Experts being "gagged"

eN0ch

New Member
From a search of this site I've come across a handful of references to the conspiracist claim that large numbers of experts are "being gagged", as an explanation for the absence of [conspiracist belief X] from official sources. Or there's the steroidal variations "getting fired" or the more 'noble' "putting their jobs on the line for the truth". But I can't find anything in this forum about ways to debunk that kind of claim.

My covid antivax friend uses it a lot. e.g. She wouldn't trust her local doctor to say what they really believe about vaccines "because they're all being gagged". And says there are so many doctors and nurses "losing their jobs for speaking out".

Are there any tips for addressing that belief?
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
"because they're all being gagged"
How many people are being "gagged"?
For how long?
By whom?
Has a gagging of this size and duration ever existed before?
Why wouldn't there be whistleblowers on this international conspiracy when we have them on smaller, national operations?

The best way would be to become friends with a doctor, but that's going to be difficult if you're an anti-vaxxer. Do they know someone back from school who went into the medical field?
 

CaptainCourgette

Active Member
For this to be true, it would make something like the moonlanding conspiracy hidden look like a walk in the park, think of the millions of local doctors worldwide
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35411684
It's difficult to keep a conspiracy under wraps, scientists say, because sooner or later, one of the conspirators will blow its cover.
A study has examined how long alleged conspiracies could "survive" before being revealed - deliberately or unwittingly - to the public at large.
Dr David Grimes, from Oxford University, devised an equation to express this, and then applied it to four famous collusions.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
But with the caution that "the conspiracy would have to be unmanageably huge and would eventually leak" has not been proven to be hugely effective in changing minds of those already committed to belief -- if it were, we'd see more impact among flat Earthers, Apollo hoaxers, and the like. It may be a more effective argument to make to those on the fence, or as an "inoculation" against falling for woo that somebody will encounter in the future.

Adapting advice from "Pastels and Pedophiles," a book about the Q-Anon conspiracy theory complex (to which the anti-immunity movement in response to Covid prevention is closely tied), arguing with a friend whose fallen into the rabbit hole is as likely to be counterproductive. Might even create confirmation of the conspiracy, a la "See, even my friend has been recruited to spread the Official Line to me!" The approach they recommend in the book is to keep communication open, acknowledge and validate the emotional stresses that make the conspiracy attractive ("Yes, I understand that you feel concerned about this stuff, it's a scary situation!") and being somebody outside the conspiracy echo chamber to whom they can maintain contact. They also advocate a gentler "Socratic Method" (my term, they do not use it that I recall) of "That is interesting, can you share how you KNOW that" to hopefully lead the victim of the hoax to asking their own questions about the folks who are feeding them nonsense.

The hardest thing, for me, is to make peace with the fact that you (I) cannot rescue folks not wanting to be rescued. There is no magic wand to wave to make people see sense. You can be available as a friend who has not fallen into the Rabbit Hole, there to help and accept when/if they decide they're ready to climb back out.

But I'd note that I have a different approach to helping a friend who has gotten lost in nonsense than I would have dealing with somebody spreading nonsense in front of an audience to be recruited, such as on Internet forums, where the goal might not be to rescue the one who is lost (or is a troll, no way to know) but is instead to block them from fooling more people. I get a little more confrontational there!
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
Maybe ask your friends what would be sufficient for them to change their views. Do they demand evidence that's far stronger than the evidence that they present themselves to support their own stance? For that last couple of years, I seen very little evidence that doctors and so-called experts are being gagged - there are large numbers of them very visible on all parts of the internet, and far too much of the broadly-distributed media. Some of the time it even seemed like there was more nonsense than sensible stuff out there, to be honest.

OK, there are some people, probably numbering in 3 digits now, who have had their papers retracted from where they were previously published (sometimes expedited without peer review), but that's just good science being done, correcting errors, not gagging. (/Retraction Watch/ is the place for more info on that.)
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Maybe ask your friends what would be sufficient for them to change their views.
In which case, though, be prepared to be asked that question yourself. I found that to be a difficult question to answer honestly. But perhaps there's value in sharing the difficulty the question raises for any of us, in keeping some sort of common ground with a friend in trouble.
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
My covid antivax friend uses it a lot. e.g. She wouldn't trust her local doctor to say what they really believe about vaccines "because they're all being gagged". And says there are so many doctors and nurses "losing their jobs for speaking out".

Are there any tips for addressing that belief?
The "putting the job on the line" and "losing their jobs for speaking out" is a classic conspiracy theory argument. It inoculates the claim from scrutiny and asks the skeptical person to often prove a negative. One can argue with stats and information about how most medical personal feel about vaccines, but it's always countered by an amorphas "they're being gagged" counter-argument. I have some good friends in the medical industry that are, at least vaccine hesitant, if not anti-vaccine. I just stay calm and give my arguments when the subject comes up. And I can point out after 2 shots and a booster, I've yet to have a be controlled by Bill Gates. As far as I know.
 

eN0ch

New Member
But perhaps there's value in sharing the difficulty the question raises for any of us, in keeping some sort of common ground with a friend in trouble.
Yep. I guess I'd call that the "fellow traveller" approach.
 

eN0ch

New Member
But with the caution that "the conspiracy would have to be unmanageably huge and would eventually leak" has not been proven to be hugely effective in changing minds of those already committed to belief -- if it were, we'd see more impact among flat Earthers, Apollo hoaxers, and the like.
Yes. I must say that despite how blindingly obvious the "unimaginably huge" line seems to me (and I've blogged about a few times), it rarely seems to carry any weight with conspiracist friends. I suppose they've heard and trusted so many claims about the conspiracy that "know" it's "the truth". Which is just full circle to my original question here ...
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Who are the people claiming there's gagging?
What evidence do they have?
What evidence should there be?
Are these people trustworthy? Why?

Re: the people losing their jobs, are they losing them for "speaking out", or for not following vaccine mandates?
 

eN0ch

New Member
Who are the people claiming there's gagging?
What evidence do they have?
What evidence should there be?
Are these people trustworthy? Why?

Re: the people losing their jobs, are they losing them for "speaking out", or for not following vaccine mandates?
Those are the right questions I think. I'll save them up for my next conversation with my friend.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
In which case, though, be prepared to be asked that question yourself. I found that to be a difficult question to answer honestly. But perhaps there's value in sharing the difficulty the question raises for any of us, in keeping some sort of common ground with a friend in trouble.

I have plenty of evidence that people are not being gagged, as there are more idiots peddling woo-woo to a worldwide audience than I can count.

So to change my mind on that matter, have them all mysteriously go away.

Please.
 

obiwanbenobi

Active Member
with the hospitalizations being down and medical people getting a break from the most recent surge i've not heard anyone recently complaining about being fired for not being vaccinated. so i'd just ask the friend to tell me who they knew specifically that was recently "censored" and then see if i could follow up with that person. in cases of firing i'd bet it was for incompetence or some other on the job issue. and my own bias is that anyone who's anti-vax should not be in a front-line health care job anyways - the overall statistics of the pandemic and the vaccines being useful for keeping people out of the hospital and from dying are long past being substantiated. you'd have to be an idiot IMO to not get vaccinated.

that said, at the moment i haven't got any plans to be boosted again. i had the two shots and a booster and i'll not get another as long as there is no nasty new variant coming around. the Omicron first variant i may have already had so i just keep an eye on what's going around and go from there.

p.s. the joke about Bill Gates controlling is very funny. i've been running Linux for so long and haven't touched Windows or MS much for many years except i did have a version of Multi-plan running in dosemu for a while but that's gone now... anyways, if i have any sudden feelings towards installing Windows i'll be sure to let you know.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Are there any tips for addressing that belief?
Metabunk 's focus is on addressing "specific claims OF EVIDENCE". because vague, paraphrased, ambiguous statements (like your Opening Posts) are useless to argue about.

ask her (and model for her) for specific doctors names who have been gagged. or specific nurses names who have lost their jobs for "speaking out" ..if that is her actual claim.



As far as her local doctor, i wouldn't trust a random doctor to tell what they really believe about vaccines either. But that's because of liability, (and losing patients-i wouldn't go to a quack doctor!) not because of some grand gag order. My mom's doctor told her -she's pushing 80-when vaccines first came out to wait a few months if she was isolating anyway, so that she would have a bigger pool of safety data. He wasn't scared about the vaccines, but acknowledged a bigger data pool is good if she was isolating anyway. So he didn't lie to her.
But now we have sufficient data on older people, that i doubt any doctor would think the vaccines are not your best bet.

My doctor didn't lie to me about the benefits or the risks. I wish she had lied to me a bit about the risks as i was all freaked out for a few weeks after vaccinating over nothing. (Granted the side effects were all over the media so i guess if she had lied to me i would have stopped trusting her).
 
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