Response to Mr. Brinson
Letter to the Editor
Doug Brinson chooses to pass on false and misleading anti-vaccine/anti-Covid information, yet again, in the July 3 edition of the Bulletin (in the ever popular “Just Asking Questions” format). And the Tryon Daily Bulletin chooses, yet again, to publish it.
Yes, there should be vigorous, informed and skeptical debate about issues which affect our community. However, amplifying social media misinformation does not contribute to this.
For example, one of the messages on social media has been that the number of deaths truly due to Covid is small, and that most “Covid” deaths were people who were dying from other causes, but also happened to have a positive Covid test.
So, Doug Brinson asks, “How does the total number of US deaths (any cause) in 2020 compare to 2019?” The answer is that they all caused the mortality rate to increase by a whopping 15.9% from 2019 to 2020.
For context, there is usually only a percentage point or two increase or decrease in the mortality rate from year to year (2018 to 2019 showed a 1.2% decrease, for example). There hasn’t been an increase that large since 1918 Influenza Pandemic. And the change in mortality rate was the largest among 25 to 45 year-olds at a greater than 22% increase.
Among adults, the smallest increase was in the 85+ age group at 13.4%. So, this continued questioning is based on an unequivocally false premise, yet the message is still getting published and spread. How does that help to inform the readers of the Bulletin? https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7014e1.htm#F2_down https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db395.htm
He also brings up, yet again, the VAERS reports, despite several informative letters to the editor in a prior issue of the Bulletin pointing out that a cause and effect cannot be established from the reports. Instead, all serious reports are carefully monitored and investigated, and the results of any potential complications published by the CDC. Again, why republish something already pointed out as misleading? https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html
I know we are all uncomfortable with the idea of censorship. I don’t want someone else choosing what information is “good” for me, or not. But we are also bombarded with false information, in a way that doesn’t seem to happen with useful and valid information. As has been said, “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” It’s not censorship to fail to give misinformation a voice, but it’s a problem figuring when something is “misinformation”.
So, turn it into an easier question. Instead of “do I know for sure that it’s false?” (a practice which favors false information), ask, “do I know for sure that it’s true?” (a practice that favors useful and valid information). Case in point…I double-checked the source of the above quote before attributing it (falsely) to Winston Churchill.