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Comedian John Oliver Brilliantly Picks Apart & Exposes The NCAA March Madness Tournament

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One of the biggest (if not the biggest) annual sporting tournaments is officially upon us: NCAA March Madness, the basketball tournament which features 68 college basketball teams squaring off in front of millions of adoring fans to earn the title as National Champions. Aside from reasons surrounding regional and collegiate pride, the tournament also seems to capture the attention of millions around the world annually due in large part to its single game elimination format.

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The tournament has become so big that it is expected to generate advertising revenues north of 1 billion dollars in 2015, something that probably isn’t overly surprising given how big the sporting world is. However, what many may not know about the tournament is that not a single penny of this revenue is ever given to even one of the players involved.

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Comedian and talk show host John Oliver brilliantly shed some light on this issue on an episode of his show, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” comically exposing the apparent scam:

Key Points From The Video

  • March Madness brings in over 1 billion dollars in ad revenue, which seem to be shamelessly placed everywhere within the tournament.
  • The Head of the NCAA sees payment for students as non-debatable since they are not employees and are instead students.
  • One former NCAA athlete, Shabazz Napier, revealed in a post-game interview that at times he could not afford to feed himself.
  • Before being allowed to compete, athletes must sign a form stating that they are amateurs forfeiting all compensation, and because of this are bound by all of the rules in a 440 page manual.
  • The education the athletes do receive as part of their scholarship is often watered down to ensure they receive the necessary grades to compete amidst their very busy training schedules.
  • Unlike the students, many of the coaches receive lavish salaries.
  • Many of the top schools find ways to spend their earnings needlessly to keep their status as not-for-profit.
  • Athletes are only one injury away from losing their scholarship, not receiving any form of compensation, and joining the statistic that has made student loans the most crippling debt in America.

Accepted Exploitation?

While a small percentage of these athletes will go on to make millions of dollars once drafted by an NBA team, the vast majority of them will play out their collegiate career being seemingly exploited. Yes, they were given the opportunity to showcase their talents, but at what cost?

As some of the professional athletes have mentioned, the training schedules are ruthless, forcing most of these students to forgo much of the academic part of the college experience. So is a college “education” equitable compensation for a tournament that generates its organizers more than a billion dollars annually?

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What are your thoughts on the NCAA’s decision to not offer any form of compensation to its players within the tournament? Do you think this is justified? Or is it another example, amongst many, that shows how corporate America really has no interest in improving the well-being of the general public? Let us know via the comment section below.

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Pfizer & Moderna Fail To Respond To British Medical Journal About COVID Vaccine Safety Concerns

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CE Staff Writer 5 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Associate Editor of the British Medical Journal Dr. Peter Doshi explains that both Pfizer and Moderna did not respond to questions about why bio-distribution studies were not conducted prior to the rollout of their COVID vaccines.

  • Reflect On:

    Are these vaccines actually safe and effective? Why are so many people within the mainstream completely unaware of certain safety concerns and issues being raised with COVID vaccines?

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An article published in the British Medical Journal by Dr. Peter Doshi titled “Covid-19 Vaccines: In The Rush for Regulatory Approval, Do We Need More Data?” raises concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and one of them is the bio-distribution of the vaccine.  This refers to the examination and study of where the vaccine and its ingredients go once injected into the body. Having sped up the approval process of these vaccines, it has been claimed that no compromises in the process of examining their safety were made. But the fact that no study for tracking the distribution of the vaccine within the human body was conducted for any of the authorized vaccines, we cannot say this is true.

Dr. Doshi points out that such bio-distribution studies are a standard practice of drug safety testing but “are usually not required for vaccines.” This in itself is concerning. Research regarding the bio-distribution of aluminum containing vaccines, for example, have raised concerns about injected aluminum crossing the blood brain barrier and being distributed throughout the body where it can be detected years after injection. This is important, because vaccines are a different method of delivery than say, ingested aluminum, which the body does a great job of getting rid of through digestion.

Bio-distribution studies weren’t performed for COVID vaccines because data from past studies performed with related, and “mostly unapproved compounds that use the same platform technology” were used to bypass them.

Dr. Doshi points out that,

“Pfizer and Moderna did not respond to The BMJ’s questions regarding why no biodistribution studies were conducted on their novel mRNA products, and none of the companies, nor the FDA, would say whether new biodistribution studies will be required prior to licensure.”

In his article, Dr. Doshi also references a report that Pfizer provided to the Japanese government. In the report there is a table containing lipid nanoparticle bio-distribution data.

This table shows where their surrogate “vaccine” (i.e. represented in the laboratory test by little bubbles of surrogate fat containing an analytical detection marker) ended up in the body of immunized rats, used in the laboratory as surrogates for humans…I would like to highlight some observations. First…a lot of the surrogate vaccine dose remained at the injection site, as one would expect. Remarkably, however, most of the vaccine dose had gone elsewhere….50-75% of the vaccine dose failed to remain at the site of injection. The big question is, where did it go? Looking at the other tissues shows some of the paces it went and accumulated…The surrogate vaccine was circulating in the blood. There is also evidence that a substantial amount of the vaccine went to places like the spleen, liver, ovaries, adrenal glands, and bone marrow. The vaccine went to other places as well, such as testes, lungs, intestines, kidneys, thyroid glands, pituitary gland, uterus, etc. The surrogate vaccine tested in a laboratory setting was widely distributed throughout the laboratory animal’s bodies. – Dr. Byram W. Bridle, Viral Immunologist, University of Guelph.

The above quote comes from a detailed report Bridle recently released for COVID-19: “A Vaccine Guide For Parents.” One of his main concerns is that the spike protein that our cells manufacture after injection enter into the bloodstream, and that the spike protein itself isn’t harmless. He goes into a detailed explanation in the report cited above.

According to him,

This information is incredibly important because recent data have come to light that the spike protein is “biologically active.” This means that the spike protein is not just an antigen that is recognized the immune system as being foreign. It means that the spike protein, itself, can interact with receptors throughout the body, called ACE2 receptors, potentially causing undesirable effects such as damage to the heart and cardiovascular system, blood clots, bleeding, and neurological effects.

Again, the report is quite detailed and you can access it here if you’re interested. Bridle is not the only one raising these concerns. He, like many other professionals out there, have been subjected to “fact checking” via Facebook third party fact checkers. Here’s a response from PolitiFact regarding Bridle’s claims and the science he points to.

PolitiFact claims that there is no evidence that the spike protein is ‘a toxin.’ They cite opinions from the CDC and other researchers claiming that no evidence has yet emerged stating the spike protein is dangerous. But they are not actually addressing the cited science Bridle is pointing to, they are merely saying everything he is saying is wrong.

This type of baseless ‘fact checking’ has been a problem during the entire pandemic. A recent article published in the British Medical Journal by journalist Laurie Clarke has highlighted the fact that Facebook has already removed at least 16 million pieces of content from its platform and added warnings to approximately 167 million others. YouTube has removed nearly 1 million videos related to, according to them, “dangerous or misleading covid-19 medical information.”

The article explains why fact-checking scientists has been nothing short of censorship of both evidence and educated opinion. This has happened numerous times throughout the pandemic with multiple renowned scientists. I recently wrote about a couple of examples here, and here, if you’d like to dig deeper.

It’s telling when science, evidence and opinions of experts are censored and subjected to ridicule throughout a global event like this. One has to ask: what is the motivation? Does a clear headed society seek to censor?

Any narrative that questions what we are receiving from government, health authorities, and mainstream media have been completely unacknowledged.  Effectively dividing the public on important issues.

Once again, this begs the question, why? You would think it a time like this discussion and evidence would be shared openly and transparently, instead, we’ve seen the exact opposite.

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Houston Methodist Hospital Set To Terminate Unvaccinated Employees

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CE Staff Writer 1 minute read

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Houston Methodist Hospital is set to terminate employees who refuse COVID-19 vaccines. As of June 12th, a district Judge has shot down a lawsuit the employees have filed against the the hospital. The employees, led by Jennifer Bridges, are set to file an appeal and are prepared to take the case all the way to the supreme court.

This case will be important to track as this may set the tone for how private companies will approach the ‘mandating’ of vaccines that governments had suggested would not be policy. If people can be fired for refusing a vaccine, is it fair to say these vaccines are truly not mandatory?

 

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Censorship: Facebook Has Removed 16 Million Pieces of Content & Added ‘Warnings’ On 167 Million

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CE Staff Writer 13 minute read
©Andrey Yanevich/123RF.COM

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Journalist Laurie Clarke has published a piece in the British Medical Journal about the censorship of science, and who these Big Tech "fact-checkers" really are.

  • Reflect On:

    Why has there been such an effort to hide information that threatens the accepted narrative we get from the mainstream? What is going on here? How is this legal, moral and ethical?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

The censorship of information is at an all time high, but do people really recognize the extent to which it has been and is being carried out? A recent article published in the British Medical Journal by journalist Laurie Clarke has highlighted the fact that Facebook has already removed at least 16 million pieces of content from its platform and added warnings to approximately 167 million others. YouTube has removed nearly 1 million videos related to, according to them, “dangerous or misleading covid-19 medical information.”

Being an independent media outlet, Collective Evolution has experienced this censorship first hand. We’ve also been in touch with and witnessed many doctors and world renowned scientists be subjected to the same type of treatment from these social media organizations. Not long ago I wrote an article about Dr. Martin Kulldorff, a Harvard professor of medicine who has been having trouble with twitter. I did the same with Dr. Carl Heneghan, a professor of evidence based medicine from Oxford and an emergency GP who wrote an article regarding the efficacy of facemasks in stopping the spread of COVID. His article was not removed, but a label was added to it by Facebook saying it was ‘fake information.’ There are many more examples.

Clarke’s article says, with regards to posts that have been removed and labelled, that,

“while a portion of that content is likely to be wilfully wrongheaded or vindictively misleading, the pandemic is littered with examples of scientific opinion that have been caught in the dragnet.”

This is true, take for example the ‘lab origins of COVID debate.’ Early on in the pandemic you were not even allowed to mention that COVID may have originated in a lab, and if you did, you were punished for doing so. Independent media platforms were demonetized and subjected to changes in algorithms. Now, all of a sudden, the mainstream media is discussing it as a legitimate possibility. It makes no sense.

Laurie Clarke outlines in her piece,

This underscores the difficulty of defining scientific truth, prompting the bigger question of whether social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube should be tasked with this at all…

“I think it’s quite dangerous for scientific content to be labelled as misinformation, just because of the way people might perceive that,” says Sander van der Linden, professor of social psychology in society at Cambridge University, UK. “Even though it might fit under a definition (of misinformation) in a very technical sense, I’m not sure if that’s the right way to describe it more generally because it could lead to greater politicisation of science, which is undesirable.”

This type of “politicization of science” is exactly what’s happened during this pandemic.

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science. – Kamran Abbas is a doctor, executive editor of the British Medical Journal, and the editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. (source)

An important point to get across is also the fact that these independent “fact checkers” are working with Facebook, who in turn is working with the government. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden offered his thoughts on the censorship we’ve been seeing during this pandemic in November of last year stating the following,

In secret, these companies had all agreed to work with the U.S. Government far beyond what the law required of them, and that’s what we’re seeing with this new censorship push is really a new direction in the same dynamic. These companies are not obligated by the law to do almost any of what they’re actually doing but they’re going above and beyond, to, in many cases, to increase the depth of their relationship (with the government) and the government’s willingness to avoid trying to regulate them in the context of their desired activities, which is ultimately to dominate the conversation and information space of global society in different ways…They’re trying to make you change your behaviour.

If you’re not comfortable letting the government determine the boundaries of appropriate political speech, why are you begging Mark Zuckerberg to do it?

I think the reality here is…it’s not really about freedom of speech, and it’s not really about protecting people from harm…I think what you see is the internet has become the de facto means of mass communication. That represents influence which represents power, and what we see is we see a whole number of different tribes basically squabbling to try to gain control over this instrument of power.

What we see is an increasing tendency to silence journalists who say things that are in the minority.

It makes you wonder, is this “fact-checking” actually about fact checking? Or is something else going on here?

Below is a breakdown from Clarke’s article illustrating how fact checking works and what the problem is with following the science. Since we have reported this many times over the last 5 years, we decided to let our readers hear it from someone else for a change as it’s truly quite vindicating to see more investigators coming to these conclusions.

How fact checking works

The past decade has seen an arms race between users who peddle disinformation (intentionally designed to mislead) or unwittingly share misinformation (which users don’t realise is false) and the social media platforms that find themselves charged with policing it, whether they want to or not.1

When The BMJ questioned Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (which is owned by Google) they all highlighted their efforts to remove potentially harmful content and to direct users towards authoritative sources of information on covid-19 and vaccines, including the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although their moderation policies differ slightly, the platforms generally remove or reduce the circulation of content that disputes information given by health authorities such as WHO and the CDC or spreads false health claims that are considered harmful, including incorrect information about the dangers of vaccines.

But the pandemic has seen a shifting patchwork of criteria employed by these companies to define the boundaries of misinformation. This has led to some striking U turns: at the beginning of the pandemic, posts saying that masks helped to prevent the spread of covid-19 were labelled “false”; now it’s the opposite, reflecting the changing nature of the academic debate and official recommendations.

Twitter manages its fact checking internally. But Facebook and YouTube rely on partnerships with third party fact checkers, convened under the umbrella of the International Fact-Checking Network—a non-partisan body that certifies other fact checkers, run by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a non-profit journalism school in St Petersburg, Florida. Poynter’s top donors include the Charles Koch Institute (a public policy research organisation), the National Endowment for Democracy (a US government agency), and the Omidyar Network (a “philanthropic investment firm”), as well as Google and Facebook. Poynter also owns the Tampa Bay Times newspaper and the high profile fact checker PolitiFact. The Poynter Institute declined The BMJ’s invitation to comment for this article.

For scientific and medical content the International Fact-Checking Network involves little known outfits such as SciCheck, Metafact, and Science Feedback. Health Feedback, a subsidiary of Science Feedback, handpicks scientists to deliver its verdict. Using this method, it labelled as “misleading” a Wall Street Journal opinion article2 predicting that the US would have herd immunity by April 2021, written by Marty Makary, professor of health policy and management at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. This prompted the newspaper to issue a rebuttal headlined “Fact checking Facebook’s fact checkers,” arguing that the rating was “counter-opinion masquerading as fact checking.”3 Makary hadn’t presented his argument as a factual claim, the article said, but had made a projection based on his analysis of the evidence.

A spokesperson for Science Feedback tells The BMJ that, to verify claims, it selects scientists on the basis of “their expertise in the field of the claim/article.” They explain, “Science Feedback editors usually start by searching the relevant academic literature and identifying scientists who have authored articles on related topics or have the necessary expertise to assess the content.”

The organisation then either asks the selected scientists to weigh in directly or collects claims that they’ve made in the media or on social media to reach a verdict. In the case of Makary’s article it identified 20 relevant scientists and received feedback from three.

“Follow the science”

The contentious nature of these decisions is partly down to how social media platforms define the slippery concepts of misinformation versus disinformation. This decision relies on the idea of a scientific consensus. But some scientists say that this smothers heterogeneous opinions, problematically reinforcing a misconception that science is a monolith.

This is encapsulated by what’s become a pandemic slogan: “Follow the science.” David Spiegelhalter, chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge University, calls this “absolutely awful,” saying that behind closed doors scientists spend the whole time arguing and deeply disagreeing on some fairly fundamental things.

He says: “Science is not out in front telling you what to do; it shouldn’t be. I view it much more as walking along beside you muttering to itself, making comments about what it’s seeing and making some tentative suggestions about what might happen if you take a particular path, but it’s not in charge.”

The term “misinformation” could itself contribute to a flattening of the scientific debate. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, has been criticised for his views on lockdown, which tack closely to his native Sweden’s more relaxed strategy.4 He says that scientists who voice unorthodox opinions during the pandemic are worried about facing “various forms of slander or censoring . . . they say certain things but not other things, because they feel that will be censored by Twitter or YouTube or Facebook.” This worry is compounded by the fear that it may affect grant funding and the ability to publish scientific papers, he tells The BMJ.

The binary idea that scientific assertions are either correct or incorrect has fed into the divisiveness that has characterised the pandemic. Samantha Vanderslott, a health sociologist at the University of Oxford, UK, told Nature, “Calling out fake stories can raise your profile.” In the same article Giovanni Zagni, director of the Italian fact checking website Facta, noted that “you can build a career” on the basis of becoming “a well respected voice that fights against bad information.”5

But this has fed a perverse incentive for scientists to label each other’s positions misinformation or disinformation.6 Van der Linden likens this to how the term “fake news” was weaponised by Donald Trump to silence his critics. He says, “I think you see a bit of the same with the term ‘misinformation,’ when there’s science that you don’t agree with and you label it as misinformation.”

Health Feedback’s website says that it won’t select scientists to verify claims if they’ve undermined their credibility by “propagating misinformation, whether intentionally or not.” In practice, this could create a Kafkaesque situation where scientists are precluded from offering their opinion as part of the fact checking process if they expressed an opinion that Facebook labelled misinformation. Strengthening the echo chamber effect is the fact that Health Feedback sometimes verifies claims by looking at what scientists have said on Twitter or in the media.

Scientific “truth”

Van der Linden says that it’s important for people to understand that in the scientific domain “there’s uncertainty, there’s debate, and it’s about the accumulation of insights over time and revising our opinions as we go along.” Healthy debate helps to separate the wheat from the chaff. Jevin West, associate professor in the Information School at the University of Washington in Seattle, says that social media platforms should therefore be “extra careful when it comes to debates involving science.” He explains: “The institution of science has developed these norms and behaviour to be self-corrective. So, for [social media platforms] to step into that conversation, I think it’s problematic.”

Experts who spoke to The BMJ emphasised the near impossibility of distinguishing between a minority scientific opinion and an opinion that’s objectively incorrect (misinformation). Spiegelhalter says that this would constitute a difficult “legalistic judgment about what a reasonable scientific opinion would be . . . I’ve got my own criteria that I use to decide whether I think something is misleading, but I find it very difficult to codify.”

Other scientists worry that, if this approach to scientific misinformation outlives the pandemic, the scientific debate could become worryingly subject to commercial imperatives. Vinay Prasad, associate professor at the University of California San Francisco, argued on the MedPage Today website: “The risk is that the myriad players in biomedicine, from large to small biopharmaceutical and [medical] device firms, will take their concerns to social media and journal companies. On a topic like cancer drugs, a tiny handful of folks critical of a new drug approval may be outnumbered 10:1 by key opinion leaders who work with the company.”7 Thus the majority who speak loudest, most visibly, and with the largest number online, may be judged “correct” by the public—and, as the saying goes, history is written by the victors.

Social media companies are still experimenting with the new raft of measures introduced since last year and may adapt their approach. Van der Linden says that the talks he’s had with Facebook have focused on how the platform could help foster an appreciation of how science works, “to actually direct people to content that educates them about the scientific process, rather than labelling something as true or false.”

This debate is playing out against a wider ideological struggle, where the ideal of “truth” is increasingly placed above “healthy debate.” Kulldorff says: “To remove things in general, I think is a bad idea. Because even if something is wrong, if you remove it there’s no opportunity to discuss it.” For instance, although he favours vaccination in general, people with fears or doubts about the vaccines used should not be silenced in online spaces, he says. “If we don’t have an open debate within science, then that will have enormous consequences for science and society.”

There are concerns that this approach could ultimately undermine trust in public health. In the US, says West, trust in the government and media is falling. He explains, “Science is still one of the more trusted institutions, but if you start tagging and shutting down conversation within science, to me that’s even worse than the actual posting of these individual articles.”

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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