By Nate Doromal
With COVID-19 vaccines being deployed across the country, a plethora of media stories are condemning COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies, purportedly to increase vaccinations. This Chicago Tribune article is yet another example of the mainstream media deciding it is their responsibility to be the official purveyors of news, telling you which stories constitute conspiracy theories. Using the framework established in Parts 1-5 of this series, examine this piece to help make sense of the charge of “conspiracy theory.”
The Chicago Tribune piece exemplifies the strawman argument. Rather than presenting the actual concerns that most people have regarding the vaccine, the article presents deliberately extreme views such as “Satan’s microchips”, dispels them as fiction, and claims triumph in the end.
The language in the article is clearly weaponized to divert attention away from real public concerns, deemed as “vaccine fabrications” and “misinformation” despite the scientific inaccuracies in the article. Moreover, public concerns are deliberately painted as “extreme views” of a minority “anti-vaccine” group, using the sophisticated method of ad hominem fallacy, an indirect mockery to attack concerned individuals and pressure the reader into diminishing his own vaccine concerns.
US vs THEM … language that divides
The term “anti-vaccine” is a deliberate use of “us-versus-them” language to divide people. The article uses social pressure to discourage individuals from holding views that would place them in a purported minority group, without acknowledging just how common these concerns really are among the public. Ironically, rather than a minority, it seems the majority of the worldwide populace is questioning the vaccine. The article itself laments the fact that “only 47% of Americans plan to get the vaccine.”
Similarly, the term “Satan’s microchip” is also weaponized language and an ad hominem fallacy used to mock and diminish surveillance concerns. The article fails to mention that the term “Satan’s microchip” actually refers to real technology, as unveiled by Bill Gates in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to store vaccination records in a “quantum dot” below the skin. This “quantum dot” technology is akin to an implantable microchip.
The important question to ask (that the article does not) is: What are the actual concerns of those individuals who are questioning the COVID-19 vaccine? According to the Wall Street Journal, the leading concern is safety.
Normally, a vaccine can take up to a decade to develop, but Operation Warp Speed launched the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in around 8 months, releasing it under FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines uses a novel mRNA technology that utilizes the human body’s own cells to develop the antigen. As such, the injections are more akin to gene therapy than a traditional vaccine.
The safety testing done for the COVID-19 vaccines does not address long-term health effects. Is there a possibility for long-term health effects from the novel mRNA technology? Should novel medical technology be held to a higher standard of safety?
Safety Testing Not Done
According to Tal Brosh, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at Israel’s Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital, when asked about COVID vaccine safety, acknowledged that “there are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including local and systemic inflammatory responses that could lead to autoimmune conditions.”
Given the novelty of the mRNA technology, doesn’t the public have a right to question gene therapy applied in the context of preventing infectious diseases? Shouldn’t the regulators apply a higher standard of safety study before rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine at warp-speed?
The Chicago Tribune piece does not acknowledge the serious adverse effects observed in COVID vaccine safety trial participants. The phase 3 trials for Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca were stopped when participants experienced serious adverse effects. The vaccine manufacturers themselves warned that a certain proportion of people taking the vaccine would experience some unpleasant effects, including flu-like symptoms like muscle aches and fever.
Organizations like Children’s Health Defense have sounded the warning about acknowledged problems in the COVID-19 vaccine safety assessment methodology, but the Chicago Tribune piece never mentions them.
Some of these problems include the lack of testing the vaccine formulation against an inert saline placebo. The short safety observational periods fall way short of capturing the vaccine’s long-term effects, and there is a lack of safety studies regarding individual ingredients within the vaccines, including mercury, aluminum, and polyethylene glycol (PEG), which scientists say could be responsible for some of the severe allergic reactions that COVID-19 vaccine recipients are having.
Finally, the Chicago Tribune article never acknowledges the foremost important question: Who ultimately decides the risk/benefit of taking a vaccine? The article seems to say that this decision has already been made for us by the vaccine manufacturer and other authorities, and therefore any “rational” person would take the vaccine.
A critical assessment of benefits from the vaccine depends upon the amount of risk the individual faces from COVID-19. Given that the CDC’s data indicates great variability of risk profiles depending on age and pre-existing conditions, characterizing uniform benefit of these vaccines to the populace is not at all accurate.
And what of the risks from the vaccine?
As the COVID-19 vaccination campaign rolls out across the nation, already there are many reported cases of vaccine injuries. Journalist Sharyl Attkisson reported that, as of December 19, 2020, more than 5000 individuals had experienced a “health impact” event; this amounts to roughly 2.3% of COVID-19 vaccine recipients. There are reports of untimely deaths not too long after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine (such as the death of a Florida doctor several weeks post-vaccine receipt) and reports of hundreds of post-vaccine emergency room visits.
Fast forward to November 2021 and athletes who have received these vaccines on the playing fields. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. of the Children’s Defense Fund stated that the COVID vaccines are deadlier than all vaccines combined over the last 30 years.
- Shouldn’t the public have the right to know about COVID-19 vaccine injuries and account for the risks and benefits
- Shouldn’t a person be free to choose for themselves? These are fundamental health questions, and the Chicago Tribute piece glosses over all of them.
- In fact, the COVID vaccine decision is a multi-faceted one that is unique to each person.
Regarding the Bill Gates “quantum dot” implantable technology, at a time when surveillance is pervasive in our lives, shouldn’t the public have the right to question the moral and ethical implications of such technology? Moreover, what right does the Chicago Tribute have to question the validity of religious views of those against widespread digital-tagging of the populace?
The fundamental question at hand is whether people have the final say regarding taking the vaccine. In articles like these, the “correct” decision has already been decided for the American public by way of propaganda to promote the agendas of public health, government officials, and the pharmaceutical industry.
The weaponization of “conspiracy theory” involves the theory that crucial medical decisions are best made for us. Free inquiry and critical thinking are not allowed.
Conspiracy Inquiry – Calling Power into Account
Crucial to democracy is that the “system” is fair and transparent, and that the concerns of the minority opinion are given credence and discussed in the public sphere. The propaganda that uses the weaponization of “conspiracy theory” is an attempt to control public opinion and, in the long-run, ultimately harms democracy.
We now live in the age of information overload, a time when we are bombarded with advertisements from endless marketers trying to get our attention and mold our beliefs. While the Internet provides amazing amounts of information at our fingertips, authorities in power have an overt incentive to control that information and our perceptions surrounding it.
One of the most effective forms of propaganda is the weaponization of “conspiracy theory.” Propaganda is right before our eyes, but it often has kinder, gentler names like “public relations” or “fact-checks.” Even Internet search engine results are manipulated to drive ideology. The weaponization of “conspiracy theory” favors the power holders who use their power to create and define the dominant narratives promulgated in society, which then creates a self-justifying loop for their power. Inconvenient narratives are too often termed “conspiracy theory” to prevent unwanted, intrusive inquiry, therefore the individual must ascertain the veracity of a news article.
Be wary. Avoid seeing conspiracy at every turn.
To do so would be paranoia and would further exacerbate the tribalism that is affecting America. This is where the above framework can help us critically think through the media messages we are presented with. We should be willing to apply the same questions to our thinking, and we should uphold the same standard for the burden of proof to both sides.
How can our constitutional republic thrive in an era of overt propaganda used to limit public critical thinking? Societal views are so polarized, and as such, we should reflect upon just how much the power holders in authority allow us to exercise dissent and voice our own opinions.
Demand transparency when it is lacking. Point out situations in which information is omitted. And when authorities tell us we cannot think a certain way, make a stand to express your own unique thoughts. This is how we end up with a stronger democracy with greater equality for all.
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Nate Doromal is an activist and writer within the Vaccine Awareness and Vaccine Safety movement. He is a veteran software engineer, formerly with Google. Doromal now works in finance. He holds an MS and an MBA in Computer Science from the University of Chicago. He holds an Executive MBA from the Smartly Institute. He was originally trained on vaccines and vaccine activism by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny in her Mastering Vaccine Info Bootcamp. He has also studied immunological science extensively with Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych through her Building Bridges Course. He is a contributing writer for Children’s Health Defense.