As health officials and the public have worked hard to sort fact from fiction during an emerging and new health crisis, it has become clear that they — and we — do not always have accurate information at hand.
There are three big reasons for this.
The first one is not that anybody is necessarily trying to mislead. But the nature of health information, not to mention information in general, is that it frequently changes as we learn more.
What we think we know today will often change tomorrow. The government recommended against the general public wearing a masks — before it recommended they do so. Predictions of coronavirus deaths, how many, when, and where were wildly off the mark compared to the ultimate result (to date). It could be that the models were wrong or that we managed to change our fate. In any event, what we thought we knew at one point in time proved later to be untrue.
The second reason we do not always have accurate information at hand is a bit more sinister. It is because certain corporate or political interests are working hard — often spending a lot of money on their efforts — to control a certain narrative.
They liaison with the media, quasi-news media, health officials, government, and politicians. They publicize “studies” or “scientific reports” that are little more than slanted works designed to convince the public to believe something.
The final reason why factual information is often out of our reach is because it is simply censored, hidden or disappeared.
The influences who seek to control narratives in order to gain power or make money can reach with their tentacles into Facebook and make sure certain facts are labelled “false” and removed. They can do the same with Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia. They can commission a misleading “fact check” from any of a number of “fact checking” groups, designed to controversialize a set of true facts, the scientists unearthing them, or journalists reporting them.
For all of these reasons, it has become increasingly difficult to rely firmly on what we read and hear. And those controlling the narratives pretend it is we who are off base when we ask questions or address this reality. The wise information consumer knows better.