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‘Black Mirror’ Meets Reality: China Moves To Rate Its Citizens Using A ‘Social Credit System’

China has implemented a social ranking system that’s set to become mandatory in 2020, and it sounds eerily familiar to a Black Mirror episode.

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Can you imagine a rating system being fully implemented into society that is not only meant to establish your “trustworthiness,” but is available for everyone to see? Well, China is seriously considering doing just that, as detailed in the State Council of China‘s document published in 2014 called “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System.”

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Though this hierarchal system is currently voluntary, it is set to become mandatory in 2020. If you’re getting sort of a deja-vu feeling, that’s totally understandable. The system China proposed sounds eerily similar to an ominous social rating system featured in an episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror, which depicted a chilling Big-Brother-type, social-media-obsessed future.

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China Plans to Implement Social Rating System by 2020

First, let’s review the details of China’s social rating system, called the “Social Credit System” (SCS). Try to envision a world in which you’re constantly monitored, judged for your actions, and literally evaluated based on every choice you make and action you take.

There will be different categories that you’ll be ranked on, including behaviour, personal preferences, and interpersonal relationships. From the people you hang out with to the amount of time you spend on social media and playing video games to the types of purchases you make and how much debt you have, the world will know. You can say goodbye to privacy under SCS, because Big Brother is stepping in to monitor your every move.

Of course, a lot of this already happens. Many governments including the U.S. already spy on their citizens, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram collect an overwhelming amount of information on you, and Google is secretly recording pretty much everything you do. Google keeps the texts/videos you send and literally tracks your every move thanks to your trusty Google Maps app (read more about that in our CE article here).

The primary issue with the rating system is, not only are they monitoring citizens even more than they do currently, which is already a substantial and arguably inappropriate amount, but they’re labelling their actions as “positive” or “negative” as well. Should we really be comfortable allowing the government to dictate what’s right or wrong?

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Sure, there are certain laws that are in place for a reason, but ultimately the government does not always operate in favour of society because they often put the needs of corporations over the needs of their own citizens. Laws are often heavily influenced by corporations whose main goal is profit, not the betterment of humanity as a whole.

Many governments allow corporations like Monsanto to fill our food supply with carcinogenic herbicides, they let Big Pharma influence their drug approval processes and advertise drugs to the public, and they allow the meat and dairy industries to dictate what their food guides deem healthy for our bodies, despite going against doctors’ recommendations.

This is precisely why rating systems in societies could pose a huge problem: We all have different moral compasses. Much of what the government does, you may not support. So, what happens when you voice your opinion, particularly if it goes against the government’s regime, in hopes of inspiring positive change within society? Well, you could get a lower score, rendering you ‘less trustworthy’ and ultimately affecting your ability to get a mortgage, a job, a loan, etc.

Of course, you could decide to speak out against them, and hope your rating wouldn’t affect your overall wellbeing, but how would that affect your friends’ and family members’ ratings?

The Chinese government has described the system as a method to improve trust nationwide and cultivate a culture of “sincerity.”

The policy reads, “It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”

According to the policy documents, if you receive a low score on the SCS, then you could face the following penalties:

  • You won’t be eligible for positions in public office
  • You will no longer have access to social security and welfare
  • You’ll face stricter regulations and “frisking” at Chinese customs
  • You’ll won’t be able to apply for any senior level positions in the food and drug sector
  • You won’t be able to sleep in a bed in overnight trains
  • You won’t be able to stay in higher-starred hotels and restaurants and will have more difficulty travelling
  • Your children could potentially suffer because they won’t be allowed to attend more expensive private schools

It’s very clear that this ranking system could create a lot of separatism and division, and allow the elite to gain even more special treatment than they already enjoy. This type of hierarchy is in no way conducive to equality, or a society that allows love to lead their decisions. We do not need to implement social ranking systems in order to increase sincerity within society; we simply need to have more compassion for other people and treat them like equals. 

The rating systems could seriously halt our personal growth, innovation, and thirst for knowledge as well. The government would be able to see exactly what books you’re reading and what you’re researching, and if it goes against the grain or challenges the current regime, then you could end up with a lower score. How are we going to be able to grow as a society if we don’t question the status quo?

We learn to improve ourselves by challenging the current norms and by stepping outside of our comfort zones. Renewable energy sources seriously threatened big oil and the government, yet this field was able to grow and advance because experts challenged our current energy system. We have made extreme advancements in health care because people found flaws in previous practices and had faith that they could improve them. This can be applied to quite literally every single industry, which is why these ranking systems could negatively affect growth, innovation, and our entire economic system as a whole.

If we can no longer challenge our current state of being and question our surroundings, then how can we continue to advance as a collective? As a collective, many of our strengths lie in our differences. A diverse society includes people with all different strengths and brackets of knowledge, but if we’re all racing to get a better ranking, then we could lose a lot of those differences in trying to become “people pleasers” and adhering to social norms.

How much could we be penalized for our creativity and forward-thinking under social ranking systems? It’s difficult to say. Perhaps there would be some benefits from this particular system being implemented in China, but until it is fully mandatory, we have no way of knowing the exact outcome.

China’s Social Ranking System Sounds a Lot Like This Episode of Black Mirror

Interestingly enough, an episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror could give us some insight into how social rating systems could play out if they become mandatory in the future. If you haven’t watched Season 3 Episode 1 of Black Mirror yet, titled “Nosedive,” I’d highly recommend you check it out! The best part about this show is that you don’t need to watch the episodes in order, so even if you’ve never seen the series, you can still watch this episode without feeling lost.

The episode is entirely based around a social ranking system that had been integrated into every aspect of society, similar to what China plans to implement widespread by 2020 (though much more technologically advanced).

The episode focuses on a single social media platform that allows users to rank one another. The higher your ranking on this platform, the higher social class you find yourself in. Your score determines your livelihood: your access to services, your trustworthiness, your value, and your employability.

Your scores can also increase or decrease astonishingly quickly. You could lose so much in an instant, thanks to only a few people disliking you. You’re having a bad day, or perhaps you’re struggling with your mental health? Well, that could cost you your score, too.

The irony of this social ranking system was that it forced people to become insincere and disingenuous. Rather than improving their sincerity like China hopes their program will, it ended up encouraging people to simply play a “number’s game,” striving to please others and doing anything they could to fit into society’s norms.

The social ranking system depicted in Black Mirror just forced people to kiss up to higher-ups, making their lives one big popularity contest. The problem with this mentality is, if we’re not willing to challenge our superiors and “the popular kids” and speak up when we have genuinely innovative ideas or when we know something is “wrong,” then we cannot grow as a collective.

Another issue with this form of social ranking is that people could start to value themselves based on their numerical ranking and how society views them. The entire point of self worth is to determine how much you value yourself, not how much other people value you. It’s called self worth for a reason; you should not measure your worth based on society’s standards, but rather your own standards.

Final Thoughts 

We’re human beings, we often make mistakes, and in fact making mistakes can be a really beautiful part of life because we can turn our “mistakes” and “failures” into learning and growth opportunities. But, what if those mistakes became public? Would we be willing to take as many risks?

Although there could be some upsides to implementing a social ranking system, the risks far outweigh those potential benefits. So many of society’s problems today stem from our vying for social status and power, or from people holding their status over others. We certainly don’t need to add to this by further increasing separatism.

We need to encourage people to express themselves freely, question everything, and drop the fictitious barriers that social statuses create. We’re all human beings and we’re all equals, regardless of our social class or potential future social rankings.

If people start to value themselves based on a ranking system that may not even be “fairly ranked” to begin with, we will not become more sincere, we’ll just end up improving our “people pleasing” skills. We need to encourage others to go within to develop their self worth and build up their self love as well as express their creativity and their views; otherwise, we’ll end up regressing as a society instead of progressing.

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Vancouver Council Votes Against Mandatory Mask Mandate: They’re Not Required

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Vancouver, Canada will not have a required mask policy in civic facilities, and instead will simply recommend that people wear them.

  • Reflect On:

    Should governments recommend what they feel we should do and present the science instead of forcing certain measures on the population that many people and health professionals clearly disagree with?

What Happened: The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada will not mandate masks inside city buildings and will “strongly encourage” people to wear them instead. This is a bold move as many cities across the globe have mandatory mask measures in place.

The proposal by Counc. Sarah Kirby-Yung, which would have required masks inside city buildings, was opposed by more than a dozen speakers who pleaded with the city council to vote against it.

“Please consider our forefathers fought for our freedom, and if we release that choice, it’s the first step towards a dictatorship,” said one speaker according to City News. “Masks are used as weapons and they have certainly been used as weapons against me and others to silence and marginalize us and it’s not fair.”

According to Coun. Christine Boyle, public health experts encourage wearing masks, but a mandatory policy is not needed.

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Positive Association Found Amongst COVID Deaths & Flu Shot Rates Worldwide In Elderly

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A recently published paper has found a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.

  • Reflect On:

    Why does vaccine hesitancy continue to grow worldwide? What's going on? What information/factors are contributing to this hesitancy?

What Happened: A recently published study in PeerJ  by Christian Wehenkel, a Professor at Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango in Mexico, has found a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.

According to the study, “The results showed a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and IVR (influenza vaccination rate) of people ≥65 years-old. There is a significant increase in COVID-19 deaths from eastern to western regions in the world. Further exploration is needed to explain these findings, and additional work on this line of research may lead to prevention of deaths associated with COVID-19.”

To determine this association, data sets from 39 countries with more than half a million people were analyzed.

The study was published on October 1st, and two weeks later a note from the publisher appeared atop the paper emphasizing that correlation does not equal causation, and that this paper “should not be taken to suggest that receiving the influenza vaccination results in an increased risk of death for an individual with COVID-19 as there may be confounding factors at play.”

The paper provides evidence from others which have recently been published that ponder if the flu shot could increase ones chance of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

For example, this study published in April of 2020, reported a negative correlation between influenza vaccination rates (IVRs) and COVID-19 related mortality and morbidity. Marín-Hernández, Schwartz & Nixon (2020) also showed epidemiological evidence of an association between higher influenza vaccine uptake by elderly people and lower percentage of COVID-19 deaths in Italy, which directly contradicts the author’s own findings and suggests that the flu shot may help prevent COVID-19 related deaths.

He goes on to mention another study:

In a study analyzing 92,664 clinically and molecularly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazil, Fink et al. (2020) reported that patients who received a recent flu vaccine experienced on average 17% lower odds of death. Moreover, Pawlowski et al. (2020) analyzed the immunization records of 137,037 individuals who tested positive in a SARS-CoV-2 PCR. They found that polio, Hemophilus influenzae type-B, measles-mumps-rubella, varicella, pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13), geriatric flu, and hepatitis A/hepatitis B (HepA-HepB) vaccines, which had been administered in the past 1, 2, and 5 years, were associated with decreased SARS-CoV-2 infection rates.

So, its important to mention that correlations between the flu vaccine have also found that it may decrease ones chance of deaths from COVID-19.

But are there studies that have shown an increased chance of death or contracting other respiratory viruses as a result of getting the flu shot? Yes.

That’s also discussed in the paper. For example, he mentions a paper published in 2018:

In a study with 6,120 subjects, Wolff (2020) reported that influenza vaccination was significantly associated with a higher risk of some other respiratory diseases, due to virus interference. In a specific examination of non-influenza viruses, the odds of coronavirus infection (but not the COVID-19 virus) in vaccinated individuals were significantly higher, when compared to unvaccinated individuals (odds ratio = 1.36).

The study above found the flu shot to increase the risk of other coronaviruses among those who had been vaccinated for influenza by 36 percent. The study was conducted prior to COVID-19, so it’s not included and only applies to pre-existing coronaviruses. The study also found an even higher chance of contracting human metapneumovirus amongst those who had received the flu shot.

Below are some more studies regarding the flu shot and viral infections that hint to the same idea.

  • 2018 CDC study (Rikin et al 2018) found that flu shots increase the risk of non-flu acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs), including coronavirus, in children.
  • A 2011 Australian study (Kelly et al 2011) found that flu shots doubled the risk for non-flu viral lung infections.
  • 2012 Hong Kong study (Cowling et al 2012) found that flu shots increase the risk for non-flu respiratory infections by 4.4 times.
  • 2017 study (Mawson et al 2017) found vaccinated children were 5.9 times more likely to suffer pneumonia than their unvaccinated peers.

Why This Is Important: We live in an age where vaccinations are heavily marketed. We’ve seen this with the flu shot time and time again and we are also living in an age where a push for more mandated vaccines seems to be growing.

Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal) and also an assistant professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. He published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.”  In it,  he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”

This is a touchy subject that dives into medical ethics and the connections that big pharmaceutical companies have with our federal health regulatory agencies and health associations. Vaccines are a multi billion dollar industry.

At a recent World Health Organization conference on vaccine safety, it was expressed that vaccine hesitancy is growing at quite a fast pace, especially among doctors who are now becoming hesitant to recommend certain vaccines on the schedule. You can read more about that and find links to the conference here.

We have to ask ourselves, why is this happening? Is it because people and professionals are becoming aware of certain information that warrants the freedom of choice? Should freedom of choice with regards to what we put in our body always remain? Are we really protecting the “herd” by taking these actions?

In a 2014 analysis in the Oregon Law Review by New York University (NYU) legal scholars Mary Holland and Chase E. Zachary (who also has a Princeton-conferred doctorate in chemistry), the authors show that 60 years of compulsory vaccine policies “have not attained herd immunity for any childhood disease.” It is time, they suggest, to cast aside coercion in favor of voluntary choice.

When it comes to the flu shot, I put more information and science as to why so many people seem to refuse it, in this article if interested.

The University of California is currently being sued for mandating the flu shot for all staff, faculty and students. A judge has prevented them from doing so as a result until a decision has been made. You can read more about that here.

In South Korea, 48 people have now died after receiving the flu shot this season causing a lot of controversy. You can read more about that here.

The Takeaway: There are many concerns with vaccines, and vaccine injury is one of them. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. A 2010 HHS pilot study by the Federal Agency for Health Care Research (AHCR) found that 1 in every 39 vaccines causes injury, a shocking comparison to the claims from the CDC of 1 in every million.

Should these statistics alone warrant the freedom of choice? Should the government have the ability to force us into measures, or would it simply be better for them to present the science, make recommendations and urge people to follow them? When the citizenry is forced and coerced into certain actions, sometimes under the guise of good-will, there always seems to be a tremendous amount of uproar and people who disagree. Why are these people silenced? Why are they censored? Why are they ridiculed? Why don’t independent health organizations receive the same voice and reach that government and state “owned” or organizations do? What’s going on here? Do we really live in a free, open and transparent world or are we simply subjected to massive amounts of perception manipulation?

When it come to the flu shot there is plenty of information on both sides of the coin that point to its effectiveness, and on the other hand there is information that points to the complete opposite. When something is not 100 percent clear, freedom of choice in all places should always remain, in my opinion.

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Some South Korean Doctors & Politicians Call To Stop Flu Shots After 48 People Die

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The number of South Koreans who have died after getting flu shots has risen to 48, but health authorities in South Korea have found no link between the vaccine and the deaths.

  • Reflect On:

    Is the flu shot as safe as it's marketed to be?

What Happened: It’s that time of year and flu shot programs are rolling out across the globe. The number of South Koreans who have died after getting the flu shot has now risen to 48 and some South Korean doctors and politicians have called to stop flu shots as a result, according to Reuters. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) has decided not to stop the program, and that flu vaccines would continue to be given and will reduce the chance of having simultaneous epidemics in the era of COVID-19.

Health authorities in South Korea have explained that they’ve found no direct link between these deaths and the shots. KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyung said, “After reviewing death cases so far, it is not the time to suspend a flu vaccination programme since vaccination is very crucial this year, considering…the COVID-19 outbreaks.”

According to Reuters, “Some initial autopsy results from the police and the National Forensic Service showed that 13 people died of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other disorders not caused by the vaccination.”

The South Korean government is hopeful to vaccinate approximately 30 million of the country’s 54 million people.

Concerns Some People Have With The Flu Shot: One concern many people seem to have is the worry of a severe adverse reaction.

Dr. Alvin Moss, MD and professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine emphasizes in this video:

The flu vaccine happens to be the vaccine that causes the most injury in this country. The vaccine injury compensation program, 40 percent of all vaccinations in this country are flu shots, but 60 percent of all the compensations are for the flu vaccine. So a disproportionate number of  vaccine related injuries are the flu shot.

Moss is one of many who believe that the flu vaccine is not as effective as it’s been marketed to be. For example,  A study recently published in Global Advances In Health & Medicine titled “Ascorbate as Prophylaxis and Therapy for COVID-19—Update From Shanghai and U.S. Medical Institutions outlines the following:

Recently outlined A recent consensus statement from a group of renowned infectious disease clinicians observed that vaccine programs have proven ill-suited to the fast-changing viruses underlying these illnesses, with efficacy ranging from 19% to 54% in the past few years.

Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal)  published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.”  In it,  he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”

These are just a few examples out of many claiming that the flu shot has not really been effective, opposing others that claim it is.  Mercury that’s still present in some flu shots also seems to be a concern.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. A 2010 HHS pilot study by the Federal Agency for Health Care Research (AHCR) found that 1 in every 39 vaccines causes injury, a shocking comparison to the claims from the CDC of 1 in every million.

Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project stated at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference that more doctors are starting to be hesitant when it comes to recommending vaccines.

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers, we have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen… still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider…

This is no secret, and actions against mandates are being taken. The University of California was recently sued for making the flu shot mandatory. That trial will begin soon, and you can read more about it here, and find information regarding the claim that the flu shot can help in the times of COVID-19.

The Takeaway: We are living in an age of extreme censorship of information, no matter how credible or how much evidence is provided, information that goes against the grain always seems to receive a harsh backlash from mainstream media as well as social media outlets. Why is there a digital fact checker patrolling the internet? Should people not have the right to examine information openly and freely and determine for themselves what is and what isn’t?

As far as vaccines are concerned, despite the fact that there are many safety issues the scientific community  is bringing up, a push for vaccine mandates continues and the idea that we are protecting other people is usually the narrative that’s pushed hard. Vaccine skepticism is growing at a fast pace among people of all professions, and people aren’t stupid. There’s a reason why more and more people are starting to question what we’ve been told for years, and those reasons should be acknowledged and openly discussed amongst people on both sides of the coin.

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