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11 People Who Blew The Whistle On Information That Was Once Considered A “Conspiracy Theory”

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When whistleblowers reveal classified information, it creates more transparency, and reveals the true intentions for secrecy under the justification of “national security,” a term that’s basically used now to conceal vast amounts of information.

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Below is a list of 10 of the most important whistleblowers.

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Edward Snowden

As most of you already know, Edward Snowden, a former intelligence contractor for multiple agencies, mainly the NSA, leaked some very sensitive information that proved the existence of clandestine Black Budget operations, thereby exposing the NSA’s mass surveillance program that spans across the world. They are spying on corporations, governments, and citizens of the world, including their own. He revealed that they know what you do, what you say, and possibly even what you are thinking.

It’s interesting to see the contrast in narratives between someone on the inside and the “official” explanation of things. Take, for example, the super national intelligence organization known as the “Five Eyes.” According to Snowden:

The Five Eyes alliance is sort of an artifact of the post World War II era where the Anglophone countries are the major powers banded together to sort of co-operate and share the costs of intelligence gathering infrastructure.  . . .

What the result of this was over decades and decades what sort of a supra-national intelligence organisation that doesn’t answer to the laws of its own countries. . . .

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They not only share information, the reporting of results from intelligence, but they actually share the tools and the infrastructure they work together against joint targets in services and there’s a lot of danger in this.

You can read more about that here.

According to the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, the Five Eyes intelligence community is a cooperative and complex network of linked autonomous intelligence agencies here to protect us from various threats the world faces today, like terrorism.

For more information about what he is currently putting out, visit his twitter account.

Sibel Edmunds 

Sibel Edmonds is a former FBI translator and founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). She gained a lot of attention in 2002 after she accused a colleague of covering up illicit activity involving Turkish nationals, which included serious security breaches and cover-ups, alluding to intelligence that was deliberately suppressed.

More recently, she’s been outspoken about various issues that plague the global elite, like pedophilia and false flag terrorism, letting people know that terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS are tools of the Western military alliance, used to push for the “terror war industry.”

Below is an interview she did with RT News a few years ago discussing this topic, among others.

Thomas Drake

If you didn’t already know, Thomas Drake leaked information about the NSA’s mass surveillance program prior to the Snowden leaks. After 9/11, he blew the whistle on the dragnet surveillance operation that was spying on American citizens.

Of course, as always when these leaks come out, the mainstream media (a tool of the global elite) will always try to justify these infringements on our rights, because of the heightened national security state, which they play an active role in creating.

A great quote comes to mind here, from JFK:

We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

Drake told the world that the military and intelligence industrial complex became obsessed in their mission, that it completely trumped the rights of not only American citizens, but as we now know, the global citizenry, too. He attempted to go through legal channels and whistleblower protection law but it didn’t work.

In 2006 he decided to contact a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, and as a result, narrowly avoided spending 40 years in prison.

William Binney

William Binney is a 36-year NSA veteran who became a whistleblower after discovering that elements of a data-monitoring program he helped make, called “ThinThread,” were being used to spy on Americans: “At least 80% of fibre optic cables globally go via the US, this is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores. . . . The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control.”

Binney also explains why American intelligence agencies are doing this, and it’s not to combat terrorism. He says their goal is total population control. You can read more about that here.

Below is a great quote from him, in an interview with 9/11 Free Fall Radio:

We selectively ignore basic facts. What I mean by a basic fact is something that’s just there that needs to be addressed, even if they can’t explain it, they should have said “We can’t explain this but it’s there” so they at least recognize that this basic fact existed. . . .

My problem is, just like the UFO thing, unless they start addressing these kinds of things, people’s observations or basic measurements or factual kind of evidence that simply exists, unless they start addressing them, there’s always going to be questions, especially now with the government, how much trust do you have in this government? From what they’ve been doing, in spying, and torture, and rendering, and suppressing whistleblowers, and putting whistleblowers in jail, and giving immunity to people who commit these kinds of crimes, how much trust can you put in a government like that?

Robert David Steele

Robert David Steele is the second-highest ranking civilian in the U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence and a former CIA clandestine services officer who worked for the CIA.

Below is one of my favourite quotes from him:

Most terrorists are false flag terrorists, or are created by our own security services. In the United States, every single terrorist incident we have had has been a false flag, or has been an informant pushed on by the FBI. In fact we now have citizens taking out restraining orders against FBI informants that are trying to incite terrorism. We’ve become a lunatic asylum.

He has made multiple revelations with regards to false flag terrorism, as well as admitting to being a part of it. We interviewed him this year in July, and you can watch that interview below:

Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning is the army private who gave 750,000 classified documents to Wikileaks. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but walked out after serving a shortened sentence after a great public outcry at her imprisonment.

Her leaks pertained to the Iraq and Afghanistan war, as well as detainees at Guantanamo Bay military prison.

The thing about these leaks that more people are starting to see is that they do not endanger America or its security, but rather, threaten the greedy corporate and financial interests that control American.

Transparency threatens this control system.

Dr. Udo Ulfokotte 

Dr. Udo Ulfkotte is a top German journalist and editor and has been for more than two decades. He recently went on the record stating that he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, also mentioning that noncompliance would result in him losing his job. He recently made an appearance on RT News, where he said:

I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years, and I was educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public. But seeing right now within the last months how the German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia — this is a point of no return and I’m going to stand up and say it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do and have done in the past because they are bribed to betray the people, not only in Germany, all over Europe.

Jeffrey Wigand

Jeffrey S. Wigand is an American biochemist and the former Vice President of Research and Development at Brown & Williamson in Louisville, Kentucky. He played a major role in exposing corporate fraud related to the tobacco industry. In 1995, he became the tobaccos industry’s highest ranking former executive to address public health and smoking issues. He did so in an interview with 60 Minutes, and as a result, a lawsuit was filled against him.

Today, because of efforts like Wigand’s, more people who hold prominent positions within major corporations are choosing to risk all and speak out.

You can read more about him here.

Dr. William Thompson

Dr. William Thompson is a longtime senior CDC scientist. He has published some of the most commonly cited pro-vaccine studies — studies which purport to show absolutely no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Two studies he and his co-author published in 2004 and 2007 for the CDC were the most commonly cited studies used by the scientific community to debunk the controversy surrounding the MMR vaccine/autism link. (Thompson, et al. 2007, Price, et al. 2010Destefano, et al. 2004)

The study concluded that “the evidence is now convincing that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine does not cause autism or any particular subtypes of autism spectrum disorder.”

A decade later, Dr. Thompson came out publicly admitting that that it was “the lowest point” in his career when he “went along with that paper.” He went on to say that he and the other authors “didn’t report significant findings” and that he is “completely ashamed” of what he did, that he was “complicit and went along with this,” and regrets that he has “been a part of the problem.” (source)(source)

Even pro-vaccine politicians were contacted, as these documents were sent to Congress. One of them reads as followed, as illustrated by Congressman Bill Posey: “The [CDC] co-authors scheduled a meeting to destroy documents related to the [MMR vaccine] study. The remaining four co-authors all met and brought a big garbage can into the meeting room and reviewed and went through all the hard copy documents that we had thought we should discard and put them in a huge garbage can.”

Related CE Article: The Top 6 Reasons Why Parents Should Never Be Forced to Vaccinate Their Children

Dr. John Brandenburg

Dr. Johan Brandenburg was the Deputy Manager of the Clementine Mission to the Moon, which was part of a joint space project between the Ballistic Missile Defence Organization (BMDO) and NASA. The mission discovered water at the moon’s poles in 1994. (Source: page 16 of 18)(source)(source)

He has also worked on  space plasma technologies, nuclear fusion, and advanced space propulsion, and invented the Microwave Electro-Thermal plasma thruster using water propellant for space propulsion.

He currently works as a consultant to Morningstar Applied Physics. Here is one of his latest research endeavours. Brandenburg also works as a part-time instructor of astronomy, physics, and mathematics at Madison College, and other learning institutions in Madison, Wisconsin.

Here’s what he had to say:

Someone complained to me, John, why do you have to bring Cydonia into this? And I said, because I can read a map. . . . Here’s what’s at Cydonia Mensa. There’s the face on Mars, there’s the D & M pyramid. . . . Here it is in a second shot, this was taken July 25th, this was taken 30 days later, the government was apparently doing a follow-up investigation. These two pictures (pictures above to your left) tell you everything you need to know about what’s at Cydonia Mensa (region of Mars). If you see on a planet that used to be Earth-like, a carved human face and a pyramid within 5 km of each other . . . it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what this all means, you can connect the dots. . . . I mean sometimes, and I can tell you as a scientist and I’ve seen other scientists do this, if you’re cornered, you’re just brazing it out, you hold up a picture of a buffalo and insist that it’s a dog.

You can watch his entire lecture, or read this article we recently published on it, to get his main points.

Dr. Norman Bergrun

A mechanical engineer, Dr. Bergrun has worked for Ames Research Laboratory, NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), and Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, now known as Lockheed Martin. He then went on to found Bergrun Engineering and Research. Obviously, he is another qualified individual with an impressive background. You can view some of his publications for NASA, where he worked for more than a decade, here.

In this interview, Bergrun accuses that agency of “garbling” photos and fudging data.

He emphasized that people need to know that large unidentified objects, intelligently controlled, are real.

Why Whistleblowers Are So Important and Should Be Regarded as Heroes

The term “national security” is now used to justify the concealment of mass amounts of information. As a result, whenever a whistleblower leaks sensitive information, they are accused of putting their country’s safety at risk. It’s great to be living in a time where more people are starting to realize that it doesn’t put the country at risk, but simply threatens the mechanisms the global elite use to control us and enforce their ideas and ways upon us. It basically exposes secrecy that is used for profit and control — not defence, security, or national interests.

Perhaps, one day, we will live in a world of full transparency, because, as retired Sergeant Command Major Bob Dean once said, “secrecy is corrosive to the soul.”

 

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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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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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©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.”

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