I Blame Participation Trophies for #FakeNews

There is so much wrong with how we deal with information these days, and I think Participation trophies are the root of the problem.

Here’s my argument. When you’re a kid at school (ie: when you are learning how the world works) you have to take part in various school competitions. Some things you’re good at and some things you’re bad at. That’s the real lesson the school competitions are meant to teach: that you won’t be awesome at everything you try, and it’s as important to learn how to fail as it is to learn how to succeed. You have to learn to deal with disappointment.

But no one likes to see a sad kid. Seeing a kid happy spreads joy in a dark world. So they came up with the Participation trophy. Every kid gets the happy moment of winning a prize, the affirmation that they are as good as everyone else at something. And that’s the lesson that sticks.

Which leads to the situation we have today; every opinion has equal merit. It doesn’t matter that one opinion is based on twenty years of studying the subject and wealth of scientific testing, and the opposing opinion is based on a reddit thread. Fact vs Fake News.

And right now, credibility of information is vitally important. We have a global pandemic which no one saw coming (except the epidemiologists, doctors and historians who had been studying the data and knew a Pandemic was due). And it was a new disease that no one knew how to deal with (except the people who study infection control, contact spread, airborne spread who advised wearing masks and avoiding crowds).

And now we have vaccines, and the forces of ignorance are shouting loudly again. News media does in the form of right wing pundits who are ‘just asking questions.’ (FYI, the role of journalists is to ask questions and find answers, not just to ask inflammatory questions to generate controversy). Another outlet for the ‘Just asking questions’ crowd is a sticker campaign.

I have seen the following slogans on sidewalks, streetlamps, and buildings around London, and I’ve heard they are showing up in many other British cities.

“A genuinely deadly pandemic wouldn’t require a 24/7 government and corporate media fear mongering campaign to make you believe it’s real”

“The idea that healthy people are endangering others simply by breathing is the biggest scam in the history of the world”

“Vaccinating the entire global population with an experimental, insufficiently tested vaccine, fast tracked through development in record breaking time, for which pharmaceutical are immune from liability over a virus with a 99.9% recovery rate… what could possibly go wrong?”

Sigh…. The problem with trying to debate ‘fake news’ is that the ignorant argument starts from a place of, well, ignorance. Because their beliefs aren’t based on hard data, they are based on things they heard and headlines they misinterpreted. You can’t nail them down to dispute a fact because they don’t have any. If the right wing is lazy in their research, the left, and the mainstream media, have become lazy in correcting falsehoods. So I’m going to take a moment and try.

  1. A 24/7 government/media campaign IS necessary as a highly infectious, potentially fatal disease is an important thing that everyone needs to know about.
  2. The idea that people who are asymptomatic can spread a potentially deadly disease for days before they realise they have the virus is one of the most terrifying things in the history of the world. When you get that persistent new cough, will you stop and think about how many people you might have infected?
  3. Vaccinating the entire global population is necessary because the disease goes everywhere, regardless of season or climate.
  4. The Vaccine is not experimental or fast tracked through development; the technology that created these vaccines have been in development for over 10 years. Remember the SARS virus (also known as SARS-COV-1) in 2003? That’s when they started working on this vaccine. One of the names of the current virus is SARS-COV-2. These are not new vaccines, they are adapted ones.
  5. The recovery rate is actually 80.5%. And I think we need to define what recovery means as well. Does recovered just mean you got covid and didn’t die? Are you fully recovered if your stuck with some for of ‘Long Covid’?

Because the list of Long Covid conditions is only getting longer. From serious to inconvenient.

Blood clots, High or low blood pressure, Bulging or inflamed veins, Fast heart rate, Itchiness, Rashes, Peeling skin, Abdominal pain, Loss of appetite, Nausea, Vomiting, Facial paralysis, Sore throat, New allergies, Shingles, Changes in sensitivity to medication, Joint and muscle pain and aches, Breathing difficulty, Shortness of breath, Coughs, Abnormally heavy or irregular periods, Early menopause, post-menopausal bleeding, Aggression Anger, Anxiety, Apathy, Delusions, Decrease in size of penis/testicles.

If you know any man who is reluctant to get the vaccine, tell him that last symptom of long covid, then step out of the way as he races to the nearest vaccination centre.

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