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Some Covid Links

Reason‘s Jacob Sullum reports on a sadly predictable result of the reckless fueling of Covid hysteria and simultaneous deference to bureaucrats such as Fauci: “[U.S. Surgeon General] Vivek Murthy’s Demand for Data on COVID ‘Misinformation’ Is Part of a Creepy Crusade to Suppress Dissent.” Two slices:

Last July, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory that called for a “whole-of-society” effort to combat the “urgent threat to public health” posed by “health misinformation.” Today Murthy asked tech companies to do their part by turning over data on “COVID-19 misinformation,” including its sources and its propagation through search engines, social media platforms, instant messaging services, and e-commerce sites, by May 2.

While Murthy himself has no power to compel disclosure of that information, the companies have strong incentives to cooperate, since the Biden administration can make life difficult for them by filing lawsuits, writing regulations, and supporting new legislation. President Joe Biden has endorsed the campaign to suppress “misinformation,” going so far as to accuse social media platforms of “killing people” by allowing the spread of anti-vaccine messages. Murthy’s advisory, which defines misinformation to include statements that he deems “misleading” even when they are arguably or verifiably true, says the battle against it might include “appropriate legal and regulatory measures.”

All of this is more than a little creepy in a country where people have a constitutional right to express their opinions, even when they are outlandish and ill-founded. It is especially chilling given the administration’s highly elastic definition of misinformation, which includes criticism of controversial pronouncements by agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC itself has a long track record of misrepresenting scientific evidence and misleading the public.


While lockdowns are thankfully behind us, the debate about them presumably also would have triggered Murthy’s concerns. Stay-at-home orders and mass business closures were, after all, aimed at enforcing “social distancing,” and Murthy says questioning the importance of that precaution is a kind of misinformation. If you expressed skepticism about the empirical basis for such edicts, which were often arbitrary and medically dubious, you could easily have been found guilty of contradicting the “scientific consensus” based on the “best available evidence” at the time.

The notion that dissent from the official line on public health issues should be treated as an “urgent threat” to be addressed by a “whole-of-society” crusade, possibly including “legal and regulatory measures,” is fundamentally illiberal and inconsistent with freedom of speech. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki describes the administration’s demands for suppression of “misinformation” as “asks.” But that characterization is risible given the power that the executive branch wields over the companies whose “cooperation” it is seeking. Censorship by proxy is still censorship.

el gato malo is rightly frightened by the call by a U.S. government official for information on purveyors of “misinformation”:

man, they really do not quit, do they?

if you do not find this deeply chilling, you are made of sterner stuff than i.

since when is this anything resembling the power or purview of the surgeon general? this is truly a jaw-dropping overreach.

Lucia Sinatra reports on the different Covid responses – many of which are indisputably insane – by colleges and universities in the U.S. A slice:

As a parent of a first-year college student and co-founder of a national movement to end college Covid-19 vaccine mandates, I have had to manage this landscape, and it has prompted me to investigate how colleges differ in their mitigation efforts and which take a more sane approach.

At a large majority of colleges, students were promised a “return to normalcy” if they complied with Covid-19 protocols. They were forced to wear masks to protect the elderly and vulnerable in their community but that didn’t work because the virus was transmitted in spite of masks.

They were forced to take vaccines and boosters to protect themselves and others from infection but that didn’t work either because a large number of college students caught the virus after being fully vaccinated. At most universities, administrative puppeteers continue to manipulate their every move targeting them through fear tactics and unscientific narratives instead of well-reasoned analysis which I remind you is fully expected of college students each day in their classrooms.

(DBx: Alas, Ms. Sinatra’s last-quoted sentence isn’t quite correct. In far too many college classrooms today what is fully expected of students is emphatically not well-reasoned analysis but, instead, well-rehearsed emoting – emoting about social ills, many of which are largely, or even purely, imaginary.)

Joel Zinberg, writing at City Journal, is understandably unimpressed by the ‘scientific’ advice dispensed by the apparatchiks at the CDC. A slice:

The previous regulations set arbitrary and overly cautious thresholds. “Substantial” and “high” transmission—50 to 100 cases per 100,000, or a positivity rate between 8 percent and 10 percent; and 100 or more cases per 100,000 people, or a positivity rate of 10 percent or higher— classified nearly the entire country as high or substantial risk and thus subject to mask mandates. Focusing on transmission also communicated very little about the risk Covid-19 posed to individuals and communities. The likelihood that infection would progress to more severe disease such as hospitalization or death was a function largely of the percentage of vulnerable elderly people and people with underlying medical conditions in an area.

Brendan O’Neill talks with Matt Ridley about the likely origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Thorsteinn Siglaugsson reports on the Faroe Islands.

Ian Miller tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)