How We Are Being Misled

blog essay

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To understand how we are being misled, I want to tell a story about incentives and ‘getting to the top.’ It’s all connected.

Back in 2015 an old friend from high school asked to come to my company’s office (Collective Evolution) to interview me. She was in town from New York and was apparently intrigued by what I had created.

It sounded good to me. A chance to see an old friend and have my story told.

The day she arrived was sunny and warm, I was excited. We greeted one another with a hug. She had grown up since I last saw her. She’s a good looking girl with a bright smile and a good head on her shoulders.

We spent 3 hours together, walking around my office, meeting my team, talking about consciousness, personal development, the breakdown of science, and my ideas to help make society better.

The meeting ended with her asking me what books I could recommend for her to explore personal transformation and consciousness as she was intrigued. I can’t recall what books I stated, but I remember ‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Tolle being one of them.

I walked her out to her car. We hugged and she left. Then a week or so later she sent me a draft of the piece she wrote.

I was perplexed. It was a hit piece. I was crushed by it.

That’s how I felt after only a couple of paragraphs.

My co-workers, who were reading the piece at the same time, looked at me confused several times. They felt bad for me. They knew I’d be hurt by this and that this was not at all what I expected was going to happen.

She changed my quotes, took my words out of context, and made me sound like a lunatic. Being in the internet game I realized quickly what this was. This wasn’t a piece to tell my story, it was a piece to build her career off the popularity of my name and company.

I emailed her 30 minutes after finishing my read of it.

I wanted to know if her editor made her construct the piece in the way she did, or whether she chose to frame it this way herself. The meeting we had did not match the piece she wrote, I had to find out what happened.

She responded, refusing to answer the question. I asked again, she dodged again.

Finally I asked her why she used quotes I didn’t say and why she took my words out of context. She simply responded with “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Her emails were short, blunt, and emotionless. This was not a friend. The hugs and smiles from a week prior started looking different to me now.

Her email responses gave me the sense that she knew what she did was wrong, but had made the decision in her mind that the ends justified the means. I can’t say this for sure of course.

And no, I’m not suggesting one story like this builds a persons entire career. But it’s one of many that build a portfolio that illustrates access and produces “how’d you get that story” type reactions. It’s drama. Drama sells.

For weeks I reflected on the meeting we had, trying to figure out where I might have went wrong.

Perhaps it was the fact that back in 2015 I was early in seeing just how hijacked science was becoming. I had conveyed this observation to her, a person who has spent her whole life up to that point studying science. Maybe she didn’t like hearing that? Couldn’t be that simple, could it?

Either way, this was my first professional foray into how far people may go to get what they want.

I could not believe someone could be so two-faced. It made me feel momentarily cynical about the world. It illustrated the capability humans have to look you in the eye and convey warmth, when in reality there is an agenda to harm.

In the end, I learned a lot from the experience. You can’t trust journalists (lol), but you can navigate them more carefully.

Ethics Aren’t Incentivized At ‘The Top‘ 

I won’t provide this woman’s name. It serves no purpose in my mind. All you need to know is she went on to work with The New York Times and for The Atlantic.

I’m not surprised she ended up working for companies like that. People who want to work for the most ‘prestigious companies’ are sometimes the ones willing to do whatever it takes to climb the ladder. Maybe that’s unfair for me to say, but I can’t help it, especially after all I have learned about the media industry over 15 years. This wouldn’t be the first time a journalist does this to get a story, it happens all the time. The shoe fits.

These are the people who, with their shaky ethics in hand, write the stories that shape public opinion. The facts don’t really matter. The truth can be twisted.

These are the people who uphold the story of our existing world at all costs. The ones who care more about their career than they do about truly following where the evidence leads on any story - especially when it goes against the grain. And especially when it challenges what everyone else thinks.

The woman who wrote the hit piece about me recently wrote a piece in The Atlantic about masks. Even though the science is weak time and time again, obviously they still provide protective benefit according to her article.

Many of the conclusions in her piece were similar to mine about the same study, but what she left out tells the whole story.

Her determination to uphold the idea of mask effectiveness is immense. The willingness to sift through the science, come up with a well-written piece, yet leave out some of the most important details is uncanny. It’s reflective of mainstream journalism.

Her piece seeks to find the tiny benefit mask wearing might provide through a reductionist lens, while making no effort to examine the lengths the CDC went to lie about mask effectiveness.

It doesn’t mention the unscientific rhetoric politicians spewed claiming they had certainty about masks when they truly had none. It doesn’t mention the piles of evidence illustrating the negative effects of prolonged mask wearing either.

After all, aren’t we supposed to be measuring the cost/benefit analysis of our interventions? Why does the rhetoric state there are zero costs to mask wearing when we have evidence of many costs?

This is the problem with reductionist thinking like this. It’s unscientific and lost in a vacuum. It doesn’t seek to truly find the truth in complexity, it only seeks to uphold the status quo.

Why? Why the unbalanced inquiry?

In looking through all of her articles I see nothing questioning the rate of damage COVID vaccines are causing. Sure, plenty on why you need to get a booster shot, and why we just witnessed the pandemic of the unvaccinated, but nothing exploring where COVID policy might have gone wrong.

I wonder to myself, how many hours has she spent pulling apart vaccine data? What does she make of the fact that 8% of people had to seek medical attention after being vaccinated?

Has she looked at the Pfizer clinical trial data? Does she realize these vaccines were approved based on only 10 outcomes? What does she make of Brooke Jackson, the Pfizer whistleblower who claims the clinical trials were fraudulent?

Does she agree with the FDAs wildly unscientific decision to recommend COVID vaccines to children? I don’t know, but I wonder.

Where is her reporting on these stories? Why doesn’t she have the same willingness and rigor in exploring ‘the other side’ of the COVID debate? Why only the dedication to upholding the status quo? Is that what she was bred for? Is career more important than truth?

Maybe she’s stuck in an echo chamber at The Atlantic. Maybe at work she’s exposed to the discrimination and jokes shot at the ‘anti-vax idiots’ who question vaccine safety ‘because someone online made a meme about it.’ This culture can keep people in line and can limit their curiosity.

I don’t know what’s going on in her mind. But at least I can admit that.

I’ve personally taken the time to check my narratives around COVID. Debunking nonsense theories while curiously looking at difficult to answer questions. My goal is to serve the public as best I can. At times my audience gets upset because my work and findings challenge what they believe. But that’s the point. To go where the evidence leads when you take a holistic look at it.

Sometimes the way to misled the public is to simply not look at what you don’t want people to think. Don’t balance your inquiry and you can avoid providing an understanding of the whole story.

This is how we end up divided and lost. Not because there isn’t clarity to be gained, but because even those who consider themselves to be scientists and science writers, and who have the loudest microphones, aren’t actually looking at stories and evidence in good faith.

They become part of the problem. Part of the misinformation. Part of misleading the public. Yet they whole heartedly believe they are heroes operating at the high standards science demands.

This behavior from people willing to mislead to get ahead, are we surprised?

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