Another Look at What "Everybody Knows"

There is something strange going on when what "everybody knows" is based on only some of the available information

Quite a lot of people become upset when they become aware of any information counter to their beliefs – and then they sometimes want that information to be banned.

They call it misinformation.

And they believe misinformation should be censored for the good of all.

It is one thing for people not to want to look at ‘misinformation’ for themselves but it is quite another to want it banned so that others can’t look into it for themselves.

What we think we know may actually be completely wrong. It may not be wrong but to find out if it is we need to be curious about all information which seems to conflict with what we think we know.

If what we know is in fact true then why would we not want to look at the information which seems to dispute it? If it is indeed true, it will remain true through all investigation of any information that seems to conflict.  

Peter Doshi, Ph.D. embodies the scientific, investigative spirit in his five minute presentation before a panel of other medical researchers, which you can view or read the transcript of below.    

In it, he exposes that some beliefs which “everybody knows” are, in fact, not yet written in stone. He presents some conflicting information questioning ‘is this a pandemic of the unvaccinated’, ‘is the mRNA vaccine really a vaccine’, ‘does the COVID vaccine save lives’, and ‘should we discount what anti-vaxxers say’.

He’s not reaching any conclusions – but he is asking us to rethink the solidity of what “everybody knows” given the information he is presenting. He asks us to be curious about conflicting information rather than ceremoniously dismiss it because it doesn’t fit the conclusion that many want it to.

You can watch the video presentation here or read the transcript of his presentation below.

And then determine for yourself if there may just be relevant additional information to look at other than what we’re presented with on the mainstream news.

Please note that I attempted to link this video from two other sources only to later find the video was removed so decided to include the transcript in case it is banned entirely.

Transcript of Peter Doshi Ph.D presentation

Hello, I’m Peter Doshi and for identification purposes I’m on the faculty of the University of Maryland and editor of BMJ. I have no relevant conflict of interests and my comments today are my own.

In pharmacy school I teach a required course on how to critically appraise the medical literature. We train students on how to go beyond a study abstract and start to pick apart and critically assess biomedical studies, not just take them at face value.

 I want to use my five minutes here to harness that spirit of critical thinking. I’m saddened that we are super saturated as a society right now in the attitude of “everybody knows”  that has shut down intellectual curiosity and led to self-censorship.

So let me start with a few “everybody knows” examples that I’m not sure we should be so certain about.

“Everybody knows” that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. But if hospitalizations and deaths were almost exclusively occurring in the unvaccinated why would booster shots be necessary? Or why would the statistics be so different in the UK where most COVID hospitalizations and deaths are among the fully vaccinated, as Senator Johnson has said? There’s a disconnect there. There’s something to be curious about. There’s something not adding up and we should all be asking ‘is it true that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated’? What does that even mean?  Next slide please.

Then there’s this. “Everybody knows” that COVID vaccines save lives. In fact we’ve known this from early 2021. The clinical trials proved that to be the case as you can see here in the quote of a February article in the Journal of the American Medical Association – but is it true?

When that statement by prominent public health officials was penned there had been just one death- one death- across the 70,000 Pfizer and Moderna trial participants. Today we have more data and you can see that there were similar numbers of deaths in the vaccine and placebo groups. The trials did not show a reduction in death even for COVID deaths as opposed to other causes. The evidence is flimsy with just two deaths in the placebo group versus one in the vaccine group.

My point is not that I know the truth about what the vaccine can and cannot do. My point is that those who claim the trials show the vaccines were highly effective in saving lives were wrong. The trials did not demonstrate this. Next slide please.

Now let’s talk about anti-vaxxers. “Everybody knows” you should discount what anti-vaxxers have to say. But what does that term mean? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as, quote, “a person who opposes the use of vaccines or regulations mandating vaccination.”  The first part of the definition I expected but the second part stunned me.  There are entire countries from the United Kingdom to Japan which do not mandate childhood vaccines. Both achieve high levels of vaccination just not through regulations mandating vaccines. There are no mandates there and I would wager that a large minority perhaps a majority of the world’s population meets the definition here of an anti-vaxxer.

Another definition worth checking is vaccine. Next slide please. I am one of the academics that argues that these mRNA products which everybody calls vaccines are qualitatively different than standard vaccines. And so I found it fascinating to learn that Merriam-Webster changed its definition of vaccine early this year. MRNA products did not meet the definition of vaccine that has been in place for 15 years at Merriam-Webster but the definition was expanded such that mRNA products are now vaccines.

I highlight this to ask a question. How would you feel about mandating COVID vaccines if we didn’t call them vaccines? What if these injections were called drugs instead? So here’s the scenario - we have this drug and we have evidence that it doesn’t prevent infection nor does it stop viral transmission but the drug is understood to reduce your risk of becoming very sick and dying of COVID. Would you take a dose of this drug every 6 months or so for possibly the rest of your life if that’s what it took for the drug to stay effective? Would you not just take this drug yourself but support regulations mandating that everybody else around you take this drug? Or would you say, hold on a sec. Maybe you’d say if that’s all the drug does why not use a normal medicine instead? The kind we take when we’re sick and want to get better? And why would you mandate it?

The point is just because we call it a vaccine doesn’t mean we should assume these new products are just like all other childhood vaccines which get mandated. Each product is a different product and if people are okay with mandating something simply because it’s a vaccine and we mandate other vaccines so why shouldn’t we mandate this, I think it’s time to inject some critical thinking into the conversation and that is what I hope we’re doing today.

Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of Truth.

Albert Einstein

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