Instigator / Pro
8
1511
rating
25
debates
68.0%
won
Topic
#4359

The political and media obsession with "misinformation" is harming scientific progress.

Status
Finished

The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
0
6
Better sources
4
4
Better legibility
2
2
Better conduct
2
2

After 2 votes and with 6 points ahead, the winner is...

Savant
Parameters
Publication date
Last updated date
Type
Standard
Number of rounds
3
Time for argument
Two days
Max argument characters
10,000
Voting period
One week
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Open
Contender / Con
14
1693
rating
19
debates
100.0%
won
Description

Definitions:

Political: Promotion of, or dissemination by elected officials, candidates, and unelected government positions, such as public health.
Media: Includes but is not limited to mainstream outlets, traditional television, and radio, also including modern digital outlets, including Youtube, Twitter, etc.
Misinformation: The categorization of false or misleading information that is spread intentionally or unintentionally.
Obsession: A persistent, and excessive fixation on a particular issue.

If you want to clarify or negotiate a definition, please do so either by DM, or through the comments.

The BOP is mutual. I must demonstrate a negative impact on scientific progress, which can be quantified, from the prevalence of "misinformation", as propagated by political and media interests. Both sides must actively refute the others claims, as well as present at least one argument.

Round 1
Pro
#1
Thank you for the opportunity to have this debate Savant.   I am going to be light hearted in this, and try a new style.

Science, the noble pursuit of knowledge, where the only thing you can be certain of is uncertainty. Take it from Newton and Einstein, two of the brightest bulbs in the chandelier of scientific history, who both had their "oops" moments. Sir Isaac Newton, as smart as he was, couldn't quite wrap his head around the quirks of gravity (1). Add to that Einstein, who once thought the universe was static, only to be proven wrong when evidence of an expanding cosmos came to light (1). If these geniuses can be mistaken, who are we to claim absolute truth in science? Which goes to the crux of this debate.  The use of the term "misinformation", and its impact on scientific progress.

I would define scientific progress is the iterative accumulation of  knowledge and understanding, through the scientific method, which calls for testing and refining hypotheses through empirical observation, experimentation, and analysis. It also involves the continuous improvement of research methods, techniques, and tools, with collaborative open discourse. 

It is without question, passively observable by anyone who has a pulse, has drastically increased the use of the term Misinformation, and we see that echoed in the  political and government arenas.  Misinformation was the word of the year in 2018.  I had never really heard of the word in general conversation  prior to the Trump years.   However let us be clear, calling something misinformation, dos not mean it is untrue.  We established above, that real truth can be very hard to find, and take significant effort.

When the politicians and media use the tag "misinformation", there is a significant social response.  The principals of the media, are no longer that of neutral reporting based on unbiased facts.  Media (as defined in the description) have turned into advocates for political or social positions, rather than the unbiased presenter of what is known.  We see governments around the world, cosy up to media giants, such as in Canada, with the untruthful and biased reporting about the Trucker convoy, to the US government and its love affair with big tech's ability to push their message and stifle dissenters, as we saw in the Twitter Files.(3)

If we look at COVID, as an example, Dr. Fauci would continuously use the word "Science", as did Trudeau, who would say "We are following the Science".  That is great to hear as a citizen, who may have very little scientific knowledge.  However, for critical thinkers, it was a potential concern.  The concern arising from, and with respect to the void of silence when asked, what data are you relying on.  The basic essence of open discourse.  The principal of scientific analysis is on openness and discussion.  The Government instructed media organizations around the world, they must tow their line on COVID.  

We saw things like, the Lab Leak Theory, labelled as misinformation faster than a pangolin trying to evade being on a dinner plate.  People who talked about it, were banned, and shut down. The media would call it a conspiracy theory.  Scientists who went on the record, to question that position, were vilified.  One of the earliest proponents of the lab-leak theory is Dr. Li-Meng Yan, a virologist who fled China in April 2020 after researching the origins of COVID-19. Dr. Yan argued that the virus was artificially created in a laboratory and deliberately released.  (@DrLiMengYAN1). She left China, because of her position and public stance on the origin of the virus.

That stifles scientific debate.  We saw the same situation in the US, with those Dr's who signed the Great Barrington Declaration. (@gbdeclaration), where we saw 46 esteemed scientists from around the world, write about their concerns on how COVID care is being applied.  Each of them, and of notable mention  Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, of Stanford, who was ridiculed, and denied funding for further research, because of his views on the public policy around treatment of COVID, and in particular to him, the issues related to lock downs. 

The conversation was halted by the powers that be, because they categorized counter narratives, to be "misinformation".    Remember when it was information to say the vaccine did not stop the spread?  Or that the vaccine would eradicate the virus?  Or that COVID would be endemic and just be another cold?  Or that the vaccine caused side effects? Or that there were no valid treatments for covid, except for what the government said?  You can say it all now.  But you couldn't then. Dr's who went against those declarations, and see the truth and the substance behind the established narrative, were systematically targeted by their professional colleges.  They include 40 Doctors in Ontario Canada, that are under investigation for their COVID vaccine  opinions. (4)

This all stems from government, and media categorizing inconvenient positions, or concepts contrary to their objectives, regardless of truth, as misinformation.  When ONE Dr. is silenced, that impacts scientific progress.  When discourse and open conversation is silenced, that impacts scientific progress. When Universities are handcuffed to certain research positions because of the politics around the Government position, that impacts scientific progress.  I have shown that governments and media do categorize  misinformation.  I have shown it has impacted scientific progress.


Con
#2
Preamble:
To meet my burden of proof, I must show that the media obsession with misinformation has a net neutral or net positive effect on scientific progress. In this debate, I will argue that the benefits of political and media and fixation on misinformation, with regards to scientific progress, greatly outweigh the harms.


1. Rejecting False Scientific Claims
Modus Ponens
  • P1: If misinformation is harmful to scientific progress, strategies that effectively combat misinformation are helpful to scientific progress.
  • P2: Misinformation is harmful to scientific progress.
  • P3: Media and political efforts to combat misinformation are effective.
  • C1: Therefore, political and media obsession with misinformation is helpful to scientific progress.
P1
Fairly self-evident.

P2
A systematic review found that misinformation is highly prevalent on social media and has an adverse effect on public trust of scientific findings.

P3
Evidence from simultaneous studies in multiple countries found that fact-checking efforts effectively reduced the prevalence of false beliefs, with little variation by country.


2. Increasing Trust in Scientific Institutions
Modus Ponens
  • P1: Increased trust in scientific institutions is helpful to scientific progress.
  • P2: Media and political efforts to combat misinformation lead to increased trust in scientific institutions.
  • C1: Therefore, political and media obsession with misinformation is helpful to scientific progress.
P1
Most scientific research relies on government funding. Hence, public distrust of scientific institutions is likely to lead to less research getting done. Trust in scientific institutions also played a key role in countries’ pandemic responses, and likely had a strong impact on government funding toward the development of vaccines.

P2
Countering misinformation plays a key role in increasing public trust of scientific experts. Misinformation that goes uncorrected leads to increased skepticism of scientific institutions.


3. Keeping Other Media and Politicians Accountable
Modus Ponens
  • P1: If false scientific claims by the media and politicians are harmful to scientific progress, strategies that effectively combat these claims are helpful to scientific progress.
  • P2: False scientific claims by the media and politicians are harmful to scientific progress.
  • P3: Political and media fixation on misinformation can effectively combat false claims made by competing politicians and media outlets.
  • C1: Therefore, political and media obsession with misinformation is helpful to scientific progress.
P1
Fairly self-evident.

P2
Media outlets have made a number of false claims that are detrimental to scientific progress:

P3
The only reason we know when one media outlet lies is that another outlet calls them out. Crowdsourced efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic allowed false claims to be debunked. Speeches by politicians can be fact-checked in real time. Fact-checking is essentially just providing people with more accurate information.


Rebuttals:
The Media Still can be Dishonest Without Labeling Opposing Views as Misinformation
The media can still lie about the vaccine without labeling opposing views as misinformation—in fact, the media doesn’t have to address opposing views at all. For example, Fox News lied about climate science long before the current obsession with misinformation.

Oppressive Governments Do not Need to Categorize Opposing View as Misinformation in Order to Censor Them
China has been censoring people since forever. The US government has been denying funding to scientists since forever. Governments can still silence opposition without labeling them as misinformation.

Correcting False Media Narratives Requires a Focus on Correcting False Information
If the media lies about the covid vaccine, that is misinformation by definition. However, the current focus on misinformation allows these claims to be corrected by social media users or competing media outlets (all of which are part of “media”).

Recall the modus ponens from my third argument:
  • P1: If false scientific claims by the media and politicians are harmful to scientific progress, strategies that effectively combat these claims are helpful to scientific progress.
  • P2: False scientific claims by the media and politicians are harmful to scientific progress.
  • P3: Political and media fixation on misinformation can effectively combat false claims made by competing politicians and media outlets.
  • C1: Therefore, political and media obsession with misinformation is helpful to scientific progress.
Being Disagreed With Does Not Equal Being Censored
As I pointed out earlier, oppressive governments can censor people without a justification. But in the United States, where people are ridiculed for making unlikely claims, media disagreement does not automatically equal censorship. Some social media platforms banned people who disagreed with the consensus, but there were still plenty of outlets for conspiracy theorists—Parler, Fox News, Epoch Times, etc.

Most “Misinformation” Actually is Misinformation
Evidence still does not indicate that the covid virus was released deliberately. Evidence does not indicate that the vaccine was a population-control measure implemented by Bill Gates. Evidence does not indicate that the earth is flat or that the moon landing was faked. Evidence does not indicate that Global Warming is a hoax.

Round 2
Pro
#3
Thank you for your response.  First I would like to make something very clear.  The debate subject was not about a risk reward balance.  Nowhere does the description say that a net benefit needs to be analysed.  This was deliberate.  This is a very complex subject, and I only am addressing one aspect of it.  Does the obsession with categorizing misinformation have a negative impact on science.  The debate is not about if misinformation management is overall more beneficial.

To keep this structured, I shall retort in the exact format my friend has narrated in.  

Preamble Rebuttal:

My friend has accepted that the media has an obsession with misinformation, however does not reference the definition of misinformation, and that being the categorization of misinformation.  My friend further fails to address the governments role in the categorization of misinformation.  Further my friend erroneously argues that the aforementioned and accepted fixation, is of a net benefit.  I say erroneously, as that is not this debate.  I would be happy to debate with them on that issue at a different time.

With the utmost respect, the attempted pivot of the argument is a strawman.  My friend has tried to refrain the question, into one that would require a different defense base.  

1. Rejecting False Scientific Claims - Rebuttal

P1 - REBUTTAL
My friend asserts "if misinformation is harmful..."    and declares the point "self evident".   The issue of this debate is the categorization..  that being what is called misinformation.  The entire concept is based on the definition of misinformation, which I have argued is precarious at best, because no information is always found.  Yet my friend has appeared to assume that something labelled misinformation is a bad thing, and needs to be remedied, because that is "self-evident"

P2-REBUTTAL
My friend refers to a  systematic review  The review is clearly biased for two reasons.  1st.  It does not define what misinformation is.  In fact looking through the articles it references, the term misinformation is that information for which the government or media have labelled as such.  This is exemplified by the second note, being in the summary findings, it states "an increase in vaccination hesitancy."  We know now that the vaccines did not do, what was told. So those who were hesitant, and asking questions, were deemed unscientific, or conspiracy theorists, when in-fact some of them were trying to engage in legitimate scientific discourse.  Furthermore 11 of the 17 published reviews state there was a conflict of interest. (column 16) The scientific method demands the curiosity and continuous questioning of presumed results, and this review shows fundamental flaws that should draw scrutiny. 

P3-REBUTTAL
My friend presents this study simultaneous studies in multiple countries to support the effectiveness of combatting misinformation with fact checking. Alas this article suffers from a similar problem to the last, that being the assumption of what misinformation actually is in the abstract, is very misleading from the actual study and the contents.   This study focused on very localized questions in 4 different countries.  One of the comments for the UK market was "Vaccines might cause cancer.".   That is an example of something deemed 'misinformation".  We have no longterm studies on mRNA vaccines, so we do not know that answer.  The statement does not say they do, or which ones might.  It is a very generic open statement, that is absolutely correct.   Yet it is tagged as misinformation.  Therein people are told... "we have the answers, nothing more to look at here."   How does that help science?  It does not, it impairs it.

C1: REBUTTAL
My friend has started with a strawman argument, that is not relevant to what is being asked.  In doing so, they have highlighted some of the exact issues that we are dealing with. This debate is about the negative impact on Science, not a cost-benefit balance.  And even in presenting they strawman, they failed to demonstrate a cost-benefit benefit.

2. Increasing Trust in Scientific Institutions - REBUTTAL

P1-REBUTTAL
My friend is under that mistaken belief that that scientific research relies on government funding.  In this study we see that NIH funding for 18 FDA approved treatments in 2000, accounted for about $600M, whereas the private sector accounted for $44B .  My friend draws a conclusion with no basis in fact.  Specifically

"public distrust of scientific institutions is likely to lead to less research getting done."
My friend has referred to a study that infers  trust in scientific institutions played a key role in countries’ pandemic responses.  That "study" is funded by Bill Gates, and was issued in 2020.  Hardly a reasonable time to know the effectiveness of the pandemic response. And as we saw in Canada, the government made travel policies and then tried to find evidence to support those policies (vaccine travel ban).  

C1- REBUTTAL
Increased trust in Scientific Institutions has no bearing on the subject matter of this debate.  If my friend is trying to insinuate that it is important to be aggressive against "misinformation" in order to preserve the integrity of scientific institutions, is unfounded and irrelevant. 

3. Keeping Other Media and Politicians Accountable  - REBUTTAL

P1 - REBUTTAL
Another claim by my friend of something that is self evident.  When Biden said if you get the COVID vaccine you cant catch it or spread it.  A complete and absolute lie.  Not misinformation.  A factual fallacy.   Yet those who criticized that, were censored and vilified.  No one has held him, or Birx, or Trump, or any other politician responsible.  In fact some of those Dr's, who put their hand up and said "excuse me...  what about", are facing disciplinary hearings with their colleges.  IN fact to double down on this, California passed a law requiring Dr's to follow the "consensus".  Yet Newsom said, when he signed it into law, "COVID-19 is a quickly evolving area of science that in many aspects eludes consensus,"

So COVID-19 is an evolving area of science....  All science is evolving.  The narrative passed down, early on, under the guise of misinformation, is really just a "follow what we say now, until we say otherwise".   Time to hold them accountable for sure.

P2-REBUTTAL
My friend claims that media publishes unproven scientific claims.  I agree 100%.  Media takes things out of context all the time.  The spin and they shape the narrative to fit their objective.   An example being Ivermectin.  CNN and MSNBC specifically referring to it as a horse dewormer.  Sure it is.  But that is not what it was invented for and won a Nobel prize for.  And in fact there are 100's of studies that show ivermectin effectiveness in COVID, yet it was shut down.  My friend has proved my point.  The irresponsible nature of the media causes significant harm, including scientific.

P3-REBUTTAL
My friend claims:

Fact-checking is essentially just providing people with more accurate information.

That I disagree with as a blanket statement.  Sure some "fact-checking" can be good.  What we saw with the "fact-checking" was a lot of spin doctoring.  Example, George Soros has been accused of funding DA Bragg's campaign.  The fact checkers say he didn't.  Which is technically true.  Soros gave $1M to the Color of Change PAC, days after Bragg was the democratic nominee. What we both agree is that neither of us know the story, and one persons fact, may another spin doctor baby.

Counter - Rebuttals:
The Media Still can be Dishonest Without Labeling Opposing Views as Misinformation
I agree. How does this apply to the Topic?

Oppressive Governments Do not Need to Categorize Opposing View as Misinformation in Order to Censor Them
I agree. How does this apply to the Topic?

If the media lies about the covid vaccine, that is misinformation by definition.
That is incorrect.  Lying is disinformation.  Check original definition of misinformation

Being Disagreed With Does Not Equal Being Censored
I agree. How does this apply to the Topic?  I will add that being censored is when one prevents someone from accessing or providing content on an issue. Labelling something as misinformation is not in itself censorship.  It causes censorship as we saw with COVID.  At one point we had a list of things you cant say, and now you can say them, as Newsom says "evolving".  Then why jump out of the gates with a misinformation label to start with?  Why not wait?

Most “Misinformation” Actually is Misinformation
This conclusion is made with absolutely no reference or support. My friend has not once described what information is versus misinformation, and that is the crux of the debate.

Conclusion

My friend has tried to strawman this debate.  They have focused on elements that are not part of the overall conversation.  In addition they actually make some admissions on the false nature of the media as a whole.  They referenced articles that do not apply, or show conflicts and contrary information. 

Con have no established that The political and media obsession with "misinformation" is not harming scientific progress, wherein I have demonstrated the political and media obsession with "misinformation" is harming scientific progress.

Con
#4
Framework:
Definitions
I am using misinformation to mean false or misleading information that is spread intentionally or unintentionally, and “misinformation” (in quotes) as information that is categorized as such by the media and politicians, which is consistent with the resolution. I will continue to use the terms this way as I think it’s important to distinguish information that is actually false from information that is claimed to be false.

My Case
I stated in my opening that the benefits of political and media fixation on misinformation, with regards to scientific progress, greatly outweigh the harms. That is—the net impact of fixation on misinformation on scientific progress is positive. Hence, the political and media “obsession” with misinformation does not, on balance, harm scientific progress. This supports my side of the resolution.


1. Rejecting False Scientific Claims:
P1
The premise here was that “If misinformation is harmful to scientific progress, strategies that effectively combat misinformation are helpful to scientific progress,” which is a fairly obvious conclusion. For example, “If x is harmful to scientific progress, efforts that successfully combat x are helpful to scientific progress” is fairly self-evident.

PRO can argue that efforts to categorize and combat “misinformation” do not actually counter misinformation, but that deals with P3.

P2
Misinformation in this review was categorized as claims not supported by scientific evidence. They were based on authoritative sources such as PubMed®, Epistemonikos, Cochrane Library of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register, Embase®, CINAHL, etc. These sources probably aren’t perfect 100% of the time (no source is), but they’re definitely more accurate in aggregate than people speculating on Twitter.

To use PRO’s analogy, Isaac Newton and Einstein didn’t understand everything, but we should trust criticisms of their work by other people who study science, not by random social media users who aren’t using the scientific method. Expert consensus remains the most accurate method of determining which information is accurate.

We were given some false information on vaccines by the media and politicians (again, misinformation that should be corrected)—but the positives of vaccines still outweigh the negatives. The conspiracies arguing that vaccines were a net harm, such as the microchip theory, were quite clearly outlandish and not based on scientific assessment.

The review does not state that the reviewers had a conflict of interest but that they had a potential conflict of interest, such as receiving funding. Plenty of scientific papers require funding, so this is not really significant, unless my opponent can show that these papers used a flawed methodology. PRO commits the genetic fallacy here, assuming that a study produces erroneous results due to the opinions of the person conducting it.

P3
Again, misinformation in this study is classified as claims that are not supported by scientific evidence, such as “salt water kills covid”. The claim that “Vaccines might cause cancer” is false, as mRNA vaccines do not alter DNA.

C1
The benefit to scientific progress is that people become more likely to trust scientific authorities who actually use the scientific method to draw conclusions.


2. Increasing Trust in Scientific Institutions:
P1
The NIH is not the only group doing scientific research; in fact, they only do biomedical research. So PRO is clearly cherry picking here. Most university research is funded by the government. (And US universities lead the world in scientific research.) Hence, less trust in scientific institutions is likely to lead to less scientific research getting done.

PRO criticizes the study I cited for being funded by Bill Gates but does not demonstrate that any of the methodology used in the study is flawed. They then give their opinion about Canada, which they have not provided evidence for. Their opinion about Canada is also irrelevant to whether increased trust in scientific institutions leads to greater funding for those institutions—as they’ve mentioned several times, we’re only talking about the effect on scientific progress here, not total net benefit.

P2
PRO has not countered this.

C1
Countering misinformation leads to increased trust in scientific institutions, which in turn is beneficial for scientific progress. Both of my premises here are well-substantiated and support my side of the resolution.


3. Keeping Other Media and Politicians Accountable:
P1 & P2
PRO agrees.

P3
If “fact-checking” is inaccurate, then it’s not fact-checking by definition. I agree that not everything purporting to be “fact-checking” actually considers facts accurately, but my claim here is that a focus on misinformation makes legitimate fact-checking easier and more prevalent. All the claims made by the media about vaccinations and the pandemic go unchallenged unless someone is willing to correct them.

When PRO points out lies told by politicians, that’s fact-checking. When social media users do it, it’s due to a media focus on combating misinformation. So if PRO wants false media claims to be debunked, they should support a focus on categorizing false information as such.

Again, third parties can correct politicians in real time. Media outlets criticize their competitors. This is all part of the focus on combating misinformation. Since politicians and the media are prone to lie, it’s better to have two sides to a story rather than one. Would you rather take every story at face value or have competing media outlets argue so you can find the truth yourself?


Rebuttals:
“How does this apply to the Topic?”
PRO argues that categorization of certain information as misinformation leads to media dishonesty and government censorship. I argue that media dishonesty and government censorship happen all the time and are not a result of misinformation.

“That is incorrect.  Lying is disinformation.  Check original definition of misinformation”
The description defines misinformation as information categorized as false or misleading. If the media lies about something and Twitter users debunk it, the false information is disinformation by definition. Something can be both disinformation and misinformation by the definition given.

“Labelling something as misinformation is not in itself censorship.  It causes censorship as we saw with COVID.”
There’s no evidence for a causal link here, since government authorities will use a plethora of excuses to censor people. In the United States, dissidents were still not censored since platforms such as Parler exist. In China, I’m pretty sure they would be censored no matter what. So I dispute the claim that labeling something as misinformation causes censorship.

“This conclusion is made with absolutely no reference or support.”
I gave my definitions at the top of this round, so hopefully that clears things up. As for evidence, here are a number of claims that are correctly categorized as misinformation: 1 2 3. Again, I think it’s self-evident that a consensus of scientific experts will usually be more accurate than the opinions of social media users.

“My friend has tried to strawman this debate.”
No, I think I’ve made it pretty clear that efforts to categorize false information as “misinformation” is a net positive for scientific progress, which upholds my burden of proof.

Round 3
Pro
#5
Definition - REBUTTAL

I think it’s important to distinguish information that is actually false from information that is claimed to be false.

That is the exact point.  Who decides what is actually false?  I have demonstrated that the government and media obsess over this categorization, and it has a negative impact on science.

My Case - REBUTTAL
My friend is still arguing something that is not the crux of this debate.  I am happy to debate my friends position in a different debate.  If the media/governments obsession with categorizing misinformation has had a negative impact on science, which I have shown, then I have proven my point.

1. Rejecting False Scientific Claims:
P1 - REBUTTAL
Once again, there is a categorization of anything claimed as being misinformation is in fact bad, and needs to be addressed.  Not everything claimed as misinformation is, and that categorization stifles discourse, which impairs the scientific method, by not being objective, and not exploring other elements.

P2 - REBUTTAL
My friend has an appeal to authority here, claiming that because the articles reviewed come from some respected names, they are infallible.  I have demonstrated that the scientific method does not mean accept one point.  It means analyze that point, and look for potential issues, such as conflicts of interest, motives, poor conclusions, group methods, the statistical processes etc.   I showed 100s of studies on the effectiveness of Ivermectin for COVID, yet the media and government categorize all of them as "misinformation" without a substantive explanation as to why.  Yet there was only one study done for Paxlovid, and it was deemed a "game changer", which it turns out it was not.


random social media users who aren’t using the scientific method.

To be clear, nowhere have I said that the random people on social media, should be deemed persuasive evidence.  My friend fails to identify one key aspect of the scientific method, which is questioning.  Why is someone on Twitter, who as the ARR for the Pfizer vaccine is less than 0.3%, why should there be a mandate, be considered misinformation? 


Expert consensus remains the most accurate method of determining which information is accurate.
While I get this point, I do not agree with it.  And just because there is a perceived consensus, does not mean that further questioning and development is not warranted.  It appears as if my friend is saying, because there is a perceived consensus, then anything else is automatically false, or any statement to the contrary is misinformation.  This is absurd.  This is not the scientific method.  If we accepted consensus, then we would still think the sun orbits the earth. 

Another problem with this position is the definition of "Expert".  Who determines if someone has the authority to opine on something?  My 5 year old asked me the other day "Why don't big buildings and malls have gardens on their roofs.  Would that give more food, and make more spots for bees and butterflies?"  He is not an "Expert" of buildings, or gardening.  Yet he brings up a good point, and that inquiry is what science is about.

This is not a debate on the efficacy of the COVID vaccine, which I will be happy to debate him on a separate point.  My friend has admitted that the media provided false information.  To my point, the media and government took a position, and then labelled any conflicting opinion as misinformation, even if it was correct.  This had a negative impact on scientific progress. 


 potential conflict of interest, such as receiving funding.
The potential conflict comes from who the funding came from.  That is what a conflict is.  When 7 out of 11 show a potential conflict, you need to give pause.  I did not say the review was useless.  However the scientific method requires scrutiny.  In fact it is my friend who is exercising a genetic fallacy through their argument by implying that because the review is from a good source, it needs to be true.  

P3 - REBUTTAL
The claim that “Vaccines might cause cancer” is false, as mRNA vaccines do not alter DNA.
That assumption is wrong on two levels.  The first being that the cancer can only be caused by the mRNA.  Who is to say that the excess amount of spike protein don't cause cancer, or another ingredient?  No one can know yet because not enough time has passed.  It is that simple.   So the statement vaccines might cause cancer, is absolutely true, because any declaration to the contrary is assumptive.

The second is the claim that the mRNA do not alter DNA.  I am not claiming they do, I certainly know, that we don't know.  I know this because Pfizer said so, and because there are studies that say otherwise (see below).

On December 10th 2020, the FDA had an open online meeting and discussion , the transcript is in the link.  On page 247. Dr. Moore asks Pfizer:

"Do we know anything about whether the modifiedRNAs undergo salvage, could be reincorporated into, forinstance, DNA, or if cellular reverse transcriptasescould possibly amplify them or turn them into DNA?"

The Answer, by Dr. Dormitzer

"Although it's theoretically possible for areverse transcriptase to act on RNA, we think that the probability is actually quite low that this wouldoccur. mRNAs have no signals that would make thempreferential substrates for a reverse transcriptase.They are present transiently in literally low amounts. And we actually have very recent dataindicating that actually, it's a very modest amount ofRNA that gets into the cell. We actually don't see ithitting the nucleus where this would occur so theredon't seem to be any greater likelihood that a vaccineRNA would end up reverse transcribed than a cellularRNA."

So at the time Pfizer said they did not know, but things pointed to a good conclusion.  I accept that, at the time.  It is persuasive, but not conclusive.  Then we see studies like:

 mRNA1 : "To our surprise, S mRNAs also translocate into the nucleus. S mRNA colocalizes with S protein, aiding the nuclear translocation of S mRNA.’"
mRNA2 : "We also show that BNT162b2 mRNA is reverse transcribed intracellularly into DNA in as fast as 6 h upon BNT162b2 exposure.’"
mRNA3 : "This discrepancy becomes even more puzzling if one considers previous work on the molecular and evolutionary aspects of retroposition in murine and human populations that clearly documents the frequent integration of mRNA molecules into genomes, including clinical contexts."

My point is that with the labelling of information like mRNA can modify your DNA as misinformation,  is not correct.  Often things are labelled misinformation because "There is no evidence to support...."    That does not make it misinformation.  It makes it a speculation.  What is wrong with speculating?  That is the fundamental principal of the scientific method.

2. Increasing Trust in Scientific Institutions: - REBUTTAL

This entire section is irrelevent.  For the judges, they will see, that contrary to my friends contention, I did put a source for my Canadian travel ban comment.  They put in a ban, that was not even supported by their own departments.  And they claimed it was put in for "science"

3. Keeping Other Media and Politicians Accountable: - REBUTTAL

Again, this is a justification for the obsession of categorization.  My friend agrees that not all fact-checking is legitimate.  Which proves that the determination of fact, from fiction is subjective and ever evolving.  My contention is that the media and governments jump to conclusions approach is supported by tagging anything contrary to that conclusion as misinformation, and that has a negative impact on science. 

Would you rather take every story at face value or have competing media outlets argue so you can find the truth yourself?
Exactly my point.  But tagging something as misinformation is not about the search for truth.

Closing Remarks:

We have both agreed that the media and governments lie.  We both agree there is an obsession with categorizing of "misinformation".  I have established there there is actual harm to the scientific method from this.   Recall, the scientific method requires scrutiny, open dialogue, the ability to ask questions, and to consider alternatives.  When media organizations like Twitter, and Youtube block content based on what the CDC has declared, that shuts down the ability to have those conversations.

My friend would have you believe that it is better to shut people down, then let some bad information through.  Yet then they say , the quote above about "find the truth yourself".  Which is it?  How can one find the truth, when you are blocked, and vilified for asking questions contrary to an established narrative. Finding the truth is science.  Therefore science was and is being harmed by this shutdown misinformation approach.

My friend demonstrates this unequivocally by declaring that "The claim that “Vaccines might cause cancer” is false, as mRNA vaccines do not alter DNA."
They can't know that.  And I showed 3 papers that say otherwise, with respect to mRNA entering the nucleus.  Are those papers correct?   I don't know, however they are persuasive, and at the very least support a we don't know position.  

The focus on the debate is "The political and media obsession with "misinformation" is harming scientific progress." and I have shown this to be true.


Con
#6
Framework:
My Case
The resolution here is that “The political and media obsession with “misinformation” is harming scientific progress.” I must argue that the effect of this “obsession” is not harmful, but neutral or positive.

On Balance
Even if my opponent had shown that some harms occur due to the categorization of “misinformation” (which they haven’t), we could not say that “The political and media obsession with “misinformation” is harming scientific progress” if the benefits to scientific progress outweigh the harms. Some doctors kill people, but we would not say that “Doctors are harmful to public health,” because on balance, doctors are helpful to public health, not harmful.


1. Rejecting False Scientific Claims:
Modus Ponens
  • P1: If misinformation is harmful to scientific progress, strategies that effectively combat misinformation are helpful to scientific progress.
  • P2: Misinformation is harmful to scientific progress.
  • P3: Media and political efforts to combat misinformation are effective.
  • C1: Therefore, political and media obsession with misinformation is helpful to scientific progress.
Final Points
The information categorized as misinformation in the studies linked is not people asking reasonable questions, but people making claims that are contrary to scientific evidence. Finding new information is good, I agree, but lying about evidence that has been found by reliable sources is not following the scientific method.

Green roofs require extra cost and maintenance, further indicating that building design should be left to people who understand the pros and cons of various construction designs, and not to five-year-olds.

The genetic fallacy involves rejecting scientific claims based solely on the people responsible for them. I accept these claims because they are not opinions, they are arrived at by following the scientific method and conducting a formal study, which scientific experts know how to do. My opponent “gives pause” here, but has not found any flaws in the actual methodology used in the study.

The claim that “Vaccines might cause cancer” is false and contrary to scientific evidence—it indicates that we have some scientific reason to believe that vaccines might cause cancer, when the science shows exactly the opposite—that they don’t cause cancer.

The spike proteins do not shut down double-strand repair and can’t cause cancer because the cells producing them get killed off a few days later. Spike proteins only have noticeable effects if they are persistently created in a severe, ongoing defect. Furthermore, the proteins from the vaccine do not affect the nucleus. Even the researchers who first studied the effects on spike proteins saw no reason to label the vaccines as a potential cancer risk.

The mRNA studies PRO linked to don’t give them the evidence they want—mRNA being translocated into the nucleus is not the same as altering DNA. mRNA is very fragile, and the reverse transcription process my opponent is describing does not alter the host cell’s DNA. This is because the mRNA from the vaccines is engineered not to enter the nucleus or alter DNA. The first article my opponent links to is about mRNA from SARS-CoV-2, which is not engineered in the same way.


2. Increasing Trust in Scientific Institutions:
Modus Ponens
  • P1: Increased trust in scientific institutions is helpful to scientific progress.
  • P2: Media and political efforts to combat misinformation lead to increased trust in scientific institutions.
  • C1: Therefore, political and media obsession with misinformation is helpful to scientific progress.
Final Points
PRO has dropped arguing P1 and P2, instead claiming that this section is irrelevant. Increased trust in scientific institutions allows for more political support, which is necessary for scientific progress as research institutions rely on government funding. Therefore, political and media obsession with misinformation is helpful to scientific progress, not harmful. PRO also talks about the effects of a ban, but that does not have to do with the effects on scientific progress and funding that we are discussing.


3. Keeping Other Media and Politicians Accountable:
Modus Ponens
  • P1: If false scientific claims by the media and politicians are harmful to scientific progress, strategies that effectively combat these claims are helpful to scientific progress.
  • P2: False scientific claims by the media and politicians are harmful to scientific progress.
  • P3: Political and media fixation on misinformation can effectively combat false claims made by competing politicians and media outlets.
  • C1: Therefore, political and media obsession with misinformation is helpful to scientific progress.
Final Points
If competing media outlets tag articles they believe are false as misinformation, it forces people to look at more than one side of the story. The fact that “a number of experts think this information is false” is useful context to have. If FOX lies about climate change, MSNBC won’t let them get away with it. If CNN lies about the origin of the virus, FOX will correct them.


Conclusion:
I hold that the effect of political and media obsession with "misinformation", on scientific progress, is helpful and not harmful. We’ve seen a number of reasons to believe this—specifically, that categorizing “misinformation” allows us to reject false scientific claims, increases trust in scientific institutions, and helps to keep other media and politicians accountable (which PRO agrees is necessary).

In contrast, we’ve seen no evidence that categorizing some information as “misinformation” is harmful to scientific progress—by leading to censorship or rejection of the scientific method, as my opponent claims. Despite claiming, with no basis, that one leads to the other, my opponent has failed to demonstrate a causal link between “obsession” with misinformation and government censorship or media lies. At most, they’ve proven that these problems exist, but that is not enough to demonstrate a causal link when both of these problems were around long before the “obsession” with misinformation.