0017 - Dissecting Misinformation
Sqeaky and Mako tackle a bunch of misinformation directly and have a hard and heartfelt conversation with someone struggling with a death likely caused by misinformation . What goes into making a fake news website? Not much. How much can they hurt? Lethally and incredibly damaging to everyone nearby and our interview guest shows it. https://dysevidentia.transistor.fm/episodes/0017-disecting-misinformation
MAKO: Warning. This show contains adult themes and language including an Amazon gift card if you leave a good review.
SQEAKY: Dysevidentia is an inability to reliably process evidence and this is a podcast all about it.
MAKO: This episode was released on September 29th, 2021, and we are discussing dysevidentia because it is clear millions of people who can't check sources are suffering from it.
MAKO: I am Mako.
SQEAKY: And I am Sqeaky.
MAKO: We discuss logic and evidence because we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
SQEAKY: Which is actually a better qualification than some of the sources we cite later in this episode.
MAKO: You can support us by becoming a patron at patreon.com/dysevidentia.
SQEAKY: If you spent all of your money creating a misinformation web ring, you can like, subscribe, and leave a review to help us out.
MAKO: If you have a paper you have written and you'd like to share, let us know.
SQEAKY: You can reach us through all of the ways described on the about page at dysevidentia.com.
MAKO: You can email us at email@example.com.
SQEAKY: On Reddit we're at r/dysevidentia.
MAKO: We are on Twitter @dysevidentia.
SQEAKY: We do have a Discord but we'll leave a link in the show notes.
MAKO: The link is... complicated.
SQEAKY: Today we're going to discuss a bunch of misinformation.
MAKO: And we share a testimonial from someone too close to real dysevidentia.
SQEAKY: But first, I'm going on a rant.
SQEAKY: If you already spent all of your money on a misinformation web ring.
*Sqeaky exhales frustratedly*
SQEAKY: If you already spent all of your money on a misinformation web ring you can-
SQEAKY, using ancient alien astronaut abilities: Web ring.
*Mako makes mocking sounds*
SQEAKY: It's not a word I've ever said out loud! I've always typed it!
SQEAKY: Billy Glenn Willett and Teri Wingate, you two are assholes who talked to me publicly using those names on social media. You bitched and moaned about censorship and you did it while trying to give out advice that would kill people. Fuck off! You don't have a right to post on LinkedIn, Twitter, or any other social platform made by a private company. They are private platforms owned by private people. You post there at their leisure. Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. It is only freedom from government consequences. To compound this, knowing how nearly all COVID conspiracy theorists are right-leaning, you probably supported things like the cake shop cutting out gay customers. This means you're probably hypocrites, too. You want exclusion for others but not for yourself. You still have freedom of speech. Go build your own website or newspaper and leave you the messages from scientists. That is legal. But please, stop being entitled children. No one owes you a spot on their platform they built. And they are correct and proper to block you when you use their platform to hurt people. Now, to the normal audience. These people clearly don't understand this but we, you and I, are the product on a social media site. That is how all social media works. They sell your data and sell ads to put in front of your eyes. These places don't want a crappy product, so they block the most harmful misinformation. These whiners were wrong about COVID and all the scientists agree with vaccines and mask use. I hope you got something useful out of this. I can see how someone might disagree with me but I won't tolerate that disagreement when it is only used to shield words that will immediately kill people. Let's discuss it in the abstract and preferably while understanding that not being allowed to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater is already a restriction we accept on our free speech.
SQEAKY: I'm in for some fucking editing.
MAKO: I think we might just end up using mine, maybe. Assuming I don't do the same thing. You can support us by becoming a patron at patreon.com/dysevidentia. If you spent all your money on a misin-
*Mako speaks gibberish*
SQEAKY: Like that?
MAKO: Misinformations like a fucking piece of fuck.
*Mako sighs angrily*
SQEAKY: For the first time in a long time, we don't have any corrections.
MAKO: That we're aware of.
SQEAKY: Oh I'm sure we fucked up we just-
SQEAKY: What's it been like ten episodes? Y'know what, we'll correct it next episode. Somebody will go back and check and let us know I'm sure.
MAKO: Yeah I'm sure. I just expect to fuck up somehow every episode and it's just "Okay, well yeah, that's uh... something was missed, good to know."
SQEAKY: I like how you politely take that onto yourself as if I'm not the person generating the vast majority of the corrections.
MAKO: It's a team effort.
SQEAKY: We do have a little bit of news though.
SQEAKY: We announced the winners for our flash drive contest. I asked them for permission to use their first name. We have Abdulkarim from Lebanon, Maria from Spain, Edgar from Germany, and Sayan from India. I've already notified all of them and gotten in touch with them. They all got back really fast and I shipped off all of the flash drives so uh, congratulations guys and gals, or whatever.
SQEAKY: I'm not gonna judge.
MAKO: Yeah. Well, uh, that flash drive was- giveaway, was pretty successful for us so we're pretty confident we're going to be doing it again in the not-too-distant future.
SQEAKY: Yeah, we're trying to uh... work up some masks.
SQEAKY: We're trying to work up some fabric masks. We're seeing if we can't get our logo on some fabrice and we've got a mask maker.
MAKO: Yeah. We want to try and add more things to the pot, so to speak.
SQEAKY: We also didn't go through all of our flash drives. So if anyone is interested in those, let us know. They are really nice and I've had uh... one on my keys since we got them in from the original manufacturer. They are really nice and they're super durable.
SQEAKY: I've been banging mine around and dropping it on the ground and shit. I even dropped it at the post office when I was mailing the flash drives to the people who won, and somebody else pointed it out and picked it up off the ground and handed it to me while I'm sitting in my car.
MAKO: Well it's actually a little bit remarkable that they spotted it with how small they are.
SQEAKY: I'm distinct looking. It was a bright day and it was shiny. They were staring at me like "What's this fucker doing?" I had a ridiculous cat and a cat with avocado toast on it.
MAKO: To be clear, I'm not surprised that they spotted you. Just the flash drive.
SQEAKY: Oh yeah, it was tiny. I dunno. Must've just hit the light the right way and reflected right in their face or something.
SQEAKY: I don't know. One thing we haven't been very good at mentioning, at least on the podcast, is the ways to get a hold of us.
MAKO: Yep. We have... We started out kinda small, not very many ways to get a hold of us. But we have expanded that a bit and we're being more attentive to some of those methods as well, so.
SQEAKY: Yeah. So we're going to try and say it in the intro for every episode from now on, but if you haven't caught it there's our Discord. The link is really obnoxious so we'll make sure we put it in the show notes, but it's always up at dysevidentia.com on the about page.
SQEAKY: It's also Reddit. If you go to reddit.com/r/dysevidentia, you'll get to our subreddit. If you're not on Reddit, best not go there. It's kinda toxic.
MAKO, amused: Yeah.
SQEAKY: But if you are on Reddit, we're one of the less toxic places.
MAKO: It's an acquired taste.
SQEAKY: Did you just compare Reddit to like salt and vinegar chips?
MAKO: Maybe. Or limeade.
MAKO: I would definitely describe limeade as an acquired taste.
SQEAKY: I like limeade more than Reddit.
MAKO: That's fair.
SQEAKY: But I'm not addicted to limeade.
SQEAKY: On Twitter we're @dysevidentia. Mostly we use it for announcing when an episode's coming out or if we're doing research and want to get like testimonials from people or things like that. But if you have a suggestion or anything that's a great way to hit us up. I look through all the notifications. And then finally our email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Me or Mako will read every single email and we'll respond to some of them.
MAKO: Yeah, some of them.
SQEAKY: Our most common email so far has been uh... people leaving YouTube comments so I guess that's a way to get a hold of us too. We're on YouTube. We have a YouTube channel but the link is also ridiculous and terrible so I'll make sure to put a link to that in the show notes.
SOURCE [7:30] Dysevidentia Youtube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBbU3rnK52CXUkK0cJ-o29g
SQEAKY: Okay, and that's everything for meta. That was pretty quick.
MAKO: Quick and easy.
SQEAKY: Onto the COVID minute.
SPONSOR [7:38] Use code "Evidence" for 10% off your next computer - https://ABK-Kustomz.com
MAKO: Looks like you have your new computer from ABK Kustomz.
SQEAKY: Yeah! It's pretty damn fast!
MAKO: Hold up. What is that? It looks like a map.
SQEAKY: Uh, almost. It's computing all the ways that flat earth is correct.
MAKO: I'm sorry. The fuck did you just say?
SQEAKY: Remember that machine learning research and that artificial stupidity we made?
MAKO: We? No, don't put my name on this.
SQEAKY: Eh, details. You're a father now.
SQEAKY: After all that machine learning research, I figured that we might understand flat earthers better if we could simulate advanced stupid.
MAKO: Advanced stupid? Like all those jokes that talk about building a better idiot?
SQEAKY: And with this faster computer, we might get a faster and better artificial stupidity.
MAKO: If that's what you are after, why not just put your brain into the machine?
SQEAKY: Was that an option?
MAKO: Well, you could have asked the experts at ABK Kustomz when you ordered the computer.
SQEAKY: Okay, let me go to...
*audible typing starts*
SQEAKY: ...abk-kustomz.com and get back in touch with that expert who helped me get the right stuff.
MAKO: Don't forget to use the code "evidence" for ten percent off.
SQEAKY: The expert says brain scanners aren't real.
MAKO: Well, they're the experts.
SQEAKY: He also just explained that this was an insult.
MAKO: That you needed it explained suggests you are a bit advanced yourself.
*Sqeaky chuckles and sighs*
SQEAKY: It's gonna be so fun to edit.
SPONSOR [:] Use code "Evidence" for 10% off your next computer - https://www.abk-kustomz.com/
SQEAKY: Okay, so what's new in COVID?
MAKO: Well uh, a few things. Pfizer has announced that it's vaccine is safe and effective for children five to eleven.
SOURCE [9:06] Pfizer Vaccine safe and effective for kids aged 5-11 - https://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/pfizer-says-its-covid-vaccine-safe-effective-children-ages-5-n1279615
SQEAKY: Is this just uh, there own numbers or is this some third-party study, or... This isn't approval by the FDA, is it?
MAKO: No, it's not. This is- They have just said that they have information that uh, indicates that it's safe and effective for them. But this is not FDA approval, this is not- This doesn't mean that tomorrow you can go out and get your kid vaccinated, it's just- It's another step on the way to getting better coverage for everybody.
SQEAKY: Makes sense. I'm sure some conspiracy theorist is going to take the most nefarious take and claim that Pfizer has been experimenting on children the whole time and it's a cover for the deep state to harvest your child's adrenochrome or something.
MAKO: Something like that I'm sure.
SQEAKY: Okay. You know the related news. Uh, there's been research announcements from all three of the major US vaccine manufacturers, Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson, they're all discussing booster shots. Pfizer actually got approved for people over sixty-five.
SOURCE [10:01] Pfizer Booster Shots - https://www.cnet.com/health/pfizer-booster-shot-update-as-cdc-meets-to-decide-eligibility-todays-status/
SQEAKY: And certain immune compromised people. The Moderna and J&J boosters, they're not approved yet but all of them in clinical studies are showing promise and they're showing to not be harmful when used as a booster. So I don't know if our future is going to include this or not, but it doesn't look like it will include, y'know, six to eight month boosters but might include a yearly booster shot.
SOURCE [10:22] J&J Booster shots - https://www.cnet.com/health/pfizer-booster-shot-update-as-cdc-meets-to-decide-eligibility-todays-status/
SOURCE [10:22] Moderna Booster Shots - https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/modernas-covid-19-booster-vaccine-approval-status-who-would-get-it-and-more/ar-AAOw9jn
MAKO: Yeah. That was something that we did cover. One of our previous episodes talked about the possibility of waning vaccine efficacy and the need for vaccine boosters.
SQEAKY: Yeah we were super worried in that previous episode --we'll have to dig up what show that was-- but we were super worried that it was going to wear off after like three or four months. And there is information in one of the articles I linked and I have three articles. I have an MSN article for Moderna, CNET for Pfizer, and another CNET article for J&J. But for the CNET one for Pfizer, uh there's some information from Israel showing that the vaccine effectiveness does reduce from six to eight months.
SQEAKY: But reduces from like eighty percent to seventy percent. So it's still really good.
MAKO: Well the information is more detailed than that. And all of this we did cover in the previous episode. Six months is what I remember as previous talking about specifically because of Israel. And the demographics, it changed quite a bit. Like the... For people that are sixty-five and older, it actually dropped by more than ten percent.
SOURCE [11:06] Previous discussion on vaccines tapering off - https://dysevidentia.transistor.fm/episodes/0015-the-limits-of-evidence
SQEAKY: Oh so that might be that they're aiming at this more elderly group. They're both more at risk and the vaccine tapers off faster.
MAKO: Yes. It seems anyway.
SQEAKY: So it's like medical experts are using evidence to make decisions.
MAKO: They do that sometimes.
SQEAKY: Uh, apparently also booster shots make sense in cases of breakthrough infections.
SOURCE [11:38] Breakthrough infection description by University of Reno - https://www.unr.edu/nevada-today/news/2021/atp-what-is-a-breakthrough-infection
SQEAKY: And I linked to a source here, uh, the University of Reno. I just wasn't sure what they meant by breakthrough infections, but I guess breakthrough infections is anytime someone gets COVID bad enough to the point where it gets reported, like at a hospital, and they are uh, already vaccinated, so I guess in some situations where it's mild and they're not in the ICU yet, you can give them a booster then apparently. Or to give a booster to people who are near who've been exposed to someone who's had a breakthrough infection because you're not sure if this is a new variant yet. So if you can make someone more likely to repel a new variant because the variants are more likely to work around the vaccine but not guaranteed to, and the vaccines are most effective shortly after they've been administered, right 'cause they wear off af- they reduce in efficacy after six months.
SQEAKY: Then you can minimize the chance of, y'know, a variant that's in one person from breaking out and become the next news story.
SQEAKY: So I'll leave a link to that. There's a ton of information for all three of these. And you're a, Pfizer news being safe and effective for kids comes from, uh, nbcnews.com and you've- we'll leave a link for that too. Oh what's this?
MAKO: So this is the last minute story that I managed to stumble upon before I stopped collecting news sources for COVID stuff. It is particularly bad. So Florida has a new State Surgeon General.
SQEAKY: Did Florida get confused and put a military general in charge of surgery?
SQEAKY: I don't know. Just a Florida comes up in health news it hasn't been good recently.
MAKO: No it's definitely not good. I don't know if this guy has any military background... I don't think so. But, it didn't really come up in the article from what I recall. But uh... Joseph Ladapo... I don't know exactly how to pronounce that last name 'cause I'm bad at this and I apologize.
SOURCE [13:22] Joseph Ladapo is floridas new surgeon general - https://www.cbsnews.com/news/joseph-ladapo-florida-surgeon-general-covid-19-vaccine/
SQEAKY: Let's just call him Joey L.
MAKO: Sure. Joey L.
MAKO: So little Joey L is the new Florida Surgeon General and... Okay so first of all, DeSantis said that he feels that Joey L is the perfect man for the job. So right there. Right there. You have to raise an eyebrow.
SQEAKY: 'Cause DeSantis has ranged from denying COVID exists to opposing vaccines to now at least he's kind of acknowledging vaccines are good but opposing mandates-
MAKO: He's not just opposing mandates in like the intuitive way you might infer that where you're like "Oh, no I'm not going to pass a statewide ban on mask mandates." No no, he's gone to the point where he's threatened schools because they want their own mask mandates. Like he's-
SQEAKY: He was threatening to pull funding?
MAKO: Yeah. He's anti-mask, like in the purest sense of that word. And it's like holy shit. Like, going out of his way, exhausting his resources to ensure that nobody wears masks wherever he can is alarmingly aggressive. And everybody that likes to talk about government overreach should be freaking out about this.
SQEAKY: So he's that cartoon levels of villainy. He's getting people killed.
MAKO: Yeah. So, anyway. That guy feels that Joey L is the best candidate for being the State Surgeon General. So you have to raise an eyebrow. And there's some very questionable things that he has said and done. Like, he says that "The State of Florida will promote good health through all kinds of means." And he does mention vaccines. So he's not saying that vaccines have no part in addressing COVID-19, which is good, but he puts them on the same level as diet and exercise for preventing COVID-19.
SQEAKY: What is it with Republicans claiming diet and exercise will fix everything. It just... just can't. I wanna get a chart that correlates Republicanism with being overweight. You know what, I'm going to google that.
MAKO: Do it.
SQEAKY: Okay, I've got a chart of obesity by county. The Bible belt is quite red, Colorado's white, it is the least obese state. Texas is pretty red. Y'know what? The east coast, all the big cities, California, they're all... they're all white. It is indeed red states are fatter than blue states.
SOURCE [15:38] The maps of obesity and party affiliation by country, and other useful stats - https://extranewsfeed.com/whos-healthier-republicans-or-democrats-21dce4811bfa
MAKO: What a shocker. Anyway.
MAKO: When specifically addressing vaccines, he did say that "They are not anything special compared to the rest of the measures." So apparently this guy does not believe any of the numbers regarding the likelihood of a vaccinated person versus an unvaccinated person going to the ER for COVID among other things. Like he just- You have to flat deny that fact in order to get there. And that's pretty alarming for anybody being appointed to his position especially when it's coming from somebody that has as much educational background as he does. Like, he's a MD PhD, so people are going to see this guy and treat him like he's a meaningful authority and he is denying facts.
SQEAKY: That is disgusting.
MAKO: As far as previous things that he's done, that is also questionable. He wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Daily Times promoting hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, and-
SQEAKY: I just wish we knew what the big connection here was. I'm sure we're gonna learn that like Trump invested in some hydroxyclorquine and ivermectin factory or some nonsense, and he's been pushing it- or some Republican that actually knows what the fuck they're doing... like Mitch McConnell has stock in some company that makes these, y'know, unpatented medicines.
MAKO: He also appeared with and praised America's Frontline Doctors, which is a pro-Trump group spreading COVID-19 misinformation.
SQEAKY: Okay. So DeSantis put forward a guy who's pushing hydroxychlor- Does Joey L also push ivermectin.
MAKO: Not that was stated in the article. I did not go much deeper because this was just before-
MAKO: -we started recording.
SQEAKY: So he has put forward a guy that puts diet and exercise on the same level as preventing COVID...
MAKO: With a vaccine.
SQEAKY: As vaccines. And this guy also just ignores real evidence and says hydroxychloroquine helps with COVID.
MAKO: Yes. He thinks it is- er, has stated that he thought it was a valid treatment.
SQEAKY: Okay so this guy is going to get people killed for some profit motive. Not that we have any evidence of that, but there is no reason for a doctor to be pushing hydroxychloroquine other than they stand to gain money somehow.
SQEAKY: Great. Great. Anything else on Joey L? 'Cause I forgot something on those breakthrough infections I wanted to discuss.
MAKO: I'm sure there is, but that's all from that source.
SQEAKY: Okay. So on breakthrough infections. I know I've been talking to a lot of people who say that... They say shit like if the vaccines aren't a hundred percent effective then why are we using them?
SQEAKY: Yeah. And this is pretty common. Like I had this argument today.
SQEAKY: Just look through my LinkedIn feed. Is nonsense and so many very poorly informed people. So I keep going back to the whole seatbelt example. And that was from last episode we brought it up. Nobody seriously argues that seat belts aren't effective, but they're way less effective than any of the COVID vaccines. Ninety percent of people in this country wear seatbelts, but that ten percent that don't is where half of all the car accident deaths come from. COVID vaccines are more like ninety-nine percent of deaths come from the whatever percentage is unvaccinated and our most vaccinated states are up at like seventy percent and our worst vaccinated state, Idaho, is at forty percent. So, ninety-nine percent of our deaths are coming from this smaller portion.
SOURCE [18:54] Episode has our seat belt example - https://dysevidentia.transistor.fm/episodes/reproducing-evidence-but-not-god
SQEAKY: It hurts.
SQEAKY: I'll put a link to that in the show notes and uh...
SQEAKY: We got some comments from people that like Mako's take on reinterpreting what misinformed people are saying.
MAKO: Apparently people like me angry.
SQEAKY: So I'm gonna poke you a little bit and I've got some quotes here from actual- well I've adjusted them so I'm not uniquely identifying anti vaxxer but this is genuine sentiment from real anti vaxxers, real anti maskers.
SQEAKY: You ready?
MAKO: As ready as I'm gonna be I guess.
SQEAKY: So. What they say: "The establishment says "The vaccine is safe," but they can't know the long-term effects."
MAKO: What I hear is: I'm too stupid to understand the bounds of actionable knowledge in this domain. COVID has real short-term complications that can be mitigated right now.
SQEAKY: I don't know if you're as angry as you could be. I'm uh... I guess I'll keep poking. Uh what they say: "The propaganda machine wants me to take the vaccine."
MAKO: What I hear: "Daddy Trump told me to not take the vaccine." Scientists are not propaganda machines. There is an actual propaganda machine telling you to not take the vaccine.
SQEAKY, with a more childish voice: Why wouldn't Daddy Trump want me to be safe?
MAKO: He don't give a fuckin' shit. He will kill you for a fuckin' nickel.
SQEAKY, continuing with the voice: How? Bu- But I'ma overthrow the uh, the capitol for him and re-elect-
MAKO: You're not gonna do shit.
*Sqeaky laughs and sighs*
SQEAKY: Did you hear that four-hundred people showed up to the Trump rally at the uh, Capitol this last weekend? Four-hundred.
MAKO: That's not impressive at all.
SQEAKY: Four-hundred! There were apparently more reporters than uh... uh... participants.
MAKO: I believe that.
SQEAKY: Okay, I'll get a source in there for the amount of attendees. It was really tiny. The pictures are damned unimpressive. Uh... When they say: "My doctors are pushing me to get vaccinated but they refuse to give me alternatives."
MAKO: What I hear is: "My doctor won’t give me the snake oil I asked for." Probably the reason your doctor won't give you the bullshit that you are asking for is because it is in fact bullshit and you need to be protected from yourself like a child.
SQEAKY: That's better. I was gonna keep poking this. Uh, how long until you get actually angry.
MAKO: Just keep goin'.
SQEAKY, laughing: When they say: "The establishment is entirely one-sided on the vaccine issue."
MAKO: What I hear is: "I think reality has a liberal bias." And yeah, it can kinda seem that way. That's a side effect of being aligned with the political side interested in eroding truth.
SQEAKY: Why is that? Oh nevermind. Right now conservatives are just interested in maintaining power. They don't care about true things. Doesn't have to be that way. We could be in a country with multiple political parties interested in reality.
MAKO: Could be. Or not. But we could be.
SQEAKY: When they say: "I can improve my chances against severe COVID infection by training my immune system naturally."
MAKO: What I hear is: "I learned all of my medical knowledge from the Princess Bride." This is incredibly fucking stupid and you are a literal danger to yourself and everyone else you are ever near. You will only succeed in giving yourself COVID.
SOURCE [21:53] The princess bride on how immune systems do not work - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s0UURBihH8
SQEAKY: Are you telling me he didn't actually take all that iocane powder?
MAKO: I mean, he might have but he has this amazing, amazing benefit that nobody else that's actually saying this has: The benefit of being fictional.
SQEAKY: I can't poke at you to make you angry. It was so good!
SQEAKY: So this next section is gonna be pretty heavy. Do you have anything silly, Mako?
MAKO: I've been told that I'm not doing nearly enough shoutouts. So, to the person that pointed this out, hi maybe.
SQEAKY: We're doing uh... Our best to anonymize this so we're gonna cut out names and dates and do some voice modulation shenanigans.
SQEAKY: Our guest has had direct experience with misinformation recently and we invited him on to share his story.
GUEST: Thank you for having me on the podcast. Yeah I don't- Should I just like dive straight into the story?
SQEAKY: Yeah however you want to handle it or if there's other questions we should ask or probe.
GUEST: Sure. I'll jump straight into the story and feel free to interject and ask questions and whatnot.
SQEAKY: Why don't we start at the beginning?
SQEAKY: This happened...
GUEST: Recently over the course of about twenty-seven to thirty days.
GUEST: And it all started when I received the call from my brother on day zero. I was informed that my grandma had fainted and was unresponsive and was being rushed to the hospital. There she was diagnosed with COVID and then shortly sent home afterwards to self-care at home. And I just want to preface this. Neither my grandparents --my grandpa or my grandmother-- were vaccinated against COVID-19. My grandfather is a COVID anti vaxxer but he has been vaccinated against other things like diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, smallpox, relatively common things. But for some reason was a COVID anti vaxxer.
SQEAKY: I think it's interesting that you describe your grandfather as old enough that smallpox was a common thing, but that really puts a date on that.
SQEAKY: Like most people he had most of his vaccinations but he was specifically COVID anti vaxx, so something changed.
MAKO: Was there any specific rationale given for why your grandmother was discharged, told to just go home for care there?
GUEST: I don't really understand why, um- I'd like to understand why. They I'm assuming were sent home to just try and see if they could ride out COVID on their own. I'm guessing that the hospitals were probably full and wouldn't be able to take on- I don't know that for sure.
MAKO: I imagine that your grandmother is in that age group where she's in the biggest risk factor.
SQEAKY: So, I would hope that it was either the hospitals being full or that there was another very good reason but uh, I think the flow of information- If I understand correctly you'll be describing later on might shed more light on why we don't know about this.
GUEST: Continuing to preface this though. My grandfather is also an anti masker and I guess just doesn't --I'm just gonna say this sarcastically-- doesn't like his freedoms being taken away. So he doesn't wear masks, at all. But he did wear one up until the time Trump said he was also against masks.
MAKO: Funny that.
SQEAKY: I wish I could be surprised.
GUEST: Yes, me too. He was very outspoken on his misguided beliefs and was confidently spreading misinformation both on social media --mostly Facebook-- and in public. He goes as far as to only frequent businesses that don't require masks or outright bans the use of masks. He doesn't go to any stores that require masks. He- Just to put some context on the misinformation part. He believes that COVID is no worse than the flu and that it was created by the communist Democrats to drive Trump out of office.
SQEAKY: Those sound like quotes directly from him.
GUEST: They are, yeah.
GUEST: Roughly paraphrasing, but. Now that the delta variant is spiking throughout the country he recently started to share the idea that the delta variant was designed to specifically target individuals that hadn't taken the COVID-19 vaccine.
SQEAKY: We've addressed exactly that point of misinformation before on the show. Why people are surprised that unvaccinated people seem to be targeted by the diseases that are vaccinated for is deeply perplexing. I'm sorry you had to deal with that part of it.
GUEST: I dealt with the most part of misinformation probably- beyond COVID. I've dealt with COVID misinformation specifically since it has started but the misinformation has been spreading since about 2016.
SQEAKY: Oh that coincides with some interesting political events that happened in the US.
SQEAKY: I guess for non-US listeners: 2016 was the Trump election time period.
GUEST: Yeah. But returning back to the story I'm trying to share. Um, they did send her back home to do self care and then about four days later her condition worsened and she had to return to the hospital.
SQEAKY: Oh no. I'm sorry.
GUEST: Yeah, um, then on- I guess I'll just kind of go through and summarize the day-by-day event but on day seven she was moved to one-on-one care. I guess there's a specific wing in the hospital where they have just like one person caring you instead of whoever's, y'know... I don't know how to pronounce these medications um... Well the second one... Uh-
SQEAKY: Do you want to drop 'em into chat.
GUEST: Sure. Actually let me make sure I- I know one's remdesivir. Let me- I actually don't know what the other one is. Bar-Bars- I'll drop it in the chat, one sec.
SQEAKY: Yeah that is weird. I would say Baricitinib.
GUEST: Well let's not take chances.
SQEAKY: Oop, you're checking.
SQEAKY: Okay there's an "m" at the end. Barisitinem. That sounds like a medicine. I don't know anything about it. I'll try to be informed-
GUEST: Baricitinib, sorry.
SQEAKY: Citinib? It is a "b" at the end, okay. Did the doctors say what this did?
GUEST: Yeah uh this treats rheumatoid arthritis.
GUEST: She did not have rheumatoid arthritis though. So I'm guessing this weird combination in- along with remdesivir helped somehow?
GUEST: I mean she didn't have rheumatoid arthritis that I'm aware of.
SQEAKY: Some people hide their pain. It could be that she specially requested it based on some misinformation, or it could be that the doctors were trying something, anything, to help.
MAKO: Based on what little I know, rheumatoid- Rheumatoid arthritis medication tends to be anti-inflammatories and they usually have extra other side effects that they can be used to treat other things but I don't see how that could directly relate to a COVID treatment.
SQEAKY: Well if there's inflammation of the lungs. If it can treat inflammation. That's speculation on my part, I don't know if that connects.
MAKO: Yeah I don't know either.
SQEAKY: Doesn't sound like obvious pseudoscience these two medicines.
SQEAKY: It might be but we don't know.
GUEST: But yes, on on day nine she did start remdesivir and baricitinib but also she was put on a bipap machine to help with oxygen saturations levels to try keeping it between ninety-two and ninety-seven percent saturation, um-
SQEAKY: A ventilator.
GUEST: It is not actually.
SQEAKY: It is not?
GUEST: No it's uh... It's similar to just what a normal CPAP does but I believe it more closely monitors the intake of oxygen. It's not quite a ventilator, it's just like a mask they put over your face.
GUEST: From what I'm aware of and have done research on. They also started a PICC line on her to give her nutrition, she was no longer able to eat food.
SQEAKY: So IV fluids and IV nutrition?
GUEST: Yeah, basically.
GUEST: Something similar to that. On day twelve they started doing chest scans and other related work on her, uh they did find that there was some fluids around the chest so they started her on uh... I don't know how to pronounce this either uh... generic diuretics?
SQEAKY: Yeah diuretics are medicines that-
SQEAKY: -drain fluids.
SQEAKY: Caffeine is a diuretic.
GUEST: Oh, interesting.
SQEAKY: That's why people who drink a lot of coffee and Monster are constantly going to the bathroom. That's-
GUEST: That would explain things, yes.
*Mako and Guest find this funny*
GUEST: On day- On day fifteen, my grandfather requested that the nurses no longer provide or share information on her condition with the rest of the family. Information now how to be shared directly with him and he had to distribute it.
MAKO: That was their decision?
GUEST: That was his decision.
GUEST: Just to kind of preface this too. When my grandmother was admitted on day zero, she had COVID, she was unresponsive, she did- she did get a little better and that's why I guess they sent her back home to see if she could improve on herself, but as far as information being shared my grandfather hid the fact that she had COVID with the public.
SQEAKY: Oh that's not good.
GUEST: They went as far as after returning to the hospital for several days, they had people start reaching out because they hadn't been hearing from my grandmother and they wanted information and my grandpa said that hey, don't worry, don't look into it, please don't ask questions, stuff like that.
SQEAKY: Okay. To get more background, it sounded- when I'd had other conversations with you before recording, like your grandfather had shared misinformation with COVID more intensely than your grandmother.
GUEST: Correct. Um, prior to all of this happening, like when COVID started- first started, my grandfather jumped on the misinformation train early on. My grandmother on the other hand wanted to learn more. She'd seek information, but ultimately- I mean she even reached out to us to schedule a vaccine to take her to go get vaccinated but then like she just didn't want to get the vaccine anymore.
SQEAKY: So we don't know for cert- Your grandfather swayed, coerced, misinformed, or otherwise convinced your grandmother not to be vaccinated.
GUEST: Yes he's very outspoken about his... He's very confident what he believed in is true and I'm... I personally believe that but I don't for sure know.
SQEAKY: Yeah. It's... it's hard to speculate on these things but those pieces all fit. That is very unfortunate.
GUEST: It is. After my grandfather asked for no information, it kind of scared at least myself and my brother, we weren't sure if we'd ever hear from my grandmother again, we just didn't know. My grandfather did share updates but it was very select in what he did started to share from at least what I knew 'cause the information was less detailed, more vague after that point. On day seventeen they decided that it was time to move her to the intensive care unit and then they intubated her and sedated her.
SQEAKY: I am just staring off into the middle distance, sorry. This is... traumatic to even here, I can't imagine having lived and for the listener, as I was just staring off into the distance, our guest looked at me and looked around like "What is Sqeaky doing?" like no I'm taking in this...
SQEAKY: ...this story that can only get worse from here. This is horrifying. Our listeners know the statistics on this. This doesn't sound like it's going well.
GUEST: Intubation is basically just inflation, it's... from what I understand, yeah.
SQEAKY: It's putting the tube down your throat to...
GUEST: Correct, yes.
MAKO: There were- The chances of recovery from that stage is, last I checked, less than five percent.
*Sqeaky takes it all in*
GUEST: Sqeaky and I kind of researched this a bit. We thought it was upwards of like maybe ten to twelve percent, and then further research we found it was a lot less than that. But after that uh, she was in intensive care unit for a few days, they switched her from her back to her stomach to help with lungs and breathing, and then on day twenty-four her kidneys began to fail so they started dialysis and sedated her even more.
SQEAKY: I'm glad that there were so many resources brought to bear against this problem.
GUEST: Yeah. They did everything that- the hospital at least, and the nurses, they... They were... from what I knew 'cause I wasn't here I wasn't able to actually see my grandmother but they did do everything that was in their power to do, um...
SQEAKY: It sounds like a heroic effort went into saving her.
GUEST: Correct. Um, but you know once your kidneys start failing due to lack of oxygen, there's only so much you can do. At this point the um... She was receiving upwards of ninety-eight percent of her oxygen from the intubator so that's why her kidneys were failing just due to lack of oxygen.
SQEAKY: Goodness that sounds terrible.
GUEST: Yeah. Uh, and then on the twenty... the twenty-sixth, the nurses informed my grandfather that him and our family should start preparing for a different outcome and my grandfather made the decision to put a do-not-resuscitate on my grandmother so I decided that was when I needed to FaceTime her. Um, she was sedated at that point and her neck was extremely bloated. I guess there might have been a leak or something. Her entire face was black and bruised. Her hair was completely white and I just I honestly didn't want to believe that was my grandmother because it didn't look like the grandmother I had known. It was really disturbing and we didn't even know for sure if she was able to hear us but- or even know we were there, but everyone wanted to make sure she was being comforted. And then the next morning I was asleep and I received a call very early morning, I think it was about five o'clock my time, and I- before I even answered I pretty much already knew what happened and she passed.
SQEAKY: Dammit. There's no words for this, man. This is horrible.
MAKO: Sorry for your loss.
GUEST: Thank you. I'm trying like- I'm not trying to not cry, 'cause I...
SQEAKY: Take as much time as you need and do whatever you need to do. We're here and...
GUEST: Last time I saw her was two years prior so I knew that I really wanted to go back and spend time with family and friends. And the reason we hadn't seen each other in so long- it's not only because of the distance but also we hadn't talked or anything over the phone because we disagreed on a lot of topics um, like you know if certain people should be allowed to live or not.
SQEAKY: Unfortunately people with extreme conservative views don't respect the right to life of some other people. There are of course some decent conservatives, but how could you be on the same team as the rest of them. I'm sorry I-
MAKO: Teams is what it does come down to with that mentality.
SQEAKY: Yeah. And I'm not trying to grandstand on your horrible situation.
GUEST: No you're-
SQEAKY: This political divisiveness separated you from a part of your family and then aided in misinformation...
SQEAKY: ...what led to this. Yeah I... I feel for you.
SQEAKY: I'm so sorry.
GUEST: Yeah and like I said this all took place like over twenty-seven days. My grandmother from what I... from what I knew was in extreme pain and that's why they had to sedate her. Extremely uncomfortable and it was like a rollercoaster. There was moments where there was no home and then it would seem like there was some hope and uh, when I was talking with Sqeaky during this time there seemed like there was a really good chance that she might pull through this and then it just dipped back down and it looked hopeless again and it was just an emotional and stressful time for myself and everyone else in the family.
SQEAKY: Now throughout this- and forgive me for steering this back towards the pain. Throughout this your grandfather maintained an anti vaxx stance?
GUEST: Yes. Um...
SQEAKY: Didn't the hospital keep him from seeing?
GUEST: Um at first they didn't really question whether he was vaccinated or not because of just the immediate nature of the situation but really soon into it after a few days they asked and he admitted that he was not himself vaccinated and the hospital removed him from the premise and required him to be vaccinated in order to see his wife so he did, he went and got vaccinated but that was the only reason he got vaccinated and at this point it's hard for me to argue against any reason that someone is getting vaccinated but-
SQEAKY: I agree. He definitely should have gotten vaccinated and late is better than never but the organic outcome here is disgusting. He was pushing misinformation, very likely is the reason your grandmother didn't get vaccinated, and he himself survived and his words had tragic outcomes.
GUEST: Yeah, and I did fail to note this. On, I wanna say day four when she returned to the hospital, he was also diagnosed with COVID but his symptoms and his situation was nowhere near and I think he did- yeah, he got better and he's doing fine now but it was like the complete opposite spectrum.
MAKO: And that was because he was vaccinated, right? Or is that-
GUEST: He got vaccinated after.
GUEST: Yeah he got vaccinated after he was diagnosed with COVID.
MAKO: So he was just lucky with his outcome.
GUEST: Correct. He... he was on the end that didn't have a severe symptoms.
SQEAKY: For people in this senior age group even-
MAKO: It happens sometimes, yeah.
SQEAKY: Yeah. When we hear about these outcomes where like twenty percent of the people die, it does mean eighty percent survive so I mean-
SQEAKY: -I'm glad that people are surviving, I just wish we didn't have to witness death firsthand to get the vaccine.
MAKO: For the clarity of the listeners: It's not just like death, it's y'know also severity of symptoms. Some people survive after having a really rough time and it sounds like he did not so he was even one of the more lucky ones.
GUEST: Yeah I know a few people that didn't really believe the whole thing about COVID until they themselves or someone close to them got it, and they experienced how rough and aggressive this virus was and some didn't, some had really mild symptoms and that only empowered their initial belief that this wasn't a huge deal.
SQEAKY: This plays back a to a thing you often like to bring up Mako, the fundamental attribution bias.
SQEAKY: People like to presume that if it happens to someone else it's somehow their fault, if it happens to them they're a special exception. So a lot of people like to say things like "Diet and exercise will protect you from COVID." Being more fit does increase your chances but plenty of physically fit people have died to COVID.
MAKO: And we even did a segment on the notion of youth protecting you from COVID and that's... I mean statistically a lot of the time it does, but doesn't protect everybody.
GUEST: My grandmother was actually really healthy. She did water aerobics and had a very healthy diet and was very happy and kind, but this just hit her full on and she did not survive it.
SQEAKY: Tragic. And you mentioned the amount of people that she touched in a positive way with her life.
SQEAKY: You mentioned-
GUEST: Yeah um, also just during the... during the service as well, the amount of people that were there was just absolutely insane. It went for the entire duration of the service which usually... from the ones I have been to is not very common. She touched the lives of many people in a very positive way. But I- I did when I- I decided I wanted to go back home so I flew in and I wanted to say my final goodbyes and I did want to share a particular moment from the day of the funeral service. We had went with a bunch of my grandfather's friends that came to support him emotionally and there were a few TVs and they were... they had like the local Fox station news on, and my grandpa and his friends were talking to some of the points being brought up on the news and one said point was about the vaccine mandate being mandated for federal workers and the reporter went around- they had like a reporter they sent around town to interview people, and the interviewees had a lot of the same message that the virus is all about controlling and it was not actually about the preventage of a deadly virus. And my grandpa started a discussion at the table about it because that seems appropriate. He went and got- Yeah, sorry, go.
SQEAKY: How- Take a moment.
GUEST: Go ahead.
SQEAKY: Breathe. How ghoulish that he's talking about the vaccine being about control, and defending that notion on the news, when he sought to control the information to manage how this situation reflected on him that was largely- even if it wasn't his fault, he was a major contributor to it. We've talked about it many times that if you put a lot of information out there- or in an environment with a lot of information just being put out there, you take it in. There's no way his misinformation didn't impact your grandmother. And now after the fact he's defending this notion claiming it's about control?
SQEAKY: This is abhorrent.
MAKO: The best case scenario was that he was trying to wrestle with his own guilt but yeah we have nothing really to... to say that's definitely what was going on unfortunately.
GUEST: Um yeah and, I think he was really angry when he was forced to be vaccinated, and that's kinda why he brought up that subject. He was all under the belief that it was all about being controlled.
SQEAKY: Well you can catch COVID a second time. There's multiple variants, sometimes it wipes out your immune system's record of COVID, he needed to be vaccinated so he didn't catch it again.
GUEST: Right. And to the point about controlling information. My grandfather concealed the fact that my grand... my grandma had COVID up until the day before she died and he made a post requesting for prayers. And that was the only reason. He was afraid she would die and sought like perhaps like a final attempt to save her through prayer and unfortunately she passed away the next morning and that's when he made emails but those were the only two updates. I looked at the Facebook timeline and there's nothing between the- there's nothing until those final two days in terms of information being shared publicly.
SQEAKY: Yeah this- I can't fault not sharing things publicly, but at the time he was- The same time he was- Mmm. What are your feelings on all of this?
GUEST: I feel like I understand the aspect perhaps of him wanting to have privacy during that time and maybe not everyone needs to know but at the same time if someone has COVID, you need to let people know because this disease is deadly and it's spreading fast.
SQEAKY: Do we know if he told people he was in contact with whether or not he had COVID?
MAKO: Yeah contact tracing comes to mind.
GUEST: There was no contact tracing here. He intentionally withheld this information. He did tell a few like super close friends of her however to that point, um I wanna mention too that around that time, all within a week span, both my grandmother and my grandfather got COVID, and also my Aunt- my grandmother's daughter and her husband got COVID as well.
SQEAKY: So it's likely that they either... One gave it to the other or that they both got it from the same source.
GUEST: It is very possible, yes.
GUEST: We don't know for sure.
GUEST: 'Cause there is no contract tracing here. Um, my Aunt and my Uncle are both doing much better. Um, I believe that they have a good chance to pull through this. They did go to the hospital um... but they're now back and they're doing much better. But when my grandfather was bringing this topic up, all of his friends chimed in and were- to support him and they spread more information and they said things like "Well COVID should have been well done by now. Those Dems were able to throw Trump out and they should have released the cure by now."
MAKO, humoured: They just stated- I don't want to say evidence, that's uh, too strong of a word, but they just made a claim that supports the opposite of their assertion and they're just scratching their heads instead of coming to the obvious conclusion.
SQEAKY: Their thought process is that this is a bioweapon made by the Democrats so...
SQEAKY: ...and it was to get rid of Trump.
MAKO: Yeah so you would release the cure to fix it 'cause now you've achieved your goal so like right there that's a point against their claim and they're not even taking that.
SQEAKY: To a dysevidentia sufferer like these conspiracy theorists. You can always dig one deeper to escape having to own up to reality right up until it kills you.
MAKO: Did they dig one deeper?
SQEAKY: I mean that was them digging, they don't-
GUEST: That;s them digging right there, um, but then they-
SQEAKY: Okay. If I were a conspiracy theorist and you asked me to dig one deeper here, I'd say "Oh, well they couldn't release the cure 'cause then that would prove it was a bioweapon."
GUEST: I don't think they dug deeper than that...
GUEST: ...but they went on to say that um, they went on to say that people should have the freedom to do whatever they want and see whoever they want including those with COVID. One of them said that "Businesses don't have the right to kick out honest Americans like us from a store just because we refuse to wear those stupid masks."
SQEAKY: Yeah, unfortunately the conservative streak runs strong in our-
GUEST: Yeah and they were talking really confident about these views right after the death of my grandma who died from COVID. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried and pinned her death on something other than that but I haven't seen anything so far from anyone. But again they were saying this out loud and my Aunt who is also there, 'cause she's just recovering from COVID, in that moment was feeling really guilty because she believed truly she gave my grandma COVID and that she was responsible for her death.
SQEAKY: So someone who we don't know is guilty is feeling guilty, and even then if she took basic precautions, she might not have done anything wrong. It's possible to do everything right, it's possible to be vaccinated, to wear a mask, and still accidentally spread it.
SQEAKY: You're much less likely. You'll do it one-in-a-thousand times instead of every time.
SQEAKY: But... but then these people that should be feeling guilty are over here making excuses and finding ways to blame people based on their political affiliation for a horrible disease?
GUEST: Well right but here's the kicker: Right after she... she became emotional and she said "Well I feel guilty 'cause I gave my mom COVID," they then turned to her and tried comforting her by saying "Oh no no no, any- any- we don't know who did it, anyone could get COVID these days, just by walking out the door," because somehow COVID's now airborne.
SQEAKY: Fine distinction seems... between airborne and droplet-borne seems weak but anyone can get it simply by walking outside ignores all the notions of safety precautions which of course none of these people were taking.
GUEST: No. None of them were. Even- even his friends who came in out of state, they refused to wear seatbelts, because that also controls their freedoms, too.
SQEAKY: I have to bring this up again. But we keep going back to seatbelts as the thing that nobody takes you seriously if you object to seatbelt wearing. You just, you lose your credibility and I keep saying it: Half of all car accident fatalities happen from the ten percent of the population that don't wear seatbelts. The same thing is happening with the thirty percent of the country that isn't vaccinated. They're ninety percent of the COVID deaths and if we just keep raising the amount of vaccinations we'll have fewer COVID deaths, but the proportion of them will still almost all come from the unvaccinated part.
MAKO: We're a little bit in the weeds. But, just wanted to establish that this is... it's not a simple matter of ignorance, it's malice.
GUEST: It's choice, yeah. When they shared the whole like "Oh anyone can get this by walking out the door." I- I don't know when they said that if they truly believed that or maybe they did. I don't know, it's really hard to tell what they consider truly genuine.
SQEAKY: There are mental gymnastics some people do to resolve that.
GUEST: Right. Went on for far too long and once it was over I was so glad to get out of there.
SQEAKY: Sounds harrowing.
GUEST: It is and uh...
SQEAKY: Is there anything you would like to say to the listener? Any suggestion, any advice, any emotion?
GUEST: Yeah um... Firstly, I don't think I have to say this- Well I mean all listeners are hopefully vaccinated but if you're not please don't get vaccinated. Um, it's never too late to do that. My grandparents- or at least my grandpa suffered greatly from dysevidentia and I know there's not a real easy way to talk to people, especially about COVID, to try and sway their minds. It takes a emotional situation, and I think that emotional situation was when my grandma passed away, at least for my grandpa. But even then he wasn't really to talk.
SQEAKY: You weren't close enough to have an emotional connection to break him out before tragedy happened.
GUEST: Not me personally.
GUEST: But I could have made an attempt- Well I did make attempts to do that through this emotional situation with the passing of my grandma, but he was too affected by that to even want to talk to anyone at that point.
SQEAKY: That's understandable.
GUEST: It is, yeah.
SQEAKY: Okay, well, thank you for sharing this very difficult story. We appreciate you coming and talking and sharing this. It's hard and...
GUEST: It is.
SQEAKY: ...I can see you choked up.
GUEST: I just want to share because there's not a lot of people who do share and I feel that. By sharing somehow this will help other people understand what it's like to go through COVID.
SQEAKY: I don't know if it helps at all, but to our listeners: If you don't have anyone else to talk to, contact any of us. I'll respond personally if you DM on any of our social medias. I'll talk to you, we don't have to make it a public thing. Coming up we're going to discuss how to deal with misinformation websites, how to understand what's going on with things people might share with you, and we'll try to come back to some levity. Thanks for listening.
MAKO: I'm glad I looked at my screen right as we were counting 'cause I had my mouse hovered over the stop button not the record button.
SQEAKY: That would have been momentarily inconvenient.
MAKO: Yes it would.
SQEAKY: So you've had a few minutes to calm down. You feeling better?
SQEAKY: Because all those people that enraged you, we're gonna talk about why they-
MAKO: They still exist. Sorry.
SQEAKY: The anger in your eyes, man.
MAKO: Eh. > 49:34.300~
SQEAKY: So I got linked a bunch of fake news like websites, like directly.
MAKO: On what platform?
SQEAKY: Uh, LinkedIn and Twitter.
MAKO: Okay. LinkedIn, that's a little bit surprising. Twitter, not so much.
SQEAKY: LinkedIn is where I get way more of it, it's just harder to get in touch with really misinformed people on Twitter 'cause Twitter like isolates people really well. LinkedIn presumes you're all professionals and, well, that's where they fucked up.
MAKO: Well, the average level of education on LinkedIn is higher than other social media.
SQEAKY: That's... an idea.
MAKO: It's supported by the Pew Research Center.
SQEAKY: Oh. Wow. Okay. I've never wanted to disagree with Pew before. Maybe I'm just used to the level of-
MAKO: Okay, that does come with a caveat of "People who seek news on their social media platform."
SQEAKY: You wanted to start there?
MAKO: We could, sure.
SQEAKY: You've got Pew Research and Wikipedia social media as a news source.
SOURCE [50:23] Social Media as a news source - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media_as_a_news_source
SOURCE [50:23] News use across social media platforms - https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/2021/01/12/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-in-2020/
SQEAKY: Okay, why don't you tell us a little about that.
MAKO: Okay. So, we're just talking about misinformation and misinformation is something that is... I mean it's spread through pretty much everything everywhere, all forms of news. But on social media in particular, and Wikipedia makes a note of it, it is pretty intuitive. The bar for somebody creating news and then distributing that news that they themselves have just created is much lower on social media than it is through more traditional news outlets like newspapers or TV stations.
SQEAKY: Which would be harmless as long as we're just sharing pictures of our lunch or cat videos.
MAKO: Yeah yeah, those are totally harmless.
SQEAKY: But as soon as I tell you I take ivermectin because my name is Nicki Manaj and- Sorry, she didn't take ivermectin, she questioned the efficacy of vaccines because someone's testicals stopped working. Nevermind, this person never existed and she's full of shit. Don't take medical advice from Nicki Manaj.
MAKO: Yeah I was gonna say how do those even connect? Like...
SQEAKY: Alright so. God, I gotta link a source for this, I didn't include this.
SOURCE [51:24] Nicki Minaj tweets on vaccine impotence - https://www.cnet.com/how-to/nicki-minajs-vaccine-tweet-fauci-and-the-white-house-the-strange-tale-explained/
SQEAKY: Somebody fabricated a story. We don't know if it's Nicki Manaj's friend or cousin, or Nicki Minaj herself, but she said that somebody in Trinidad- She said that a friend of someone she knew in Trinidad, uh, went sterile after getting vaccinated.
MAKO: Oh. An extra degree of separation there.
SQEAKY: Yeah. So, everyone thinks it was fake.
MAKO: Yeah. 'Course.
SQEAKY: But we don't know if she lied or was lied to. And the Minister of Health from Trinidad actually came out and said that he tracked it down- he, y'know, instructed his people to track it down, and no such event ever happened.
MAKO: Good on him for verifying and making a statement.
SQEAKY: Which I believe is the core problem here, that many people don't verify things that they get from social media?
MAKO: That's uh... that's one of 'em. But the problem with verification for some people is that they might go to seek a second source or a third source. And that is something that we have talked about before. Getting multiple sources for a given claim. But when you have enough people that are able to just say what they think is correct and just put it out there, you can create this illusion of legitimacy and that is something that social media does manage to do because of the amount of people that are doing it. It doesn't help that of course the older and most established forms of distributing news are also pedaling some of these things which is... is really bad and gives even more credibility to the notion that these things might actually be real but they're not... But anyway.
SQEAKY: Yeah, with a larger megaphone comes larger responsibility. It's that simple. And her megaphone is gigantic.
MAKO: Yeah. But social media it's- is much easier to be fooled through some of the basic means where you might be trying to discern what is truth. And a lot of people get their news from social media. Uh, fifty-three percent of US adults got their news- or said that they got their news from social media at least sometimes. Seventy-one percent of US adults said they got their news from social media at least rarely. So that's a lot of people. Yeah okay of course mandatory disclaimer. This was a study that was not actually conducted on all US adults. They collected a sample size --I don't recall what that sample size was-- and they asked the people within that sample and they got those percentages from that sample. Pew is a reputable place for these kinds of studies.
SQEAKY: Give me just a sec.
SQEAKY: Alright. Sorry to interrupt you. I just got those- I got several sources for the Nicki Minaj thing and I actually remembered all of the details correctly.
MAKO: Oh, fun. So a lot of the misinformation is distributed through social media as a result. And there- The Pew Research link that I found is pretty good demographic information for people who do seek out news on social media platforms and even expresses like the distribution for which platforms and how many people on those platforms use that platform as a news source and it's pretty informative.
SQEAKY: Do either of these sources that you've put forward discuss alleviating the possible issues that come from getting your news from social media?
MAKO: Uh so no, they do not. They- That is a very complicated topic that nobody has a concrete answer to, but there is... I did find a different source and now I think you're gonna have to add it since I'm mentioning it but uh they did throw out some-
MAKO: -ideas about how-
MAKO, under his breath: Bitch.
SQEAKY: He called me a bitch as soon as I added the empty line in the notes.
MAKO: There. Do with that what you will. Uh-
SQEAKY: Give me a sec let me type the thing. You get to put the summary here.
SOURCE [54:39] How to stop fake news - https://news.usc.edu/179176/how-to-help-stop-fake-news-misinformation-usc-experts/
SQEAKY: So I don't know what your source is going to suggest, but I definitely think getting your information from multiple sources is a great idea.
MAKO: It is.
SQEAKY: Like I listen to a ton of podcasts, I take in social media from a couple different platforms, and I get news from non-podcast non-social media sources as well. And when I get information and it agrees on all three, I have a high degree of confidence that it's accurate, especially when they cite different sources.
MAKO: Yeah so I think that merits a clarification on sources because you can have a source that's from one publication being shared on Twitter, and another publication also being shared on Twitter-
SQEAKY: Just like that Rolling Stone article we mentioned last week.
SQEAKY: I'm sorry, last episode. The one where uh, the Rolling Stone briefly said that Oklahoma ERs were so full of ivermectin overdoses that gunshot victims were waiting for care. That didn't happen, and 'cause everyone was citing the Rolling Stone until the Rolling Stone retracted it, a lot of people said the wrong thing.
SOURCE [55:49] Episode 16 has our rolling stone discussion - https://dysevidentia.transistor.fm/episodes/reproducing-evidence-but-not-god
SQEAKY: But that I had multiple sources, somebody saw it after that and I was notified. So, yeah.
SQEAKY: Sorry you-
MAKO: -the thought.
SQEAKY: You were- Yeah, okay.
MAKO: Uh, so you can get like multiple publications but they're both being aggregated by the same platform. In the case of my example Twitter is acting as an aggregator for these other publications and Twitter, itself or at least whatever community you are participating with on Twitter, has a selection bias of some kind. So, even going to different platforms and getting different information, even if that one platform is already giving you something diverse, can be helpful in that goal.
SQEAKY: So even if you do nothing else. Follow many people, link to many people, get many opinions on the same social network. It's not the social network being inaccurate, it's having limited sources of information.
MAKO: Yes, but the... I guess the point of what I was saying is that just as much as a publication could exercise bias, so could an aggregator.
SQEAKY: Totally misunderstood what you said, I'm sorry.
MAKO: Okay. So yeah, different aggregators can also help weed out some of the issues and give you a more diverse thing. Anyway, getting back to the one link that you made me add after the fact, so they... they don't use this example, this comparison, this is all me, but they likened how to help curb misinformation to just like how you handle food. They say that it should be diverse. Makes sense, that's exactly what we just described. But-
SQEAKY: You mean nutrition, not like preparing cooking food. I was thinking how you handle a piece of raw meat. Like uh... we should wash our hands and then you're like oh no, you mean like eat a well-rounded diet.
MAKO: Yeah. And less intuitively but it makes intuitive sense through the example that I likened it to, they actually also suggest that people try to --in some cases depending on the person of course-- reduce the amount of information they take in. Yeah. So, when people take in so much information they just- they don't --they feel-- that they don't really process it. Slow down the amount of information you take in so that you can actually process it so it's less you just sort of blindly trusting it. Because if you're just constantly taking in information from a news cycle over and over and over, you really don't have the time to analyze it.
SQEAKY: Hmm. Not sure how much I agree with that one. Everyone I know who takes in more information seems to be more educated but they also tend to take it in from a variety of sources. I suppose somebody watching Fox News, y'know, sixteen hours a day, is taking in a lot of information and that wouldn't be great, but the people I know who take in a lot of information, they read a lot of books, they read multiple news websites...
MAKO: I would say a lot of those people you're thinking of are more apt at taking in information and it's... I think they're trying to...
SQEAKY: So maybe build up gradually until you're good at it.
MAKO: That's one way but yeah, I think they're trying to point out individual- I don't want to say limitations, but individual capabilities.
SQEAKY: Yeah I'm not sure how I feel about any of this. This is I mean- Oh god. So, the free marketplace of ideas. The notion that good ideas will eventually beat out bad ideas. If you've only taken in bad ideas, an individual might rebut them by being clever and formulating a rebuttal, but is that likely if you never heard the good idea? For example, how many people are indoctrinated into Christianity as a child and are never exposed to another worldview and then break out spontaneously and on their own?
MAKO: I understand. Well, spontaneously specifically almost never as I understand.
SQEAKY: Yeah. There's almost always some information that comes from outside the religion that at least plants a seed of doubt so I maybe for our religious listeners that might not be the best example. But like, I wouldn't have broken out of being a Republican if I didn't go into those climate change debates and discussions and ingest a huge amount of climate change information.
SQEAKY: I've heard this take in less information thing before. I could be convinced but I'd want to see a study on that specifically, but that's not what this is. This is just...
SQEAKY: ...an editor's annotation-
MAKO: I don't think it's an editor. I don't remember exactly what their- I mean it's from news.use.edu.
SQEAKY: Then they're probably looking at a correlation from people who take in less information are statistically less likely to be wildly misinformed because people like conspiracy theorists do take in a lot of misinformation, they're just bad at it.
MAKO: Yeah. Could be.
SQEAKY: From that standpoint, yeah it makes a bunch of sense. But a conspiracy theorist taking in less information isn't going to make them top being a conspiracy theorist.
MAKO: It might make them a bit less ardent.
SQEAKY: That's probably true.
SQEAKY: Do we wanna jump into the fake sources? Now that we've bounced around all over the place.
MAKO: Yeah you started talking about uh... some things you heard from LinkedIn.
SQEAKY: So... I was in a number of arguments- And I'm sorry to go back to COVID. We're not talking about COVID we wanna talk about the meta of how we interpret sources and misinformation we're given because in some future discussion, right, you might- somebody might link you a source and you don't really know it's true yet. And they'll give you a source and say this is why I think, y'know, this is true, and the bad sources in the future will look a lot like the bad sources today. I got a link to the Nemos News Network and links to FDA News and naturalnews.com. All three of these sources are bullshit. We will annotate in our sources as "Fake Source" so ya know. But uh, some ways to know that they're fake sources. Like uh, this Nemos News Network one. Uh, unlike the Rolling Stone, who issued a retraction. Kept their old article up and at the top said "Hey we were wrong, here's how we made our mistake," right. This Nemos News Network put up an article... let me just read the URL.
FAKE SOURCE [1:02:27] This site is mutable and constantly changing - https://nemosnewsnetwork.com/elizabeth-warren-demands-amazon-censor-best-selling-books/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=elizabeth-warren-demands-amazon-censor-best-selling-books
FAKE SOURCE [1:02:27] - makes claims by citing other fake news sources - https://www.fda.news/2021-08-07-ivermectin-safe-effective-remedy-covid.html
FAKE SOURCE [1:02:27] Some fucking liars lying - https://www.naturalnews.com/2021-09-08-fauci-bioweapons-funding-confirmed-smoking-gun-proves-covid-vaccines-biowarfare.html
SOURCE [1:02:27] - The page bef ore the liz warren link was remove: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YHYw_LTFHlo-CK_sHI6lGS_DLlxv1G6S/view?usp=sharing
SOURCE [1:02:27] - What it looks like now: https://drive.google.com/file/d/14bTLuxz4atdKATfwFDyzJ6agDQqUMQuG/view?usp=sharing
SQEAKY: nemosnewsnetwork.com/elizabethwarrendemandsamazoncensorbestsellingbook/ then a bunch of technical gibberish. Okay, the title was Elizabeth Warren Demands Amazon Censor Bestselling Book, and when I clicked it it made some BS claims about Elizabeth Warren claiming something that just as near as I can tell never fucking happened.
SQEAKY: Right. It was just to slander her 'cause she's left-leaning and the Nemos News Network is right-leaning. And this was on a link from some ivermectin misinformation. This page also had something about how ivermectin works. But I picked this page because it was there in the beginning of the day and was gone at the end of the day. And I uploaded two screenshots to Google Drive and I'll put the links in those in the show notes. But they just deleted the link. It just disappeared. If they were wrong and responsible, they would've done what the Rolling Stone did and issued a accepted that yeah, here's a hit to my reputation. Just how we do here on this podcast. If we screw up, we tell you, and you can go back and look at how often we screw up.
MAKO: That we're aware of.
SQEAKY: That we're aware of. Let us know and we'll keep fixing it.
SQEAKY: But people issue retractions so that you can check that they're not lying. And I'm not saying that retractions are perfect, but they at least demonstrate that we're not lying because if we just delete our mistakes, then there's no incentive for us to not intentionally make mistakes like this site is doing.
MAKO: Yeah, they're tryna act like it never even happened.
SQEAKY: This one- This next one, this naturalnews.com. I have in the sources as "Fake Source: Some fucking liars lying".
MAKO: That one was one of the ones... like okay, I tried to pull up the Nemos News Network and it just got me a 404 and I'm like okay fine whatever leave, but this one I opened up and uh it's actually pretty damn special. So, like the title of like the headline for the story was... it was pretty special. But on the left, the most viewed articles, that's a trip. Like right at the top they're talking about vaccine genocide.
SQEAKY: "After The Genocide Will There Be Enough Survivors To Rebuild Civilization?"
MAKO: They're still referencing the genoicde.
SQEAKY: "Secret Holocaust: Are millions of vaccine victims disappearing into mass graves?"
MAKO: "Breakthrough: Simple sunlight exposure can protect against severe and deadly COVID-19 infections."
SQEAKY: Yeah okay.
SQEAKY: This one story I linked, which is titled "Fauci Bioweapon Funding Program Confirmed: Smoking Gun Proves COVID Vaccine Bioweapon" cites only two or three sources. I think two of 'em actually cite back to themselves which isn't fundamentally dishonest. Yeah... this thing has three links. I'll link to Brighteon, which is another fake news website we didn't even dig into.
SQEAKY: I'll link to their homepage, which is why you can claim two or three because it's not really a... they're not linking to a source they're linking to their front page, and then I'll linked to a FOIA request by The Intercept. For people not familiar whether your foreign and just not familiar with the stupidity of US law or people who are just not interested in this- or hadn't been interested in this before, FOIA is the Freedom of Information Act. It lets people request government documents and can appears through a lot of kinds of secrecy and government protections to get secrets out. It often takes a lot of money to track things these things down, and efforts and lawsuits and lawyers, but it's how we uncovered the existence of things like Area 51 or certain government programs that were a secret or wasting a lot of money, and The Intercept got all of the information about where funding had gone on coronavirus research pre-pandemic, and that we did actually give money to some groups in China for it, for actual legitimate scientific things, right. We're worried that the next pandemic could be a coronavirus so we researched it and we collaborated with other countries and this Natural News website claims that The Intercept discovered that Fauci paid for a bioweapon. Well, Fauci was in charge of groups that said where this kind of funding goes, so yeah he signed off on these things so that's kinda sorta true, but they're not bioweapons. The article they link to from The Intercept specifically says that the coronavirus that's out looks like it came from bats, not these labs. These labs were putting coronavirus in mice to try and see if we could- well we always experiment in mice first.
SOURCE [1:05:45] The intercept makes a FIOA request - https://theintercept.com/2021/09/06/new-details-emerge-about-coronavirus-research-at-chinese-lab/
SQEAKY: It's a lot easier to get ethical permission to kill a mouse to risk killing a human.
MAKO: Much easier.
SQEAKY: So the source directly contradicted what naturalnews.com is saying. So they link to one outside source that directly contradicts them, and they build a whole article on that, and they keep making tons of emotional appeals. Tons of bold claims. They're saying "Fauci lied, millions died." Here's a bombshell news report about this, bombshell about this, and they keep saying these big bombastic loud confident things and really if you're reading it it's gonna be their confidence that wins you over 'cause they're just making shit up. They're full of shit.
SQEAKY: But if you don't know, or if they were more nuanced. Like imagine some hypothetical future where... Come up with a good one. What's a good hypothetical? What if there is some medicine that's actually an antiviral that people start plugging? And say in actuality it doesn't work on COVID but people are pushing it like it might.
MAKO: What if you say.
SQEAKY: Remdesivir actually sorta kinda works is my current understanding.
MAKO: Slightly. Like there's some information that suggests that it can take a few days off your hospital visit.
SQEAKY: Let's say somebody starts pushing nonsense about remdesivir curing COVID.
SQEAKY: Right? If you've never heard of it and you don't know, that sounds plausible. It is a medicine that at least treats viruses.
MAKO: Yeah it's an antiviral.
SQEAKY: So then if people start linking you to websites that say this, well then how do you dig into that? You should go to known sources that you already trust, see if they corroborate. Then you can start gaining trust in these sources. See if the sources that you are linked link to more than one other site. And whatever they link to, read that. If places are linking to things and then they're contradicted by their own sources, they're probably full of shit.
SQEAKY: And this actually happened uh... back in episode fourteen when I gave my rant of that Ella person that linked me to the Gateway Pundit. They're like "Look at this mask video. Masks don't work!" But if you watch the whole video, no the video's claiming masks do work, like a hundred percent, you just watch the first five seconds of it and you get the wrong impression because the Gateway Pundit lied it's ass off.
SOURCE [1:07:29] Episode 14 has Ella and Sqeaky’s rant - https://dysevidentia.transistor.fm/episodes/episode-14-more-covid-misinformation
MAKO: And that is I believe --among other things-- called confirmation bias.
SQEAKY: Yeah... So I've got links to these fake very bad news sites in here. If you want some other ones- I think it might be down though, there's also fda.news, and usdawatch.org or something, but they're all just super fake and they just put bad news up, and they're not related to the FDA or uh... They're not related to these organizations that they look like they're related to, they just put images up there to look like it, and they have the same type of appeals to emotion instead of appeals to fact.
MAKO: Just taking a casual glance at even this one article, they're using language like "smoking gun" and they have actual pictures of blood on money, there's a lot of subtle and not so subtle appeals to try to steer people to one particular conclusion or at bare minimum one particular mood while reading.
SQEAKY: Yeah. In the future I suspect bad and fake news sites intending to misinform people will get better.
MAKO: Oh yeah.
SQEAKY: Ten years ago. A fake news website wouldn't have had any news links in it at all. It just would have made declarations and been false or it might of put a name of a doctor in there or something.
SQEAKY: Whereas today what they're doing is setting up multiple websites and then linking to each other to create this web of bullshit.
SQEAKY: And you even called it a web ring in our warning.
SQEAKY: Or yeah, in our intro.
MAKO: And even touched on it with the social network comments. When you have multiple sources even if they all reference each other and they don't talk about anything substantial. A lot of people aren't going to look at those sources and they're going to be given this illusion of legitimacy just by number.
SQEAKY: Yeah. So if- Was it naturalnews.com links to fdanews.us or whatever it is, links to nemosnetwork.com, links to... what's the other one I have- whatever links to some other fake news site links back to the first one. None of them- I mean one of them fabricated it and they're all probably run by the same small group of people. They can just make shit up and because there's four different themes, four different looks and feels to these webpages it feels more legitimate. But there's no grounding in reality and that's a newer thing. They've just started doing that. What if they start doing that but they get better writers? 'Cause this one where they're talking about like you said, bombshells and smoking guns.
SQEAKY: What if they write it like an actual news piece? It's bound to happen eventually. They're gonna get better and more nuanced so we need to get better at teasing out the actual evidence of this and seeing if there's no evidence. Go down a couple of links and when you see that they're just pushing an agenda, back out whether it be a left or a right agenda. Who cares? Get to people that actually cite evidence.
MAKO: People who understand the mechanisms of the claim being made and are capable of describing it.
SQEAKY: So more on ivermectin meta-analysis. This is another great form of misinformation. Did you want to kick us off on this?
MAKO: So I don't know a ton about this but a lot of the surge for ivermectin, people seeking that as a COVID treatment that has gotten into news headlines as of late, a lot of people will try to say "Hey, there's actual science based on it," and that is technically true although it is a bit of a stretch to call it quote "actual science" end quote, but yeah a paper was published, it was referenced by other papers, and that original paper that was published was... It was bullshit.
MAKO: At best it was bad science, at worst it was a act of academic malice.
SQEAKY: Ah, okay. So you're going straight to the Elgazzar fraud paper.
SQEAKY: Okay. I thought you uh this thing you linked from Nature was more about uh... whether or not meta-analyses were good or bad.
MAKO: Well it builds on that, yes. But it uses that as a specific example to make that claim.
SQEAKY: Okay, then I'll touch on the Elgazzar fraud.
SQEAKY: This has been floating around for a while. This was a paper that wasn't ever peer-reviewed, so it didn't get a lot of the normal scientific... uh checks that normally happen. Normally when a scientist writes a paper, they write it up, they give it to some of their immediate peers- that's not peer review but they give it to like people in their own university, a student might give it to teachers, teachers might give it to students to ask for critical review, then they'll give it- then they'll give it to a scientific journal. The scientific journal will then find unrelated experts in the same field and ask these peers to review it. And this is the peer review process. So when Nature like journal- When a journal like Nature gets- Yeah that was a crazy spoonerism.
SOURCE [1:12:08] The body of evidence podcast discusses ivermection and the elgazzar fraud - https://bodyofevidence.ca/interview-jack-lawrence-and-gid-m-k-on-ivermectin
SQEAKY: So much spoonerism that like I should be singing for Sound Garden.
SQEAKY: Another joke zoomers won't get. I feel bad now, I've turned into an old man.
MAKO: Just move on.
SQEAKY: Okay. So, when Nature or other journals do this peer review, the idea is that these peers will be able to ask meaningful questions about the research and try to find problems either with the data in detail or with the methodology of the scientists in general.
MAKO: Yep. Sanity check. Everything that's covered.
SQEAKY: Exactly. And then in some ideal world after that, other groups of scientists would go on and replicate the science, so if one university does a study and they put ivermectin into a bunch of COVID patients, then they write down what their results are and they publish it. Presumably they check inside the university to make sure everybody at the university thinks they did a good job. If they do, they send this up to some medical journal, the medical journal gets the sanity check from the peers, then some other university or some other hospital might run the same study and you've replicated it. Once a bunch of places have replicated it, the world now knows that this is better, that y'know this, this works. Whatever the result was. Ivermectin helps people, ivermectin doesn't. It's known.
SQEAKY: Okay. So this Elgazzar paper was never submitted for peer review. They just put it out there and it made astounding claims about how effective ivermectin was, but it was laughably bad. It like had people doing things on dates that didn't exist, it contradicted itself, it just made shit up about how effective ivermectin was, but because it claimed to be a really good study, it was picked up in meta-analysis.
SQEAKY: A meta-analysis is a real thing. You can think of it like a fancy average. Y'know if you want to know the average grade of students in a class, you could think of that as a meta-analysis of how good this class is. You just add up everyone's grade and divide by the amount of people. Most meta-analyses do a little bit more work than that. They'll weight it based on the quality of the study. And studies that do things like randomize trials which are harder to run, so not all science is in a randomized controlled setting, they're harder to run so but they they produce better results so they get more influence on the average. They might count as, y'know, more than one whole student if you were averaging the grade of a class. Did that analogy make sense Mako?
SQEAKY: Okay. I just want to make sure I'm not mixing my analogy up too much. So this one result from this Elgazzar paper, this paper that was published by this Benha University in Egypt, it was never submitted for peer review so people shouldn't have trusted it, but people running these meta-analysis treated it the same way they would've treated a peer review paper, and they kinda just read the abstract which is like the intro of the paper, and they read the summary, and they're like cool, let just take the numbers and put it in a meta-analysis. And all the real science said that ivermectin probably doesn't work, it's all within error. It's either zero or point-zero-one percent better. And then this one paper's like "Oh yeah, seventy percent improvement" and that moved ivermectin from nothing to "takes a couple days off your disease time on average" and that was used as the springboard for starting all this fucking COVID misinformation. Blah. I've linked to The Body of Evidence Podcast, which is a great podcast by a couple of doctors, there's tons of other sources on this though. I first heard about it from The Skathing Atheists, the Cognitive Dissonance podcast has talked about it, and I've read several write-ups on what's happened from it. This one thing fucked with all of the information. And we need more peer review to fix this.
SQEAKY: Which means that if you're in the unfortunate position of not being a scientist and needing to read an academic paper, right start there. Ask "Was this peer reviewed?" Figure that out. And then if it wasn't, then you can ask "Was it replicated" or maybe you just shouldn't be reading it. If it's a scientific paper and not peer reviewed, it's not really for you 'cause it's not science yet. Just shoot that shit down and move on.
MAKO: Yeah. It still needs more time in the oven so to speak.
SQEAKY: It's okay to say "I don't know". Right like before six months ago when this paper was fresh-ish, it was reasonable to say "I don't know if ivermectin helps." It might have seemed unlikely because it's for treating parasites like malaria.
MAKO: Yep. Just like once upon a time when this pandemic began it was reasonable to ask "Is COVID a bioweapon?" That was shot down pretty quick.
SQEAKY: It's not reasonable to ask these things anymore if you're informed. If you're not informed again just say "I don't know" and find people who are and get their sources.
SQEAKY: Another fake source. Should I just keep going?
SQEAKY: Okay. ivmmeta.com. This is again listed as "Fake Source." I have titled it in our show notes as "Pure bullshit pretending to be meta-analysis." I mentioned earlier that meta-analysis is kinda like a fancy average, right?
FAKE SOURCE [1:16:34] - Pure bullshit pretending to be meta-analysis - http://www.IVMMeta.com
SQEAKY: If we average together the effectiveness of ivermectin across all the studies, we can get an average. And if we wait, we count the studies that are better and we give them more... more value in our averaging process, we can presumably get closer to a real number. Well IVM Mete claims to be doing this and it just bombards you with all kinds of numbers and information but all the context is missing for what is here. So that might be forgivable if it were a website for experts by experts. If you're supposed to- if your context is supposed to be your PhD, okay that's one thing. That just means it's not a website for me.
SQEAKY: Right? But that's not what it is. It's intentionally leaving things out so that people can make their own inferences which is bad and dishonest already.
SQEAKY: But they're just lying sacks of shit. What they do is the people that put information into this averaging software- There's tons of software that'll do this, people could presumably write their own, it's not like it's hard to do a mathematical average, people do them pen and paper all the time, but they find studies, they cherry pick specific data out of them, so they're not... they're not being honest and counting all the failures, they count just enough failures to make it look plausible and they put bullshit into their meta-analysis, and their website has this preposterous sixty-nine percent effective number on there but we know it's not!
SQEAKY: Now this also gets another replication crisis which we mentioned before but never really discussed.
SQEAKY: Science isn't replicated enough. That process I mentioned earlier? Just doesn't happen enough. Where other universities and other schools and other hospitals aren't replicating experiments enough to know for sure unless it's a very important core issue like "Do the vaccines work?"
SQEAKY: That's getting a ton of replication and we know that really well. Bah.
SQEAKY: Yeah I did include the fda.news. It wasn't fdanews.com, just fda.news and they have an "ivermectin is safe and effective" thing, but they don't cite any universities, they don't cite any papers, they just cite naturalnews.com.
MAKO: > 1:18:29.267~
MAKO: I was just... seeing this... this web forming of misinformation.
SQEAKY: Yeah! You used the word "web ring". That's perfect.
SQEAKY: It's probably one organization that just stood this thing up and they just stand to make some money on it which makes me sound like a ridiculous conspiracy theorist.
SQEAKY: Standing up a webpage is cheap and easy.
MAKO: It is.
SQEAKY: It also doesn't make it seem any more complicated when you see that a lot of these websites have wp-content in their URL. You know where that's from, right? We used to run a website that had that in it's URL.
SOURCE [1:18:58] WP-Content a telltale clue that a website uses wordpress - https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/tips-tricks/wp-content-a-beginners-guide-to-wordpress-most-important-directory
MAKO: Yeah. Wordpress.
SQEAKY: Yeah. So Wordpress is free and open-source software you can just take and stand up a webpage.
SQEAKY: It costs no money, what you need is a computer. Not even a good one. You can run a dozen wordpress websties off a fucking Raspberry Pi!
MAKO: Depending on how much traffic you want to support and the content you want to serve... Yeah you could ha- The hard part would actually be coming up with enough writers to write your fake news stories. Everything else, like you can just grab your templates, you can fire up enough virtual machines running whatever simple, easy-to-go software that's pre-packaged that you want and you're just you're good to start hosting whatever bullshit you want. That's really cheap and easy to do.
SQEAKY: Yeah! Having come from this technical side of things, it's not unreasonable to think that someone who stand to make money selling this did this. Now I don't know who did this, and I don't know what is going on for sure, but it is a really easy leap to make. Buying a URL cheap, right. fda.news, they probably bought that for... for like fifteen bucks a year or something.
SQEAKY: Probably just bought three or four years of it. So I mean if you give me ten-thousand dollars, which sounds like a lot when you're struggling month-to-month for your bills, but isn't a lot when you're talking about "Man I just bought an ivermectin factory how do I make some money," ten thousand dollars will get ya twenty or thirty URLs, half a dozen decent powerful computers, a small team of software developers for a month or two to get ya started, and then you can see if this advertising thing that you're doing is uh, is going to make you any money, and you just need to start putting links to this bullshit information that you're putting up out there and it should start increasing your sales. And you get one Joe Rogan to plug your ivermectin and boom, you're makin' money. Not even like a complex thought process. And it might not even be an ivermectin factory, it might be some... somebody pushing this nonsense. Might- might not even be someone political, could be just some random rich person is like "Hey I bet these people will believe ivermectin helps COVID, I'm gonna buy a whole bunch of stock in ivermectin companies."
MAKO: Could be.
MAKO: It seems pretty unlikely but uh, the inverse of trying to promote something, maybe the goal could even be to damage something else.
SQEAKY: Oh! So, to add a profit motive there. What if someone bought a whole bunch of shorts in Pfizer.
SQEAKY: Uh, selling a stock short is where you borrow the stock from someone else on the stock market and then you sell them those shares immediately and you promise to give them back, you don't promise to give them back at some price you promise to give them back at whatever price, and if you can make the price drop in the meantime, you can make your money- you can make the difference between what you borrowed them at and what you returned them at. So, if someone sold a bunch of Pfizer stock short, they could then be attacking Pfizer by plugging ivermectin, or just attacking the vaccine companies in general by plugging ivermectin, it's not plausible- That isn't implausible either.
SQEAKY: But we have no evidence for it.
MAKO: Speculating. We just- we know the technical details... It's- They're pretty obtainable for most people. Again I think the hardest part would be coming up with enough-
MAKO: -writers to write the bullshit.
SQEAKY: We have the technical expertise sitting at this table with these microphones right now that we could set up all of these fake news websites-
SQEAKY: -in a week.
MAKO: Yeah, less than a week I think.
SQEAKY: I gave us a week to be- give us time to dig up enough Raspberry Pis.
MAKO: Okay fine. But yeah, we could do that trivially. Writing the bullshit's the hard part. But then like the motives is- A lot of heavy speculation there, again we have no proof, but these are things that could happen.
SQEAKY: Yeah so just having a webpage shouldn't give somebody credibility. It's too easy to set up a web page for whatever product, whatever thing. Just like we shouldn't look at a webpage and presume that because it looks professionally written that it's real, right? It's easy to get a Wordpress thingy, for example.
SQEAKY: And if you don't know what Wordpress is, it's software that makes some webpages run. You can build a wordpress webpage if you have a year worth of computer science experience at university. It's not magically difficult.
SQEAKY: Blah. I wish our expertise with computers came up more often.
MAKO: We can probably work it in in more conversations than we do.
SQEAKY: Like if we could only discuss some webpage banning all the misinformation on it's platform.
MAKO: What do you mean?
SQEAKY: Well maybe Amazon would get rid of all those fake reviews. That would be great. Oh, they're trying.
SOURCE [1:26:06] - Amazon bans 600 Chinese brands - https://www.theverge.com/2021/9/17/22680269/amazon-ban-chinese-brands-review-abuse-fraud-policy
SQEAKY: I don't trust them, actually. For the listener actually, we have one more example of fake news.
SQEAKY: I'm sorry. One more example of misinformation. Do you remember way back five or ten years ago when we could trust reviews on product pages on websites that sold us stuff?
MAKO: I remember leaning on them pretty heavily and then-
SQEAKY: Yeah it was great, back when those reviews used to be like reliable. You could read a couple of the five star reviews then go read all of the one star reviews and know how your product was gonna fail if it was gonna fail.
SQEAKY: Well nowadays they're all full of fake bullshit, because when you buy something off Amazon half the time you get a little card that says "Leave a review get a ten dollar gift card" or whatever, so people leave a bunch of five star reviews. Ugh. Well, Amazon has reported that they've banned six-hundred different Chinese brands that were doing this nonsense.
MAKO: That's quite a bit.
SQEAKY: To be completely ridiculous, right now I'm wearing a pair of underwear that I bought off Amazon, came with a promise for a thirty-five dollar gift card if I left a five star review.
SQEAKY: I left a one star review and told them to go fuck themselves. Amazon removed it.
MAKO: Probably 'cause you used a bad word.
SQEAKY: Ahh, maybe.
SQEAKY: We got anything else?
MAKO: Don't think so.
SQEAKY: Keyboard noises go here.
MAKO: Incoming message noises as well.
MAKO: Thanks to Qeldaar for video and graphics work. And thanks to AlphaWolf294 for transcription.
SQEAKY: Thanks to all our Patreon supporters. Our Patreon supporters at the Evidence Investigator level or higher include Jarrod, DuktTape, Qeldaar, and Lazuri78.
MAKO: Thanks for listening and don't forget to like, subscribe, leave a review, or tell a friend.
SQEAKY: Copyright 2021, BlackTopp Studios, Inc.
MAKO: Intro music was Slow by Pit X. Used with permission.