I got “fact checked” yesterday by a nurse who claimed to have read my latest Panda article about human ecosystems. She didn’t have anything to say about the information in the article, but informed me that she utterly disapproved of me “using your qualifications to work with Panda”. This came as a surprise because my work with Panda exactly matches the skill set of my public health qualifications and experience. I didn’t ask her for detail as she’d already sent a number of “fact check” articles blackening characters of public health experts I’d recommended she listen to. Further character assassinations were hardly going to contribute to any sense of intelligent debate and we both bowed out. Not before her disgust in me was well noted.
“Fact checkers” are a new phenomenon in social media which appear to have grown in number since the so-called Trusted News Initiative was announced in December 2020 “to combat spread of harmful vaccine disinformation“. This seems to be a direct pharmaceutical industry funded initiative being used to threaten dissenting voices.
The identity of fact checkers is usually anonymous, and their salaries are paid directly by tech giants such as Twitter. They are free to censor anyone at all should that person be deemed as spreading an “anti-vax” message. They often focus on character assassinations over discussion of evidence. Professor Martin Kulldorff, for example, has been blackened and smeared for daring to speak on the topic in which he is a world-renowned expert, and is often “fact checked” by anonymous social media employees.
As a vaccine provider for 20+ years I have worked with my share of so-called “anti-vax” parents and they always had concerns relating to information they had obtained independently. Despite disagreeing with them, I never had any problem as a member of a free and democratic society in respecting their views, recognising them as concerned and caring parents, and working with them following a “partnership approach”, as I was trained to do. They had almost always already considered the information I had to share with them promoting the benefits of vaccines.
The phrase “anti vax” is an over simplified description of the reality which is shown in this diagram.
Most “anti vaxers” in my experience are well informed, educated people who have analysed their own sources of information. They are rarely “hippies” and often educated professionals. The most recent two mothers I worked with in this regard were a primary school teacher and a Doctor of Anthropology. In keeping with my observations a recent study found that the most educated people were most sceptical about the Covid19 vaccine and least likely to change their mind, as noted by Dr Christina Parks, a PhD of Cellular and Molecular Biology in her testimony on 19 August against vaccine mandates. Anyone under the false impression that the Covid-19 vaccinations will provide population immunity should listen to Dr Parks. The clinical trials expressly state that the vaccines attenuate symptoms. This has nothing to do with building population immunity, which is not an endpoint in the vaccine trials.
The discipline of Epidemiology is steeped in questioning, exploring and challenging ideas and theories. The founding father of Epidemiology, which forms the basis of Public Health, was Dr John Snow. In 1854 as London was experiencing a Cholera outbreak, Dr Snow challenged the prevailing thought of the time, that the outbreak was caused by “miasma” or “bad air”. To relieve the miasma, authorities were releasing sewers into the Thames River which was where water supplies came from. Snow’s investigations identified the cause of the Cholera outbreak as a polluted water source and he halted the outbreak, saving many lives. He faced strong opposition but was never censored. Today however, Epidemiologists are conspiracists who must be censored. This, as with the practice of promoting fear, is the antithesis of public health.
Higher education levels don’t guarantee someone is always going to be right, but they do often mean the person has learned how to source and analyse independent information. In the new era of “single source of truth” and “fact checking disinformation“, independent thought seems to be actively discouraged and even despised. The scientific process of questioning, exploring alternative evidence, considering alternative ideas and changing course based on available data is now dismissed as “conspiracist”. As Professor Kulldorff has said, we are at very real risk of the age of enlightenment coming to an end. This threatens all of us.