We’re losing the war on misinformation and willful ignorance

We really are.

I’m going back to work today, after isolating due to covid-19. I got the new omicron variant (I presume), with symptoms so mild, I at first thought it was just a cold. And it looks like my prediction is on point… This variant is becoming the dominant covid variant. It’s taking over. That’s good. That’s great! The pandemic is going to fizzle out. Everyone who hasn’t had the disease will get it pretty soon now, and we will all have immunity to the basic virus, at least as far as getting seriously ill is concerned.

But there’s a flip side to this. I have an anti-vaxxer sitting right beside me at work. Nobody is mandating that he get vaccinated. Soon it won’t matter because we’ll all be immune anyway. I’m hearing about people winning their court cases for refusing vaccinations. Maybe it’s only hearsay? I fucking hope so but it really is starting to feel like we’ve lost the war on misinformation.

Welcome to the age of idiocracy.

Friendly reminder: We are ALL affected by the Dunning Kruger effect. (Vaccines work)

Briefly, in case you didn’t get it from the title, this is a post about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and our confidence in them. Most of us (correctly) trust these vaccines, but some people, having fallen victim to their own overconfidence in knowledge they do not possess (but think they do), do not trust the vaccines. I’d like to remind you how the Dunning Kruger effect works and affects us all.

I’m writing this while on leave for a week. I’m mostly playing Diablo 2 Resurrected, which was recently released with enhanced modern graphics. I did go for my second vaccine jab on Tuesday though, and like most people, I experienced zero side effects. (All I got was a slightly sore shoulder that’s already completely healed two days later.) I’m writing this because I’m amazed that people are choosing not to trust science. [Full disclosure – I was directly exposed to COVID-19 in December 2020 at a work function, where I stayed indoors for a while and assisted someone who had it but didn’t know. Unfortunately I only found out months later. So in theory I may have been infected already but was asymptomatic. I guess I’ll never know.]

Let’s start with the simple definition of the Dunning Kruger effect as per Wikipedia:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a hypothetical cognitive bias stating that people with low ability at a task overestimate their own ability, and that people with high ability at a task underestimate their own ability.

Notice that it refers to everybody. That’s important. We all have limits to our own area or areas of expertise. As a software developer, I know quite a bit about software development – bot not so much (zero) about vaccines. So why do I say you must trust them? Simple: I recognize my own lack of knowledge about this subject, and thus I defer to experts. The best I can do is go with the broadly held scientific consensus. As it happens, I do a little more than that, and read widely about certain subjects, including science based medicine. But it remains an interest of mine, not something I am an expert on. I would never give you medical advice other than to go to relevant experts, and in general, trust in science, including vaccines. It’s as simple as that.

You defer to the relevant experts when you don’t know something. You do not refer to a bunch of idiots on YouTube who parrot widely debunked anti-science nonsense. That’s not how it works.

The Dunning Kruger effect also notes that when we are experts on a subject, we doubt ourselves. Since we doubt ourselves, we double check with other experts to make sure we’re right. That’s what clever people do. Doubling down and telling everybody about a subject we know fuck all about, and should not be talking about, is not what clever people do. That’s what stupid people do. Anti-vax is a position borne of ignorance. Don’t be stupid. Trust science.

Recently I tried to get through to an anti-vaxxer on Facebook, I tried for several days, until he unfriended me for “spreading vaccine misinformation” and “facilitating genocide”. I kid you not. But before he unfriended me, he shared an interesting (OK, I lie. It’s not interesting) rambling and mostly incoherent video on YouTube, which revealed the gist of his position… a conspiracy theory where his opposition to vaccines is really because he opposes “blind trust in authority”.

Here’s the thing: Nobody says you must blindly trust authority. Nobody. Trust the science. Trust the broadly held scientific consensus. Trust the experts – the same ones that multiple governments are relying on in the middle of a pandemic. It’s the obvious, correct, sensible position.

OK, I’m sorry… I’m not doing this to shame him. I’m not going to embed his video, but since it is public, here’s a link to it. I think it shows quite clearly what I mean. It’s rambling and barely coherent. It’s like the poor dude is talking off the top of his had about something he knows nothing about. It’s sad, but don’t forget, people like him are not only a danger to themselves… It’s easy to dismiss them and suggest “Darwin” takes care of them. The real danger they pose is to slow down or stop herd immunity, and I don’t mean the term as used by science deniers a while back… I mean real herd immunity that comes when most of us are immune and the disease is eradicated. Herd immunity is necessary to protect those whose immune systems are so compromised, they really can’t take the vaccine for valid medical reasons. I work with one such person – a guy in his early twenties with a heart condition. He was recently off work for a while because of an enlarged valve in his heart and he is in genuine danger from anti-vaxxers. Him and many others for valid medical reasons. They are the ones whose lives are placed in danger by these overconfident YouTube buffoons.

Do you need to be dewormed? Are you a horse? Neigh? Then you probably don’t need ivermectin.

People are galloping to take this new miracle cure for COVID-19 and some of them are poisoning themselves in the process!
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Sigh. This is the second time I’m writing about ivermectin. Last time somebody commented claiming it does work. And yes, there have been studies indicating it might work against COVID-19, but there is no evidence supporting it working in humans. So maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t. But… my approach is to look at who says it works, and who is being skeptical.

At the moment, the same people who are pushing for it were once advocates for vitamin C and hydroxychloroquine. The people pushing against it believe in vaccines. I’m no expert, but it looks like this is another quack cure and that’s why I was sarcastic when I wrote about it last time.

When sources I read often, and trust, such as Dr David Gorski, use the word “quack” in relation to an unproven remedy, I tend to sway towards believing them. In science and medicine especially, relevant authorities matter.

But hey! It’s apple flavoured!

Seriously, folks… This is your life. There are times to fuck around, but when it comes to life and death, don’t be stupid. Don’t be hasty and take unproven medication because the people pushing it may very well backpedal later. “We made a mistake”, they might say (or more likely they won’t, but either way they won’t be held accountable) – meanwhile you could be dead.

And while it may be true that ivermectin hasn’t been tested in humans, that is a double-edged sword… I mean, it works on SARS-CoV-2 in a petri dish, and while I can’t find any articles about its toxity in humans, I did find one that lists the symptoms of its toxicity in dogs, and they don’t look good:

Ivermectin is a drug commonly and safely used in many dogs to treat a variety of parasitic infections. This drug is also commonly used in cattle and horses at much higher doses — which can be toxic to dogs, if they are exposed to the medication. Certain types of dogs, including but not limited to collies and Australian shepherds, are also far more susceptible to the toxic effects of the drug.

Toxicity signs include depression, disorientation, nonresponsiveness, blindness, drooling, tremors, and walking like he/she is “drunk.” More severe signs, especially in the susceptible breeds, include low heart rate, low breathing rate, coma and death.

And considering that the people who typically want to take this substance are trying to use it preventatively, that is they don’t have COVID-19, it seems like a terrible risk to me. Why take a substance that might cause blindness or death to treat a disease you don’t have, when you don’t know if a safe dosage is even possible or that a dosage high enough to be effective is safe at all, when there is a vaccine?

I hope I’ve made a strong case for not using it this time around…

Ivermectin does not treat COVID-19 in humans. Don’t believe the hype.

I see there is a high profile court case in my country to get this bullshit cure approved.

Here is a well written article about Ivermectin via the US government. Relevant bit:

Ivermectin has been shown to inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in cell cultures. However, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies suggest that achieving the plasma concentrations necessary for the antiviral efficacy detected in vitro would require administration of doses up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans.

Please see the article… Just the bit I quoted has 3 citations.

Translation from the bit I quoted… Just because something works in a laboratory doesn’t mean it will work when taken as a medicine. In this case, the dosage would have to be 100 times the safe dosage in humans for it to have antiviral efficacy. In other words, you can also “cure” someone of the virus by pouring petrol over them and setting them on fire, but it kind of isn’t much use to be virus free when you’re dead anyway.


Edit… I hadn’t actually read the article I first linked… So the locals fighting for the right to use this nonsense treatment are AfriForum, the same goons who fight against government with their false narrative about farm murders and “white genocide”.  Amazingly they have doctors on board. They’re wrong though. Remember folks… racists are always idiots, even the ones with degrees in medicine.

Ooh… I’m terrified of this random covidiot guy

So I happened to look at the Facebook messenger requests on my phone and came across this gem:

Screenshot_20201012-152609

Right. Because I’m a shill for big… ahem… reality. Or something. I don’t even remember when I did whatever it was that I did to piss this guy off. But a quick search on Facebook reveals he is a covidiot.

This turns up as the top result when I search for him:

Some people still confuse this for science.

PART TWO: THE DEVIOUS TRICK ~ J. Rappaport

“Now I’m going to go over the vital information again, but this time I’m going to show you how…

The vaccine companies can use the fatal flaw in their protocol design to…

Actually win approval of their COVID vaccine.

Stick with me. This is big.

Only 150 people are needed to make the major clinical trials of a COVID vaccine look like a success.

Out of 30,000 volunteers in a trial, researchers are waiting for 150 people to “come down with COVID-19.” MILD cases. They assume this will happen because they believe the coronavirus is everywhere, and it’ll infect their volunteers.

Of course, their definition of a mild case of COVID-19 is meaningless. Cough plus fever, and a positive PCR test. The test spits out false positives like a rigged slot machine, and the visible symptoms could result from flu, polluted air, or too many candy bars.

Nevertheless, the researchers are waiting for a total of 150 people to “catch a mild case of COVID.” When that number is reached, everything stops.

Now comes the big moment. How many of those 150 COVID cases occurred in the group that received the vaccine, and how many in the group that received the placebo shot of salt water?

Let’s say only 50 COVID cases occurred in the vaccine group, and 100 in the placebo group. The researchers pop champagne corks. They say, “Look, the vaccine is 50% effective at preventing COVID, and that’s all we need to win authorization from the FDA.”

BUT suppose 70 cases occurred in the vaccine group and 80 in the placebo group? No good. No good at all. No way to call the vaccine effective.

Now comes the “reshaping of the data.”

HERE WE GO.

The researchers say, “Wait. Thirty of the COVID cases in the vaccine group were REALLY just adverse reactions to the vaccine. They weren’t cases of COVID. You see, the vaccine can cause symptoms that are indistinguishable from mild COVID. Cough, fever, chills. ACTUALLY, there were only 40 cases of COVID in the vaccine group. Half as many as in the placebo group. The vaccine IS 50% effective. We don’t really need to wait until we have a total of 150 COVID cases. We’re good. We’re golden. We can get authorization from the FDA right now to shoot up everybody in America!”

Vaccine manufacturers HAVE KNOWN ALL ALONG that they could pull this trick.

Why leave things to chance?

Why risk a few hundred billion dollars of profit on a random distribution of mild COVID cases among the volunteers in their clinical trials?

There is yet a further devious twist. The New York Times article I just analyzed torpedoed the vaccine manufacturers for designing their trial protocols to prevent MILD cases of COVID. Why?

Because no one needs a vaccine that can do that. Mild cases are not a problem or a threat. They cure themselves quickly. No vaccine is necessary in the first place.

BUT the definition of a mild COVID case is EXACTLY what the vaccine manufacturers needed. It enabled them to hatch a plan, to make sure they didn’t fail.

They could pawn off a MILD case of COVID on a vaccine reaction. They could fake that without causing ripples. The FDA would say, “The vaccine reactions aren’t serious. All right, no problem. We’ll approve this vaccine for emergency use.”

However…If the manufacturers designed their clinical trial protocol to prevent serious cases of COVID, they would be waiting to see 150 cases of really sick people to occur. That might never happen.

If it did happen, and the manufacturers had to pull their devious switcheroo trick and blame the vaccine for some of these SERIOUS cases…

They would have to tell the FDA that their vaccine was causing life-threatening pneumonia; and the FDA, under a lot of scrutiny these days, would find it very difficult to overlook that.

FDA: “We can’t approve this vaccine. It could cause a few million cases of dire pneumonia…”

The vaccine companies didn’t make a titanic stupid mistake in their protocol design. In gearing the protocol to prevent MILD COVID cases, they did what they did on purpose. It allows them to “reshape their data” and win FDA approval for their vaccine.

These companies have no intention of failing, starting over, and spending a year recruiting 30,000 new volunteers. They want success and money now. They want to win the race.

And they could win, if the truth isn’t known and shared widely.”

I’m not really sure what he’s trying to say… some dastardly plot to force vaccines on everybody? God forbid we all become immune to the novel coronavirus. I don’t even remember when I interacted with him online – maybe I shared his nonsense to mock it? Who knows? If you go ahead and look at his profile, it is chockablock with mad conspiracy theories, not to mention his photos all feature that same totally-not-a-crazy-person crackerjack smile from ear to screwball ear.

Anyway, it was a nice breath of fresh air from all the hot girls who message me who totally aren’t really Nigerian scammers who forgot to clean out their photos and sometimes their original names.

Full disclosure: I have great fun mocking people who threaten me to my face, so don’t get too excited about threatening me online. The thing is, if you’re going to hit somebody (for example), you hit them. You don’t say, “I’m going to hit you”. If someone is going to hurt me I won’t know until I wake up with a concussion or don’t wake up at all… Anyone who threatens me with words… only has words. Words are cheap. I have some too and I’m willing to play keyboard warrior too for a few minutes, although it really is no comparison to laughing in some loon’s face.

And by the way, any (threat or hate) messages that get into my inbox unsolicited are considered worth sharing with the whole world. (Unless you’re a friend or even a stranger who asks for advice, unsolicited, regarding your addiction. I do get those too and I never share them with anybody. If you’re asking for help, your messages are 100% confidential and they stay between us.)


Readers… do you too get your inboxes blown up with loon balloons? Or is it just me?