I’m responding to the Sept. 2 opinion piece by Jeff Pack, “Misinformation is ‘toxic.’” The letter presents the Orwellian idea that only certain information should be allowed. What constitutes misinformation depends upon who is making the decisions.
In Orwell’s book “1984” he predicted the idea of thought police. We see these thought police represented in the supposedly independent and unbiased “fact-checkers” on social media who have been caught thousands of times spinning data with a political bias.
The author is endorsing the same mindset where ideas he disagrees with are classified as misinformation, deemed toxic and removed from the public square. These are ideas put into practice by totalitarian regimes throughout history.
I do not want the author silenced. I’m perfectly capable of engaging his ideas in the public square and demonstrating that fallacious reasoning and incongruent worldview they represent.
He considers the medical doctors who promoted hydroxychloroquine to be “cranks” then misrepresents what they said and fouls it up with a bald assertion that “…scientific studies have overwhelmingly proved to be ineffective and dangerous…” Anyone willing to do their own research will know that it is not what the studies showed.
In the scientific method, a hypothesis is given, such as “Hydroxychloroquine is a good prophylactic against COVID-19 and helps with healing.” Then studies are done – typically double-blind studies – to test that hypothesis. It is very common in science to get conflicting results between studies. That conflict requires further testing to verify or falsify the hypothesis. Once a hypothesis is verified enough times, it becomes a theory.
In science, they are nowhere near the theory level when it comes to hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness as either a prophylactic or a cure for COVID-19, but the author has already decided that anyone who disagrees with his position is a crank and spreading misinformation. This move is the danger with his worldview. Whoever is in power gets to decide what is “misinformation” and shut it down.
The author also believes that people are “misinformed” who think being forced to wear masks which are easily demonstrated to be ineffective as a prophylactic for uninfected people, but are fairly effective in controlling the spread from infected people, but the science absolutely refutes his position.
In this article, he is spreading misinformation, while calling others misinformed. Who is to decide what is and is not misinformation? In a free society, all ideas are free to be aired. No idea is to be shut down as misinformation. It is only those who fear their ideas can’t compete in the public forum who endorse the idea that ideas they consider misinformation are toxic and need to be stopped.