In a July advisory, Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General of India, called for an “all-of-society effort” to counter “health misinformation” which poses an “urgent threat” to public health. Murthy today asked tech companies for data about “COVID-19” misinformation. This includes its source and propagation via search engines, social platforms, instant messaging, and ecommerce websites.
Although Murthy does not have the power to force companies to disclose such information, they are strongly motivated to do so since the Biden administration has the ability to make their lives difficult by filing lawsuits and writing regulations as well as supporting legislation. The campaign to eliminate “misinformation” has been endorsed by President Joe Biden, who even went so far to say that social media platforms are “killing people” for allowing anti-vaccine messages to spread. Murthy’s advisory defines “misinformation” as statements that are misleading even if they can be argued or verified to be true. It states that the fight against misinformation could include appropriate legal and regulatory actions.
In a country in which people are guaranteed a right to their opinions regardless of whether they’re outlandish or well-founded, all this is just a bit creepy. This is particularly chilling considering the flexible definition that the Administration has given to misinformation. It includes criticizing controversial pronouncements made by organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is known for misleading the public and having misrepresented scientific evidence over the years.
Murthy acknowledges that “definition” of “misinformation” can be a difficult task and every definition is subject to limitations.” One key question is whether it’s possible to establish an objective standard for determining whether something constitutes misinformation. Researchers argue that misinformation must be contrary to scientific consensus in order to qualify. Other researchers define misinformation as information contrary to the “best available evidence.” Both views recognize that the definition of misinformation may change with scientific consensus and new evidence. The Advisory favors the best available evidence’ standard because claims may be misleading or harmful, even if science has not yet been established.
Saying something contrary to the government’s “best evidence” is considered “misinformation.” This means that you spread “misinformation.” It poses such a serious threat that rational Americans must unite against it. How does this translate in reality?
Murthy’s office claims that misinformation caused confusion, leading people to reject COVID-19 vaccinations, use unproven treatment, or even refuse public health measures like masking and physical ditancing. The CDC recently reversed its recommendation to require children under 2 years old to use masks at day care and schools, regardless of COVID-19 trends, which has been criticized by many.
Keep in mind that misinformation is subject to change. You might have questioned the evidence and argued for general masking in the initial months of the pandemic. It is notIt was not misinformation because it was in line with the CDC position at that time. The advice was in line with that of Jerome Adams who, Murthy’s predecessor and surgeon general, had given. declaredThat masks do not prevent the disease are “not effective.” [the]COVID-19 is not recommended for the general public. However, the CDC started recommending general masking starting April 4, 2020. Anything similar became misinformation.
That September, then–CDC Director Robert Redfield declared, surely based on the “best available evidence,” that face masks were “the most important, powerful public health tool we have.” According to Redfield, masks proved more efficient than vaccines in protecting against COVID-19. Murthy stated that you could be aggravating an urgent threat to the public’s health if you doubt Redfield.
Rochelle Walensky was Redfield’s replacement and she said that wearing a face mask helped reduce stress levels.[es]Your chance of getting infected by HIV is more than 80 percent.” Walensky maintained that “the evidence is strong” despite the fact that the CDC could not support this alarming claim. If you believed otherwise, and you said it, then you are part of the problem Murthy wants to solve.
Last August, in a move that was consistent with Murthy’s demands, YouTube suspended Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) By spreading COVID-19 misinformation and saying that most masks you can buy over the counter have no value, Rand Paul (R. Ky.) was expelled from YouTube. Paul stated that N95 respirators can be effective in reducing virus transmission. However, common cloth masks do not. Five months later the CDC largely agreed to Paul’s assertion that properly fitted respirators provided the best protection, while loosely woven cloth products offer less protection. Murthy believes that the CDC has made misinformation scientifically sound advice by granting its blessing.
The CDC claimed last month that a study showed that cloth masks “lower the chances of being positive for HIV” by 56 per cent. In a brief footnote, the agency admitted that this result wasn’t statistically significant. There was no association between infection risk and N95 use reported by surgeons. These wereAlthough statistically significant, the CDC’s causal conclusions were seriously questioned by serious methodological errors. Those flaws were a red flag that you were not agreeing with the CDC. Murthy considered you a public enemy.
Walensky maintained for more than one year that school mask mandates were scientifically sound, despite critics constantly pointing out limitations in the studies she was citing. Privately, she conceded that the studies “all have limitations…because we are not randomizing schools.” And, in other words: it was impossible to come to a firm conclusion about whether school mask mandates are effective because they failed to adjust for potential confounding factors such as vaccination rates and COVID-19 safeguards. Murthy says that although the CDC public stance is based on “best evidence available,” it was misleading.
Likewise, the argument that “universal masking” in K–12 schools was difficult to justify in light of the tiny risks that children face from COVID-19. However, the CDC did not recommend that same policy until last week. The skepticism which might have caused warning labels, blocking or suspension of social media platforms following Murthy’s lead suddenly changed to “scientific consensus”.
The CDC correctly refutes the patently ridiculous claims that microchips, sterility and genetic modification are harmful to vaccines. It also identifies the myth that COVID-19 vaccines give more immunity than natural immunity. According to the CDC, this belief is incorrect because “Getting a COVID-19 shot is a better and more secure way to develop immunity to COVID-19” than getting COVID-19.
Although this is an acceptable position, we should still debate how natural immunity protects against the benefits of vaccination. A January 28th report by the CDC states that this is according to the CDC. Morbidity and Mortality reportFor example, in New York and California, vaccination didn’t reduce the possibility of the virus spreading to the rest of the population.
This information is relevant for questions such as whether COVID-19-recovery patients should be exempted or treated in the same way as those who are vaccinated. Murthy, however, would probably view any discussion on natural immunity’s superiority over vaccination as “misleading” and thus unhelpful. Keep in mind that even though science has not yet been established, “claims” can still be harmful and misleading.
Although lockdowns have been lifted, Murthy may still be concerned by the discussion about them. However, stay-at home orders and mass closures of businesses were aimed at enforcing social distancing. Murthy believes that questioning the necessity of this protection is misinformation. It is possible to be found guilty of ignoring the “scientific consensus”, which was based on “best evidence at the time,” if you were skeptical about these edicts.
Fundamentally, the notion that any dissenting from official positions on public health matters should be considered an “urgent menace” and must be dealt with by a whole-of-society crusade including legal and regulatory measures is illiberal. It also violates freedom of expression. Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary describes “asks” for the suppression of misinformation. This is absurd considering the extent of executive power over companies it seeks “cooperation”. Still, proxy censorship can be used to impose censorship.