Tags: Coronavirus | coronavirus

Pandemic Fueled by the Rampage of Information Confusion

man with blindfold wandering through the words covid nineteen
(Marcos Calvo Mesa/Dreamstime)

By Friday, 24 April 2020 02:30 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The festival of tens of thousands, maybe millions of messages espousing scientific evidence, theories, political action plans, and conspiracies, anything anyone would want to know about the COVID-19, is in full swing.

The stars of the show extend to doctors who are chiefs of some or other clinic hospital or association as well as journalists, bloggers, and confined housewives and househusbands.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented planetary health and economic trauma, we are experiencing the natural consequence of a world immersed in information confusion where anything goes as long as it appears in writing, in a language we understand, and ends up on our computer or smartphone with some semblance of authority. The profusion of information confusion has been made worse by the Trump-era Fake News.

Farnad Manjoo in his book True Enough, written before the term Fake News was coined, demonstrates that this deluge of information does not just split our opinions, but has turned into a splintering of facts that each of us accepts or rejects depending on predetermined bias.

What started as a liberating escape from the monopoly of CBS, NBC and ABC on what the public perceived as important and accurate has been transformed into an America and then world that feasts on the explosion of websites, social media, radio hosts, blogs ... as a road to real freedom.

Even the scientific community gets bogged down in this mad information frenzy where truths, lies, approximate truths get mixed up in political opinion.

So as victims of this tragic crisis which is suddenly upon us, we need to know objective facts as the basis for what to do.

Which of these statements is true, or false, or maybe true?

  • The virus is seasonal.
  • The virus was fabricated in China in a laboratory.
  • China allowed the virus to spread as part of a conspiracy to undermine the West.
  • There are simple drugs to treat the virus but effective treatment is blocked by Big Pharma.
  • A second wave of the virus this autumn or winter will bring about consequences that are at least as serious as what we are experiencing now.
  • The United States has a fixed plan for the manufacturing capacity and availability of masks and ventilators.
  • The virus worsens because of an intestinal bacteria that becomes infected and therefore some antibiotics can be an effective treatment.
  • Chloroquine is an effective treatment.
  • Smokers are protected because nicotine acts as a shield.
  • A vaccination is the only solution to the continuing contagion from the virus.
  • The development of the vaccination and its distribution in the only effective way to stop the pandemic and cannot be envisioned before at least 12 months.
  • Confinement is not a means to save lives but only to spread the pressure on medical resources over time.
  • Less developed countries have fewer deaths because doctors are free to try methods that worked with previous viruses and are not handicapped by the need for scientific testing.
  • Sweden, without confinement, has fewer deaths than the rest of Europe outside Scandinavia.

More importantly there is a doubt as to whether we can rely on our policymakers, including our president, to determine which statements are true and to distinguish objective fact from what may only be true and from what is patently false.

This inability is, in itself, a contributor to the absence of interstate and international policy cooperation and an obstacle to finding medical and social/political solutions, thus turning what is already a planetary tragedy into a more virulent killer.

To have lived at a critical moment in history will be part of the inheritance that we pass on to future generations. Let us hope that as time moves forward we will overcome our information handicap and see strong and convincing ways to come out of this trauma with fewer than expected health and economic victims.

Mark L. Cohen has his own legal practice, and was counsel at White & Case starting in 2001, after serving as international lawyer and senior legal consultant for the French aluminum producer Pechiney. Cohen was a senior consultant at a Ford Foundation Commission, an advisor to the PBS television program "The Advocates," and Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He teaches U.S. history at the business school in Lille l’EDHEC. Read Mark L. Cohen's Reports — More Here.


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Even the scientific community gets bogged down in this mad information frenzy where truths, lies, approximate truths get mixed up in political opinion.
Friday, 24 April 2020 02:30 PM
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