This blog series is intended to help readers in identifying when you should be suspicious that information you are being provided is intentionally false and/or misleading. I am not trying to strong-arm anyone into making a decision that they don’t think is right for them; I am merely trying to avoid people making decisions that they may regret because they believed disinformation and based their decisions on incorrect information. I believe that if we equip people with the true facts, they generally will make the right decision.
In the prior post, I warned people to be on the look-out for sources that use overly dramatic or inflammatory language and I provided you with a number of examples. Reputable doctors and scientists try to remain objective and professional, and therefore would not be expected to use that kind of language.
Now, we will look at another warning sign: The use of unqualified absolute statements.
Science evolves. Therefore, beware of sources who when speaking about a novel disease that we are still learning about, make dogmatic statements without qualifications to those statements such as “based on this recent study, based on limited data, based upon what we know at this time, etc.” Reputable doctors and scientists know that when we are learning about a new disease or condition, we often find that things change as we see the disease or condition play out in more people of different ages, socioeconomic groups; different genders, races, or ethnicities; and with different underlying medical conditions. So, if the source doesn’t admit that they have been wrong about anything in their evolving understanding of the disease or doesn’t qualify their statements as above, acknowledging that our understanding may change as we get more and new research in, then you should be very suspicious of the reliability of that source.
Diseases often affect children differently than adults, young adults differently than the elderly, and immunocompetent persons different than those who are immunocompromised. Reputable doctors and scientists realize this. Therefore, when a source makes dogmatic statements that he or she applies to everyone, that too should cause you to scrutinize what they are saying before you accept it.
Similarly, I can’t think of any medication that is completely safe and completely effective. So, when someone promotes a treatment as being so, that would be a good time to look to a more trusted source for information.
Let’s turn to Dr. Cole again for some examples.
- “We have never tried an mRNA vaccine in humans before.” This is one of his easiest false statements to debunk. Notice the warning signs. “We have never…” An absolute statement with no qualifications, other than at the end of the sentence where he states, “in humans,” leaving open the door that perhaps they have been used in animals. Also notice that the statement is also used to promote fear. But, is it true? No. In the past decade, mRNA vaccines have been developed for avian influenza, cytomegalovirus, Zika, Chikungunya, Ebola and Rabies and all of these have been administered to humans in clinical trials.
- Dr. Cole also expresses concerns about the large numbers of people being vaccinated, “with no ability for recompense if injured or in case of death.” Again, notice the absolute and unqualified statement – “no ability” for those who have been injured to be compensated. That sound doubly scary – you could be injured or die and you or your family would receive no compensation. Can that be true? No. People can be compensated for injury or death from the COVID-19 vaccines through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). There are caps on the damages in the amounts of $50,000 per year for loss of employment income and about $370,300 for death, but clearly Dr. Cole’s statement that there is “no ability for recompense if injured or in case of death,” is completely false.
- In one of Dr. Cole’s videos, he expresses how nice it is to see the audience without “faces covered with unnecessary cloth that does nothing.” This is another example of an absolute statement – “does nothing.” We can certainly debate how effective masks are, and Dr. Cole could certainly raise valid points depending on the type of mask worn, whether the mask is worn correctly, what the environmental conditions are, etc., but instead he goes too far with an absolute statement without any qualifications in stating that they do “nothing.”
Undermining his statement is a photo from his website that appears to have been recently taken down. Obviously, masks must do something.
- Here is another example from one of Dr. Cole’s videos: “Never in the humanity, in the middle of a pandemic, have we said ‘oh let’s vaccinate during the pandemic.’” Hopefully, now you can spot the absolute part of the statement – “Never” in all of humanity (notice the dramatic flair, as well?). We don’t have to go back very far in history to see that this is simply not true. We used vaccines in the past three influenza pandemics (1957-58, 1968 and 2009).
In the next part of this blog series we will look at more warning signs and some examples.