Hidden camera exposes the appalling arrogance of Twitter to decide what is best for society

Independent investigative journalism group Project Veritas has just released hidden camera footage of senior Twitter management discussing their censorship plans (see link [1] at end of article). Censorship is actually too kind a word – what they are actually doing is making decisions about what they think the people of the world are allowed to say and what they think the people of the world are capable of hearing. I have previously written about the danger of this kind of political censorship here and here, and in June last year I described how hidden camera footage from Project Veritas showed that Facebook was meddling in the US election.

I’ll let this latest video speak for itself – but just think for a minute as you listen to what they are saying. They are actually talking as if they are the ruling committee of society. The level of arrogance here is breath-taking, and the arrogance is at multiple levels. Firstly they think they have the right to decide what people should say and hear. Secondly, they think that they are qualified to decide what is best for people and for society. Thirdly, they think that they know better than others what is true and what is false, and that they have the answers as to what is best for society.

You may be thinking that since people choose to use Twitter, that Twitter are entitled to set their conditions of use. The problem with this argument is two-fold. Firstly, Twitter are so big and influential that they – along with others like Facebook, YouTube and Google, are effectively “the public square”. As such there is a strong argument that they have obligations for neutrality that go beyond their commercial terms of service.

The second reason why Twitter isn’t entitled to do what they are doing is section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act. In a nut-shell section 230 protects companies like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google from legal liability for the content on their services – on the basis that they are “public utilities”. However when these companies decide what people are allowed to see they are acting as publishers. Note that this is not about whether they are allowed to block access to illegal content – it is about legal content and decisions made purely on the basis of the opinions of Twitter staff.

So Twitter and the other companies which now dominate the public square cannot have it both ways – they must either maintain a position of neutrality with respect to legal content, or accept legal liability for their publishing decisions. Section 230 was appropriate when the web was in its infancy, but it now urgently needs reform – and last year Donald Trump signed an executive order to begin that process. Unfortunately this initiative might stall – as some Democrat politicians are quite open about the fact that they want more censorship rather than less [2].

Some have argued that those who have been marginalised by big tech censorship because of their political views should build their own media platforms. Although some have tried to do that, there are a number of problems with this idea. One is that the big tech companies have shown they are not prepared to allow that to happen, as evidenced by the recent appalling action to shut down Twitter competitor Parler (see here for details). But the biggest problem with the alternative platform idea is that doing so will only further divide an already divided society. The answer to a divided public square is not to create two seperate public squares, but to allow everyone to participate in the one public square. Ironically those on the political left who have been so vocal about protecting marginalised people are at the forefront of efforts to marginalise those whose views differ from theirs.

I’ll finish with this one example (of many). Late last year the New York Post broke a major story about the son of presidential candidate Joe Biden – a story which potentially implicated Joe Biden himself in activity of significant public interest, but Twitter immediately imposed restriction on distribution of the story. The Twitter CEO later admitted in front of a Senate Hearing that Twitter had made a “mistake” – but by then the damage was done [3]. A Media Research Group survey of US voters found that although most Biden voters were not affected by media messaging prior to the election, a significant “17% of all Biden voters would have not voted for Biden” had they known certain facts about Biden and Trump [4]. But the real bombshell is this from the last page of the report:

“In 6 of the 7 states surveyed, enough voters would have not voted for Joe Biden that those states would have gone to President Trump, giving Trump 311 electoral votes and re-electing him”

If you didn’t want Trump to be re-elected this may not worry you – but do you really want election outcomes to be decided by media manipulation rather than the will of informed voters? And if we know this kind of media manipulation is occurring then we should think hard about whether we have been led to believe things which aren’t true.

Sources:

[1] Project Veritas: Twitter Senior Executive Vijaya Gadde Details Plans for Political Censorship on a global scale

[2] Democrats use Big Tech hearings to demand more censorship (nypost.com)

[3] Senate Committee Hearing with CEOs of Big Tech Companies | C-SPAN.org (c-span.org)

[4] Media Research Center – Biden Voter Messaging Survey Analysis.

Ivermectin for COVID-19 – authorities may finally be taking an interest…

I have previously written about the promise of Ivermectin for COVID-19 here and about what seems to be an effort by the mainstream media and authorities to ignore or discredit this potential treatment (see here and here). To cut a long story short, the Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) said back in December that “Studies show consistent, reproducible efficacy of Ivermectin” (not for the first time) and pleaded with authorities to reassess their position on the drug [1]. Possibly because of mainstream media attitude, health authorities seem to have been far too slow and too reluctant to listen to those who have been trying to make people pay attention to what the research is telling us about this drug.

We may now be seeing the institutional resistance to Ivermectin starting to crumble. It was reported by TrialSite News several days ago [1], that the very influential COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) invited the FLCCC to present their findings on Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 [2]. As a result, on January 14th the NIH have softened their stance on the use of this drug – although they they have stopped short of recommending it:

“… currently there are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19. Results from adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted clinical trials are needed …” [3]

For more details I recommend watching the TrialSite News video linked below.

This is a step forward, but it still seems as if the wheels of bureaucracy are turning painfully slowing, considering the ongoing mask laws, lock-downs, case numbers, hospital occupancy levels, and reports of deaths. In addition, this development does not yet seem to have been noticed by the mainstream media. On the New York Times web-site there is nothing on Ivermectin since a highly dismissive article on December 8th (which I discussed in more detail in earlier articles), and the BBC web site still has nothing on Ivermectin since a July article about “fake cures”.

NOTE: While I have made every effort to reference credible sources, this is not medical advice. Always seek advice from a medical professional.

Sources:

[1] TrialSite News – Beyond The Roundup | The NIH Updates Stance On Ivermectin

[2] December 4th. FLCCC News Conference on Dec. 4 – Power Point Presentation (covid19criticalcare.com) and FLCCC Alliance – Call-for-Action News Release/Press Conference Follow-Up (covid19criticalcare.com)

[3] Statement on Ivermectin | COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines (nih.gov)

Why some people believe Trump incited Capitol violence – and why they are wrong

To use one of the favourite expressions of the mainstream media, the claim that Trump incited the violence at the Capitol last week has been “de-bunked” – by some commentators at least. Neither his explicit words, nor any reasonable interpretation of those words can be considered incitement to violence [1]. In addition it is simply not plausible that he would have wanted that violence to occur – not only because Trump has consistently denounced violence in the past, but because it doesn’t take a genius to realise that such violence would work against Trump rather than in his favour. One thing Trump knows all too well is how quickly Democrats exploit events to attack him.

What I find very interesting is why so many people – including some Republicans – seem to think he did incite violence. I think there are a number of reasons for this – one of which is a problem of language and interpretation – a problem which I think is creating major problems in society today.

Firstly we must set aside the group of people who simply believe without question the “Trump incited violence” narrative that has been pushed out on the mainstream media and social media since the incident. This group comprises those who have fully embraced the anti-Trump narrative – and the incitement message nicely supports their narrative. This is a clear case of confirmation bias. We also need to set aside that group of people who have a clear political agenda to destroy Trump – Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi to name a few. They know he is a political threat to him – they cannot afford him to be only wounded, they must finish the job.

However another group of people are those who have listened carefully to the speech Trump made on January 6th (or read the transcript [2]) and have concluded that it qualifies as an incitement to violence. What explains their conclusion being different from mine and many others? I believe that their interpretation of what he said is largely a result of their prior beliefs – I will explain why.

We need to recognise an important distinction – the difference between intending to incite violence and actually inciting violence. Did Trump’s speech actually incite the Capitol building break-in? This is a question of fact, not opinion. The only way to settle this question would be to know exactly the decision making process of all those who took part in the break-in and determine whether Trump’s speech played any significant role. But then we have a further problem – if Trump’s speech on January 6th played no role, did some prior Trump speech play a role? This seems like a reasonable question.

But we now collapse into absurdity – how can we possibly unravel the complex causal chain that preceded the Capitol violence? And if we did, of course Trump was somehow a factor, as were many other people. If we are going to start playing those silly games we could argue Nancy Pelosi carries more blame than Trump (although there might actually be a good argument for this). But this is why we cannot rationally assign responsibility in this way. We have no choice but to place the responsibility on those who actually carried out the violence – and the bar must be set very high before we conclude that someone else is indirectly responsibility. If we are going to accuse someone else of having been involved then we must have genuine evidence. As far as I am aware no such evidence has been presented.

If there is no evidence that Trump actually incited the violence, is there evidence that he intended to incite violence? That’s where the content of his speech and how people are interpreting it comes into play. Trump’s speech certainly didn’t explicitly call for violence. He never said “go and break into the Capitol building”, and no-one can argue that he did. In fact he said this:

“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. “

This is a clear statement of his intention and his expectation in relation to the future actions of his audience. The matter should end there, however for the sake of charity (which I will talk more about later) let’s ask whether it would be reasonable for someone to nevertheless interpret Trump’s speech as a call to violence. Philosopher Paul Grice articulated what is now a very influential account of speaker meaning often referred to as reflexive intention, which is that “the speaker intends the hearer to react in a certain way because of recognizing that the speaker wants him to react in that way.” [3]. So did Trump intend that some people would recognise that he wanted them to commit violence? First we need to decide whether he wanted them to commit violence. How do we know what his intention was?

One can only be absolutely certain what someone intends by asking them what they intended. I’m sure you consider yourself to be the primary judge of your own intentions – and I would suggest most people intensely dislike having someone else think they know better. Trump has denied his speech was a call to violence, so that must carry the most weight. We must extend him the same courtesy to know his own mind as we would expect to be shown – to do otherwise simply exposes our prejudice, or means we are accusing him of lying about his intentions. Has someone made such an accusation?

I’ve seen plenty of claims that he incited violence – but I am not aware of anyone claiming that he is lying when he says he didn’t intend violence. I think there is a reason for that – when people who are trying to generate a false narrative get too close to the detail of the situation, the truth threatens the narrative. They are happy to make vague claims about inciting violence – but cannot risk making specific claims which can be proven false or unjustified.

If he is accused of lying about his intention, to show that someone is making a false claim about their intention requires there to be a convincing body of evidence to the contrary. Where is the evidence that Trump is making a false claim about his intentions? More importantly what form would that evidence take? Unless he explicitly stated some other intention at some time prior to making that speech, it always comes down to interpretation of his words and actions – and that puts any claim by anyone else to know his intention better than he, on shaky ground.

It is well known that when we speak, or listen to someone speak, that we rely heavily on shared background knowledge and context. This is one of the reasons that getting computers to have human-like conversation is so difficult. Why is human communication like this? Because it is beneficial to both parties if you can convey your message in 4 words instead of 10 – and relying on shared background knowledge and context is one way to achieve that. The danger though is that the less explicit we are when we speak, the more we rely on the listener to correctly interpret what we mean. Evolution – as we would expect – has achieved a trade-off between efficiency and accuracy. Our communication is quite efficient – at the expense of the possibility of misinterpretation.

Usually a listener is motivated to correctly interpret what a speaker says. Consider the following example. Suppose you ask your friend Fred where your other friend Jill put a particular box. Fred could have said “Jill put the box on the table”, but instead he says “She put it there” (pointing to the table). Because you want to find the box, you are going to make an effort to interpret what Fred says in a way that brings you success. Also, you believe that Fred wants to help you by giving you a truthful answer to your question. So you reason that “She” refers to Jill, that “it” refers to the box, and that “there” is explained by his pointing finger. Your goal and your beliefs about Fred’s intention played a big part in your ability to interpret what he said. If you believed that Fred had the strong intention to prevent you from having the box, then your interpretation of what he said would be different. This example isn’t perfect, but hopefully you see what I mean – our beliefs about the speaker greatly influences our interpretation of what they say. If you have ever gotten into an argument with a loved one you will know how easily interpretation can go astray.

My point so far is simple. When you interpret what Trump said during that speech you are relying to a large extent on your beliefs. Of course that cuts both ways and so it applies also to my interpretation – however my interpretation is consistent with what Trump himself says he intended, which I have already argued must be given the greatest weight.

There is another important feature of language, which is metaphor – the distinction between literal meaning and figurative meaning. I encourage you to reflect on a sample of the sentences you utter – you might be very surprised how much you rely on metaphors. For example the word “reflect” in the previous sentence is used figuratively not literally. In fact it could be argued that metaphors are not just an artistic choice, but essential to meaning – as they give meaning to our thoughts and words in terms of the physical world that we experience through our senses.

Take one very simple example of a word used figuratively rather than literally. Trump used the words “fight”, “fights” or “fighting” twenty times in his speech. I don’t believe for a moment that he meant actually physical fighting – I believe he was speaking figuratively and anyone with common sense would have the same belief since that is the way the word is most often used throughout politics. In fact so commonly is the word used in a figurative sense that if you choose to believe he meant physical fighting then I think you are guilty of deliberate misinterpretation or you are so young that you don’t yet understand political speech or the concept of metaphor.

A third aspect of interpretation is the philosophical principle called the principle of charity. The principle of charity – in very general terms – is the idea that one should interpret what someone is saying in the way that is most favourable to the person saying it. The reason we have this principle is not just because following it makes you a nicer person – there are very practical reasons, one of which is that a charitable interpretation is in general more likely to be correct. We can also more effectively analyse and respond to claims and arguments if we assume a charitable interpretation.

The principle of charity is one of the first things taught to students of critical thinking. Yet sadly, it seems to be one of the most commonly violated principles in public discourse today. A good example of the principle of charity being violated is how the anti-Trump politicians and media chose to interpret Trumps conversation about election fraud with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. One charitable (and plausible) interpretation of the conversation is that Trump was trying to persuade Raffensperger to properly investigate the allegations of election fraud – that he was trying to appeal to Raffensperger to do what he (Trump) believed was the right thing (investigate). This interpretation is entirely consistent with what Trump and others had been saying publicly for weeks. However the anti-Trump media chose a very uncharitable (and very implausible) interpretation – that Trump was asking Raffensperger to commit election fraud on his (Trump’s) behalf. In stark contrast to the first interpretation, this second interpretation is untethered from reality. Why would Trump feel the need to commit election fraud when he already believes there is sufficient evidence to overturn the election in his favour, and why would he ask someone to commit election fraud knowing that there was a witness (a lawyer) on the call?

Lastly in relation to interpretation, is what I would call the issue of individual manner of speaking. I am reluctant to criticise a person’s manner of speaking since none of us is perfect, however Donald Trump does have a somewhat distinctive manner of speaking, which I would describe as follows. He doesn’t carefully craft what he says, as I am attempting to do here – both at the word and sentence level and in overall structure. He has a tendency in my opinion to ramble and repeat himself. He relies heavily on quickly and roughly formed metaphor, and his word choice can be loose. Some might say he doesn’t filter what he says – that there is a short pipe (another metaphor) between what he is thinking and what he says.

Although such quick characterisations of Donald Trump by someone who doesn’t personally know him are unfair, I like what his speaking style says about him – and I think many other people do too. I could say more about what I think this says about him as a person, but my main point here is that interpretation requires some understanding of the speakers individual manner of speaking, and consequently extra effort and extra latitude is sometimes required. Charity plays a role here – unfortunately for Trump certain aspects of his manner of speaking make it possible for people to take an uncharitable interpretation – but that is their failing not his.

If you have gotten this far, hopefully you agree that interpretation depends heavily on our beliefs – and those (on either side) who choose to interpret Trump’s speech as a call to violence are saying more about their own beliefs and how they interpreted what he said – than what Trump actually said and intended.

So what is going on here? The left have a reputation for using language as a weapon and this is a prime example. Some say the left are very good at doing this, but I disagree. I think the problem is that language is very easy to use as a weapon if you are motivated to do so and don’t feel strongly about the truth. At the end of the day Trump might be all the bad things Democrats say he is – but so far I have not seen any convincing evidence which supports those claims, and I have seen plenty of evidence that those who accuse him are not being honest.

References:

[1] No, Donald Trump Did Not Incite An Insurrection (thefederalist.com)

[2] Trump’s Jan. 6 full speech: ‘We will never concede when theft is involved’ | News | Lifesitenews

[3] Assertion (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

We need to start standing up for free speech and diversity of opinion

I don’t think I am being hyperbolic when I say we are in a crisis the like of which few people currently living have experienced. The very foundation of the modern liberal democracy (and I include the constitutional republic of the USA under that broad category) is under attack – not because of Donald Trump and his supporters, as the mainstream media and big tech would have you believe – but because of the tyranny of the Democrat leadership, mainstream media and big tech themselves. Specifically I am referring to their attack on free speech and diversity of opinion. Some of us have seen the danger coming for decades – but the response to the breaching of the Capitol building in Washington DC last week has laid bare the true enemies of democracy like never before.

No sooner had Democrats uttered calls for healing, did they embark on a wholesale campaign to destroy their political opponents – with the aid of the mainstream media and big tech. By opponents I mean anyone who disagrees with the mainstream narrative – which includes many millions of people in the USA and elsewhere.

Like past tyrannical movements, this one has co-opted the help of a significant proportion of ordinary people – not just in the USA but all around the world. As I sit here in a café in New Zealand, a group at a nearby table are taking turns telling each other how terrible Trump is and all the various ways they think he and his supporters should be punished. They are so certain of their rightness and so angry, that no debate is even possible. Not too long ago I made a comment about this on social media, and I received replies from people all over the world who experienced the same thing in their countries. If the police were to walk in now to arrest me for writing these words, I have my doubts whether the people sitting next to me would come to my defence. I don’t blame them – their only failing is believing without question what they are being told every day by the mainstream media and big tech, and the very concept of free speech and why it is important has been lost in all the vitriolic noise.

There are too many things happening to discuss in a short article – but think about what has just happened to technology company Parler. Considered to be the biggest serious competitor to Twitter, possibly valued at half a billion dollars or more, and the top download on the App Store a week ago, Parler has literally been shut down in one day. Were they prosecuted and found guilty of some crime? Not at all. A cabal of big tech companies including the world’s largest cloud service provider Amazon Web Services, Google and Apple made this decision. They appointed themselves judge, jury and executioner – and of course they have a lot to gain commercially by snuffing out an up and coming competitor. At the time of writing Parler are unable to find an alternative technology provider brave enough to stand up to the screeching mob and the corporate robber-barons – for the time being the lights have been turned off on a half billion dollar company.

This should scare you. If these big tech companies can do this to a half billion dollar company – think what they can do to you. And this is not just about denial of specialised technology services – this is denial of the ability to bank, the ability to borrow, to purchase goods and services, to promote your business, to sell, to process payments, and even the ability to communicate with staff and customers. At the time of writing Parler executives had access to nothing other than email – and weren’t sure how long they would even have that. In our highly connected world this kind of “cancellation” has profound consequences. Those on the left have consistently played down the idea of “cancel culture” as yet another right wing conspiracy theory. Have the left now overplayed their hand? Will everyone finally see that this threat is real? I’d like to think so, but undoubtedly the mainstream media is hard at work to justify what has happened to Parler and suppressing any opposing views such as those I am expressing here.

If you don’t think this is a threat to all of us, then you don’t understand what is going on. There is a saying which goes something like this. First they came for my enemies, and I said nothing. Then they came for my friends, and I said nothing. Then they came for me, and there was no-one left to save me.

Political censorship and misinformation by big tech and mainstream media is a threat to civilisation

I do not think it is possible to overstate the threat to civilisation posed by the political censorship and bias in mainstream media and big tech social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (not to mention search engines). As if they weren’t already bad enough – these companies have jumped on the breach of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. yesterday as an opportunity to further ramp up restrictions on free speech. All rational people should be outraged by the arrogance of these companies, who believe they know what is best of society and that they have the right – above anyone else – to decide what you can say, and what you can hear. And for those who like to sit back and mock the USA, this is a problem which threatens us all.

When I was young I watched hippy types campaigning for free speech and I didn’t pay it much attention. To me they seemed like a public nuisance with nothing better to do. But now I am older and wiser, and after witnessing what has been happening in the mainstream media and big tech social media over the past couple of decades I now realise that free speech is perhaps one of the most important things we need to have in a civilised society. I also now realise how important it is to continuously fight to maintain freedom of speech and to be continuously alert for attempts to limit speech – because these are rights which can be so easily lost. These rights are not lost overnight, but bit by bit, until we wake up one morning to realise we are living in a dystopian nightmare. I am now thankful that those hippies were prepared to fight for rights I enjoyed growing up, and I am thankful that today there are brave souls also willing to fight for these rights.

It is almost beyond comprehension that in this modern age where freedom, diversity and tolerance are lauded, that major American companies which dominate the flow of information throughout much of the world should take it upon themselves to decide who gets to hear what the elected President of the USA has to say. All Americans should be outraged by this – they did not vote for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Google to run their country. They did not give these companies the right of approval over what people say – least of all over what their President says. But let’s back up a little and consider why there is only one position on free speech which is rational.

Firstly we need to dispense with a serious misunderstanding – the idea that we must limit speech to protect people from harm. Western democracies already have laws against incitement to violence – and by violence I mean actual harm – I do not mean hurting someone’s feelings or criticising someone’s ideas. So we do not need any additional “hate speech” laws or “community guidelines” to protect people from harm – all we need is to properly interpret and enforce laws which already exist.

The more crucial point that many people who are prepared to limit speech don’t fully appreciate is the “who decides?” question – and it is impossible to overstate the difficulty this question raises. Once you fully appreciate this difficulty you understand why we must favour free speech in spite of the fact that it will allow things to be said that we might not way to hear or might not want others to hear. I am unsure who said this first, but as many have pointed out – the way to respond to bad speech is with better speech.

When we talk about free speech we usually think about whether we should limit the speech of people other than ourselves – and it is relatively easy for people to agree to place restrictions on other people. But the real point that most people miss about free speech, is that censorship is not just about denying people the right to speak – it is denying you the right to hear – and that should offend and outrage you. Surely the right to decide what we listen to is one of the most basic rights we can possibly have? We should be even more outraged when those rights are denied by individuals and organisations who are not even elected.

Advocates for free speech never claim that there will not sometimes be bad consequences from allowing people to speak freely – the argument is that the consequences of restricting speech are far worse than allowing speech. Curtailing free speech has consequences which go far beyond your individual rights to say and hear what you want – when someone controls what can be said and what can be heard they are able to control any aspect of society that they choose. It has been said many times that in dictatorships and totalitarian regimes the first thing those in charge do is take control of the media. For this reason alone the idea that Trump is dictatorial and fascistic is so wrong that it is laughable – far from controlling the media, Trump has been besieged by the mainstream media and big tech since before he took office. If he is a dictator then he is a spectacularly unsuccessful dictator. If he was a dictator those behind the relentless anti-Trump propaganda campaign would have been in jail or worse long ago. In fact far from being the leader of a totalitarian regime – he is a political dissident, and a dissident that refuses to be silenced. That is exactly why those who really control the flow of information are working so hard to silence him – and it is one of the reasons why there are so many who support him.

I think some people fail to appreciate just how insidious and pernicious censorship and bias really is. Consider how we communicate. We don’t simply say things and hear things – when we speak we need to know that we are heard, and before we can hear it is important to know that there is something to be heard. Modern big tech and mainstream media censorship denies us that knowledge – they do not just prevent us from hearing, they prevent us from even knowing that there is something to be heard. They also prevent us from hearing counter-arguments, from knowing that there is another side to a story. As philosopher John Stuart Mill famously said, “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that”.

The attack on free speech which is happening in America and throughout other Western countries is incredibly corrosive – it is an assault on our ability to communicate and to think and act freely – it is an assault on the very concept of truth. As an atheist I don’t believe in absolute good and evil – however I think the censorship and authoritarian control of information we are seeing by big tech companies and mainstream media is about as close to evil as it is possible to get.

Shameful display of hypocrisy and cowardice in debate on Arizona electoral college votes

I suspect there will be a great many people who like me were stunned by the appalling display of dishonesty and hypocrisy on the part of the Democrats in the Arizona electoral college debate, and disappointed in the lack of courage and integrity on the part of many Republicans who seemed to lose their nerve or succumb to the emotion of the moment when the debate resumed after the protestor violence.

The mainstream media have behaved predictably – according to them Trump is to blame. Of course anyone with common sense knows that those who committed the violence carry the blame, but if we want to talk about indirect blame I think the majority of that rests on the mainstream media and also the politicians who have consistently refused to investigate election irregularities and have silenced and marginalised anyone who believes there may have been wrong-doing. Emotions are understandably high, and it is a tragedy that someone has lost their life, but let’s look at some facts:

Number 1. Tragic as it is that someone died, it hasn’t been established who is guilty. We should withhold judgement until the facts are known.

Number 2. Even then, Trump isn’t responsible for the individuals who chose to behave violently, nor are the millions of law abiding people who support Trump. In fact Trump urged people not to resort to violence. He should be praised for that.

Number 3. Only a very small number of people were involved in the violence. As far as I can tell from the reports I have seen the protests were largely peaceful.

Number 4. The violent behaviour of a small number of people has no bearing whatsoever on the facts to do with the election and whether or not there was election fraud.

It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that we have been watching much worse violence on the streets of American cities for a substantial part of 2020, with very little condemnation from the Democrats and mainstream media. While we should all condemn violence, it is the height of hypocrisy for the Democrats to exploit the unfortunate incident the way they did – although it is not at all surprising that they did so. Unfortunately whoever was responsible for the violence – and as far as I am concerned we should not rush to judgement on who was actually responsible – gave the Democrats a great gift.

I think it was shameful that these politicians should allow that incident to distract them from the task at hand, which should have been to rationally debate the objections. It is shameful that they should effectively deny millions of people their right to transparency because of the actions of a few irresponsible individuals. At the end of the day, Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Josh Hawley were among the very few Republicans who held their nerve and stuck to their principles.

It was even more shameful when Republicans failed to push back on the Democrat narrative that Trump was to blame. That said, I find it difficult to believe anyone could be fooled by such transparent narrative – for example the way they tried to make it seem as if Trump is the only person who thinks there was a serious problem with the election, and the way they tried to paint the picture that people only believe there was a problem because of what Trump has said. This is immensely insulting to millions of intelligent Americans – and millions of Americans are justified in feeling angry and betrayed.

Most frustrating of all was the lack of any substance in the Democrat arguments. They simply repeated claims that no election fraud occurred, or quoted people claiming that no election fraud took place. That’s like me telling you no-one burgled your house because the burgler assured me that he didn’t. Of course this was never going to be the forum to properly investigate the claims of election fraud. What that body should have done is recognised there there have been serious questions raised about the election which have not been given a fair hearing prior to that point – and that the American people have a right to have those questions adequately addressed – instead of being rail-roaded by the Democratic leadership and mainstream media.

Finally, there was the nauseating Democrat rhetoric that Americans should all come together and that everything will be ok, that all Republican voters need do is accept “the truth” – and then the healing can begin. I cannot help but feel this story is not over.

[1] Joint Session of Congress RESUMES Electoral College Count After Capitol Lockdown https://youtu.be/b7coLmNP41o

Ivermectin and Covid-19: debunking the debunkers

One of the biggest mysteries of 2020 for me is why there seem to be a minority of people such as myself who disagree with many of the prevailing beliefs about Covid-19. I find myself frequently at odds with the beliefs of my friends and family. To them it sounds like I have fallen victim to some fake alternative news source – it sometimes sounds like that to me when I hear myself speak. Because of my background in philosophy and the theory of logic and reasoning, I am extremely intrigued by what is happening to public information and public discussion on topics like Covid-19 – and I think a major factor is the behaviour of the mainstream media.

To try to understand this I want to look at one specific example to do with Ivermectin – which according to a number of highly respected medical experts is showing great promise as a treatment for Covid-19 (see [1] and [2] at end of article), yet most people (regardless of where you are in the world) simply aren’t hearing about Ivermectin, or if they do they are being told it is fake news and dangerous misinformation – and the focus of the mainstream media is on “debunking” this “misinformation”.

Analysis of a flawed “fact-check” article

Currently in the New Zealand Herald web site the most recent article on Covid and Ivermectin is titled “Fake news corrected: AP fact check looks at what didn’t happen this week” (Dec 12th) which begins “A look at false and misleading claims…” and contains a short section “No evidence ivermectin is a miracle drug against Covid-19” contributed by New York writer Beatrice Dupuy [3]. After looking closely at this article my conclusion is that it is biased, vague, and full of flawed reasoning – with the apparent intention of discrediting Ivermectin and silencing conversation.

The article begins as follows:

CLAIM: The antiparasitic drug ivermectin “has a miraculous effectiveness that obliterates” the transmission of Covid-19 and will prevent people from getting sick.

THE FACTS: …”

Although no source is cited for this claim, I think it is close enough to what advocates for Ivermectin are saying so I won’t take issue with this. However the overall structure here is clearly designed from the outset to convince us that the claim is false. People don’t say “The facts:” when they are about to provide evidence which supports the claim. The writer has set out the structure of the article as if we can all agree that the claim is false, and the only task now left for the reader is to learn why the claim is false. This reminds me of a TV programme I once watched about aliens on the moon. It showed a photo of something on the surface which looked vaguely like a gun turret and then the narrator said something like “The question is, why would aliens place a gun turret on the moon?”. Obviously the question that should really be asked is “Is it a gun turret?” – but the trick here is to skip over that question and assume we all agree it is a gun turret. This is so obviously a cheap psychological trick. The writer of this article is doing the same.

The writer then begins her laying out of the “the facts” by saying that at a recent Senate hearing a group of doctors “touted” alternative Covid-19 treatments – the use of the word “touted” here is obviously designed to discredit. See link [2] at the end of this article for an excerpt from the hearing concerned.

Next the writer makes the following claim:

“Medical experts have cautioned against using either of those drugs to treat Covid-19.”

I don’t doubt that at some point in time some medical expert expressed this view. But no source is provided and the claim is extremely vague. Who exactly said this? When did they say this? What exactly did they say? Would they still say the same today? There isn’t really any reason to grant this claim much credence at all – but again it is designed to persuade us. The next claim the writer makes is this:

“Studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine has no benefit against the coronavirus and can have serious side effects.”

First of all – this article is supposed to be about Ivermectin, so what has hydroxychloroquine got to do with it? The answer is nothing – since Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are different drugs and no-one has suggested they be used together. In fact this little slip-up by the author betrays her bias – or demonstrates faulty reasoning – take your pick. Even if this claim was relevant to Ivermectin, no source is provided and the claim is very vague. What studies were these? What exactly did they show? Are there other studies that gave a different result? (actually yes there are and I talk about some of these here and here). Like the previous claim – this claim is purely designed to discredit. The writer then says this:

“There is no evidence ivermectin has been proven a safe or effective treatment against Covid-19.”

Again no source is referenced. In argument theory this type of sentence is what is called a negative existential claim and I have written here about the danger of making such claims. For this claim to be true the writer or someone else would have had to conduct an exhaustive search of every possible thing that would constitute evidence – and even if they found none they could still not be sure none existed. The problem is that all that is needed to prove such a claim false is one counter-example, and in fact there do appear to be many counter-examples which the writer would have found had she looked (see [1] and [2] for some examples).

The writer then says “Yet Dr Pierre Kory, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Aurora St Luke’s Medical Centre in Milwaukee, described ivermectin as a “wonder drug” with immensely powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents at the hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee”. One significant word here is “Yet” – the writer is telling us that what Dr. Pierre Kory said must be false since it contradicts the “facts” the writer has just given us. Then the writer says:

“Clips of Kory’s comments on ivermectin during the hearing were shared widely on social media, one clip receiving more than 1 million views on YouTube”

This is interesting, but how is it relevant? Does it make Dr. Kory’s claims true? Does it make them false? Does popularity on YouTube make a claim false? The writer then says this:

“Ivermectin is approved in the US in tablet form to treat parasitic worms as well as a topical solution to treat external parasites. The drug is also available for animals.”

Interesting, and true as far as I am aware. The writer could have also mentioned that the discoverers of Ivermectin won a Nobel prize, that it has been in use for 40 years, is on the WHO’s list of essential medicines, and is used safely by 3.7 billion people world-wide [1]. The writer then says this:

“The US Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health have said the drug is not approved for the prevention or treatment of Covid-19. According to the FDA, side effects for the drug include skin rash, nausea and vomiting.”

Firstly, let’s deal with the second sentence. What the FDA actually say is that these are some of the side effects “which may be associated with ivermectin” [4]. Secondly, most medicines have side-effects and the existence of side-effects do not disqualify a medicine from approval. Finally, the risk of death seems to me to be quite a bit worse than skin rash, nausea and vomiting, even if those side effects always occur (which according to the FDA they don’t).

However the first sentence about the FDA is the core of the writer’s effort to discredit Ivermectin, but in fact is simply a statement of the current position of the FDA. Furthermore, what the FDA actually say is that Ivermectin’s “benefits and safety for these purposes have not been established” [4]. The real story here – which the writer seems uninterested in – is that the experts who testified at the senate hearing believe that the benefits and safety of Ivermectin have been established and they want the authorities such as NIH and FDA to urgently review the evidence that exists. Instead, the writer follows her misleading comments about the FDA with the following:

“Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, said most of the research around ivermectin at the moment is made up of anecdotes and studies that are not the gold standard in terms of how to use ivermectin. “We need to get much more data before we can say this is a definitive treatment,” he said. “We would like to see more data before I recommend it to my patients.””

The question here is this. Why should what Dr Amesh Adalja apparently says be given more credence than the experts who testified at the Senate Hearing? Furthermore, what Dr Adalja says doesn’t actually make the central claim false.

At this point, the writer decides it is time to provide details of studies:

“In June, Australian researchers published the findings of a study that found ivermectin inhibited the replication of Sars-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting, which is not the same as testing the drug on humans or animals.”

In terms of the actual evidence of efficacy and safety, there are numerous more recent and more compelling items of evidence which the writer could have given as examples. To be fair to the author – because of the influence of articles like hers – the evidence in favour of Ivermectin is more difficult to find than it should be, but it isn’t impossible to find if you are prepared to make the effort. Sky News Australia managed to do that when they reported on the findings of world-renowned Professor Thomas Borody back in August [6].

The remainder of the article is focused on apparent concerns that people would self-medicate and would deplete supplies of the medicine putting those who needed it for non-Covid conditions at risk. These are certainly topics worth consideration, but surely the overriding question here is whether Ivermectin is a treatment that could significantly reduce hospitalisation and save many lives.

What is wrong here?

What is wrong here? That is the sixty-four thousand dollar question – as they saying goes.

For one thing, the writer obviously has an agenda to discredit Ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19. I think it is clear from reading this article that Dupuy’s mind was made up before she wrote the first word. The question is why. I think the immediate cause is that Dupuy is immersed in a narrative that treatments like Ivermectin are fake news and misinformation, but I think the ultimate causes are many and complex and here I suggest some possibilities.

A secondary question is why the NZ Herald chose to publish this article dismissing Ivermectin, rather than an article about the research that has been done on Ivermectin. Here again I think the answer is that the staff at the NZ Herald are all immersed in the same narrative as Dupuy. Furthermore, somehow we have gotten to the point where there is a high price to be paid by either individuals or organisations for stepping outside of the mainstream narrative – and few are brave enough to do that.

One question we might ask is why more members of the public don’t see through articles like the one I have analysed here. For one thing, the article pulls out all the stops when it comes to devious tricks of persuasion, and I think most people can be forgiven for succumbing to those tactics because most people don’t expect journalists in well respected publications to be trying to mislead them. I’ve no doubt that Dupuy writes well and is intelligent, but unfortunately when such a person chooses to suspend their objectivity and critical thinking skills they may end up using their talents in support of a false narrative. The problem is made much worse because this kind of article is the only kind of article being seen by many people – including the members of the mainstream media themselves. If more objective articles existed, articles like this would not even make it to print.

We are told many people are dying or are at risk of dying, and that hospitals are at extreme risk of being overwhelmed – if these claims are true then authorities should be taking potential treatments seriously. If new vaccines have been developed with such speed, why isn’t the potential re-purposing of existing drugs like Ivermectin being given equal urgency? We should all be very concerned that the mainstream media seem to be discrediting and silencing discussion about potential treatments – treatments that could save countless lives and reduce the economic damage and other harms being done by lockdown measures.

Sources:

[1] December 4th. FLCCC News Conference on Dec. 4 – Power Point Presentation (covid19criticalcare.com) and FLCCC Alliance – Call-for-Action News Release/Press Conference Follow-Up (covid19criticalcare.com)

[2] December 8th. Pierre Kory, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at St. Luke’s Aurora Medical Center, delivers passionate testimony during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on “Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution, Part II.” https://youtu.be/Tq8SXOBy-4w

[3] December 12th, NZ Herald. Fake news corrected: AP fact check looks at what didn’t happen this week – NZ Herald

[4] FAQ: COVID-19 and Ivermectin Intended for Animals | FDA. The heading on this FDA page is misleading because the page is not just about Ivermectin in animals – it also discusses approved use of Ivermectin in humans.

[5] Ivermectin | COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines (nih.gov)

[6] August 9th. Sky News Australia. Professor Thomas Borody on effectiveness of Ivermectin treatment – he says “curative within 6-8 days”, but met with “very negative reaction” from Australian federal government. https://youtu.be/93jI7Gl3yic

Ivermectin treatment for COVID-19 might save thousands of lives yet mainstream media continue to ignore and discredit

I recently wrote about claims that Ivermectin shows great promise as a cure for COVID-19 and how we don’t seem to be hearing about it. I want to make sure I am being fair and accurate in my claims, so I decided to do dig a little deeper.

What some experts are telling us…

On December 4th a group of doctors called the FLCCC Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance issued a press announcement detailing the effectiveness of an Ivermectin-based prevention and early out-patient treatment with a call to action to authorities to pay it urgent attention [1]. They described the Ivermectin-based treatments as having “high activity” against Covid-19 and they are proposing them as the “potential solution to the unprecedented global surge of the COVID-19 pandemic”. They state that “over the last four decades, Ivermectin has been used safely by 3.7 billion people” and it is “inexpensive, off-patent, and widely available around the globe”. They point out that vaccines “are coming very soon, but not soon enough to save the tens of thousands who are projected to die before the widespread distribution of the vaccines can be completed”.

At a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on December 8th, Dr. Pierre Kory, who along with Dr. Paul Marik is one of the founding members of the FLCCC, made a passionate plea for authorities to urgently review Ivermectin treatments [2].

There has been interest in Ivermectin through much of the year, going back to April and March with some promising early results from Monash University in Australia. In June, Ivermectin was shown in laboratory testing to inhibit the replication of the Covid-19 virus. In August, the world-renowned Professor Thomas Borody claimed that Ivermectin is “amazingly effective” when combined with zinc and Doxycycline [3].

What the mainstream media are telling us…

Here is a quick survey of what the mainstream media are currently saying about Ivermectin.

In the New York Times web site, in a search for “Covid-19 Ivermectin” the top result is August 19th about Venezuela deploying security forces to crack down on coronavirus, and then after that “A Senate hearing promoted unproven drugs and dubious claims about the coronavirus” (December 8th).

The latest search result for “Ivermectin” on the CNN web site is “Inside Brazil’s cult of hydroxychloroquine” from July.

On the BBC web site, a search for “Covid-19 Ivermectin” or “Coronavirus Ivermectin” returned nothing. The top search result for “Ivermectin” is an article from July titled “Coronavirus: Fake cures in Latin America’s deadly outbreak”.

On the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp) web site the most recent article when you search “Covid-19 Ivermectin” is “What’s the latest on coronavirus treatments?” (November 2nd) which comprises an interview with a scientist who seems quite optimistic about Ivermectin but the interview ends with a very underwhelming “we will follow this up with interest” – that was nearly 2 months ago.

In the New Zealand Herald web site (since I live in New Zealand) there is no mention of Ivermectin in the top 10 results for “Covid” . Next I searched for “Covid-19 Ivermectin” and the top result was “Not real news: A look at what didn’t happen this week” (12th Dec) which included a section headed “No evidence ivermectin is a miracle drug against Covid-19” [6] – more on this later.

This is not an exhaustive survey, but here are some impressions it gave me. Mainstream media focus is on testing, travel and other restrictions, rising case numbers and deaths, and of course vaccines. Ivermectin seems to be encountering the same peculiar resistance as Hydroxychloroquine. Let’s dig deeper.

A closer look at some media criticism…

On December 8th, Washington-based “fact-check reporter” Linda Qiu wrote in the New York Times about the same Senate Hearing at which Dr. Pierre Kory had appeared, in which she said “For about two and a half hours, the participants continuously challenged public health consensus, sometimes advancing inaccurate and previously debunked claims” [5]. I will let you make up your own mind but it appears to me that Ms Qiu, who apparently has a degree in environmental studies and creative writing, was more interested in attacking the Republican Senator who organised the hearing than in learning from those experts who spoke, and there is no indication that she looked at the FLCCC press announcement or has any awareness of the work of Professor Thomas Borody.

On December 12th in the New Zealand herald, in the search results for “Covid” there was a discussion about pre-departure testing, a report on a crematorium in Germany overflowing, increasing restrictions in Sydney over New Year, a report warning that New Zealanders might be reluctant to get vaccinated, a story about how COVID-19 apparently has contributed to slowing US population growth, and a report on how New Zealand plans to step up testing from certain countries. The only mention of Ivermectin was in an article titled “Not real news: A look at what didn’t happen this week” (12th Dec) [6] which says “None of these [false and misleading claims] are legitimate, even though they were shared widely on social media”. The article appears to be a patchwork of contributions from different sources and includes a section “No evidence ivermectin is a miracle drug against Covid-19” in which New York based Associated Press writer Beatrice Dupuy wrote that “There is no evidence ivermectin has been proven a safe or effective treatment against Covid-19” [6]. The writer mentions the June laboratory study but doesn’t seem aware of the more recent evidence referenced by the FLCCC, Professor Thomas Borody, and others.

Today, the second to top search result on Bing for “Ivermectin and zinc” is an August article titled “Insufficient evidence to support ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment” [4]. The article briefly mentions the work of Professor Borody, yet a far greater proportion of the article is devoted to the opinions (plus photo) of Associate Professor Steven Tong who apparently said “At this stage I’m not aware of that data” and then after several more very general comments that suggested he hadn’t really looked at Professor Borody’s claims in detail, he apparently concluded that “there is currently insufficient evidence to show ivermectin can be used as therapy for COVID-19” – which in turn becomes the title of the article. I encourage you to read the article for yourself. One thing I would like to know is why the opinions of Associate Professor Steven Tong – who admitted he didn’t know the details of Professor Borody’s work – were given more weight then those of Professor Borody himself.

Why are the mainstream media ignoring or dismissing Ivermectin?

It is very difficult to understand what is going on here. In my previous article I suggested that there seemed to be an “anti-cure” mind-set, but it is difficult to take seriously the idea that someone would not want there to be a cure unless they are particularly evil or have a huge financial interest in not finding a cure – and I don’t think the writers that I have sampled fall into that category. I’m also not quite ready to buy into speculation about “globalist” political or big business interests pulling the mainstream media strings.

In recent years, the major mainstream media organisations and big tech companies have appointed themselves as “authoritative sources” and granted themselves the power to decide what should be considered an authoritative source. One theme that seems to run through the mainstream media articles is that they seem to view medical organisations such as the WHO, CDC, NIH, FDA, etc., as the ultimate and only sources of truth in relation to COVID-19. Consequently, doctors and researchers who make claims contrary to or not approved by those authorities seem to be automatically viewed as purveyors of false, misleading, and harmful information and thus not worthy of consideration except to “fact-check” and “de-bunk” or worse yet censor. This belief that certain authorities represent settled scientific consensus and the associated “we are following the science” mantra demonstrate a misunderstanding of how science works.

There is also a peculiar obsession with the need for trials which doesn’t seem in proportion with what the mainstream media are telling us about the rising death count from COVID-19. There is already evidence that Ivermectin treatments dramatically reduce hospitalisation and Ivermectin is widely used and safe – so if COVID-19 really is on the rise, and we are concerned about not overwhelming health systems (not to mention reducing deaths) then authorities should be assessing Ivermectin with extreme urgency.

However I think probably the major factor here is the political angle. The New York Times article I mentioned earlier begins not with a discussion of Ivermectin, but with a political attack on the Senator who organised the hearing – “Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, spent much of this year promoting investigations into Hunter Biden, trying fruitlessly to show corruption on the part of Joseph R. Biden Jr.” [5]. In my opinion it is quite appalling that a journalist in a position of influence would allow their personal political bias to overshadow important discussion about a virus which has done so much damage.

Also, you can almost guarantee that any article critical of Ivermectin will at some point mention Donald Trump and make claims that there is “a majority of evidence showing hydroxychloroquine is not an effective COVID-19 treatment” [6] – in spite of the fact that there is actually evidence to the contrary. In August, a team lead by Dr. Chadwick Prodromos did a review of the many hydroxychloroquine studies and they concluded that hydroxychloroquine was effective and safe once they eliminated studies which were either flawed or not relevant to the conditions under which the drug was claimed to be effective [7]. Mainstream media “fact-checkers” also conveniently overlook the fact that one of the studies which was particularly influential in discrediting hydroxychloroquine was later withdrawn amid suspicion of data fabrication [8]. There have also been accusations that some of trials of critical of hydroxychloroquine administered lethal doses of the drug and were intentionally designed to fail [9]. I could say a lot more about hydroxychloroquine but this article is supposed to be about Ivermectin.

One final factor worth mentioning is that some of the mainstream media articles seem concerned about the potential bad consequences of allowing people to know about potentially successful treatments such as Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin – for example the risk of self-medication or supplies of the drugs running out. These are certainly issues worthy of consideration, but they aren’t at all relevant to whether or not these treatments are safe and effective and they should not be used as excuses to suppress information. In fact suppressing information or putting out false or misleading information about these treatments – which is what these mainstream media sources are effectively doing – is likely to cause exactly those problems in addition to much worse ones.

I think there is a lot more analysis to be done here into the mind-set behind these mainstream media writers and “fact-checkers”. I think there is a political and ideological divide here and I think the mainstream media is largely on one side of that divide, which creates a “mainstream echo chamber”. It also calls into question what the media believe their primary role to be and what their role should be – especially when it comes to situations like this involving science and public policy. Whatever the reasons, the mainstream media seem to be acting as the gate-keepers for information about COVID-19 and view themselves as the sole arbiters of truth. Collectively they wield great power not just over what people find out about but over the attitudes and actions of people in charge of public policy and medical research and approval, and consequently their actions to ignore or discredit potential treatments may be causing thousands of avoidable deaths.

NOTE: While I have made every effort to reference credible sources, this is an opinion piece not medical advice. Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin treatments for COVID-19 include other drugs. Always seek advice from a medical professional.

[1] December 4th. FLCCC News Conference on Dec. 4 – Power Point Presentation (covid19criticalcare.com) and FLCCC Alliance – Call-for-Action News Release/Press Conference Follow-Up (covid19criticalcare.com)

[2] December 8th. Pierre Kory, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at St. Luke’s Aurora Medical Center, delivers passionate testimony during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on “Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution, Part II.” https://youtu.be/Tq8SXOBy-4w

[3] August 9th. Sky News Australia. Professor Thomas Borody on effectiveness of Ivermectin treatment – he says “curative within 6-8 days”, but met with “very negative reaction” from Australian federal government. https://youtu.be/93jI7Gl3yic

[4] August 15th. NewsGP – “Insufficient evidence to support ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment”
https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/insufficient-evidence-to-currently-support-ivermec

[5] December 8th, New York Times. A Senate hearing promoted unproven drugs and dubious claims about the coronavirus – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

[6] December 12th, NZ Herald. Fake news corrected: AP fact check looks at what didn’t happen this week – NZ Herald

[7] Prodromos et. al., “Hydroxychloroquine is Effective and Safe for the Treatment of COVID-19, and May be Universally Effective When Used Early Before Hospitalization” https://www.theforem.org/hydroxychloroquine-is-effective-safe-treatment.html

[8] Retraction—Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis – The Lancet

[9] WHO and UK trials use potentially lethal hydroxychloroquine dose-according to WHO consultant – The Palmer Foundation

Have mainstream media and big tech turned ordinary people into election criminals?

I recently argued that we should not be surprised if there was cheating in the U.S. election largely because anti-Trump bias and censorship in the mainstream media and big tech social media may have convinced a lot of people that not only is it not wrong to break or bend the law to oust Donald Trump from office – but that it is their duty to do so. I don’t doubt that some claims of election wrong-doing are mistaken (we shouldn’t be surprised about this either) but there do seem to be many aspects of the election which demand a proper investigation. It is naïve to assume that all election officials and election workers are immune to partisanship – and when political polarisation reaches the level it has it is easy to see how the electoral system itself might break down. The relentless mainstream narrative that there is “no evidence” of wrong-doing and the resistance of officials to forensic investigations strengthens rather than weakens this impression.

My suspicion is that there was wrong-doing on many fronts and at many levels – some organised and some more unplanned and organic. If I wanted to influence the outcome of an election in one direction that is the kind of multi-pronged strategy I would employ to maximise my chance of success. Petty wrong-doing – which probably happens in every election – may or may not be sufficient to swing a result, but even if it doesn’t, it could serve as a good smoke-screen for larger, more well planned and better hidden actions. Furthermore there has been good opportunity to cover the tracks and destroy evidence of the big stuff. As an IT expert I know that someone with remote access to voting systems could have done all kinds of things to those systems in the hours and days after election night – and carefully covered their tracks well before any forensic examination can begin – if it ever does. That said – if you seed the ground well enough beforehand then maybe you don’t even need large planned actions and that strategy has the benefit of being even more difficult to detect – much less prove. Of course there will also be a good number of honest people who respect the process and didn’t do anything wrong – also a useful part of a smoke-screen for those with wrong-doing in mind.

I don’t know whether we will ever know the whole truth, however I do think one fact is undeniable – that for a significant proportion of the American population their dislike for Donald Trump is at an extreme level and I think that is a serious problem because it makes it possible for ordinary people to do things they otherwise wouldn’t do. Of course if we were talking about Hitler I would have a different view – I would support ordinary people who were brave enough to fight back. But that is exactly one of the problems – Donald Trump is not remotely like Hitler yet I suspect that many people have been convinced that he is. Of course anyone with even a basic knowledge of world history knows how ludicrous this idea is – but then again we know that knowledge of history fades over time and the term “Nazi” has been so freely deployed in recent years against anyone who disagrees with progressive orthodoxy, that it wouldn’t be a great leap for some to start associating Trump with Hitler. If a person believes that Trump may be like Hitler (or may be heading in that direction) and is surrounded by people with the same belief, then it would not be at all surprising to find that person prepared to break the law to get rid of him. In Star Wars the law-breaking rebels are the good guys.

Consider how extreme media narratives can motivate civil disobedience. The relentless narrative that black people are at risk from police, that Trump is racist and dictatorial and that anyone who holds contrary views on these and other topics is a “white supremacist”, mean that students arrive at university with these beliefs already baked into their world-view – and these preconceptions are rarely if ever challenged by a university administration and faculty which overwhelmingly embraces the same world-view. Those students and staff who don’t agree with the narrative (or have some degree of doubt) are understandably afraid to speak out for fear of repercussions – a fear that all too often has been proven justified. Students in humanities courses are taught about the role of civil disobedience as the last resort against injustice in a modern liberal society. For many students the unchallenged assumptions that the abovementioned injustices exist, together with a lack of understanding of the mechanisms which already exist to deal with injustices, leads to the conclusion that civil disobedience is not only justified but a demanded response to the world as they currently see it.

If the accusations of election wrong-doing are correct, many people have been misled into committing crimes – either large or small. That is extremely serious, and the people who have done these things aren’t career criminals – these are ordinary people, and whether they are casual workers or election officials or prominent politicians they have a lot to lose – so of course they are going to fight very hard not to get caught, and that will include covering tracks and destroying evidence. At the same time however, many of those people will have been convinced that they are doing their duty – in their minds they have moral right on their side even if they know what they did was illegal. I really don’t know how this is going to play out, but I do not think it is surprising that we have arrived at this point.

Ivermectin appears to be a miracle cure for COVID-19 – why haven’t we heard about it?

One of the many threads of the COVID-19 story which I believe we will one day look back on with horror, is the fact that during the course of 2020 we were told repeatedly by medical experts about a number of highly promising therapeutic drugs which dramatically reduced hospitalization and death from COVID-19 – yet somehow governments and their advisors, and the mainstream news media, seem to have ignored these potential treatments, or even it seems intentionally suppressed or discredited them. Here we are in December with talk of second and third waves, rising case numbers, a new strain of the virus, and several countries going into even more serious lockdowns – and still we see nothing from the mainstream media about these drugs which might actually cure you if you catch COVID-19.

The first was hydroxychloroquine, which is a commonly used drug that has been around for many years – which many doctors have found to dramatically reduce hospitalisation and mortality from COVID-19 if given early and in the right combination (typically with zinc and an antibiotic). The only problem was that US President Donald Trump enthusiastically and publicly praised the drug – and as a result the rabid anti-Trump media and political establishment set to work on a relentless campaign to denounce the drug and anyone who advocated for its use. In an unprecedented move, medical authorities in some jurisdictions discouraged or even prohibited doctors from using the drug. If you think the science was against hydroxychloroquine – read this.

At some time after the hydroxychloroquine debate, some news appeared about the effectiveness of Ivermectin – another well-proven drug which (when combined with doxycycline and zinc) was even more promising against COVID-19 than was hydroxychloroquine [4]. This is where the story becomes even more strange – if that were possible. Even though Donald Trump didn’t as far as I know promote Ivermectin – somehow the great COVID-19 political machine managed to effectively suppress or at least slow down discussion about Ivermectin. It almost seems as if the anti-hydroxychloroquine propaganda had quietly morphed into an anit-cure propaganda without anyone noticing. Bizarrely – given the non-stop barrage of news telling us how many people were dying from COVID-19, it seems as if the world wasn’t actually interested in a cure. I find this absolutely baffling – and horrifying. Back in August, the Australian National COVID-19 Taskforce Executive Director Julian Elliot scoffed at hydroxychloroquine as being a “trend on social media” to which Andrew Bolt of Sky News Australia said the following:

“You would think, that this death toll should make the Victorian government and its advisors desperate – desperate to investigate any potential treatments suggested by doctors better qualified than themselves – but you would think wrong.” [5]

Anyway – that was a few months back – and in the meantime several vaccines are in the early stages of roll out. Ivermectin came to my awareness again very recently because it was the subject of a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on or around December 8th 2020. Pierre Kory, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at St. Luke’s Aurora Medical Center and part of a team which has been researching Ivermectin for at least the past 3 months, delivered a passionate plea for people to pay attention to what he described as the solution to the COVID-19 crisis. He described how there was now “mountains of data” showing “the miraculous effectiveness of Ivermectin”. He said “If you take it, you will not get sick”. In an interview with Fox News later that day, Dr. Kory repeated that bombshell statement:

“If you are taking Ivermectin, you will not contract COVID-19” [2]

He went on to say that there are now numerous examples which show that where Ivermectin is used, case numbers and deaths plummet. Dr. Kory is severely troubled by the lack of action by the authorities into repurposing of drugs such as Ivermectin. The team is asking for the FDA to urgently review and validate the data and provide guidance. He says while there is a vaccine, this is still in the early stages and in the meantime lives will be lost while waiting for it – lives which could be saved by Ivermectin.

I was interested to look at the NZ Health Department and PHARMAC web sites today. Their information on hydroxychloroquine seems unchanged from what it was months ago. I found one comment mentioning a study that apparently showed little effectiveness – no mention at all of the studies which show the opposite – when the drug is used in the right way and at the right time. No mention of Ivermectin at all (which is particularly surprising since Ivermectin showed early promise back in April in a study from Monash University in neighbouring Australia).

However, what you can read on the NZ government health web site is information about alert levels, “wellness” advice, protective equipment, cleaning, social distancing, telehealth and online tools, translators, workforce “surge” initiatives, etc. – everything it seems but actual information about drugs that will actually cure people. No doubt all the topics covered there have a place – but what seems to have been completely drowned out here is actual hard medical science – and an ability to respond quickly to progress in the medical science. It also suggests a focus not on curing people, but on “managing” the whole situation. Possibly this impression does a disservice to doctors on the front-line – but I think the problem is that if doctors are using the latest promising therapies to good effect we certainly aren’t hearing about it from the media – they are only telling us about case numbers, deaths, social distancing, and lockdowns.

So why have we still not heard about these treatments – in particular Ivermectin? Why are some governments now furiously locking down once again? Why is there no discussion about Ivermectin – not to mention hydroxychloroquine? If authorities are really so concerned about not overwhelming the hospitals then why aren’t they paying attention to these early stage treatments – which will actually keep significant numbers of people out of hospital – not to mention save countless lives? I have never been a conspiracy theorist, but the longer this goes on the more and more it seems is if there is something much more sinister going on. Either that or we are witnessing a level of mindless conformity and/or political and administrative incompetence the likes of which the world has never before seen. See here for a more in depth look at what the mainstream media are saying about Ivermectin.

It is difficult to put into words the enormity of what seems to have been happened here – we aren’t just talking about corruption and mismanagement – we are talking about the possible avoidable deaths of untold thousands or tens of thousands of people. There could be a global conspiracy here, but I doubt it. My money is on this being more about human nature – a particularly troubling aspect of human nature. Many years ago there was research done to try to understand how ordinary people could commit the kinds of atrocities which occurred during the holocaust. I believe we might be witnessing the same kind of thing – a kind of herd conformity and loss of perspective.

I predict that at some point in the future it will come to light that people involved with the campaign to discredit hydroxychloroquine and other potential cures will have been responsible for untold numbers of unnecessary deaths – it could turn out to be the largest medical scandal of modern times – except for the fact that COVID-19 has provided a good number of other contenders for that honour.

NOTE: While I have made every effort to reference credible sources, this is an opinion piece not medical advice. Always seek advice from a medical professional.

[1] December 8th. Pierre Kory, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at St. Luke’s Aurora Medical Center, delivers passionate testimony during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on “Early Outpatient Treatment: An Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution, Part II.” https://youtu.be/Tq8SXOBy-4w

[2] PREVENTING COVID-19: Dr. Pierre Kory Pushes for Approval of Ivermectin Treatment For Covid-19 – Fox News. https://youtu.be/fSL7sqOudoE

[3] NZ Pharmac web site. https://pharmac.govt.nz/news-and-resources/covid19/covid-19-hydroxychloroquine/

[4] September 8th Sky News Australia. Melbourne GP says Ivermectin treatment is ‘very effective’. https://youtu.be/fBoElcSpkyk

[5] August 26th. Sky News Australia. Potential coronavirus treatments are being ‘patronisingly dismissed’ https://youtu.be/J-RK4YXtpnA

[6] August 9th. Sky News Australia. Professor Thomas Borody on effectiveness of Ivermectin treatment – he says “curative within 6-8 days”, but met with “very negative reaction” from Australian federal government. https://youtu.be/93jI7Gl3yic