Tag Archives: COVID-19 Compared

Beware Media Hysteria & Manipulation

It’s Tuesday! Time to take out the trash again. LOL

The coronavirus mess has done a lot to highlight media sensationalism and manipulation IF you’re paying attention and looking for facts. I’ve gone over the statistics in recent blog posts. This virus should be taken seriously. Sheltering in place and social distancing is a good idea. Is it the end of the world though? No.

If you paid attention to most media outlets, either we’re all going to die and it’s going to be worse than the Spanish Flu of 1918, OR we should all go out and lick shopping carts because it’s a hoax.

Ironic that the last proponent of “it’s all a fraud” that I heard was Rand Paul. He was on the radio a little under a week ago howling that it was all just an attack on civil liberties. No word on if he’s changed his tune since coming down with the virus. O_o

On the hysteria side, the best example I’ve seen was media sources quoting Emily Landon, MD, Executive Director Infection Prevention and Control, University of Chicago Medical Center in saying this was the Spanish Flu of 1918 all over again.

She (and the media quoting her) completely neglect to mention that the Spanish Flu killed somewhere between 17 and 50 million people. Some say as many as 100 million. She also fails to mention that the Spanish Flu was much more dangerous to younger people with stronger immune systems than COVID-19 is. There were also other secondary factors like areas still physically recovering from World War 1 getting hit extra hard.

As of today, we have 18,605 total deaths worldwide, 2091 just today. That’s enough to merit taking this seriously. It’s a FAR cry from 50 million people in a year though.

Here’s the thing with the shelter in place and other measures we’re all being advised to follow: If they work properly, it’s going to look like they were never needed, or at least were a big overreaction.

Stay calm, realize this will pass, and take anything the media EVER tells you with a grain of salt. Be skeptical. The media thrives on creating fear and anger.

So, let’s look at some of their more common tricks:

“Expert” Opinions:

The two examples above illustrate that the media will ALWAYS be able to find an “expert” to back up whatever opinion they have. Rand Paul and Emily Langston are both doctors, but have COMPLETELY opposite views on this mess. Why? Personal motivations.

Rand Paul was raised by his father to be a huge civil liberties guy. Normally we could use more of them too. Sometimes, common sense has to balance civil liberties with social good.

Emily Langston runs the Infectious Disease Center at the University of Chicago. A) the more noise she makes about this, the more money her center will get from the government and private donors. B) Given her role, she probably sees every new outbreak in terms of an absolute worst case scenario.

“Experts” almost always run off of motivated self interest before anything else. Another example from this pandemic is that it’s being reported that the CDC was actually downplaying how dangerous this outbreak was at the beginning. They supposedly got blindsided by it and didn’t want to look ignorant. I’ve only heard a few unconfirmed reports here, but if true it explains where the White House and others were getting bad info from.

Just hit a search engine if you want to see how many times the CDC has dropped the ball before. Anybody recall they were all for e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative to smoking when that first started?

Partial Truths:

Keep in mind that no matter how bad any media outlet spins a story, there’s always going to be just enough truth to avoid having to admit they bald faced lied. What do I mean?

OK, let’s say there’s a news story about some EVIL person swooping into the local store and buying up their entire inventory of toilet paper. The story takes on a whole different light if that “entire inventory” was the last package they had, doesn’t it? Technically they reported accurately BUT would they have given a true picture in that scenario? I’ve seen the media go this far in other cases to create ratings. I always ask what I’m NOT being told anymore.

Half Quotes:

Another favorite tactic of the media. Politicians on both sides either benefit or suffer from the tactic’s use. It all depends on who is doing the reporting on whom. Reagan used to get misquoted by the media all the time regarding his proposed shutting down the Department of Education. They’d report that he wanted children to suffer. They ignored that what he actually proposed was sending the funding directly to the states instead, believing people closer to the issues knew better how to spend the money than bureaucrats in Washington DC.

Leaving Out Key Facts:

There’s no test kits and medical supplies!!! How often have you heard THAT exaggeration in the news? Well, they’re ALL manufactured in CHINA, right down to every antibiotic that’s sold in the US. Anybody see a problem here? Anybody hear that fact reported, or is it all blaming the government and evil corporations?

Manipulative and Misleading Language:

I’ll finish this up with this one last major tactic. The media, politicians, corporations and PR firms, and some of the more manipulative individuals out there all pull this trick. Manipulative language is everywhere

One story on MSN’s home page talked about how the number of deaths from COVID-19 *SOARED* in the US. It sounds so dramatic doesn’t it? Virus spreading everywhere, no one is safe! If you look at the numbers though, we’re at 600 deaths nationwide. In a population of 330 million, that’s a pretty damned small number.

Again, let’s follow the advice out there and keep that number small. Be kind to your fellow bloggers and human beings too. Even when you know the facts, this is still a kind of scary situation.

BOTTOM LINE:

Be skeptical of anything the media tells you. Displaying personal bias and social engineering are seen as good things in the media today. Strong negative emotions = strong ratings also. No single source is going to get it all correct. It’s not enough to go to a source with a similar outlook also. If you like CNN, you’re only going to get the same info at MSNBC. You have to go to TownHall.com or Fox. The same is true of you flip the coin. Fox and talk radio slant the truth also. I catch them regularly. You have to look at and fact check both sides to find the more complete truth in the middle.

And for the love of humanity, DO NOT get your news from late night comedians or social media! Talk about fountains of misinformation and hysteria…

COVID-19: Is There More Going On Than Meets the Eye?

Welcome to Wildcard Wednesday. At least today I can justify a virus related post fitting within the structure of the blog.

In response to my last post, The Hinoeuma posted a couple of links to some interesting stories related to the hysteria and government action around the coronavirus. Factual, statistics based level headed reporting in the case of the first link too. The second didn’t have as many supporting facts and figures, but was logical and persuasive.

The more I read, the more I wonder what’s going on here.

Italy has 1016 deaths from COVID-19 thus far. It’s held up as the worst case scenario and proof of the end of the world by a few. The interesting thing is that Italy also has 16,000 deaths annually from the normal flu. Spread over a 7 month flu season, that’s 2000 deaths a month. Twice the rate of COVID-19.

Most other countries are lagging well behind that scenario. The US has only 100 deaths currently.

By comparison, in 2010 the H1N1 strain of Swine Flu swept across the U.S. (and many other parts of the world as I recall). 59 million Americans contracted Swine Flu, 265,000 were hospitalized, and 12,000 died from the 2009/2010 outbreak. That per US Centers for Disease Control stats on Wikipedia.

That makes for a .02% death rate from Swine Flu. You MAY say there’s the answer; a lower mortality rate. The truth is we have NO idea how many people have COVID-19 and will never even see a doctor because their symptoms are so minor. The current 9/10ths of 1 percent death rate for COVID-19 only reflects KNOWN cases. Its one of those situations where statistics can be VERY misleading.

While I do recall the press making some noise about the H1N1 epidemic, most of the coverage was about it’s spread in Asia. Same with SARS and the Bird Flu during their time.

100 dead vs 12,000 dead though… Which one sounds like it requires an extreme response? If you want to add in an even more drastic number the CDC said 80,000 people in the United States died from the garden variety flu last year.

Keep in mind that the 2018 stats were lower than last year. Looks like the Flu just may be a whole lot more dangerous after all, huh?

Likewise, the World Health Organization reports that 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis in 2018. Where’s the hysteria over that?

I understand we’re dealing with an unknown here, and unknowns are always scary. COVID-19 seems to spread very quickly also. The amount of sheer panic seems completely overkill when looking at the bigger picture though.

DISCLAIMER: As I’ve said in previous posts, I still advocate common sense steps to keep safe from this outbreak. Good hygiene, reasonable levels of social distancing, proper rest, nutrition and supplementation, etc… COVID-19 should be taken seriously.

That said, there’s a level of reaction that’s difficult to explain with this scenario. I’m going to try to look at a few possible explanations.

THE MEDIA:

Anyone who thinks they aren’t biased just isn’t paying attention. Various outlets have their own political biases (left or right) and they ALL have a bias towards conflict, division and panic to promote ratings and profit. In short, they know you’re not going to watch a story that’s presented calmly and rationally. There MUST be human suffering, and the grander the scale, the better.

In short, my opinion is that the media is mostly whipping up fear for the sake of ratings.

THE GOVERNMENT:

Democrats, especially the Presidential candidates have been trying to capitalize on the outbreak since the get go. To be fair, I have little doubt Republicans would be doing the exact same thing if the situation were reversed. Both parties trash talk the economy when the other is in office. Politicians are power hungry and opportunistic. Period. Personal power gain certainly is ONE factor here.

We have other things going on though… Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, testified that the coronavirus death rate is 10 times worse than the seasonal flu. Given that 10,000 Americans die per month from the flu, that would require the coronavirus to have already killed 100,000 Americans. Clearly he’s lying.

Likely motive here? 1) it gets him attention and in front of the cameras. That leads to 2) Government bureaucrats measure their power by how big their department budget is. Creating a panic helps him grow his budget and power as a bureaucrat by leaps and bounds.

There’s also the power grab in the form of increased laws and regulations. Congress is voting on hastily put together laws, and have no idea what’s in them. Much like the Patriot Act and all it’s attached laws, this has the potential to be a major blow to freedom and civil rights.

BIG BUSINESS:

It’s also possible that he and other bureaucrats are getting some sort of covert kickbacks from various industries. Think that’s not likely? Big Business is benefiting from the hysteria. The US Federal Reserve pumped 6 TRILLION ( $6,000,000,000,000 ) dollars into Wall Street in the last six weeks. 215 Billion Dollars a day. A good portion of that was in the form of secured loans, not outright give-aways. Still, the bailout for the great recession was only 1.5 trillion dollars. Are things REALLY four times worse now than they were when the housing bubble burst?

Does anybody remember what the banks did and didn’t do with those bailouts last time? They were SUPPOSED to start loaning to consumers to jump start the economy. Instead they sat on it and used it to buy up their competition. Smaller banks are almost non-existent now.

Big Business will find a way to profit from this, even if it’s only waiting out the collapse of their smaller competition and gaining more of a monopoly in their niche. Giant loans and give aways from the government only make that easier for them.

All total, the big bailout passed over the last weekend is supposed to be 5 TRILLION dollars. 1.5 Trillion of that going to banks, wall street and big business, on top of what they’ve already gotten.

Five Trillion dollars is more than the ENTIRE record breaking 2020 proposed US Budget also. That same budget leaves almost 1 Trillion dollars of it unfunded also. 1 Trillion dollars in deficit for just one year’s budget. NOW we’re supposed to wave a magic wand and find another 5 trillion more to add to that?

Regardless of how bad the virus may or may not be, people are clearly taking major advantage of the fear. Corporations are getting obscene amounts of money, and I have little doubt that politicians are getting something in return.

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” – Rahm Emanuel

More properly stated “…you couldn’t get away with before”.

Simply put crises like this and 9/11 are treated as opportunities to exploit by both politicians and big business. I didn’t even mention Big Pharma. They have a history of trying to turn out unsafe products and now they’re on the verge of getting all FDA standards thrown out the window for the sake of some sort of treatment.

CONCLUSION:

The public needs what it’s NOT getting; full disclosure about how fast this virus truly spreads, and how dangerous it can truly be. What we’re getting from the media and ALL our public officials is inconsistent and increasingly self-serving.

We clearly need to keep a better eye on both groups also, given how morally bankrupt and self-serving they’ve become.

In the meantime, take care of yourselves and practice all the common sense safety you’ve heard here and elsewhere.

The two articles that I mentioned are here:

https://www.zerohedge.com/political/if-contrived-political-hysteria-what-objective

http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2020/march/16/the-coronavirus-hoax/

For the record, I find Ron Paul to be a bit… extreme in the pursuit of Libertarian ideals. He speaks truth to power but sometimes seems to forget that we as individuals also have some responsibility to the society around us. He IS also a doctor though and makes some good, if strongly stated, points regarding the coronavirus.