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How to inoculate yourself against misinformation

Posted on 28 June 2022 by Guest Author

TiP-LogoThis is a re-post from the Thinking is Power website maintained by Melanie Trecek-King where she regularly writes about many aspects of critical thinking in an effort to provide accessible and engaging critical thinking information to the general public. Please see this overview to find links to other reposts from Thinking is Power.

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We are drowning in misinformation. From celebrities selling their favorite diets and supplements online, to fringe medical “professionals” hawking pseudoscientific treatments on social media, to conspiracy theorists enticing followers down the rabbit hole on youtube, it’s nearly impossible to avoid exposure. 

We use information to make decisions about everything from our health to how we vote, so being misled by misinformation can cause real harm. Not only is someone usually trying to sell us something, falling for fake “cures” can literally be deadly. 

While protecting ourselves from misinformation is essential, trying to debunk each and every false claim after it pops up can feel like an overwhelming and endless game of Whac-A-Mole. (Who has the time? Or the energy?)

The secret to protecting yourself from misinformation: A healthy mental immune system.

Thankfully, science has found a solution: inoculation theory. Similar to how a vaccine builds immunity to a pathogen by exposing our bodies to a weakened form of the pathogen, we can build immunity to misinformation by exposing our minds to a weakened form of misinformation. 

Effective inoculation starts with warning individuals of the threat of misinformation. Once their guard is up, expose them to misinformation that use the same strategies as the real thing but that are less persuasive, along with techniques to resist the persuasion.

Basically, instead of debunking, inoculation pre-bunks…and in the process it trains our mental immune system to identify (and therefore not fall for!) misinformation.

Inoculations can be either fact-based or logic-based. (A third, less studied, type of inoculation is source-based.) Fact-based inoculation corrects misinformation with factual explanations, and is therefore limited to the context of that particular topic. Logic-based inoculation explains the logical fallacies or rhetorical techniques that were used to mislead, providing resistance against the same techniques in different types of misinformation. One logic-based approach uses parallel argumentation, which transplants the flawed logic of a misleading argument into an analogous – and often extreme – situation. This strategy lends itself well to humorous arguments and is therefore used regularly by late-night comedians to debunk political misinformation.

Inoculation can also be either passive or active. Passive inoculation occurs when the facts or techniques used to mislead are explained to the audience, while active inoculation builds immunity by getting people to actively create the misinformation themselves. 

A great way to learn how to spot misinformation is to create it.

Imagine a young child watching a magic show for the first time. Without any prior knowledge, the tricks could really look like magic! To convince the child there was no magic involved, one could explain how the tricks were done. But the best way would be to teach them how to perform the tricks themselves. 

I’m a big fan of active inoculation, and was using it in my classes before I even knew what it was. It’s fun and engaging…and effective! But you don’t have to be an educator to reap the benefits and protect yourself from being persuaded by misinformation.

Below are examples of articles, assignments, and games that use active inoculation:

  • How to sell pseudoscience in 9 easy steps: Protect yourself against potentially harmful health pseudoscience by learning the techniques used to sell it. 
  • Learn to be a psychic with these 7 tricks: Do you want to wow your friends and family with your psychic abilities? It’s not supernatural… it’s cold reading!
  • Wake up, Sheeple!: In this fun critical thinking activity, students learn to recognize the characteristics of conspiracy theories by making their own.
  • Please don’t fail me: Looking for a fun way to teach critical thinking, argumentation and logical fallacies? Have students create misinformation using humor!
  • Cranky Uncle: The Cranky Uncle game uses cartoons and critical thinking to fight misinformation. The game was developed by Monash University scientist John Cook and is now available for free on iPhone, Android and Browser (The Teacher’s Guide is available here.)
  • Bad News: The Bad News game confers resistance against bad online information by putting players in the position of the people who create it. (Learn more about the research behind the game here.)
  • Go Viral: New online infodemic game shows how to spot coronavirus misinformation in 5 minutes. Based on Cambridge University pre-bunking research. 
  • Harmony Square: A short, free-to-play online game in which players learn how political misinformation is produced and spread. 


The above list is just the tip of the iceberg. For example, if you wanted to inoculate yourself (or your students) against shows like Ghost Hunters, you could learn how to create ghost photos or haunted houses! If it’s crop circles you’ve been wondering about, figure out how to make geometric patterns in fields. You could hold seances or learn to read minds or bend spoons… the possibilities are limitless. 

In short, to know how the Wizard performs his tricks, look behind the curtain. Then learn to do them yourself.

The Take-Home Message

Misinformation has reached epidemic proportions. It’s simply not possible to debunk every false claim that comes our way. 

A much more effective and achievable solution is to inoculate enough citizens against misinformation to achieve a kind of herd immunity. It won’t be easy – critical thinking is challenging and takes effort — but the alternative is surrendering to the infodemic. 

Instead, inoculate yourself against misinformation by learning how to create it. Just make sure you use your “powers” for good, and not for fooling people!

For More Information

Cook, J. (2015). Busting myths: a practical guide to countering science denial. The Conversation. 

Kitsch, S., Cooley, S., Hinck, R., & Cooley, A. (2020). Inoculation Theory: Quick Look. The Media Ecology and Strategic Analysis Group.

McGuire, W. J., & Papageorgis, D. (1961). The relative efficacy of various types of prior belief-defense in producing immunity against persuasion.The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 62(2), 327–337. 

Norman, A. (2021). Mental immunity: Infectious ideas, mind parasites, and the search for a better way to think. Harper Wave.

Special thanks to John Cook and Daniel Walsh for their feedback.

Note: some additional related material can be found in the blog post Resources to give facts a fighting chance against misinformation.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 95:

  1. "While protecting ourselves from misinformation is essential, trying to debunk each and every false claim after it pops up can feel like an overwhelming and endless game of Whac-A-Mole. (Who has the time? Or the energy?)"

    Science, stated in its two parts,

    Knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method:

    Scientific method,

    Principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

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  2. Inoculating people who have not yet been potently infected with misunderstandings that are fundamentally resistant to correction (young people and older people who are still curious and reasonably open-to-learning like young people) is indeed helpful.

    However, the inoculation methods will likely not work well on people who have fundamentally developed their beliefs and resist learning that they harmfully misunderstand things and have been trying to benefit from acting harmfully.

    The NPR News item "Election deniers have taken their fraud theories on tour — to nearly every state" presents an example of that type of fundamentally developed belief and resistance to learning. That awareness and understanding can be transferred to the 'resistance to acceptance of climate science' problem and the related problem of people who are tempted to be harmfully misled.

    Many people have fundamentally developed beliefs about fossil fuels and their 'group's developed status' that are harmful misunderstandings. They grew up immersed in marketing and experiences that developed those beliefs. And they powerfully resist learning that they harmfully misunderstand the issue because they developed a liking for benefiting from the harmful unsustainable actions.

    People who have been infected with a harmful desire will resist learning that they are being harmfully misled. They will not be easy to inoculate against being harmfully misled. And if enough fundamentally learning resistant people collectively obtain the power to harmfully compromise leadership actions on climate change ... you end up with the harmful lack of leadership actions that have been exhibited through the past 30 years in almost every nation on the planet.

    Admittedly, some regions of the planet are less harmfully misled than others. But there are very few regions with leadership that is not harmfully misled to some degree regarding the required corrections to limit climate change harm. The popularity, profitability and power of misleading marketing to produce harmful correction resistant misunderstanding is very well developed. In some regions the power of harmful misleading marketing is so tragically dominant that it has been able to develop harmfully compromised institutions that help harmfully undeserving competitors resist correction of harmful misunderstandings.

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  3. OPOF @2 ,

    may I suggest a yuge make-over for your literary style?

    Your last sentence had 4 harmfuls (or similar).   And that was after a heavy bombardment in earlier sentences.

    Now, I gather in certain Nordic languages it is acceptable & stylistically correct to use the same noun/ same adjective/ same adverb/ over and over again  ~  even a dozen times per paragraph.

    But it is not what English readers expect.   They want variety in their diet  ~  and they frown upon a diet of beans, beans, beans.  Otherwise, their eyes glaze over, and they lose appetite.

    Good cooking, like good literary style, requires the appearance of diversity (even if it's just the same old beans but cleverly disguised).   Alas, I am not skilful enough to provide expert assistance in your quest for persuasive messaging.   But I am sure that brevity & variety   are a good start.   Cheers!

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  4. Misinformation is a weasel term just as conspiracy theory and conspiracy theorist are.

    With regard to criticism of what we are told by the authorities the term to apply is not misinformation or conspiracy theory, but rather words such as criticism orrefutation and the validity of the criticism needs to be addressed. Of course, if it's called criticism that allows possible validity at least, doesn't it, and we can't have that, no we must smear any criticism with the label misinformation. To call a medical doctor who has studied scientific papers and points out what she thinks shows errors in scientific method a conspiracy theorist or a spreader of misinformation is the wrong approach. What needs to happen is that her argument needs to be counter-refuted not simply dismissed as misinformation. In fact, NZ doctor, Dr Sam Bailey, who has made extremely iconoclastic claims with regard to the alleged SARS-CoV-2 virus and viruses in general (as have a few other doctors and scientists) has been struck off the NZ medical register for allegedly spreading misinformation but so far that misinformation has not been identified.

    Where we see the constant refrain of misinformation with clear evidence of censorship we need to consider which information is misinformation and who is spreading it.

    We're told to "trust the science" which is, ironically, a completely anti-science attitude to take. What an absurdity. Science is about questioning not trusting. I have no desire to "trust science", what I want is open and frank discussion but it's squashed and instead we're told that anything against the mainstream narrative is misinformation.

    This recent 20-min video by Sam Bailey, False Gods, "Experts" and the Death of Science, includes snippets of:
    -— Richard Feynman's 1974 Caltech commencement address where he speaks of "cargo cult science" and scientists igoring the rigorous scientific work of a particular scientist and
    -— Dr Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ, saying that it's difficult to see the upsides of peer review and how experiments done to test peer review show it doesn't bear up very well.

    If eminent scientists criticise "science" why shouldn't we?

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  5. Petra Liverani @4 :

    While applauding your literary style, I must nevertheless say that content is even more important than style.

    Sadly, misinformation and disinformation are both rampant in the area of climate science.   They are definitely a "thing".   They definitely exist.   It would be absurd for us to pretend they should not be mentioned.   Or that we should pretend we cannot discern the difference between science and pseudo-science.   It is the duty of every thinking citizen, to refuse to accept nonsense & rubbish  ~  however much specious sophistry is used to cloud the issue.

    What would Archimedes, Newton, Einstein, and yes even Feynman, have to say about the Post-Modern Wokeness of accepting unscientific misinformation?

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  6. Eclectic @3,

    Thank you for the suggestion to use the term "harm" less, replacing it with a diversity of synonyms.

    Policy and legal development are focused on "harm reduction". I do occassionally use versions of 'damage' and 'ruin' and 'destroy'. But in many instances damaging and ruinous and destructive do not fit as well as harmful.

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  7. Petral Liverani,

    Questioning the science can and should be done, it is different from pulling a smoke screen over the eyes of the gullible who are incapable of critical thinking and too scientifically illiterate to realize what's being done to them. The crap floating around on social media and elsewhere is nowhere close to what Feynman had in mind.

    Baileys' technique is similar to that of the comic duo G&T, little more than playing on words to fool those who are eager to be fooled . One can wonder why so many rush to embrace that nonsense, instead of questioning it, like they advocate should be done for all scientific work. After all, there is no reason to not scrutinize with the highest rigor the works of those who say you should scrutinize others.

    I've read the idiotic tripe from Bailey. It can only fool someone so ignorant that they can't realize she is saying nothing of substance. Anyone who can be convinced that it constitutes appropriate challenge to real scientific information has problems with basic undertanding of language. That's how bad it is.

    As an aside, I have personally cared for critically ill Covid patients, I've proned them, I've seen the CT scans of their completely destroyed lungs, I have seen them die, I have worn the protective garb and respirator for hours on end. I do not take kindly to lies and nonsense related to this particular issue. I have also looked into some of what epidemiology is about. Virtually everyone commenting on it has no clue of what it entails. Most physicians know very little about it, except infectious disease specialists. TV pundits and bloggers are completely clueless.

    I have seen misinformation and disinformation about this so blatant that even calling it that is flattering. I have seen people who bought into it without applying the scrutiny that they ironically were told they should apply to other information. They were so steeped in denial that they still believed they were having some minor ailment when they were dying of the disease. Your argument  does not sway me one bit. There are such things as disinformation and misinformation. Sam Bailey's junk is a perfect example of it. It would deserve to be in a disinformation textbook.

    AFP says everything there is to know about it. Nobody with half a brain would bother paying attention to such a fool.

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  8. Eclectic @3,

    Regarding 'brevity'.

    Being brief without being open to harmful misinterpretation is challenging. It is even more challenging to be brief when presenting thoughts that challenge and contradict developed fundamental misunderstandings, thoughts that helpfully question developed norms by focusing on the harm done rather than excusing harm done because some people benefit. And it is especially difficult when challenging developed popular and profitable misunderstandings that are part of the illusions of advancement and superiority that are produced by harmful pursuits of benefit and power (the diversity of power: political, economic, social, generated for use ....).

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  9. Petra Liverani:

    You seem to be confusing the argument "there are all these problems and inaccuracies in this presentation, therefor it is misinformation" with the argument "I labelled this misinformation, therefor it is wrong". The first is drawing a conclusion based on the evidence, whereas the second is a form of a fallacious ad hominem.

    If you read the OP carefully, it argues for looking at the evidence. Your argument, which dismisses it all because you claim "misrepresentation is a weasel term", is exactly the sort of ad hominem dismissal of the argument that you seem to be against in others. Once you have dismissed the term, you dismiss any argument that uses the term regardless of the evidence that supports the argument.

    You then throw in the terms "censorship", "consipiracy", etc. You are using emotional trigger words, without providing much evidence to support your argument.

    You then argue that these information sources labelled "misinformation" should be refuted based on evidence, but you follow this with a very strong claim that the term "misinformation" is used as the refutation. (Your exact words are "we're told that anything against the mainstream narrative is misinformation.")

    If you were to take the time to review this site (which focuses on the refutation of climate science mythis - "misinformation") you would see that there is gobs of discussion of how these climate myths are wrong.

    When claims that oppose the "mainstream narrative" have been refuted - often many, many times - and people that refuse to read the refutations or respond to them continue to make the claims, then those people are indeed spreading misinformation.

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Adding a moderators note to my own post, since it is intended as general advice to all participants.

    Please keep in mind that this site is for the discussion of climate myths. In this blog post (reposted from another site) the topic is misinformation in general, so some latitude is allowed with respect to comments staying on topic. We do not, however, want this area to become a place to debate other sciences, such as Covid. Covid discussions will be tolerated only to the extent that they are on-topic to misinformation per the blog post.

     

  10. OPOF @8 and prior :

    Yes, admittedly it is very difficult to achieve a presentation which is both brief and yet nicely balanced.   The regular readers here have colossal attention-spans, and cope easily with 20-paragraph comments.   Yet not so much, at other venues  ~  where the readership is less invested, and desires some variety spiced with optimism (rather than a large porridge bowl of doom & gloom).

    Although I am not a chef, I do picture the ideal as something like a Chinese Banquet.   Dozens of small plates, arriving sequentially over time.   Unlike the Swedish one, the English language is rich in synonyms, and the diners expect many different tastes to arrive at the table (even though the total nourishment amounts to the same).   And the Grand Chef aims to keep back some of his famed specialities, to tempt the diners to return on other days.

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  11. Thanks again for the feedback.

    I do make briefer presentations when commenting on news sites. But I found that the very brief comments were easily responded to with misinterpretations that could not be refuted by a direct requote of the original comment.

    As a result, I often find my longer comments, but still briefer than the sharing of understanding I practice posting here, responded to with character attacks which other readers quickly spot as the acts of someone who is being unreasonable.

    Regarding 'balance': The pitfall is potentially compromising a better understanding by 'pursuing balance'. The weak climate harm reduction leadership actions by the 'supposedly' most advanced nations through the past 30 years are due to 'balancing' interests.

    As an engineer I learned that the only valid interests were the ones totally within the broad sphere of Do No Harm. Interests outside of that sphere do not deserve to be part of a designer/builder/developer's considerations.

    My MBA education, and work experience, exposed me to many types of people with interests outside the sphere of Do No Harm.

    btw, I did recently present balance by giving some credit to the EU for being able to agree to no ICE sales by 2035 in my comment on the SkS "Climate Confusion" post. The interests opposed to that action accepted the result but are still hoping to harmfully compromise it by getting hybrid ICE vehicles to be allowed.

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  12. Petra Liverani @4

    "To call a medical doctor who has studied scientific papers and points out what she thinks shows errors in scientific method a conspiracy theorist or a spreader of misinformation is the wrong approach. "

    Could you at least provide a specific example, details and a link. Because I don't know of that happening quite like you say. There would be more to it.  I believe you are creating a strawman. Things that get labelled misinformation are instead wild claims that vaccines dont work, or covid is just like the common cold, or that bleach will cure covid. Things that we know through science are false.

    It's probably hard to precisely define misinformation, but something contradicting the weight of scientific evidence is good enough for all practical purposes. Interesting article on misinformation here:

    Like PC I have a very low tolerance for the rabid covid deniers. They are idiots, and they need to be told they are idiots.

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  13. OPOF :

    Ah yes, that protean word "balance"  ~  which each reader takes to his own interpretation.  I should not have used it.  My intention was a meaning of: well-rounded argument including the full spectrum of genuine components.   Genuine scientific information and  pragmatic effective ways of tackling AGW.   Difficult indeed, to state briefly . . . as would be needed, when commenting at a news-site, where pithy brevity is desirable (and where using the Carborundum method of bulky information . . . may well defeat your idiotic opponent, who will retreat in disgust . . . but will probably count as a Pyrrhic victory, because uncommitted readers will likely do a TL;DR . )

    "Balanced" was not meant (as you seem to infer) as an even-handed presentation of good socio-political policies along with sham or token policies.

    Our friend Petra Liverani appears to feel that a balance means that people should be presented with scientific information and misinformation.  Truth and falsehood together, unendingly, without any reasonable summary to guide the casual reader.

    Petra seems to feel it is distastefully authoritarian to use scientific truth as the criterion.   ~ All is relativism, and we are unable to recognize absolute facts: and we should not even try.   Crackpots & quacks are just as worthy as the actual experts.  Vive la indifference !

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  14. Nigle at 12

    I have to agree with petra regarding the free exchange of information even if misleading.  What happens in a decade or so if scientists discover a forcing that is a greater factor than co2 as the primary driver of warming.  The censorship of that discovery as "misinformation  " stiffles further advancement of knowledge ( note that I am not saying co2 is not the primary driver ) - just using that example of the danger of forclosing further scientific inquiry simply because it forboden to question the approved consensus.

     

    Nigel - you mention covid ( an i like dont like the covid deniers).  the being said, the CDC has been one of the prime movers of misleading and deceptive studies on covid, ranging from the effectiveness of masking, effectiveness of vaccines, boosters, etc.  The CDC has lost a tremendous amount of credibility when they are supposed to be the experts.  

    When the experts try to label scientific inquiries as misinformation, they come across as trying to hide something

    In summary everyone loses when attempts are made to stiffle "misinformation"  .  In the case of covid, much of what was labeled misinformation has turned out to be true.

     

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Misinformation is not the same thing as incorrect information. In a situation where available information is changing rapidly, incorrect information will be replaced with better information, and advice will change as a result. This is expected in any normal scientific endeavor.

    Incorrect information becomes misinformation when better information shows that the earlier information was incorrect - and the person repeating the misinformation is either unaware of better information or (more commonly) simply will not accept any alternatives.

     

     

  15. David-acct @14

    "I have to agree with petra regarding the free exchange of information even if misleading."

    I mostly agree with this. While I deplore misinformation, organisations trying to censor everything that could be misinformation creates obvious problems of excessively suppressing free speech. Its generally better to have things out there where they can be debated.

    However I do think a small number of exceptions can be made. We already have defamation laws if people falsely accuse other people of certain things and so I can understand websites being reluctant to post highly defamatory statements. And our media In New Zealand do not publish claims that covid vaccines dont work, or that covid is not worse than a common cold, because it risks causing low uptake of vaccines and massive pressure on hospitals. They do allow a lively public debate on the covid issue in general, including posting material that is contested but they have some limits. The media are walking a fine line, but I see no practical alternative that would make sense and be useful.

    Free speech just isn't a simplistic issue to me. I think western countries do ok with free speech overall. If you want real supression of free speech look at China, Russia or N Korea.

    "What happens in a decade or so if scientists discover a forcing that is a greater factor than co2 as the primary driver of warming. The censorship of that discovery as "misinformation " ..."

    But its very unlikely anyone would censor a genuine discovery like that. It would be reported in the peer reviewed literature and this is not "censored" by governmnets and anyone else for that matter. Studies (of dubious merit) trying to claim global warming is being caused by the sun or adiabatic pressure have been published.  Media already publish results of peer reviewed studies of all types.

    "Nigel - you mention covid ( an i like dont like the covid deniers). the being said, the CDC has been one of the prime movers of misleading and deceptive studies on covid, ranging from the effectiveness of masking, effectiveness of vaccines, boosters, etc. The CDC has lost a tremendous amount of credibility when they are supposed to be the experts. "

    You are assuming the CDC studies were misleading or deceptive. You provide no evidence they were those things. Misinformation suggests spreading information known to be wrong, or spreading junk science, or making ignorant statements. I doubt the CDC did that. It looks to me like they were simply wrong. Perhaps they were negligent but nobody has demonstrated that. I believe there is a difference in being wrong and spreading misinformation. We have different words like misinformation, wrong or incorrect information.

    But the CDC certainly had some strange ideas about masks. Its almost obvious that masks would at least reduce the viral load gulped down into the lungs, and this can only be a good thing. I was mystified when suggestions were made that masks weren't much use and I wasn't sure whether to believe that or not.

    "When the experts try to label scientific inquiries as misinformation, they come across as trying to hide something"

    I do not know of anyone doing that. Who specifically is doing that?

     

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  16. David-acct @14 , you are making an extraordinary comment.

    Firstly, your <"if scientists discover a forcing that is a greater factor than CO2 as a primary driver of warming">  argument is a complete strawman.   (Presumably you are talking about the modern rapid "AGW" part of the Holocene . . .  i.e. the sole topic of climate controversy during the past half-century.)

    A strawman, because no mysterious unknown forcing has shown a niche for its own existence.  No evidence has been demonstrated that might point to its possible existence.

    Yes, in the past there were suggestions/proposals by Svensmark, Lindzen and others, but all such ideas crashed due to lack of any supporting evidence.   But importantly, their "counter-CO2" ideas were not suppressed or censored.   Those ideas were examined by scientists, and found to be without validity  ~  and they are now in the category of disinformation (their only supporters are crackpots or worse).

    The same goes for the continuing purveyors of <"it's all due to natural cycles of ocean currents/ orbits of Jupiter/ etcetera. >"    Cycles which are 90% fanciful and 100% unphysical as a causation of [AGW].    These purveyors are desperadoes who a not censored by scientists, but are simply laughed at (or more generally ignored).

    David-acct , I should also point out that if a significantly large "unknown" warming forcing were to be discovered, then there would also need to be the discovery of a (simultaneous) unknown cooling forcing (to neatly counteract the modern rise of CO2's forcing).   David, I suspect you know in your heart that the chance of such a Double Whammy is infinitesimally small.   In other words - you have created a strawman argument.   Pigs = flying.

    Suppression, stifling, censorship . . . all are fanciful arguments.  Let's not waste any more time going down that road.

    As to Covid matters : you will need to find another thread to discuss the issue.   Unfortunately, you have been extremely vague in your accusations against the CDC.   And I strongly suspect you are harboring a hotch-potch of distorted half-truths there  ~  but I will wait to see if you can provide any evidence on that other thread.   Good luck with it.   My initial bet is that you have chosen to be the victim of medical misinformation and/or disiniformation.

     

    Philippe C  @7 , I owe you an apology for my slightly ungrammatical misquote "Vive la indifference" @13.   It looked better that way for English readers, I thought.   You will forgive me I hope, even if the Academie cannot.

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  17. David,

    I am waiting for substantiation on your very strongly worded accusations. There has to be some extraordinary evidence to support such claims.

    As a first line health care worker who was in the heat of all this, I am very curious to see what you call "misinformation." I am also curious to see what sources out there were better than the CDC, and came out as having more "credibility."

    Anyone staying on top of the evidence as it became available knows the difficulty of having to adapt to rapidly changing information and tailoring a message to the public that would be most likely to limit casualties. Criticizing is easy, especially in hindsight. I am fortunate to benefit from the Up to Date info, which allowed me to understand why and how we used treatment modalities.

    I have to say also that, of all the critically ill patients that I saw die of Covid, I do not personally recall any that were fully vaccinated. I do recall a transplant recipient, who was immunosuppressed and only partially vaccinated, and survived. Of course, my experience is anecdote, but it does happen to agree with the data.

    About masks: The largest study conducted to date (over 330,000 subjects) shows effectiveness, especially in people over 60.

    About vaccines, exactly what evidence are you referring to that shows an intent to deceive (that is what misinformation really is) from the CDC?

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  18. Philippe C  @17 :

    Myself, I find it hard to judge where David-acct is coming from.

    His climate argument doesn't make sense  ~ so is he using the Covid/CDC argument as a sort of stalking horse in an attack on modern climate science?

    Or was the climate argument just a throw-away line . . . a stepping stone on his way to expressing anger (or political resentment?) against authority figures such as the CDC?   As you say, the CDC operates in a field of shifting uncertainties re Covid, and - all things considered - has done a reasonably fair job.   (Far better than bleach-injecting politicians . . . or stalking horses in need of ivermectin.)

    And who could logically object to masks, even if only half effective ?

    Perhaps there is an unknown psychological forcing in play !

    Let's hope David will redeem himself on the proper thread.

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  19. I see there are a number of replies to my post but I won't respond as I can see the subject veering towards covid and I respect that this site is about climate science.

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  20. Well, now Petra is displaying projection: accusing others of what one is doing him(her)self. Frank Luntz was instrumental in developing pre-emptive projection, which is far more effective than simple post-facto projection. Your attempt, Petra, is rather clumsy.

    There is a quote from you from post#4 above: "In fact, NZ doctor, Dr Sam Bailey, who has made extremely iconoclastic claims with regard to the alleged SARS-CoV-2 virus and viruses in general..."

    You brought up Covid misinformation. Nobody else. You did. You were the one who did not "respect that this site was about climate in the first place." In the case of this particular thread, I find it actually appropriate to mention Covid, since the misinformation and disinformation effort about it has been hyperactive and shares many traits with the lies spread by climate pseudo-skeptics. Moderators will tell us to stop if hey see fit.

    Then of course, you failed to substantiate your claims. You make very general remarks about Sam Bailey raising questions about viruses in general but makes no effort to explain what said claims are. As for the other assertions, specifically that what was called misinformation has not been identified, you obviously have not substantiated that either. 

    My conclusion: I am doing exactly what you advocate and apparently are incapable of doing. I am not taking your word for anything. I am skeptical of any and all of your claims until they are properly substantiated. If you offer substance, I will remain skeptical and scrutinize it to make sure it is credible and relevant.

    So far you are just waving your hands and accusing others of doing what you are guilty of yourself. I am not impressed.

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] The request to be careful in bringing Covid into the discussion is to avoid turning this discussion into a medical argument.

    Covid as an example of misinformation is appropriate, to the extent that is touches on topics presented in the original blog post.

     

  21. Eclectic,

    Our back and forth clarifications and exploration of boundaries of interpretation confirm that we are reasonably aligned. Evidence limits what is believable. And the best explanations of what is going on are the ones that are most consistent with, best explain, all of the evidence. And, indeed, that is always open to improvement. The best that any person can do is pursue increased awareness and improved understanding to learn how to help limit harm done.

    Regarding a focus on Do No Harm:

    I often encounter versions of ‘discourses of climate (action) delay’ that are harmful twists on Do No Harm. Some people claim that reducing or limiting their ability to benefit from something understandably harmful that they benefit from doing or want to do ‘harms them’ (That is obviously an absurd argument commonly abused by people arguing against more rapid ending of the harm done by fossil fuel use. People trying to develop up to a decent basic living are the only ones who can be excused for harm done by their pursuits. And they should be helped to do as little harm as possible in their transition up to sustainable decent basic living).

    I believe that a very good explanation for the current problem of limiting the harm of climate change impacts is the massive over-development of harmful fossil fuel use (developed far beyond what is required for everyone to live a decent basic life). That over-development has produced harmful popularity and profitability and related pervasive misunderstanding. Popularity and profitability potently resist correction and limitations. And demands for ‘Freedom to believe and do whatever a person pleases’ are weaponized populist messaging (especially damaging when paired with a circling-of-wagons, echo-chamber, group-think style attempt to defend ‘Our developed beliefs, especially beliefs about the need to protect the perceived superiority of Our group’ from external evidence-based corrections and limitations that ‘Those Others’ are trying to 'impose').

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  22. David-acct,

    Your argument failed on multiple points. 

    You postulate the future discovery of an unknown forcing. Then you jump on to the hypothesis that said forcing would automatically be labeled as misinformation. Why would that be? If serious scientific work confirms the existence of such a forcing, with multiple converging lines of evidence and multiple research teams obtaining similar results through various methods, nobody in the scientific world will call it misinformation. That is, unless the work is misrepresented and its significance conveyed to the public in a way not supported by the research. 

    Further, you equate the future discovery of a hypothetical forcing that would be real to the hyping of phenomena that do not constitute forcings. When such phenomena, currently known, identified, and properly investigated, are misrepresented as forcings, it is entirely correct to call that misinformation. 

    Next point: you argue that stifling misinformation impairs the advancement of knowledge. In fact, it is exactly the opposite that happens. The rapid spread and wide reach of misinformation is a colossal obstacle to the advancement of knowledge. It skews public perception and makes everyone less able to understand a given issue. It distracts, diverting attention and resources away. It has also many other side effects, insidious, and extremely detrimental to long term societal balance.

    Finally, you make the ridiculous claim that it is "forbidden to question the consensus." That is a straw man big enough to go vacation at the Burning Man festival. All scientific work that is of quality is welcome in the litterature. Of course, it has to meet certain standards. No work should be given a pass for just questioning anything. In fact, it will likely attract higher scrutiny for doing so, which is entirely reasonable and to be expected in any scientific area. I will reiterate again that what is called the consensus, is not just a consensus of expert opinion. It is a consensus of research results, a convergence of multiple lines of enquiry from multiple teams, using multiple methods. A big picture emerges from that. That big picture is the consensus. 

    It is good to remind everyone that a common pseudo-skeptic lie is that there is no consensus. When corrected, they jump on to attacking the consensus. The dishonesty of the overall approach will not escape the attentive reader.

    It is also necessary to remind everyone that no dissenter's freedom of speech is under attack. This site exists because the public space has been swamped with misinformation, and because the sources of it are loud, aggressive, doing everything possible to drown quality information, attacking people personally, trying to weaponize the justice system against scientists whose message they don't like.

    We live in the macroscopic world. There is such a thing as reality. Allowing any and all BS to be on the same plane of validity as legitimate information is wrong, detrimental, dangerous. People who try to convince others that the Earth is flat must called what they are.

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  23. Philippe, I readily admit I mentioned the subject of covid and I have no problem with people responding on that subject and certainly see why they have. At the same time, this site isn't about covid so it's not appropriate to get into a big discussion on it. Although I mentioned covid I was really trying to make a general point and I wasn't trying to prove that Sam Bailey is correct in her claims although I think she is, I was saying the approach to dissident views on the subject is wrong and that "science" isn't gospel, that "peer-review" doesn't make scientific claims fact. There should be frank and open discussion and where we see obvious censorship ... then what can one think? Censorship is a kind of fraud.

    Just to say I accept the science on man-made climate change but I didn't believe in covid from Day One and it wasn't because of any alleged misinformation from people such as Sam Bailey, it was from what was obvious misinformation from the authorities in the form of images of people falling flat on their faces and laid out on hospital floors and on the ground and a story about a Chinese research team who'd allegedly found two species of snake to be "reservoirs" of the virus (Chinese cobra and many-banded krait) which was promptly "debunked" by a bio-security specialst as "complete garbage". This kind of nonsense is a hallmark of psychological operations. The quote with "complete garbage" seems to have disappeared but we have this story in The Conversation.
    https://theconversation.com/snakes-could-be-the-original-source-of-the-new-coronavirus-outbreak-in-china-130364


    People don't only disbelieve the authorities on the basis of what people such as Sam Bailey or David Icke say. They disbelieve it from their first-hand analysis much of the time and that's what turns them to these people - whether what they say is right or wrong. I asked a handyman who came to my place what he thought of the virus. His simple reply was, "What happened to the flu?"

    I have my own page on covid, Philippe. If you're interested in discussing it you can make a comment there or email me at petral@iinet.net.au.
    https://occamsrazorterrorevents.weebly.com/blog/coronavirus-hoax-jan-2020

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  24. Petra Liverani @23. I've scanned your comments and website. You are making wild allegations about "obvious censorship "without providing any specific examples or evidence.

    It appears that you have concluded covid is a hoax and some sort of staged event, because of of some flawed early research on the origins of covid relating to snakes, and one instance where someone is depicted falling over from covid. This is utterly irrational thinking, and classic conspiracy theory ideation. You are taking a small number of issues and jumping to irrational conclusions. Flawed early research does not mean something is a hoax or staged event as you claimed. The person falling over may have been true (you provide no evidence its not true) or a media reconstruction of what has happened. Neither mean covid is a hoax. Your website is classic conspiracy theory ideation.

    My cousin is a doctor and got covid early in the pandemic and was quite ill despite being fit and healthy until then. Are you claiming hes making it up? That hes "part of the conspiracy"? 

    I was talking to a friend recently who had covid and was very ill. Why should I doubt him? He still looked very ill. We have doctors screaming out in our media that hospitals are full of covid patients and they can't cope with the numbers. Do you seriously think they are making this up? If so,  see a psyhcologist or psychiatrist for your own good.

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  25. Petra,

    You said: "I wasn't trying to prove that Sam Bailey is correct in her claims although I think she is..."

    Sam Bailey claims that viruses do not cause disease and even argues that they do not exist. It is a good thing that most people in New Zealand know better than buying in her BS. She is as grotesque a charlatan as one could fetch from the farthest reaches of the imagination.

    I have no interest in going on your website to discuss microbiology, molecular biology, or anything else for that matter. I can think of innumerable ways to better use my time. Being open-minded doesn't mean that one should let garbage clutter his mind. The personal experiences of all the people I have cared for who had severe Covid carries far more weight in my own personal experience than the inane reflexion of your handy man.

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  26. Petra @23

    From your comments it looks as if you'll need to update your understanding about Covid. Here is a link to a wiki put together by a large team of scientists:

    https://hackmd.io/@scibehC19vax/covidfacts

    And as some of your claims smack of conspiracy ideation as some others here have already pointed out, here is the link to the Conspiracy Theory Handbook: https://sks.to/conspiracy

    If you decide to read it you should be able to tell which of the 7 traits of conspiratorial thinking make an appearance in your arguments:

    conspir

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  27. BaerbelW @26

    There's no point putting forward alleged covid facts. I'm familiar with the alleged facts. What needs to be looked at is the argument against the alleged facts and the response to the argument against. We need to follow the debunking trail.

    If we look at this argument debunking the refuters of the alleged facts it looks pretty good ... but then in the comments we see someone debunking this debunking.
    https://www.integralworld.net/visser201.html#2

    As a non-scientist I can't really follow that very scientific argument but what I can follow are many aspects of the narrative that don't add up that are not of a particularly scientific nature ... and those I put in my page. You don't have to be a scientist to see certain anomalies.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Alas, I will have to step out of this discussion as a regular participant and take on the role of moderator. This discussion is starting to go off the rails.

    You said in comment #23 "..but I didn't believe in covid from Day One." Throwing around terms such as "alleged facts" makes it pretty clear that you are rejecting anything that would go against that initial belief. You are challenging others to to consider alternative explanations, when you clearly will not accept any evidence that  goes against the belief you had "from Day One".

    Now, you admit that  you are not a scientist. This is obvious. Scientists can and do listen to credible alternative hypotheses.

     

  28. Philippe @25,

    Sam Bailey says the experiments done to show the existence of viruses don't follow the scientific method - and her criticism is not very complicated, a major point she makes is that they don't use controls and nor do the experiments to show infection follow the scientific method. She doesn't actually say viruses don't exist although I wish she'd make it clear that she's just pointing out the problem with the experiments rather than saying pathogens causing measles or whatever don't exist. They can, of course, easily exist, it's just that, according to her and others, the experiments to show their existence aren't correct.

    And so what if she's wrong? Then argue against what she says. Let her speak.

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  29. Nigelj @24

    Dr Sam Bailey has been sacked from her presenter job with NZ TV's, The Checkup, for refusing the jab, struck off the medical register and had her YouTube videos pulled down. No argument against what the authorities tell us about the pandemic is allowed in the media. I'm really not sure where you're not seeing censorship here. It's right there in the absence of any dissidence. All things dissident are simply labelled misinformation and ridiculed.

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] You keep throwing around the pejorative "censorship".

    Losing a job because you will not meet an employer's health and safety requirements is not censorship.

    Losing the right to practise medicine due to giving bad medical advice is not censorship.

    A decision by a private corporation to disallow the use of their service is not censorship.

    Nobody has the right to force anyone else to give access to their megaphone.

    "The media" is not a single monolithic entity that acts in unison. "The media" is not required to report every misguided person's pet theories.

  30. Petra Liverani  @29 and prior :

    You seem strongly drawn to highlighting (in this "misinformation" thread) the case of Dr Samantha Bailey of New Zealand, whom you have championed [according to Reddit] for more than a year now.

    Assuming*  that you yourself are not Dr Bailey, it would be a useful case study of misinformation if you would analyse the psychological condition of Dr Bailey.

    [ * we cannot expect much insight from actual patients. ]

    Not having heard of her before now, I can only speculate on her commercial & non-commercial motivations for denying the mainstream science of viruses, vaccines, PCR's and so on.

    Petra, you have had considerable time to study her, and so your thoughts and speculations on Dr Bailey's mindset would be most interesting, I am sure.   ( Quite possibly the Moderator may permit discussion of the underlying motivations of individuals who immerse themselves in & publicize misinformation/ disinformation. )

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL]  Please tread carefully. Discussions of a specific individual are unlikely to be constructive. Discussions of general psychological traits that would lead people to be more or less susceptible to believing misinformation may be appropriate - but should be presented in the context of the information in the blog post.

    And for all - keep in mind that there is a Comments Policy here. One specific item that is worth mentioning, as I see signs that is is being threatened by recent posts, is:

    Comments should avoid excessive repetition. Discussions which circle back on themselves and involve endless repetition of points already discussed do not help clarify relevant points. They are merely tiresome to participants and a barrier to readers. If moderators believe you are being excessively repetitive, they will advise you as such, and any further repetition will be treated as being off topic.

  31. Petra Liverani @27

    "You don't have to be a scientist to see certain (covid related) anomalies."

    But are they really anomalies? I'm not convinced as mentioned in my previous comment up thread. For example you mentioned a person with covid falling over that you felt looked suspicious.Thats rather subjective on your part and perhaps it just looked staged. its important to know covid can make you very dizzy and weak. Its quite likely a few people would fall over. Its also possible that the hospital didnt catch specific cases on the security cameria video,so staged one as a reconstruction and did a sloppy job. Clearly that would not mean covid is a hoax.

    And heres an analogy. Do you remember the claims that the NASA moon landing was a hoax and all staged with actors? This was based on what appeared to be anomolies in certain photos of the moon landings. Some of the anomalies did puzzle me, but I could see innocent explanations for several of them becauuse photography used to be a bit of a hobby of mine. NASA also released commentary explaining what caused the alleged anomalies, and there were good and utterly innocent and convincing technical explanations.

    But NASAS explanations dont appear to be enough for some people, who go on believing its a hoax / conspiracy. Perhaps there are various possible reasons. Some of these people dont seem very intelligent (Im not suggesting you fall into that category), and its known that some people lean towards conspiracy thinking for innate psychological reasons (easily googled) , and others are probably just throwing mud at NASA because they hate elites or governmnet organisations for ideological reasons. Believing in hoaxes is also a type of security blanket that allows people to blame elites for the problems of the world rather than themselves. And there is also dunning kruger syndrome. My point is there are obvious explanations why some people see anamolies and hoaxes everywhere and think they know better than experts.

    So sure we should all question the conventional wisdom, or new wisdon and look out for anomolies, but most anomalies turn out to have innocent explanations that are pretty much irrefutable, so its important to not get stuck in a groove convinced something must be a hoax.

    ---------------------------------------

    Petra Liverani at @28

    "Sam Bailey says the experiments done to show the existence of viruses don't follow the scientific method "

    Someone says something. Doesn't make them correct. Regardless of the methods used we can identify viruses which really should leave no room for doubt about their existance.

    "Electron microscopy (EM) has long been used in the discovery and description of viruses. "

    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2772359/

    ----------------------------------------------


    Petra Liverani @29


    ­­­­­­­­"Dr Sam Bailey has been sacked from her presenter job with NZ TV's, The Checkup, for refusing the jab, struck off the medical register and had her YouTube videos pulled down....I'm really not sure where you're not seeing censorship here."

    Like the moderator said losing a job over health and safety issues is not censorship. I live in New Zealand and she was in breach of her employment conditions. The governmnet had also made it mandatory for some people to be vaccinated although I cant recall exactly all the groups, but I do recall some were sacked from their jobs. Its just not censorship, although clearly you could argue about the policy itself. 

    "No argument against what the authorities tell us about the pandemic is allowed in the media."

    Plenty of our media in New Zealand do allow such arguments. Stuff.co allow robust criticism of what the authorities claim, but dont allow wild claims that vaccines dont work, because they dont want to be seen to discourage vaccination and put our hospitals into a crisis situation. Call that censorship, but I think its an example of good practical censorship. Like not allowing people to falsely cry "fire" in a movie theatre.

    "It's right there in the absence of any dissidence. All things dissident are simply labelled misinformation and ridiculed."

    That is a wild generalisation. Instead  some specific things get labelled misinformation. You have to then convince people they are not misinformation. You might need better logic and evidence than you have come up with so far.

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  32. OK, I'll ask a simple question.

    What's the rate of false positives for the PCR test and how is that rate arrived at?

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  33. @Nigel 31

    "You don't have to be a scientist to see certain (covid related) anomalies."

    "But are they really anomalies?"

    The moon landings is a very interesting case because it's the one where I fall out with my sometimes tribe in our disbelief of many things told to us by the authorities and it's one where you can really see people's inclinations to believe blind them to the evidence - just as we see other people's inclinations blind them to the evidence when they're inclination is to believe the authorities.

    After I'd woken up to a couple of big lies I thought I'd take a look at the moon landings which I was all set to disbelieve too. I read the book, Wagging the Moondoggie (love the title if not the content), which said they didn't happen and, knowing nothing on the subject at that point, I found it compelling, however, I thought I should check the evidence myself and when I got to the audio between the astronauts and mission control I stopped dead in my tracks. "No way could this be faked," I thought. But, of course, that's just my opinion, isn't it, just like the opinion of those who think it could be faked. The fact is though that no one has identified any fakery in the audio and there's hours and hours of it. Law of Parsimony/Occam's Razor right?

    And, of course, everything we see apart from a few seeming anomalies completely aligns with the lunar conditions so very different from the terrestrial.

    While I may misinterpret or simply miss important evidence sometimes I'm definitely an evidence-based thinker, not an inclination-based thinker simply because I don't have strong inclinations. Sure, now I disbelieve so much from the authorities but only because I've clearly identified so many lies - and this all happened after the pretty advanced age of 53, 8 years ago. I don't WANT to disbelieve them though and I don't disbelieve them on the moon landings and man-made climate change - just most other things. And while I said I didn't believe in covid from Day One that doesn't mean I wouldn't change my mind - it's just no evidence came to light to make me change my mind.

    Some of the anomalies we see in psychological operations are simply not anomalies that we can glide over. They are very distinctive and we can recognise them as deliberate anomalies not accidental. The most important quote about propaganda in my opinion is from British psychiatrist Anthony Daniels which he applies to both communist propaganda and political correctness but we can see it applies to all propaganda from power.

    The purpose of propaganda is not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponds to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.
    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/124952-political-correctness-is-communist-propaganda-writ-small-in-my-study


    The thing most people seem to have a problem coming to terms with is that those in power tell us the truth underneath the propaganda - they rub it in our faces and make fools of us. When I learnt of this phenomenon known as "revelation of the method" and "hidden-in-plain-sight" I didn't doubt it for a nanosecond because quite a number of giveaway clues had puzzled me. It seems so counterintuitive but it isn't when you know how power works and what could testify to power better than telling us what they're doing and still getting away with it.

    Nigel your explanation for a Chinese research team finding Chinese cobras and many-banded kraits to be "reservoirs" of the virus is "flawed early research" but how is that a better explanation than "nonsense"? It really is nonsense because it makes no sense. Why would researchers look in those two species of snakes in the first place (and the pandemic is barely news at this point) but not others? And if they did look at others did they not find those species to be reservoirs only the two mentioned and if this was the case why not mention it? It doesn't make sense. Have we seen any people falling flat on their faces since Wuhan or people laid out on hospital floors or on the ground? No we have not. These are not the only nonsenses, there are plenty more such as actors playing covid patients.

    NHS hiring actors to play covid patients

    Henry Dyne, Award-winning crisis actor

    A crisis actor speaks and shows her contract

    What clearly says that the covid pandemic is not a complete fabrication and that everyone labelled sick or dead from covid isn't simply sick or died from something else such as cold, flu, pneumonia, etc? What says it's a real pandemic rather than fake? What's the evidence that clearly distinguishes it as real? What says that a bogus test hasn't been used to make "cases" for an illness that doesn't exist in its own right? Covid has been going for 2.5 years and of the people I've known who've tested positive, some were sick with what could easily be a cold, my neighbour said he felt close to death but recovered in a few days, and someone else had no symptoms. What says my neighbour didn't have a bad flu and the others just had a cold or nothing at all? If government and media didn't tell you 24/7 there was a pandemic would you have a clue there was one? If everyone wasn't made to wear masks, etc would you know there was a pandemic? No, you wouldn't have a clue. How can there be a pandemic that you can only know of through government and media?

    We can look at an overall excess spike in mortality in Europe in April 2020 that seems to favour the alleged covid pandemic however when we look at the individual countries and notice how neighbouring countries don't necessarily show the same kind of spike we might wonder about that. Could the fact the spike doesn't cross borders be explained by aggressive drug trials rather than a covid pandemic? Something to very seriously ponder on.

    Set the right marker to about Week 25 2020 to see how in the preceding weeks there's a big spike in Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy but not in Portugal and Germany where no aggressive drug trials were conducted.
    https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps/#z-scores-by-country

    Oxford, Recovery et Solidarity : Overdosage in two clinical trials with acts considered criminal?

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] You have already been pointed to the following graphic.

    Since you seem unwilling to evaluate your posts here on this scale, I will do so. I see:

    • Overriding suspicion
    • Nefariuus intent
    • Something must be wrong
    • Immune to evidence

    and maybe more. The phrase "no evidence ... to change my mind" is a common statement from those that have fallen prey to misinformation.

     

    Conspiracy thinking

  34. Petra Liverani @32 , 

      When I googled your question (which you are free to do, of course) the first hit that came up was an analysis [B.Healy et al., 2021] of PCR testing of about 5,100 tests.  The result boiled down to around 0.5% false positive ~ a good result in a low-prevalence situation.  (The patient may be retested if it was only a single gene positive.)

    So, not really a problem.  Your question seems off-topic though, considering that this thread is discussing inoculation against misinformation.  I also feel that "self-inoculation" (against misinformation) includes you/we gaining an understanding of the psychological presentation of those who promote misinformation ~  is the anti-science person showing signs of being a nutter or political extremist or conspiracy theorist, etcetera?

    Psychological abnormalities can be hard to tell, sometimes.  (BTW, you have not answered my question @30 about your assessment regarding Dr Bailey . . . but as the Moderator hints, I shall withdraw such a personal reference.)

    Extremists and conspiracists are fairly easy to spot, much of the time.  They waddle and quack [excuse pun].   But the nutters can prove less easy.  I myself know a research scientist (PhD level) who is a member of a local Flat Earth Society  ~ an intelligent, friendly, charming fellow, whom you would have no suspicion of . . . unless the subject of the Earth's shape cropped up.   ( I haven't dared ask him about alien abductions and so on.)

    But examining the mindset of, ahem . . . a contrarian . . . is something which you should be doing routinely, Petra.   It can save you wasting time going down the proverbial rabbit-holes.   It's a form of self-inoculation, in a way !

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] There is a blog post here at SkS where Covid-specific discussion is probably more on-topic.

    https://skepticalscience.com/COVID-19-Vaccine-Communication-Handbook.html

     

     

     

  35. I am not sure that this lenghty to-&-fro on the exemplar of COVID-19 is very useful for man or beast. Perhaps a roll-back to the initial intorduction of the subject into this thread would cut the subject off at its in-thread intorduction.

    Petra Liverani @4,

    You raise Feynman's 'Cargo Cult Science' and the criticisms of Richard Smith to pre-publication peer review and ask "If eminent scientists criticise "science" why shouldn't we?"

    If you bother to read the criticism of science by these two 'eminent scientists', you may find that their criticism is not in any way as broadly based as you appear to have been arguing down this thread.

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  36. Moderator, indulge me in yet one more post in this thread, please.

     

    Petra Liverani @33 ,

    Thanks, I have now had the chance to see your [linked] videos about the Crisis Actors faking covid in hospital beds.  Brilliant.

    Yes, I am convinced.

    World governments are in a conspiracy to con us, obviously.  No other explanation is possible.

    Gotta say, that the UK authorities are doing a rather cheap job there.   Versus the USA federal government (and 50 state governments) who've been splashing out a real bucketload of money on the job.  For the USA, over 1 million "covid" deaths so far [deaths certified, tested, cross-referenced against Excess Mortality minus influenza ].

    One million, actually dead.

    Now that is what I call Method Acting !

    But how much would the Authorities have had to pay these million actors to undergo actual real death ~ the mind boggles.  And pay to bribe the dead actors' relatives, friends & neighbours? 

    Gotta be $squillions !

    Petra, it's horrifying . . . and yet I half-admire the Authorities' dastardly cruel thoroughness.  The Freudian attraction of pure evil?

    Please sign me up to your organization.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Although the comments policy does not have explicit statements banning sarcasm, this does get a bit too close to ad hominem and inflammatory commenting.

  37. This I find especially amusing: "knowing nothing on the subject, I found it compelling."

    I don't know that anything else can be added. It sums up the attitude of a large body of people with opinions. I think that Petra has said everything there was to say for everyone else to form their opinion on hers, and the subject is now thoroughly exhausted. I have to say it takes some serious acting to produce a p/F ratio less than 80 on an arterial blood gas but it may not be compelling enough for someone who doesn't know Jack on the subject.

    What a pathetic joke. 

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [BL] The valid point on having strong opinions on subjects that the writer knows nothing about does not need the snipped closing comment.

  38. Petra Liverani @34

    "Sure, now I disbelieve so much from the authorities but only because I've clearly identified so many lies"

    It depends how you define authorities. Its fair to say politicians and media have been caught being "economical with the truth" but scientists perhaps less so because their work has to go through a peer review process. So when I try to make sense of big, controversial issues I tend to look carefully at what the published peer reviewed science says on some issue, and particularly what most of that science is saying.

    But just because people are dishonest doesn't mean something is a hoax! There are many reasons for dishonesty. I recommend a good book: Post Truth, by Evan Davis.

    "Some of the anomalies we see in psychological operations are simply not anomalies that we can glide over. They are very distinctive and we can recognise them as deliberate anomalies not accidental."

    Yes obviously there are sometimes anomalies and some things do turn out to be hoaxes or conspiracies but you have to be extremely careful and knowledgeable and not jump to conclusions. I've seen nothing that makes me think covid is a hoax.I do see clear evidence of  'anmmolies' suggesting some countries are downplaying the mortality rate, and reasons for doing this are obvious. This is the real "conspiracy".

    "Nigel your explanation for a Chinese research team finding Chinese cobras and many-banded kraits to be "reservoirs" of the virus is "flawed early research" but how is that a better explanation than "nonsense"? It really is nonsense because it makes no sense. "

    It is nonsense but my point was it doesn't make covid a hoax. There is simply no logical connection between the two. It just might be the Chinsese trying to cover up the true origins of the virus but I have no proof of that and doubt it would be likely. It was just a case of bad science.

    "What says it's (covid) a real pandemic rather than fake? "

    Mountains of evidence. Just one example. Careful investigations of records show most countries have much higher than normal numbers of people dying over the last two years. This alone is a red flag suggesting the pandemic is real. To suggest this is all faked records is absurd. Because to suggest millions of health care professionals are in on a hoax, and none of them have gone to the media and said whats really going on, is too illogical to take seriously.

    "neighbouring countries don't necessarily show the same kind of spike"

    Ok, but differerent countries have different covid policies, vaccination rates and quality of data. This is a far simpler explanation than some contrived and massively complicated global conspiracy. Occams razor principle.

    This will probably be my last comment because covid is not the real issue and you have already been given infomation on the characteristics of conspiracy theories.

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  39. Nigel @38

    "neighbouring countries don't necessarily show the same kind of spike"

    "Ok, but differerent countries have different covid policies, vaccination rates and quality of data. This is a far simpler explanation than some contrived and massively complicated global conspiracy. Occams razor principle."

    It's important to note that with regard to simplicity, Occam's Razor refers to the simplicity of how well the evidence fits the hypothesis, not the simplicity of the hypothesis.

    If two countries didn't have aggressive drug trials while the neighbouring countries did then to see what other factors played a role we'd have to look carefully at what measures were taken. From what I gather from the information I've seen, Italy, at least, had very aggressive measures in place so at first sight the fact that aggressive measures were in place didn't play a role. Of course, if you can point me to how Germany and Portugal's measures protected them from the spike we see in their neighbouring countries I'm all ears. And I put forward evidence that aggressive drug trials were in place that we could easily expect a mortality increase from.

    ALL the evidence must be considered.
    -— We see aggressive measures in Italy at least - how were the measures in Portugal and Germany better?
    -— We see evidence of aggressive drug trials where overdose levels of HCQ were administered (2400mg where 2000mg can be considered overdose level)
    -— No OTHER evidence that might suggest the reason for the difference in spikes.

    "Mountains of evidence."

    Mountains of purported evidence. What evidence doesn't fit both hypotheses though? That's the question. The fake pandemic hypothesis includes the purported evidence, it includes "case" numbers, it just says "case" numbers are based on faulty science.

    Now that the vaccine has been introduced we have another very important variable with regard to mortality figures. For a start, there is clear evidence that mortality is assigned to the alleged "unvaccinated" who've actually had one dose.
    https://rubyraymedia.com/index.php/top-stories/plandemic/magnificent-mercola-shockingly-cdc-now-lists-vaccinated-deaths-as-unvaccinated

    Without necessarily putting evidence (but happy to provide where I haven't put it) I put forward 10 points that favour fake pandemic over real. I invite others to put forward 10 points favouring the other way, bearing in mind it is important to exclude evidence that doesn't fit both hypotheses, for example, "case" numbers.

    1. Without being told by government and media 24/7 there was a pandemic we'd have no clue.

    2. There were 313,000 cases of the flu in 2019 in Australia (far greater in number than alleged cases of covid the following year) and yet no obvious measures were taken and we weren't advised of case numbers on a daily basis or anything of that nature.

    3. There is no gold standard test for the alleged covid and the PCR technique is not a diagnostic test which is stated clearly on its packet and also by its inventor, Kary Mullis, and yet "cases" are based purely on the result of the test, they are not clinically diagnosed.

    4. The alleged covid doesn't have a distinctive set of symptoms telling it apart from cold, flu, pneumonia, whatever. If testing stopped tomorrow we'd have no clue that anyone had covid as distinct from other respiratory illnesses.

    5. The scientific work done to say there was a novel virus causing a new disease and a pandemic was all done at an unscientific haste.

    6. A number of things happened before the pandemic that seem rather coincidental, eg, Event 201, in Oct 2019, a pandemic tabletop exercise partnered by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    7. We see clear evidence of people acting as covid patients and hospital drills pushed out as real.

    8. There is great debate about the effectiveness of masks in the first place but regardless, dirty masks would surely not be considered effective against infection by anyone. The rules, however, only request compliance to wear a mask with no monitoring of level of hygiene. The rule to wear a mask regardless of hygiene makes no sense and we know that people slip on their masks just for compliance' sake while the inside of their mask may well show blackness - I've heard testimony of this. Even those who wish to maintain the kind of levels of hygiene protecting against infection will simply not succeed because masks against infection are not designed to be worn the way they're worn for this alleged pandemic. What we can infer from this very obviously ineffective measure is that masks are about appearance only, nothing to do with health.

    9. In addition to the mask problem, guidelines in general have been confusing and contradictory. Why should we believe any of them are effective?
    https://dorseteye.com/the-un-official-coronavirus-guidelines/

    10. I have heard from a number of people that covid was put on their loved ones' death certificates when they clearly died from something else. Dr Scott Jensen, also a Minnesota senator, criticises the guidelines for putting covid on death certificates. For this I'll put the evidence.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qWmiWf81zI

     

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] You seem to be as poorly informed about Occam's Razor as you are about other things you say. It has entirely to do with the simplicity of the explanation, not the evidence.

    Your use of the terms "purported evidence" and "alleged", your use of scare quotes around "case",  your use of "why should we believe?" "I have heard", etc. are all very clear indications that you are simply rejecting any evidence that does not fit your beliefs, while accepting any anecdotal evidence that you think supports your belief.

    This bears no resemblance to a scientific approach.

    You have previously been shown the following diagram (twice!). We can now add "re-interpreting randomness" to the list of confirmed behaviours on your part.

    Conspiratorial thinking

     

  40. Petra Liverani @39 :

    I have an idle moment ~ so I get to play !

    1.  we'd have no clue . . . apart from the deaths.

    2.  Irrelevant.          3.  PCR > clinically

    4.  Irrelevant.   Syphilis, Tuberculosis, etc = often no distinctive set.

    5.  Shocking to act in haste in a crisis.  Shocking.

    6.  Irrelevant.

    7.  Irrelevant.  There should be no Fire Drills without a real fire.

    8.  Your false dichotomy on masks.  ( And my mask is not black on the inside ~ I have bleached it three times since January. )

    9.  Confusing & contradictory?  Welcome to the real world, Petra.

    10.  Often with multiple contributing causations of death, the certified "first cause" can be a tad "sloppy".   Twas ever thus.  But stand back and look at the millions of Excess Mortality deaths.  Millions.   (The conspiracist only looks at one tree ~ the scientist looks at the forest.)

    Cheers, Petra.

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  41. Oops! No doubt it's obvious but just for clarity, 'bearing in mind it is important to exclude evidence that doesn't fit both hypotheses, for example, "case" numbers' should read "fits" rather than "doesn't fit"

    Also, just to add, you may find it easy to go in and nitpick my 10 points ... but how easy do you find it to come up with the 10 points that favour real pandemic over fake? That's the question you should really ask yourself, not how you can nitpick my 10 points. A favoured type of argument against points seeming to favour the opposing hypothesis is "but that doesn't prove ...", "but that could be ..." The thing is though, you need to have evidence favouring your own hypothesis not just alternative explanations for what's put forward favouring the opposing hypothesis.

    What I always do is bear both the hypotheses I believe correct and the one that opposes it in mind ensuring that all the pieces of evidence as much as possible at least support my chosen hypothesis if not favour it.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [BL] As has been pointed out by following comments, an argument based on "I made 10 points, how many points do you have", is pointless. Especially when your ten points are pointless on their own.

    You are engaging in a Gish Gallop - a well-known debating tactic used by people with no scientific basis for their position.

    Your use of "both sides" is a classic argument style called the "Uncertainty tactic". Your use of selected "experts" also fits into this argument. As well, you are approaching the "false balance" pretense.

    You are now scoring 5 out of 5 on the FLICC scale:

     

  42. Sure you can play Eclectic but you need to play by the rules. Deaths are accommodated by both hypotheses. It's just that for one they're said to be caused by covid and for the other, other causes and where there's excess spike in mortality we can also see reasons other than a novel virus.

    Put forward your 10 points and exclude any points that fit both hypotheses. Then we're talking.

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  43. Petra,  the PCR test is the evidence.

    IMO, the PCR technique is a scientific marvel.  Useful in crimes; in species identifications; in so many areas.  You should learn about it.

    Petra, you put forward your 10 points for nitpicking.  Don't complain!

    0 0
  44. MA Rodger @35

    You refer to pre-publication peer review, however, when certain people wish to do post-publication review, their reviews are rejected. You're familiar with that complaint, no? Of course, if it's not up to standard then why would they publish? That's always a good response, isn't it? Well, it's not up to standard so we won't publish it. The thing is though journals are effectively funded by vested interests. There's the notorious case of Merck and the NEMJ.
    https://www.science.org/content/blog-post/new-england-journal-and-its-pr-flacks

    The thing is that peer-review is taken to mean something very important about a scientific paper, it's meant to establish its credibility and according to former BMJ editor it doesn't.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Unsubstantiated accusations that the entire scientific publishing system is corrupt snipped.

  45. Petra Liverani @39

    I agree with Eclectics concise summation, and so I don't need go through your entire list.

    Regarding why neighbouring countries mysteriously have different covid mortality rates or excess death statistics. If germany had a low covid mortaity numbers it might just have something to do with the fact they have the highest number of ICU beds per capita of any country and by a wide margin. But I have no interest in going through detailed country by country comparisons. because there are huge number of factors involved and I would expect to see varying mortality rates. Its not suspicious for me.

    Covid has some similarities of symptoms to the flu and the omicron variant has some similar symptoms to the common cold, but there are most certainly striking differences as well and with covid certain symptoms are much more severe. My point is you dont get basic facts right so have little credibility.

    Perhaps America hasn't had rules about how many times you should wear a mask. Before jumping to conclusions this means the whole covid thing is a hoax, did you check other countries? In New Zealand the authorities gave us detailed instructions on mask hygene.

    "Deaths are accommodated by both hypotheses. It's just that for one they're said to be caused by covid and for the other, other causes and where there's excess spike in mortality we can also see reasons other than a novel virus."

    What other reasons are you suggesting for for excess deaths? Remember a large number of countries reported excess deaths over the last two years. Not all did because covid never got a grip in some communities. But the point is how likely is it that there was a whole lot of different factors (the usual things) that all caused much of the world to have an excess deaths in just those two years? Or that there was some mysterious unknown common cause? Both are incrediblly improbable. Covid is a much more likely and simpler explanation.

    Your analysis is so full of holes and mistakes you could drive a truck through it.

     

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  46. Nigel @45

    As I said in an earlier comment people are very good at offering alternative explanations for points that seem to favour the hypothesis they oppose but what about their 10 points that favour their chosen hypothesis?

    "If germany had a low covid mortaity numbers it might just have something to do with the fact they have the highest number of ICU beds per capita of any country and by a wide margin."

    But no excess spike in Germany and Portugal also fits my hypothesis OK? And what about Portugal vs Spain? The lack of excess spike perfectly fits my hypothesis whereas you'd also have to find a reason for Portugal's lack.

    Cold and flu themselves do not have distinctive sets of symptoms so can you please list where we see a set of symptoms for covid or any of its variants that distinguishes it from other respiratory illnesses.

    I know there are instructions on how to wear a mask, Nigel, of course, but there's no enforcement and even if there were, the way it's worn for the pandemic is nothing like the way it's worn in every other situation guarding against infection so we'd have to wonder why in every other case for guarding against infection the rules are incredibly stringent but we only have guidelines that are far more lax and don't need to be followed in any case.

    Have you got 10 points? My 10 points are perfectly fine, they are not "full of holes". I don't say any one point proves anything I just say that each of my 10 points perfectly supports if not favours my hypothesis. Where are your 10 points, Nigel?

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Your challenge to count up "points" is pointless. Any future repetitions of this will be deleted.

     

  47. Petra Liverani @44 :

    You may be lucky and get a reply from MA Rodger ~ who knows more about scientific publishing than you & me lumped together and multiplied by twenty.

    Published scientific papers (in reputable journals) are where you find real science.  Not in personal blogs, newspapers, television reports, etcetera.  New ideas & advances can start off a bit "sloppy" but firm up over time with more work done.  It can be a bit hit-and-miss in the early stages (never put all your trust in a single paper).  Confusion & contradiction rules! . . . at first, anyway.  Get used to that, and use caution (and use your own intelligence in a humble way).

    Some apparently novel & good papers can later turn out to be poor ~ these get later corrected or retracted or more simply ignored once they are shown to be poor.  ( The lattermost is quite common in the medical/biological fields, owing to the vast multiplicity of known/unknown factors that can cause the papers' conclusions to be largely wrong.  Which is where the statement applies: "more than 50% of published paper are wrong."  Note that this doesn't much apply to the "hard sciences" such as climate physics. )

    Petra, you may or may not hear back from MA Rodger.  From his earlier comment in this thread, I gained the impression that he thought you were suffering from post-concussion syndrome and should be sent from the playing field.

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  48. Petra Liverani @46

    "As I said in an earlier comment people are very good at offering alternative explanations for points that seem to favour the hypothesis they oppose but what about their 10 points that favour their chosen hypothesis?

    A couple of lists of why covid is real and not a hoax:

    www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-hoax-idUSKBN25G2KM

     

    www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/01/05/fact-check-post-falsely-claims-covid-19-pandemic-isnt-real/9076551002/

    www.rd.com/article/covid-19-6-things-that-prove-its-not-a-hoax/

    You would need to prove these wrong in detail, and I doubt that you can. So far all I have heard from you is easily rebuted, like Eclectics list did. I'm not going to be debating these latest lists. I'm listing them only for the general interest, and to show people how truly foolish the hoax theories are. I haven't come across anything less like a hoax than covid.

    "But no excess spike in Germany and Portugal also fits my hypothesis OK?"

    Portugal also has a reasonably decent health system and apparently managed covid quite well. The highest covid fatality rates tend to be in countries with weak health systems, or who had poor quality lockdowns or low vaccination rates or aging populations, or which have weak hospital systems or very high density living, or  politicians who dont take the virus seriously, or combinations of these things. Are you seriously trying to tell us you would expect countries and regions of countries to all have the same mortality rates and excess death statistics?

    A very few remaining countries and comparisons like Spain and Portugal might be hard to explain but there will be some reason. Maybe one countries data is incorrect because their data gathering is hopeless. I'm just not that interested, because the overall pattern is so clear and the motivations for covid to be a hoax seem absurd to me, and of course the whole hoax idea has no hard evidence to back it. 

    "Cold and flu themselves do not have distinctive sets of symptoms so can you please list where we see a set of symptoms for covid or any of its variants that distinguishes it from other respiratory illnesses."

    Google the issue. There are plenty of reputable websites that document the symptoms of covid and discuss differences between covid and other diseases. Obviously symptoms are just a guide. Diagnoses of many diseases based purely on symptoms are not 100% conclusive. It needs tests. Are they all hoaxes as well?

    "I know there are instructions on how to wear a mask, Nigel, of course, but there's no enforcement and even if there were, the way it's worn for the pandemic is nothing like the way it's worn in every other situation guarding against infection so we'd have to wonder why in every other case for guarding against infection the rules are incredibly stringent but we only have guidelines that are far more lax and don't need to be followed in any case."

    You provide no evidence that enforcement of mask wearing is different for covid than other diseasers. Please provide a link. And how would you enforce the correct hygenic use of masks with millions of people?  Are you going to have a vast horde of mask police that track millions of people on a daily basis checking on mask use? Have you not considered how impossible this is? Can you see a freedom loving place like America doing this sort of thing? So there are obvious reasons why hygenic mask use isn't enforced very well in places like America like ideology, lax procedures, and its impractical with so many covid cases, and this is far more plausible than some covid hoax.

     

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  49. Nigel,

    I looked at the USA Today fact-check and nothing in it cannot be accommodated by the fake hypothesis. Hazmat suits? Yes we've seen lots of those. Body bags, coffins - please. These do not argue against the fake hypothesis, they can all be faked.

    So Reuters says in response to covid being put down on death certificates inappropriately:
    "However, the ONS says that: “In the majority of cases (46,736 deaths, 92.8%) where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, it was found to be the underlying cause of death”.

    We have to believe that, Nigel, and I don't. I gave a link to Dr Scott Jensen criticising the guidelines for what doctors should put on death certificates and I personally know people with loved ones where covid was put and they were clearly very sick with other health problems.

    Mask enforcement not different for other diseases? I'm not sure what diseases you're referring to, I'm talking about surgery and similar medical situations. My friend who's a nurse told me that in theatres sometimes the nurses do not even change their own masks. Grabbing a mask out of one's contaminated bag, putting it on and taking it off again is nowhere OK in situations designed to guard against infection that I know of. If you can let me know of one I'd be interested. Of course, if it's SARS-1 or such-like then that doesn't necessarily say a lot ... if this pandemic is a hoax it won't be their first BBQ.

    Regardless of what other possible explanations there are for Portugal and Germany's lack of excess mortality spike against neighbouring countries their lack perfectly fits the hypothesis that it's a result of no aggressive drug trials without contradicting evidence. Of course, I can't say no aggressive drug trials PROVES the lack of excess spike but I can say it offers a perfectly possible explanation in the absence of a better-evidenced one.

    Your arguments against fake are simply offering alternative explanations. You cannot provide any clear evidence that says the pandemic is not fake, that the real pandemic hypothesis is favoured. The fact that I can put forward 10 points that perfectly FIT the fake hypothesis even if they don't necessarily favour it is quite something, don't you think?

    Please give the reference that shows the set of symptoms of covid/variant that distinguishes it from cold, flu and other respiratory illnesses. And if not all sufferers of the alleged covid or whatever variant exhibit those particular symptoms it's not very convincing is it? We all suffer different symptoms when we get colds and flu. Some lose sense of smell and taste, others don't. Wherever I see covid symptoms, it's always a case of "may" with a reasonably long list that easily fits other illnesses.

    I shall await with interest 10 points that favour real over fake. If any of you think that it isn't significant if no one provides those 10 points, I put to you that you do not understand the nature of reality. The nature of reality is that if there were a genuine pandemic it would be no trouble at all to come up with 10 points that favour real over fake.

     

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [BL] An argument that is based on "everything I don't want to believe can be faked" is a classic example of conspiracy thinking and denialism.

    There is no need for you to repeat this in this forum.

  50. Nigel, 

    In response to your question about the reasons for excess deaths: so many possible reasons. Hospital systems have been turned upside down so an increase in iatrogenic deaths is not unexpected, the vaccine as I've already mentioned, aggressive drug trials and other changes to medication. Since so many variables have been introduced since the alleged pandemic started we certainly can't just point the finger to an alleged novel virus.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Sloganeering snipped

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