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Misinformation surges amid India's COVID-19 calamity

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By DAVID KLEPPER and NEHA MEHROTRA

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Unfortunately social media and messaging apps are not the only source for misinformation, a lot of respected media that is supposed to be very careful in presenting only things that can be verified and corroborated still let users hijack their sites to promote dangerous lies and disinformation, all in a mistaken effort to give "balance" to a discussion. If health care professionals give precise information about treatments or vaccines on one side it is not valid to "balance" that with people openly lying and promoting false information saying the opposite.

This is happening everywhere, not only on Twitter or Facebook, but on forums, blogs, comments on news articles or official statements from respected institutions, etc. And as long as the people in charge can let lies infest their sites, people will be exposed to disinformation that can endanger their lives.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Misinformation surges amid India's COVID-19 calamity

Freedom of speech is more important than any benefits from censorship. And freedom of information includes the right to misinformation. Right now, some dubious "fact checkers" employed by Google et are censoring even scientists with very respectable backgrounds, if they violate the official narrative. This is a very dangerous road.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

Religious crackpottery, conspiracy theory nutters and snake oil salespeople.

We would be so much better off with better education and a better understanding of neuroscience. Invest in these areas more.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Freedom of speech is more important than any benefits from censorship. And freedom of information includes the right to misinformation. Right now, some dubious "fact checkers" employed by Google et are censoring even scientists with very respectable backgrounds, if they violate the official narrative. This is a very dangerous road.

Constitutional rights to free speech protect you from government censorship, not from Google or whoever deciding they don't want your BS on their own websites.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Freedom of speech is more important than any benefits from censorship.

So, you think you should have the freedom to yell, “FIRE!” in a crowded theater and think doing so is more beneficial than being disallowed from doing so. Makes sense.

And freedom of information includes the right to misinformation.

No right is absolute.

. Right now, some dubious "fact checkers" employed by Google et are censoring even scientists with very respectable backgrounds, if they violate the official narrative. This is a very dangerous road.

Rainyday addressed this handily.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Misinformation surges amid India's COVID-19 calamity

American conservatives must be pumping “information” into India.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The AP as usual doing their bit to keep the official narrative going.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Some people are just terrible. This pandemic has made me realize that I have been looking thru rosy colored glasses my entire life. Can't we just get along?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Some of the claims about traditional Ayurvedic remedies against the virus have been endorsed by the government.

https://www.bbc.com/news/56172784

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/patanjali-claims-the-first-evidence-based-medicine-for-covid19-11613712687592.html

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/after-baba-ramdev-s-claim-on-patanjali-s-coronil-a-clarification-from-who-101613891366423.html

https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/patanjali-refutes-ima-s-claims-releases-research-papers-on-coronil-121022401527_1.html

I have nothing against Ayurveda as such, and if some traditional herbs are helpful in building up immunity I am all for it. But claiming that the virus can be fought merely by these measures, that medicines like Coronil are effective in preventing COVID is somewhat similar to the claims of anti-vaxxers, it is only the context that is different.

In a country where illiteracy is rampant, giving such false assurances will only lead to a situation where people drop down their guard and stop giving importance to proven preventive measures like wearing masks and social distancing.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

"American conservatives must be pumping “information” into India."

Naah the typical American conspiracy theories like 5G responsible for spread of COVID will not work in India. Indian conservatives have their own brand of conspiracy theories, very different from American conspiracy theories.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Evil: Fair enough.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The AP as usual doing their bit to keep the official narrative going.

How dare the AP report facts!

Perhaps the AP should employ those educated at seminaries so we can get better reporting.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

What ever happened to "an apple a day keeps the doctor away"? Now its lemons? People actually believe this rubbish? Most sadly would be uneducated or under educated and have no idea how pathogens, bacteria and viruses infect the body or how science is zeroing in on methods to fight off such deadly little buggers. Because many leaders and companies are misleading and money hungry they not who to trust.

The world truly is a messed up place.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

and political rallies for Modi's Hindu nationalist party.

Standard narrative, no mention of political rallies of other parties..

vaccine rollout has faltered and public anger and mistrust have grown.

vaccine rollout was/is going fine..vaccine export was stopped..the vaccine export has definitely faltered, hope the vaccine factory of the world India bans all vaccine exports, maybe than the narrative based dis-information will change..

All of the propaganda, misinformation and conspiracy ..

Sure, lots of it, and all directed at Modi..

Satyanarayan Prasad saw the video about lemon juice and believed it. The 51-year-old resident of the state of Uttar Pradesh distrusts modern medicine and has a theory..

This article itself is promoting this propaganda and misinformation...

Much of the misinformation travels on WhatsApp..

Yes.. this misinformation tool should be immediately banned..

False claims can discourage people from getting vaccines, seeking the doctor’s help, or taking the virus seriously..

That's again propaganda and misinformation, people are lining up to get vaccinated, 176M already have the shot, COVID hospitals were at full capacity, as everyone with symptoms was seeking doctor's help, now as the cases are going down the hospital occupancy has started easing up. This article itself is promoting propaganda, misinformation and conspiracy.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

WION Wideangle | Coronavirus Mutants - YouTube

this seems to be a pretty good breakdown of the various mutant strains

2 ( +2 / -0 )

vaccine rollout was/is going fine..vaccine export was stopped..the vaccine export has definitely faltered, hope the vaccine factory of the world India bans all vaccine exports, maybe than the narrative based dis-information will change..

Hmmm . . . Who to believe, some anonymous right-wing internet poster or a reputable news agency? This is a tough one!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

The man in the WhatsApp video says he has seen it work himself: A few drops of lemon juice in the nose will cure COVID-19. “If you practice what I am about to say with faith, you will be free of corona in five seconds,” says the man, dressed in traditional religious clothing. "This one lemon will protect you from the virus like a vaccine.”

Says Mr Vijay Trump, failed Indian business man and former reality TV host...

"And if that doesn't work, I have this bottle of Clorox to sell you"....

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Who to believe, some anonymous right-wing internet poster or a reputable news agency

Sure, your sources are mostly left aligned "reputable" news agencies, so go with them.. or maybe for once may want to do a neutral assesment of the actual ground situation.. not easy as the "reputable" news agencies are the easy way out.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Sure, your sources are mostly left aligned "reputable" news agencies, so go with them.. or maybe for once may want to do a neutral assesment of the actual ground situation.. not easy as the "reputable" news agencies are the easy way out.

What news sources do you suggest?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

It’s quite telling that those who complain the loudest about the MSM never provide links to alternate media so the rest of us can educate ourselves. It couldn’t be because those people don’t have any links to reputable news sources, couldn’t it?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Similar to "if you trust the J-Gov, everything is gonna be fine !"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What news sources do you suggest?

Sure.. for COVID start with Corona Odometer site and than lookup the details with the respective agencies for that country, like the CDC in the US..and than than seacrh for some neutral analysis of this pandemic..not easy as google search will be dominated by MSM, mostly left aligned.. but you will come across articles like these.. and always avoid "narrative" styled articles..which unfortunately dominate the news business.

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/12/the-worst-case-scenario-is-happening-hospitals-are-overwhelmed/617301/?fbclid=IwAR2sfgrbyuEDfVtOV9bqUpqBmdHWm2qfRL6E5fZXd08ldCm4ZbOIv6WHflg

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/05/28/863710050/reckoning-with-the-dead-journalist-goes-inside-an-nyc-covid-19-disaster-morgue?fbclid=IwAR2IkcgmtjiW5cAbj0bVlZ-K0-_EADaUAD6gdrROJn3o5C9xCfT4c2fLYBA

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I don't understand how your articles' info differ from other "left wing" info. It's the same focus and information.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

P. Smith

So, you think you should have the freedom to yell, “FIRE!” in a crowded theater and think doing so is more beneficial than being disallowed from doing so. Makes sense.

Ah, the old fire in a theater meme. That is a specific, limited situation, and in no way comparable to censoring free speech in public media.

Lets try another angle: If someone was to objectively censor misinformation, a lot of the content on CNN, NTY, Guardian, et al would be removed. Are you OK with that?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

P. Smith

It’s quite telling that those who complain the loudest about the MSM never provide links to alternate media so the rest of us can educate ourselves. It couldn’t be because those people don’t have any links to reputable news sources, couldn’t it?

How do you define "reputable"?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Should have stuck to Ivermectin India. It's the one thing that was remarkable in working for them in saving lives.

Ivermectin was already effective against COVID (see graph in link) but too many people were coerced into getting COVID vaccinated even after recovering:

https://healthimpactnews.com/2021/is-india-seeing-a-wave-of-deaths-and-injuries-following-covid-19-shots/

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

It’s quite telling that those who complain the loudest about the MSM never provide links to alternate media so the rest of us can educate ourselves. It couldn’t be because those people don’t have any links to reputable news sources, couldn’t it?

They almost always never provide the links.

This should arouse suspicion. It’s almost as if they are ashamed of them.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

They almost always never provide the links. 

This should arouse suspicion. It’s almost as if they are ashamed of them.

I do believe feeling ashamed requires a sense of decency, though.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

The AP as usual doing their bit to keep the official narrative going.

Yeah, they give as example of misinformation that is or should be blocked a guy snorting lemon juice when there is a lot of very valid and useful information that is being blocked as "misinformation"; information that is supported by peer reviewed scientific journals.

Some have already been mentioned above.

Another, which is especially relevant to India, is the fact that they have been found to have an extremely high incidence of vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency. Vitamin D has been well documented to be play an important role in protecting against upper respiratory infections, including Covid19.

It would be so easy to get Indians to increase their vitamin D status, but it seems the powers that be have other things in mind...

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Raw Beer

Yeah, they give as example of misinformation that is or should be blocked a guy snorting lemon juice when there is a lot of very valid and useful information that is being blocked as "misinformation"; information that is supported by peer reviewed scientific journals.

Some have already been mentioned above.

Exactly. Lemon drops are of course ridiculous, but the social media "fact checkers" have been censoring the scientists up to Nobel Prize winners if they go against the narrative. Orwell described the Ministry of Truth in 1984. Do we really want that?

Another aspect: If the assumption is that the public is so gullible that it take lemon drops, why do we have have elections at all? Why democracy? Such a low IQ population should be ruled by a kindergarten teacher.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Another, which is especially relevant to India, is the fact that they have been found to have an extremely high incidence of vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency. Vitamin D has been well documented to be play an important role in protecting against upper respiratory infections, including Covid19.

Many studies have shown an association between vitamin D and Covid outcomes, but the evidence is largely observational - meaning it looks at what happens to people with higher and lower levels of vitamin D without controlling for other factors. 

This isn't gold standard evidence 

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-56180921.amp

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Ah, the old fire in a theater meme. That is a specific, limited situation, and in no way comparable to censoring free speech in public media.

It’s not a meme; it’s straight from SCOTUS regarding the free speech guarantee under the First Amendment. The point was that no right is absolute, which some of us clearly missed.

Lets try another angle: If someone was to objectively censor misinformation, a lot of the content on CNN, NTY, Guardian, et al would be removed. Are you OK with that?

I disagree with your premise that those news organizations publish “a lot of” misinformation. Additionally, you're creating a false equivalency between the media and social media.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Yeah, they give as example of misinformation that is or should be blocked a guy snorting lemon juice when there is a lot of very valid and useful information that is being blocked as "misinformation"; information that is supported by peer reviewed scientific journals.

And why not a single respected insitution related to science and health accept the supposedly useful information? obviously is not like every single one of them is on the conspiracy, right?

The reality is that there are such thing as low quality studies, that are later corrected by better ones, with much stronger methodologies that have proved the preliminary results as mistaken, trying to hide this and insist the low quality studies have not been contradicted is a perfect example of misinformation, there is no problem with pointing this out.

Exactly. Lemon drops are of course ridiculous, but the social media "fact checkers" have been censoring the scientists up to Nobel Prize winners if they go against the narrative. Orwell described the Ministry of Truth in 1984. Do we really want that?

That is nonsense, do you actually believe science is done according to what is published in social media? that would be as irrational as thinking the status of a person is enough to contradict evidence, in science a kid with evidence of something has more weight in his argument than a Nobel prize that has no evidence.

Another aspect: If the assumption is that the public is so gullible that it take lemon drops, why do we have have elections at all? Why democracy? Such a low IQ population should be ruled by a kindergarten teacher.

That depends on the false assumption that the whole public is so gullible, which is something that is not written in the article anywhere. Some people will believe nonsense, including things that you consider ridiculous, its the same with antivaxxers, flatearthers or climate change deniers, they look ridiculous to the experts in the topic, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

When you have the vaccine, that does not mean you have some sort of personal shield around you preventing you from contracting the Virus and passing it onto others... you just become the asymptomatic carrier when you travel to area where people are more vulnerable to catching it from you... such as is the situation here in Japan with the ever looming Olympics.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

All Travel to/from India, and surrounding Nations should be barred forthwith until further notice, anything less would be of Historic Calamity proportions.

As an aside, I hope someone is researching on the origins of these so-called mutations. I have a suspicion that the CCP is actually behind the variants.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

P. SmithToday  08:39 pm JST

I disagree with your premise that those news organizations publish “a lot of” misinformation.

"A lot" is in the eye of the beholder. Certainly they are publishing misinformation, and they present a ot of opinion as "information".

Additionally, you're creating a false equivalency between the media and social media.

The social media are the public square. Censor them, and all information is filtered through the "mainstream" media with their bias.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

mmwkdw

All Travel to/from India, and surrounding Nations should be barred forthwith until further notice, anything less would be of Historic Calamity proportions.

On what figures do you base that "historic calamity" claim?

As an aside, I hope someone is researching on the origins of these so-called mutations. I have a suspicion that the CCP is actually behind the variants.

Viruses mutate. That is what they do. Once the thing is out in the open, it does not need the CCP to help it mutate.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

virusrex

And why not a single respected insitution related to science and health accept the supposedly useful information? obviously is not like every single one of them is on the conspiracy, right?

Appeal to authority... that is typically a religious argument. You do not know every single institution, and you do not define what "respected" is. And nobody said "conspiracy".

The reality is that there are such thing as low quality studies, that are later corrected by better ones, with much stronger methodologies that have proved the preliminary results as mistaken,

Studies are always followed up by better studies. That is called science. What is not science is when some anonymous opinionat "fact checker" at Youtube or Twitter censors scientists.

That is nonsense, do you actually believe science is done according to what is published in social media?

Social media are just platforms. They carry all sorts of content, from valuable to worthless. Your mainstream narrative spouters are all on social media too. Only difference is that they are promoted by Big Tech and not muffled.

That depends on the false assumption that the whole public is so gullible, which is something that is not written in the article anywhere. Some people will believe nonsense,

Yes. But censorship applies to everybody, not just "some people", just like voting rights apply to everybody, not just "some people".

It is non-argument.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Appeal to authority... that is typically a religious argument. You do not know every single institution, and you do not define what "respected" is. And nobody said "conspiracy".

You understand that there are perfectly valid appeals to authority, right? how do you explain that not a single well respected institution of experts in the topic support your opinion? are they are in the conspiracy? are they all incompetents? How about you put the institutions that support your point? if it is not obvious if they are respected (CDC, Mayo Clinic, X, Y, Z universtities, etc.) you can just say how they are respected.

Studies are always followed up by better studies. That is called science. What is not science is when some anonymous opinionat "fact checker" at Youtube or Twitter censors scientists.

And better studies have demonstrated your point of view as mistaken, which is why it became the consensus of science and the relatively uniform opinion of the scientific and media community. Now, what opinions that are actually part of this consensus do you think they are being censored? Up until now you have not offered a single example of this happening, just people misrepresenting as facts things already disproved by the better studies.

Only difference is that they are promoted by Big Tech and not muffled.

No, that is what you want to believe, but your examples are of the opposite, people with strong opinions and weak evidence trying to mislead others. Again, how come the best institutions of the world are not complaining about it? after all they are all saying the same thing as the "censored" scientists right? it is not like the media are just throwing out corroborated lies, which have no place nor value in a discussion, or is it?

Yes. But censorship applies to everybody, not just "some people", just like voting rights apply to everybody, not just "some people".

That makes no sense, some people are being put in danger by the false information being disseminated, so this false information has no place being promoted and instead should be discarded. The right of people to be protected against dangerous information that can be proved false applies to everybody, even those that believe in things you would consider ridiculous.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@Zaphod - when such information comes 1st hand from one involved within the central workings of the CCP, and who has shared with me, it's deceptions to the World...even before they have played out, as we are now seeing....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

*Yeah, they give as example of misinformation that is or should be blocked a guy snorting lemon juice when there is a lot of very valid and useful information that is being blocked as "misinformation"; information that is supported by peer reviewed scientific journals**.*

And why not a single respected insitution related to science and health accept the supposedly useful information? obviously is not like every single one of them is on the conspiracy, right?

Wow, you certainly have a very short and/or selective memory. A number of us have posted about statements from institutions in a number of countries recommending and distributing vitamin D. Unless you do not consider institutions like the NHS as respected.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Wow, you certainly have a very short and/or selective memory. A number of us have posted about statements from institutions in a number of countries recommending and distributing vitamin D. Unless you do not consider institutions like the NHS as respected.

That is in no way "blocked" information, dietary insufficiencies are well known predisposing conditions, it is as "censored" as saying controlling diabetes, hypertension or obesity is good to prevent COVID complications.

But if a quack say 17 false things and includes one true detail (or not even that, but includes it in a misleading way, such as saying that having more vitamin D is always better, even if you had no deficiency in the first place) then that still counts as misleading disinformation.

Of course you could provide a source where someone specifically says that correcting vitamin D deficiency is good, and without any false information around it, that is being "suppresed", obviously the NHS is not the case.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@ virusrex,

Wick's comment seems to be in response to your:

And why not a single respected insitution related to science and health accept the supposedly useful information?

Once again you falsely claimed to know what information all institutions find acceptable.

A number of institutions do find that information very acceptable and have acted on it.

I already mentioned to you a number of times about institutions recognizing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against covid19. That in the UK in winter, the NHS was giving free vitamin D to the more vulnerable and recommended all dark-skinned people supplement year round. I believe this comment came after someone else brought up a recent report from an Irish institute documenting vitamin D's role and their recommendations to supplement.

India's incidence of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency is shockingly high, but nobody is talking about it...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A number of institutions do find that information very acceptable and have acted on it.

That makes no sense, as I already explained in the reply he is specifically talking about useful information that is being repressed, this example is obviously not the case, it would be the same as saying that vaccines as a safe and effective vaccines are recommended against COVID, yes this is useful information but it is NOT being suppressed. This is a perfect example of information that is obviously being promoted all over the world.

Correcting deficiencies (not only of vitamin D) is not information that is being "hidden" same is controlling glycemia or blood pressure, nobody is being silenced for saying that (can you show an example?) What is false is the invalid exaggeration that taking vitamin D will always help even if the person has already adequate levels, that is not supported by science and very often part of a series of false arguments from science deniers that make their participations invalid.

Since you had problems understanding my previous comment let me simplify it for you.

Saying "correcting vitamin D deficiency is good" is good information that is NOT being censored anywhere.

Saying "vaccines can be replaced with vitamin D" is disinformation that should be discarded (and that is not what any medical/scientific institution of the world defends)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What is false is the invalid exaggeration that taking vitamin D will always help even if the person has already adequate levels, that is not supported by science and very often part of a series of false arguments from science deniers that make their participations invalid.

Strawman, nobody here has ever said that.

What I and others have often mentioned is that there is a high incidence world wide of vitamin D insufficiency, especially in winter and especially among people with dark skin.

And it turns out that in India, the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency is extremely high. Vitamin D has been well documented to be play an important role in protecting against upper respiratory infections, including Covid19.

It would be so easy to get Indians to increase their vitamin D status, but it seems the powers that be have other things in mind...

Saying "correcting vitamin D deficiency is good" is good information that is NOT being censored anywhere.

So why is nobody talking about increasing the vitamin D levels of Indians, especially now that thousands are dying daily from covid.

Saying "vaccines can be replaced with vitamin D" is disinformation that should be discarded (and that is not what any medical/scientific institution of the world defends)

Nobody said that. It isn't an either or. But you've just made it more clear why you have always rejected or downplayed the benefits of vitamin D and other approaches...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Strawman, nobody here has ever said that.

Obviously, which is why I had to put that example, that is what can be used as an example of something that should be deleted as falsehood, not something obvious and endlessly repeated by health care professionals.

What I and others have often mentioned is that there is a high incidence world wide of vitamin D insufficiency, especially in winter and especially among people with dark skin.

And that is not being censored anywhere, as easily to prove as just seeing how it is included in endless reports, do you see the authors of those reports being described as hacks? fakes? obviously not.

So why is nobody talking about increasing the vitamin D levels of Indians, especially now that thousands are dying daily from covid.

Because an even safer and easier measure is not being distributed, avoiding infection is much more effective at avoiding complications and not even that is being done, it is obvious that the measures that bring higher benefits (for for the infected persons and the public health in general) are the priority.

Nobody said that. It isn't an either or. But you've just made it more clear why you have always rejected or downplayed the benefits of vitamin D and other approaches...

This is again an example, of something that is being deleted of the social media accounts and that is perfectly justified in being said so, your misrepresentation is about obvious things that anybody can say (and are being said constantly) everywhere by the experts and try to pass them as if they were representative of what is being blocked, my example is a much more closer thing to what is being deleted. False and dangerous information that has no value in being repeated.

So, again, can you show who is being "censored" if the only thing they are saying is that people have preexisting conditions?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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