opinion to create new laws that would criminalize dissent.
Robert F Kennedy Jr. and the rest of the “Disinformation Dozen” have been censored and deplatformed, not for false information, but for sharing “anti-vaccine content”, which can essentially be anything that might contribute to vaccine hesitancy. Puppet non-profits like the Center for Countering Digital Hate then conflate this content with misinformation or hate speech, and, voila! Justified censorship.
CCDH is a UK/US non-profit that disrupts the spread of digital hate and misinformation. Anti-Vaxx Watch is an alliance of concerned individuals who are seeking to educate the American public about the dangers of the anti-vax industry.
They have been fairly successful, not so much in galvanizing the public, but instead in creating enough of a citation factory to generate a self-sustaining industrial echo chamber. Even people like me, with very small followings, have been censored, shadow banned and thrown in Facebook jail for posting information that is often straight from regulatory authority websites. The first and only article I published on Medium was taken down within 24 hours. It’s why many of us have since migrated to Substack.
So, of course they’re coming for Substack… and all the writers making millions…
We need to spend a moment looking at where this is going and why it is dangerous.
The Business of Public Opinion
Public perception is big business because our thoughts are the new currency.
And our confidence in the system is required to keep big business running.
So when the questions about safety, efficacy and transparency threatened to erode public trust in government agencies and public health authorities, those organizations turned to behavioral science, linguistics and semantics. They started using new terms and repurposed language to undermine dissent.
I’ve written about this before.
As the first infodemiologist and founder of the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Eysenbach defines infodemiology as ”the science of distribution and determinants of information in an electronic medium, specifically the Internet, or in a population, with the ultimate aim to inform public health and public policy.”
Eysenbach also coined the terms “infoveillance,” defined as “a type of syndromic surveillance that specifically utilizes information found online,” and “infodemic,” which refers to “an overabundance of information” that generally includes deliberate attempts to disseminate wrong information to undermine the public health response and advance alternative agendas of groups or individuals.”
Using just three words, Eysenbach created a scientific niche, identified a problem and proposed at least part of a so-called solution.
The WHO readily embraced this language during the pandemic. An editorial in the August 2020 issue of The Lancet began with a quote from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “We’re not just fighting a pandemic; we’re fighting an infodemic.”
The WHO hosted several infodemiology conferences throughout the pandemic. Asserting that “misinformation costs lives,” the WHO, the United Nations and other groups created the perfect justification for social media surveillance and the suppression of dissent.
In 2020, the WHO created a resolution asking member states to take measures to leverage digital technologies to counter “misinformation” and “disinformation” and worked with more than 50 digital companies and social media platforms, including TikTok and even Tinder, to support these efforts.
The efforts to eliminate “misinformation” resulted in unprecedented censorship of virtually anything that steps outside of state-sanctioned consensus and the creation of a captive audience primed to accept a singular narrative.
It’s not just the WHO. Take a look at some of the other institutions and organizations involved in tackling misinformation. Some of them will likely be familiar.
Efforts are collaborative, and money is pouring in from all of the usual suspects…
Global consortiums and public-private partnerships are cropping up everywhere…
Through the Mercury Project—enabled by The Rockefeller Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation with a total of USD 10.25 million so far—the SSRC is supporting a first cohort of social and behavioral scientists from around the world to generate much-needed new research on locally tailored solutions in Bolivia, Brazil, Côte D’Ivoire, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, United States, and Zimbabwe.
Following the characterization of inaccurate health information by the U.S. Surgeon General as an “urgent threat,” and by the World Health Organization as an “infodemic,” the SSRC issued a call for proposals to counter the growing global threats posed by public health mis- and disinformation and low Covid-19 vaccination rates, and received nearly 200 submissions from around the world. (emphasis mine)
FACT CHAMP stands for Fact-checker, Academic, and Community Collaboration Tools: Combating Hate, Abuse, and Misinformation with Minority-led Partnerships.
…Now, a team of nonprofit, academic, industry, and fact-checking organizations has received a 12-month, $750k grant from the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator to create a new platform to narrow the gap between research into misinformation and responses designed to curb it…
If It Looks Like a Hostile Takeover and Acts Like a Hostile Takeover….
Is it starting to feel like there might be an attempt to permeate all of our “trusted institutions” in order to gain our compliance?
Here’s the World Economic Forum’s Klaus Schwab explaining how his Young Global Leaders “penetrate the cabinets.”
And here’s more about the WEFs Young Global Leaders program.
What is Really Being Threatened Here?
People like me would say, that freedom of expression, bodily autonomy and individual rights are at stake. Regulatory authorities and mainstream media claim this is about public health. But headlines and news stories readily reveal what the misinformation witch hunt is really protecting…
Public trust in mainstream narratives that promote pharmaceutical and globalist agendas - that’s the sacred cow.
Those of us who challenge the mainstream narrative, question it because the narrative doesn’t make sense. As many of us predicted (based on the available science at the time), the measures didn’t work as promised. The shots didn’t stop infection or transmission. They didn’t end the pandemic. Neither did mask mandates, social distancing and contact tracing. And the policies caused harm. Regulatory agencies and public health officials seem unwilling to take responsibility for their role in losing credibility.
Misinformation is a scapegoat. And a weapon.
This matrix of wrongthink should terrify us. Every American should recoil at the thought that the DHS will now determine what is false, harmful, out of context and worthy of "combatting." Every American should be horrified by how the Biden administration routinely deploys the term "misinformation" to refer to criticism of the administration.
Labeling skepticism about official narratives "misinformation" is steadily becoming the liberal establishment's favored tool to silence and defame dissenting perspectives. The term "misinformation" is often employed with such reckless abandon that one need not actually spread malicious falsehoods to be assailed by it. Thus, a comedian like Rogan, who makes no claim to intellectual authority or expertise, is now at the center of this ridiculous controversy.
Misinformation is even considered a terrorist threat.
Who is Really Doing the Dangerous Misleading?
As Dr. Meryl Nass correctly points out, “The ‘crime’ of misinformation is only a crime if the information is false and is known to be false by the person making the statement.”
So what is the real misinformation? And who is spreading it?
This graphic from former First Draft executive director Dr. Clair Wardle depicts various forms of mis/disinformation.
Let’s take a look at content from the United Nation’s global Verified initiative as they attempt to take on “misinformation”.
From Verified’s article, Using Evidence-based Insights to Create Behavior Change:
Behavioral science research told us we needed to increase people’s risk perception, the feeling that there is a threat to themselves or their loved ones, while also empowering them to feel like they can do something about it. Our focus groups and social listening revealed that young people in Khayelitsha didn’t feel at risk from the virus; they were, however, concerned about their older family members and the people in their community. This led us to emphasize the risk of COVID-19 to the wider community, and how young people could lead the way on reducing that risk through the simple act of wearing a mask. (emphasis mine)
So, the “evidence” here is behavioral science research designed to increase risk perception. Could that be misleading? So much of behavioral science research around COVID-19 seems to result “manipulated content”.
This Journal of Health Communication study recommends similar manipulation tactics.
Studying the effect of a fictitious policy editorial advocating mandatory vaccination of youth against human papillomavirus (HPV), the authors hypothesized that linguistic assignment of agency to HPV (e.g., “HPV preys on millions of people”) would increase perceptions of its severity, relative to a comparable message that assigned agency to humans (e.g., “Millions of people contract HPV”). In addition, the authors predicted that HPV vaccines would be perceived as more effective when agency was assigned to vaccination (e.g., “Vaccination guards people”) rather than to humans (e.g., “People guard themselves through vaccination”). University students (N = 361) were randomly assigned to read one of four versions of the editorial defined by a 2 ×2 (Threat Agency × Immunization Agency) factorial design and thereafter completed a questionnaire. When agency was assigned to the virus or the vaccine, HPV was perceived as a more severe threat, vaccination was perceived as more effective, and people were more in favor of mandatory HPV vaccination. The authors concluded that linguistic agency assignment bestows potency to the agent, thereby making threats more alarming and medical interventions seem more effective. (emphasis mine)
Here’s Omer Saad of the WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety lamenting misinformation and conspiracy theories and then providing strategies from a messaging study for the HPV vaccine:
We wanted to test out, can we have a purity-based message? So we showed them pictures of genital warts and described a vignette, a narrative, a story, talking about how someone got genital warts and how disgusting they were and how pure vaccines are that sort of restore the sanctity of the body.
… We found approximately 20 percentage point effect on people’s likelihood of getting an HPV vaccine in the next 6 months …
A scientist might ask:
Could it be dangerous to exaggerate disease risks and vaccine benefits?
Is it dangerous to suppress scientific debate when we desperately need treatment options?
A Word About Confirmation Bias (Physician Heal Thyself)
The problem with the behavioral science approach to misinformation is that it’s driven by confirmation bias. Billions of dollars are being funneled into studies that begin with the premise that all vaccines are safe and effective and people just need to be convinced.
The scientific and medical establishment have spent enormous time and resources trying to learn how to change our minds and make us revisit deeply held beliefs. They worry that confirmation bias is influencing decisions about our health. What they fail to see is that many of our current beliefs were borne out of revisiting previous biases and digging deeper.
This is what we’re asking “the experts” to do.
To date, all of the behavioral research around COVID shots add up to Listening to Respond. Listening to understand would look very different.
Case in Point.
Drs. Sara and Jack Gorman, authors of Denying to the Grave: Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us, are looking to change our minds for our own good. From the introduction:
The idea for this book took shape as Sara became increasingly involved the world of public health. She was particularly mystified by the “anti-vaxxers,” people who promulgate the notion that immunizations are harmful, causing, among other things, autism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Immunization is one of the triumphs of modern medicine, having eliminated from our lives deadly diseases such as smallpox, measles, polio, and diphtheria. It is based on elegant scientific principles, has a remarkable safety record, and absolutely does not cause autism. How could anyone, Sara wondered, refuse to vaccinate a child?
Sara and Jack founded Critica with a mission to “develop and test new methods of advancing public acceptance of scientific evidence, counteracting scientific misinformation, and promoting the use of scientific evidence in public policy-making.”
Here is one of Sara Gorman’s TedTalks about overcoming deeply held beliefs to change your mind:
…Science depends on updating constantly with new information. But our brains do everything they can to keep us from changing our minds.
The psychology of sticking to your guns is so entrenched that we can even see it hard-wired in the brain. Some imaging studies have shown that if you ask somebody to express a position they do not agree with, a part of their brain called the amygdala lights up…
…The truths that we hold in medicine are the results of many, many years of slow but steady inquiry. In the meantime, there can be a lot of internal contradiction. Meanwhile, people have to make health decisions. And we are primed to do so quickly and then resist changing our minds, even when new facts emerge. Once we read Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 claim that vaccines cause autism, we’re likely to disregard the 2003 retraction and subsequent debunking of that hypothesis, especially if we’ve also joined groups of other parents who agree with us.
… The first step is to understand how and why you formed the belief in the first place. Then look at some of the barriers to changing your mind. And think about some of the benefits and drawbacks of holding on tight. Finally, you can introduce yourself to a new idea slowly, at a pace that makes the change less threatening.
So what does this mean for us in healthcare? What do we do about such a deeply entrenched psychological phenomenon that causes people to make decisions that are extremely dangerous, like not vaccinating their children against highly contagious fatal illnesses?
When do you think it will occur to her to revisit her own confirmation bias?
If she doesn’t do it soon, she may lose the opportunity to change her mind and still keep her job…
The Practice of Medicine is Under Fire
Last fall, a number of medical boards released a joint statement, saying:
The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), which supports its member state medical licensing boards, has recently issued a statement saying that providing misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine contradicts physicians’ ethical and professional responsibilities, and therefore may subject a physician to disciplinary actions, including suspension or revocation of their medical license…
…Spreading misinformation or falsehoods to the public during a time of a public health emergency goes against everything our Boards and our community of board-certified physicians stand for. The evidence that we have safe, effective and widely available vaccines against COVID-19 is overwhelming. We are particularly concerned about physicians who use their authority to denigrate vaccination at a time when vaccines continue to demonstrate excellent effectiveness against severe illness, hospitalization and death.”
Since that time, a number of doctors have come under fire for speaking or treating outside the narrative.
And as of now, California’s AB2098, a bill would designate the dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, or "COVID-19," as unprofessional conduct, awaits Gavin Newsom’s signature.
According to AB2098, misinformation means “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.”
In other words, AB2098 settles the science.
“The state of California is on the brink of criminalizing doctors who disclose the injection’s risks as required by universal professional ethics and legal requirements. By forbidding doctors to disclose serious health risks linked to the experimental COVID injections, California has once again adopted a morally reprehensible public health policy…
…The current assault on medical ethics by California state officials will go down in history as reigniting a resurgence of Nazi medical atrocities.”
If bills like AB2098 become law, the practice of medicine is over. Health care practitioners will be reduced to technicians who apply protocols and recite scripts.
We really need to protect our best advocates.
We need to stay on a learning curve
Clearly, we haven’t got it all figured out yet. We haven’t mastered health and healing. We don’t have all the answers. Our “solutions” need to be revisited, as do our systems.
As Lancet editor Richard Horton has asserted, “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, ‘poor methods get results’.”
“A lot of what is published is incorrect.” I'm not allowed to say who made this remark because we were asked to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked not to take photographs of slides. Those who worked for government agencies pleaded that their comments especially remain unquoted, since the forthcoming UK election meant they were living in “purdah”—a chilling state where severe restrictions on freedom of speech are placed on anyone on the government's payroll. Why the paranoid concern for secrecy and non-attribution? Because this symposium—on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research, held at the Wellcome Trust in London last week—touched on one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with one of our greatest human creations.
Regulatory capture and calcified thinking are destroying science and medicine. We need to ditch the “misinformation” campaigns, restore healthy debate and bring neuroplasticity back to the scientific community.
Thank you for pulling together so much in one post!
Sadly, many in the public want censorship. Why? They don't want to take any responsibility for the nuances of good health. They want to go on buying processed junk from the supermarket and having the doctor give them a pill.
Living as a responsible adult is too hard for many, better to binge Netflix then take the time to cook a meal with whole foods. Easier to get a prescription filled and "heroically" share your story when others ask, "what did the doctor say?" Just look at the ads constantly reminding us to ask "our provider" for even more pills.
They don't want to know the nuances of vaccination, they want to believe there is only one choice to make.
Our freedom to choose is a reminder that they can choose otherwise and they don't want to be reminded.
Thank you for this AND for the Medium-deleted article you linked within this post:
Can you say, when was that originally posted on Medium (and then deleted within 24 hours, as you have mentioned)?
I ask because, having sat out most of the 20-teens regarding the snowballing institutionalized medical and scientific corruption (in part because I'd already had my fill, up close and personal, during the aughts, with my wife's long illness and death), I missed a lot of the pretzeling of themselves these censors engaged in to try to justify their squelching of speech. Prior to the COVID-ClownWorld propaganda project that was unleashed with full force on the populace in 2020, I wasn't paying as much attention to the perversion of science.
Regarding your Medium article (now on GreenMedInfo), thanks also for pointing out the official change of definition of "science" in Merriam-Webster: "the state of knowing: knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding."
Truly, I am not being silly when I re-reinterpret these bankrupt nondefinitions. I believe it is one way that we can retrieve language from the propagandists' dust-heaping of human civilization:
(from my own non-"Merriam-Webster," my alterations in brackets) "the state of [pretending to have] knowledge as distinguished from [admitting craven, willful] ignorance or misunderstanding[, which is an introspective first step that must precede credible scientific discourse in an environment of censorship and rampant corruption]."
There, I fixed it. (And, by the way, THAT's my definition of PsyDunce.)