Friday, November 20, 2020

A Lie is a Lie regardless of who tells it

With so much misinformation being passed regarding COVID, the following is worth contemplation. How quick people are ready to “run with a story,” without even a minimum of validation, if the story fits one’s bias. This story is all over the internet. The liberal media is having a field day with it.

Are Covid Patients Gasping ‘It Isn’t Real’ As They Die?

An ER nurse’s anecdote of deranged denialism went viral. But when the media caught wind of the story, reporters didn’t do their jobs.

https://www.wired.com/story/are-covid-patients-gasping-it-isnt-real-as-they-die/

As the WIRED author admits, the nurse may be telling the truth, but her tweets are not evidence of the wider politicized story that these biased journalists mostlikely want everyone to believe.

When lies are promulgated at the highest levels of authority, truth loses value and lying becomes weaponized and common practice. The truth takes too long and usually isn’t as sensational. I doubt if America will ever recover from the damage Trump has done. 70 million American voters find it acceptable.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

To Tell the Truth

Telling the truth with Trump gets one fired.

Christopher Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security director who had spearheaded a campaign to counter rumors about voter fraud, has been fired, President Trump on Tuesday. Trump, in two misleading tweets about the security of the U.S. election, said Krebs' termination was "effective immediately."

The CISA campaign, led by Krebs, was originally intended to target foreign interference. However, as the president continued to repeat dangerously misleading information about the security of the election, the agency's focus turned to rebutting many of the rumors and baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud that Trump had promoted from the White House.

Christopher Krebs has been fired

The firing of Krebs marks perhaps the most upsetting moment for democracy since the president’s refusal to accept his election loss two weeks ago. Trump has since spread disinformation wildly and has prevented the government bureaucracy from beginning a normal, peaceful transition. His increasingly quixotic legal battle has seen over a dozen courtroom losses across multiple states.

https://www.wired.com/story/trump-fires-christopher-krebs-cisa/

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Economic Representation of Candidates

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/11/09/biden-voting-counties-equal-70-of-americas-economy-what-does-this-mean-for-the-nations-political-economic-divide/

Overall, we rate Brooking Institution Left-Center biased based on donations to primarily Democratic candidates, as well as policy advocacy that slightly favors the left. We also rate them Very High for factual reporting due to strong sourcing and a clean fact check record.

https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/brookings-institute/ 

Friday, November 6, 2020

FINALLY!!!

President Trump Thursday made unfounded claims that the presidential election was corrupt and fraudulent. In response, we cut off his live remarks and removed the video from our platforms. I want to explain why.

Our job is to cover the news, but our mission is to spread truth and to stop misinformation.

Some things don’t have two sides. Facts are not up for debate. And when the president of the United States, from the White House, tries to tear down one of the bedrocks of American democracy, a fair and free election, that is no longer news. It is propaganda.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/11/06/trump-voter-fraud-election-remarks-president/6189637002/

Friday, October 30, 2020

Another Trump COVID Lie

Trump’s remarks came during an Oct. 24 rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Trump, Oct. 24: If somebody’s terminally ill with cancer, and they have COVID, we report them. And you know, doctors get more money and hospitals get more money. Think of this incentive. So some countries do it differently. If somebody is very sick with a bad heart, they die of COVID, they don’t get reported as COVID. So then you wonder, gee, I wonder why their cases are so low.

This country and their reporting systems are really not doing it right. If somebody has a really bad heart, and they’re close to death, even if they’re not, but they have a very bad heart and they get COVID, they put it down to COVID. Other countries put it down to a heart. So we have to be — we’re gonna to start looking at things because you know, they have things back — they have things a little bit backwards.

https://www.factcheck.org/2020/10/trump-baselessly-suggests-covid-19-deaths-inflated-for-profit/

If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?

Will Rogers

 

Friday, October 23, 2020

New measures to curb the viral spread of pandemic misinformation

In the hopes of curbing the rampant spread of coronavirus misinformation, the WHO announced yesterday that it will grant Wikipedia free use of its published information, graphics, and videos in a first-of-its-kind collaboration.  This partnership also means WHO material will be part of the Wikimedia Commons, and can be reproduced or retranslated anywhere so long as there’s appropriate attribution.

Since the start of the pandemic, Wikipedia—once widely regarded as unreliable—has been a key resource for debunking misinformation about coronavirus. By contrast, researchers from Cornell recently found that President Trump was likely the loudest source of coronavirus misinformation during the pandemic’s early months. As a result of the president’s attitudes, many prestigious scientific and medical journals have published editorials denouncing his handling of coronavirus.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Who Checks the Fact Checkers

When circulating the information about Poynter.com, I was asked, “Who Checks the Fact-Checkers?

My first response was -- use what I posted on my website https://mtskeptics.blogspot.com/2020/10/fact-checking-101.html  

However, I thought I would “google” the question to see if I could get a better answer.

I figured with the upcoming election that email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. would be Jammed with fallacious “information,” since one side or the other must lose. To avoid a lot of unnecessary hyperventilation, I would share what I find out. I hope people of either political persuasion would rather not hear misinformation that only substantiates their opinion. They prefer the truth. Maybe.  

Monday, October 19, 2020

FACT CHECKING 101

Poynter.com offers a FREE self-directed course in FACT CHECKING for Seniors. The course is very much apolitical and unbiased. However, I would not be surprised if when some people apply these lesson material to their favorite sources they find them full of mis- or dis-information and as a result think this course is biased or political.  It is. It is biased against the spread of garbage.

The course teaches the following checks and procedures:

  • How to check who is behind the information
  • What is the evidence
  • What are other sources saying
  • Lateral reading
  • Smart keyword search and click restraint
  • Using Wikipedia responsibility
  • Reverse image search

I have been asked, "Who checks the fact-checkers?" Answer is - YOU! and this teaches you how.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Why do we see ghosts?

This story appears in the Fall 2020, Mystery issue of Popular Science.

By Jake Bittle ,October 6, 2020

Let's call it the Scooby-Doo effect.MC Wolfman

Are ghouls real? That depends. Current science can’t prove that there are spirits walking through walls or screaming below floorboards. Our spooky sightings, however, have certainly felt real. Humans have been spotting specters for as long as we’ve been around, and to some degree we can explain why. These seven mental and physical factors can account for almost any creepy occurrence—including some famous ones ripe for debunking—and help to make sense of our perpetual urge to sleep with the night light on.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Dying in a Leadership Vacuum

Covid-19 has created a crisis throughout the world. This crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.The magnitude of this failure is astonishing.

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2029812

Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. This election gives us the power to render judgment. The truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs. 

New England Journal of Medicine.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Trump is a Major Source of Coronavirus lies

COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded alongside what the World Health Organization has termed an “infodemic” of misinformation. This study identifies and analyzes the most prominent topics of COVID-related misinformation that emerged in traditional media between January1 and May26,2020 based on a total sample of over 38 million articles published in English-language media around the world. To our knowledge, our analysis is the first comprehensive survey of the traditional and online media landscape on this issue. We found that media mentions of US President Donald Trump with in the context of COVID-19 misinformation made up by far the largest share of the infodemic. Trump mentions comprised 37.9% of the overall misinformation conversation, well ahead of any other topics. We conclude that the President of the United States was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation “infodemic”. Only 16.4% of the misinformation conversation was “fact-checking” in nature, suggesting that the majority of COVID misinformation is conveyed by the media without question or correction.

SOURCE:
Coronavirus
misinformation:quantifying sources and themes in the COVID-19‘ infodemic’

 Sarah Evanega, MarkLynas, JordanAdams, Karinne Smolenyak

https://int.nyt.com/data/documenttools/evanega-et-al-coronavirus-misinformation-submitted-07-23-20-1/080839ac0c22bca8/full.pdf  

The Cornell Alliance for Science,
Department
of Global Development,
Cornell
University, Ithaca, NY
Cision Global Insights, Ann Arbor, MI

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Hands-On Lessons to Separate Fact from Fiction Online

While reviewing the content of a new ADD to this website,
I ran across this TRAINING.
MediaWise for Seniors: Hands-On Lessons to Separate Fact from Fiction Online
https://www.poynter.org/shop/self-directed-course/mediawise-for-seniors-hands-on-lessons-on-separating-fact-and-fiction-online/

With the rampant COVID misinformation and the upcoming election,
I don’t think WE can send it to enough people.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

ACCURACY OF COVID STATISTICS

     The latest COVID conspiracy we are hearing is “The Infection Rates and Death Rates are exaggerated.  If an illness looks like COVID, whether or not it is, it is being reported as a COVID illness or death.”The confirmation of this claim is the infamous friend of a friend who works in a related medical field told them.
 
     Two questions come to mind: First, why does anyone want to believe this claim and second, is it true? Answer the second question first, What data are actually being reported and can we trust the source? Here is what Judy Melinek, MD, forensic pathologist and CEO of PathologyExpert Inc, says in her article How Accurate Is the Coronavirus Death Toll? (https://www.medpagetoday.com/blogs/working-stiff/85925)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

COVID Stupidity and Related Conspiracy

      We try really hard not to post opinion and politically biased content on this blog, but there is a limit to the level of stupidity that even we can tolerate.  If the ignorance only harms the person mouthing it, that is fine.  They are entitled.  That is their right.  It might even keep them away from wasting resources.  It "thins the gene pool." 

     The big claim of the ignorant now is all this COVID hysteria is a result of media hype.  So if that might be true (and it isn't), what is their recommendation?  Forget the social distancing, forget the masks, forget the extra caution?  What is the value of such an absurd claim?

     No careful observer will deny the media have really latched onto COVID reporting.  It is as if they have nothing else to talk about.  But the facts don't lie (unlike certain politicians).  They are available for anyone who wishes to monitor for himself what is happening. They can then share their analysis like an expert rather than a fool who sources his info solely from other idiots on social media. 

Related to this claim COVID is primarily media exaggeration, here is an old COVID conspiracy theory that seems to be making the rounds again.  Conspiracy theories unfortunately never die, unlike the people who choose to believe them.

CLAIM: Hospitals are inflating the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths so they can be paid more.

RESPONSE:: Recent legislation pays hospitals higher Medicare rates for COVID-19 patients and treatment, but there is no evidence of fraudulent reporting.

FULL REPORT: 
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/04/hospital-payments-and-the-covid-19-death-count/

Most of us just choose to rely on credible sources and ignore others that have a history of misstatements and related ignorance, except when the misinformed put us, our family, and friends at serious risk.  

In order to stay safe, make a visit to . https://www.factcheck.org/issue/covid-19/

Friday, July 24, 2020

A Trifecta for Climate Science and Rationality

By Charles Battig

First there was Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans, then came Bjorn Lomborg’s False Alarm, and now Michael Schellenberger’s Apocalypse NeverAll three authors sound the common theme that the  hyper-green environmental activists who have captured, politicized, and monetized  the concern for the environment have created  a false climate  alarm  which has “costs us trillions, hurts the poor, and fails to fix the planet.”  To varying degrees, all three authors come from a strong environmental activist background, which observation makes their public revelations even more noteworthy.

Planet of the Humans,  confirmed renewables do not displace reliable fossil-fuel power plants.  Consumers energy bills do not go down, but go up. Renewables require large amounts of rare earths, cement, and fossil fuel energy in their production.  They are both notoriously inefficient in land use, and impose destruction of large areas of native habitats.  Further environmental destruction is due to the fact that the best wind or solar location is often remote from the most needed consumer base, thereby requiring the construction  of massive electric transmission lines.  “Factories claiming to have gone ‘beyond coal’ again and again turn out to be relying on natural gas.”

False Alarm argues that there are more productive ways to aid humanity than spending billions trying to influence climate change, such as improving sanitation, clean water supplies, basic nutrition, and providing paths out of poverty.

Lomborg states, “Climate change is real, it is caused predominantly by carbon emissions from humans burning fossil fuels….” but is not the apocalyptic threat so widely advertised. Land falling hurricanes in the US are not more frequent than in the past.  Droughts here are shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller area.  Seventeen times more people currently die from cold than heat, and these people will benefit from moderate warming.  Global climate related deaths are an all-time low.”

Apocalypse Never echoes the similar conclusions as Planet of the Humans and False Alarm. Michael Shellenberger with long time green activist credentials had an environmental reality epiphany.  He told The Australian: "I realized you can't power a modern economy on solar and wind....  All they do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide green wash for fossil fuels."  He has made numerous efforts to support nuclear power.

Schellenberger documented much of the money for many of the renewable energy proposals adopted by  the Obama administration went to “companies that enriched donors to the Obama campaign” but failed to produce the promised renewable energy advances.  He concludes that “the trouble with the new environmental religion is that it has become increasingly apocalyptic, destructive, and self-defeating.”  

Environmentalist and Climate Skeptic Share Worldview

Climate Activist Michael Shellenberger and climate skeptic Bjorn Lomborg published books with remarkably similar titles and similar conclusions.  Shellenberger in his book titled Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. said, On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem. 
Read here: https://web.archive.org/web/20200629001029/https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2020/06/28/on-behalf-of-environmentalists-i-apologize-for-the-climate-scare/#16d93c515dc3 

Lomborg in his book titled False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet. said, "Climate change is happening.  It is just not the end all event that the alarmists want you to believe."

Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” and Green Book Award Winner.He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and other publications. His TED talks have been viewed over five million times.

Bjørn Lomborg is a Danish author and President of his think tankCopenhagen Consensus Center. He is the former director of the Danish government's Environmental Assessment Institute (EAI) in Copenhagen. He argues that many of the costly measures and actions adopted by scientists and policy makers to meet the challenges of global warming will ultimately have minimal impact on the world's rising temperature.

Shellenberger said, On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.

I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30.

But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know:

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine Use for COVID Still a BUST

In early July Henry Ford Hospital reported some positive results treating COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine even after every credible research laboratory declared it to be ineffective.
https://mtskeptics.blogspot.com/2020/07/hydroxychloroquine-cut-covid-death-rate.html 

So what's the story?

Like masks, hydroxychloroquine became associated with political affiliation. Trump hyped it at White House briefings, and even announced that he himself was taking it. The FDA revoked its use.  Nevertheless, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro is still pointing to the Henry Ford study, But it was a retrospective one, neither randomized nor controlled. “The Detroit study touted by Navarro has very poor methodology—completely observational, meaning that the choice to give hydroxychloroquine was probably also linked to other factors that explain the benefit,” says Bob Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at UC San Francisco.

"What is the cost of continuing these trials?” 

The politics and social alignments that swirled around hydroxychloroquine made it hard for US researchers to enroll enough participants to make a study work. That slowed things down. An analysis by Stat showed that of the more than 1,200 Covid-19 drug trials underway or planned, 237,000 people—more than a third of volunteers in all the trials—were supposed to be enrolled in hydroxychloroquine studies. That now seems disproportionate, to say the least. “Nobody should get it,” 

Wachter says. “Overall, the evidence against it is strong enough that the drug should simply go away in Covid, and it would have weeks ago had it not been for the politics.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Truth About COVID Parties

Recent rumors and news reports have circulated claiming that COVID-19 is being spread intentionally in clandestine “covid parties.” In mid-March, Kentucky governor Andy Beshear made national headlines when he stated that part of the rise in coronavirus infections in his state was due to parties in which people tried their best to get sick. 

Covid parties, per se, are largely a media myth, but that doesn’t mean that someone, somewhere, may not be doing it or could do it. The question is not whether it’s possible, as all urban legends and rumors are inherently possible—and at least plausible enough to share. Hours after a hapless expert publicly avers that covid parties “don’t exist,” one could be arranged, thus “proving” the expert wrong. But the essence of the rumor is instead that clandestine covid parties are a Thing, being organized and sure to soon menace public health. In that regard there’s no evidence whatsoever of any covid parties.

There are more than enough real threats and dangers associated with COVID-19; we don’t need to create new ones. Hoaxes, misinformation, and rumors can cause real harm during public health emergencies; as always, best inoculations against misinformation are critical thinking, media literacy, and skepticism.

https://centerforinquiry.org/blog/the-truth-about-covid-parties/

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Mis-Information Risk of FACEBOOK

      The July/August edition of AARP.org bulletin "Your Life" reports that as of 2018 only 16% of Americans get their news from printed newspapers. While major TV news sources are still available to provide mostly credible coverage and perspectives, about half get their news from FACEBOOKThat poses a major risk for the dissemination of biased and misinformation.  It happens as follows.

    In order to keep its audience engaged, FACEBOOK employs numerous algorithms to determine the interests of its subscribers.  By memorizing what a reader "likes" and "dislikes" and what he or she follows, FACEBOOK, can cater to the reader's interest.by serving up content that pleases, regardless of the validity.. 

It's like mental opium.  

      Gradually, the reader is moved into a microcosm of the real world.  They begin to think their opinions, no matter how distorted, represent the majority.  It is insidious; very few recognize or care that it is happening.
    Even worse, these are often the same people who are the first to cry "fake news" and "pox on your house."  They are quite comfortable with their ignorance and think it is an encroachment on their First-Amendment rights to fact-check what they are being fed.  
    Nevertheless, if a reader makers it to this blog, he is most likely not one of these people.  With that in mind, consider that the AARP article offers several ways to avoid the FACEBOOK trap and to "Be a Smart News Consumer,"
  • Research the "Byline."  If no author is listed, that is a red flag. Determine if the author is credible or has a known agenda.
  • Search the Headline. 70% of people don't read past the headlne and that is a source of "clickbait." Read the whole article.before making judgment.
  • Check out the sources. Do a search of the "evidence."  Discard articles that do not provide references to credible sources. . . 
  • Check out the coverage.  Legitimate news coverage rarely shows up on just one site... 
  • Validate the "dates".  Make sure it is actual current news and not a rehash of some longtime ago discredited report.
  • Determine the "basis" for the report. Is it actual news or someone's opinion?  Since everyone has an opinion, it is often best to keep these limited.
  • Use the references on this website to FACT-CHECK even those articles with which you agree.BEFORE you hit that "Share" button.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine Cut COVID Death Rate Significantly

HISTORY
     The interest in hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure for COVID-19 began on March 16th when Long Island attorney Gregory Riganoit promoted on the Laura Ingram FOX News.  He was advocating for a sloppy paper by the eminent French microbiologist Didier Raoul
     Sean Hannity began promoting it as a cure for Covid-19.  
     Rigano appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show and claimed that Raoult’s study had shown hydroxychloroquine to have a “100 percent cure rate against coronavirus.” According to Todaro, Raoult had sent him a copy of his study and allowed him to post it on Twitter that day, two days before the preprint release.  
     Later, Raoult himself appeared on “Dr. Oz,” a frequent Fox News guest who has promoted hydroxychloroquine. 
    Donald Trump began hyping hydroxychloroquine on March 19, at a White House news conference with his coronavirus task force. He suggested, inaccurately, that the F.D.A. had approved the drug for use against Covid-19.  
    The F.D.A., under what appears to have been strong pressure from the Trump administration, issued an emergency-use authorization for chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate, 
     Unusually, the C.D.C., at what was reportedly Trump’s direct urging, issued Covid-19 prescription guidelines for the drugs based upon unattributed clinical anecdotes. (The guidelines were later withdrawn.) 
     A top government biomedical official was removed from his post, he has claimed, for having resisted political pressure to fund “potentially dangerous drugs,” including hydroxychloroquine.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/magazine/didier-raoult-hydroxychloroquine.html