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Online Bullying, Part 3: Online Bullies Are Silencing Scientists And We All Lose

Just within the last month there has been an increase in news media articles on how online activists are bullying and threatening doctors and scientists into retreating from online public discussions.   They are “terrorizing into silence” using tactics intended to intimidate and threaten in order to shut all opposing thoughts, opinions and even research they do not agree with.  In some cases, scientists have even abandoned their research.

These are not situations where there is a difference of opinions expressed in a civil discussion or debate.   This is about power to control the narrative by libel, insult, threats, invasions of privacy, attacking family members.   For many scientists, it’s a new normal: From climate change to vaccines, activism and science are fighting it out online. Social media platforms are supercharging the battle.

We all lose when  scientists are bullied into silence about their research.  Below are three examples of how online bullying has redefined how doctors and scientists engage in their work, research and how they communicate their findings to the public.

Anti-vaccine activists have doctors ‘terrorized into silence’ with online harassment

Dr. Dana Corriel wrote on Facebook in September that the flu vaccine had arrived and encouraged patients to come to her office for a shot.

Within hours, the post was flooded with thousands of comments from people opposed to vaccines. Corriel initially decided to allow the postings to continue, hoping to use the moment to educate people about the importance of immunizations.

But then she began to feel threatened. People she had never treated gave her one-star ratings online. Commenters called her a “pharma vaccine whore” and a “child killer,” according to screenshots shared with The Times. Someone looked up her office address in New York City and mailed her an anti-vaccine book.

But the platforms also facilitate far more antagonistic behavior, with doctors facing online harassment and even coordinated attacks for promoting vaccines.

Since late 2017, there have been more than 50 of these online campaigns against health providers who promote vaccines, some of which have led to threats of harm that prompted calls to the police, said Chad Hermann, communications director for Kids Plus Pediatrics, a Pittsburgh practice that faced one of these online attacks in 2017 and then began tracking them.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Activists Target Research Scientists

Reuters contacted a dozen professors, doctors and researchers with experience of analysing or testing potential treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome. All said they had been the target of online harassment because activists objected to their findings. Only two had definite plans to continue researching treatments.

Sharpe no longer conducts research into CFS/ME treatments, focusing instead on helping severely ill cancer patients. “It’s just too toxic,” he explained. Of more than 20 leading research groups who were publishing treatment studies in high-quality journals 10 years ago, Sharpe said, only one or two continue to do so.

The world’s largest trials registry, clinicaltrials.gov, indicates that over the past decade there has been a decline in the number of new CFS/ME treatment trials being launched. From 2010 to 2014, 33 such trials started. From 2015 until the present, the figure dropped to around 20. This decline comes at a time when research into ways to help patients should be growing, not falling, because the condition is more widely recognised, scientists interviewed by Reuters said.

Simon Wessely, a professor of psychological medicine at King’s College London and former president of Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists, said he decided to stop conducting research into treatment approaches for CFS/ME several years ago because he felt the online abuse was detracting from his work with patients.

But he is still the subject of what he calls “relentless internet stalking.”  Wessely’s employers at King’s College London have taken advice on the potential risk and have instituted X-ray scans of his mail, he says.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Anti-GMO Factions Force GMO Scientist To Quit The Public Arena

Folta is a plant geneticist and the chairman of University of Florida’s horticultural department. When he’s not teaching or researching the genomics of strawberries, Folta spends a good deal of time speaking out on places like Twitter about agricultural biotechnology, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Like most scientists, Folta does not believe that GMOs are inherently harmful; unlike most scientists, Folta spends a lot of time online trying to convince the rest of the world he’s right. That has made him among the most hated scientists on the web.

People posted ads to a local Craigslist site, publicly sharing Folta’s phone number and address and writing that his dead mother would have been ashamed of his industry ties.

People called him a whore and a Monsanto cheerleader. A meme circulated featuring Folta’s head Photoshopped onto a baby being fed by a bottle labeled “Monsanto Money.” Folta’s wife was afraid to stay home alone after an email that said Folta’s harassers knew where she liked to bike.

The harassment also made its way into the real world: the university was so inundated with requests to fire Folta that it changed his office number and asked the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Task Force to remain on alert.

After a few weeks, Folta and his university decided that the trolls had won. Folta announced via Facebook that he was stepping out of the public conversation.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

 

{ 57 comments }
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  • rindlrad March 19, 2019, 5:37 pm

    I wish that social media would enforce its own rules. I believe all the social media platforms have policies against posting another person’s personal information or threatening someone on their sites. The owners of social media could go a long way to curbing much of the nastier side of the internet if it would only enforce their own policies.

    As to the “people” who think it’s ok to threaten another person because they don’t like his/her politics, research, religion, etc., I swear we’re devolving into a bunch of screaming chimpanzees (apologies to the chimpanzees). Don’t like what someone is researching or saying? Don’t try to use logic and the scientific method to disprove the other guy’s research or theory. No – better to scream, throw a temper tantrum, and threaten someone’s family until you get your way. I mean what good has ever come out of scientific research, right?

    • admin March 19, 2019, 6:34 pm

      The pathetic thing, according to the linked article, about the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome bullying is there are people who have applied the researched treatment of talk and scaled exercise (the program is called PACE if I remember correctly) and have improved substantially and they get bullied and threatened if they dare report their own progress.

      • Val March 20, 2019, 7:41 am

        Thank you so much for posting those articles, I was aware of activism surrounding vaccination and GMO’s but controversy regarding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is complete news to me! I can’t wait to read them all.

      • EchoGirl March 20, 2019, 11:19 pm

        I sort of understand where the frustration comes from, in that things like this often mutate into “it’s all in your head!” or “You just need to stop being lazy!” or “X treatment exists, if you claim it doesn’t work for you [and things like this are highly variable] then it’s because you’re lazy/you like playing the victim/you don’t want to get better.” But the vitriol should be saved for the people who actually SAY those things, not the researchers whose work gets twisted into that narrative.

      • Marozia March 25, 2019, 10:27 pm

        Is it possible, admin, that these ‘anti-science’ don’t want CFS sufferers to get well so they can ‘prove a point’ to these scientists that the condition actually exists?
        Years back, all doctors and scientists pooh-poohed the idea that CFS existed and that everyone was faking it….until it started happening to those around them. Now it’s a true medical condition.

  • Agania March 19, 2019, 6:02 pm

    I always find it rather interesting that the anti vaxxers who so object to having their children pumped full of chemicals have no problem rushing them to the hospital/doctor when they do catch something that could have been prevented. How do they think their children are going to be treated? They are going to be pumped full of chemicals to fight the disease!

    • BellyJean March 21, 2019, 8:28 am
      • ladyv21454 March 21, 2019, 12:57 pm

        My first thought when I originally saw that story was that the insurance company should refuse to cover any of the costs. What truly enraged me, though, is that even though their child almost DIED, the idiot parents STILL refuse to get him vaccinated – and unlike some diseases, having tetanus doesn’t provide you with any future protection.

        • LizaJane March 21, 2019, 4:39 pm

          I also thought about the insurance aspect.
          How long will it be until insurance companies refuse to cover unvaccinated people?

          • Marozia March 25, 2019, 10:29 pm

            It will happen soon enough. I believe vaccination is a requirement to enrol in child care centres.

      • Avalon Angel April 5, 2019, 5:28 pm

        I am allergic to the tetanus shot, and have always been afraid of getting tetanus. If I could take the shot, I would without question.

        That poor kid.

    • MollyMonster March 26, 2019, 10:36 am

      I think it is hilarious that many of the types that will moan about the “toxins” in vaccines causing autism or whatever but if you offered them free botox, they’d fight to be first in line. Botulinum toxin is somehow not toxic and okay to inject into your forehead, but MMR is the kiss of death? Riiiight.

  • A Person March 19, 2019, 6:15 pm

    I can tell you every single person who engages in that kind of bullying will cry foul and shrivel up into “poor me” as soon as the tables turn onto them. They are cowards, and their behavior is reprehensible. You can tell who never matured past high school by watching how they take to the internet to pull off their cowardly acts.

  • Karen L March 19, 2019, 8:23 pm

    I wonder how many of those bullies THIS article is going to attract?

    • Ultrapongo March 20, 2019, 3:48 am

      We’ll just wait and see. Pass the popcorn, please…

      • admin March 20, 2019, 3:05 pm

        There’s a live one being held in moderation right now. Multiple replies to comments trying to publish the names, addresses, telephone numbers of 2 researchers.

        • Karen L March 22, 2019, 1:24 pm

          LOL, I knew it. Thank you, admin, for moderating the comments!

          • admin March 22, 2019, 4:53 pm

            One of them is shrieking that one of the CFS researchers is a pedophile. Too bad I can’t approve these. The hysteria is amazing.

      • Marozia March 25, 2019, 10:38 pm

        Yep…these yelpers will want their say.

    • hinome March 20, 2019, 5:49 am

      I’d assume none to at most a few; given that we’re pretty much all here because we loathe boorish behavior, bullying and hate speech. Also, this site won’t be on the first three search engine result pages when looking up this specific topic.

      • A Person March 22, 2019, 6:34 pm

        You underestimate how low bullies and trolls are willing to sink for attention.

  • DGS March 20, 2019, 8:20 am

    The relative anonymity of the Internet coupled with a lack of consequences for horrific acting out behavior results in this sort of nonsense that can profoundly impact someone’s life and career. It is also reflective of the larger patient satisfaction-ratings driven culture of care, which is quite foolish, as many times patient satisfaction ratings have nothing to do with objective standards of care. The patient might not like that the doctor encouraged them to decrease drinking or lose weight or reduce drug use, so the patient lambasts a doctor online, or he or she might have been denied weight loss surgery or a transplant due to not meeting criteria, so it’s the doctor’s fault whereas the doctor is acting to keep the patient safe and maximize outcomes.

    • Cheryl AC March 31, 2019, 12:47 am

      As a doctor, I thank you.

  • ladyv21454 March 20, 2019, 9:28 am

    The article about CFS/ME just enrages me. While I understand that people don’t want this to be seen as a purely psychomatic disease, attacking the scientists is NOT the way to improve the situation. The attackers want to shift the focus to finding a biological basis for CFS; but by attacking researchers that ARE finding effective therapies, all they’re doing is driving people away from conducting ANY kind of research into possible treatments. In the long run, they’re hurting the patients they claim to want to help.

    • EchoGirl March 20, 2019, 11:24 pm

      I said something similar higher up in the thread. I do think research communities would sometimes do well to listen to patients more often than they do, but creating a hostile environment around research isn’t going to re-focus anyone’s priorities, it’s just going to drive people out of the field altogether. I feel like positive/educational organizing (i.e. letter writing campaigns and petitions that are persuasive but respectful) would probably do a better job of actually achieving the result they’re aiming for.

  • JD March 20, 2019, 9:29 am

    In the old days, it used to be letters, written anonymously, or mobs were incited and the inciter could hide in the thick of the mob. Now, people gather a “mob” on the internet to threaten, harass and frighten someone with whom they disagree while the inciter hides behind a screen name. It’s been going on for a long time, but the internet has sure made it easier. And it happens on both sides of whichever fence/issue one happens to be talking about.
    People love power. Bullying someone gives them a feeling of power. I don’t see any of that going away anytime soon. It’s a shame that the internet is so open to all of this.

    • LizaJane March 21, 2019, 6:52 pm

      Absolutely. It was a lot more difficult to gather a mob when one didn’t have instant contact with thousands upon thousands of people.

      I suspect some of the mobsters don’t even believe in or have knowledge of the subject they’re ranting about. They just get off on being mean.

  • Anonymous March 20, 2019, 11:10 am

    When I was a kid in the 80’s and 90’s, there was still some debate over the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Some people couldn’t be vaccinated for medical reasons, and some families chose not to vaccinate their children, for religious or philosophical reasons. There were also some families who opted out of specific vaccines, because of allergies, et cetera. The schools would then require those kids to stay home when there were outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, and they’d send the kids’ homework to them through one of their friends, or a parent, or something. I remember it being done very matter-of-factly back then, and also, medical decisions were considered to be private. There wasn’t the whole ongoing screaming match between pro-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers that there is now, or if there was, it was a more subtle screaming match, because we didn’t have the Internet. But, the prevailing opinion back then was that it was rude to attack someone else for making a medical decision for themselves, or for their minor children. So, if you lambasted your kid’s friend’s mom for opting out of, say, the chicken pox vaccine (which most of my generation missed, because most of us got chicken pox just before it came out), the general public (or at least, most sensible people) would tell you to mind your own business. Nowadays, if you do that, a bunch of people will pile on and agree with you, a bunch more will disagree, vociferously, and before you know it, hundreds of strangers are arguing over something that should have been one family’s decision.

    • rindlrad March 20, 2019, 12:37 pm

      Exactly! If people could just mind their own business and not feel like they have the right to scream at each other simply because they disagree things would be so much nicer. I was vaccinated and we chose to vaccinate our children; however, I acknowledge some of the concerns of those who choose not to vaccinate.

      Example – we live in the Northwest US. We’ve had a whopping cough outbreak here. Many of the people my age (late Boomer / early Gen X) are getting re-vaccinated to protect not only ourselves but also our grandchildren. My husband, who had a transplant and so is immune suppressed, was advised by his doctor to not get the vaccination. Our neighbor, who has several young children, was asking if we had been vaccinated. I know it’s none of her business, but I chose to share with her that I was but my husband wasn’t. Wrong choice. Without waiting for an explanation of why he wasn’t (which I know she also wasn’t entitled to receive, either), she flew into a tizzy and started berating me for putting her children at risk. Then she marched off and now won’t come over to chat or allow her children near our yard (they used to come over and say hello when we were out working in the flowerbeds). Sigh. Oh look, there goes a lovely example of the domestic Dramacus Llamacus – careful, they’re a bit unpredictable.

      • admin March 20, 2019, 1:45 pm

        I am so borrowing “dramacus llamacus”.

        • Wild Irish Rose March 21, 2019, 8:07 am

          So am I!

    • Redblues March 20, 2019, 1:13 pm

      However, vaccination is not simply a personal choice. It is a public health issue. People who do not vaccinate their children for anything other than legitimate medical reasons (fear of side effects, autism, and self-diagnosed genetic reasons are not legitimate medical reasons) put the entire community at risk, including chemo patients, dialysis patients, elderly people, transplant recipients, and people who *actually* cannot be vaccinated. Screaming at people does not help, but pretending a public health risk is a personal choice, like paint colors or sports participation, is a public health menace, not a private decision.

      • Anonymous March 20, 2019, 5:08 pm

        Well, that’s why the schools would send the unvaccinated kids home when there was an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease, back when I was a kid. With the freedom to choose whether or not to vaccinate, came the responsibility of making alternate childcare arrangements (for kids too young to stay home alone) during outbreaks. However, this was back in the 80’s and 90’s, when there were more stay-at-home parents (usually mothers), and also, childcare facilities might have been less strict about requiring kids to be vaccinated. But then, it could be argued that that rule essentially forces lower-income families to vaccinate their kids, because they may not have a stay-at-home parent, or the resources to arrange daytime childcare spontaneously when there’s an outbreak at school. I don’t have children myself, so I’m not sure how I’d handle this now, but I don’t envy all of those parents who are making this decision (and so many others) in the middle of an endless Internet flame war.

        • Redblues July 14, 2019, 12:09 pm

          Most of the diseases for which people are immunized are contagious before there is any indication that a person is ill. Keeping recreationally unvaccinated children home during an outbreak does nothing to prevent contagious people spreading preventable illness far and wide. When I was a kid everyone was vaccinated who could be. The children who stayed home during outbreaks were *medically* unable to be vaccinated.
          The whole system breaks down when random Google geniuses decide that *they* are immunologists capable of deciding, without relevant medical qualifications, indications of medical issues, or basic understanding of human biology, that *their* snowflakes are too fragile for standard effective medical treatment.
          As has been stated above, this is not a private matter, like paint colors. It is a matter of public health.
          You cannot exempt yourself from the same society by which you expect to benefit.
          This isn’t a class problem where poor people are denied proper medical care. It is a class problem where wealthy people who can afford private school, unethical physicians who write false exemptions, and private childcare, feel entitled to put public health at risk. Poor people are indeed assuming risks because of this inequity, but not at all in the manner you imply.

      • rindlrad March 20, 2019, 5:53 pm

        I understand what you’re saying. It’s the struggle between individual freedom and public good. Yes, failure to vaccinate a child puts people like my husband at increased risk; however, some people argue that vaccinating the child puts the child at increased risk. I adore my husband, but I’m not willing to say that his health is more important than anybody else’s. I think that most parents that make the choice not to vaccinate do so because they genuinely believe it is the best decision for the health of their child. Do I agree with them? No. Do I uphold their right to make that decision? Yes. I don’t have the answer, but I lean more toward personal freedom.

        • admin March 21, 2019, 3:39 am

          I would prefer those parents not go on social media fear mongering campaigns thus taking their choice out of the context of a private family decision and into the morass of social media.

          • Anonymous March 21, 2019, 9:38 am

            Yeah, that’s a good point too. Sometimes, it’s the anti-vaxxers who start the Internet flame war, by going on social media and doing a whole song and dance about how vaccines are harmful, et cetera, seemingly out of the blue. However, it usually is provoked; by years of pro-vaccine propaganda in the media, or because they were given a hard time (or even “fired” altogether) by their family doctor, or their kids’ school, or a friend or family member or someone they know getting angry with them, or maybe even giving them the Cut Direct (like Rindlrad’s neighbour did), for not vaccinating. Maybe one or more of their children suffered ill effects from a vaccine. People don’t get this defensive about the choices they make in life, unless there’s a compelling reason behind it, and (usually) some kind of push-back. If they did, there’d be Internet flame wars over things like what breed of dog to adopt, or whether or not it’s acceptable to eat cereal for dinner as opposed to just for breakfast. Anyway, I’m not going to say that I’m an anti-vaxxer (or a pro-vaxxer either, for that matter), but I am going to say that I’m an anti-Internet-screaming-match-er.

          • Calli Arcale March 21, 2019, 11:16 am

            “People don’t get this defensive about the choices they make in life, unless there’s a compelling reason behind it, and (usually) some kind of push-back. If they did, there’d be Internet flame wars over things like what breed of dog to adopt”

            Oh, there absolutely are flame wars over what breed of dog to adopt — particularly when it comes to so-called “bully breeds”.

          • admin March 21, 2019, 11:27 am

            I think you replied to the wrong person. I didn’t write that.

          • rindlrad March 21, 2019, 1:50 pm

            I agree completely with you. I would prefer that people not get involved in social media mobs at all – for any reason; however, I think that Elvis has not only left the building but is home having a peanut butter and banana sandwich when it comes to that dream. That dream may be so far gone that he’s sharing the sandwich with Spanky, his pet unicorn.

            I do think that the medical community could handle people who have questions about vaccines better. Parents need to feel that their fears are taken seriously and that their doctor is being honest with them about the benefits and risks. If a doctor is dismissive or shows disrespect, people aren’t going to feel comfortable asking questions and/or are going question the value/truth of the advice offered. There is always going to be a small percentage of the population that are hard-core believers in the conspiracy du jour. When I was growing up it was fluoride in the water. IMO, the vast majority of people questioning the safety of vaccines are people who are concerned for the health and well-being of their children. If their concerns are handled with respect, they may be able gain comfort about vaccines and get their children vaccinated.

            I think we also need to recognize the role the “news” media and bad research has played in turning up the volume on anti-vaccination hysteria. Jenny McCarthy has much to answer for in all this, but don’t forget it was a legitimate research article published in 1998 in the British medical journal “Lancet,” that lent legitimacy to the anti-vaccine movement. The “Lancet” fully retracted the article 12 years later in 2010. The news media plastered the 1998 research all over the nightly news and internet (VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM!!! OMG!!!!!! IF YOU VACCINATE YOUR KID YOU ARE A BAD, BAD PARENT!!!!!!!!!). I didn’t hear a peep on the news about the 2010 retraction (crickets……….).

          • admin March 21, 2019, 2:32 pm

            Interesting article, https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/a24790593/tim-berners-lee-internet-magna-carta/, a “magna carta” for the Internet.

      • JAN March 29, 2019, 9:19 am

        One thing I’ve noticed is most of the anti/pro vaccination sentiment is centered on children when any adults no longer have immunity from their long ago childhood vaccines. I work in healthcare a every time I work for a new hospital I have to get my antibody titers checked. It’s not unusual for one of them to not register and to need to get another. (On an aside, I’ve never been able to get titers to Mumps and I’ve been reimmunized multiple times).

        • JAN March 29, 2019, 5:54 pm

          Many adults, not any adults.

  • Calli Arcale March 20, 2019, 11:42 am

    Oh my goodness, this is such a serious problem. I’ve been following skeptical blogs and such for a long time, and the absolute *venom* that some of these groups can have for those who don’t believe what they want them to believe is staggering. Orac at Respectful Insolence used to take on a wide variety of topics, but since getting into the vaccine debate, he has become a major target for the anti-vaccination contingent. They are brutal; fortunately, he’s got his employers on his side, and has a very thick skin. But you see them come into the comments on his blog, and he’s reported on the abuse they’ve put other vaccine advocates through. This intersects with another area where there is a lot of very elevated passions: autism. The recent resurgence in antivaccine sentiment was fueled by a discredited fake study supposedly showing that measles vaccination could cause autism, and it is *astonishing* how vicious the supporters of Andrew Wakefield can be, even now that we know he even faked the results. (That is to say, none of the specimens in the study were even abnormal, let alone evidence of his hypothetical “measles encephalitis”.) It should have died like all other bad studies, but people had become not only convinced, but convinced that there was a conspiracy out to get them. Once people believe that, it’s nearly impossible for them ever to see the truth — and all to easy for them to start thinking the ends justify the means in trying to “correct” the record. Orac routinely gets hate mail and complaints to the dean of his university, with people trying to get him fired. He takes it as a badge of honor, but I know others have left the public sphere altogether over this sort of abuse. If his employer wasn’t 100% on his side with it, it would be a lot harder for him to keep going.

    • A Person March 20, 2019, 12:02 pm

      Part of the reason the antivax movement took off is because a vocal celebrity antivaxxer got a platform and spread the misinformation to the public. Antivaxxers do not deserve a platform. They are killing people with their ignorance and they make their anti autistic views very clear as they do so.

      I guess they think a child paralyzed for life by polio is a better alternative to an autistic one. They will do anything to avoid The Dreaded Autisms.

    • ladyv21454 March 20, 2019, 1:03 pm

      THANK YOU for making me aware of “Respectful Insolence”!! I see hours of fruitful reading ahead.

    • admin March 20, 2019, 1:52 pm

      Orac is Dr. David Gorski who writes at Sciencebasedmedicine.org. He still takes on a wide variety of subjects, particularly cancer quacks, at SBM. Coincidentally SBM just posted this article today, https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/fighting-online-for-sbm/, about online harassment of doctors and how the physicians/writers for SBM have been targeted with lawsuits to silence them. It’s a good read.

  • Harry's Mom March 20, 2019, 2:30 pm

    Reminds me of something we all learned as children; If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Who actually thinks they are going to change someone’s mind by posting their opinion on SM?

  • BMS2000 March 20, 2019, 4:14 pm

    I’m an engineering professor. I have no presence on Twitter or Facebook, and an Instagram page I use strictly for family stuff. I publish my work in academic journals and conferences, but I do not discuss anything I do with the general public, precisely because I refuse to participate in the social media morass. I don’t want to have to spend half my time either defending myself or worrying about what I post. If that means fewer people know about my research, so be it. I’d rather be a less successful professor than the subject of a witch hunt.

  • Kay_L March 20, 2019, 8:25 pm

    I don’t think these mobs form or retain their power by themselves.

    The social justice culture is something that is being promoted heavily in universities. Parents send a perfectly mentally healthy kid off to college and they come home not knowing what gender they are anymore. It’s pathetic!

    In the UK, the police ignore the rising violence in their cities in favor of arresting people who say the wrong thing on Facebook. It’s much easier and “politically correct” to go after people who pose no threat to the police. The people stabbing people in London are not only dangerous physically but politically if you were to go after them.

    But, not policing actual crimes has the effect of making life more dangerous for the average person. Going after someone for something they said on FB has the effect of chilling speech.

    It’s not quite that bad in the US. We do, at least, have the 1st Amendment to protect us from the government either banning or compelling speech. However, many folks have lost the ability to have a public voice due to de-platforming on funding sites, including PayPal. Chase Bank has refused to let certain businesses do business. Social media platforms shadow ban or outright ban folks with ideas that they don’t like.

    That’s far more serious, but it’s the SJW mobs that have cleared the path. It’s the tolerance of this mob like behavior that is taking us in a tyrannical and oppressive direction.

    Who does that serve? It sure doesn’t serve you and me!

  • kingsrings March 20, 2019, 10:44 pm

    The pendulum swings both ways when it comes to science and medicine – my brother’s high school classmate became a scientist who made a ground-breaking discovery with a major, serious disease. This made him quite celebrated and well-known. Now he and his family have to live a very private life because he’s constantly stalked by people who want him to next discover a cure for a disease that’s affected them or a loved one.

  • Emily March 21, 2019, 11:21 am

    Another thing about “research.” If people tell you they’ve done their research about a particular topic, often, that means that they went on the Internet and found an article, or several articles, that agree with their pre-existing opinions. It’s incredibly easy to do that nowadays, but it doesn’t actually make a person fully informed.

    • Bea March 21, 2019, 12:15 pm

      Bingo! If you look hard enough, you’ll find just about anything that agrees with you.

      For example…the people who exist in 2019 who still will fight you that the earth is flat.

    • The Other Elizabeth April 2, 2019, 11:56 am

      Super late to this, but wanted to reply . . .

      Thank Google for that. The algorithm used in the Google search engine is specifically programmed to produce results that fit with one’s previous web browsing on higher rungs than anything that may disagree with the views one page visits suggests: someone who frequents conspiracy sites is going to see a LOT of results on their first few pages that point to inflammatory “proof” that 9/11 was orchestrated by the government, and someone who reads news relating to heavily conservative family values will likely not see the articles talking about the medical benefits of oral contraceptives and debunking the myths. Thus, our previous views are reinforced and strengthened, nobody learns anything, and the absence of reasonable evidence that there might be something to learn from the other point of view leads us to believe that we are intrinsically correct, and anyone we encounter on Twitter or Facebook who disagrees with our divine insight is a lone nut trying to force their views upon us. People need to stop the cybernetic circle of back-pats and congratulatory handshakes among ideas before we forget that the opposing side is human. Dropping Google, or at least getting Google to change the program, might be a huge step toward civility.

  • staceyizme March 21, 2019, 12:37 pm

    If you can’t win an argument on the merits, then either your position lacks certitude/ credibility or your message lacks structure/ support/ resonance. Resorting to bullying in the name of some “higher virtue” is a tactic that only serves in the short term. It’s literally a case of winning the battle and losing the war, because where dissent isn’t tolerated, nobody is free to disagree and everyone is the potential next target. In an “instant news”/ “instant fame” world, influence is more highly regarded than any other form of power and people will do almost anything to gain it, keep it and grow it. As another figure said “what is truth”? Yet the lack of any real attempt to wrestle with information and nuance is trumped by the “narrative”. Nothing must be allowed to rob the original “viral” narrative of its power. So we see “news” organizations sitting on/ killing stories, promoting unverified (or verified as false!) stories and social media mimicking the same dynamics on a smaller scale. It doesn’t say anything about us as a culture that is good.

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