Who knew? Disinformation campaigns flourish on Social Media.

The blame and pointing fingers at social media for aiding and abetting January 6’s international embarrassment led by none only than the President of the United States himself is quite the picture portrait of General Master of the Obvious.

If you’re like me, you could literally watch in horror as the events unfolded. You watched the president incite his base into a frenzy, told them to march to the capitol, and then watch in horror as the Vice President was rushed out off the senate floor as the televised version of the reality show called Dickhead in the White House resumed its marathon season.

My Facebook friends were in awe, some disgusted by the rioters, others cheering them on as Patriots. One second cousin of mine, a young teen or early twenty something wrote: “honestly so disappointed in trump supporters. the same people that said blue lives matter are fighting cops. y’all swore riots were a democrat thing, and you wouldn’t riot if trump lost, but you’re causing so much violence now . this isn’t okay at all. grow up. he lost.”

In the comments, other family members, including her own fucking grandmother, my aunt, admonished her for incorrectly identifying these terrorists as Trump supporters. One played that, “I have a friend who is there” card and that they were actually Antifa.

As if Antifa would storm the Capitol to protest the election that their candidate won, risking their lives and to get arrested, even if it was to disrupt the vote to appear like Trumpettes. You gotta be the dumbest bag-a-dicks to believe that bullshit.

It’s scary that we live among a swath of people who are not basing their belief systems in reality.

In a moment of anomaly, I had the pleasure of listening to my dad on a phone call with a friend. My dad is one of the most conservative men I know. He had to talk his friend, another conservative man off the ledge because the certification of the electoral college meant there was not any last-ditch effort left to get Trump back in. “Just wait till 2022. Then we’ll see the pendulum swing back our way,” he calmly told his friend. He also said that the changes that Biden is going to destroy America is simply media frenzy and is not true.

But Facebook, Twitter, Parler, et al, they are partially responsible for what happened on Wednesday. And while they are making some strides to curb the crazy (eg removing Trump’s bully pulpit), they have so far to go. This morning I read a series of violence inciting Parler posts to assassinate Nancy Pelosi, Mike Pence, and Chuck Schumer.

On the Covid front, they are losing the battle. We need a unified populace to fight the pandemic, but social media outlets are giving credence to conspiracy theories that are dangerous and wholly stupid.

Take for example my friend Julie Ferwerda. She’s a public figure, so I can name her and link to her. She wrote a book called Raising Hell, which attempts to explain – verbosely and not very convincingly – that Hell doesn’t exist. It’s not a mystery that it doesn’t. It’s just that her argument is weak. It’s a word salad of meandering stream of conscience.

Since she wrote that book, she became a nurse, moved to Puerto Rico, and completely lost all sense of her own skepticism. She actively bolsters claims that are demonstrably false regarding the virus, and uses her platform and her sway as a healthcare professional to lead her followers into the valley of the shadow of death.

In a recent post, she wrote:

I got cornered by a doctor yesterday for stating my opinions on the vax he was trying to coax all the nurses into getting. The irony is that he accused me of putting patients health in danger by influencing nurses. While at the same time, all the doctors here have ignored my persistent pleas to look at the evidence for the effective treatment that has gained ground all over the world by expert MDs for said virus. I’m just a nurse after all. Reminds me of the old days when I got cornered by my pastor for questioning the spiritual and psychological dangers of taking the hell vax. I hadn’t been to seminary after all. 😁

The evidence she quotes on her page is from a conspiracy theorist nutbag named Sayer Ji. Sayer Ji runs a website called GreenMedInfo that grifts its readers with misinformation. To what end? To sell quack “natural” medicines that are one of the most lucrative businesses ever. The whole idea is that Big Pharma is bad, which I agree with entirely. Our health system is out of control. And my own family wants to take away my healthcare through the Marketplace, because their “conservative values” prescribes that the abolish Obamacare.

The vitamin and supplant industries are money grubbing assholes, too. Natural Medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements are from God, and therefore better. But Ji has convinced his burgeoning followers that his Bachelors degree in Philosophy is enough eduction to give nurses and other relatively smart people that the doctors are all wrong and vitamins and natural solutions are better.

GreenMedInfo is one of those sites that says vaccines cause Autism (they don’t) and that one’s diet is all one needs to stay healthy. While there’s some truth to it, there’s also a shitload of evidence to the contrary. Some of the most healthy people die or suffer frequently from the very things that one would think wouldn’t affect them.

One of the most standout moments in Julie’s post is this: “Reminds me of the old days when I got cornered by my pastor for questioning the spiritual and psychological dangers of taking the hell vax. I hadn’t been to seminary after all.

Getting cornered for peddling “no hell” and fighting science with batshittery are two completely different ball games.

No hell. Sure. It’s made up. You can follow its evolution through time. You can see where the idea came from, and see that the Bible’s version of it was generally misunderstood and the idea shaped from years of theological and political influence to control and scare gullible people.

Science on the other hand, while constantly evolving, admitting wrong, is based on mountains of physical evidence.

While eating well vs eating crap is definitely a well-founded set of ideas, having literally NO proof that vitamins do a damned thing entirely is not for grabs.

Imagine. Telling a doctorate of English that their understanding of the English language is flawed, because you were taught that “Irregardless” was a word by your 1st grade math teacher.

Or, true story, that the words “Pen” “Pin” “When” and “Win” were all words that rhymed. Growing up in the south, yeah, they rhyme in our dialect. But not in real life. Dummies.

Julie Ferwerda is convinced that her “research” using a website run by a Philosophy major with no science background, but only a penchant for peddling conspiracies and for bolstering his sales of nutritional supplements is better suited that doctors for health advice and practice.

In turn, Julie steps up on her social media soapbox, and amplifies those lies, to the nuts who fall for any old thing as long as it feeds their pursuit of “their truth.” Then they complain that they are being censored for spewing the truth. “Whoa is me! I have the answers. I got them from a college philosophy major. Why don’t they listen to me?!!!”

What truth? A website that mediabiasfactcheck writes: “Overall, we rate GreenMedInfo a quackery level pseudoscience website based on claims not supported by science.

If Julie Ferwerda, or any number of the dim bulbs who like her and comment on her updates, spent a good two seconds searching their resources with an iota of 2nd grade research skills, they’d find that their resources are failed attempts at bad science, if that. They cannot be trusted.

A self-described skeptic falling for such ideas is a head scratcher. Anyone that writes, “My research is from the right source, and that’s why it’s getting censored …” is a danger to society.

I’m no doctor but if she’s being cornered by doctors for peddling conspiracy theories, surely the hospital where she works should fire her.

I linked to her Facebook above so you could read for yourself. She doesn’t want to hear your dissent. I’ve tried. You could show her a picture of her house burning down and she would tell you, “You’re lying.”

You could show her all the ways her information is demonstrably false, she’d be like, “My sources are not fake.”

Just because you wrote a book denouncing your long-held belief in hell, doesn’t make you a skeptic. Skepticism is an act of defiance, not one of gullibility.

This article by Biologist Jonathan Jarry is quite the read. He singlehandedly dismantles any ounce of trust in Sayer Ji. He writes:

“Modern scientific research is too complex for the average person to correctly interpret its findings and their implications. And it’s not even a “scientists” versus “non-scientists” dichotomy. I would have great difficulty assessing the quality of a paper in physiology, and my degree is in molecular biology which is not that dissimilar. A paper in physics, meanwhile, might as well be written in another language.

“A guy who majored in philosophy simply is not up to the task. Especially when he has a clear agenda.”

In a race between a bachelor of philosophy and a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology, who would you want on your team? Who would you cite as having reputable knowledge?

My vote is for the science advocate. Not the quack.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s