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News Opinion

The expert bias toward Covid catastrophe has been exposed – The Telegraph

The World Health Organization amplified false Chinese statements about COVID-19 initially, while it dragging its feet on declaring an international emergency. Pandemic experts here clung to flu epidemic plans too, ignoring observable COVID-19 successes in East Asia and so ruling out any similar possibility of test-and-trace containment in the UK from the off.

Most public health experts then pivoted to being extremely pro-lockdown, but stuck rigidly to this even as the context, and so the costs and benefits of restrictions, changed with the vaccines and omicron.

Epidemiologists proved especially stubborn. Their modelling usually ignored the role of voluntary behavioural change entirely, so erred on the side of assuming catastrophic public health outcomes absent government mandates and restrictions. Hence, Freedom Day was dubbed “criminal” by scientists, while the government’s scientific advisers called for more restrictions last Christmas. Both proved wrong in retrospect.  

http://archive.today/2022.02.15-191444/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/02/15/expert-bias-toward-covid-catastrophe-has-exposed/

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News

Lockdown debate skewed because sceptical scientists were shunned on social media – The Telegraph

Anti-lockdown scientists were viewed as having ‘fringe’ ideas because those calling for draconian restrictions had more followers on social media, a study has shown.

Professor John Ioannidis, of Stanford University, an expert in data science and the reliability of research, studied the expertise of authors who signed the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) compared with signatories of the John Snow Memorandum.

…In an article published in BMJ Open Research, he found that both letters were authored by very influential experts, but that the John Snow Memorandum authors had a far greater reach on social media, which made it appear that their view had more support.

…Prof Ioannidis concluded: “Both the Great Barrington Declaration and John Snow Memorandum include many stellar scientists, but JSM has far more powerful social media presence and this may have shaped the impression that it is the dominant narrative.

http://archive.today/2022.02.16-020747/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/02/15/lockdown-debate-skewed-sceptical-scientists-shunned-social-media/

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Publications

Citation impact and social media visibility of Great Barrington and John Snow signatories for COVID-19 strategy – BMJ

Results Among the 47 key GBD signatories, 20, 19 and 21, respectively, were top-cited authors for career impact, recent single-year (2019) impact or either. For comparison, among the 34 key JSM signatories, 11, 14 and 15, respectively, were top cited. Key signatories represented 30 different scientific fields (9 represented in both documents, 17 only in GBD and 4 only in JSM). In a random sample of n=30 scientists among the longer lists of signatories, five in GBD and three in JSM were top cited. By April 2021, only 19/47 key GBD signatories had personal Twitter accounts versus 34/34 of key JSM signatories; 3 key GBD signatories versus 10 key JSM signatories had >50 000 Twitter followers and extraordinary Kardashian K-indices (363–2569). By November 2021, four key GBD signatories versus 13 key JSM signatories had >50 000 Twitter followers.

Conclusions Both GBD and JSM include many stellar scientists, but JSM has far more powerful social media presence and this may have shaped the impression that it is the dominant narrative.

http://archive.today/2022.02.16-000944/https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/12/2/e052891

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Videos

How To Spot Covid-19 Misinformation – Dr. Sam Bailey

Dr. Sam Bailey seeks answers from the authorities about what defines Covid Misinformation.

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Opinion

Welcome to fully automated luxury gnosticism

And even as tech and media elites sing the praises of luxury Gnosticism for the rest of us, they’re reserving unconstrained, in-person human interaction as a privilege for themselves. Whether this emerging political order comes dressed as civil rights, TV entertainment or public health, we should see it for what it is: an assault on the humanity of all but the aristocracy.

http://archive.today/2021.09.23-201331/https://unherd.com/2021/09/welcome-to-fully-automated-luxury-gnosticism/

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Alternative Media

How a close-knit network of UK intel operatives helped sell every alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack – The Grey Zone

A tight-knight case of characters has sought to destabilize the Syrian government by convincing Syrians, Western citizens, foreign states, and international bodies that the CIA-backed Free Syrian Army is a legitimate, “moderate” alternative, while flooding news across the globe with opposition propaganda.

https://web.archive.org/web/20210804231132/https://thegrayzone.com/2021/08/04/network-uk-intel-operatives-syrian-chemical-weapons/

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News

Dynamic Security Threats and the British Army – General Sir Nicholas Carter, RUSI

Published 22 January 2018

We also, though, need to continue to improve our ability to fight on this new battlefield, and I think it’s important that we build on the excellent foundation we’ve created for Information Warfare through our 77 Brigade which is now giving us the capability to compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level. And as David Patrikarakos put it in his recently published book ‘War in 140 Characters’, in which he observes on the war in Ukraine:

“… I was caught up in two wars: one fought on the ground with tanks and artillery, and an information war fought largely, though not exclusively, through social media. And counter intuitively, it mattered more who won the war of words and narratives than who had the most potent weaponry.”

He also observed that: “social media is throwing up digital supermen: hyper-connected and hyper-empowered online individuals” and I’d like a few of those in 77 Brigade, please.

https://web.archive.org/web/20200101114031/https://rusi.org/event/dynamic-security-threats-and-british-army

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Publications

COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria – MDPI

In this article, we aim to develop a political economy of mass hysteria. Using the background of COVID-19, we study past mass hysteria. Negative information which is spread through mass media repetitively can affect public health negatively in the form of nocebo effects and mass hysteria. We argue that mass and digital media in connection with the state may have had adverse consequences during the COVID-19 crisis. The resulting collective hysteria may have contributed to policy errors by governments not in line with health recommendations. While mass hysteria can occur in societies with a minimal state, we show that there exist certain self-corrective mechanisms and limits to the harm inflicted, such as sacrosanct private property rights. However, mass hysteria can be exacerbated and self-reinforcing when the negative information comes from an authoritative source, when the media are politicized, and social networks make the negative information omnipresent. We conclude that the negative long-term effects of mass hysteria are exacerbated by the size of the state.

http://archive.today/2021.02.09-004023/https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/4/1376/htm

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Publications

The year Big Tech became the Ministry of Truth – Spiked

In this year of lockdown, it is not just our movements, social lives and work that have been restricted. Big Tech has also stepped up its efforts at closing down what we can say and read. Two issues in particular have been central to Silicon Valley’s escalating war on wrongthink: the Covid-19 pandemic and the US presidential elections.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/12/28/the-year-big-tech-became-the-ministry-of-truth/

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News

Social media’s struggle with self-censorship – The Economist

Within hours of the publication of a New York Post article on October 14th, Twitter users began receiving strange messages. If they tried to share the story—a dubious “exposé” of emails supposedly from the laptop of Hunter Biden, son of the Democratic presidential nominee—they were told that their tweet could not be sent, as the link had been identified as harmful. Many Facebook users were not seeing the story at all: the social network had demoted it in the news feed of its 2.7bn users while its fact-checkers reviewed it.

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2020/10/22/social-medias-struggle-with-self-censorship

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News

Twitter executive for Middle East is British Army ‘psyops’ soldier – Middle East Eye

The senior Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time officer in the British Army’s psychological warfare unit, Middle East Eye has established.

Gordon MacMillan, who joined the social media company’s UK office six years ago, has for several years also served with the 77th Brigade, a unit formed in 2015 to develop “non-lethal” ways of waging war.

The 77th Brigade uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as podcasts, data analysis and audience research to conduct what the head of the UK military, General Nick Carter, describes as “information warfare”.

http://archive.today/2021.02.28-085538/https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/twitter-executive-also-part-time-officer-uk-army-psychological-warfare-unit

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News

Government paid reality TV stars to promote NHS Test and Trace – Sky News

Taxpayer money was used to pay social media influencers and reality TV stars to promote the NHS Test and Trace system, the government has admitted.

The Mirror cited a social media expert as saying the influencers would usually be paid between £5,000 and £10,000 for an ad post.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-government-paid-reality-tv-stars-to-promote-nhs-test-and-trace-12059587

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News

Behind China’s Twitter Campaign, a Murky Supporting Chorus – New York Times

Swarms of accounts are amplifying Beijing’s brash new messaging as the country tries to shape the global narrative about the coronavirus and much else.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/08/technology/china-twitter-disinformation.html