This is an excerpt from Edition 26 of MisDisMal-Information:
For the complete edition, go to: Of Anti-vaxxing eloquent, doom profiting, political superspreaders and the ‘Right’ kind of social media
Let me start with asking you a question. Do you believe there is an ‘antivaxxers movement’ in India? A year ago, I would have laughed at the very notion. Today, I am not so sure. Maybe it is just a function of the information sources I choose to bury myself in. After all, I do go out of my way to look for such content more often that others would. But, I have been running into, let’s call them ’sceptics’, for now, outside of these sources too. But, as this BloombergQuint article (based on a survey by Ipsos) shows, support for getting a COVID-19 vaccine when available is high in India.
*So this is good news, no, Prateek? Why are you panicking?*
Because, panic I do and panic I must. Ok, but seriously. Yes, this is positive for sure.
The detailed report had some other interesting observations too.
- A footnote on page 3: Online samples in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa tend to be more urban, educated, and/or affluent than the general population. And on page 8: “The survey results for these countries should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of their population.”
- Among the people who said they would not get a vaccine, the number who said they don’t believe in vaccines in general was at 19%, lower only than South Africa. (Page 6)
- 52% of the respondents from India ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agreed with the statement ‘The chance of getting of COVID-19 is so low that a vaccine is not necessary.’ U.S. was the next highest at 31%. (Page 7)
Also, keep in mind though, that these opinions reflect a point in time. And remember that we live in an information ecosystem where narratives and conspiracy theories flow across borders (QAnon-variants are even finding a footing in Japan and Brazil).
In the book, Post-Truth, Lee McIntyre dedicates a chapter to Science Denialism as the pre-cursor for ‘post-truth’
The goal here is a cynical attempt to undercut the idea that science is fair and raise doubts that any empirical inquiry can really be value neutral.
If the “proof” game cannot be won, so we are going to play the “evidence” game instead, then where is your evidence, one might wish to ask the science denier.
Essentially, as he states ‘doubt’ is the product. Later, he argues in the context of the anti-vaccine movement that it was made worse by the willingness of established media to indulge in both-sidesism.
on the subject of the alleged link between vaccines and autism, based on the bogus research of Dr. Andrew Wakefield in 1998. Here the drama was even higher. Sick kids and their grieving parents! Hollywood celebrities taking sides! Maybe a conspiracy and a governmental cover-up! And again, the media failed utterly to report the most likely conclusion based on the evidence: Wakefield’s research was almost certainly bogus. He had a massive undisclosed conflict of interest, his research was unreproducible, and his medical license had been revoked. This was all known in 2004, at the height of the vaccine-autism story.
The rise of social media has of course facilitated this informational free-for-all. With fact and opinion now presented side by side on the Internet, who knows what to believe anymore?
Recently, the New York Times covered an astroturfing campaign:
In early 2017, the Texans for Natural Gas website went live to urge voters to “thank a roughneck” and support fracking. Around the same time, the Arctic Energy Center ramped up its advocacy for drilling in Alaskan waters and in a vast Arctic wildlife refuge. The next year, the Main Street Investors Coalition warned that climate activism doesn’t help mom-and-pop investors in the stock market.
All three appeared to be separate efforts to amplify local voices or speak up for regular people.
On closer look, however, the groups had something in common: They were part of a network of corporate influence campaigns designed, staffed and at times run by FTI Consulting, which had been hired by some of the largest oil and gas companies in the world to help them promote fossil fuels.
Anumeha Chaturvedi wrote in the Economic Times quoting Jency Jacob and FactCrescendo – who expect confusion and information disorder around the vaccine (screenshot of the quotes).