Anti-Vaxer Nuts, Exploiting the CORONAVIRUS CRISIS:


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5G and anti-vax conspiracy theorists are exploiting the coronavirus crisis:

We still have a great deal to learn about the new coronavirus, but there's one thing all the experts are united on: 5G is not to blame.

5G, or the fifth-generation mobile network, will power Australia's hyper-connected future, but on the internet of today it's become a conspiratorial catch-all.

New South Wales Labor politician Penny Sharpe has been sent all kinds of stories about the supposed radiation dangers of 5G. But in recent weeks, the emails became more disturbing; they claimed the network's rollout was connected to the coronavirus.

In early April, Ms Sharpe tweeted about the trend. "Stop it. It's not sensible. It's not helpful," she wrote.

Then the pile-on began. For denouncing the theory, which is not supported by scientific evidence, she was deluged with angry tweets and messages from people who didn't even seem to live in Australia.

"There are connections being made that I think are fanciful," she said.
""[They] are being used by a whole range of different people for a range of different reasons that have got nothing to do with keeping people safe and healthy through the crisis."

Anti-vaccination groups, well established on platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, have seized on incorrect and often contradictory theories about 5G and vitamin cures to capture attention and advance their own narrative.

Many of these fringe messages come from the internet's darker corners, but as the world has gone into lockdown, they have found their way into the mainstream and risk endangering public health.

The anti-5G agenda
The claim that 5G's radio waves damage the body has been denounced by radiation and medical experts, but it continues to be cultivated in Australia among a significant network of anti-vaccination and anti-5G Facebook pages.

More recently, the baseless idea that the network's rollout caused coronavirus, or that it "lowers the immune system" so the virus can enter the body, has found celebrity boosters including actor Woody Harrelson, who shared a now-deleted Instagram post with his more than two million followers.

The uncertainty inherent to a pandemic allows such misinformation to spread, said Colin Klein, who studies conspiracy theories at Australian National University's School of Philosophy.

A virus is, for most people, an invisible and confusing threat. Mobile phone towers meanwhile are tangible, and government conspiracy is a comforting trope — although one that comes with reported links to disinformation efforts by Russian media.

"Conspiracy theories offer an emotionally satisfying narrative, even if it's not a true narrative," Dr Klein said.

The earliest mentions of the baseless idea that 5G contributed to COVID-19 appear to have been shared by a French blog on January 20 and days later in an article published by a Belgian news outlet, which has now been deleted, according to analysis by misinformation researchers at First Draft.

A similar theory was later posted on high-profile Facebook pages including a group called Stop 5G UK (Facebook has now removed this group for breaking its policy on promoting or publicising crime) and continue to spread.

In the UK, phone masts have vandalised in recent weeks, which the government has connected to the spread of such misinformation.

Australian anti-5G Facebook groups have added hundreds of new members in recent weeks. Whether these people are convinced, curious or simply gawkers remains to be seen.

Dr Joan Donovan, who directs Harvard University's Technology and Social Change Research Project, said the danger of such conspiracy theories is that people who believe them may not take proper steps to protect themselves from COVID-19.

It can be attractive, she said, to blame an outside force such as super-fast internet technology for the body's innate susceptibility to new viruses — a human vulnerability we often try to fix with vaccines.

"The 5G argument, if you were to buy it, means eventually that a vaccine wouldn't matter because 5G is the explanation," she said.

The vitamin C 'cure'
During a pandemic, even something as innocuous as vitamin C can become a miracle cure and political football.

The theory that vitamin C prevents COVID-19 began on the online message board 4chan in January, according to the data analysis firm Yonder, which tracks online narratives.

From there, the firm's research suggests it was embraced by conspiracy theorists on Twitter as well as by "conservative populists", before making another jump in February to anti-vaccination groups on platforms like Facebook.

"4chan influences conspiracy theorists, and conspiracy theorists in turn influence conservative populists in the US and often conservative populists and provocateurs influence the anti-vax community," said Jonathon Morgan, Yonder's chief executive.

"There is this chain of influence."

While the location of the original 4chan posters is unknown, the narrative that high doses of vitamin C could treat COVID-19 began to show up on Australian anti-vaccination Facebook pages, some of which have more than 12,000 followers, around early February.

The media has also contributed to the hype. An article by the UK tabloid the Daily Express, which queried whether vitamin C could be a "wonder vaccine" in the headline, currently has more than 56,000 Facebook interactions according to data from social analytics company CrowdTangle.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration says there are currently no published, peer-reviewed studies that support the use of intravenous high-dose vitamin C to manage a COVID-19 infection, although some research is underway.

Yet the idea that vitamin C may provide a miracle cure for COVID-19 sits in "a goldilocks space of plausibility and novelty", Mr Morgan said.

"It needs to be novel and extreme enough to be provocative, but not so novel and extreme that it starts to become ridiculous and distasteful."


This familiarity helps the concept to evolve from a basic pharmacy item into a supposed cure, and the repetition built into social media quickly gives the message a veneer of authority.

Like 5G, for anti-vaccination groups, Mr Morgan suggested such theories lay the groundwork so that when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, the argument that it's unnecessary would already be established.

Repetition and racism
The activities of anti-vaccination and anti-5G groups on social media during the pandemic are concerning, but also a warning. They are far from the only entities seeking to exploit the COVID-19 crisis.

Dr Donovan first became acquainted with coronavirus watching YouTube and listening to white nationalist podcasts, where hosts called it "the Chinese virus" or "Wu-Flu".

"We've seen an uptick in anti-Islamic hate speech online, we've seen anti-Asian sentiment on the rise," she said.

Racist views find a receptive audience in a climate of fear. Rather than focusing on debates about what to call the disease, in Australia, fake posts and videos have incorrectly claimed Chinese people are exporting protective equipment or spitting on fruit and vegetables.

It is difficult to confront the beliefs of people committed to conspiratorial thinking, but as we continue to be physically isolated yet highly online, misinformation will continue to spread to people who may not have otherwise been exposed to it.

If we think of information flows into and around Australia like we do the pandemic, Dr Klein, said we should also consider what the equivalent of an inoculation would be.

WhatsApp recently limited how often a message could be forwarded, for example. Dr Klein suggested this could be considered an online form of social distancing.

Facebook is now removing false claims that link coronavirus to telecommunication networks.

As for Ms Sharpe, she continues to ignore the 5G emails and tweets. But she said it's a "sad reality" that trust in government, institutions and science has been diminished.

"People are very willing to look somewhere else when they're not getting the answers they like."

As the Coronavirus Spreads, Conspiracy Theories Are Going Viral Too:
Dubious and unfounded claims on the internet intended for domestic consumption are reaching far beyond their target audiences, allowing governments to spread disinformation cheaply and easily.

Long dismissed as absurd, conspiracy theorists on social media are increasingly posing a potential global threat—and becoming an asset for states looking to disrupt the geopolitical narrative and spread disinformation.

In the context of the global COVID-19 crisis, conspiracy theories have exploded across digital news sites and social media. While propaganda campaigns amid pandemics are nothing new, what is new in the current crisis is the global information environment in which it is playing out. The all-too-real impacts and stresses of the pandemic feed into the preexisting dynamics of the online information ecosystem, amplifying rumors, misinformation, conspiracies, and outright lies. For governments seeking to build trust and communicate clearly, it’s a nightmare. For those looking to sow chaos and doubt, it’s an opportunity.

There is a concept in social media studies known as “context collapse.” Usually attributed to the researcher Danah Boyd, it refers to the way in which social media platforms take messages that the sender intended to be seen by one audience in a given context and serve them up to others who were not the intended targets.

[Mapping the Coronavirus Outbreak: Get daily updates on the pandemic and learn how it’s affecting countries around the world.]

Chances are you’ve experienced it yourself. Many of us have felt the awkwardness of posting a joke on Facebook with the intention of sharing it with your friends and instead your grandma replies or making some less-than-professional comments on a personal Twitter account only to have your boss bring it up on Monday. The nature of social media platforms has a way of smashing social contexts into one another so that messages tailored for one audience end up hitting others as well and being interpreted in unanticipated ways.

What the COVID-19 crisis is demonstrating is that this dynamic does not just apply to individual social media users managing personal and professional relationships; it also applies to the cacophony of conspiracy theories raging across the screens and through the minds of social media users around the world.

In the past, pandemic-related conspiracy theories and rumors in London, Tehran, Kinshasa, Shenzhen, and Moscow would have been different. In an era of global social media platforms, however, the dynamics of context collapse mean that conspiracy theories promoted by users in one place are colliding with users in others. The fragmented nature of social media chops conspiracies into little pieces—a factoid here, a false claim there—creating a kind of information petri dish for conspiracy cross-propagation, allowing half-true facts, decontextualized narratives, and false beliefs to flow and fold into one another and spread rapidly across the world.

One of the key ways in which this happens is through the use of hashtags. Common conspiracy hashtags, for example #coronahoax or #covid19hoax, are used by multiple groups of conspiracists in various countries and serve as vectors of transmission between them as, for example, 5G and anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists scroll through the hashtag and encounter far-right or QAnon content and vice versa. Conspiracy theorists also actively use hashtags to attempt to spread their message around the world, for example by using multiple region-specific hashtags.

The nature of social media platforms has a way of smashing social contexts into one another so that messages tailored for one audience end up hitting others as well and being interpreted in unanticipated ways.
I totally agree. This guy has to be out of his mind.

Indeed. Yeadon was simply a leader in one research unit within Pfizer, that had nothing to do with vaccines. He left (unclear under what circumstances) in 2011. He seems to be off his trolley.

Details here:

But I'm reporting this, because you are deliberately spreading misinformation about Covid 19 in the serious sections of the forum. ;)
I totally agree. This guy has to be out of his mind.


Setting aside the potential sarcasm or the proposed subterfuge of your posting this, it's really not surprising.

In addition to personal career interests, many experts can be fundamentally grounded in prescriptive ethical concerns rather than non-motivated discovery ("facts/evidence"); and thereby susceptible to going "bonkers" somewhere down the line. They don't have to be directly aware of that guiding basis about themselves long beforehand. It can be subliminal, impulses not explicitly articulated into verbal awareness with respect to even their own thoughts.

Born from postcolonial guilt -- the invented governance & moral stuff again -- this is the cost of tentatively catering to the idea, in the humanities and social sciences, of a consensus world purely being a biased, cultural product of the West. That guilt orientation is eventually going to spread to the physical disciplines, too. Though the latter's oft alignment with technology makes it more difficult to be corrupted -- i.e., engineering and technology actually have to work or else a company fails, or litigation troubles ensue.

In Defense of the Universal Values of Science (Lawrence Krauss): "Nevertheless, the postmodern notion that empirical scientific knowledge is somehow culturally derived, with little or no objective underpinning, has continued to persist in various social science and literary corners of academia far removed from the rush of scientific progress. Until recently, it seemed inconceivable to imagine that any physical or biological scientists could become so misguided as to argue against the empirical basis of their own fields. But we are living in strange times..."
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"My body, my choice."

Gee, where has that been heard before?

If you fall into a raging river and are rapidly being carried down stream, what's my exact legal obligation to you as an observer?

Just because you might get sick later on, I've no obligation to vax for your presumed future benefit.

I think of it as abortion for adults.
If you fall into a raging river and are rapidly being carried down stream, what's my exact legal obligation to you as an observer?

However, if due to your negligence the dam above the person was damaged, and thus the flow of the water became stronger, you may indeed face legal responsbility for their death. Even if you were only one of a dozen people who caused the greater flow.
Just because you might get sick later on, I've no obligation to vax for your presumed future benefit.
You do indeed have a moral responsibilty to protect the weaker in society. You may well get away with being irresponsible in many ways (parking in a handicapped spot, intentionally sneezing on an elderly woman when you are sick, refusing to get vaccinated/wear a mask/distance during a pandemic, tripping a pregnant woman) but that does not mean you are in the right.

Morals are not coded in law

Some good things which look moral are, or people take them as being mortal, but that is coincidence

You have no obligation to risk your life to save another person's

Anti vaxxers have a exaggerated claimed fear of being vaccinated, few would be genuine

The claimed fear has numerous origins the most despicable - plain ol' shit stirring

Currently America is about to increase the My Body My Choice debate (hardly a debate but....) well into the land where the buses don't even think about traveling to, over the possibility of Roe vs Wade being overturned

There are tiny tiny tiny portions of the judgement when it was originally handed down which serve some usefulness . Those tiny tiny tiny portions dealt with reasonably obscure medical situations and could have been codified under General Medical Laws

But but but the majority of Roe vs Wade deals with medical situations with are deemed normal

Instead of not even bothering to even try to code "Medical Normality" into law and allowing a patient / doctor relationship handle medical normality on a case by case basis), nooooo driven (mostly by the religious twisted concept of LIFE - in capitals meaning treating LIFE as a fundamental, not life as in being the period between birth - death) the religious twisted concept of LIFE will continue to create unhealthy laws (as in cause more deaths and unhealthy outcomes to normal people)

Back to Anti vaxxers. You DO maintain My Body My Choice

The numerous laws passed regarding society in general have changed. To give a old old medical change from the middle ages, barbers were allowed to perform bloodletting (red and white pole outside indicated availability). Doctors pressed for laws only Doctors be allowed to perform bloodletting

Red and white poles still present, (decreasingly so :() bloodletting inside, no longer ✅

Now the law(s) have changed (not only in requirements for a job but also for activities such as travel) in that many require employees (travelers) be vaccinated

Note well your My Body My Choice has not been impinged

Must be time to end rant get coffee

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Morals are not coded in law
Well, they are. The reason rape is illegal is that we all think it's immoral.

But to your point - the morality I discussed in the post above is mostly not coded into law. You can go into the NICU when you are sick and sneeze on all the preemies, but they could not charge you with "sneezing on preemies." They would likely charge you with trespassing and _maybe_ reckless endangerment. There's no law against "sneezing on preemies when you are sick" because there can't possibly be a law against everything bad you could do. MOST people try to do the right thing and that's usually enough. But as we have seen in this very thread, there are some who simply do not care about others.

Sorry, to big a sample.

_maybe_ reckless endangerment

True, and defence would ask "How?"

Prosecutor "By sneezing on them"

D - "Deliberately or accidentally?"

P - "Evidence, of which you were given a copy, from the witnesses, state, under oath, deliberately"

Blah blah blah blah blah ZZZZZZZZZ

Much better smaller sample :)

But as we have seen in this very thread, there are some who simply do not care about others

And such a situation will always exist