Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
Today journalist Celia Farber reports that the vaccine story is growing. Dr. William Thompson, he of recent vaccine whistleblower fame, has issued an apology to Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who first discovered the link between vaccines and autism for basically failing to speak up and therefore helping to ruin Wakefield’s life. I want to share this little tidbit from her blog:
Polly Tommey, Director of Autism Media Channel, told The Truth Barrier there are more whistleblowers trying to find the courage, and or, the legal protection, to speak.
“There are more whistleblowers coming out,” she said. “We know who they are and we’ve spoken to them. They’re petrified. These sources make Thompson pale in comparison, some of them. They know the MMR is a massive problem, data has been corrupted, they’ve been told to hide things…”
“One guy spoke about Gardisil. He said, ‘You can forget about MMR—Gardisil is one of the biggest crimes ever. 144 girls or something have died already. Thompson is only the beginning. “
I’m sure that trying to get whistleblowers to come forward is like herding cats. But stranger things have happened:
All kidding aside, one whistleblower is safe to ignore, but several of them would be much much harder. Although I do expect the mainstream crowd to try. They certainly have tried their best to dust Thompson under the rug. Time magazine posted a nothing-to-see-here-move-along-now article and Slate did likewise. What none of them mentioned is the glaring fact that a cover up has been alleged by a whistleblower and that this very obviously might be the tip of the iceberg. The cover up is the real news here, not the results of the study. The elephant in the room, a 52 billion dollar a year vaccine industry that might want to protect its profits, went unremarked in either case.
This is rather obvious in retrospect, and I’m sure many of you have already figured this out, but as I’ve been following this story and occasionally the one in Ferguson Missouri, I’ve come to realize that the mainstream press is nothing more or less than a many headed special interest group. It’s when you explore controversial topics that this bit of reality really stands out. The mainstream press will always be modestly reactionary in most areas and the more controversial a topic becomes, the more reactionary they become.
On a weirdly related note, the Daily Grail has published a story about JREF. It would seem that the erstwhile president of JREF, DJ Grothe has been shown the door rather unceremoniously. Or not. JREF is moving its headquarters from Los Angeles to Falls Church, Virginia. It could also be that he simply did not want to move to move to the new location and his resignation has been colossally bungled. (In any case, the press release should have read: “We wish to thank DJ for his many years of service . . . blah blah blah” that’s how you handle even a bad departure gracefully.) Randi himself will be acting president in the meantime.
It’s not good news for JREF. They’ve been bleeding donations for a number of years, going from $1.56 million in 2011 to $887.5K in 2013. They appear to be consolidating with their administrative offices, which can only mean that the reduction in funding is really hurting them.
What do these two stories have in common? The Internet. We are starting to see real social change happen as a result of the connectivity and massive sharing made possible by it. In the first section, we see a story develop and grow completely outside of the mainstream realm, much like the TED controversy of last year. It was a story that the mainstream press of yesteryear could have safely ignored and forgotten, secure in the knowledge that that would be the end of it. Now it’s different. Anyone who cares to can compare the mainstream to other sources and see who is omitting what. Biased or non existent mainstream reporting is itself reported on almost immediately and literally thousands upon thousands of people will notice this.
The pro-harmful vaccine crowd and JREF both rely heavily on their influence in the mainstream press to maintain their status. And as the status of the mainstream press continues to weaken, these groups find their status weakening as well. Just because the mainstream has a point of view and it’s read, doesn’t mean that people believe it anymore. They have another viewpoint to compare it to if they care to browse for a little bit.
As people become more savvy, sharing will become more trusted than The News. We are probably already there to a certain extent. It’s not a hard thing to fathom. I ask myself, who do I trust? Unknown journalist Celia Farber, who has obviously immersed herself in the vaccination issues? Or popular astronomy writer Phil Plait who clearly has not and who made a bee line straight for sources that did nothing but confirm his biases? I can’t possibly be the only person who thinks this way. On Cracked no less, a writer made a direct comparison between mainstream reporting and what was really happening.
Culture is slow to change, but change it does. I think that we are just starting to see the new world that the Internet is quietly ushering in. People have learned how to take advantage of it, and only now are they learning what those changes mean. And it’s all done rather unconsciously for the most part. People don’t stop trusting the media en mass, they just quietly stop respecting it as much, a little bit at a time. They learn to go snooping for the real news when they care enough about an issue and learn to spot good sources or follow leads given by people in the know.
No matter how much money you have, you can’t buy trust. It’s not for sale at any price.