deweller 14 days ago

It was deeply disturbing to me that throughout the COVID epidemic many highly credentialed doctors and researchers were getting de-platformed for anything that remotely questioned the government's position on anything related to COVID.

Science is about asking questions, testing hypotheses and independent research corroboration. There have to be checks and balances.

I expect the chilling effect from this experience will remain in the scientific community for a long time.

  • SamPatt 14 days ago

    The fear and groupthink was so strong at the time that even pointing out the existence of dissenting voices was enough to get you labeled as a selfish grandma killer conspiracy theorist.

    I'm glad in hindsight more people are willing to see the problems of groupthink in this period, but I do hope they look inward and hold themselves responsible too, and maybe next time not defer to authority and demonize others so willingly.

    • spookthesunset 14 days ago

      This sounds extreme to say and I know it is uncouth and might invoke Godwin’s law, but bear with me here…

      Based on the reactions I got from people I knew and respected, the last two years showed me exactly how shit like the holocaust went down. How ordinary people like you or me can be filled with so much fear and propaganda that they willingly sent their fellow humans to their demise with a smile on their face. We got incredibly lucky that things didn’t escalate to violence.

      I mean for Christ sake, we have phone numbers people could call to rat out their neighbors family birthday party. We had police kicking kids and arresting people for using a playground. All it would have taken was some “expert” or politician to give permission to harm those “selfish grandma killers” and it would have been a whole different thing. People I thought I knew and respected completely lost their damn minds. Many have yet to recover.

      What these “experts” did to society is beyond the pale. Humans may have fancy shiny tools and “science” but we are fundamentally the same superstitious creatures as those who came before us 10’s of thousands of years ago.

      • SamPatt 14 days ago

        Social ostracism and censorship is harm. Shutting down businesses and arresting business owners who refused to comply was harm. Wrecking supply chains and printing egregious amounts of money was harm.

        Yes, violence was largely avoided. But it was still an extremely harmful period of time.

        • bombcar 14 days ago

          People seem to think that Germany went from sunshine and flowers to turbo-Hitler overnight; there was a gradual descent and it very definitely went through many of those states.

          It should be a constant reminder to each of us that we are not special and we are not different - we could and very well may be whipped into a similar frenzy someday.

          • ryandrake 14 days ago

            I think this thread is looking back at 2020 with seriously tinted glasses. There we were dealing with a deadly highly-contagious airborne pandemic with cases and deaths growing exponentially, which would have been hard enough to deal with without politicization. But it became politicized and all efforts to stop it suddenly faced a massive, deliberate, sustained political attack. Downplaying, denial, misinformation, exaggeration, victim complexes, persecution complexes, every stop was pulled out, every tactic was tried. There wasn't even a goal, as far as I could tell--it was just contrariness for the sake of contrariness: "My political enemies are FOR sensible public health guidance, therefore I must be against it!"

            The scariest thing I learned during the last two years is how many people are willing to throw me, you, and everyone (including themselves!) under the bus in order to avoid even mild, temporary inconvenience, or to simply virtue-signal their contrariness to their clan.

            And the US treated these attackers with kid gloves. There were pretty much no enforcement of any of the things the complainers were complaining about: No consequences for ignoring stay-at-home mandates. Few localities actually enforced business closures. Masking was up to individual businesses to enforce, resulting in little compliance. Throughout the pandemic, I could drive 50 miles in any direction from my city and find people out and about, maskless, businesses open, no measures being taken at all. The only thing that was actually enforced were school closures, and that's only because schools are run by the government.

            Those two years ushered in this new era of consequence-free mass civil disobedience. And it wasn't even in service of anything--just performative contrariness.

            I guess intelligence agencies also learned the sad answer to the question "If there were a grave threat to society, is it possible to use PsyOps to get society to ignore or even prolong it?" But then again, I suppose our reaction to Climate Change has already answered that question.

            • spookthesunset 14 days ago

              > There we were dealing with a deadly highly-contagious airborne pandemic with cases and deaths growing exponentially, which would have been hard enough to deal with without politicization.

              Faulty modeling thought Covid was a super deadly highly contagious disease that would kill 4% of those who caught it. It only took a month or so before real world data proved that model to be wildly wrong. But did we celebrate Covid wasn’t as bad as we thought? Did we end the destructive mandates because hospitals weren’t flooded with people on respirators in the hallway?

              Nope. Instead our “experts” never mentioned the “strong flu”-like IFR and the very steep age stratification of Covid and doubled down on the stupidity.

              The models were wrong. Covid wasn’t nearly as horrific as what was predicated. But here we are 2.5 years later and a ton of people still believe Covid is the modern Black Plague. The experts, whose job it is to clearly convey the actual risks of Covid, failed absolutely miserably at their most important job.

              • alsetmusic 12 days ago

                > Did we end the destructive mandates because hospitals weren’t flooded with people on respirators in the hallway?

                I’ve said this here before, but my elderly father couldn’t get a bed at a hospital when he broke his hip because they were out of beds. Our medical system was under a massive strain. We’ll be paying the price for a long time because people got burned out, I expect.

              • qqqwerty 14 days ago

                > But here we are 2.5 years later and a ton of people still believe Covid is the modern Black Plague

                I live in the Bay Area which was the epicenter for "covid caution". I have not worn a mask in months. We have not had anything resembling a lock down in well over a year. The fact that you are being obtuse about the current state of affairs to support your partisan narrative is all I need to know about your motivations.

                • geoduck14 14 days ago

                  >The fact that you are being obtuse about the current state of affairs to support your partisan narrative is all I need to know about your motivations.

                  I'm traveling for work next week. My work requires me to have proof of vaccination and wear a mask anytime I am around others.

                  • qqqwerty 14 days ago

                    I will one up your anecdata with another anecdata. I was at a work retreat in the bay area about two months ago. Employees flew in from all across the country for the event. No one checked the vaccine cards and masks were optional. Single digit percentage of people were wearing them, including indoors. And my entire friend network is reporting similar experiences. These are all companies with "left leaning" work force, as one would expect in the bay area. So no, these are not outliers.

                    • Radim 14 days ago

                      > No one checked the vaccine cards

                      On topic of this particular subthread: This is how my country (I'm Czech) handled the Nazis and Soviets.

                      You rediscovered how people respond to a totalitarian regime that's beyond their powers to dislodge: they comply ostensibly, but the compliance is only a show "for the authorities", a circus, and everybody knows (except perhaps your "single digit percentage").

                      Reinhard Heydrich, the Reich's installed "protector" of Bohemia and Moravia, was so frustrated by this attitude he reportedly called Czech's "the smiling beasts", unable to break them. We eventually assassinated him.

                      Anyway, I just wanted to say your comment and its implications doesn't read as you probably intended it to read.

                      • geoduck14 13 days ago

                        Thanks for your story, but you should know: comparing Covid authorities to the Nazis could get you in trouble

                    • FartsDomino 13 days ago

                      Except people near you not doing covid theatre doesn't disprove the notion that some people treat covid as much worse than it is, while the continued masking requirements and other shit do disprove the notion that nobody is treating it as worse than it is.

                      You should also note that if restrictions remain in place when your area - the bay area - is free of them, that perhaps the bay area wasn't the place most caught up in the hysteria. If you are assuming the bay area is as bad as it got you need to recalibrate.

            • orangecat 14 days ago

              Yes, you are noble and altruistic and people who disagree with you are stupid and evil. Come on.

              Downplaying, denial, misinformation, exaggeration, victim complexes, persecution complexes, every stop was pulled out, every tactic was tried.

              Like when Ron DeSantis was called a murderer for opening Florida's beaches (when it was well established that outside activities were extremely safe), or when parents advocating for schools to open were called white supremacists (when the predictable result of closing schools was that poor and minority students suffered most)?

              The scariest thing I learned during the last two years is how many people are willing to throw me, you, and everyone (including themselves!) under the bus in order to avoid even mild, temporary inconvenience

              Meanwhile, I learned how many people are willing to have governments literally lock everyone in their homes because of their inability to do any sort of rational risk assessment or cost-benefit analysis.

            • SamPatt 13 days ago

              >all efforts to stop it faced an attack

              Lockdowns, and the labeling of society into "essential" and "non-essential", occurred nearly everywhere with no debate at all.

              The most basic freedoms guaranteed to us - the freedom of movement, association, free speech - were taken away from hundreds of millions of people who had literally no say in the matter.

              What world were you living in where these restrictions were only nominal? They literally roped off certain sections of businesses preventing people from buying non-essential products. It was everywhere.

            • Georgelemental 14 days ago

              > it became politicized

              "Politicized" is a funny word. When people talk about "democratizing" something, it is all "everyone's voices must be heard!" and "we all come together!" and sunshine and rainbows.

              But when ordinary citizens and their duly elected representatives try to use the political process to effect policy—supposedly the essence of "democracy," as I was taught in grade school… "How dare you politicize this issue! Stupid peasants, don't you know you are supposed to blindly follow every diktat of our unelected expert class! The nerve, to think government is supposed to be responsive to your desires"

              • SamPatt 13 days ago

                That's because the political arena is supposed to have limits. Those limits in America are clearly expressed in restrictions on the state's power, in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

                If ordinary citizens and their duly elected representatives are all clambering to remove those limits during times of turmoil, we absolutely have a right to decry politics crossing a line it was never meant to cross.

                • ryandrake 13 days ago

                  That's a good way of putting it, even though I disagree with your implication that implementing public health guidance was the political "line" was crossed.

                  My take is that in the (maybe distant) past, facts and observable events were beyond the line that politics should cross. If anyone could observe something was happening, then politics had no business stepping in and distorting that reality. We could all see that people were dying of COVID. It was indeed real, and an observable crisis. But politics stepped in and crossed the "reality distortion line" and it became a valid political opinion to deny reality and fight the messengers of that reality. In their view, reality was political, and we should just ignore COVID and act, and that would somehow produce a different reality where COVID didn't exist. A quote from the Bush administration, widely believed to be from Karl Rove, summarized this politicization of facts:

                      "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' [...] 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do'."
                  The movie "Don't Look Up" really nailed how we now seem to respond politically to factual, observable crises, and how non-political facts become "politicized."
                  • Georgelemental 13 days ago

                    > fight the messengers of that reality

                    The "public health experts" are not angels of God, infallible messengers of Reality itself come down from Heaven to deliver the Gospel Of The Science to an unworthy populace. They are fallible human beings, they made many mistakes and their priorities don't always align with everyone else's. The inalienable rights of man, as re-affirmed in the First Amendment, give everyone the right to worship whomever they wish however they wish; I am therefore free to deny Saint Anthony of Bethesda's divinity as loudly and publicly as I desire.

                    As for the movie, I haven't seen it, but I enjoyed this review of it:

                • Georgelemental 13 days ago

                  Of course, democracy should never infringe on the inalienable rights of man, and any proper republic has mechanisms to limit the passions of the mob. I simply find it amusing that the same political movement that so often claims to want to "defend democracy" everywhere (voting rights for felons, making courts more "accountable" through court-packing, eliminating the Electoral College, etc) is also the one that does the most complaining about issues being "politicized" whenever the democratic process disagrees with the unprinicpled, unaccountable expert class consensus.

            • landemva 14 days ago

              > I learned during the last two years is how many people are willing to throw me ... under the bus in order to avoid even

              Cloth masks and social distancing did not seem to slow the spread. Some people who got fully vaxed and boosted got sick and are still getting sick. None of that stuff effectively protected people, and it caused harms. Those with at-risk medical conditions (maybe you) should take care of themselves by isolating to avoid those busses.

            • ekianjo 14 days ago

              > There we were dealing with a deadly highly-contagious airborne pandemic with cases and deaths growing exponentiall

              Since day 1 this thing was 99% killing older people or people with 3 or 4 comorbidities. Dont try to turn it into the black plague now.

          • SoftTalker 14 days ago

            Yes, some of these comments are talking like it's all in the rear-view mirror now. The consequences are still unfolding, and it's still a strong possiblility that they could lead to something very unpleasant.

          • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

            I try to keep that in mind when I read responses with which I personally degree.

            Behind every comment is an actual person with a valid opinion. I may not agree with it, but perspective is key.

            Some have said you learn the most listening to a critic/skeptic

            • sul_tasto 13 days ago

              When I was a boy in the 1980’s I used to hear the phrase, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I haven’t heard it said in decades. As such, I find your comment extremely uplifting.

            • bombcar 14 days ago

              Even if the opinion is highly invalid, wrong, maybe arguably dangerous; the key that there is a person behind it is quite important. It's very easy to forget online, where you often only encounter one aspect of the person in one area.

          • nradov 14 days ago

            We can see the exact same process repeating in Russia right now. This could lead to consequences far worse than the recent pandemic.

            • CrazyPyroLinux 14 days ago

              And the military was running pysops on that too:

              And then there was this plan from 2019: "Providing lethal aid to Ukraine would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability. But any increase in U.S. military arms and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated to increase the costs to Russia of sustaining its existing commitment without provoking a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, would have significant advantages." - Overextending and Unbalancing Russia*/https://www.rand...

            • bombcar 14 days ago

              The amount of rabid "let's go to nuclear war, it can't be that bad" immediately after the beginning was probably one of the scariest things I've personally witnessed.

              • HideousKojima 14 days ago

                A lot of it was also people calling for things while seemingly intentionally bot following them to their logical conclusions, i.e.:

                1) "We need a no fly zone over Ukraine

                and somehow not connecting the dots to that meaning

                2) NATO jets shooting down Russian jets

                which in turn leads to

                3) A hot war with between nuclear powers

                something that hasn't happened outside of a few border skirmishes between India and Pakistan

          • int_19h 14 days ago

            Weimar Germany went down pretty fast, actually. Hitler became Chancellor on January 30, 1933. Reichstag Fire Decree was issued on February 28. The first concentration camp - Dachau - was opened for business on March 22, specifically for political prisoners.

          • MichaelCollins 14 days ago

            'Gradual descents' can lead many directions, including into rebounds and revivals. Virtually all countries and political systems have suffered declines at times. Since periods of decline is a nearly universal experience, the leap from gradual decline to nazis is only moderately less tenuous than the leap from 'drinks water' to nazis.

        • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

          There's no question that any course of action (or courses of action) taken in response to a new airborne pandemic is going to involve harm. That's not the question.

          The question is: what public health policies will minimize harm according to some set of metrics, and what will those metrics be?

          The harms you describe are real. But you offer no way to quantify these harms against the harms that may have occured without the policies you are objecting to.

          • ekianjo 14 days ago

            Check what happened in other countries where such shit did not go down and you will have your answer. It was about the same.

            • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

              Which countries are you thinking of? The lockdowns, mask mandates etc. in the USA were fairly mild compared to most countries.

      • commandlinefan 14 days ago

        > showed me exactly how shit like the holocaust went down

        Gina Carano was fired from Star Wars for making that same comparison - not even denying COVID, just saying, "the holocaust happened because people turned against their neighbors".

        • raydev 14 days ago

          She was fired for comparing conservatives to the Jews in Hitler's Germany, which is, at best, absurd.

          • HideousKojima 14 days ago

            Much more absurd were the news outlets and blue checkmarks calling her comments "anti-Semitic."

          • annad2021 14 days ago

            Absurd it was; but firing for an absurd comment is, well, part of how people are conditioned to invite things like the holocaust to happen

            • lovich 14 days ago

              You're right everyone should be forced to continue to do business with people openly stating that they believe in a value system you disagree with. Any sort of action in response to someone's beliefs beyond a firm "tut tut" is directly on the path to events like the holocaust

              • FartsDomino 13 days ago

                Wait, are you trying to get fired now? Because that is an absurd escalation. It's almost like you know firing someone for saying something silly is wrong, and so you have to pretend it's a complete civilisational crisis to abstract away from that.

          • flipcoder 14 days ago

            You act like the other side doesn't compare everything to Hitler and the Nazis constantly though lol

        • iepathos 14 days ago

          She also mocked mask wearing among other unsavory political tweets. Being a public figure in a Disney production does require some restraint on your public commentary. Disney does not like negative publicity from their actors and actresses.

        • puffoflogic 14 days ago

          Thereby demonstrating, unfortunately, that everyone who said the education about the Holocaust could help make it never happen again was completely self-deluded. Apparently we can just keep repeating history anyways.

          • epicureanideal 14 days ago

            We only teach holocaust history at a very surface level. Not enough to prevent similar things happening again. Not even close.

            • MichaelCollins 14 days ago

              Yeah, America only has three of four years of mandatory Holocaust education right now, not nearly enough. We need 3 or 4 times as much at least. Why don't we have a mandatory Holocaust class every day of the week from 1st to 12th grade? We just don't take this issue seriously enough.

              A few hours of lecture about the Cambodian genocide should be sufficient though. We need to focus more on the Holocaust specifically; that's the important genocide and the rest can safely be treated as footnotes in history.


              • nights192 14 days ago

                I don't think that epicureanideal was asserting that the Holocaust and the Nazi party in general was overlooked--merely that its coverage is perfunctory, glancing at immediate cause and effect rather than the deeper patterns behind it. I, too, am leary of over-emphasizing German atrocities surrounding WII--heinous though they may have been, there is no paucity of savagery in world history; however, I feel as though your reply is, frankly, a very bad faith reading of what bombcar posted.

                He appears to be surmising that we're becoming very impulsive in quashing whatever thought appears to impede our immediate policy goals--not that it is the Holocaust in and of itself that is special. (He even goes through the effort of explicitly highlighting it as entirely feasible for a populace to fall to!)

                • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

                  > I don't think that epicureanideal was asserting that the Holocaust and the Nazi party in general was overlooked--merely that its coverage is perfunctory, glancing at immediate cause and effect rather than the deeper patterns behind it.

                  I have watched many films on the holocaust, and they were quite sad, and tragic.

                  However, I did not truly understand some of the why until I happened across the German Revolution of 1918–1919 [1] ; organizations, and elites, that played significant roles in the Revolution were the very same that were proscribed with the rise of the Nazis.


            • Georgelemental 14 days ago

              No, actually human nature is just a constant, no amount of education is going to improve it by the tiniest bit.

      • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

        Beyond the pale is if we started over with Covid XL right now, it would go almost the exact same way again.

        Everyone would take up the exact same position they had, there will be a little attrition either side. Rabble on the internet all day long.

        FEAR was made into a VIRTUE. The good people were afraid and did what they were supposed to do. The bad people vote wrong and we don’t listen to them anyhow. Same thing if we play it back.

        • LanceH 14 days ago

          There have been numerous statements along the lines of "we didn't crack down hard enough". Which would likely translate to more restrictions requiring less evidence. I'm sure the opposite side would aim for greater defiance.

          The problem with both is we're talking "sides" and not "what should we do based on what we know?" There were far too many politicians involved, and they were all more concerned with appearing to be doing something on our behalf than actually acting in our best interests.

          • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

            Don’t mistake that those are my opinions on how things should, just what was observed.

            Consider why fear was made into a virtue. You said it, “our best interests“, then look at the lens of Covid, and define that. Who got to say with that exactly was? Can you see any scenario where “Considering who the virus effects, doing nothing special is our best long term approach” would have come out of the government and media?

            • bombcar 14 days ago

              Depending on who said it and how it was said, it could certainly have happened. It's basically what we did with the bird flu years before, and somewhat with SARS.

              There may be an argument that if Covid was either more deadly or less deadly it would have had less of an effect.

          • nradov 14 days ago

            Disagreements between opposing sides regarding the appropriate pandemic response wouldn't have been resolved by focusing on what we know. Outside of a few fringe groups, most people agreed on what we knew. The disagreements stemmed more from differing values and priorities. And that's not even a problem which needs to be solved, it's just a reality of life in open societies.

            • landemva 14 days ago

              > Outside of a few fringe groups, most people agreed on what we knew.

              Mine Safety Health Administration advice was to stay home when sick and then business as usual. I was on mine sites when others were locked at home double-masked with fear. Nobody was masked on mine sites because it restricts visibility and is unsafe. Do you think MSHA is a fringe group?

              OSHA tried to mandate masks and shots. It was ridiculous to watch the disparity in responses and fear.

              MSHA sites are dangerous yet are safe. The OSHA approach was incorrect.

              • spookthesunset 14 days ago

                In my observations, the people who are most afraid of Covid and most likely to “take it serious” are those who are white collar and privileged enough to not have to do hard labor. People who do shit for a living that can get them mailed or killed wrote Covid off a long time ago.

                It takes an incredible amount of privilege to support the Covid mitigations. Consider that not a single person who enacted them missed a single paycheck because of the mandates. I imagine that holds true to most of the people cheering those mandates on or calling them “minor inconveniences”. A lot of privilege needs to be checked here.

                • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

                  Reminds me that “there are no starving people in Africa with gluten disorders”.

            • elenaferrantes 14 days ago

              "Outside of a few fringe groups, most people agreed on what we knew". It’s not my opinion, we "know" very little. We think we know because we read things on internet, we discuss with friends/etc but most of it is b.llsh.t as when we thought lobotomy and electrical shocks were sane and efficient treatments.

        • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

          What fatality rate would a pandemic have to have in order for you to agree to the kinds of public health measures that were taken for COVID-19? 10% ? 20% ? 60% ?

          What kinds of unknowns would justify, in your mind, those sorts of policies?

          • elenaferrantes 14 days ago

            You can start comparing with _serious_ threats like Rabies (100%), aids (90%), smallpox (95%), tetanus (50%) Bubonic plague (40–60%). Yes in _that_ case I think maybe drastic policies would be justified.

            • PaulDavisThe1st 13 days ago

              Thanks for actually answering the question.

              So what do you think your threshold is? If a new airborne transmitted disease with a 30% kill rate showed up, would centralized public health policies be OK?

              • FartsDomino 13 days ago

                What would you accept?

                • PaulDavisThe1st 13 days ago

                  I'm inclined to side with the 1-3% mortality rate that came with COVID-19.

          • ekianjo 14 days ago

            Fatality rate is the wrong point. Fatality rate among specific groups is what matters. In effect young people are at virtually no risk of covid, there is no reason to lock down kids for 2 years. Experts and authorities are running an ongoing farce.

            • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

              Also, here are the cumulative deaths by age group in the USA so far:


              Precisely which groups would be isolated from "young people", and which would not, and on what basis? Do you judge the 44k deaths in the 40-49 cohort (likely parents of older children, along with teachers of many children) to be acceptable? Do you believe that an increase in their death count due to leaving children unrestricted would also be acceptable? Just how would not locking down kids work?

            • lovich 14 days ago

              You're dodging their question. You don't have to agree with a number they picked at random, but is there any fatality rate where you would believe that the actions taken by the government in response to covid were justified?

            • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

              In that scenario, the alternative is locking up the at-risk population, which would once again require a trade off of costs vs. benefits.

              • spookthesunset 14 days ago

                How about letting the at risk people decide for themselves what to do? Not a lot of old people want to die alone isolated in a nursing home with no visitation…. Which is exactly what we did. Let we tried to saved grandma only to (literally) kill her from loneliness and isolation.

                Absolutely disgusting how many so-called “smart rational” people dismissed it… as if Covid was literally the only thing that mattered and anybody who pointed it out was nothing more than a Fox News watching selfish asshole.

                To this day people will defend letting people die alone in a hospital or nursing home with only some crappy video conference as a substitute for real human contact.

                It takes a special kind of monster to support the crap we did to the elderly. There are a worryingly large set of people I used to respect that turned out to be monsters.

                • SamPatt 13 days ago

                  While I agree it's horrific, I would urge you to reconsider whether or not people who supported such policies were monsters.

                  That's exactly the dehumanizing language that was used about people who were skeptical of lockdowns and other dissidents.

                  I think they were normal people who were overcome with fear and placed too much trust in authority. Weak-minded, perhaps, but that doesn't make them monsters.

                • PaulDavisThe1st 13 days ago

                  > How about letting the at risk people decide for themselves what to do?

                  So I ask again, what would the circumstances have to be for "letting the at risk people decide for themselves" to be an unacceptable policy? What fatality level, transmission mechanism or whatever would have to be present for you to accept that some sort of centralized public health policy was required?

                  • sul_tasto 12 days ago

                    I’m not sure there should be a threshold. If the threat is real, like ebola, people will naturally adjust their behavior. If policy makers have to artificially restrict individual rights, it indicates that policies are being implemented based on a single variable (covid lives saved), to the detriment of all other important considerations. This slippery slope should not be underestimated.

                    • PaulDavisThe1st 11 days ago

                      > If the threat is real, like ebola,

                      1M americans died of COVID-19. That's a real threat, too. So the difference with Ebola is not really to do with the "reality" of the threat, but the manner and rapidity of death, along with the fatality rate.

                      > If policy makers have to artificially restrict individual rights, it indicates that policies are being implemented based on a single variable

                      I do not see how you can draw this conclusion.

                • OrvalWintermute 13 days ago

                  > Not a lot of old people want to die alone isolated in a nursing home with no visitation…. Which is exactly what we did. Let we tried to saved grandma only to (literally) kill her from loneliness and isolation.

                  I agree with you, but we did worse actually.

                  Some states actually sequestered covid positive patients, and covid suspected cases at nursing homes with highly at risk populations.

                  We know who covid kills: People with advanced age and multiple comorbidities. The same type of folks you find at nursing homes.

                  Those governors that did that - in my mind they are guilty of murder.

                  For those of you that want to fact check this, I will save you the trouble.







      • rajup 14 days ago

        Superstition is exactly how I would describe some of these people driving around with masks on in their car with their windows rolled up... (and at this point pretty much anywhere really). I guess this is how superstitions start.

        • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

          I used to do that. I did it at a time when we did not understand how limited surface transmission was. I didn't want to remove my mask after the weekly shopping expedition because there was some possibility that viral contamination of the mask surface could be a vector. In addition, I wanted to avoid wiping my hands near my mouth or nose, and simply leaving my mask on until I got home and could wash my hands thoroughly seemed like a good way to ensure that.

          • elenaferrantes 14 days ago

            I believe that these type of disease are un-avoidable unless you live 24/24 in plastic suits. The trade-off is too high. I often see comments talking about mild inconvenience. Go tell that to people in china who are locked down and force tested, isolated, masked etc. To me it’s 1984-ish nightmare

            • PaulDavisThe1st 13 days ago

              Does it really have to be said again:

                 FLATTEN THE CURVE
              Nobody disputed that over time almost everyone would be exposed to COVID-19. The issue was how rapidly that happened, because if it happened too fast, public health systems would be overwhelmed, and then completely treatable injuries and conditions (under normal circumstances) would become potentially fatal.
      • pers0n 13 days ago

        In the beginning they had no idea how bad things would get. And keeping the hospitals from being overburdened was a big reason as well. Did they err on the side of safety, yes and thankfully it wasn't a worse virus. I have no doubt even if it had been deadlier people still would of done whatever.

        • FartsDomino 13 days ago

          I know right, can you imagine how many tigers I would have in my yard if not for all of my anti tiger rocks? I would probably be drowning in them. I just wish my neighbours had the humility to thank me for it.

      • tablespoon 14 days ago

        > Based on the reactions I got from people I knew and respected, the last two years showed me exactly how shit like the holocaust went down. How ordinary people like you or me can be filled with so much fear and propaganda that they willingly sent their fellow humans to their demise with a smile on their face. We got incredibly lucky that things didn’t escalate to violence....

        > All it would have taken was some “expert” or politician to give permission to harm those “selfish grandma killers” and it would have been a whole different thing.

        That's quite the leap, and frankly reads as self-affirming speculation (e.g. I was right, and the proof is in this fantasy).

    • musicale 14 days ago

      The Washington Post[1] did seem to engage in a a bit of introspection eventually:

      "The Post originally described Cotton’s remarks as “debunked” and a “conspiracy theory” in a February 2020 article. But last week, The Post rewrote the article’s headline, softening “conspiracy theory” to “fringe theory” and noting that scientists have “disputed” it rather than “debunked” it."

      [1]"The media called the ‘lab leak’ story a ‘conspiracy theory.’ Now it’s prompted corrections — and serious new reporting." Washington Post, 6/10/21

      • deltarholamda 14 days ago

        >The Washington Post[1] did seem to engage in a a bit of introspection eventually

        Unfortunately, this is a common tactic. Walking back a previous wrong assertion allows one to frame it as a virtue--"we corrected ourselves!"--in order to avoid talking about the original vice of being a copy-and-paste propaganda organ for the state.

        There seems to be a very tight integration between the government and the major media, and this is a real problem. It's not surprising, as a journalist that is a burr in the saddle of government power soon finds it difficult to talk to government entities. But it is a problem if there really is no journalistic independence. In recent years, journalists seem to be little more than Twitter researchers. Complete randos from the Internet, some of whom were clearly a little bit mad, got closer to the actual truth than the "trusted experts."

        • freediver 14 days ago

          One has to trust that the original intent was not malicious, otherwise the whole system falls apart. The leverage being used is tremendous.

          • Georgelemental 14 days ago

            The trust is not deserved, the original intent was malicious, and the whole system is a rotting corpse.

          • throwawaylinux 14 days ago

            One doesn't have to trust that at all. One would be a fool to. If this is what the system is than it should fall apart.

          • ekianjo 14 days ago

            Journalists without agenda barely exist anymore. You should assume malicious intent by default.

      • faeriechangling 14 days ago

        The issue was that the Post’s conclusions was an inevitable result of treating what public health authorities say as the truth and any heterodox voices as dangers to be silence. Introspection is meaningless if the post fundamentally doesn’t see anything wrong with that model and I think there is actually something to be said about treating mainstream medicine as authoritative truth.

      • SamPatt 14 days ago

        A very small bit.

        Readers aren't parsing sentences this closely and comparing to previous statements.

        Unless they come out with an editorial statement apologizing then they aren't really serious about their own involvement in censorship on behalf of those in power.

        • OrvalWintermute 13 days ago

          i think a retraction or minor edit after 99.9% of the readerbase has consumed the content, is too little, too late.

          Damage done.

      • Canada 14 days ago

        What do you mean by rewrote? Are you saying the Washingtgon Post published article calling a position a "fringe theory" which a previous, entirely different, article they published referred to as a "conspiracy theory"? Or are you saying they edited a single article, changing the text "conspiracy theory" to "fringe theory"?

        • musicale 14 days ago

          In case it wasn't clear, it is a quote from a Washington Post article, which in turn describes how this (previous) article was edited/corrected:

          • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

            > In an article published Thursday, economist Jeffrey Sachs called for an independent investigation of information held by U.S.-based institutions that could shed light on the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sachs and his co-author, Neil Harrison, a Columbia University professor of molecular pharmacology and therapeutics, said that federal agencies and universities possess evidence that has not been adequately reviewed, including virus databases, biological samples, viral sequences, email communications, and laboratory notebooks. Sachs and Harrison also highlighted a tantalizing scientific detail that may be an indication that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, originated in a laboratory: a sequence of eight amino acids on a critical part of the virus’s spike protein that is identical to an amino acid sequence found in cells that line human airways [1]

            If the Lancet Covid Commission is now claiming it is one of the foremost theories, then it is not fringe.


          • Canada 14 days ago

            Looks like they made the edit clear with a correction note, however they have left that undated.

      • ekianjo 14 days ago

        Corrections get much less visibility than original accusations.

      • jxramos 14 days ago

        that's a solid distinction, dispute vs debunk. That's a keeper.

      • jasonlotito 14 days ago

        This misrepresents what happened and what was said. Which is easy to do.

        From April 2: "The prime suspect is ‘natural’ transmission from bats to humans, perhaps through unsanitary markets. But scientists don’t rule out that an accident at a research laboratory in Wuhan might have spread a deadly bat virus that had been collected for scientific study.”"

        Couple that with the admission from Cotton: "Now, we don’t have evidence that this disease originated [from the lab]"

        Numerous experts in the field backed up the idea that the virus was engineered or came from a lab.

        Even Cotton followed up with further clarification of his original tweets.

        "I am pleased to hear you now distinguish between possibility virus was engineered bioweapon (which can be dismissed) and possibility virus entered human population through lab accident (which cannot--and should not--be dismissed)" - From Feb 16, 2020 (referenced in Feb 17, 2020 in Washington Post.

        This timeline covers it well:

        Is it bad that people update their thinking when new evidence presents itself? No.

        But that doesn't mean people who pushed an idea without evidence should be lauded. A broken clock is right twice a day, after all.

    • cronix 14 days ago

      > The fear and groupthink was so strong at the time that even pointing out the existence of dissenting voices was enough to get you labeled as a selfish grandma killer conspiracy theorist.

      Yeah, and same if you discussed it on HN.

      • marvin 14 days ago

        Oh, the intense discussions just pointing out the Norwegian health authorities’ rationale for abandoning the AstraZeneca vaccine. The loud and certain statements that it was all based on selection bias.

        It was a very interesting time to practice independent-mindedness, and get vivid demonstrations on how rare it is.

      • tremon 14 days ago

        That's not true in my experience, I have been able to discuss those things many times they came up and usually received upvotes (or at least more upvotes than downvotes).

        Yes, that's anecdata, so make of it what you will.

        • SamPatt 14 days ago

          I was downvoted several times on HN for pointing out that reputable scientists were being censored on YouTube and other platforms for their dissident views on COVID.

          It happened here fairly often. Though less frequently here than most other places online during that time.

          • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

            Unfortunately, there is a strong element of groupthink present on HN that downvotes according to party line.

            • forgetfreeman 14 days ago

              The irony of this comment being downvoted is palpable. Way to prove them right y'all.

              • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

                Except that it's not downvoted now. Jumping to conclusions about early voting behavior on HN causes (mild) embarrasment to many, and so it is once again.

                • forgetfreeman 13 days ago

                  "Things change over time" is hardly a profound observation.

                  • PaulDavisThe1st 13 days ago

                    It wasn't meant to be profound. It was meant to be correct. And it wasn't "things change over time".

      • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

        Oh my! You were labelled as a selfish grandma killer! Heavens to Betsy! The sheer force of censorship! The utter horror of government-mandated labelling on social media!

        Seriously. What do you think is going to happen when there's a worldwide pandemic and people with (in some cases) utterly opposing views on what is safe and advisable as public health policy?

        • SamPatt 13 days ago

          Censorship of dissident medical views - many of which were later proven correct - during this period doesn't concern you?

          I pointed out the existence of differing viewpoints being silenced, was shouted down, and you follow this up with mockery?

          • PaulDavisThe1st 13 days ago

            1. I don't believe there was "censorship of dissident views" - this is a framing I reject

            2. I followed up the mockery with a serious point that you have not responded to.

            • FartsDomino 13 days ago
              • PaulDavisThe1st 13 days ago

                You reject the framing that there were major differences of opinion in the appropriate public health policy to adopt in the presence of COVID-19?

                Censorship? What the OP means by censorship is not what I mean by censorship. Were heterodox ideas etc. surrounding COVID-19 severely criticized? Yes. Were they even limited or deleted from social media? Yes. Were they still published in blogs? In various traditional media? Yes. Could you encounter them on cable news? Yes. Was anyone tried or even arrested for promoting or distributing such ideas? No.

                That's not the way we treat the announcement of a lemonade stand, but it's also not what I consider censorship in any meaningful way.

      • fireflash38 14 days ago

        What do you suppose this thread is, other than groupthink in a slightly different direction?

        • spookthesunset 14 days ago

          I’ve arrived at my conclusions all on my own. I’d love to be part of the “take this serious” crowd because it would have made my life a lot easier (but also wasted). Unfortunately the facts and data combined with my values just don’t align with the idea that Covid was ever something we should have shut it all down for.

          There is an alternate universe where they didn’t test everybody that breathed and don’t publish daily death counts. The only way you’d know there was a pandemic was an uptick in “wash your hands” signs in the restroom. Otherwise it would have been “just that thing going around”.

          The last time we had an equivalent pandemic they held Woodstock. No shutdowns. No masks. No hysterical blowhards tweeting about the end of the world on twitter. People just got on with life.

          Does this make me a selfish asshole? Perhaps. But I personally think the people screaming to mask up and shut it all down are the true selfish ones. The expect everybody to massively disrupt their lives in order to appease their fear and anxiety. Especially when those mitigations had no prior evidence they’d work and not even a whiff of a stated off-ramp or end goal.

          • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

            > The last time we had an equivalent pandemic they held Woodstock.


            > The estimated number of deaths was 1 million worldwide and about 100,000 in the United States.

            Uh, "equivalent pandemic". I don't think so.

            [ EDIT: Oh, and also: ]

            • spookthesunset 14 days ago

              Try adjusting for population instead of using raw numbers. Then account for the fact they test for everybody and anybody for Covid. Not so for the earlier pandemics. Totally different measurements. Imagine if they did the same test protocol back then like they did today. Only then can you compare.

              The use and abuse of raw data has been a hallmark of the last 2.5 years. Whatever number makes Covid sound worse is the number that gets published and spread. Anything suggesting it isn’t as bad as predicted is buried as a conspiracy or “not peer reviewed”.

              • PaulDavisThe1st 13 days ago

                > Try adjusting for population instead of using raw numbers.

                World population has grown by a factor of 2.3 since 1968. That would suggest a "population adjusted" death count of 230,000 for the 1968 "equivalent pandemic", a number less than 1/4 of COVID-19's US numbers.

                US population has grown by a factor of 1.65 since 1968.That would suggest a "population adjusted" death count of 165,000 for the 1968 "equivalent pandemic", a number less than 17% of COVID-19's US numbers

              • elenaferrantes 14 days ago

                Exactly, in reality we don’t know much about these diseases, the way they spread, the effects. But there has been some mass hysteria that made them appear much more serious than they are. It could just have made few lines in the media and everyone would have continued their lives peacefully. Instead we had borderline totalitarian policies, cops arresting people taking a walk alone in forest, ridiculous absurd policies (in France) banning non-essential goods to be sold in markets. I’ve never seen such a collective nightmare but now I perfectly understand past nightmare I learned in history books…

    • behaveEc0n00 14 days ago

      Fear and group think have not gone anywhere.

      Society is “group think”. Try paying rent in bottle caps, and telling your boss to go fuck themselves when they ask for something. Fear of unemployment and homelessness make that unlikely.

      City to city, coast to coast, group think and fear keep us from having serious conversations about consumerisms impact on the environment; don’t touch my capitalism click clack

      The difference is that’s group think you’ve been conditioned since birth to believe is as immutable as the orbit of the planets.

      If we all “group thought” more bicycles and fewer cars were more appropriate that’s what we’d produce. It’s unjustifiable belief to make it sound as if you’re a truly free agent unaffected by group think and fear of alternatives.

    • GeekyBear 14 days ago

      > The fear and groupthink was so strong at the time that even pointing out the existence of dissenting voices was enough to get you labeled as a selfish grandma killer conspiracy theorist.

      My example would be one of the scientists on President Biden's Covid advisory council being interviewed on PBS and pointing out that cloth face masks were not effective against an airborne virus, but n95 masks offered some real protection.

      I, personally, saw people demand that links to that interview be removed as "disinformation".

      • raydev 14 days ago

        Just watched the portion you're referring to, and based on what he actually said, that cloth masks are "ineffective" with zero qualification, is disinformation.

        I see the concerns. He did qualify a few sentences earlier about the effectiveness of cloth masks is that there is some protection but it's small. Fine, but he was imprecise with his language later on.

        People want to (and did) latch on to the quotable portion that they are not effective (read: zero difference from no mask), which is demonstrably false.

        • GeekyBear 14 days ago

          Cloth masks are effective against a virus with a droplet based spread, like the flu. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, cloth face masks can contain those droplets as they spray out.

          With an airborne virus you have to be able to filter the air people are breathing and a cloth face mask that isn't even fitted tightly to the face just cannot do that. This is why you need an n95 mask or better fitted tightly enough to your face to create an air seal.

          For example, the Measles also has an airborne spread and the OSHA requirements for medical professionals mandate gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection.

          Note that Flu levels hit record lows globally while Covid continued to spread like wildfire.

          >CDC says seasonal flu cases hit record lows around the world

          • marvin 14 days ago

            But the truly comical part, of course, was that Covid was not acknowledged to be widely airborne until a year and a half later. At the same time that cloth masks were widely dismissed as ineffective.

        • nradov 14 days ago

          Are there any randomized controlled trials which show that cloth masks have a clinically significant effect in preventing transmission of SARS-CoV-2? I haven't seen any such studies which would meet evidence-based medicine criteria, but if you know of any I would be interested to read them.

          • hotpotamus 14 days ago

            How would you design a controlled trial involving live virus transmission with a virus that is known to have long term health effects and can even be lethal?

            • kukkeliskuu 14 days ago

              There was one trial, which apparently later censored, that measured how mist with similar particle size behaves when it hits a cloth or other non-FFP2 or higher mask. Non surprisingly, they do not stop airborne particles that are much smaller than the "holes" in the fabric. The masks captured droplets, but later the droplets dried, split up and became airborne with very small particles.

          • rajup 14 days ago

            It's a good placebo though.

        • aleister_777 14 days ago

          > Which is demonstrably false.

          If that's the case, be demonstrable then. Given the physical size of the virus vs the size of holes in say, a cotton mask, combined with the infection rates for the strictest masking areas, I would say your statement is demonstrably false.

  • chrisan 14 days ago

    > Science is about asking questions, testing hypotheses and independent research corroboration. There have to be checks and balances.

    The problem was a lot of these people that came on TV/radio weren't actually doing anything but being the same thing as Tucker Carlson in just "asking questions" in a provocative way but not actually testing hypotheses or doing research.

    If you watched something like the UCSF Grand Rounds of Covid you would have seen all the research/questions/hypotheses presented and discussed regularly. They are all on youtube.

    There will be no "chilling effect" in the scientific community for a long time because the actual practicing scientists/doctors acted as they should have and did the things you claimed to not have been done.

    • annad2021 14 days ago

      People like Tucker Carson? What about "people" like the CNN saying that Joe Rogan was taking horse dewormer? Like, why? Why can't skepticism over ivermectin be expressed in a normal way?

      • kmlx 14 days ago

        > Why can't skepticism over ivermectin be expressed in a normal way?

        because of the business model of TV channels. outrage sells.

      • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

        Partly because of the lack of acknowledgment about what was already fairly certain about ivermectin, which was dismissed by a bunch of quacks (including the then POTUS), who were absolutely not interested in any kind of "normal" scientific discussion.

  • ajsnigrutin 14 days ago

    The worst thing is, that you could point out the wrong stuff, and both the platform and some very loud users would attack you even for pointing out the conflicting positions from the same source.

    From "hug a chinese" to "masks don't help" one day, and "mandatory masks" the next.

    I'm not that old or fat to be in any risk groups, so I got vaccinated to protect my (old) parents... and back then it was "get vaccinated and you won't get it, not spread it" (plus herd immunity), and not long after: "yes, you can get it, you can spread it, but chances of death are marginally lower"

    Then one discusson on /r/conspiracy about something unrelated, and bam, banned from most of the from page subreddits.

    • Arainach 14 days ago

      >From "hug a chinese" to "masks don't help" one day, and "mandatory masks" the next.

      The fact that people keep citing this ridiculous claim is evidence of why this "contradiction" was necessary. People are too selfish and panicky to respond rationally to "although masks are useful, we need current masks for healthcare workers, so please don't go buy any". That message is 4 times as long as the attention span of the average American. As such, it got consolidated into the much more brief (but not strictly accurate) "you don't need to wear masks" until such time as the supply chain could cope.

      This was a rational and intentional decision, not a contradiction.

      • autoexec 14 days ago

        > People are too selfish and panicky to respond rationally to "although masks are useful, we need current masks for healthcare workers, so please don't go buy any".

        It was a shortsighted error that will forever cost them credibility. Not worth it. They should have just contacted the handful of major retailers that could have delivered N95 masks into the hands of most Americans and asked (or even ordered) them to pull the stock. That's it. Problem solved.

        All they did in the end was demonstrate that they cannot be trusted to tell the truth and that's not what you want if you're trying to manage a pandemic or any public health crisis. Outright lying because they didn't want to risk treating the American public like adults was such a massive failure I don't think they will ever recover fully from it.

      • ajsnigrutin 14 days ago

        You really don't see an issue with "science" (=people representing groups of scientists on tv) lying to people? "for the greater good"?

        But we should still ban people who say otherwise? The first "otherwise" (nutjob conspiracy theorists telling you to wear a mask, no matter what fauci says) or the second "otherwise" (nutjob conspiracy theorists saying that masks are useless)? Which ones should we ban then?

        I mean... doing what a youtubeing prepper nutjob said and did, has proven to be safer for you, than following what Fauci (and other local equivalents) say... or you'd atleast have masks, disinfectant and a basement full of toiletpaper and MREs at home, while those listening to Fauci wouldn't.

        How can we "trust the science", when "the science" has clearly lied to us? What else is "science" lying about right now?

        • OrvalWintermute 13 days ago

          > I mean... doing what a youtubeing prepper nutjob said and did, has proven to be safer for you, than following what Fauci (and other local equivalents) say... or you'd atleast have masks, disinfectant and a basement full of toiletpaper and MREs at home, while those listening to Fauci wouldn't.

          When the pandemic happened, and I had multiple P100 masks from asbestos removal, I felt pretty comfortable.

          ....Until I tried to wear them in everyday life. It is even worse than being at a construction site, wearing one of those monstrosities all day

      • treis 14 days ago

        >That message is 4 times as long as the attention span of the average American. As such, it got consolidated into the much more brief (but not strictly accurate) "you don't need to wear masks" until such time as the supply chain could cope.

        Well I'm glad they're lying to my face for good reason

      • ahmed3883 14 days ago

        You can't lie to people and then expect them to trust you, just because the lie was supposedly in their interest.

      • adolph 14 days ago

        > This was a rational and intentional decision, not a contradiction.

        This was a rational and intentional decision to lie, not a contradiction.

      • HideousKojima 14 days ago

        "They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” - The U.S. Surgeon General

    • thedorkknight 14 days ago

      >From "hug a chinese" to "masks don't help" one day, and "mandatory masks" the next.

      Which is exactly what you would expect to happen as we get new data on anything new. The fact that people were excepting the medical community to have prophetic knowledge about a novel virus barely a month after it had been confirmed speaks more to the American public's poor understanding of the scientific process.

      Side note, but just a reminder that Fauci NEVER said "masks don't work", as much as this gets repeated on social media. He said that they prevent infected people from spreading it to others and did not recommend that everyone wear them:

      And when further data came out about asymptomatic transmission, the recommendations changed.

      Side note 2: "hug a chinese" and "vaccinated people don't spread COVID" were both from politicians, not the medical or scientific communities. I found plenty of blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels from actual epidemiologists and virologists (such as "this week in virology") who did not say such things. Unfortunately Americans don't really care enough to distinguish between "science communicated by politicians" and "science communicated by scientists". After 2020 and watching as people working in relevant fields - like the podcast above, or "your local epidemiologist" - just got straight-up ignored by COVID deniers, I'm not even sure most of the public even knows how to look up "communication by scientists"...

      • orangecat 14 days ago

        The fact that people were excepting the medical community to have prophetic knowledge about a novel virus barely a month after it had been confirmed speaks more to the American public's poor understanding of the scientific process.

        I don't expect them to know everything. I do expect them to acknowledge when they don't know everything, rather than bouncing from one end of unwarranted certainty to the other.

      • ajsnigrutin 13 days ago

        > "vaccinated people don't spread COVID" were both from politicians

        I mean sure... but a CDC director is a "scientific" authority, not just some local redneck mayor of a hick town

        ( > CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky is interviewed )

        > our data from the CDC today suggests, you know, that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don`t get sick, and that it`s not just in the clinical trials but it`s also in real world data.

    • strken 14 days ago

      > get vaccinated and you won't get it, no[r] spread it

      When and where was this the message? I'm not doubting you, I just got most of my covid info from going to blogs then reading the abstracts of papers they linked to, and I remember the efficacy being in the 80% to 90% range for the initial strain. Even smallpox vaccines only had around 95% efficacy. There's no good reason for a journalist to report that any vaccine is 100% effective.

      • ajsnigrutin 13 days ago

        > "This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Biden said in the full interview. "The unvaccinated. Not the vaccinated, the unvaccinated. That’s the problem. Everybody talks about freedom and not to have a shot or have a test. Well guess what? How about patriotism? How about making sure that you’re vaccinated, *so you do not spread the disease to anyone else."* (*emphasis mine*)

        > The vaccines that we have against COVID are incredibly effective vaccines. And people have seen the results from the clinical trials of, you know, anywhere in the 80 percent range, 90 percent range of efficacy. But that doesn't mean that 100 percent of people, 100 percent of the time are going to be protected against disease. There is no vaccine that provides that level of protection for any disease. So we do expect in any vaccine program that there will be rare, but there will be cases of disease among people who were fully vaccinated and certainly among some people who were partially vaccinated. This doesn't mean that the vaccines aren't working. It doesn't mean that there's something wrong with the vaccines. What it does mean is that not everybody who receives vaccines has 100 percent protection

        To me, that means that chances of not getting covid are 80-90%, so out of 100 vaccinated people, only 10-20 will get covid... which was a "good enough" risk reduction for me.

        also (interview with CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky )

        > And we have -- we can kind of almost see the end. We`re vaccinating so very fast, our data from the CDC today suggests, you know, that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don`t get sick, and that it`s not just in the clinical trials but it`s also in real world data.

  • commandlinefan 14 days ago

    My reddit account was permanently suspended for upvoting COVID lockdown skepticism. I'm in Texas, too - I'm half tempted to use the recent 5th circuit decision to force them to reinstate my account purely out of spite.

    • notch656a 14 days ago

      I don't understand the evil-capitalist rationale for that. I would think reddit, like facebook, gets much of its revenue (or viewership, that turns into revenue) from people squabbling over the topic of the day/month/year and thus benefits from outrage at skeptics. Why not keep them around?

      Anecdotally I've found if I just say something relatively unbacked or 'stupid sounding' that the mainstream can easily attack to make my argument sound dumb, I don't get the ban/removal. It's only when you present a factual argument, and especially if you start winning people over, that reddit is especially quick to ban you.

      I've noticed this same progression on HN. If I lose the debate due to not enough facts/persuasion, then people tend to leave it at that and rest satisfied they put an idiot in their place -- why would they want that comment removed when it can stay there as a head on a spike. If I introduce facts but they are unpopular, it will get downvoted to hell and people seem satisfied with that. However, if I actually start winning people over then my comment gets flagged, because we can't allow the wrong view to 'win.'

      • flenserboy 14 days ago

        It helps the understanding when it is recognized that Reddit, as with other, similar sites, is a propaganda/opinion-reinforcement platform and not primarily aimed at advertising or making money.

      • adamsb6 14 days ago

        Truly religious people value their religion and its values over the pursuit of profit.

        • marcusverus 14 days ago

          Relevant C. S. Lewis:

            "It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    • anigbrowl 14 days ago

      A bold claim.

      • mrshadowgoose 14 days ago

        If you take a few seconds to do the requisite googling, you'll find out that this is actually a thing that Reddit does and has admitted to doing.

        • anigbrowl 14 days ago

          I have a feeling that I'll also find this fact to be true within very specific contexts which are missing from the claim above.

          One could interpret it as 'I got permabanned and made to feel bad afterwards for upvoting an unpopular opinion one time' or 'I got permabanned after upvoting an unpopular opinion for the 1000th time during an ongoing raid feud.' I presume the truth lies somewhere between those extremes.

  • tsol 14 days ago

    There are multiple issues on which asking questions can get you deplatformed, or even threaten your career. I think there were always things that were considered too important to question in society, but those were traditionally relegated to the religious sphere. They were religious facts that are too sacred to question. Now there are scientific facts that are too sacred to question, and that's dangerous.

    • colpabar 14 days ago

      I think fauci declaring himself to be science incarnate did more damage to science as a whole than any of the bad-faith actors people complain about.

      • MichaelCollins 14 days ago

        The personality cult that started to crystalize around Fauci was incredibly disturbing. For a few weeks it felt like I was being bombarded on all sides by "viral" videos of weirdos singing love songs to Fauci, getting tattoos of Fauci, all kinds of absurd celebrity worship shit. Why would anything like that be recommended to me in the first place, I never watch any content like that.

      • kevinventullo 14 days ago

        I must have missed that press conference.

        • nradov 14 days ago

          It was an interview on MSNBC's Chuck Todd show, not a press conference.

          "attacks on me are, quite frankly, attacks on science"

          - Dr. Anthony Fauci, 2021

          In context his statement was a bit more nuanced. But I don't think it's healthy for a bureaucrat to try to personify a process. Taking political opposition personally is seldom productive.

          • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

            The biggest problem with Dr. Fauci's statements are different than from what is being discussed.

            I believe in the scientific method, and I also know there is a distinct possibility that a statement I make today, based on what we know today, may be incredibly wrong. Dr. Fauci's statements are frightening because they lack intellectual humility, and they remind me of a comic book phrase, rather than a statement by a leading physician or researcher.

            Would we expect anything different from Judge Dredd? [1]


  • O__________O 11 days ago

    Even now, very little to no science based decision are being made and reporting of test data has all but stopped; would not even be surprised to learn that the reporting of other data, for example deaths, is intentionally being “shaped” to fit the desired narrative.

  • throwawaylinux 14 days ago

    Also, governments are just about the last organization on earth who should be trusted to be the sole arbiters and deciders of what The Science™ is, and who may and may not question it and in what manner.

    Truth (and therefore science) is the most powerful tools we have to hold corrupt tyrants and authoritarians who would rule us to account. It's not ta all disturbing or surprising to me to see the ruling government/corporate power structure censor and bully and attack anybody questioning their authority. This is what these people do, it's their nature.

    What was disturbing to me was how many self-proclaimed people of science, brave resisters of government and corporate abuse, and fighters for rights and freedom immediately turned into government apologists and bullies.

  • vkou 14 days ago

    > There have to be checks and balances.

    Correct, but those checks and balances don't come from reaching your hand into the fringe theory hat, grabbing whichever one is most convenient, and proudly demanding that policy should give it equal weight to consensus science.

  • faeriechangling 14 days ago

    Define “many”. I saw a handful of high profile cases but how widespread was this sort of censorship in quantitative terms?

  • jasonlotito 14 days ago

    > many highly credentialed doctors and researchers were getting de-platformed for anything that remotely questioned the government's position on anything related to COVID

    Blame the administration at the time. Judging by comments here, it seems like the current government is a bit more open about things.

  • Smoosh 14 days ago

    Science is not conducted on social media.

  • anon84873628 14 days ago

    Because there were lots of uncredentialed or poorly credentialed "doctors" and "researchers" making destructive claims. Society's meme regulating function is not that nuanced.

    I blame the whackos for poisoning the well. (Let's also include well-meaning MDs and bio-related fields who don't actually know about epidemiology)

    And even if you were an appropriately credentialed expert, if you weren't in a position to make policy decisions before the pandemic, then why would you suddenly expect to have influence during a crisis? That only happens in movies.

    • ARandomerDude 14 days ago

      Your comment is actually a perfect illustration of the problem the OP described.

      "I think this is incorrect" is answered with "how prestigious are your credentials?" instead of "what are your reasons?".

      Prestigious credentials should rest on the foundation of good reasoning, not the other way around.

      • mike_d 14 days ago

        You are making it out as some sort of gatekeeping. A veterinary tech has absolutely no business publicly contradicting an epidemiologist during a pandemic.

        When the building is on fire and the firefighters are yelling at you to get out, but Bill from the copy room is like "wait nooooo smoke is good for your personal aura," it is perfectly fine to question someone based on credentials alone.

        • eldenwrong 14 days ago

          Even people like John P. A. Ioannidis were being throttled and dismissed.

          Can you distinguish between political and scientific epidemiologists?

          • robocat 14 days ago

            Ioannidis wrote some obviously absolute trash in March 2020. I can’t find the worst paper (google deindex?) but I copied a quote[1]: “If we assume that case fatality rate among individuals infected by SARS-CoV-2 is 0.3% in the general population — a mid-range guess from my Diamond Princess analysis — and that 1% of the U.S. population gets infected (about 3.3 million people), this would translate to about 10,000 deaths.”. His analysis in that paper was some of the most biased bullshit I have read: the low range estimate was boldly incorrect. I absolutely love his previous papers on the replication crisis. Here[2] is a different paper of his from March 2020 showing his bias. He is a solid scientist, but he went off the deep end for a while there.



            • nradov 14 days ago

              Ioannidis was obviously way off on the number of people to be infected, but his estimate on the fatality rate was actually fairly close. The CDC later calculated it as 0.6%.



              • lovich 14 days ago

                100% difference in rate is fairly close? I get that these are small rates to begin with, but if your margin of error includes the entire range between 0 and your predication in the first place, does your prediction have any value?

                • nradov 13 days ago

                  Being within a factor of 2 is fairly close for being early in the pandemic with very limited data. At the time, some other researchers had estimated a fatality rate in the 2% range which was even farther off.

            • eldenwrong 13 days ago

              Versus the actual trash used by the Imperial College that was used to justify draconian measures?? Early in the pandemic as well? Hmm

              Remind me again what were the deaths predicted?

        • calculatte 14 days ago
          • thedorkknight 14 days ago

            His point wasn't about ANY authority figure though. It was about ones with directly relevant expertise.

            In his example, firefights are authorities... In regards to smoke and fire. Yeah I'm gonna trust what they have to say, both over what Bob has to say about smoke being good for my aura, and over anything that an irrelevant authority, like the town mayor, has to say.

            Likewise back in February 2020 I found really great authorities on virology, a podcast with a rotating panel of 5+ virologists and people with other relevant phds, plus a doctor who headed up a COVID ward in NYC and started giving weekly clinical updates.

            Naturally this resulted in me being called a sheeple who just did whatever the mayor (in the example in question) told him rather than following Bob, who must be true in saying smoke is good for me because he's wearing a lab coat and YouTube is censoring him.

            • calculatte 13 days ago

              And in this case, we were supposed to listen to the same "doctor" that caused hundreds of thousands of AIDs deaths in the 80s by pushing known toxic and harmful "medication" while simultaneously blocking proven helpful medications. All because he gets kickbacks from the pharmaceutical companies.

              Why does that sound so familiar?

              Whatever, guess I'll just defer to authority.

              A panel of authority figures is no excuse to stop thinking. They can be misled and corrupt like any others. All people need to think for themselves and question authority now more than ever.

              • thedorkknight 12 days ago

                >And in this case, we were supposed to listen to the same "doctor" that caused hundreds of thousands of AIDs deaths in the 80s

                No. Go to a podcast search engine and type in "virology". Go to duck duck go and look up "epidemiologist blog". Go to your library and search for books on immunology.

                >A panel of authority figures is no excuse to stop thinking

                Careful not to skip into straw man territory.

                Thinking for yourself isn't mutually exclusive with educating yourself on a topic, which is best done by learning from people with relevant expertise. Doing something like a thesis defense requires a crazy amount of both thinking for yourself, AND years of studying from experts. I suspect that if you went to write a thesis on astrophysics, you'd put a lot of effort into studying from authorities. Though I would love to see someone go for a thesis defense with work based purely on "thinking for themselves".

                >Whatever, guess I'll just defer to authority.

                I cannot emphasize enough the difference between "authority" and "authority with expertise in a specific area." If your car engine needs fixing, I'm willing to bet money that you'll end up deferring to an authority one way or another. Unfortunately, when a topic becomes politicized, people quickly fall into black-and-white thinking and false dichotomies pretty quickly

        • thrown_22 14 days ago

          They absolutely do. Especially now that two years later the veterinary was right and the epidemiologist wasn't.

          A short video that sums up that last three years of scientism by the establishment:

      • peatmoss 14 days ago

        Assessment of what constitutes good reasoning is somewhat dependent on having a lot of prerequisite knowledge. It’s hard, because I think public debate is healthy generally, and I think that some valid discussion was quashed. At the same time, there were loonies spouting dangerous nonsense that did have tangible impacts.

        • spookthesunset 14 days ago

          > there were loonies spouting dangerous nonsense that did have tangible impacts

          The loonies were a very small set of people. They were used to tarnish the reputation of anybody who was even a wee bit skeptical of what society was doing. Just because somebody thinks closing schools for more than a year and a half is a bad idea doesn't make them a loony conspiracy theorist. Just because somebody thinks the harms of the mandates were worse than any benefit they provided doesn't make them a loony. 99% of all people were in the "non-loony" bucket. 1% were actual loonies, but according to "the experts" the whole set of skeptics are grandma killing loonies spreading "dangerous nonsense".

          By the way, multiple times I've been accused of spreading "dangerous nonsense" by linking to state dashboards that clearly demonstrate how age-stratified covid is. Apparently linking to public datasets is now "misinformation".

          Crazy crazy crazy...

          • justanorherhack 14 days ago


            As an under the age of 30 person, Covid is a small threat. But asking questions about a government mandated vaccine that was rushed through testing in an unprecedented manner labels you a loony. Questions like who is going to be liable for the inevitable even if small bad reactions? Not big pharma, they were absolved in the contract of all liability. If they were so confident and if this is so safe that I don’t have to worry about it as a citizen why did the lawyers ensure that they wouldn’t be liable?

            What about the precedence of liberty this sets? In a series of weeks the government removed nearly all agency overnight and everyone complied. There was no real debate on pros and cons of the total lockdown.

            The ineffectiveness of masks other than n95 when changed out daily. Which nobody had.

            I have friends that still won’t consider the vanity fair article or lab leak theory as anything other than conspiracy.

            Oh yea and the ever falling efficacy of the vaccine itself.

            But let’s check cress to make sure I’m a dr.

            • SamPatt 14 days ago

              >What about the precedence of liberty this sets? In a series of weeks the government removed nearly all agency overnight and everyone complied. There was no real debate on pros and cons of the total lockdown.

              Not only was there no debate, but even dissent was discouraged or even outlawed. No gatherings larger than 10 people allowed. Hard to rally against losing your freedom of movement when you can't leave your house.

              • endominus 14 days ago

                That's not entirely fair; I distinctly remember my feeds filled with the medical establishment speaking in approval for the BLM protests that occurred during 2020. The argument, I recall, was that those protests were necessary to improve the health outcomes of the black community, since police fatalities were more dangerous than COVID. And speaking of the medical establishment, in my favorite anecdote from the entire year, I also remember the CDC specifically recommending a prioritization of vaccines[0] that would kill thousands more Americans than the alternative for ideological and extremely racist reasons. Literally, the reasoning they gave was that vaccinating over-65s first was less than ideal because, quote, "Racial and ethnic minority groups [are] under-represented among adults >65". In fact, the plan they ended up recommending would have killed more minorities too, simply because it was more deadly overall. These are the people we should never question.

                [0]: - the original report is at with the quote on slide 31

              • landemva 14 days ago

                In the alternate space time dimension at mine sites, the regulator is MSHA. MSHA said to stay home if sick and follow normal procedures at work. Getting to mines was smooth because the roads were empty. On mine sets was, in my experience, business as usual without masks (masks limit visual range and cause accidents). At one site they had a tent and invited me to the party with employees and families who proceeded to have a pig roast without any social distancing or masks or wash stations. It was glorious. Then i drove back to the big city and went to buy groceries and everyone was masked and shying away from others. Some shoppers were wearing gloves and the aisles had designated travel directions. Bizarre.

              • zmgsabst 14 days ago

                That’s not true, large assemblies for BLM were encouraged because the dozen wrongful murders a year constitute a bigger public health emergency than COVID.

                The standards were political from the start.

                • vkou 14 days ago

                  Yes, BLM protests in my city were encouraged by regular application of police batons, rubber-coated bullets, and flooding the streets with tear gas.

                  The anti-lockdown protests, on the other hand were encouraged by... A few cops looking bored. Which is strange, because COVID has been the #1 killer of police officers since the pandemic started.

                  • spookthesunset 14 days ago

                    You mean of the cops who died the majority tested positive. Very different than saying more cops were killed because of Covid than anything else. It’s entirely plausible that lots of cops would test positive for Covid… they interact with the public just like service workers, nurses and teachers…

            • mbesto 14 days ago

              > As an under the age of 30 person, Covid is a small threat.

              How did you know this? What information did you use to determine that a 30 year old? How did you know to trust it? Did your view on this change in March 2020 vs March 2022 as more data and studies were introduced?

              • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

                > How did you know this?

                The JHU site provided metrics and details of fatality rates for ages based on comorbidities and weight, among other variables

                > What information did you use to determine that a 30 year old?

                I referenced the JHU site

                > How did you know to trust it?

                The JHU data was based on the best available data at the time, and was regularly updated.

                > Did your view on this change in March 2020 vs March 2022 as more data and studies were introduced?

                I've heard various things about whether or not the JHU data was negative enough or positive enough, but as far as a top line for mortality, it seemed accurate given the data at the time.

                In retrospect, the fatality numbers may have been too high, but, that may also have been as a result of improving therapeutics, and recognition that some of the early responses such as putting patients on higher pressure ventilators was contraindicated.

                This is further complicated by variant types which have different amounts of lethality.

                • mbesto 13 days ago

                  > The JHU data was based on the best available data at the time, and was regularly updated.

                  But how did you decide that JHU was presenting accurate data?

            • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

              I heard the criticism would skip between a few variables

              Do you have a PhD in virology?

              Are you a medical doctor?

              Are you a biomedical engineer?

              The worst types of credentialism!

          • ModernMech 14 days ago

            > but according to "the experts" the whole set of skeptics are grandma killing loonies spreading "dangerous nonsense".

            You're doing the exact thing you decry in your post by painting "the experts" with a broad brush and scare quotes as being unreasonable and hyperinflammatory in their rhetoric. Not everyone who was for school closings and lockdowns was calling their opponents "grandma killing loonies". People need to stop arguing from the extreme.

            • spookthesunset 14 days ago

              I've been literally called a grandma killer by a person I know in real life for wanting my kid to go school. I've been called a grandma killer for wanting a normal thanksgiving with my extended family.

              The people doing this might be the minority, but they were the ones holding the microphone for the last 2.5 years. Nobody else got a voice.

              • ModernMech 14 days ago

                > The people doing this might be the minority, but they were the ones holding the microphone for the last 2.5 years. Nobody else got a voice.

                So in other words, 99% of the people were in the non-loony bucket, and you're focused on the 1% that yelled at you?

                I could turn your statement around. As a teacher, I've been called a child abuser by a person I know in real life for wanting teachers to have a safe working environment. The people doing this may be the minority, but they were the ones holding the microphone.

                So I really fail to see how what you're doing now in your second post is different from what you decry in your first.

                • nradov 14 days ago

                  It was horrible how government officials in collaboration with teacher's unions inflicted collective punishment on our children by closing schools and then imposing mask mandates. There was never any high-quality scientific evidence to justify such policies. And we clearly see in retrospect that they were unnecessary: Sweden kept schools open without mask mandates and they ended up with a lower death rate than the USA.

                  In most cases the actual classroom teachers that I talked with didn't even support those policies. It was the teacher's unions which did most of the damage.

                  • ModernMech 14 days ago

                    Thanks for proving my point. "Inflict[ing] collective punishment" is not what anyone was trying to do. Being an actual teacher and knowing and talking to many actual teachers, I can tell you that your assertion that teachers didn't support those policies is uninformed. What teachers wanted was for the safety of students and teachers as well. The issues faced were that schools were very short staffed, and it's difficult to keep children safe and to maintain an effective learning environment when half the faculty and staff are out sick.

                    The "keep schools open" crowd often floated a false dichotomy where the option was between schooling as normal or closed schools. Schooling as normal was never a realistic option for many districts with missing faculty and staff. They would say "kids are not susceptible to covid, therefore schools are safe" without any concern about teachers who in fact died due to covid, as happened in my district.

                    Today we're facing a national teacher shortage where those who would have thought about teaching are steering clear of the field, and those currently in it are looking to get out asap. The rhetoric you're displaying here is a large part of the reason why.

                    • ghoward 14 days ago

                      > Thanks for proving my point. "Inflict[ing] collective punishment" is not what anyone was trying to do.

                      Maybe not, but it's what they did do.

                      For some reason, people mix up intentions and consequences all the time. The intentions may have been good; the consequences were not.

                      • ModernMech 14 days ago

                        You're presenting a counterfactual, that if schools were opened, everything would have been fine and it would have been business as usual. The point is that when teachers are dying and out sick, and the school is running on a skeleton crew, schooling by definition couldn't be business as usual. Who teaches the classes when teachers are out and there are no subs? Who drives the kids to school when there is a shortage of bus drivers? Who keeps them safe when there aren't enough eyes to supervise? These issues were completely sidestepped by the "open schools" advocates, as if they were just minor implementation details and not showstopping complications.

                        I've found that people who are not teachers and who have no idea what it's like to run a school are very quick to pass judgement when it comes to this issue. Usually digging a little deeper it's very easy to find this quickness to blame stems from various political viewpoints rather than any expertise or knowledge about the situation on the ground. Most people I've found blaming teachers like this don't even have any kids in school.

                        Anyway, teachers are the ones on the front line right now trying to fix the problems that children face today due to the pandemic, so please spare me your moralizing about how teachers are abusers and conspired to inflict collective punishment on children. What are you doing to fix the problems?

                        • notch656a 14 days ago

                          >You're presenting a counterfactual, that if schools were opened, everything would have been fine and it would have been business as usua

                          Person you replied to never said that. Could have been like my kid's school, where the kid/teacher missed a couple weeks but other than that the teachers that didn't die or whatever eventually came back and taught the kids in class in person.

                          >showstopping complications.

                          Well somehow they weren't as my county got hit worst than most and yet somehow my kid still got schooled, just through a private school. Didn't stop the show for those willing to keep the show going.

                          >Most people I've found blaming teachers

                          I definitely don't blame teachers in general. My kids teachers were great. Awesome people. The ones that gave up, and said well thinsg are challenging and I might die or whatever, well that's fine I don't blame them either. Go on and find another profession or whatever, you're not a slave. But I salute the ones who stuck around like my kid's teacher who was willing to adapt and overcome to keep things going so my child didn't get so far behind.


                          The person you replied to never said teachers are "abusers."

                          It almost sounds like you're arguing against some other person you have beef with, rather than the person who replied to you. Either way I don't know what to tell you. My kid, and her teacher kept going on through COVID in person somehow, so I guess they proved the impossible can actually happen. We lived in our alternate reality where it is possible, and you lived in one where it was a 'showstopper.'

                        • spookthesunset 14 days ago

                          Remind me again how most of the rest of the industrialized world managed to keep their school open with kids unmasked? I don’t ever recall seeing stacks of dead teachers…

                          The problem children face today aren’t because of the pandemic. They are entirely the fault of peoples reaction to Covid. Covid didn’t close schools in blue states and then force them to wear masks. Humans did.

                        • ghoward 14 days ago

                          I'm referring to the unions, not teachers.

                          And when I have a kid, I will be homeschooling.

                          Please don't assume.

                          Also, I was briefly a bus driver for a school district during COVID. I was disgusted by how the school buses were run, refusing to allow students to board without masks, requiring masks on the drivers when that affected the amount of oxygen to the brain. It was a mess.

                          People in my district tried to protest, including me, but the police refused to let them into school board meetings, which is illegal in my state.

                          If anything, what you're saying feels like you telling me to believe you and not my "lying" eyes.

                        • nradov 14 days ago

                          You're presenting a counterfactual. Sweden kept schools open. Very few people died. Why are you not acknowledging that reality?

                          • ModernMech 14 days ago

                            I'm not presenting a counterfactual, I'm presenting my experience that we had issues finding teachers and finding methods for transporting children. I don't know anything about Sweden, but I do know that we had people screaming at us about how we were anti-American child abusers when we couldn't even find teachers to fill classrooms due to illnesses and several deaths that occurred in my district.

                            > Very few people died.

                            It takes very few deaths to throw a school and even a district into disarray. In my post history I post about 40 teachers dying in Georgia during a short period of time, whose median age was 46. What kind of effect do you think that has on other teachers, the students, and the district? Outsiders who want to argue from political positions don't want to talk about those realities. Instead they fall back to aggregate statistics like "very few died" that minimize the sheer tragedy of the situation.

                            • notch656a 14 days ago

                              How many teacher deaths are justifiable in the name of educating children? I really don't know, although as you say every death is indeed a tragedy. Obviously it is non-zero, because we accept the risk of teachers having to travel to school to teach, that teachers previously died of other communicable disease, that some died during freak workplace accidents. Many will die during their travels. 40 out of the 100,000+ teachers in Georgia is roughly 1/3 of the annual death rate of people that die logging wood -- surely our children are worth at least 1/3 as much as logs of wood (although of course we don't like anyone to die doing either). And we also have to remember we don't know the marginal contribution of the profession to which of these 40 may or may not have otherwise died -- we can't simply say they all would have lived had schools been shut down.

                              IMO society could tolerate an extremely high number of deaths if it means putting their children on the best foot. Hell we tolerate a pretty high death rate just to put crabs on the table for people in a seafood restaurant. Our kids are definitely worth more than crabs. But teachers need to be compensated for this risk, and fully informed of the risks ahead of time so that they won't become upset later that they're getting into something they didn't bargain for. And it needs to be fully consensual, so teachers who want to walk away from the job should not be penalized for ending their contract. Lets bring in the risk takers who are willing to be there in person with our children, and like crab fisherman lets reward them handsomely for this risk. For those not up to the task, there is no shame in walking away.

                              • ModernMech 13 days ago

                                > How many teacher deaths are justifiable in the name of educating children?

                                This is what I'm talking about when I said "false dichotomy".

                                Teachers were educating children during the pandemic. I was educating children. They actually did learn remotely. Sure, it wasn't the best learning environment for all students, and it certainly affected lower income students disproportionately. But students did learn, as indicated by my final exams. But to say the choice was between educating and not educating is false. It was a choice between different modes of suboptimal learning with different risk profiles for different demographics.

                                I can accept that society must take some risks to educate children. I cannot accept others screaming that teachers must take inflated risks beyond what they signed up for, otherwise they are child abusers.

                                The other part of it is the idea that learning in the classroom during the pandemic would have been fully optimal for students. This view seems to miss the point. What happens when Mrs. Jones the history teacher dies suddenly in the middle of the semester? Do you just find someone to replace her during the pandemic? Is there a competent substitute waiting to take their place (hint: there isn't)? And even if you do find one, what happens when they get sick and they need to miss 3 weeks of class? Do you have a second substitute ready to take their place? Is math teacher or the gym teacher going to have to sub in to teach history? Do they even know the curriculum? What happens when half your class gets sick and has to learn from home anyway? Does the teacher deliver two modes of instruction (when they're already worked to the max)? What do you think happens to student outcomes when their favorite teacher dies suddenly, and following her is a parade of adults of unknown competency, each who have no idea who you are as a student? Is that what we call "educating children"? And before anyone accuses me of speaking in hypotheticals or counterfactuals again, this is a real scenario that happened in our district.

                                > Obviously it is non-zero, because we accept the risk of teachers having to travel to school to teach

                                A teacher dying during the semester is a very rare thing. It's a scramble for the district to handle that scenario in the best of times. 40 teachers with a median age of 46 dying over the span of 6 months never happens. Not because of traffic, not because of freak accidents, not because of other communicable diseases. Except Covid.

                                > 40 out of the 100,000+ teachers in Georgia is roughly 1/3 of the annual death rate of people that die logging wood

                                This is what I mean by people who are unfamiliar with the way things work framing their arguments in aggregate statistics. It blurs everything in with the effect of removing all meaning from the deaths, which I appreciate you note are tragic. But this kind of comparison of aggregate statistics removes the deaths from the context in which they occur, effectively sanitizing them.

                                Logging is regarded as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, so that's pretty shocking that the rate of death of teachers in Georgia over 6 months was as high as 1/3 that rate. Moreover, deaths of loggers don't completely shut down the logging operation because it has no impact whatsoever on the ability of the trees to be cut down. There's no need to set up grief counseling for the trees. There's no need for the replacement logger to spend weeks getting acquainted with the trees. You're not giving a paper salesman on-the-job-training to replace the logger. Fewer loggers doesn't impact the safety of the trees.

                                > But teachers need to be compensated for this risk

                                This was never offered an as option by society writ large, who I guess don't agree with you and I that educating children is more valuable than crabs. So while I agree with you and appreciate your sentiment that educating children is an important function of society and teachers should be compensated well for their efforts, it was never on the table.

                                Instead, what was offered was an unending stream of abuse that continues to this day, as teachers were called Nazis, unamerican, traitors, abusers, and the worst of all groomers. Compensating teachers in proportion to the risk they were taking was never proffered as an option by the crowd who wanted to open schools. I actually appreciate you saying this. But what ended up happening was that endless abuse ensued, and so people just decided it wasn't worth it to face the abuse and a life-threatening disease. People retired early, people decided against joining the profession, people died, and it left a lot of very bad options. The worst part is that even today on this thread, those very bad options are collectively boxed up as "inflicting intentional punishment" by posters even here on this site, which is probably the most polite opinion in that genre I've heard.

                          • spookthesunset 14 days ago

                            So did Florida and plenty of other non-coastal states. So did most of all industrialized nations. Dunno what makes Covid so special in these blue states that they had to close schools.

                          • notch656a 14 days ago

                            Honestly I think a lot of the issue here is problem with incentives.

                            When these teachers signed up, many didn't sign up for the risks of COVID (however large... or small they may actually be). They didn't sign up for the psychological stress that put on them either. For that, I feel bad for them, and I'll explain why.

                            They were offered virtually nothing in exchange for "changing up the game." They weren't compensated for these new conditions. Some, not all, but some rather than just saying out loud "fuck you not worth it" came up with faux-philosophical reasons for why they rejected this, such as scientifically unproven conjecture that the children would be better off remote. But had they been properly incentivized, I think their reasoning (as it usually does) will chase what benefits them.

                            We wasted tons of money pumping it into low-interest asset accumulation and 'free' business loans. I would have spent some of that money instead DOUBLING teacher pay as a reward for 'risk' (whether it be mostly purely psychological, or not, or whatever) of enduring COVID.

                            I would then offer the teachers this doubled wage as compensation for this risk. Teachers that can get with the program (doing in-person, or remote, as desired by the families) would stay on. Everyone else would be fired with a 1 year severance to find a new job, and the doubled wages being used incentivize replacements.

                            IMO elevated adult risk, and even some elevated child risk, is justified in the name of education. We seem to intuitively understand this as many of us may engage in dangerous trades or risks to help our children, but then again a stranger should be fairly compensated for such risk. I think had we compensated these teachers in a way they were fattening their bones for staying in class we would have been flooded with (for self-serving reasons) "facts" from teachers about how great in-person learning is and how everybody should be doing it.

                        • elenaferrantes 14 days ago

                          I don’t recall of any teacher dying from covid …

                • Jiro 14 days ago

                  The 1% have far more than 1% of the influence.

      • fireflash38 14 days ago

        That only applies for things that are relatively easy to reason around, with little domain knowledge necessary.

    • maxk42 14 days ago

      This article is about highly credentialed and respected scientific exists who were being deplatformed: not whackos. How can you judge anyone as "whacko" when you're prevented from even hearing opposing data? That's not how science works.

      • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

        I asked a highly credentialed, very aged, pediatrician why I should get my toddler with no comorbidities vaccinated with a novel type of vaccine having significant known side effects, for a disease having a fatality rate something like 1 in 5 or 10 million.

        His answer of "get it to protect everyone else" was the worst non-answer I have ever heard.

        Nothing in my life has shook my trust in so called "Authority Figures" like the debacle that is the Covid Response and Mandate drive.

        • rmah 14 days ago

          "To protect everyone else" is not a non-answer, it's the actual real answer. You may not like it but that doesn't change the fact that that's how vaccines (at a societal level) work.

          • spookthesunset 14 days ago

            > You may not like it but that doesn't change the fact that that's how vaccines (at a societal level) work.

            That may be true for virtually all of the common things we are vaccinated for but it sure ain't true for covid. The covid vaccinations did very little to stop transmission or even infection. I mean, if they did then why the hell did so many states bring back mask mandates even after 80% of their state got fully vaccinated?

          • elenaferrantes 14 days ago

            It is true for vaccine that have been long tested and are really effective for certain set of _serious_ diseases. It’s not true for Covid were those vaccines are new, not effective (because no vaccine is effective for those kind of diseases), do not prevent people for catching and spreading the disease, and we are talking about a disease with a very low mortality rate.

          • HideousKojima 12 days ago

            Unless mass vaccination lowers R0 below 1 (hint: it doesn't) thet merely slow the spread, not prevent it. "Everyone else" is still going to get it.

          • origin_path 14 days ago

            Uh but this vaccine didn't stop or even reduce transmission. The idea that you had to do it for other people never made any sense even to begin with. If the vaccine worked it wouldn't matter what other people did, because you'd be protected by it, right? And don't talk about people who can't take it for some reason because mysteriously, getting medical exemptions turned out to be impossible throughout the vaccine mandate period even for people who had severe reactions to their first shot.

            The whole thing was just illogical nonsense forced through by people who knew perfectly well that if it was phrased as an individual choice, huge numbers would choose not to have it. Yet for collectivists (and public health is overrun with them) that's anathema. Everyone has to do it regardless of need otherwise they feel all icky.

        • lovich 14 days ago

          That's almost the same type of response the actual Typhoid Mary had to being told to quarantine and stop preparing food for people. It didn't affect her so it couldn't be real and fuck everyone else. If you think taking any step that has a marginal effect on you in protection of society will count as the "worst non-answer" then you should be afraid of authority figures because you are engaging in the type of society damaging behavior they are charged with mitigating

        • mike_d 14 days ago
          • barbacoa 14 days ago

            >COVID vaccination resistance has a direct correlation with a lack of empathy.

            That's some unintentional honesty. The vaccine did little to stop the spread and wore off in a matter of months, but it became a sign of virtue status.

          • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

            > COVID vaccination resistance has a direct correlation with a lack of empathy.

            Excellent job painting a number of people with a broad brush without thinking through some of the actual reasons.

            I know people with allergies for covid vaccine ingredients that were injected and suffered life threatening adverse events. Not an empathy problem but a severe medical allergy can be a killer.

            There are a number of reasons why someone may not want, or need to get vaccinated, or have contraindications to these vaccines.

    • eitland 14 days ago

      I took my vaccines and listened to the doctors and to authorities.

      I still think the way media attacked everyone who wasn't exactly in line with the current ideas is a shame for everyone in media who participated.

      And the way social media companies prevented public discussion between licensed medical doctors with decades of experience and fantastic track records, that is another clear signal that they have way too much power.

      Saying we needed to shut down everyone because some of them did or could do something wrong is really backwards.

      The only social media company that I know of that didn't make a fool out of themselves was Telegram, who, as usual, focused on the interests of its users.

    • BiteCode_dev 14 days ago

      On the other hand, of very good friend of mine, a prestigious doctor in Monaco, was adament the vaccine caused no major heatlth problem.

      This month, I had weird health problem that sent me to the hospital, and asked again if anything could be related to the vaccine. This time, he said it was a possibility because has has seen some similar cases in the past.

      The problem here is not changing your mind using fact. That's how you should do it.

      The problem here is stating at first he was sure it could not cause any grave problem (at least not worse than covid). Because this was not rooted in fact, we didn't have remotely enough data to know this.

      But this is what a lot of the medical and political elite claimed during the pandemics, and questioning it would get us the rethoric you just used in your comment. This is what a lot of comments on HN, twitter and the whole internet agressively screamed, with disdain toward people that were raising pragmatic worries.

      This is not a sane way of approaching science. This is arrogant, and creates distrusts in a world where we desperatly need humility and bonding together.

      In fact, you know your position is not in the best light because you are using a throwaway account to state your position, in a thread that has been very cordial.

    • shkkmo 14 days ago

      The people "in positions to make policy decisions" should absolutely not have the exclusive right to discuss and debate those decisions. If they do, you are describing a dictatorship.

      The blame lies with those doing the censoring, not with wackos. The wackos are just a way for those in power to shift the blame for their decisions.

  • systemvoltage 14 days ago
    • hellojesus 14 days ago

      Are you discussing the cause and effect chain or the policy solution?

      From what I've seen, the data is compelling: burning coal is contributing to climate change.

      The policy solution, however, is much more challenging, and that's where I see the most groupthink occurring.

      • coding123 14 days ago

        It's still not clear.

        Now don't get me wrong, I would rather our energy come from clean sources, but as a principal of healthy lungs not changing climate. There's much much much stronger evidence that the actual sun is affecting our climate more than anything right now.

        When things don't fit the narrative, all funding and direction is cut off.

        • pstuart 14 days ago

          Your link has a disclaimer at the top stating it is out of date.

      • systemvoltage 14 days ago

        I find data compelling as well. That's not my argument at all.

        I am just saying that there is no room for dissent both in academia, but as you said it is even more insane in the policy sphere.

        I find any area in science that's strongly guarded in combination with media, corporations, governments and group think extremely problematic, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me.

        • babypuncher 14 days ago

          There comes a point where the evidence and consensus are so strong that dissenting opinions are no longer worth considering. If someone in acadamia tries to say the Earth is flat, would you expect them to be taken seriously, or laughed out of their profession?

          • coding123 14 days ago

            I think and hope we all agree here now about flat earth not being true. But most science debate is politicized. At every turn we optimize what we already believe is true. Thus what studies get funded? The ones where the main researcher already said coal/gas/etc. is causing climate change. The ones that don't? Sunspot activity researchers.

            The WAY this post will be replied to and downvoted IS the thing we're talking about. If you don't want to repeat history as has been for a 10000 years of human history, start listening to dissenting opinion more. At least more.

          • systemvoltage 14 days ago

            Climate science isn't settled, although the data is compelling, more needs to be done and level set, separate wheat from the chaff. Investigate incentives, censorship and funding. Evidence is nowhere as strong as defining the radius of the earth or questioning the law of Gravity.

            There is a giant machinery of Big Tech + ESG + Environmentalists + MSM that's spinning up the public opinions on climate change to the point where it is everywhere from products we buy to Apple keynotes, from Tinder profiles to corporate PR releases. It has become a religion of sorts. That alone makes me question every aspect of the policies, but also the underlying science.

            We need more debate, not less.

            • Dracophoenix 14 days ago

              While I agree in the general sense that climate science is worthy of scrutiny (as any other science is), anthropogenic contributions to climate change have been proven to 5σ certainly via satellite data for some time now. It's not as certain as the radius of the earth at a given point in time, but it is as certain as the existence of the Higgs boson. At this point, any contrary assessment would requires an extraordinarily robust rebuttal.

            • pstuart 14 days ago

              If you're going on the "science is corrupted because they have an agenda" route, then perhaps include the fact that the fossil fuel industry is highly incentivized to subvert science to protect their profits.

          • origin_path 14 days ago

            Yeah people said that point had been reached for COVID too - within weeks. It hadn't and tons of stuff with "strong consensus" turned out to be wrong or worse, deliberate lies.

            Climatology is nowhere near as certain as the shape of the earth. It's filled with modelling projections, and dubious or outright manipulated evidence. Just look at the way they edit historical temperature data. It's so heavily edited that large swathes of scientific papers from the 40s 50s and 60s are now in open contradiction with current temperature graphs of the 20th century. Then it happened again in the first decade of the century - there was famously a "pause" in global warming that later they decided had never happened at all. Once again, at a stroke huge piles of research were invalidated.

            To compare a field that routinely invalidates decades of its own research by rewriting historical temperature measurements, to the shape of the earth, is not intellectually honest. The gap between these things is vast.

      • tomp 14 days ago

        And building green unstable energy sources is contributing to burning coal.

        But anyone opposing solar power is branded as “climate denier”.

    • alexb_ 14 days ago

      You actually can, there's just a gigantic mountain of evidence showing that you are wrong. So there's not really an argument to be made there.

      • rglover 14 days ago

        The evidence is all based on models, controlled by the very people who have incentive for those models to support their claims (scientists receiving grants, corporate kickbacks, etc and NGOs/politicians doing the same).

        For decades, the very people who support these models have been telling people we're just a few short years away from the demise of the species...only for nothing to happen (and for the very things they claim to be getting worse, actually getting better). Again, and again, and again. First it was global warming, then it was "climate change" (hint: the climate always changes—the real subtext here is Malthusian discontent for humanity, not a desire to protect nature).

        Those very same people, too, go out of their way to dismiss technology like nuclear energy and carbon capture which can solve the problem they claim to wish to solve (reducing and/or eliminating emissions). Why? Because if they solve the problem, they can't milk subsidies from the government and will actually have to find real work to do. Not just parading around (in f*cking private jets pouring out emissions) and self-flagellating at conferences and "summits."

        The whole thing is a gigantic self-defeating farce, that, when looked at through the lens of objectivity makes about as much sense as Scientology (the comparison to a religion, here, being purposeful). The parallels to the COVID groupthink are apt, correct, and the exact same candy bar in a different wrapper.

        • praxulus 14 days ago

          The evidence includes the actual record of rising temperatures, rising CO2 levels, and laboratory experiments that confirm that the greenhouse effect exists. None of those are just models.

          I'm extremely surprised that even a single scientific paper predicted the demise of the species due to climate change within a few years. Could you point me to such a thing?

          • rglover 14 days ago

            > The evidence includes the actual record of rising temperatures, rising CO2 levels, and laboratory experiments that confirm that the greenhouse effect exists. None of those are just models.

            No, but the things actually being cited—namely, the IPCC annual reports—as the pretext for a lot of the foolish policy we're seeing, are based on models.

            > I'm extremely surprised that even a single scientific paper predicted the demise of the species due to climate change within a few years. Could you point me to such a thing?

            No, that rhetoric often comes from misinterpretations/misrepresentations of scientific papers and statistics (by politicians, the media, and leaders of NGOs) which is then used to justify the aforementioned foolish policy.

            Which is frustrating as the papers often denote a problem existing, but not as one without remedy. And this is the crux of the problem: the argument is framed as being whether or not climate change exists (anyone who doesn't swallow the narrative whole is automatically a "climate denier") and not "given that it exists—and we know the cause—why are we ignoring viable solutions to those causes in favor of less-viable half-solutions that exacerbate the problem?"

      • CWuestefeld 14 days ago

        Some time back there was definitely a loud "denier" voice, but I think this is gone from all but the fringe.

        The disagreement today isn't about the science, but about policy - what should be done about it, what's the cost/benefit analysis, and so forth. There's a sizable faction that wants to avoid this conversation by yelling about "Science(tm)!", which cuts off the actual policy discussion before it can get started.

        edit: typo

        • betwixthewires 14 days ago

          I think the disagreement is about the extent to which these events will be damaging first and foremost, and policy discussions stem from that. I know plenty of people who concur "carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas" and all that comes with that, but don't believe that humans are going to destroy the planet within 8 years or whatever the doomsday date is nowadays. That's the big driver for climate change denial, not science skepticism, but over the top fearmongering rhetoric by the public figures championing climate change. The people actually trying to solve this problem are doing a disservice with their dramaticism. They discredit themselves with it, and unfortunately their cause will suffer because of it.

        • alexb_ 14 days ago

          I definitely do agree with this. This is a very important issue that quite obviously can have many different viewpoints.

      • calculatte 14 days ago

        With enough funding, you can find evidence for anything. With climate change's funding of $632B anually, I could provide you with a mountain of evidence that Cheez Wiz effectively fights lung cancer.

        Show me the research grants available for disproving man-made climate change. If researchers want to make a paycheck, they find evidence for what they are paid to find or next year they find a new job.

        There is a real crisis. But it starts with the crisis of science and the rise of scientism.

        • greedo 14 days ago

          Considering that the energy companies have been funding counter-research against climate change for most of my life, I think you're looking in the wrong direction.

          • calculatte 14 days ago

            This is a fear-based issue that has only proven to be a infinite source of money for those involved. The only incentive is to spread more fear to keep increasing their payday. One needs only to look at the "solutions" provided to combat it.

            A carbon tax? Do what you like, push any additional costs onto the customer. As long as we get our money, climate change is solved!

            Grossly simplified, but still accurate.

      • systemvoltage 14 days ago

        Strawman. What if a scientist finds real evidence that goes against the zeitgeist. They'd have a hard time doing anything on today's climate tolatitarianism, no journal would publish them, they'd be outsed by the academic group think.

        Your argument is dismissive and similar to flat earthers and hoaxers. I am not referring to climate deniers. I just want people to feel that there is room for questioning climate science with science.

        The litmus test is this: It would be remarkably easy to publish fake climate science if a scientist want to, say due to ideological reasons, since we've completely silenced the criticism machinery in this area.

        Strangely, the issue is similar to COVID.

        • UncleMeat 14 days ago

          > What if a scientist finds real evidence that goes against the zeitgeist

          They'd be a fucking hero. I know a few atmospheric science faculty. They are hyper distraught at the data. They'd love nothing more than to find out that actually we are going to be fine. Being able to keep burning coal for centuries would be a huge boon for reducing poverty worldwide. It'd be amazing. This hypothetical researcher would have among the most positive influences on human prosperity of any human to ever live.

          Journals select for novel results that upend prior work. Strong analysis that demonstrated that the existing research is wrong would be front page cover of Science or Nature shit.

          By declaring that there is a cabal that will silence quality research it allows people to dismiss the entire professional community without actually doing any work whatsoever.

          > The litmus test is this: It would be remarkably easy to publish fake climate science if a scientist want to, say due to ideological reasons, since we've completely silenced the criticism machinery in this area.

          What do you mean by fake? Could you throw together a bunch of fake numbers that match existing expectations and get that published? Sure, so long as it didn't get rejected for lack of novelty. But this is true for everything. I could read that falling objects accelerate at 9.8m/s2 in a book and decide to make up some observations that match this and submit that to a journal. This doesn't demonstrate that gravity is hokey. It just demonstrates that paper reviewers aren't especially well equipped to identify fraudulent observations.

          Also, the number of grad students working their ass off trying to get their research published and getting their work rejected demonstrates pretty clearly that it is not "remarkably easy" to publish whatever you want as long as it aligns with the existing best thinking.

          • TurkishPoptart 14 days ago

            Have you heard about Ignaz Semmelweis? He went against the medical establishment to demonstrate that surgeons hand-washing between operation is a disease prevention system.

            tl;dr he died alone and poor in an insane asylum for being a science "heretic". Same freaking story as all the doctors who were silenced during this "pandemic". [1]

            >Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis's observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. He could offer no theoretical explanation for his findings of reduced mortality due to hand-washing, and some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and mocked him for it. In 1865, the increasingly outspoken Semmelweis allegedly suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to an asylum by his colleagues. In the asylum he was beaten by the guards. He died 14 days later from a gangrenous wound on his right hand that may have been caused by the beating. His findings earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory, giving Semmelweis' observations a theoretical explanation, and Joseph Lister, acting on Pasteur's research, practised and operated using hygienic methods, with great success.


            • UncleMeat 14 days ago

              Yes. Everybody has heard of this story. It comes from a time when the way that scientific research was identified, shared, and evaluated was entirely different both at a structural and individual level. It is also famous as shit in part because the story is so dramatic and unusual. I do not believe that it is in any way indicative that revolutionary research which demonstrated that CO2 emissions can be massively increased without generating meaningful planet-scale warming would be made inaccessible.

              ExxonMobil would be shouting it from the tops of the hills at every second of every day. The GOP would hold nonstop hearings for these researchers to present their work over and over and over. And I'm telling you that existing atmospheric science faculty would weep with joy over this news.

          • systemvoltage 14 days ago

            I don't think they'd be a fucking hero. They'd be hung by the media, strangled by the academic peers and rejected by the society.

            Most science works fine, this is one area where it is quite deranged.

            • UncleMeat 14 days ago

              Who have you spoken to who is deranged?

            • StanislavPetrov 14 days ago

              >I don't think they'd be a fucking hero. They'd be hung by the media, strangled by the academic peers and rejected by the society.

              I agree completely.

              >Most science works fine, this is one area where it is quite deranged.

              I disagree completely. The old saying, "science advances one funeral at a time" is still as true today as when it was coined.

            • pstuart 14 days ago

              If what climate scientists are saying is true, then there's every reason to be deranged about it.

              The bonus is that there's so many other wins from transitioning away from fossil fuels.

          • StanislavPetrov 14 days ago

            >Also, the number of grad students working their ass off trying to get their research published and getting their work rejected demonstrates pretty clearly that it is not "remarkably easy" to publish whatever you want as long as it aligns with the existing best thinking.

            While it isn't "remarkably easy" to publish what you want, even when it aligns with the establishment position, it is always infinitely harder to get what you want published when it conflicts with the establishment position (when it comes to "mainstream" publications).

        • spookthesunset 14 days ago

          > Strangely, the issue is similar to COVID.

          It would have been career suicide to go against the narrative with covid. Witness what happens to any paper published that suggests things in covid-land might not be as bad as claimed. They first get discredited as "not peer reviewed" and their authors get thrown to the wolves. Same with anything that shows masks don't really work very well. Or lockdowns don't work well. "Not peer reviewed" and "authors are bozos".

          These same people have absolutely no problem accepting papers that are based on crazy computer models using garbage data or "studies" that don't mimic anything real with very small sample sizes.

          Anything that goes with the narrative that covid is the worst thing ever and that masks are awesome was cheered on. It didn't matter how flimsy the research was. As long as it supported the cause it was golden.

        • beej71 14 days ago

          This is science, though, isn't it? There's a mountain of evidence for X, and someone finds a little evidence for Y. No one accepts it, naturally, since there's relatively little evidence for it. But over decades, perhaps the evidence grows and Y reaches acceptance parity, and then maybe goes on to exceed X and be the dominant theory. E.g. plate tectonics and continental drift.

      • puffoflogic 14 days ago

        This is exactly what people said about covid. You completely missed the point.

        • banannaise 14 days ago

          There's a very large difference in that COVID science was weeks to months old and extremely urgent, which caused a lot of wacky behaviors due to organizations panicking.

          Climate science has been churning for decades. Would disagreeing conclusions be laughed off at first? Sure, probably. When most disagreement has been junk science by quacks, it's natural to reflexively make that assumption of new disagreement. But there's ample time and space for new studies to be analyzed, expanded on, replicated.

          • tomp 14 days ago

            But as COVID science got clearer, the spreaders of fake news (“vaccines prevent virus” “masks work” “kids are endangered”) didn’t bear any responsibility nor suffer any consequences.

            Same as with climate science. When predictions turn wrong (glaciers still existing in 2020, Great Barrier Reef recovering) everyone just moves on to new fear-mongering.

            • chrisan 14 days ago

              What kind of consequences do you want those people to suffer?

              Surely you aren't going to argue the the vaccines did more harm than good?

              Or that wearing a mask caused someone personal harm?

              Or that trying to keep kids safe was a bad idea? My wife personally took care of many sick covid kids. They had all kinds of weird ailments no one was used to pre-pandemic.

              Not sure why you are citing glaciers still existing as something to stand on, they are clearly and measurably disappearing.

              • tomp 14 days ago

                At the very least they should lose their jobs/positions, never again be in position of power or consequential decision making, and the institutions that promoted them, should internally review their policies so the lies don’t happen again.

            • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

              I was shocked, as was my Doctor wife, that the government appeared to deliberately withhold firstline treatment options, and non-vaccine therapeutics

              Her response, "What is the standard of care for Covid patients first presenting?"

              There were none for years, the Govt conspired with BigTech to characterize doctors like Zelenko (RIP) and McCullough as loony quacks when they came up with their own protocols for treatment.

              Yet, later on the govt did come out with protocols that strangely, mimicked Zelenko & McCullough's material.

              • puffoflogic 14 days ago

                > Yet, later on the govt did come out with protocols that strangely, mimicked Zelenko & McCullough's material.

                No no no this is disinformation! A protocol which includes *checks notes* Pfizermectin is totally different than a protocol which includes ivermectin. You can't compare the two!

                • nradov 14 days ago

                  There haven't been any high-quality studies (consistent with evidence-based medicine criteria) which show ivermectin to be clinically effective as an early COVID-19 treatment. If you know of such a study then could you please provide a citation?

                  If by "Pfizermectin" you are referring to Paxlovid, that is not accurate. There are significant biochemical and pharmacokinetic differences between the molecules.


                  • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

                    on Ivermectin the evidence is over the place. Many of the foreign studies definitely show benefit. Many of the other studies don't. It is a real trainwreck. Consequently, I think it is safe to say that this is up in the air.

                    However, the McCullough protocol [1], and the closely related Zelenko protocols were not only about Ivermectin, HCQ, or Zinc, but instead cocktails of drugs with proven efficacy, and an overall approach to treatment prior to hospitalization.

                    Referencing the late 2020 publication:



                    hand washing / hand sanitizer Fresh air / Air circulation Negative pressure air isolation


                    Zinc with hydroxychloroquine Vitamin D & Vitamin C

                    Antivirals / Antibiotics

                    Quercetin Favipiravir Azithromycin Doxycycline

                    Mono-Clonal antibodies

                    bamlanivimab (MAB) casirivimab and imdevimab (MABs)

                    Anti-Inflammatory Colchicine


                    budesonide dexamethasone

                    Antiplatelet agents and antithrombotics

                    aspirin heparin Orals - pixaban, rivaroxaban, edoxaban, dabigatran


        • naasking 14 days ago

          > This is exactly what people said about covid. You completely missed the point.

          But such evidence didn't exist for COVID. Effectiveness of lockdowns and mask mandates is still hotly contested, for instance.

          • spookthesunset 14 days ago

            > Effectiveness of lockdowns and mask mandates is still hotly contested, for instance

            The fact their effectiveness is still being questioned suggests that we never should have done them in the first place. You don't get to make broad, highly disruptive mandates with almost zero evidence they would even work.

            For the mandates to actually be worth it, you should be able to show the data to any reasonable person and they'd immediately see an order of magnitude difference between test & control. The fact you can barely tell florida apart from california is pretty damning. If you need fancy math to see a difference, it wasn't worth it.

            • naasking 14 days ago

              > The fact their effectiveness is still being questioned suggests that we never should have done them in the first place.

              Not necessarily. Precautionary principle and all when we didn't know much. Mask mandates aren't that disruptive. Lockdowns obviously more disruptive, and definitely justified at the very beginning when we didn't know anything.

              • spookthesunset 14 days ago

                The era of the precautionary principle ended the day all the field hospitals closed virtually unused. That should have been the complete end of all mandates. Covid clearly wasn’t as bad as what all these “experts” computer models suggested so there was no reason to continue acting out of such great caution.

                Instead governors doubled down. That was the end of “science and data” and the beginning of 2.5 years of stupidity.

          • calculatte 14 days ago
            • naasking 14 days ago

              In principle, HCQ can be effective against some coronaviruses and not others. Ditto for masks. So I'm not convinced we knew anything specific about COVID-19 just due to prior research, but the precautionary principle suggests being overly conservative in most assumptions.

              Fauci actually did mislead the public about masks, but he actually believed they were effective, so he lied to the public claiming their ineffectiveness at first due to fears of shortages.

        • TurkishPoptart 14 days ago

          I was always onboard with the climate change agenda until 2020. Now I understand that this is "political science" (the application of "science" as interpreted by people in power) as opposed to pure "science". See the current Dutch farmer protests and those in Sri Lanka, and soon to come in Canada.

  • PostOnce 14 days ago
    • gilded-lilly 14 days ago

      No, that’s not how this works. You don’t restrict scientific debate or prevent people from speaking. We’re better than that.

      • PostOnce 14 days ago

        There's a difference between doing science, and going on a press tour to push a viewpoint, though. I don't think actual science was ever being suppressed.

        If covid was killing 40% of people instead of 1% of people, would we still want to spend 3 years figuring out, on spreadsheets, whether it was really merited based on long-term scientific studies?

        And if we decided that we should do some things for public health in the very short term, should we humor every crackpot who wants us to wait?

        • GeekyBear 14 days ago

          > I don't think actual science was ever being suppressed.

          Don't be ridiculous.

          We knew very early on that the passengers on the cruise ship Diamond Princess continued to spread Covid from cabin to cabin despite being locked down in their cabins. Yet the scientists who pointed out that this was very good evidence for airborne spread of Covid were shouted down.

          Why is this important? The mitigations we put in place were based on the theory that Covid had a droplet based spread, like the flu.

          • landemva 14 days ago

            And there were cases of couples on that ship locked in the same cabin with one person infected and the other not infected. Somehow some people had natural immunity, and this was not discussed or considered when the "everyone vax" messaging started.

            • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

              When there's new pathogen, transmission mechanism(s) unknown, and no moral way to test for "natural immunity", you don't go around saying hand wavy shit like "some people won't need it", because you have no idea who does and who doesn't.

              • switch007 14 days ago

                Are you saying coronaviruses were completely unknown to us in 2020? Have some balance.

                • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

                  Nope. I'm saying there was no way to know who had any level of natural immunity to SARS-COV-2.

                  • origin_path 14 days ago

                    The topic was never explored so we don't know if there was no way to know. Instead, epidemiologists just assumed 100% susceptibility, droplet transmission and no seasonality, i.e. that everyone would get infected all at once in one giant wave. This was wrong and also, in contradiction with all pre-existing knowledge of both how coronaviruses work and how SARS-1 worked (SARS-1 was airborne over long distances).

        • warmwaffles 14 days ago

          > And if we decided that we should do some things for public health in the very short term, should we humor every crackpot who wants us to wait?

          That's a very short sighted view. Expanding the power of government is not always the answer.

          • PostOnce 14 days ago

            We have the concept of a "state of emergency" for a reason, to temporarily give the government additional power to deal with emergencies.

            We don't want a completely powerless government, we invented government and endowed it with certain powers for a good reason. That's why states of emergency, etc, are temporary and time limited because we are aware of the tradeoffs and downsides of additional govt power vs catastrophic immediate necessity.

            If I lived next to an active forest fire, I wouldn't want the govt to commission a 36 month study to determine whether the fire was spread along the ground, or via airborne flaming leaves and embers. I would want them to put it out, even if that meant exercising temporary emergency powers like closing a road or shutting off a power line.

            • rmatt2000 14 days ago

              > to temporarily give the government additional power to deal with emergencies.

              I just want to point out that, according to the U.S. federal government, we are still in a "temporary" state of emergency, and have been for 30 months now.


              • PostOnce 14 days ago

                I'm not sure if you're aware, but pandemics aren't generally weekend events. Emergency powers help us keep more Americans safe & alive.

                Also, "State of Emergency" != Martial Law, so I'm not sure what you & your ilk are so disturbed about.

                Does "The public health emergency declaration allows many Americans to obtain free Covid-19 testing, therapeutic treatment and vaccines. Once it ends, people could face out-of-pocket costs" sound like tyrannical government overreach to you? (from your link)

                Speaking of which, New York is now in a State of Emergency because there is a polio outbreak in 2022

                Great job, guys. A polio outbreak in New York in 2022. FDR would be proud of us.


                I can't imagine vaccinate "skepticism" (read: illiteracy and dearth of critical thinking) has nothing to do with this.

                POLIO. In 2022. We did this.

                Can't wait to see what we manage to fuck up in the next 20 years.

                • warmwaffles 13 days ago

                  > POLIO. In 2022. We did this.

                  First off there are two strains of polio. It will never be eradicated, it'll just mutate and move on. Just like the Spanish Flu did.


                  > "State of Emergency" != Martial Law

                  It certainly was being treated like that early days during the pandemic. Shuttering all businesses, forcing people to stay home, and curfews.

                  > Emergency powers help us keep more Americans safe & alive. > ... > Can't wait to see what we manage to fuck up in the next 20 years.

                  You are being hyperbolic.

            • annad2021 14 days ago

              Yes, so temporary that it's still not lifted. I wonder why...

              • PaulDavisThe1st 14 days ago

                The answer is obvious. The 5G chip implants that are part of the vaccine have not reached enough people, and until that happens, thus enabling world order government via radio control, the state of emergency will continue.

      • anigbrowl 14 days ago

        Demon sperm doctor lady is still out there speaking to large audiences. I feel zero guilt about the fact that she's been sidelined from mainstream discourse.

      • bborud 14 days ago

        No, he's actually right. When you are in a situation that requires action the last thing you want is for everyone to stop, have a cigarette and debate the issue while nothing gets done. You can't wait around for a consensus to form - you will have to risk being wrong. Because you will be wrong much of the time regardless of what you do. And you will be criticized later. By people who themselves contributed nothing and know nothing because they weren't where the decisions had to be made.

        Fear, confusion, inaction and people taking advantage of the situation for political purposes are dangerous when faced with an immediate threat. Why do you think these elements are have been part of how people have waged war for thousands of years? These factors make populations incapable of coordinated response.

        Your mistake is to think that responding to a time-critical threat is scientific debate. It isn't and it is really dangerous when people with the power to influence others don't actually know the difference.

        • gilded-lilly 13 days ago

          Well yes, China agrees with you. That’s kind of how they run their whole country.

          • bborud 9 days ago

            No, this isn't a good comparison. A good comparison is following the orders of firefighters when your house is on fire. They'll have experience with fires. You won't. Their judgements in a situation *where nobody has all the information* is very likely to be much better than any guesses and assumptions you are going to make.

            This may mean that your Pokemon cards go up in flames when there was a chance you could have saved them by running into the house to save them. But by doing so you would have endangered the people responsible for saving you.

            After the fact it might turn out that there was time to save your pokemon cards. But when the house is on fire, nobody is going to put their neck on the line to take that risk. And you shouldn't expect them to.

            The time to make democratic decisions are before something happens. And the time to alter policy is when the data is in. When the house is on fire it is too late. You have to fight the fire with the fire department and the procedures you have. And pray that not too many idiots sabotage the effort because they labor under the delusion that they know better.

            If you have a hard time accepting this it is at least important that you understand that the rest of society will experience you as an added burden. If you expect to make up your own rules, based on considerably less knowledge, and in the absence of clear information, you are an extra drain on resources that ought to be focused on solving problems. Not catering to people who feel entitled to endangering people because they don't know the difference between making their bed and lying in it.

            I think it is in poor taste to make comparisons to dictatorships when hundreds of thousands of deaths could have been avoided if people had been better at taking direction that would have saved lives.

            I certainly wouldn't want to be anywhere near you in a crisis.

            • gilded-lilly 6 days ago

              I think you’re making a bit of a false comparison here.

              How about this. Your house may be on fire. But no one knows. So we’re going to install martial law, and silence anyone who is of the camp who believes the house is not on fire, for two years. When it finally transpires that those people who believed the house was not on fire were right all along, and they knew it, then we will issue no apology, or acknowledgement.

              • bborud 2 days ago

                If you have ever seen a fire department work: if there's ANY doubt, you do not get to enter the house.

    • calculatte 14 days ago

      This is the kind of fear propaganda that got innumerable people killed over the past two years.

      No, you don't just do whatever big pharma in cahoots with government "regulatory" agencies say and call that "science". The latest "booster" was tested on 8 mice before it was spread widely for use.

      The dissenting doctors were the ones making money? Have you seen how much Phizer is profiting off their untested, unapproved solution which is proven to be more dangerous than the disease?

      Time after time these pharmaceutical companies have lied and cheated in order to make money at the expense of thousands and millions of human lives. Somehow scared people are willing to forget history and go with whatever an authority figure tells them.

    • Lochleg 14 days ago

      Your simplistic theory for silencing certain scientists falls apart when you need to examine Africa or other countries that had the virus but not the excess death you would expect. Also, there is new excess death data that is not explained by the virus.

    • OrvalWintermute 14 days ago

      Are you saying Dr. McCullough, who came out with the McCullough protocol, closely related to the Zelenko protocol for firstline non-vaccine therapeutic treatment of Covid was a shyster?

      He was years ahead of CDC & NIH on coming up with something close to standard of care, and he published it openly [1] yet NIH was 2 years behind him [2] despite greater resourcing... Look at the publishing dates!

      You were saying?



  • Gordonjcp 14 days ago
    • spookthesunset 14 days ago

      For kids the vaccine almost certainly is more harmful than Covid. That’s why many countries don’t push kids to get vaccinated.

      As for the “horse dewormer”… don’t you find it at all curious why none of the “experts” ever suggested any kind of treatments for Covid beyond vaccines and paxlovid. No “eat healthy, take your vitamins, exercise, get fresh air”. Nope. Just hunker down in your home and wait for salvation. Any attempt to find other treatments for Covid were immediately shot down and roundly mocked.

      Weird, eh? Like what kind of assholes shoot down doctors and basically cancel them trying to find treatments for Covid? Who does that? In what world is that normal?

      Even more odd is none of them bat an eye when they push some omicron specific booster that was only tested on like 8 mice before being deemed legit.

      • adamrezich 14 days ago

        there was tons of weird stuff that only memetically lasted for a couple of days before fizzling out—remember "deltacron"? whatever happened to that? pretty sure it "existed" for about two days, then everyone silently agreed that name was ridiculous and nobody would take it seriously and it kind of just, uh, disappeared...

        • ok123456 14 days ago

          "Deltacron" turned out to be a lab error.

          • adamrezich 14 days ago

            where were the front-page retractions, telling citizens, "hey, we know you're in a heightened emotional state of fear because of everything that (we told you) has happened, and we just told you to be more afraid of yet another new thing, but, guys, guess what, it was an honest mistake, just a lab error, sorry about that, we'll be better going forward when it comes to getting people who have been in basically a nonstop state of panic for months now riled up about yet another thing, when it turned out to be nothing. again, sorry!"

            no, nothing, it was just quietly phased out of headlines and trending topics, with zero remorse or reflection. and this is just one of many examples of this happening in the past few years.

            when are people going to realize that mass-scale emotional manipulation of the populace for political and/or financial gain for an elite few is not only totally viable in this world where everyone has the Internet in their pockets, but actually, provably what has been going on for quite awhile now?

            that contemporary politician you were taught, at one point (which point exactly? you've long since forgotten), to have endless simultaneous fear of and hatred for? maybe all of that was kind of overblown. maybe you can still dislike him and even be politically opposed to him and everything he stands for, yet still intellectually recognize that you were actively, consciously, willfully gaslit into perceiving him as Mecha-Hitler.

            or maybe you say to yourself, that was never me, I was never like that. okay, maybe you were one of the lucky ones who saw through at least some portion of the charade, but it is irrefutable that the constant nonstop plural-year top-down entrenched government propaganda has conditioned millions of people to have an entirely irrational set of emotions deliberately programmed into them that trigger upon mere mention of this person's surname.

            once you understand how conditioned emotional responses are fully capable of entirely overriding the logical faculties of even the smartest people you know or know of, you start to see the scope of what is at play here.

            • spookthesunset 14 days ago

              New York Times continually claimed covid had a "4% death rate" for like a year after it was shown that the IFR of covid is somewhere down in the 0.6% (which itself is highly age stratified). Not once have these "experts" ever told people to calm down. Not once have they celebrated that covid is nowhere near as bad as some of the original computer models suggested.

        • spookthesunset 14 days ago

          Don’t forget Covid toes. Or double masking.

          Crazy stuff…

      • TurkishPoptart 14 days ago

        Have you read any of Robert Kennedy Jr's book, "The Real Anthony Fauci"?

      • Gordonjcp 14 days ago

        Because none of those things will stop you getting a virus.

        It's really quite simple.

        • spookthesunset 14 days ago

          Virus is gonna virus. You can’t stop it and you can’t contain it.

          • Gordonjcp 14 days ago

            You can, however, vaccinate against it.

            • spookthesunset 14 days ago

              Sadly the covid vaccines don't seem to slow the spread in any meaningful way.

              • Gordonjcp 14 days ago

                Mmmm, yes and no. They definitely tamed the symptoms in anyone that got it, and they made it rather less likely that you'd get it anyway. Consider that before the vaccine and even with masks and everything else it was going through the population of every country where it appeared like prunes through a short grandmother.

                As for the symptoms, let me put it this way - I only know four people who refused to get vaccinated, and they died of COVID, or an existing condition made drastically worse by COVID.

  • _djo_ 14 days ago
    • spookthesunset 14 days ago

      Speaking out against all the harms and negatives of some highly disruptive non pharmaceutical interventions with unproven efficacy is absolutely not bad faith arguments. It’s the cornerstone of science and democracy.

      Anybody in a position of power or knowledge who dared to even hint at asking questions got absolutely steamrollered by a very vocal group of “experts”. They were called alt-right selfish grandma killers who watched to much fox (and sorry, I never watched fox but it isn’t my fault they might actually be right sometimes, I’ve also been a solid democrat my entire life until this nonsense started…).

      What we did the last two and a half years is so incredibly shameful. It was the opposite of science and opposite of “following the data”. It was appeals to authority all the way down. We were all told to shut up, “stay in our lane” and listen to a handful of cherry picked “experts”.

      The last two and a half years changed my opinion about “fact checkers” and “misinformation” completely. Both of those are nothing more than ways to bully people into submission.

      • musicale 14 days ago

        I found dang's response[1] to the question "Is fact checking that difficult?" to be insightful:

        > It's extremely difficult because the human psyche seems incapable of distinguishing "fact" from "that which supports my view", at least when the emotions are activated, and the only topics where people seek "fact checking" in the first place are the ones where emotions are activated. There may be exceptions—i.e. people whose minds don't work this way—but if they exist, they're so rare as to be no basis for social policy. (And I doubt that there are really exceptions.)

        > That's why there doesn't seem to be any fact checker whose calls aren't predictable from one of the major ideological partitions.

        > Another way of putting this is that the question, "what are the facts?" is complex enough to already recreate the entire political and ideological contest. It's understandable that people would like to reduce that contest to a simpler subset of factual questions—but you can't. Just the opposite: that apparently simpler subset reduces to it.


        • bombcar 14 days ago

          The only "fact checkers" I have found to be useful are domain experts who get a burr up their ass and go incredibly deep-dive on whatever it is. And whatever they come up with usually pisses everyone off relatively equally, for some reason.

          • forgetfreeman 14 days ago

            I'd like to take a stab at this. Barring certain pitiable neurodivergent conditions, folks consider themselves to be intelligent and highly moral creatures. The primary goal of ideological shit-flinging contests appears to be revealing one's opponent as an amoral imbecile, as a means of both propping up one's own self-image, and virtue signaling to larger audiences. When a true authority joins the chat and nukes everyone's Dunning-Kruger fueled reductionist positions with a comprehensive and highly nuanced grasp of the topic at hand, all of the amateurs at the table are presented with details that undermine their simplistic take on the issue in question. This undermines their own credibility, introduces massive cognitive dissonance, and disrupts their ability to continue to paint their chosen adversaries as dangerous incompetents based solely on the merits of their arguemts. In other words everyone is wrong, and they hate it because ego.

        • coding123 14 days ago

          This can't be more true. I see a new section in Google news now for "fact checks". I am guessing it's never had a post on the hunter laptop. It's not "fact checking section" it's a "daily left affirmation section".

        • hotpotamus 14 days ago

          That seems like the long way around of saying there is no such thing as objective truth, which I'm also beginning to suspect is correct.

        • commandlinefan 14 days ago

          dang may be the only fact checker in the world I would trust to actually check facts.

          • fakethenews2022 14 days ago

            Dang blocked a link to a paper on myocarditis induced on teens by the vaccines. That is now not disputed. I don’t trust dang for anything.

            Fuck you dang and block this.

            • OrvalWintermute 13 days ago

              > Dang blocked a link to a paper on myocarditis induced on teens by the vaccines.

              I know many people have a good opinion of Dang, but this seems to be editing, rather than moderating.

              Can you provide some more data about what happened, the paper in question, and if it was from a reputable source in a peer-reviewed journal, or preprint?

              I'd like to know more about this. I've long talked about the myocarditis and pericarditis risks which are most pronounced with young males and young females based on the known cases, and the nordic countries withdrawal of the vaccines for young males.

              Strangely, even the Novavax vaccine also appears to have that adverse event, allegedly at a vastly reduced rate though [1].


              • fakethenews2022 13 days ago

                This wasn't editing. It was censorship. I linked to a Youtube video by a doctor. Included in the video's description was a link to the paper. Dang claims that users flagged it and linked to the FAQ.

                There is nothing in the link that would violate the FAQ.

                I cussed him out in another comment and he blocked that too.

                My link to the paper itself was downvoted too.



                Now myocarditis is accepted and found on the CDC site on the mRNA vaccines.

                Hacker News is shit. I have used it far less since that time.

                • OrvalWintermute 13 days ago

                  > Dang claims that users flagged it and linked to the FAQ.

                  I am not defending dang, but that does appear to be a weaponized tactic being utilized here on HN.

                  Flag something, downvote it en masse, get a user making a dissenting opinion on a "you are commenting too fast timer" which appears to be triggered by mass downvotes, and then hope the flagging carries through.

                  The problem is with HN - they are permitting this type of behavior, and not realizing (or not actively intercepting) the use of this tactic to silence dissent.

                  While some time ago the idea that IV injection was problematic with the vaccines would be called fringe or, more aptly, cutting edge research, nowadays we know there is a legitimate issue, many countries are now banning these vaccines in persons under specific ages, and the body of research is more developed.

                  • fakethenews2022 12 days ago

                    The paper was published in Oxford Academic by Oxford University Press. I don't think that can be labeled as fringe.

                    I talked to someone else and apparently this side effect was widely known and accepted in another country far before it was accepted in the US.

                    The dismissal of facts also happened with the investigation of airborne transmission of covid-19.

      • TurkishPoptart 14 days ago

        I 100% agree with you. Once I learned about the "Trusted News Initiative" and the cooperation between Reuters, Pfizer, major media organs, and watched how Fauci previoulsy described the mRNA shots as 95%-100% effective, and later saw that number dwindle down to the low 50s, the Canadian trucker protests against absurd mandates and the shockingly draconian response from the _Canadian_ government, the despicable Australian and New Zealand policies in which citizens can not (and still can't) legally leave their country without getting mRNA shots, listening to Rachel Maddow and Joe Biden telling my poor, miserable father that "if you get the shot, you won't get sick and you won't spread it" which is probably one of the most destructive lies the ruling class perpetuated among fearful, isolated humans in my lifetime...

        ...I knew I could never vote for any Democratic politician ever again who supported this.

        I couldn't visit my aunt in the nursing home before she died of a non-covid cause. I couldn't visit my father when he was in the hospital for a heart attack, EVEN THOUGH I was masked and vaxxed. It's simply disgusting how administrative law was weaponized against the common man.

        • spookthesunset 14 days ago

          And yet here you are getting grey'd out. What humans inflicted upon each other over the last 2.5 years is absolutely disgusting. These few years have shown the worst of humanity. Society lost its collective shit and basically did the exact opposite of what it should have done every step of the way.

          All I take heart in is knowing your view and mine will be the the correct one. History will not look fondly upon what society did to itself. All these "experts" and politicians who supported this will be viewed as crackpots, charlatans and rain dancers.

          • JoeAltmaier 14 days ago

            It's the black-and-white condemnation of preventative measure as ineffective, the conflation of "it's not perfect for each person but valuable in the population" with "it's worthless and a violation of my rights" that gets the downvotes.

            I'd say that history will have a lot to say about everyone.

            • spookthesunset 14 days ago

              Can you prove those mitigations were worth their incredible cost to society? Can you prove they were, in fact, valuable for the population?

              The fact we still debate the effect of these mandates means it wasn't worth it. The fact we jumped into all these crazy mandates with nary a shred of evidence they'd even work is batshit insane.

              And last I checked, humans have quite a few inalienable rights. We violated many of them and then mocked people who objected. Apparently not as inalienable as we thought if the masses demand it.

              • forgetfreeman 14 days ago

                There are folks who will gleefully spend unlimited amounts of time arguing that the earth is flat, so the notion that because a position has merit solely because attracts individuals who will argue it is ludicrous on it's face.

                Incidentally, if you are convinced that there was no evidence to support social separation and masking I'm guessing you don't wear respiratory PPE as part of either your work or a hobby, don't know anyone who does, and haven't spent any time researching filtration grades and their mechanisms of efficacy. In any case there are several industries ranging from mold abatement to biopharmacology and even chipmaking that would like a word with you.

              • JoeAltmaier 14 days ago

                When difficult things happen some folks will pick and whine and complain and make themselves the center of attention. And some will pitch in and help. It's clear how that went in this difficult time.

            • elenaferrantes 14 days ago

              ho yeah and we saw how effective the measures were, every person I know has got Covid !

              • JoeAltmaier 13 days ago

                ...which is the expected outcome and in line with all recommendations. It's this confusion I was talking about.

                Public health measures were to slow the spread and not overwhelm medical resources, and to give time for better measures to be developed. Which has happened. Some folks cooperated with this, and some rebelled. And some spewed hate and misinformation.

              • forgetfreeman 13 days ago

                Of course they have. The aphormis "fuck around and find out" has definitely enjoyed it's time in the sun thanks to the pandemic. Now if everyone you knew had spent the last three years voluntarily quarantined and only ventured in public wearing rated PPE with the correct fitment you might have a point, so how about it?

    • slibhb 14 days ago

      Calling an argument "bad faith" means that argument's proponent doesn't believe it's true. I highly doubt that was the case with various people -- some of them doctors -- questioning the party line on the pandemic. Being wrong is not the same as arguing in bad faith.

      Your attitude is sadly very common. Everyone who disagrees with you is a bad faith actor, engaged in knowing lies to further some shadowy agenda. I think you underestimate how little consensus there actually is, even among the educated.

      • musicale 14 days ago

        > Everyone who disagrees with you is a bad faith actor, engaged in knowing lies to further some shadowy agenda

        This crystallizes the current discourse of unrelenting demonization. It isn't appropriate in most cases.

        • viridian 14 days ago

          I personally tell anyone who agree me of arguing in bad faith that they shouldn't have started talking with me in the first place if they thought I was a bad faith actor, and then I stop talking to them.

          Nothing productive can be said once the accusation is made.

      • autokad 14 days ago

        > Everyone who disagrees with you is a bad faith actor, engaged in knowing lies to further some shadowy agenda

        And what's funny is they call people who disagree with them conspiracy theory people, which is weird because their statements show no evidence of conspiracy nor does the fact they are alluding to a conspiracy have any impact on the truth of their argument.

      • _djo_ 14 days ago
        • spookthesunset 14 days ago

          What, exactly, is “not true” about the great barrington declaration? What is “not true” about the fact that lockdowns were not in any pandemic playbook prior to 2020? What is “not true” about the fact the median age of Covid death is like 5 years higher than the average human lifespan? What is “not true” about the fact you still cannot reliably differentiate between “died of” and “died with” Covid?

          In your case, I suspect “not true” simply means “I don’t agree”. You should really question why you believe the “facts” you do and examine why somebody else might think different. Who knows, maybe they have very valid points?

          • hotpotamus 14 days ago

            That would surprise me if lockdowns didn't appear in any pandemic playbook since they've been practiced since antiquity and until the 20th century where the only way to prevent spread of contagious disease.

            • spookthesunset 14 days ago

              The only way lock downs were even remotely possible was zoom. Without zoom, none of this would have been possible. One has to be incredibly privileged to think lockdowns can work in any place but very advanced "first world" societies. Getting villagers living in the 12th century to lockdown would mean they'd all starve to death. Same with getting some favella in Brazil to lock down. It just doesn't work.

              It requires an immense, huge amount of privilege to support virtually any of our response to covid. Anybody but a select group of wealth upper class people get absolutely fucked over by lockdowns. Fucked over far worse than covid ever would have.

              • crote 14 days ago

                12th century farmers were practicing subsistence agriculture. Locking the entire village off from the outer world was absolutely possible.

                The cities are the big problem. During the Black Death, people coming to cities were quarantined before they were allowed to enter. Even then, many cities saw half their population die. A very significant number of settlements was wiped out altogether.

                Ironically, it was actually quite beneficial to the regular villager - provided you survived. The Black Death has been directly linked to the collapse of feudalism in Europe, among with many other sociological developments.

              • hotpotamus 14 days ago

                I don't think the people stocking shelves in grocery stores, making deliveries, picking up garbage, driving busses, and tending the sick were able to work over zoom even today.

          • anon84873628 14 days ago

            See the "died with" thing is where you lost me. It was obvious that there was an illness killing lots of people. But then you had people who didn't want to admit it, blamed co-morbidities, said doctors were deliberately inflating the numbers to make money, etc. Those people poisoned the well of discourse.

            "Died with" was not a meaningful distinction at the time and falls under the "bad faith" category for me.

            • spookthesunset 14 days ago

              It’s a huge distinction. There is a massive difference between dying because of Covid vs. dying from something else and happening to test positive. By combining them together, Covid looks worse than it is. Then politicians use that faulty data to make bad decisions and the media publishes that bad data and freaks the shit out of people.

              One cannot claim to be on team “science and data” when their data is a garbage heap. Being able to tell between “hospitalized because of Covid” and “died because of Covid” vs “hospitalized and tested positive” and “died and tested positive” is an incredibly important thing.

              I have no idea why people continue to dismiss this other than fears of people “not taking Covid serious” because… well it might not be as serious as the trash data suggests. It’s completely manipulative, a common theme from “the experts”

              You cannot in good faith claim to be “following the data” and accept commingling “from” and “with”.

            • nradov 14 days ago

              The reported death numbers absolutely were inflated in many areas, at least early in the pandemic. This is a proven fact not open to dispute. For example, Santa Clara County had to revise their death toll down by 22% because they were using invalid criteria.


              Whether such classification errors were deliberate is a separate issue. In most cases I suspect it was more due to lack of resources and/or incompetence rather than a deliberate attempt to mislead.

              Medicare did pay hospitals more to care for COVID-19 patients. That is also a fact not open to dispute. Whether doctors or hospitals deliberately inflated numbers to make money is unknown.


              About half of the COVID-19 positive hospital patients were admitted for unrelated reasons, and only tested positive as part of admission screening.


            • SamPatt 14 days ago

              >poisoned the well of discourse

              Please find me a single topic which impacts more than a roomful of people where someone isn't engaging in this type of discourse.

              This sounds like you justifying your former false beliefs (or at least lack of willingness to investigate alternative beliefs) by blaming it on other people who were also wrong.

          • puffoflogic 14 days ago

            It's not true because it dissents from government approved science. That's the only definition of "not true" which matters for culture warriors.

        • colpabar 14 days ago

          I think it's pretty naive to think that everyone who didn't agree with "the science" that the government (and pfizer) decided was the "real science" were flat out wrong. Science is about proving hypothesis with experiments, publicly, so that others can independently verify the results. That's not what happened with anything related to covid though. The government said one thing, and declared everything else to be misinformation that wasn't even worthy of a rebuttal. I get that it'd be a fool's errand to respond to every single disagreement, because yeah of course some of then will be ridiculous. But writing off credentialed and respected doctors and scientists because they don't 100% agree with anthony fauci (aka Science itself) seems

          And why does no one question motives of pfizer? Didn't they just make an insane amount of money selling vaccines? Didn't they also just (in 2009) get charged with the largest case of medical fraud in history? Remember when people had a healthy distrust of massive pharmaceutical companies that profit off sickness? What happened?

        • autokad 14 days ago

          No, the problem is people who use to ruin religion have now joined politics and science (which are now also one in the same). Science is not supposed to have society 'relying off it'.

          science is just a tool to help you prove if a hypothesis is backed by evidence, or is not. NOTHING ELSE. it does not tell you if you should go outside, it does not even tell you if something is true or false. In fact, our universe may not even be one that is built on a 'fundamental truth'.

          > It was not designed to handle deliberate attacks designed to sow doubt for ulterior motives.

          Then you dont understand science, not even a little because that's exactly what it was designed for. attacks makes science stronger, not weaker. an argument hat has been given no attack is a weak argument. the strange notion that science has a fundamental truth that people are supposed to just believe because a subset of individuals says so is troubling.

        • darawk 14 days ago

          > I meant it in that sense, that those pushing it knew full well that it wasn’t true but had ulterior motives.

          Who is an example of that in this context?

        • nradov 14 days ago

          The problem is that during the pandemic, many scientists used their positions to advocate for particular policies rather than sticking to the science. There's nothing wrong in principle with a person being both a scientist and an advocate, but ethically they should make it clear which role they are playing at any given time. The actual science was mostly very weak, and couldn't reasonably be used as justification for any particular public policy.

    • ioslipstream 14 days ago

      "You can’t discuss this problem without acknowledging the role of bad actors in the system."

      On both sides. The government, pharmaceutical companies, and big tech were definitely bad actors. We do not live in a nanny state nor do we want to. What happened during the pandemic was disgraceful. Discussion was effectively shut down and science as well as treatment was negatively affected by the actions of censorship.

      • lern_too_spel 14 days ago

        Imagine the Internet didn't exist. Would there have been more of a discussion of fringe views or less? What would the outcome have been on COVID deaths?

      • anon84873628 14 days ago

        That's really not true. It just conveniently played into an existing narrative that the liberal media was trying to shut down other views.

        The fact that we are so well aware of all the disagreement and skepticism - the fact that many people still have erroneous beliefs about the virus - is a great sign that censorship wasn't effective.

    • andreilys 14 days ago

      There’s no other way to see those types of efforts as anything other than attacks against science itself

      The funny thing is most of what you call bad faith questioning ended up being approved by “Science” (cloth masks being ineffective, how the virus transmitted, covid origins, etc.)

      Unfortunately it seems like for you and many others, science has turned into a religion conducted by a priestly class that cannot be questioned.

    • vorpalhex 14 days ago

      If your response to disagreeing with someone is to censor them, you are not doing science but instead engaging in faith.

      "Hey, lockdowns may be worse than the disease" is not some evil chain smoking climate skeptic position.

      • anigbrowl 14 days ago

        In isolation that's true. If it's strongly correlated with other assertions like 'it's just a cold', 'only people with unhealthy lifestyles are at risk', 'it's a bioweapon' etc. then people may justifiably suspect it's part of a broad-spectrum attack on public health messaging.

        • nradov 14 days ago

          Risk was heavily concentrated among people with unhealthy lifestyles. That doesn't mean we shouldn't take the pandemic seriously, but asserting that fact is in no way an attack on public health messaging.

          • strken 14 days ago

            That article states that obesity was a risk factor in 34% of deaths under 65. The US obesity rate is 42% (EDIT: 36%, 42% is the adult rate). I'm not sure how to interpret that.

          • anigbrowl 14 days ago

            That's why I'm saying we should look at the correlation between disparate assertions. Uncertainty about the efficacy or necessity of a vaccine is understandable, for example, but if it's coupled with assertions about 5g mind control I'm less willing to spend effort on the conversation.

    • musicale 14 days ago

      > large corporations had the incentive to prevent a certain type of government action

      I can see how lockdowns opposed corporate interests, and I'd be interested in hearing more about how corporations influenced anti-lockdown.

      I don't see how lab leak theory is connected to corporate interests one way or the other.

      Anti-vax doesn't seem to align with corporate interests and in fact seems to be opposed to it.

      • matheusmoreira 14 days ago

        > I'd be interested in hearing more about how corporations influenced anti-lockdown

        About a year ago in my city, in a period of relative stability during the pandemic, the previous mayor made the mistake of saying he would lock down again if necessary. Business owners more or less told all their employees they'd lose their jobs if there was another lockdown. The result was someone else was elected.

        • MichaelCollins 14 days ago

          Ballots are secret, people generally don't vote the way their boss tells them to unless their boss is making some persuasive arguments. In this case, "lockdowns will shut down businesses" is a common sense argument that was proven true numerous times around the world to anybody who cared to pay attention to their own neighborhoods. If people decided to vote out a mayor who was promising more of that, who's fault is it? The mayor, who suggested such a destructive and unpopular plan, or business owners who had the audacity to voice their opinions against it?

          When politicians announce unpopular plans, causing people to voice their disagreement and vote the asshole out of office, that's democracy functioning as intended. Only authoritarian asshats looks at a situation like this and conclude that dissent is the problem.

          • matheusmoreira 14 days ago

            I agree with you. I think lockdowns destroyed the economy, such measures put a lot of people out of business. My story was just an example of how businesses influenced politics. The grandparent poster wanted to hear more about how it happens.

      • n4r9 14 days ago

        Lockdowns caused a big slump in industries like retail and transport. In the UK, airline bosses in particular were outspoken about their desire to lift lockdown restrictions as soon as possible.

      • _djo_ 14 days ago

        When you have an interest in creating distrust in using science for policy, anything goes.

        One of the key anti-lockdown advocacy groups, PANDA, started out fairly sane-sounding and was packed full of hedge fund and other finance people. But once vaccines were widely available they inexplicably turned strongly anti-vaccine too.

        • prottog 14 days ago

          I'm repeating an idea I read somewhere else, but we should just stop calling it the "Covid vaccine", since it doesn't seem to make you any less likely to catch the disease or spread it once you have it. The word "vaccine" should be reserved for things that we traditionally understand to be such.

          Let's call it a "Covid preventative" or literally anything else, and stop mandating it, so that we avoid the bigger public health issue of a generalized distrust against existing, effective vaccines arising from this.

          • lovich 14 days ago

            >...since it doesn't seem to make you any less likely to catch the disease or spread it once you have it.

            >Let's call it a "Covid preventative"...

            What does preventative mean to you that doesn't imply making you less likely to catch the disease?

          • lern_too_spel 14 days ago

            You're redefining the word vaccine. A vaccine is a drug that works by stimulating the immune system. It always has been. The fact that you think it means something else is a result of you being an easy mark for people spreading misinformation.

            • nradov 14 days ago

              I actually agree with you but the CDC changed their definition of the word "vaccine" several times, most recently in 2021. The latest revision is now more scientifically accurate. But it's understandable how the changes caused confusion among some members of the public.


              • lern_too_spel 14 days ago

                It is not understandable without people acting in bad faith. Nobody with any sense would be closely monitoring that page's definitions because they are meaningless for policy. The only people who would care are conspiracy theorists and those who profit from them.

                • prottog 14 days ago

                  Besides calling me stupid and gullible, do you have an answer for my original point, which is that the Covid vaccines behave so differently than other vaccines, and that there may be a public health benefit in acknowledging that?

                  I get vaccinated against measles, or polio, or tetanus, and I don't have to worry about catching or spreading any of those diseases for years. With the Covid vaccine, some sources[0] say fully-vaccinated people are only half as likely as unvaccinated people to catch it (though obviously with less severe effects), and maybe about as likely to transmit it to others[1], and the protective effects wear off in a matter of months. That clearly doesn't line up with the public's traditional understanding of vaccines.



                  • lern_too_spel 14 days ago

                    I didn't call you stupid, and everybody is at least a little gullible for stories that match their existing beliefs.

                    Do you get vaccinated for flu, the most administered vaccine in the US each year before the COVID vaccines became available? They are less effective than the mRNA COVID vaccines at preventing symptomatic disease and far less effective than the mRNA COVID vaccines at preventing severe disease.

                    The effectiveness of both is publicly acknowledged by the government. It just has nothing to do with the definition of "vaccine."

                    Other HN readers should consider this: had the social media companies not tried to limit the spread of misinformation, how many more conspiracy theories would you be parroting?

        • evilpotatoes 14 days ago

          Since when is anti-mandatory vaccination anti-vaccine ? Especially since it demonstrably has zero impact on infection or likelihood of communication. Which the data showed as obvious since about July of 2021 from Israel.

          • nrb 14 days ago

            > Especially since it demonstrably has zero impact on infection or likelihood of communication.

            How about hospitalization and death rates, the outcomes we actually care about?

            • evilpotatoes 14 days ago

              For which time period? If you look recently, it's not looking so good for covid-19 vaccines.

      • coding123 14 days ago

        Lab leak is HUGE for corporate interests. It's China. If China has culpability in using dangerous things and let this loose then China is going to be blamed, in large part, by a large number of people around the world. Since China is basically the lynch pin of all commerce in the world [1], there are massive interests to make sure it's "from china" but not maliciously or because of some future war they are planning. If it truly was from a market or just a bat in a cave - no one is really going to blame China beyond just minor shaming on them having wet markets.


    • cloutchaser 14 days ago

      > Shutting out the bad faith actors is necessary to ensure science and public policy informed by it can continue to be effective and useful

      Did we shut down people saying smoking is good for you?


      So I'm not sure how your argument holds up.

      • _djo_ 14 days ago

        Ultimately, yes. It’s impossible to keep this sort of thing up indefinitely, and over the decades the evidence became overwhelming enough that it was impossible to ignore. Researchers who were co-opted were shunned, losing career opportunities, and universities stopped accepting funding from tobacco companies.

        • spookthesunset 14 days ago

          Will you change your stance on our response to Covid when the evidence of its harms (and lack of positive effects) become so large as to be unavoidable? Because it will.

          History will not look fondly upon those who pushed these highly destructive mandates. It will be seen as one of the greatest public health fuckups of all time.

    • elenaferrantes 14 days ago

      I can see the reason the tobacco industry would lie about the effect of tobacco. What would be the reason an expert would show bad faith going against the narrative we saw for Covid ? (Vaccine are effective, masks are effective, lock-downs are effective).

    • SamPatt 14 days ago

      Are you claiming this is what happened in this specific case? That the Great Barrington Declaration was promulgated by bad actors due to support from large companies?

      If that's not your claim, then why are you bringing this up? Are you supportive of government censorship as the article describes:

      >At least 11 federal agencies, and around 80 government officials, have been explicitly directing social media companies to take down posts and remove certain accounts that violate the government’s own preferences and guidelines for coverage on topics ranging from COVID restrictions, to the 2020 election, to the Hunter Biden laptop scandal.

      • spookthesunset 14 days ago

        Ironically it was fauci and friends who wanted to discredit the GBD. That declaration was written and signed by actual scientists, doctors and “experts”… it wasn’t a book of facts. It contained no “misinformation”. It was an alternate viewpoint on our reaction to Covid—nothing more and nothing less. It just happened to be one that went against the narrative pushed by those in power.

  • Melatonic 14 days ago

    Who was de-platformed?

ilaksh 14 days ago

To me the core of this issue is that sometimes government officials truly believe their missions are more important than free speech. They may think that their job is actually to suppress free speech unfortunately.

Especially common is for national security to override free speech in the minds of government officials. They can easily convince themselves that they need to suppress certain viewpoints in order to save many lives. It just coincidentally also saves their own jobs.

I think unfortunately that young people would prefer less free speech and for the government to enforce more confirming perspectives.

One other core issue for people who want the tech companies to stop listening to government to consider is the fact that the government has police, guns, prisons, and legal sanctions available to enforce it's policy decisions.

  • alexb_ 14 days ago

    >Especially common is for national security to override free speech in the minds of government officials. They can easily convince themselves that they need to suppress certain viewpoints in order to save many lives. It just coincidentally also saves their own jobs.

    Non-disclosure of secret information that you willingly make yourself privy to is not suppression of free speech.

    • MichaelCollins 14 days ago

      Over-classification is a free speech issue. There's a moral difference between information being classified to protect the country, and information being classified to protect inept politicians and government officials from having to face the accountability of the public.

      For instance, the CIA spent the equivalent of several billion dollars trying to lift an obsolete Soviet submarine from the ocean floor, against the recommendations of the US Navy which thought they could recover the relevant materials using deep sea remote control 'drones' from a spy submarine, rather than using a surface ship to lift the whole sub, which they said would fail and risked discovery. Well it did fail, and they did get discovered and the US Government was forced to explain itself to the Soviet government. But in the aftermath of this boondoggle, the US government was more candid with the Soviets than with the American public. The rational for sharing information with the Soviets but not with the American public can only be to protect the CIA/etc from public accountability. They continue to use the ambiguity created by their secrecy to lead people to believe they were more successful than they actually were. The Soviets/Russians can get ground truth about this incident by sending their own drones down there to see what was left of the submarine. The CIA's classification of the incident serves to obscure the truth from the American public, not the Russians.

    • falcrist 14 days ago

      How is this not a limitation on freedom of speech? You have a piece of information that you aren't allowed to talk about.

      I think this is just a limitation that we're all mostly ok with.

    • fallingknife 14 days ago

      No it isn't. But OP is talking more about government suppressing public information. Like when the FBI told Zuckerberg to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story because it was Russian disinformation.

  • mistrial9 14 days ago

    basically agree as a US Citizen - let's think about the psychology of public policy just for a minute. When given an "order", upon hearing information that directs behavior that is not your choice or is new in some way, combined with restriction, inconvenience or most directly, feels threatening.. then a common personal reaction is to deny, disclaim, reject or attack the messenger and/or the message.

    Public policy is much older than the USA.. people with skills and methods in this area are not new to this reaction.. So the playing field is set.

    The age of Monarchy saw many obviously awful abuses of mono- or unilateral messaging.. "By decree of the King .. this that or the other"

    Certain religious groups in association with Monarchy did so even more.. into the private lives of people. So a founding principle of the purposefully diverse USA was.. free speech. You cannot be sent to prison for making fun of the King nor publicly defending prostitution .. for example. But here it gets difficult.. Obviously strong minds and wills have strong reactions. The social upheaval politically in 20th Century Europe had a high cost socially.

    But now, in the USA, we have credentialed experts in Science being silenced, not refuted. This is a new modern "low" and the use of technology to de-platform harkens directly back to ANATHEMA or ex-communication reaction.. it is very, very dark days for speech in the USA.

  • hotpotamus 14 days ago

    Would you post here if people were allowed to say whatever they wanted?

    • r3trohack3r 14 days ago

      This question seems disingenuous. Your comment equates the U.S. Government attempting to suppress speech critical of their own decisions with dang moderating an internet forum. These are not the same.

      The first amendment protects speech in the United States for good reason. There are bad people in the world. Those bad people can end up in government. The government wields incredible power. The three branches are meant to keep each other in check - but so are the citizens. The ability to vote in/out candidates is a balancing force. The humans in power being able to distort speech in the country to favor keeping them in power breaks that balancing force.

      This article is asking "did the government attempt to suppress speech." That has nothing to do with moderation on HN.

      dang is not a representative of a government. It's entirely reasonable (IMO) for the mods here to suppress speech critical of decisions a government is making - it's their site. It is entirely unreasonable for a government to suppress speech critical of decisions the government is making. Blurring that line is how you do a fascism.

      • hotpotamus 14 days ago

        There's a lot there, but you know, I'm just tired of seeing people die from what are almost certainly (vaccine) preventable illnesses. I've stood in enough funeral processions. I wonder if there is any way for the government to try and prevent that? It seems like they attempted to work with private companies (and passed no laws to coerce them into it). And what about the companies? Perhaps they agreed with those in government they were in contact with and worked to police their platforms. Would that look much different from coercion?

        • r3trohack3r 14 days ago

          “Terrorists” and child pornographers are bad. A three letter agency without the 4th amendment is worse.

          Racists on Twitter telling you vaccines cause autism and that you can fix your phone’s water damage by microwaving it are bad. A U.S. President without the 1st amendment is worse.

          We intentionally limit what government is able to do with broad strokes - it has a high risk for abuse.

          Anything you yield today is going to live through multiple regime changes. You aren’t just trusting the current government with this power - you’re trusting everyone that will inherit it. The seeds of fascism are sowed through good intentions.

          • hotpotamus 14 days ago

            Was there a violation of the 1st or 4th amendments here? It would seem that the charitable interpretation of the big tech companies' actions is that they are willingly working with the government to provide the best information to their citizens in order to promote the general welfare.

          • suzumer 13 days ago

            This may be one of the most asinine things I have read on this website. Child pornography is worse than a corrupt government. I would rather have my rights stripped from me and be sent to a concentration camp than for someone to force a child to have sex.

            • curtainsforus 12 days ago

              You know a lot of children would be raped in those concentration camps, right?

    • catiopatio 14 days ago


      I post here now because the locally-enforced Overton window is much larger than alternative platforms, which makes conversations much more interesting, challenging, and productive.

      If people could say whatever they wanted here, I’d expect to see a lot more comments I wouldn’t bother engaging with at all, but that’s okay.

      I’m not a horse — I don’t need blinders to prevent me from getting spooked.

  • themitigating 14 days ago

    It's possible that national security to be more important than free speech. Doesn't this happen all the time?

    • anon291 14 days ago

      If you define national security as preserving the American system of government, then no national security cannot be more important than free speech. There is no American system of government without free speech. Attempts to 'secure' the government by limiting free speech indicate the government we sought to protect no longer exists.

    • linuxftw 14 days ago

      > It's possible that national security to be more important than free speech.

      There is no national security without free speech. There might be oligarch security, but not security for the people.

      • themitigating 14 days ago

        So troop movements should be public?

        • anon291 14 days ago

          You should not be prosecuted for announcing troop movement data that you've lawfully acquired.

          If you burglarized an American government facility or hacked into a computer system or committed fraud to trick someone or drugged/tortured a government agent, you should be prosecuted for that.

          But if an agent leaves information somewhere, you read it, and publish it? No, you should not.

          • aerostable_slug 14 days ago

            And that in fact is how the law works, with of course a couple of fringe cases [0]. If you're walking down the street and stumble over a folder of TS/SCI/SAP material, you can publish it all you want. The only time you have a duty to protect classified material is if you signed a non-disclosure agreement.

            [0] exceptions: nuclear secrets as outlined in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, and the identities of intelligence officers acting clandestinely. The former is a wreck of a law (how would Grandma Smith know a document marked S/RD is special, plus there's the whole 'Born Secret' bit), and the latter hasn't been tried out that much in court.

          • themitigating 14 days ago

            But you are now limiting your original argument

        • linuxftw 14 days ago

          Definitely. If you're not fighting an unpopular war far overseas somewhere it's not really a problem.

          • themitigating 14 days ago

            What about a popular war where a country invaded the US.

            What about the locations of nuclear weapons?

            • HideousKojima 12 days ago

              >What about the locations of nuclear weapons?

              You mean Montana and North and South Dakota? You can't really hide a silo location from satellites. This was the impetus behind the MX missile program back in the 80's or whenever, it was going to create a huge chain of silos that missiles were constantly shifted around between so the Soviets couldn't know where they were and couldn't target them.

            • bombcar 14 days ago

              If the government can't keep its locations secret, that should be on them.

              Limiting their employees/military from blabbing the secrets is a separate issue.

            • linuxftw 14 days ago

              Who's going to invade the US? Much easier to buy the politicians like how it currently works. This would also require several years of naval and long range bombardments to even be a possibility. Just a non-factor if the planet looks anything like it does today.

              > What about the locations of nuclear weapons?

              Security through obscurity. I'm sure some of the US's adversaries know where at least some nuclear weapons are located, and it seems to have not been a problem so far.

              What's everybody so scared of? The US could cut its military by 75% overnight and little would change for the US itself. So-call 'allies' overseas might have to start footing their own bill for defense or attempt to make peace with their neighbors, but for the US nothing changes.

              • themitigating 14 days ago

                Why are you picking apart my hypothetical examples ?

                Is it your argument there is no reason ever for the government to censor information?

                • linuxftw 14 days ago

                  I don't believe the government has any legitimate power that an individual does not have.

                  • notch656a 14 days ago

                    If everyone (or no one) has legitimate power of violent aggression, it's pretty much impossible to run a democracy as the minority would either have legitimate use of force to stop the majority, or the majority would have no legitimate use of force to impose their vote on the minority.

                    Now I'm in agreement with you.... but the logical conclusion is basically some form of anarchism.

darawk 14 days ago

The central issue in these cases are the difference between the following two scenarios:

1. The CDC or other government agency says "We believe X is misinformation, do with that advice what you will".

2. The CDC or other government agency says "We believe X is misinformation, and if you don't act on that, we will penalize you in some way".

The former is perfectly legitimate, and exactly what e.g. public health agencies ought to be doing: offering opinions and advice to the private sector and public. The latter is a first amendment violation.

Presumably, some of these cases will also turn on whether there was an implicit regulatory threat in the "recommendations" given. In some cases, according to this article, the threats seem to have been fairly explicit.

  • honksillet 14 days ago

    Either way these requests should be PUBLIC

  • themitigating 14 days ago

    When did number two happen?

    • naasking 14 days ago

      From the article:

      > public admissions by then-White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki that the Biden administration was ordering social media companies to censor certain posts, as well as statements from Psaki, President Biden, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas threatening them with regulatory or other legal action if they declined to do so,

      • ineptech 14 days ago

        The rest of that quote is, "...[according to judges] still did not suffice to establish that the plaintiffs were censored on social media due to government action." Pretty misleading to cut that out.

        Edit: TFA goes on to contrast those cases with a different case, Missouri v. Biden, which I didn't mention because it's the entire topic of the article I'm charitably assuming we've all at least skimmed before coming here to argue about, but I'm adding it now due to naasking's uno reverse card.

        • naasking 14 days ago

          > The rest of that quote is, "...[according to judges] still did not suffice to establish that the plaintiffs were censored on social media due to government action." Pretty misleading to cut that out.

          That's not relevant to the question I was answering, which was about what/when threats allegedly happened. Furthermore, the article goes on to describe judges that did find it sufficient. Is it misleading of you to leave that out?

        • fallingknife 14 days ago

          So the judges said that the government ordering private companies to censor, and threatening them with consequences if they don't comply is not a 1st amendment violation? Sounds like we need some new judges.

          • ineptech 14 days ago

            That's not a fair summary of what happened in those cases. The article doesn't even argue those judges were wrong! It just says, in essence, "Here's a list of cases where judges said this didn't happen, as opposed to Missouri v Biden where a judge said it did, which we will spend the rest of the article discussing." And the person I'm responding to for some reason listed the former rather than the latter in responding to someone looking for examples, and somehow I'm the one getting downvoted.

            Dammit, there's a reasonable discussion to have over this. Biden said, "Misinformation on Facebook is killing people." Facebook said, "Oh crap, the president is calling us out, that looks bad so let's block stuff." Is that censorship? Maybe! It kinda is, and it kinda isn't! We could argue about it! But not while we're arguing over semantic crap like this. It felt like a good and useful thing to do, to point out when something is taken egregiously out of context like that, but now I really regret even wading in.

            • fallingknife 14 days ago

              It is absolutely a fair summary:

              > According to those judges, public admissions by then-White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki that the Biden administration was ordering social media companies to censor certain posts, as well as statements from Psaki, President Biden, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas threatening them with regulatory or other legal action if they declined to do so, still did not suffice to establish that the plaintiffs were censored on social media due to government action. Put another way, the judges declined to take the government at its word.

              • ineptech 14 days ago


                Here's why the the two linked cases were dismissed:

                > "Plaintiffs lack standing. And even if that were not the case, the content of their claims— and the sources those claims cite and depend upon—does not plausibly suggest they are entitled to the relief they seek."

                > "[The plaintiff] has not plausibly pleaded that any action by President Biden or Surgeon General Murthy was causally related to Facebook and Twitter’s decisions to enforce their misinformation policies against [him]"

                Summarizing that as the courts finding that "the Biden administration was ordering social media companies to censor certain posts" is not even misleading, it's just false. And it's not particularly relevant to the actual subject of the article, which is the Missouri v Biden case brought by the three people named in the first sentence.

                • naasking 14 days ago

                  > Summarizing that as the courts finding that "the Biden administration was ordering social media companies to censor certain posts" is not even misleading, it's just false. And it's not particularly relevant to the actual subject of the article, which is the Missouri v Biden case brought by the three people named in the first sentence.

                  That's an incorrect summary, again neglecting the relevant information provided by the article. Those cases were dismissed due to lack of standing because the judges surmised that the evidence presented was insufficient, and so they couldn't move on to discovery to really prove those claims. However, the other cases, like Missouri, have moved forward and the evidence they uncovered through discovery does substantiate some of the claims in the dismissed cases, namely that government officials were directing social media companies to censor certain content. Per the article:

                  > But the Missouri judge reached a different conclusion, determining there was enough evidence in the record to infer that the government was involved in social media censorship, granting the plaintiffs’ request for discovery at the preliminary injunction stage. The Missouri documents, along with some obtained through discovery in Berenson v. Twitter and a FOIA request by America First Legal, expose the extent of the administration’s appropriation of big tech to effect a vast and unprecedented regime of viewpoint-based censorship on the information that most Americans see, hear and otherwise consume. At least 11 federal agencies, and around 80 government officials, have been explicitly directing social media companies to take down posts and remove certain accounts that violate the government’s own preferences and guidelines for coverage on topics ranging from COVID restrictions, to the 2020 election, to the Hunter Biden laptop scandal.

      • smt88 14 days ago

        > statements from Psaki, President Biden, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas threatening them with regulatory or other legal action

        As far as I can tell, this is a straight-up lie. The Tablet article links to two other articles[1][2] that don't support this at all. All of the language used to describe the Biden Administration's actions is "request" and "advise".

        I can't find any direct quotes from any of the above people threatening anyone with legal action. The NY Times article even says that Facebook completed ignored basic requests from the administration without any consequences or threats.



        • naasking 14 days ago

          Biden straight up said that social media companies are killing people by not censoring certain content. The article goes into this in some detail if you want more context, but if the President is saying that you are killing people, that's a pretty clear threat that they are looking to regulate you if you don't get in line.

          • smt88 14 days ago

            It's not a clear threat at all because it isn't a threat. They talk about things that are killing people all the time without putting forward any unconstitutional legislation.

            Provide a direct quote. If it's true, it will be easy for you to do.

            • naasking 14 days ago

              > They talk about things that are killing people all the time without putting forward any unconstitutional legislation.

              Oh give me a break. COVID was declared a national emergency and plenty of legislation was put forward to combat it, mitigate it or otherwise reduce harm. The president specifically saying social media companies are killing people in the context of a national emergency is a not so subtle veiled threat.

              I'm not sure what direct quote you want, this was all over the news and if you just Google it you'll find hundreds of articles:


              Edit: consider if the US was at war with a serious enemy and the president was making comparable claims about social media companies allowing treasonous misinformation to spread that's endangering the nation and try and tell me with a straight face that that's not a veiled threat.

          • resfirestar 14 days ago

            You seem to be saying that if the government characterizes X as misinformation that is killing people, that is a "pretty clear threat that they are looking to regulate you". If that's accurate, how is the framing of "We believe X is misinformation, do with that advice what you will" versus "We believe X is misinformation, and if you don't act on that, we will penalize you in some way" valid at all? Wouldn't the first statement always be equivalent to the second one?

            • naasking 13 days ago

              "Killing people" is a pretty important distinction don't you think? Is the government not in the business of protecting the public? If there's a threat to the public, doesn't the government typically intervene?

              So no, those two statements are not equivalent, but if you add that additional qualifier that the misinformation is killing people, that becomes a much more serious charge which then implies intervention is a likely outcome.

    • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

      If you were a landlord that wanted to evict non-paying tenants the CDC directly punished you during covid.

      Directly. Massively outside of their scope of authority.

      • smt88 14 days ago

        That issue has absolutely nothing to do with the First Amendment and seems completely off-topic for this thread.

      • hellojesus 14 days ago

        Not to mention the 5th Ammendment violation.

  • brightball 14 days ago
    • UncleMeat 14 days ago


      He said that the FBI informed Facebook that there were likely to be fraudulent stories regarding the election pushed by foreign influence. Facebook concluded that the laptop story matched this general theme and decided on their own what to do.

    • darawk 14 days ago

      It's not quite that straightforward. What happened according to Zuck (on the JRE podcast) was that the FBI came to FB and said "We believe some kind of Russian disinformation is about to drop in the next couple of weeks, be on the lookout for that".

      When the Hunter Biden laptop story came out, FB reasonably concluded this was what the FBI warned them about, and suppressed it. It's now clear that this story was not "disinformation" in any normal sense, and FB should not have censored it.

      Whether or not this rises to the level of a first amendment violation is a tricky question though. It seems to me that in this particular case, both parties simply made a mistake. The FBI was too quick to characterize it as misinformation, and FB was too credulous of the FBI, and didn't do their own investigation.

      My opinion is that this isn't quite a first amendment violation, but just an unfortunate series of mistakes. Some of the CDC stuff seems closer to true government coercion though, at least, if you take what the Tablet piece is saying at face value.

      • cloutchaser 14 days ago

        Or it's cleverly done so everyone has plausible deniability, when in reality everyone involved knew it was basically election interference and first amendment violation. It doesn't take an IQ of 200 to do that without leaving direct evidence.

        • darawk 14 days ago

          Ya, that's a real possibility, and some of these cases will probably turn on the judge's perception of whether that is what was happening. It seems very hard to prove in a case like that one though.

      • banannaise 14 days ago

        I would hesitate to even call it a mistake. A true story, timed so as to maximize the effectiveness of sensationalism, speculation, and disinformation around that story, is itself a form of disinformation.

      • musicale 14 days ago

        My eyes keep confusing FB and FBI.

  • TurkishPoptart 14 days ago

    It seems like #2 is what had happened to Alex Berenson. Kicked off Twitter, sued the U.S. govt and won, and how he's back on Twitter!

    • lesuorac 14 days ago

      > Kicked off Twitter, sued the U.S. govt and won, and how he's back on Twitter!

      Where do you read this stuff?

      It says "v Twitter" in the title of the lawsuit [1].

      • bgentry 14 days ago

        They may have been confused by the fact that Berenson recently announced his intention to sue the US government following the revelations from his Twitter suit, but to my knowledge he hasn’t yet done that.

        So he sued Twitter and won and was then reinstated on the platform.

        • lesuorac 14 days ago

          > So he sued Twitter and won and was then reinstated on the platform.

          I'm not sure I'd call an out of court settlement a win but to each their own I guess.

          I'm not too sure he really got what he wanted since the 1st amendment argument was thrown out in court.


          For those of you who aren't going to bother to read the court document. His strongest point was a "Breach of Contract" which revolved around Twitter directly telling him he wasn't going to get kicked off for what he was posting and then they kicked him off.

          • hunterb123 14 days ago

            He sued and got the outcome he wanted, his platform to be reinstated, thus he "won".

            • bgentry 13 days ago

              He also got a whole bunch of discovery and the right to release much of that publicly, which is a pretty huge win given that those docs revealed explicit US Govt censorship pressure direct from the White House.

BeefWellington 14 days ago

My personal take on this is that s.230 protections should not extend to companies using any kind of specialized "algorithm" to dictate what appears in a user's default feed on the website.

A feed or timeline view should be simply that: a scrollable list of the most recent visible things from people you have shown a specific interest in (follow/subscribe/whatever), and it should be the default view for the platform. Anyone deviating from that to add their cool special sauce should be excluded from those protections because that's editorializing their content.

If they want to have some "explore" section that does the algorithmic magic, sure, but it should be opt-in.

Carve out specific rules for users not logged in that can show the basic stuff (e.g.: "most interacted" -- likes and/or comments, "Latest from most subscribed"), perhaps a carve-out by region.

Disallow banning people except specifically for extreme ToS violations, harassment, and other criminal activity. Apps must provide robust anti-harassment features (block lists, inability to tag users who have blocked you, those don't show up in search, etc.), reporting mechanisms, etc.

If you deviate from these you lose s.230 and are open to being sued the same way newspapers are for their editorial content.

  • nradov 14 days ago

    No thanks. I don't want the federal government micromanaging social media product features. That should be left open to innovation and competition.

    If feeds default to ordering by recency then some accounts are going to post constantly just to always appear at the top. This will hide more valuable content.

    From a public policy standpoint, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has proposed extending Common Carrier legislation to cover social media. It's an interesting idea but I'm not sure whether it would be a net improvement.

  • Melatonic 14 days ago

    Yea I agree - once they are highly tailoring the algo to show content they want then they are now actively participating in that content. It may be user generated originally but they are the ones that are choosing (through the algo) to show it to more and more people. I like this.

    Also we should probably just ban certain types of algorithms completely.....

  • tomatotomato37 14 days ago

    Out of curiosity where would you put Reddit's sorting algorithm in these carve-outs? Because while there are some hidden anti-spam stuff they use, it is overall still a fairly braindead date-adjusted vote system, and I'm willing to bet their anti-spam stuff could still be clearly explained on a single page if any governments come knocking

    • maxfurman 14 days ago

      Reddit already allows you to sort by "new," which is pretty much what GP is asking for. r/popular might take a hit under this theoretical regime though

    • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

      This completely ignores that Reddit admin’s are also moderators that the moderators have extreme power in censorship, including to the topic, automated tools and algorithms.

  • 8note 14 days ago

    Why 230 protections though? It's still user submitted data, the recommendations are controlling links to it.

    Should companies be responsible for content on the other side of a link? What's to stop Facebook from splitting off the content host to be a different company, and then still having everything else be the same?

  • galdosdi 14 days ago

    I could not agree more. These companies who use algorithms to choose what user content to display should be held to the same standard as a publisher where a human chooses what letters to the editor to print in the newspaper.

    Fools think of social media as similar to a telephone and thus just a neutral platform, because you can communicate with each other. For hypothetical social media without an algorithmic feed (like Facebook at its inception, or phpbb forums, or IRC or Slack or email etc) this would be true.

    But modern social media does not just neutrally show what has been posted without favor to any. It is a machine that is carefully built by a large team to choose the posts that will most optimize the company's goals (mainly profit).

    Thus it's much more like a print newspaper's letter to the editors section, because out of a large number of submitted user posts, the company (using their algorithms to save themselves labor costs) they choose just a few to promote highly. Fundamentally, algorithmic recommendation is speech and endorsement by the algorithm operator, and if they have a problem with that, they can always put a human in the loop.

    It is crazy (and represents huge wealth transfer from society to these companies-- and moreover from the poorer to the richer) that they get away with having less responsiblity for doing something just because they automated it.

    By the same logic, it's bad for me to shoot people with a gun but becomes fine as long as it's not me doing it, but some Rube Goldberg contraption that automatically fires at people near my house.

    By the same logic, it may be illegal to knowingly sell cigarettes to minors, but you can just make a vending machine with no access control and then it's fine.

    Absolutely insane that they get away with less responsibility despite making the same editorial decisions, with the same benefits accruing to themselves, as a traditional publisher that picks and chooses what to display.

    And our whole society has absorbed this stupid paradigm. You hear people conflating the right to free speech with the right to have your speech amplified above other speech, which obviously makes no sense since it's a zero sum game. But you have people pretending the algorithms are invisible natural things.

    By the way, I am pessimistic. We are in too deep. An entire generation of school children is being raised on this stuff, and has been for almost a decade, creating a deep generational cycle of dependence. And ad tech has taken over the S&P500, making the wealthy elite dependent on the profits. It's just far too valuable a means of social control for it to just be given up without some countervailing force to incentivize it.

  • themitigating 14 days ago

    Then won't they just censor more?

    • maxfurman 14 days ago

      If I'm reading this right, there would be more censorship _in the algorithmic feed_ (no one will get Alex Jones recommended) but the chronological feed will have less censorship (Alex Jones will still be on the platform and you can follow him if that's your cup of tea)

      • 2OEH8eoCRo0 14 days ago

        I wish we could eliminate algorithmic feeds altogether.

      • themitigating 14 days ago

        So he his posts wouldn't be displayed, censored, to users who don't subscribe/follow to him.

        • BeefWellington 14 days ago

          No, what I'm proposing is that once you create an account you see nothing until you start following people via the "exploration" or whatever, then your default view is essentially "you see what you followed/subscribed to".

          No banning Alex Jones (unless he does one of the bannable things). Advertisers are free to say they don't want to do business with his channels, etc. Some are free to say they do.

          You start exploring and see his stuff but don't want to? Block it / say "I don't wanna see this" and it should prevent his videos showing up on your feeds (and maybe reactions to it?). Those controls must work, not like the current versions.[1]

          I'm also suggesting that the idea of highlighting these tailored content views in this way as a default should count as editorializing, and should then open them to punishment for that content the way a newspaper publishing an editorial is.

          It won't fully solve the problem of "engagement-chasing" that currently has taken hold of social media (and really the Internet) but I don't see a better way. At the end of the day engagement = impressions = advertiser $ and I don't see a way to change that formula so there's less

          But IMO this makes the speech freer, the platforms more open (and gives them an out with advertisers "hey, we're required by law to do it this way"), and puts the users in the driver's seat when it comes to what they see.


          • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

            > No banning Alex Jones (unless he does one of the bannable things).

            Alex Jones aside.

            There is the intentional ambiguity. The TOS, Terms Of Service, at these companies are left loose and manipulated to the companies benefit all the time.

            They can ban you saying, you broke the terms of service, and that’s all you have no recourse they do not need to define what role you broke, end of story.

  • krapp 14 days ago
    • jimmydorry 14 days ago

      What is the point of linking to the law and how it is interpreted as a reply to people that think the law is bad, harmful, or needs updating?

      Your link makes reference to a similar kind of article about the First Ammendment, which is also bandied about as if it's some kind of rebuttal to people that think platforms are defacto government arms.

      • krapp 14 days ago

        The point is to not have to waste time pissing into the wind of constant misinformation and propaganda about both the First Amendment and Section 230, rather than just doing the internet version of tapping at a sign on the wall.

        taps furiously

        • jimmydorry 14 days ago

          Except the sign has been put up in the wrong area and is not at all relevant to the discussion at all. Keep tapping on this "Quiet in the library sign" while the rest of us continue on our daily commute at this train station.

        • tinalumfoil 14 days ago

          If you’re too lazy to participate in the discussion then don’t.

    • jacooper 14 days ago

      But OP is asking for a modification of Section 230.

    • BeefWellington 14 days ago

      This is trite and misses my point. I'm saying explicitly the law should change. Not just for Meta, Youtube, etc., but everyone using any kind of logic beyond "most recent" or "most liked".

      If anything, my suggestions would remove protections from companies that are inherently trying to drive "interaction" and who do not moderate sufficiently. If sites had to worry that leaving comments from users up that will get them sued, they would be more proactive in removing comments. Instead, currently, they choose to highlight and elevate those comments to groups that they believe will find them abrasive, in search of interactions. I am pretty clearly arguing that their choice to spotlight certain content over others using some decision-making beyond "most recent" or "most liked" should be considered their own editorial content, which is already part of s.230. From your own link:

          If you said “Section 230 is a get out of jail card for websites!”
          You’re wrong. Again, websites are still 100% liable for any content that they themselves create.
      My argument is that the editorial decision to shove a comment from some rando I don't follow in front of me by Twitter should fall under the above, and that s.230 should be changed to specifically exempt based on the rules above.
      • alphabetting 14 days ago

        Losing the Youtube algorithm to a most-liked system or most-recent system would ruin it for me and I think most users. Also guessing that the only way they'd be able to operate an algorithm with no 230 protections would be 1000x more censorship.

      • krapp 14 days ago

        >My argument is that the editorial decision to shove a comment from some rando I don't follow in front of me by Twitter should fall under the above, and that s.230 should be changed to specifically exempt based on the rules above.

        Except the use of an algorithm to determine where content is placed is not "editorializing" in any meaningful sense, nor is it equivalent to the platform "creating" that content, and thus making themselves, rather than the author, liable for it. Do you believe comments on Hacker News are "editorialized" by being upvoted or downvoted? Is Hacker News responsible for poorly written or false articles that gain traction on the site?

        It's an absurd argument, based on the misconception that platforms should be completely neutral in regards to content in order to receive Section 230 protection, when the entire purpose of the law is to protect exactly the kind of "editorializing" you're talking about. If you want the law to be repealed, just say that.

zaroth 14 days ago

This is a good summary of some of the recent revelations into how far the USG has been pushing into strong-arming online and traditional media outlets alike into suppressing critical speech.

I think it’s interesting how the author tip-toed into tying in the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, where the FBI lied to Facebook to get it suppressed.

It’s a hot potato, but it’s exactly where these efforts lead, from ostensibly “well-meaning and necessary” public health efforts into brazen political coverups.

  • isx726552 14 days ago

    > the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, where the FBI lied to Facebook to get it suppressed

    According to this, the FBI didn’t even mention the laptop story when they talked to Facebook:

    • fallingknife 14 days ago

      > "The background here is that the FBI came to us - some folks on our team - and was like 'hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert. We thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election, we have it on notice that basically there's about to be some kind of dump that's similar to that'."

      "There's about to be some kind of dump that's similar to that" gives a pretty clear hint. The mob boss never says to his hitman "I think Fat Tony is a snitch, please kill him for me" but he still ordered the hit.

      • pstuart 14 days ago

        Seriously? Now the FBI is engaging in mob tactics?

        Is this the branch that operates out of the basement at Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria?

        You wanna know this one weird trick about this story? It only matters that it exists and can be further weaponized by crying foul over its suppression.

        You don't care about what the story is about, just the story itself (and the story about the story).

        • fallingknife 14 days ago

          > Now the FBI is engaging in mob tactics?

          Not now. For a long time.

          • pstuart 14 days ago

            But they weren't when they investigated Clinton? There's plenty of sordid history there but your claims are still ludicrous.

            I dare you to discuss the Hunter Biden case in the context of what it ostensibly represents: government corruption.

            Your circular logic goes nowhere: the Biden laptop story is about the Biden laptop story not being told.

            Again: tell me why this story should be told? What is the real substance of your concern?

            • fallingknife 14 days ago

              What does Clinton have to do with this? And you just don't seem to get it. The garden variety corruption of Hunter Biden isn't the important story. The FBI trying to suppress the spread of news is.

              • barbacoa 14 days ago

                "10% to the big guy"

                If the vice president was really taking money in exchange for influence peddling to foreign oligarchs, then that is a truly staggering level of corruption.

                • pstuart 14 days ago

                  Yes indeed. Let's investigate shall we? Wait, we did? Oh here is the report:

                  And that report shows that Hunter Biden was a corrupt piece of shit -- nothing compelling to show that his father was for sale as suggested.

                  But for some reason you only care when it's about your political enemies, so I find your concern insincere at best. Shame on you for putting party before country.

                • pstuart 14 days ago

                  If. And if it's not, what is it?

                  And do you feel the same way about corruption when it comes to his predecessor? I'm guessing you're good with that. Because it's your team and that's ok.

              • pstuart 14 days ago

                The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server?

                Does that ring a bell? You know, the thing they made a big deal about before the election because back then Republicans supposedly cared about national security? That impacted the election.

                >The garden variety corruption of Hunter Biden isn't the important story.

                Oh, do tell. Then why was it so important to tell the story? Why the fuss other than to have a fuss?

                • fallingknife 14 days ago

                  Yes, the FBI was doing their job and investigating the Clinton server. The media was doing its job and reporting on it. People were posting about it openly on social media without any FBI interference. Nobody was lying and calling it Russian disinformation. It's not the FBI's job to worry about whether or not its investigations impact the election. In fact, it's specifically the FBI's job not to worry about this.

                  What does this have to do with the FBI trying to suppress the Hunter Biden story on social media?

                  • pstuart 13 days ago

                    Because the laptop is likely a Russian campaign. The content appears to be genuine but the provenance is questionable (very convenient that the recipient was blind, no?).

                    Because the story itself is toxic -- it exists only to insinuate that Biden Sr. is corrupt. The GOP itself investigated and could find no such thing.

                    This is Buttery Males v2 and if you can't see it then that's by your choice.

    • pstuart 14 days ago

      The Hunter Biden laptop story is as meta as it gets. The whole point of the story is that it's a story, and that bad people aren't letting the story be told.

      Every freaking complaint about the story is about the story itself. It is Buttery Males v2. Same thing -- they didn't care about the emails, they cared about the story.

      • yeahwhatever10 14 days ago

        Yes it turns out people care about being lied to.

        • pstuart 13 days ago

          No they don't. They only care when people they don't like lie to them (at least when we're talking about an audience that ostensibly includes you).

          Selective outrage can only be sincere via ignorance. Tribal/partisan politics such as this is an betrayal of allegiance to one's country.

      • teddyh 14 days ago

        Parallels to President Clinton; it didn’t really matter what he actually did, but it turned out to matter very much that he lied about what he did.

        • pstuart 14 days ago

          Bill Clinton was a sexual predator -- there's a reason why he is not the public statesman he could have been.

          But for some reason his sexual proclivities were fair game when his predecessor's were not (it was an open secret he had a mistress for decades).

          But it apparently didn't matter that the other president liked about paying of the porn star he screwed while his wife was in the hospital giving birth to his son.

          You know, the case where he broke the law but his attorney went to jail for being the bag man?

          It's crazy-making how selective the "morality" of the right is.

        • hedora 14 days ago

          OK, if Democrats collectively admit the Biden administration covered up the laptop whatever scandal from 2019 to 2020 can we stop hearing about it?

          If not, is there an individual opt out browser setting or something?

          • pstuart 14 days ago

            These people are zombies! "hunter's laptop..... hunter's laptop....."

            They're literally beyond reason - it's so sad and frustrating.

dekhn 14 days ago

I encourage all those who care about this but do not work in medical research to join the government or get a PhD or MD and be prepared to solve the next problem that crops up. Then, you will have some more context on the challenges faced during public health emergencies.

In the meantime I'd love to see a truly non-partisan, fact based, recognizing limits of human knowledge postmortem of the US response and how it could have been improved, given the information that was available at the time. The vast majority of postmortems I read of COVID assume knowledge today was avaialble then, that the data is unambiguous, and the conclusions trivially follow from the data, and start with a conclusion, rather than starting with data and forming a collection of hypotheses, and attempting to produce reasonable estimates on the probabilities of those hypotheses. I don't know quite who would be capable of doing this.

  • drivebycomment 14 days ago

    > In the meantime I'd love to see a truly non-partisan, fact based, recognizing limits of human knowledge postmortem of the US response and how it could have been improved,

    I share your sentiment, but I won't be holding my breadth. I'm afraid we don't have any existing organizational structure that can produce something like that, and thus I suspect something like for the pandemic would be necessary, yet it's probably too soon to start one since the pandemic isn't quite "over" enough yet.

    Even then, we'd need someone like Feynman in the committee, and that's far from guaranteed. That said, no doubt we'll get an endless stream of research studies and books going forward on this topic from multiple angles in the decades ahead.

  • throwaway22032 13 days ago

    > The vast majority of postmortems I read of COVID assume knowledge today was avaialble then

    Eh? I remember vividly thinking about a month or so into the first lockdown in the UK that we need to open up now.

    Sure, we didn't know immediately before we even did anything, but after March/April/May we had very solid statistical data.

    We have different approaches _even now_. That's not based on a lack of data, it's based on different value systems. Japan, Taiwan, obviously China etc are all still gung-ho on masks (and from what I can tell parts of the US are as well - super weird watching videos of conferences).

huimang 14 days ago

I don't know how letting social media companies dictate political discourse became acceptable.

It doesn't matter what your political stance is. Facebook should not be the one saying X is acceptable, Y is not. It's fucking arbitrary, and scary that a private company is telling us what we can talk about. It's not framed as "hey this is our opinion and you can talk about these things elsewhere", it's framed as "this is what's right for society, how could you discuss these other things?".

Social media was a mistake.

  • Garvi 14 days ago

    Also important to realize that social media is the main traffic acquisition point for most news websites. Imagine the economic pressures they are under if they lose that resource even for a short time. No mainstream media outlet can afford that.

    Example: Imagine Ukraine blows up a bus filled with civilians (war is hell, right?). If your news organization reports on such an unpopular story, high chances are the untrained working-for-free facebook/reddit/social media moderator will flag you for propaganda and you will lose out on days of revenue. So you self censor on sensitive topics. Or perish.

    Social media moderators are the new gatekeepers of information and that terrifies me.

    • trasz 14 days ago

      >Example: Imagine Ukraine blows up a bus filled with civilians (war is hell, right?).

      If your organization reports this without any kind of verification - given the common Russian trope of hitting civilians, including civilian buses, and then blaming Ukraine - then it's going to be correctly flagged as propaganda.

      • chakhs 13 days ago

        It's very clear the OP implicit assumption is that the report is verified to be true.

        • trasz 13 days ago

          Do you know that since about two days ago Russian propaganda has been pushing exactly this scenario? See for details.

    • huimang 14 days ago

      Then they should perish. We don't need 24/7 news coverage.

  • hackerlight 14 days ago

    It's the local optima.

    Government censorship is worse, and everything becoming 8chan is worse, so we're here.

    Maybe there's some new paradigm out there where users can self-select into their desired open source filters or something. But that's a while away at best.

  • evandale 14 days ago

    > I don't know how letting social media companies dictate political discourse became acceptable.

    I don't either. I shake my head when I read people making the rebuttal that it's not the government censoring you so it's kosher.

    So, to get this straight, do people actually think that a profit driven corporation being more powerful than the government is a good thing?

    I don't get it AT ALL.

    • juve1996 14 days ago

      Do you think you have the right to go into a newspaper's office and force them to print speech that supports your point of view?

      That's what you're arguing for. The government regulating speech is a violation of the first amendment, period. That includes forcing speech.

      The problem isn't corporations having the right to moderate. The problem is corporations have become so large and powerful that meaningful competition can't exist.

      • themaninthedark 14 days ago

        Are the social media companies doing the printing?

        If I am a phone company and I detect that people are talking about anti-vax stuff, can I disconnect the call? What if it is a party line?

        Generally, newspapers print content they write. Not content written by Joe Q. Public, they often change the content of their writers using editors or don't run stories to push a narrative. In doing so, they are responsible for the content and stories they create.

        Social media companies seem to want to be telephone companies with no responsibility when it suits them but also have the power of editor when it suits them.

        • juve1996 14 days ago

          Phone companies are a pipe - the content isn't broadcast publicly like it is on social networks, so that argument isn't logically consistent. Phone companies have no need to moderate content.

          Social media is akin to paying for a storefront advertisement, or sending a letter to the editor. You buy access to a display window and can put your content there, under conditions. This is no different than that. If that content violates the rules, it can be removed. I wouldn't get mad if a shop owner agreed to put my sign up. I also wouldn't be mad if he said no. It's his property. I can buy my own property and do my own thing. Twitter is a private corporation. If they decided tomorrow that they'll only allow posts about bitcoin and delete everything else, that is their right. The government should not be telling people, or private corporations, what they can, and can't, post on their platforms.

          Do you think HN moderation should be removed? Do you want more cesspools online? That's what you're arguing for.

    • deepsquirrelnet 14 days ago

      > I don't either. I shake my head when I read people making the rebuttal that it's not the government censoring you so it's kosher.

      The typical rebuttal that I hear is not that it’s kosher, but that it doesn’t have anything to do with the first amendment.

      Choices are:

      - government tells social media what to do (controversial)

      - government doesn’t tell social media what to do (controversial)

      People can be upset forever, but it’s a stalemate that will never get resolved in this political climate. Not coincidentally, a lot of money is made on unresolved problems.

shadowgovt 14 days ago

> All Americans have been deprived—by the United States government—of their First Amendment rights to hear the views of Alex Berenson, as well as Drs. Bhattacharya and Kulldorff...

I think this will be hard to prove. The Declaration is easy to find and read (it has its own DNS name). Is there a right to hear a message along a particular channel?

  • darawk 14 days ago

    There is no right to hear a message from a particular channel, but there is a right not to have the government intervene to suppress that channel. If the private actor decides of their own accord to censor you, that's perfectly legal. If they do so at the behest of government, that is a first amendment issue, and that's what's being asserted here.

    • micromacrofoot 14 days ago

      Is it different if it's a government demand vs a government recommendation?

      • jandrewrogers 14 days ago

        It depends on the details of the case -- I am not familiar with this one. There is Supreme Court precedent for the position that any government "recommendation" that has direct and material financial consequences based on whether that recommendation is followed is de facto coercive and therefore illegal if used to circumvent Constitutional restrictions on the government. The historical context is abusing regulatory or tax power to force acquiescence on an unrelated policy issue that would otherwise be unconstitutional if done directly.

        The limits of coercion that fall below the threshold of "material" are still not well-defined AFAIK.

      • darawk 14 days ago

        That seems to be what the case will turn on: The difference between the government providing "advice" or "helpful recommendations" and implicit/explicit coercion. I don't know enough about the details here to have a strong opinion of which view is right in this case, but that seems like the central issue.

      • jtbayly 14 days ago

        It depends on what the consequences are (or are assumed to be) of not acceding to the "recommendation."

        • int_19h 14 days ago

          What makes it especially interesting is Facebook's legal troubles in this context. It hasn't occurred to me before, but a monopoly with the threat of anti-trust hanging over it is any government's best friend.

      • evandale 14 days ago

        What's the difference between a government demand and recommendation delivered over a private channel? Sounds kind of like when the mafia recommends that a business buys their brand of insurance to protect them in the off-chance somebody comes along and smashes all their windows.

        Sure the business doesn't need the insurance but they might rethink their position the first time all their windows get smashed.

      • anon291 14 days ago

        Given that the government has already (pre-COVID) been wanting to enact anti-trust legislation against Facebook and Meta, one can argue that not following a recommendation is perceived by these companies to be a risk for their existence. At the end of the day, the government needs to be extremely careful here.

      • t-3 14 days ago

        I'm no lawyer, but I can't imagine such a "recommendation" would be a valid legal shield for any entity that didn't control the courts.

        • shadowgovt 14 days ago

          The Executive branch doesn't control the courts.

          • puffoflogic 14 days ago

            Who said the censorship pressure came from the executive branch and not the other branches as well?

            • shadowgovt 14 days ago

              The lawsuits in question never alleged any pressure other than Executive as far as I've seen

          • notch656a 14 days ago

            No but it does control the FBI and other agencies that can make your life extremely unpleasant if they like, and once that happens even if the courts rule entirely in your favor it won't be a fun ride.

      • maxk42 14 days ago

        You seem to misunderstand: The government's position is not at question here. Their use of influence to suppress free speech is.

      • somenameforme 14 days ago

        "Recommendation" doesn't mean what you're implying when its coming from an entity who is responsible for tens of billions of dollars in revenue for you and for whom losing the favor of could easily result in the collapse of your business.

        It also doesn't mean the same thing when, in many cases, the governments and the huge corporations are intermingled so heavily that public or private is more a matter of semantics than reality.

      • flipcoder 14 days ago

        The school bully highly recommends that I give him my lunch money

  • jtbayly 14 days ago

    IANAL, but I don't think they have to prove it's hard or easy to find and read it.

    The crux of the case is whether the government was seeking to censor it, and if they did to any extent succeed in it. As I posted elsewhere, I think this is the heart of the lawsuit:

    > public admissions by then-White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki that the Biden administration was ordering social media companies to censor certain posts, as well as statements from Psaki, President Biden, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas threatening them with regulatory or other legal action if they declined to do so

    That right there is clearly a First Amendment Violation if the result was one less person seeing and reading it.

    • themitigating 14 days ago

      It's not because the first amendment says congress shall make no law ...

      Nothing about the executive branch or threats

      • tastyfreeze 14 days ago

        That is because constitutionally the executive doesn't have any authority that would allow that branch to implement any policy that could infringe on rights. However, Congress has given the Executive a vast amount of unconstitutional authority through executive agencies.

        We are now being taught the lesson of why the Executive has no authority to make laws.

  • houstonn 14 days ago

    Not along a particular channel, but right to hear is an important principle.

    As Frederick Douglass, a former slave and writer, wisely stated, “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the right of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. It is just as criminal to rob a man of his right to speak and hear as it would be to rob him of his money.”

    • staticman2 14 days ago

      Frederick Douglas was not claiming that he had entitlement to use someone's printing press without permission.

      • alexb_ 14 days ago

        If his permission was revoked due to the government threatening to regulate the printing press to death if they didn't stop printing Frederick Douglas, that is suppression of free speech from the government.

        • staticman2 14 days ago

          The democratic president incapable of passing non budget related laws due to the senate filibuster rules and has an adversarial Supreme Court controlled by the opposing party reducing his executive authority is threatening to regulate social media to death? That doesn't seem very likely.

          • tastyfreeze 14 days ago

            All government mandates were implemented using executive agency rules not laws. Thus far we have treated agency rules as acceptable despite being essentially laws that can be created by the executive.

            With executive agencies the executive does not need to pass a law or even ask permission to implement any number of rights violating policies.

    • themitigating 14 days ago

      It doesn't matter what his opinion is the first amendment only deals the government supressing speech

      • anon291 14 days ago

        Not in California, where the constitution guarantees free speech on privately owned land and property that is publicly accessible.

      • SamPatt 14 days ago

        >At least 11 federal agencies, and around 80 government officials, have been explicitly directing social media companies to take down posts and remove certain accounts that violate the government’s own preferences and guidelines for coverage on topics ranging from COVID restrictions, to the 2020 election, to the Hunter Biden laptop scandal.

        Doesn't that apply here?

        • themaninthedark 14 days ago

          No no no, see that was still action taken by private business. In order for the government to be doing that, you need a government agent to walk into the companies, sign log into the system and delete the posts. And they have to carry a signed order from their supervisor and saying "I'm doing this for the government" while doing so.

          Otherwise it might just be a random government employee gone rogue.

jtbayly 14 days ago

The heart of the issue:

> public admissions by then-White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki that the Biden administration was ordering social media companies to censor certain posts, as well as statements from Psaki, President Biden, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas threatening them with regulatory or other legal action if they declined to do so

  • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

    This is what was so infuriating about all the dim-whited "It's a private company, they can do what they want" posts.

    Let's say for a moment that common carrier doesn't logically apply to Big Tech. The government was involved in 1A abuses if they communicated with these companies to censor posts. End of story. They admitted they did it.

braingenious 14 days ago

It’s always funny to see that somebody’s thesis contains the word “wrongthink.”

Over the past few years I’ve noticed an strange plethora of people that seemingly act like the only important cultural touchstones that are worthy of referencing are 1984 and Animal Farm. It’s lazy and tired in my opinion (I’m more of a Huxley fan, and I agree with Asimov’s assessment of Orwell [1])

I’m not familiar with Tablet Magazine, but this whole article feels like a very belabored effort to sound highbrow and alarmist about hating the mods.

It will never cease to be utterly hilarious how social media has led a whole generation of grown adults to slam up against the phenomenon of “the mods” that those of us that were very active in online communities in the 80s, 90s or early 00s have been familiar with for decades.


muaytimbo 14 days ago

The government has been shaping public opinion though traditional news media for some time, look at all the "ex" government employees employed as "analysts" at MSCBC, CNN, etc. Since they can't inject talentless talking heads directly into social media's newsfeeds to push their agenda they exert pressure in a different way. It's not surprising at all.

bgentry 14 days ago

> The question of how the Biden administration has succeeded in jawboning big tech into observing its strictures is not particularly difficult to answer. Tech companies, many of which hold monopoly positions in their markets, have long feared and resisted government regulation. Unquestionably—and as explicitly revealed by the text message exchanged between Murthy and the Twitter executive—the prospect of being held liable for COVID deaths is an alarming one.

I don’t think this threat of liability is in large part responsible for tech companies’ increased tendency for censorship. Keep in mind that many of the most egregious COVID era de-platforming events happened during the Trump administration.

The primary change that’s responsible is the political shift within these companies, with many workers openly advocating for various forms of censorship and de-platforming. As well as leadership that cannot resist such demands, even when they are from a tiny (but loud) minority of the company.

  • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

    Both can be true. Your point that internally these companies decided to start censoring, and later the Biden Admin started asking for the same. These is no exclusivity there. If anything, a Trump or Biden Admin might not have had the idea to ask for censorship had the Tech companies not introduced it themselves first?

zug_zug 14 days ago

So one thing really should be cleared up - the 2nd paragraph of this article talks about incorrect criticisms (i.e. misinformation) of an article

>> They were called eugenicists and anti-vaxxers; it was falsely asserted that they were “Koch-funded” and that they had written the declaration for financial gain.

It then says

>> Yet emails obtained pursuant to a FOIA request later revealed that these attacks ... were the fruits of an aggressive attempt to shape the news by the same government officials

The source is a paywalled opinion piece, so I can't get to the bottom of it. In my opinion this claim is serious if true, and entirely bad-faith and undermines the credibility of the article if untrue.

There's a huge difference between filtering out or demarcating content believed to be inaccurate or attempting to misinform, versus astroturfing against said articles through false accusations. Which is it, and what's the evidence?

superkuh 14 days ago

I think regardless of the contents or topic of this write-up the conclusion is easy: stop using corporate social media exclusively (... I say on HN). The key to a healthy web is POSSE: Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.

This doesn't mean just POSSE in isolation though. It means going out of your way to establish/participate in non-corporate controlled communities.

treeman79 14 days ago

A movie was made about the whole laptop scandal.

Just before election. It Was quite shocking when I tried messaging links to news articles on Facebook and they were being blocked. Then to find out that FBI asked Facebook to do this.


Facebook admitting.

  • musicale 14 days ago

    > "Depending on what side of the political spectrum [you're on], you either think we didn't censor it enough or we censored it way too much."

    An interesting take, Mr. Zuckerberg.

    • colinmhayes 14 days ago

      Not really. It's pretty much just a fact.

  • micromacrofoot 14 days ago

    "a movie was made" isn't exactly a gotcha or any sort of validation, anyone can make a movie. In this case the "anyone" is Breitbart.

    If you want an idea of Breitbart's motives... they specifically cast an actress due to her controversial statements, for example. Earlier this year she claimed the war in Ukraine was a fake plot because “they lost control of the COVID narrative.”

    • blast 14 days ago

      What does that have to do with allegations of government censorship pressure?

      • micromacrofoot 14 days ago

        the movie? it has nothing to do with it - which is why I was responding to the comment about it with “anyone can make a movie” - it proves nothing one way or another and the fact that it was made by breitbart has a whole series of red flags anyway - it was engineered to be controversial

      • themitigating 14 days ago

        It goes to the character of Breitbart.

  • tarakat 14 days ago

    Ironically it's the kind of censorship the Biden laptop story got that scares me the least. Brazen, obvious, and now widely known about.

    What's really scary is the silent implicit algorithmic ranking that decides which stories, channels, websites get traffic. Invisible and much more effective, leaving no big "banned from Facebook" banner a victim can point to. Just a mysterious, gradual dwindling of traffic. It could be for legitimate reasons, or because someone has their thumb on the scale, for political or economic reasons.

    • disgruntledphd2 14 days ago

      It's generally because someone pushed a new model which changed the distribution of content. We're pretty bad (as a species) at understanding what heaps of matrix multiplications net out to on an individual source basis.

    • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

      I get what you are saying... but let's consider for a fact that if the media had run the Biden Laptop story AS IF it was the Trump Laptop story - the election for leader of the free world would have gone the other way.

      You can be happy or sad about the ends - but should be terrified of the means.

      It wasn't an award show snub, or a gender bathroom debate, it was the entire direction of the USA with the largest military on Earth.

      • tarakat 14 days ago

        But that's just it - the silent re-ranking of stories, algorithmic or editorial, can also flip elections. Not just elections, it can entirely change the direction a culture is headed.

        And it causes no backlash - you wouldn't even know it was happening, unless you laboriously compared statistics with how much exposure stories (not just news stories, films and books shape our perception of the world just as much) get, for the few sufficiently objective categories where a meaningful comparison can be made.

        • SV_BubbleTime 13 days ago

          Don’t take it that I don’t agree, just that it doesn’t need to be subtle. We already had the FBI and bureaucracy cover up a scandal because they were invested in someone else winning the presidential election.

          Let’s worry about the thing that already happened instead of the hypothetical.

    • _-david-_ 14 days ago

      >Ironically it's the kind of censorship the Biden laptop story got that scares me the least. Brazen, obvious, and now widely known about.

      We know about it now. The problem is a large number of people when polled said they would not have voted for Biden if they had known about the laptop before the election. It may have been enough to swing the election.

jmull 13 days ago

Uh... how can it be OK to organize to communicate an anti-lockdown message, but not OK to organize a rebuttal... by the people tasked with communicating national health policy?

Not to mention the large "plot-hole" in the narrative at the start -- I guess the Biden administration was getting an early start in October 2020?

Basic reason dies when you join a political tribe.

Mindwipe 14 days ago

If anyone involved in this piece had ever mentioned Operation Choke Point during the last fifteen years this might have been better argued.

erichocean 14 days ago

I could care less what's "legal" or not in this instance, this isn't the kind of society I want to live in with regard to speech rights—public OR private.

The whole system needs to be revised in favor of individuals, not corporations or the government.

If that requires new laws or amendments, so be it.

kodah 14 days ago

I have no opinions on the article itself, but I am interested in whether the same actors also acted in coordination to suppress Lab Leak given that they were also implicated.

> Rather, they were the fruits of an aggressive attempt to shape the news by the same government officials whose policies the epidemiologists had criticized. Emails between Fauci and Collins revealed that the two officials had worked together and with media outlets as various as Wired and The Nation to orchestrate a “takedown” of the declaration.

I have no idea if Lab Leak theory is still viable, or rather if it can ever be fully proven, but the censorship it got from private entities leads me to believe there was government support involved.

Latest on Lab Leak:

  • themitigating 14 days ago

    Has it been partially proven? Because I think saying "fully proving" implies there is some proof when there is none

    • kodah 14 days ago

      The Intercept does a better job of explaining that. The problem with Lab Leak is that because it was suppressed for so long there's been a lot of time to destroy evidence. At that point the "smoking guns" are pretty few and far between though they mention at least one in that article. There's plenty of evidence in the article, saying that there is none is incorrect. I don't know why you'd be saying that.

      • themitigating 14 days ago

        Wouldn't there also be no evidence if it wasn't true?

        • kodah 14 days ago

          Did you read the article or are you intentionally asking me questions that The Intercept has already asked notable scientists? Lab Leak theory isn't unfounded, it comes from a fact-based position that already went through numerous layers of questioning because Peter Daszak declared the general question it was trying to answer (eg: Is it possible that gain of function experiments escaped the lab) racist.

          Even if you don't buy Lab Leak theory the various tidbits about EcoHealth are quite alarming. At a bseline they accepted a DARPA contract to do gain of function research. Is that a way that we want our government functioning? An NGO with very little oversight that does very little oversight taking government money and giving it to institutions in other countries. All of this the Intercept article also talks about.


          Based on this users comments I now understand they're not asking questions in good faith.

          Their profile:

          Other comments:

hedora 14 days ago

Apparently Biden did all this stuff during the 2020 election.

The bastard must have a time machine now.

Not saying it didn't happen, or isn't concerning; just pointing out that calling the case Missouri vs Biden is a tiny bit... revisionist?

Also, the article is needlessly partisan. According to its timeline, thd bad behavior started under Trump and persisted under the Biden administration, but somehow only the Biden administration is being called out.

notch656a 14 days ago

This reminds me of the question: if a jailer asks an inmate to have sex, and they do, has a crime been committed? Perhaps not, but when the government "asks" for something it's hard to interpret it as anything other than "bad things are going to happen to me if I don't." Unlike some tech company, you can't really run away from the government.

  • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

    I'm pretty sure that is already illegal for those specific reasons.

    • notch656a 14 days ago

      Which brings me back. Why isn't a practically all-powerful government asking you to abridge otherwise protected speech not considered illegal for the same reason?

      I've been "asked" by police/regulatory agencies on multiple occasions to do something. Every time I refused I was met with hell, up to including officers lying to a judge to obtain federal search warrant.

s_ting765 14 days ago

Social media apps are, for the most part, a cancer to humanity. This article is just one more proof of it.

And the majority of people who, for the most part, demand for more censorship on these public platforms whenever an arbitrary content moderation issue arises... deserve all the propaganda coming their way from these corporate behemoths tag teaming with the government.

trasz 14 days ago

For background: “The Great Barrington Declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian free-market think tank associated with climate change denial.”

dang 14 days ago

I've replaced the baity headline with somewhat more neutral language from the subtitle, in keeping with the HN guidelines ("Please use the original title, unless it is misleading or linkbait"). If someone can suggest a better—more accurate and neutral—title, preferably using a representative phrase from the article text, we can change it again.

Edit: I also added a question mark since the claim is obviously a divisive one.

  • adamsb6 14 days ago

    I think the original title, "The U.S. Government’s Vast New Privatized Censorship Regime," is more accurate and no more link-baity than yours. The article is about traditional media as well as tech companies and social media.

    • dang 14 days ago

      Adding the words 'vast' and 'regime' to the already-divisive word 'censorship' seems pretty baity to me - that's clearly political rhetoric. The current title is a bit, too (that's why I asked for alternatives) but at least it's less so.

      • SV_BubbleTime 14 days ago

        Dan… you think divisive to call out censorship by its name? Interesting viewpoint coming from a moderator of a news aggregator website with a built in echo chamber mechanism.

        • dang 14 days ago

          I'm making a boring empirical observation that people disagree about how to apply that word. You need only look at the current thread for proof of this.

          If that's not obvious to you, it may be because you happen to agree with one interpretation rather than another; if so, I assure you that other people agree with their interpretation rather than yours. Hence the word "divisive".

scohesc 14 days ago

The only entity that is able to commit acts of violence upon anybody they wish with almost full impunity is not the individual, not these massive silicon valley companies, but your very own government.

"Do what we tell you to do or we'll regulate your poo-chute into the dirt."

"If you don't agree with a tax we're instituting, too damn bad, you're paying it."

"If you disagree with our policy, you can just vote come next election! Your vote has power!" - sure.

Very interesting the author pokes at the Hunter Biden laptop debacle. It was shocking to see in real time the information suppressed and hidden from the general public like that. It's obvious that the removal of the content was a political decision just based on the speed it was suppressed by most mainstream media outlets, either encouraged by Twitter's (potential) internal staff bias or from the article-mentioned government agency interference.

I'm ignorant regarding Covid because I've never studied in that field in my life. - the virus, the vaccines, the fatality, etc. etc. etc. However, to see other professionals with related credentials under their belt with conflicting opinions shut down and relegated to the "naughty corner" of the internet by their own governments in cahoots with politically-funded thinktank organizations behind "misinformation" or "fact-checker" warnings on social media is abhorrent. The media outlets and talk-show representatives making entire segments to laugh at the "fake scientists", creating musical bits to promote vaccination, it's all very lame and stupid.

Reminds me of Copernicus trying to prove the de-facto government (the church) that their teachings were wrong about geocentric model of the solar system - the church did their best to suppress, launch smear campaigns and even threatened with imprisonment for someone's opinion. I swear, some bastardized version of science is being corrupted into the new religion for scared/hopeless people.

I wonder - who holds the government accountable for their actions, _really_?

I think the answer is nobody - society in general has lost their cohesiveness and ability to collectively "rise up" and express their dissatisfaction, instead choosing to delineate themselves between arbitrary political lines of beliefs that honestly don't have as much of an effect on the individual as they'd like to think.

Nobody feels a sense of responsibility for taking care of their nation, because their nation isn't taking care of them. It's treating them as a common cattle - work every day, forced to give up large parts of your income to powerful people you'll never see in your life so they can shuffle the deck of cards and make decisions that will nine times out of ten negatively affect you.

It's intentional - the US as a nation is slowly collapsing from this - it's only a matter of time before the US is able to create their "ministry of truth" and have their own "great firewalls" - it won't be rack-mount equipment and direct access to carrier infrastructure like China they'll say - but it'll be through back-room regulation threats and shady hand-shake deals behind smoke and mirrors.

pfisherman 14 days ago

The irony is that this is being posted in a heavily moderated forum. The rule of BBS, forums, newsgroups, chat rooms, etc has always been and will always be that quality is proportional to the willingness of the mods to wield that ban hammer.

As for the free speech absolutists they are perfectly free to go post whatever nonsense they want on 4chan, 8kun, or Truth Social (heh). The rest of us are free to not go visit those places, and advertisers are free to not run ads there and have their ads associated with content that will tarnish their brand image.

  • giantg2 14 days ago

    "The irony is that this is being posted in a heavily moderated forum."

    I don't think there's any irony in this. The moderation decision has traditionally been up to those mods. What is fundamentally different with this (edit: "this" as in topic of the government forcing moderation through proposed legislation) is how it is now government mandated.

    Personally, I feel that government mandates of censorship actually compells "speech" on the part of the mods/platform. This violates free speech principles, albeit from a different part than most talk about (suppressing speech vs compelling it).

    • matthewdgreen 14 days ago

      Is it government mandated? Because everything turns on that. Politicians and government officials are allowed to have opinions, and even state those opinions: that's not a mandate. TFA clearly seems to want to cast these opinions as a mandate enforced by the power of law, but when you squint and try to find the evidence it's troublingly absent.

      • towaway15463 14 days ago

        As if back channels or threats of unfavourable treatment don’t exist. Just because the government doesn’t put it in writing on the public record doesn’t mean they aren’t exerting other forms of power. In this case they did make statements both public and private and also engaged other parties to put pressure on.

        Asserting that this is “like just their opinion, man” is like saying the thugs that come into your store and admire it while saying “nice place, it’d be a shame if anything happened to it” are just expressing an opinion.

      • giantg2 14 days ago

        My comment is not specific to the narrow focus of the article, but rather the larger conversation on this topic which which likely spurred this article. I'm referring to various proposed legislation that would mandate specific moderation, not something that has already occurred.

      • thrown_22 14 days ago

        >This is a lovely company you have, it would be a shame if we had to regulate it.

    • lern_too_spel 14 days ago

      "What is fundamentally different with this is how it is now government mandated [emphasis added]."

      {{Citation needed}}

      I can't find any government mandates of censorship that your comment complains about. This article is about how the administration said that Facebook was killing people by spreading misinformation, and the company felt shamed into changing what posts it promotes and how it tags them, realizing that doing so would also be more profitable long term. The government has said bad things about a lot of companies and has done so since its formation.

      • giantg2 14 days ago

        My comment is not specific to the narrow focus of the article, but rather the larger conversation on this topic which which likely spurred this article. I'm referring to various proposed legislation that would mandate specific moderation, not something that has already occurred.

        • lern_too_spel 14 days ago

          What proposed legislation?

          • giantg2 14 days ago

            There are multiple state level bills. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act has content moderation provisions. There are also some international bills/laws that will affect the platforms too.

            • lern_too_spel 14 days ago

              That bill has nothing to do with mandated moderation and only modifies the rights of content creators (for collective bargaining), not content aggregators. Full text:

              If there are multiple state level bills mandating moderation, please point to at least one. I know of several that restrict moderation.

              • giantg2 14 days ago

                Ah, yeah i see the content issues in that bill go the other ways (amendment technically).

                CA has a law that requires reports on social media moderation policies as well as compliance reports. It's thought this will open up liability if they fail to enforce their moderation to a reasonable level.

                Many of these indirectly mandate moderation through the repeal or modification of section 230. You can already see how that would work by looking a Craigslist personals shutting down. Also note that intermediaries are not protected by section 230 for DMCA infractions (see how police and others use protected music to censor, which takes advantage of the automated censorship tools that were created to comply with the legal mandates).


                There are international laws which may affect the platforms too, like in France and Germany. It seems that sentiment may be spreading too.

                • lern_too_spel 14 days ago

                  The California law does not mandate moderation either or provide"compliant reports." It simply requires companies to explain how they moderate and provide statistics on how much they did.

    • socialismisok 14 days ago

      Was it government mandated? I could see someone making the case that the government "sure would appreciate if someone removed this meddlesome priest", but I don't see a mandate anywhere.

      • r3trohack3r 14 days ago

        The article covers this and precedent.

        • socialismisok 14 days ago

          The article does not suggest there was a mandate. It implies there was maybe a mandate but mostly just Biden saying things and the companies listening.

          • r3trohack3r 14 days ago

            > As the Supreme Court has long recognized and Justice Thomas explained in a concurring opinion just last year, “[t]he government cannot accomplish through threats of adverse government action what the Constitution prohibits it from doing directly.”

            > In 1963, the Supreme Court, deciding Bantam Books v. Sullivan, held that “public officers’ thinly veiled threats to institute criminal proceedings against” booksellers who carried materials containing obscenity could constitute a First Amendment violation. The same reasoning should apply to the Biden administration campaign to pressure tech companies into enforcing its preferred viewpoints.

            > It remains to be seen whether Bhattacharya and Kulldorff will be able to show that Fauci and Collins explicitly ordered tech companies to censor them and their Great Barrington Declaration.

            Fair - I’m overstating.

    • evandale 14 days ago

      What's the difference between a recommendation and a mandate when the government is delivering it through a private channel?

  • r3trohack3r 14 days ago

    This is the same copy-pasta posted to every submission about big tech censorship.

    > The irony is that this is being posted in a heavily moderated forum.

    Unless you’re implying that the U.S. government is involved in moderating legal speech on this forum - I do believe you are missing the point.

  • crisdux 14 days ago

    I don't think moderation automatically means censorship. In my opinion, HN mainly tries to enforce a productive decorum, which makes this board better than others.

    Most people who are concerned about government censorship are not free speech absolutists. You are invoking the logical fallacy of appeal to extremes.

  • commandlinefan 14 days ago

    But in this case we're not talking about shutting down trolls - we're talking about excluding political opponents, by actual elected politicians.

    • itsoktocry 14 days ago

      >we're not talking about shutting down trolls - we're talking about excluding political opponents, by actual elected politicians.

      "shutting down trolls" is precisely the language used when shutting down wrongthink, though. Everyone is a "paid Russian troll" or a "paid shortseller troll".

    • Covzire 14 days ago
      • socialismisok 14 days ago

        Which intervention did they shut down discussion of, and how many lives would have been saved if the public had heard about it?

      • shadowgovt 14 days ago

        > they ended up killing a lot more people than they saved.

        That's a strong claim in need of support.

      • tohnjitor 14 days ago

        Some of us were already apprehensive about going to the doctor before the pandemic.

  • refurb 14 days ago

    Are you saying HN is moderating content on this website at the direction of the government?

    Because that’s what the article is about.

  • zaroth 14 days ago

    The issue here actually has nothing to do with private moderation.

    It has to do with the USG lying to platforms that unflattering stories are “Russian disinformation” to get them taken down, or telling platforms they are responsible for killing people for carrying informed scientific debate that goes against the USG approved viewpoint.

    The platforms did not want to censor these accounts, they even told the owners they would not be.

    But then the Whitehouse came in and said they needed to do more about these specific people, and Biden went on TV and said socials were killing people by carrying these messages.

  • peteradio 14 days ago

    > The irony is that this is being posted in a heavily moderated forum.

    How is that ironic? Irony would be this post getting flagged and removed.

  • jonhohle 14 days ago

    The issue linked isn’t about mods enforcing community rules - it’s about the government pressuring (under cover of law) communities to censor content that the government doesn’t like.

    Regarding COVID, we know that much of what the government was disseminating was as much misinformation as that coming from Drs. that were saying the opposite. They were not trying to suppress information because they had any scientific authority, but because it ran counter to their strategy. Having a government attempt to squash public scientific debate is very concerning and completely different from mods booting belligerent or abrasive users.

  • RichardCNormos 14 days ago

    Freedom to moderate one's platform is not freedom from consequences for doing so. There will be regulatory, legal, and investigative punishment for Big Tech within the next 10 years, as a direct consequence of their style of moderation.

    It would be more understandable if social media, for example, advertised "only opinions consistent with current left-wing ideology are welcome here", then proceeded to ban anyone presenting right-wing content. But they don't do this. There was a time when Twitter called itself "the free speech wing of the free speech party". In less than ten years, they became a mouthpiece for the government, banning any countervailing thought.

    People like me will gleefully vote for any politician who promises to punish Big Tech for this doublespeak. And there are way more of me than you would like to believe.

    • shadowgovt 14 days ago

      And ironically, such punishment may chip away at the First Amendment also, because the power to punish Big Tech for how it mediates communication is more power in the government's hands to curtail private rights. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but such power has unintended consequences and must be ceded very thoughtfully.

      We are forever charting a course between a Brave New World and a 1984 future.

      • staticman2 14 days ago

        The previous president called the news media the enemies of the people and said he wanted to open up libel laws so he can sue the news media and win.

        A plan to "increase free speech" which actually reduces it would not necessarily be an unintended consequence.

  • naasking 14 days ago

    Talk about missing the point.

  • peyton 14 days ago

    I think the article is about jawboning. Any thoughts there?

dahart 14 days ago
  • causi 14 days ago

    The relative merits of terrible advice aren't particularly relevant to the question of whether the US government has a constitutional responsibility to not goad private companies into pushing or being hostile toward any specific viewpoint or communication. This is a bit like the "nobody deserves encryption because child pornography exists" court cases in that the specific details of someone being horrible are masking the much larger legal principle that's at stake.

    Personally I'm not sure where the line between "public announcement" and "government censorship" lays or should lay, but "the government can do whatever it wants as long as its opponents are shitty people" is not a good outcome.

    • dahart 14 days ago

      The article didn’t even consider the possibility that tech companies just happen to disagree with the Great Barrington Declaration and saw it as speculation and misinformation, which it is to some degree. It also doesn’t discuss the possibility that this Declaration was signed by a small minority of scientists. Instead, it spends all it’s time trying to frame this as a conspiracy, a large group being silenced by a small group of powerful people.

      The saddest part is that the stated goal of the GBD is exactly the same as the stated goal behind our lockdowns, to minimize the death toll while things settle. Framing this as opposing parties with opposing goals is more about tribal politics than about the facts of the debate or about free speech.

      The Constitution makes clear that Freedom of Speech is not absolute, and does not extend to some kinds of speech that can be harmful to society. This is a case where this speech might turn out to be a False Statement of Fact that is not protected and should not be spread, because of the ramifications it has on people’s lives. The merits of the argument are very relevant to the question of whether there is a constitutional responsibility, according to the constitution!

      • causi 14 days ago

        False Statement of Fact

        Even deliberate lies are protected by the first amendment unless they fall under the category of defamation. "Harm to society" is an irrelevant distinction under American law.

        • dahart 14 days ago

          That’s absolutely not true. The reasoning behind free speech exceptions like fighting words, sedition, pornography and others all hinge on harm to society.

          The Supreme Court has already recognized False Statements of Fact concerning “issues of public concern.”

          • causi 14 days ago

            Fighting words is not an exemption to free speech; it is an exemption to laws against assault and battery. Speaking fighting words does not break the law. Responding to fighting words by punching the speaker doesn't either. If the listener chooses not to respond to fighting words with violence and your fighting words did not include over criminal acts such as making a true threat, you will not be arrested.

      • peteradio 14 days ago

        The GBD was basically a recitation of the WHO Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response. How could you trivially classify it as harmful to society?

        • dahart 14 days ago

          I didn’t. The WHO did.

          (But it’s a good point that the GBD’s goals and the WHO’s are the same, which is a good reason to ask why the debate has veered away from science and facts and is devolving into attacks and bad faith arguments.)

    • r721 14 days ago

      What if a billionaire pays a network of his agents of influence (and bots) to push and amplify that specific viewpoint on your social network? Is that a bad thing to deamplify it a bit?

      • causi 14 days ago

        Is that a bad thing to deamplify it a bit?

        Certainly not. I'm just saying the government should not be directly leaning on you to deamplify it. If you want to deamplify it on your own, fine. If the government wants to make a public announcement that "social networks allowing this sort of thing is bad" that is also fine.

      • mvc 14 days ago

        > What if a billionaire pays a network of his agents of influence


        Or if the billionaire is the head of an enemy state.

    • themitigating 14 days ago

      They don't because the first amendment says congess shall make no laws suppressing ...speech

      • dahart 14 days ago

        ... as long as that speech isn’t (including, but not limited to) fighting words, sedition, incitement, obscenity, pornography, false statements of fact, counterfeit currency, commercial speech, speech owned by others, threats, slander, libel, defamation, and more.

        ... and also as long as the speaker isn’t being paid, isn’t speaking for the government, isn’t employing people, isn’t in prison, isn’t a regulator of the bar, the airwaves, the military, or immigration, and more.

        Some of those exceptions may be relevant to this particular article.

  • trashtester 14 days ago

    During the first weeks of covid, the strategy proposed by most of the medical establishment was to "flatten the curve", which basically is to allow everyone to be exposed, but at a pace that is gradual enough that the healthcare system isn't overwhelmed. (Sweden continued this approach for months.)

    In effect, that was what was still proposed in the Barrington Declaration in October.

    While I disagreed with the proposal (just as I did with flatting the curve in March/April), I don't think it was disinformation. Rather, I think the declaration represents a value systems (liberitarianism) where liberty is seen as more important than safety, and where harming one group (children and young people) to help another (sick and elderly) is seen as unethical.

    My main objection was that I didn't think it would be realistic with our current population to be able to stomach such an approach to the end, with the number of deaths that would be likely to follow, and that starting lockdowns late might cause roughly as much harm from the lockdowns as starting them early. (Even Sweden did partically pivot, eventually.)

    Basically, though, I think the view presented in the declartion simply represents a political view, not disinformation. And I'm not a big fan of sensoring political views.

    • dahart 14 days ago

      I actually agree almost entirely with this, and I further appreciate your positive glass-half-full take on the debate and the motivations behind it, that it’s political. Generally speaking I’m also not a fan of the government censoring political views. (I’m not sure that happened here. The article is making accusations of coordinated government censorship, but admitted the accusation lacks evidence. It’s possible many people independently decided against hosting the GBD because of it’s political bias.)

      There are a couple of reasons I think this particular political view does cross the threshold and amount to mild disinformation, which are that the stakes are far higher than most political debates. This isn’t a tax or budget discussion, it’s an ongoing pandemic with an outcome of millions of premature deaths so far. The GBD did speculate on both the unknown future harm of lockdowns and the safety of herd immunity. It also attacks and contradicts the conclusions of many many fellow scientists and epidemiologists based on speculation and not established facts.

      Part of the issue for me is that free market policies tend to externalize damage caused by deregulation, here for example by comparing human death today to unknown amount of human suffering, and (as in this case) they make a sort of unfounded social Darwinism argument that presumes pure economic policy can and should be applied to everything non-monetary. This has been especially true for the last century when it comes to the environment; we’re just starting to pay the real costs and asses the real damage from 100+ years of failure to take enough action and properly regulate pollution, a time during which it was argued constantly that the free market would minimize the total harm.

      I don’t know how history will look upon the lockdowns in 10 or 100 years, and I feel like lockdowns suck just as much as everyone else does. But people dying sucks hard, we’re all fighting fiercely over what is the lesser of two bad outcomes. Without evidence to back it up though, it’s hard to say yes we should let more people die because we think in the long term it might be less “total harm” if we do.

      • trashtester 14 days ago

        > This has been especially true for the last century when it comes to the environment

        This picture is from 99 years ago in Ukraine. It shows the effect of inefficient agriculture and the harm done by dogmatic socialism in the most fertile part of Europe:

        Millions were starving to death, and Ukraine was not an exception. In most of the world, periods of hunger and starvation was quite normal.

        This graph shows the percentage of the world population living in extreme poverty, from 1820 to 2015:

        The graph starts at around 90% of the world living in extreme poverty, and is down to less than 10% by 2015.

        To a large extent, this development was made possible by fossil fuels.

        > But people dying sucks hard, we’re all fighting fiercely over what is the lesser of two bad outcomes.

        True, and I was all for lockdowns during the early stages, and later on still happy about them for more personal reasons (I'm obese, and I like working from home).

        But for some groups, the costs were really high, not just economically. For children, students and many single young people, 1-3 years of isoloation can carry a huge toll socially, psychologically and academically. When I mentioned that to elderly people I know around that time (that were afraid for their lives), they did not show much empathy for those young people who were forced into isolation for the protection of the elderly and obese.

    • themitigating 14 days ago

      What makes it a political view?

      The cooperation of the population is a valid concern when planning a response to an emergency

      • meltyness 14 days ago


        To color the situation a bit without presuming too much. Should the whole country shut down because DC, NY, and LA are reaching dangerous levels of hospital burden? I suspect the whole country took on the measures needed in denser areas, but I speculate that it looked draconian there since the spread was delayed by a year before it really hit a quorum in some central states[0]. It's a political argument because they can contend it would have been handled better by local, county, state officials.


      • trashtester 14 days ago

        Politics is when there is a disagreement about values.

        For example, pro choice vs pro life is about values, not facts.

        Scientific misinformation is when someone someone makes statements that are in disagreement with established scientific facts.

        For example, the theory of evolution is established enough to be considered a fact. Rejecting it is either misinformation, delusional or both.

        Now, it is possible that there were elements in the Barrington Declaration that was also presenting alternative ways of looking at the data, maybe opinions that would be fringe at the time (but definitely mainstream just months before). But part of this is also how you quantify deaths.

        Either you can count all lives equally, especially when including those who would have died roughly at the same time, even if they did not have covid.

        On the other hand, if you look at number of potential years of life lost, the numbers become quite different, such as in this study:

        If you look at the US (which was one of the highest), the OECD study above shows that 7700 years of life were lost per 100000 people, for the sample in time and age groups that were used. That is about 4 weeks for the average citizen. If you use a time window that includes 2021 and 2022, that could perhaps increase to 8-10 weeks per inhabitant.

        Maybe this would have been 2-4 weeks higher, if lockdowns had only lasted half as long, who knows. Anyway, I think average number of life-years lost per capita is a relevant metric to compare to the sacrifices involved in long-lasting lockdowns.

        Now, if you look at the main risk factor for dying from covid, namely obesity, the obesity in itself carries a cost in terms of expected years of life lost of 2-5 YEARS (not weeks as for covid), depending on the level of obesity.

        In other words, if instead of mandating lockdowns, the government would spend a similar effort in schools, collages and workplaces to stimulate exercise, one could quite probably have have reduced years of life lost more than the lockdowns achieved, especially during the later stages of the pandemic.

        Oh, btw, I'm obese myself, which probably contributed to me being happy about lockdowns for selfish reasons, especially before vaccines were available.

  • caterpi11ar 14 days ago

    I predicted this comment as soon as I saw the post. I knew there'd be someone saying 'but those scientists really were doodoo heads!' as if that were the point of the article.

    • dahart 14 days ago

      That’s not at all what I said, but the article does in fact spend considerable time trying to establish the authors of the GDB as authorities and leaders of a legitimate and widely supported movement, right? It doesn’t really talk about how many legitimate and widely supported scientists disagree with the GBD and who point out correctly that it’s trying to trade real death today for speculative harm in the indeterminate future. The article seems one-sided and biased, and the GDB is speculation, whether it’s right or not. Debate over the right way to handle things is healthy, but people who cry censorship when their risky view is not adopted without question, and when real lives are on the line, are trying to sway public opinion using debate tactics. This doesn’t need to be an us-vs-them argument, attacks and hyperbole just add confusion to what is an actual hard to answer question that nobody knows yet.

      • adamsb6 14 days ago

        The article isn't about the harm caused by failing to adopt the Great Barrington Declaration.

        Its assertion is that the government was meeting with companies in an effort to get them to suppress the Great Barrington Declaration and other views that didn't support the government's plan of action. This is both illegal and bad for public discourse and truth-seeking.

        When the government gets to rule on truth and falsehood we then become unable to pick apart government-approved facts. Galileo's heresy trials, nearly 400 years ago, illustrate this problem.

  • naasking 14 days ago

    > It claimed harmful COVID-19 lockdowns could be avoided via the fringe notion of "focused protection", by which those most at risk could purportedly be kept safe while society otherwise continued functioning normally.

    Calling this notion "fringe" is just incorrect. The citations for that sentence say it may be hard to achieve. Sure, lots of things are hard to achieve but some of them are worth it. It seems plausible that avoiding the current economic disruptions that are significantly harming the world's poor might have made it worth it.

    • disgruntledphd2 14 days ago

      The real trouble with the approach is the fact that one infection doesn't provide long-term immunity, as we are doubtless all aware now.

      • naasking 14 days ago

        That definitely makes it less effective, no doubt. There are indications that real infection does provide better long-term protection against reinfection and serious disease on reinfection. Given long-COVID and complications from infection, that makes this option less attractive though. Then again, the suffering caused by the economic disruptions are still ongoing too, and likely will continue for years, so it's too early to say what hindsight will show was the right balance.

        • disgruntledphd2 14 days ago

          Yeah, long Covid probs not changing by number of infections would make this a really risky strategy, even if it could be done in practical terms (which I'm pretty sceptical about, tbh).

      • themitigating 14 days ago

        Who said it would?

        • dahart 14 days ago

          This was the fundamental base assumption of the GBD. It depends on herd immunity for its argument to be true and effective.

          • naasking 14 days ago

            It doesn't really, it just depends on the harms caused by stronger measures, like total lockdowns, to exceed the harms caused by allowing the infection to spread.

            • dahart 14 days ago

              > It doesn’t really

              Yes it does, that is the explicitly stated assumption of the GBD.

              “As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.”


              • naasking 14 days ago

                Yes the argument was initially couched in terms of herd immunity, but the argument doesn't change without it. The same logic of total harm reduction still holds.

                • dahart 14 days ago

                  Of course the argument changes if herd immunity can’t be achieved, it directly and explicitly changes the speculative calculation of how much harm is caused by allowing Covid to spread quickly and how much relative harm is caused by lockdowns.

                  The argument isn’t over whether there is a total harm reduction goal, the argument is over which of several strategies actually leads to total harm reduction. The stated goal of lockdowns was exactly the same, to reduce total harm.

                  • naasking 14 days ago

                    > The stated goal of lockdowns was exactly the same, to reduce total harm.

                    I disagree. Lockdowns were targeted, "naive" harm reduction: the harm directly caused by the virus itself. It just implicitly assumed that the harm from the virus simply had to outweigh any other possible sources of harm, and/or that other sources of harm could just be mitigated, but we had literally no reason to be certain of that at the time, and in retrospect that seems to be false.

                    The GBD was specifically couched in terms of total harm reduction, calling for us to account for economic, mental health, delayed treatment, and other harms caused by "naive" harm reduction policies, like lockdowns. This is the argument that doesn't really change even if herd immunity is taken off of the table. This exact argument is the opening sentences of the GBD, so that's the central thesis, and removing herd immunity doesn't change this argument.

                    Edit: to be clear, obviously removing herd immunity changes the threshold where harms prevented by oppressive policies are outweighed by the harms caused by those policies, but it doesn't change the existence of this threshold. Infection still provides protection, even if it doesn't convey immunity, so the GBD could still be true even if you remove all references to herd immunity.

                    • dahart 14 days ago

                      > The GBD was specifically couched in terms of total harm reduction

                      So were the lockdown, mask mandate, and social distancing policies. We had far less severe lockdown than China in explicit recognition of the potential harm of more severe lockdowns. Again, the idea to reduce total harm is not unique to either side here, you can disagree all you want, but almost everyone is interested in reducing total harm, the debate is over how to do that, not whether.

                      BTW who are you quoting with “naive”, and why do you believe taking some action to reduce death during a pandemic is naive compared to a Libertarian backed idea to do nothing and let nature sort itself out? With hindsight, we actually know now that the GBD’s suggestion was naive because immunity rates after contracting Covid are not as good as they hoped for.

  • dbsmith83 14 days ago

    The declaration may very well be 'misinformation', but that is a non-issue. The question being asked here is "Did the US govt violate the First amendment by illegally compelling tech companies to censor certain viewpoints?"

    • themitigating 14 days ago

      Why is it illegal? Where is that stated?

      • dbsmith83 14 days ago

        > Why is it illegal?

        You are asking why is violating the First Amendment illegal? Because that's how laws work here. The constitution is literally called 'the law of the land', hence violating it would be illegal

        > Where is that stated?

        Where is what stated? That this was a violation of the First Amendment? I mean, it's literally in the subheading of the article: "Censorship of wrongthink by Big Tech at the behest of the government is government censorship, which violates the First Amendment". I am not arguing it was or wasn't, I was just letting the OP know what the real issue is

    • dahart 14 days ago

      > It remains to be seen whether Bhattacharya and Kulldorff will be able to show that Fauci and Collins explicitly ordered tech companies to censor them and their Great Barrington Declaration.

      They don’t have evidence that the govt compelled the censorship. And the NIH generally doesn’t have this authority, and I doubt most companies believe that it does. Don’t forget this happened during the previous administration, which officially supported the GBD.

      They also don’t have evidence that anything was illegal, since preventing misinformation & speculation isn’t illegal and might not be protected by the First Amendment. See the side discussion on freedom of speech exceptions nearby. Whether the GBD is misinformation is totally relevant, freedom of speech depends on the content of the speech.

      • dbsmith83 14 days ago

        > They also don’t have evidence that anything was illegal, since preventing misinformation & speculation isn’t illegal and might not be protected by the First Amendment.

        IANAL (and I'm sure you aren't either), but if you actually read the wikipedia article you linked to, that specific area of constitutional law is vague and far from settled:

        > The basis for this ruling was the Court's fear that "a rule compelling the critic of official conduct to guarantee the truth of all his factual assertions" would lead to "self-censorship".[15] This determination altered the theory of the 'false statements' free speech exception. Even if a false statement generally would be harmful for public discourse, the Court quoted John Stuart Mill in arguing a false statement in this context would bring "the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error".[16]

        > Issues "of public concern"

        The leading case on what an issue "of public concern" is Dun & Bradstreet v. Greenmoss Builders (1985). In Dun & Bradstreet, the Supreme Court considered whether a credit reporting service which distributed fliers to their only five subscribers qualified as an action of "public concern". As it was "hardly and unlikely to be deterred by incidental state regulation", the Court concluded it did not qualify.[5] This decision did not provide strong guidance on the issue.[20]

        This vague area of law in regards to false statements of fact can lead to a variety of arguments over what is relevant or has public importance.[20][21]

        (emphasis is mine^)

        Anyway, I'm not arguing it was or was not illegal, since that is a matter for the courts to decide. You could be right, but I'm skeptical

  • jtbayly 14 days ago

    The censorship happened. That's not debatable. The only question is why.

    • themitigating 14 days ago

      The question is who censorsed the information and was legal. Why do you think the question is why?

      • jtbayly 14 days ago

        We know who. The social media companies did. The question is whether they were doing so at the behest of the government.

        • themitigating 14 days ago

          Because of a law congress made? If not then how is it a violation of the 1st amendment?

          • adamsb6 14 days ago

            Laws are not the only way that government can violate your rights.

            If a random cop stops by your house and tells you to take down the sign on your lawn, the government has violated your rights.

            The allegations in the article are of that sort, that government agents were giving direction to private companies on what speech they ought to permit on their platforms.

            • themitigating 14 days ago

              The first amendment only says congress shall make no law.

              • blast 14 days ago

                The entire second half of the OP explains in detail why there may be a First Amendment case here, including some interesting precedents.

              • colinmhayes 14 days ago

                and the second says well regulated militia. The courts care about what their interpretation of the intent of the clause is, not the actual words in the clause.

  • TeeMassive 14 days ago

    This is pretty much the strategy adopted by Florida and they didn't have worse results adjusted for age while everyone was calling for Desantis to be tried for genocide.

    • dahart 14 days ago

      Florida’s death rate is quite a bit worse than California’s…

      Sweden also famously avoided lockdowns and later regretted it.

      China had severe lockdowns, and to the best of our knowledge it worked.

      • colinmhayes 14 days ago

        Worked is a funny way of describing China's situation. Sure, they have low death rates, but their economy is absolutely fucked by continuing lockdowns that they can't end because no one has immunity.

        • dahart 14 days ago

          Fair point, I could have used a better word, I was indeed only talking only about death rates.

      • TeeMassive 14 days ago

        Again, not adjusted for age

    • themitigating 14 days ago

      Didn't he change the law to punish Disney because of their political opinion?

      • tastyfreeze 14 days ago

        He removed special privileges granted by Florida to Disney for their political opinion. Removing preferential treatment for a global corporation that is actively working against your stated goals is a good thing and what a governor should be doing. Implementing new laws to punish Disney would be a step too far. Disney must be allowed to do as they wish within the bounds of the law but Florida doesn't have to continue letting them run their own fiefdom.

6stringmerc 14 days ago

I recently got terminated for objecting to a company mass gathering next month where attendees fly in en made, socialize for 24 hours (with a 5k fun run in there) and fly back the next day because it sounds like a body stressing plan and while I’m vaxxed and boosted my underlying health condition could make long COVID really severe. Not a gamble I want to take.

The fact I questioned leadership and asserted it was exclusionary to those with health concerns by not having a virtual alternative, well, this is Texas and it would’ve been smarter for them to fire me for no reason. Have an appointment for a legal consult to figure out if name and shame is the next step.

As long as UTSW’s update last slide shows R anywhere near 1 I’m going to use caution. I haven’t survived this lifetime disability and flourished by taking medical advice or alternative advice too stringently. There’s quacks in both.

  • hbn 14 days ago

    What? Why didn't you just not go? What would the virtual alternative of that be, a video call? Why do you need your company to organize that? If you and a few other coworkers are too scared to go to the in-person event, setup a video call yourselves. Sounds like you made a big scene over nothing.

  • peteradio 14 days ago

    Is that different (or worse) than excluding people from company events without having been vaccinated despite having a prior infection?

  • RichardCNormos 14 days ago
    • BeefWellington 14 days ago

      I don't believe the narrative was ever "You will not get COVID if you get these vaccines" given the CDC's own study said it was 90% effective against SARS-COV-2 infections.[1]

      Omicron and (to a lesser extent) Delta variants changed the game on transmission. They event provided the receipts in April 2021 of a study showing 90% decrease in virus transmission.

      You can choose to believe this is narrative but it was backed by evidence.

      The broader question about controlling misinformation is a tricky one and government pressuring social media companies into banning people isn't the ideal situation.

      However, framing it as people being banned for "Any suggestion to the contrary" is at the best disingenuous. What I saw were people advocating all manner of alternative to the vaccines and spreading disinformation getting banned. A specific instance: Remember all those yarns about how people would now be sterile because of the vaccine? Well, birth rates are now back up to where they were[2] and nobody's shown to have been sterilized because of it. It's one example of just outright misinformation that deserved a ban.

      This is the "fire in a crowded theatre" debate in different clothes, and it's a hard argument. If you think of this in terms of pure capitalist viewpoint, maybe instead of the government pressuring social media companies the alternative is that drug companies sue Meta et. al (and users) for defamation and libel. I'm not sure how that's a better system and wouldn't lead to the very same thing happening but it's the only alternative that seems immediately obvious.



      • somenameforme 14 days ago

        If you'll excuse the sidetrack, I just want to hit on the "fire in a crowded theater" comment you made. It's frequently cited by people supportive of censorship, but it's quite an ironic choice once one learns the history of said quote. It was a comment quoted from Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (the same individual who also set legal precedent for state-driven eugenics with another oft referenced quote) in the case Schenck v. United States.

        And what was that case about? What was this "screaming fire in a crowded theater"? It was the analog that the government chose to use for being the same as them arresting people, under the Espionage Act, for the vile crime of handing out pamphlets encouraging people to resist the military draft. Shenck himself faced up to 30 years in prison. There could scarcely ever be a better argument against ever allowing the government the right to censor.

    • yamtaddle 14 days ago

      > There was a time when the official narrative said "You will not get COVID if you get these vaccines"

      I've seen this claim, but don't recall "you won't get it at all if you have the vaccine" being the narrative when I got mine, which was pretty damn early. I've seen a couple articles posted on here by people making this claim, in support of it, but when I read the articles they end up failing to support it (though a poor or motivated-to-misunderstand reader might think they do)

      When was this? Was it for such a brief time that I might have missed it?

      • itbeho 14 days ago

        "You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations." - Joe Biden

        • yamtaddle 14 days ago

          Read your link. Solidified my view that people pushing this are relying on deliberately-uncharitable or outright bad readings to support their position. Is this the best there is?

          • themaninthedark 14 days ago

            Please reread. Politifact editorialized and downplayed what was said.

            Politifact: >President Joe Biden exaggerated when he spoke about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine during a CNN town hall. "You're not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations," Biden said.

            President Transcript: >But again, one last thing. I — we don’t talk enough to you about this, I don’t think. One last thing that’s really important is: We’re not in a position where we think that any virus — including the Delta virus, which is much more transmissible and more deadly in terms of non — unvaccinated people — the vi- — the various shots that people are getting now cover that. They’re — you’re okay. You’re not going to — you’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.

            >MR. LEMON: Yeah. I want to stay on the subject. I want to get to Dr. Nicole Baldwin. She’s a pediatrician and a Republican.

            >Dr. Baldwin, go ahead.

            Where did Politifact get "President Joe Biden exaggerated" from? I see no attempt by the president to walk back or clarify what he said.

            Do we want to excuse people when they make bad statements because they are on our side?

            • yamtaddle 14 days ago

              The claim's not that a few over-broad statements were made with colloquial application of absolutes during conversations or interviews, which they definitely were, but that this was the official line and that claiming you could contract the virus was suppressed—yet every time I see examples provided, the exaggerated statements are accompanied shortly before or after by prepared, official communication that in fact the vaccines are extremely effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization, but not perfectly so, and that infection is still possible. If the original claim were true, those statements should either have been different, or should have been censored.

              So sure, it'd be nice if politicians were more precise when answering questions (though it's not gonna happen, for one thing because people don't talk like that) but that's not what I've seen claimed in these cases—it's that these few over-broad statements were the official line, and that dissent from it was smacked down. This runs contrary both to my recollection of events, and to evidence I've seen the few times I've seen the topic come up on here, including this link.

    • themitigating 14 days ago

      "There was a time when the official narrative said "You will not get COVID if you get these vaccines""

      Do you have a source?

      • mandmandam 14 days ago

        There are many, and they are easy to find.

        Here's an AP News 'fact check' "debunking" a video which claimed Fauci said they weren't effective:

        I honestly have no idea how one can claim in good faith not to remember that this was the narrative. It was everywhere.

        • themitigating 14 days ago

          Maybe I'm not seeing this in the ap article.

          Where does say "You will not get COVID if you get these vaccines" which you said was the official narrative?

          Could you paste the quote here?

          Edit or a similar statement that you won't get covid if you get the vaccine

kkoncevicius 14 days ago

So according to this article big-tech fears the US government and do as they are told or at least react to cues about what and who should be censored. On the other hand - some fraction of big tech banned the previous US president, while he was still in office, with no such fears.

What am I missing?

  • naasking 14 days ago

    > On the other hand - some fraction of big tech banned the previous US president, while he was still in office, with no such fears.

    Sure, they banned him after he lost the election and could no longer retaliate meaningfully against them, while his opponents were coming into power. I'm not sure why you would neglect that. Maybe they would banned him anyway, or maybe not. We can't evaluate that counterfactual, but what actually happened is consistent with the narrative.

    • krapp 14 days ago

      >Sure, they banned him after he lost the election and could no longer retaliate meaningfully against them, while his opponents were coming into power.

      What means of retaliation do you believe Trump would have had against social media platforms while in office? A President doesn't have the legal authority to simply outlaw companies they disagree with, nor do they have a right to a social media account, or to force businesses to accept them as a customer, or carte blanche to violate contracts or terms of service. Sign an executive order making it illegal to ban his accounts? Executive orders aren't laws, and Presidents aren't monarchs.

      Meanwhile, as a billionaire celebrity even out of office, Trump remains perfectly capable of suing over his social media bans, which he is currently doing.

      • naasking 14 days ago

        He can direct the justice department to investigate all sorts of possible infractions, costing them considerable money in legal fees, disrupting business activities, and causing negative PR. Trying to do any of this as the election loser it just comes across as sour grapes, and the justice department wouldn't follow any directions of this sort. And this is just scratching the surface.

        • krapp 14 days ago

          That still doesn't make him unable to meaningfully retaliate, just unable to abuse Justice Department resources while doing so.

          • naasking 14 days ago

            If your quibble is on what I specifically meant by "meaningfully retaliate", I think everyone understands that the threat of the full weight of the US government is "meaningful", where lawsuits from individuals are fairly routine for these companies and so I wouldn't count those as particularly meaningful by comparison.

    • themitigating 14 days ago

      Why couldn't he retaliate after he lost the election?

      • naasking 14 days ago

        I said "meaningfully retaliate", not just "retaliate". I address this further below:

        • themitigating 14 days ago

          Either one, why wouldn't he be able to? Nothing changes post election until jan 20th

          • naasking 14 days ago

            For one example, the justice department is not going to act on directives from a President that will simply be overruled in two weeks when the next President comes into power, it's just a waste of resources. They'll take the paperwork but they'll just sit on it.

            • themitigating 14 days ago

              Is that a guarantee or is it possible they would follow his orders?

              Also it's 6 weeks and the executive doesn't control the justic department how would it be overruled?

  • waffleiron 14 days ago

    The previous president was banned after he no longer had political power.

    • woodruffw 14 days ago

      While literally true, this doesn’t accurately reflect the immediate circumstances that led him to be banned. In other words: it’s not true that his lack of political power was the thing that got him banned.

      • socialismisok 14 days ago

        Also to say he lacks political power is objectively false. While he's no longer in office, for sure, he still wields tremendous political power.

    • ceejayoz 14 days ago

      He was a) the current president and b) politically powerful enough to trigger an attack on Congress. It's a little silly to pretend he was somehow a powerless private citizen on Jan 6. The man remains politically powerful today; see his impact on the current Republican primaries as an example.

      • towaway15463 14 days ago

        Anything he could have done at that moment would simply have been undone by the incoming administration.

        • woodruffw 14 days ago

          You can't "undo" political violence or political pardons, which are among the numerous things he did in his final days in power.

      • pessimizer 14 days ago
        • woodruffw 14 days ago

          This is not a sensible response: the Capitol riot was the closest the US has come to open, widespread political violence in a century and a half. The fact that it was largely ineffective doesn't detract from it any more than the Beer Hall Putsch's failure detracts from, well, you know.

          • dmix 14 days ago

            A single gun shot was enough to stop an entire group of unarmed rioters, but they still posed the greatest risk of political violence in 150 years?

            If the capitol police had properly prepared for the event as if it was a normal DC protest instead of a speaking event then none of it would have happened. The thin line of cops was obviously insufficient. The police response just took some time to organize but it was never under any serious threat of being overwhelmed.

            • woodruffw 14 days ago

              Yes. The fact that it was ultimately impotent doesn't change that fact. Characterizing the riot as being ended by a "single gunshot" is misleading, at best: there is no evidence that the majority of rioters were aware that someone had been shot, much less killed, until hours or days after the Capitol had been cleared.

              "Insufficient" means a little bit of scuffling outside of our nation's legislature. It doesn't mean breaking into the windows and doors, rifling through the offices of legislators and stealing documents, and forcing an emergency evacuation of both chambers.

              • s1artibartfast 14 days ago

                >Characterizing the riot as being ended by a "single gunshot" is misleading, at best: there is no evidence that the majority of rioters were aware that someone had been shot, much less killed, until hours or days after the Capitol had been cleared.

                That makes it even less dangerous if most of them were disbursed with even less intense measures.

          • zmgsabst 14 days ago

            Democrat aligned rioters brought rifles to central Seattle, and then staged an insurrection where they drove police out of a station, set up their own guards, and executed Antonio Mays Jr for joyriding on their turf.

            That’s just one of several dozen violent attacks the US faced in 2020, “The Summer of Love”.

            Just yesterday, a Republican teenager was murdered by a Democrat over political differences. [1]

            Pretending a rowdy protest at the Capitol is anything like that sustained political violence is deeply dishonest.


            • woodruffw 14 days ago

              > Pretending a rowdy protest at the Capitol is anything like that sustained political violence is deeply dishonest.

              I'm not. You'll note that any violence that occurred during the 2020 protests was not intended to prevent the peaceful transition of power in this country.

              Some it, like the Seattle courthouse riots, was clearly political violence. But the overwhelming majority of violence that did occur was not political violence -- most of it was opportunistic, and did not correspond in either personage or physical location to where the political protests were.

          • s1artibartfast 14 days ago

            Hot topic but I have seen no reason to believe it was close to widespread political violence.

            It was an unruly riot but no politician was hurt.

            I would consider the many assassinations of presidents and politicians over that time point much closer.

            • woodruffw 14 days ago

              Just as a point of clarification: "political violence" doesn't mean "doing violence against politicians." It means "using violence to achieve political ends."

              Storming the Capitol is an intrinsically violent act, one with clear political ends. I'd argue that it's a more serious act of political violence than any assassination has ever been in the US, given that no US political assassination has ever come close to threatening the smooth transition of power.

              • s1artibartfast 14 days ago

                Does killing a first term president not disrupt the smooth transition of power?

                How close do you think the storming was to actually preventing Biden from taking office?

                • woodruffw 14 days ago

                  > Does killing a first term president not disrupt the smooth transition of power?

                  It's not good, but so far no presidential assassination has led to a crisis of authority in the US: the VP has always successfully assumed power, and has yielded it if and when they've lost the subsequent election. The closest thing among assassinations would probably be Lincoln's, but that's not exactly a contemporary precedent.

                  It's hard to say how "close" it was. What's easy to say is that it was a naked attempt to subvert the smooth and peaceful transition of power, one that's unprecedented in the modern history of the US.

  • CodeWriter23 14 days ago

    > What am missing?

    The article isn’t about big tech or why they comply. It is about the US Government employing a proxy (wittingly or not) to violate The Constitution of The United States of America and conceal that activity.

  • traviswt 14 days ago

    It would be wild if we find out he was also banned in a similar manner to this Berenson guy.

    As for what you’re missing, maybe that Trump was too anti-establishment, like his “drain the swamp” rhetoric? Based on the article this seems like it would be a systemic issue.

  • dilap 14 days ago

    As Bob Dylan sang, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

    They banned Trump when he was on the way out, and an administration still very hostile to him and his supporters was on the way in.

    • ModernMech 14 days ago

      The wind was obviously blowing in a different direction on Dec 11 when all 50 states had certified their elections. Why wasn’t he banned then?

      • dilap 14 days ago

        Even if in your heart-of-hearts you wanted to ban Trump, I don't think you'd do it then -- seems like bad strategy w/ the various legal challenges to the election still in play.

        • ModernMech 14 days ago

          All legal challenges to the election were over on Dec 11. The last of the last ditch, hail Mary efforts was the Texas case, which was rejected by SCOTUS on Dec 11. With that rejection and the certification from all 50 states, that was the key day that the winds changed definitively. Instead of banning him on that day, Twitter banned him on Jan 8, after he had used Twitter to organize a violent coup attempt on Jan 6. I think Occam's razor tells us we should accept that Twitter banned Trump for the obvious and proximal cause, rather than some hypothetical effort to curry political favor that predates the inauguration of the new administration, but postdates the new administration's certainty.

          • dilap 14 days ago

            Ah, my bad on the timing. Thanks for the correction.

            Still, I think my logic still holds; if they banned him out of the blue right as the winds changed, it would be obviously political; by waiting for a casus belli (as it were), they can credibly claim non-political reasons.

  • lern_too_spel 14 days ago

    Nothing. These companies are about making a profit. Anarchy and excess deaths both reduce profits. This explains their actions very easily.

  • pessimizer 14 days ago

    > some fraction of big tech banned the previous US president, while he was still in office, with no such fears.

    No it didn't. It tolerated all types of behavior from and around him (that wasn't tolerated from other people) until the last possible second that he could have a say about anything, then it immediately banned him to please the new regime. Trump literally assassinated an Iranian general I believe largely because that general would humiliate Trump in twitter fights, not banned. New regime? Banned.

    • aaron_m04 14 days ago

      No, he was banned before the new regime, but immediately after he was implicated in an attempted coup.

      • pessimizer 14 days ago

        "Coup" over the introduction of a new regime. If your beliefs rely on Trump being powerful enough in the last days of his term to be a threat to a FAANG company in good stead with the incoming regime, your beliefs are fragile.

  • deepsquirrelnet 14 days ago

    With the current lobbying and campaign funding rules, government is more or less a consortium of big businesses. What exactly does business have to fear, when all the branches of government are full of their own representatives?

    You can’t both assert that the government doesn’t serve the people AND government doesn’t serve businesses. I agree that it is an unreasonable premise.

    • towaway15463 14 days ago

      What would be the point of influencing government if it had no power over you?

      • deepsquirrelnet 14 days ago

        The reverse is true as well. What would be the point of influencing government if it gave you no power over it?

        • towaway15463 14 days ago

          It’s rather circular, I imagine.

  • peteradio 14 days ago

    > What am I missing?

    Prior political allegiances of said companies.

  • commandlinefan 14 days ago

    > some fraction of big tech banned the previous US president

    Honestly that makes it worse - they appear to be following orders given by a specific political party but ignore those given by the other.

  • woodruffw 14 days ago

    Not much. The article's premise is bunk: that private media is required to ignore the underlying truth-value of the US government's positions and re-derive every public policy position for itself.

    It's also completely in tension with one of the oldest traditions of the executive branch, which is calling up whichever executive(s) you'd like and wailing on them a bit. Can you imagine Tablet writing a similar article about all the companies that the previous administration publicly excoriated for failing to comply with their domestic economic agenda?

    • peyton 14 days ago

      I mean, you can skim the emails here [1].

      Maybe individual messages are kind of okay, but all together it definitely reads like policing of private speech. The inter-agency communications in particular are pretty bad.


      • woodruffw 14 days ago

        Can you point to the ones you think are particularly bad?

        I'm looking through the actual emails (starting on page 147), and so far I see:

        * A public health agency (CDC) receiving media reports ("CrowdTangle content insights") from Facebook. Maybe there's some question about propriety, but that isn't itself evidence of censorship -- the direction there is entirely private-to-public.

        * Someone at the CDC responding to Facebook, thanking them for sending those media reports (p. 164).

        * Lots of coordination about who to send the reports to (about 30 pages of just that).

        * Finally, a lot of not-particularly-objectionable public information about vaccines: that they don't contain microchips, etc.

        Critically, I can't find any references to the "Great Barrington Declaration" or evidence that the CDC went beyond communicating public health policy to a handful of companies. It's entirely possible that I missed it in this 700 page PDF, so please let me know if you find it.

        • peyton 14 days ago

          I wasn’t referring to Great Barrington Declaration, so unclear to me why that is critical.

          For ex: p516 is a request from a redacted sender in which the sender shares an elections-related post and then asks to know how it was handled. The message footer references CISA policy. I think the tone is a little strange and could be reasonably construed as a way to work around the policy of not seeking action laid out in the message footer.

          • woodruffw 14 days ago

            > I wasn’t referring to Great Barrington Declaration, so unclear to me why that is critical.

            Because it's the crux of TFA. Without evidence that the Federal Government pressured companies to spike information they considered unfavorable, this is just a big pile of emails between bureaucrats and office workers.

            The email on p. 516 exemplifies this: someone in USG is asking Meta how they responded to a local government report. They're not asking for any specific action from Meta, and there's no evidence in the replies that Meta's employees construed the request as a demand to do anything.

meltyness 14 days ago

This article is misleading because the author fails to define "censor." The article repeatedly claims "censorship", where apparently none occurred.

If you don't believe me, ask yourself this question:

Does this comment itself "censor" the article in any meaningful way?

nova22033 14 days ago

The title ends in a question mark

Betteridge's law of headlines is an adage that states: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."

  • curtainsforus 12 days ago

    If you read TFA, you'd know that the headline on the link isn't the headline of the article itself, which has no question mark. Presumably the mark was added here to assuage blue-tribe people.

  • llanowarelves 14 days ago

    You could always ask the opposite question as the headline. Does it also mean "no" ?