Friday Thoughts: Disagreement vs. Misinformation

I know I’m likely preaching to the choir here, but I wanted to take a few minutes and examine the issue of disagreement vs. misinformation. “Misinformation” is flying about a lot lately and in most cases it is mildly to egregiously misapplied. “Misinformation” is a word that conjures up images of propagandizing evil dictators. People think “Soviet propaganda” or similar when they hear that term. Characterizing statements as “misinformation” conveys to the listener that the statement is not only false, but deliberately misleading and therefore dangerous. Put your hands over your ears immediately before you become contaminated!

As I said, the term is frequently, often, okay, most of the time, misapplied. When discussed in a calm setting, almost everybody will agree that simple disagreement with a statement is not the same thing as misinformation. However, in the heat of a major argument, or within the pages of the New York Times, or out of the mouths of MSNBCNN anchors/pundits, disagreement with the prevailing narrative automatically brings about accusations of spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories.

The whole WuFlu nonsense brought this to the forefront of any and all political discussions taking place in the public square in this country. The Twitter files releases have more than demonstrated that Twitter, along with every other social media outlet, was actively suppressing disagreement, alternate arguments, and even mild discussion, under the guise of weeding out “misinformation.” That Twitter was actively working at the behest of the FBI and Democratic Party leadership, is simply one more disgusting piece of information to come out lately, but the subject for another post later.

Think back to the beginning of the WuFlu panic… remember when President Trump suggested in a press conference that the drug ivermectin could be used to treat WuFlu and he was shot down by Fauci and others and ridiculed by the press for daring to suggest that a “horse tranquilizer” could be used to treat a deadly flu in humans? Remember how the press started screaming about misinformation? Well, guess what? Trump was right. Ivermectin is (and has been for a long time) cleared for human use by the FDA. It does help with treating the WuFlu (helps a hella lot better than sticking someone on a ventilator and doing nothing until they die). That whole kerfuffle wasn’t Trump spreading misinformation, but rather Fauci, Birx, and the mainstream media doing so.

By running down the effectiveness of ivermectin, the mainstream media, Fauci, Twitter, Facebook, and others were deliberately suppressing accurate information, lying to the public, and misrepresenting the statements of others. They were spreading misinformation.

When several prominent epidemiologists raised questions about the official version of events surrounding WuFlu, the effectiveness of masks, and the effectiveness of vaccines, they were disagreeing with the official statements, and questioning the methods used (how science is done, remember) to test and verify the vaccine effectiveness and potential side-effects, not spreading misinformation or “not believing the science.” Disagreement, questions, alternate hypotheses, repetitive experiments with the same data are all at the heart of actual science. Never mind that “science” isn’t something that one believes in but rather a process which one follows. Belief is what you do for religions and science is a process, not a religion. And thus, science is never “settled.” Ever.

Disagreement with someone’s experiments is not misinformation. It is the scientific process at work. Misinformation is when the scientists refuse to allow anyone else access to their data, refuse to publish all methods utilized to test their hypotheses, and hurl invective at anyone who dares to question their results and the interpretation of those results.

And guess what else? Even if you’re not a medical specialist, or an epidemiologist, or whatever specialty is thrown at us as the latest object of worship, you are allowed to question results. You are allowed to question the statistics, the methods. And, yes, it is possible to figure out if something is off-kilter or not, even if you’re not an “expert.” The reactions of common sense and your gut are good instincts to pay attention to when hearing the proclamations of the experts. And anybody who tells you otherwise is likely doing their level best to gaslight you.

If somebody screams “that’s misinformation!” at you, ask them what their source is for that accusation. Go back yourself and look again. Ask questions, look for data, educate yourself on how to read statistical results. If you consider yourself to be an informed citizen, you will do so. Educate yourself on the difference between a good, logical argument, and an ad hominem attack, or deliberate misdirection. In this day and age, it is on you to verify information. Under no circumstances should you be leaving that job to the press or any self-proclaimed “experts.”

If your sole source of news is the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, or any other source, liberal or conservative, find a disagreeing source. The best way to discover if a statement is truly misinformation or simply a mislabeled disagreement is to see how BOTH sides address the issue. You have a responsibility to yourself to do so. Ain’t nobody else going to do it for you.

Be a skeptic. Especially these days when so many of our sources of information are questionable or downright unreliable and supremely biased.

But most of all… pay attention to the target of screams of “Misinformation! REEEEE!” because that target is likely accurate in its statements.

Nevertheless, you should verify it.

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4 Replies to “Friday Thoughts: Disagreement vs. Misinformation”

  1. “If you don’t like it, do it better.” might be fine for a few things (writing, maybe? Dunno.) but it bugs me about MANY things.

    I am NOT an automotive engineer.
    I am NOT a mechanical engineer.
    I am NOT a mechanic.
    I can neither design nor repair an automatic transmission.
    But I can dang sure tell when one isn’t working right!

    “That’s misinformation!” “Kiss me under my tail!”

    1. Totally agree. I may not know how to fix something, but I can find errors (we all do it everyday with phones, computers, etc.) and asked why something must be done a certain way. And I’m getting really, really tired of others telling me I’m “spreading misinformation.”

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