Jamie's Notes

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London Protests

More protests in London today. Sold as a peaceful protest against lockdown measures, but in reality just a bunch of cranks, racists and fascists wittering on about vaccines, masks, 5G and global cabals of sex traffickers.

Here are some quotes from the website belonging to the organisers:

ID2020 is an implantable digital chip being developed by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, proposed for all 7 billion humans to have, in collaboration with Gavi, the Gates Foundation Vaccine Alliance.

We are living in a state of authoritarian control.

5G is necessary for the infrastructure of 24/7 Surveillance Tracking & Implantable Microchips.

Fact check: none of this is true.

Interestingly, most of the ’sources’ used to support their alternative narrative are videos on YouTube – which is clearly doing a phenomenal job in preventing the spread of disinformation.

Yesterday, mixed in with the crowds, was a smaller group calling themselves ‘Freedom for the Children UK’. They carried signs emblazoned with ‘SAVE THE CHILDREN’ and ‘WHERE ARE ALL THE CHILDREN?’ – which sounds innocent enough until one of them opens their mouth:

Friends of mine have been on about the new world order for years, but I was asleep. It’s lockdown that woke me up. There are thousands of children being held in tunnels. A lot of them are underneath London. We have Trump to thank for everything that is coming out.

Mentalist, UK

This is the message of QAnon – the most batshit-crazy conspiracy of them all – that Donald Trump is leading a secret war against a network of satan worshipping child trafficking rings. Donald Trump, of all people. Give me strength.

Anti-vax and 5G conspiracy theories are not new to the UK. Andrew Wakefield became the father of the anti-vaccine movement when he wrote a paper suggesting links, which were later shown to be fraudulent, between the MMR vaccine and autism. The rise of QAnon in the UK is new, and it’s very worrying. It comes from the same line of anti-logic used in the middle-ages to justify tying up innocent women, throwing them into ponds and then burning them if they floated.

Years ago this crazy talk would have been limited to the local pub, or the crazy uncle at your annual Christmas gathering. Now it plays out to millions online, and pulls people in. Not just the gullible, but also people who are scared – people who want to believe that there are simple solutions to complex problems.

Logic, reasoning & science once gave us herd immunity against stupid ideas, but our immunity is being eroded by social media, and now the stupidity is spreading faster than coronavirus.

Misinformation is dangerous

A study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene states that 800 people have died, 5,876 have been hospitalised, and 60 have gone completely blind – due to the myth, spread by social media, that concentrated alcohol will kill the Coronavirus.

What a world we live in.

Link: COVID-19–Related Infodemic and Its Impact on Public Health: A Global Social Media Analysis

Wired interviews Bill Gates

Stephen Levey’s interview with Bill Gates in Wired is something. I read most interviews with Gates. He’s smart and worth listening to. He is usually careful with his words, which makes it all the more surprising that he is so blunt about the failure of politicians to get to grips with the most significant economic and public health crisis of our lifetimes.

On vaccine sceptics:

Yeah, you’re right… They do it in this kind of way: “I’ve heard lots of people say X, Y, Z.” That’s kind of Trumpish plausible deniability. Anyway, there was a meeting where Francis Collins, Tony Fauci, and I had to [attend], and they had no data about anything. When we would say, “But wait a minute, that’s not real data,” they’d say, “Look, Trump told you you have to sit and listen, so just shut up and listen anyway.”

On the quality of US testing:

The majority of all US tests are completely garbage, wasted… When we tell them to change it they say, “As far as we can tell, we’re just doing a great job, it’s amazing!” Here we are, this is August. We are the only country in the world where we waste the most money on tests.

On the CDC:

We called the CDC, but they told us we had to talk to the White House a bunch of times. Now they say, “Look, we’re doing a great job on testing, we don’t want to talk to you.” Even the simplest things, which would greatly improve this system, they feel would be admitting there is some imperfection and so they are not interested.

The full thing is worth a read: Bill Gates on Covid: Most US Tests Are ‘Completely Garbage’

Conspiracy theorists and free speech

Lots of talk on the internet today about YouTube & Facebook deleting the account belonging to David Icke, the former footballer and TV sports presenter now making a living as a paranoid bullshit merchant who believes a secret cabal of shape-shifting inter-dimensional lizard people run the world. Lately, he’s been wittering on about 5G, Bill Gates and COVID-19. An expert he is not, but he’d be a good case study on the long term effects of having a football kicked directly at your head.

The deletion of his account is seen, by a minority, as an attack on free speech. It’s nonsense, but let’s run with it. The main argument against is that social platforms should be an open field of opinion and that the best will win out. It sounds logical. I can buy into it on an emotional level. The flaw is that it relies on the assumption that people possess critical thinking skills – the ability to analyse a wide variety of sources, separate fact from fiction and come up with an informed opinion. That some people consider David Icke, Alex Jones and Katie Hopkins to be expert sources would indicate that this is not the case. We also know that social media is not a level playing field – because lies spread faster than the truth.

Falsehoods have real consequences. Idiots are burning down phone masts, children are dying from preventable diseases, and now it’s suggested that the government intends to turn the whole population into mindless zombies by including ‘nano-tech’ – designed by Bill Gates, no less – in the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you come to my house and act like a dickhead, I’m going to ask you to leave. Similarly, if Facebook and YouTube believe you are being a dick, in their capacity as private companies, they have every right to prevent you from posting on their platforms. It’s nothing to do with freedom of speech, and everything to do with you being a dick.