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Journalism classes in Romania a few decades ago included exercises like: "Take this footage of snow in Bucharest and use it to tell a variety of different stories, e.g. 'Bucharest is paralysed by snow' or 'Bucharest enjoys fresh snowfall' or 'Bucharest efficiently deals with snow storm', etc".

If we think that just because something is factually true no one is trying to fool us, we're quite the fools.

I'm reminded of the replies to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13445190 (about the Guardian story on WhatsApp). There Maciej, for example, said

> I think the vaccine analogy is really helpful here. You can make true statements, like "vaccines can kill you", that cause massive public harm if they're not correctly contextualized.

This is perfect.

Much of the US media narrative about its overseas interventions likewise fall into this category.

Much of the war propaganda consumed by the US population is based on truth. The problem is that US citizens don't have the appropriate context to understand that truth. The fallout is incredible damage to people and lives overseas caught up in great power struggle that could be a different way if there we a systemic commitment toward building a real basis toward international security (over, say, unipolar control).

Regarding the vaccine analogy I think the problem is opposite, that the positive sides to vaccines have always been accounted for but as soon as negative attributes are brought forward they're met with ad hominem or ad absurdum.

[Small rant] There are huge economical incentives to scold those who question medicines with high amounts of side effects. Do people really believe that big pharma doesn't account for a good share of the astroturfers online?

To give one example: In Sweden a vaccine for the pigflue caused narcolepsy in completely healthy young individuals. [End rant]

The problem here is not truth or how it's used to effect but foremost the missinformation that is blocking out all traces of it.

Truth helps any discussion and creates trust - which the vast majority of societies are built on (or used to be).

>In Sweden a vaccine for the pigflue caused narcolepsy in completely healthy young individuals.

And just to be clear, narcolepsy wasn't caused by the "additives" in the vaccine like anti-vaxxers claim. Narcolepsy was caused by the pig flu protein itself.

Thus, if there had been no pig flu vaccinations and people had been exposed to the real thing, a number of them would also have got the narcolepsy, in addition to the nasty symptoms of the pig flu itself.

Goodness. I read some really silly statements on HN from time to time but this is definitely a 1% comment.

We have more scientific evidence for vaccines than we do for gravity, and frankly I am disappointed in the quality of the argumentation here. What percentage of patients developed narcolepsy? Was the study powered for that causal conclusion? Was the methodology sound?

No idea, you're just spewing anecdata.

Astroturfing is absolutely a problem in online discourse but so is wilful ignorance.

Thanks for perfectly illustrating the parent's point.

That what? Big Pharma is a thing?

Vaccines are, by comparison, not big money makers.

Seemingly Hacker news are getting "overrun" by turfers, but that is not what I am, I only represent myself.

As there seem to be astroturfers out and those who require sources (which are not equated but noted to be a seperated quality) I'll ad some information; The vaccine was Pandemrix and the study was conducted by läkemedelsverket (basically a national study organ of medicine).

Pigflue itself would cause narcolepsy but the vaccine would increase the risk threefold.


Totally off-topic, but reading your example made me realize how learning basic journalistic skills could improve my media literacy. Would you happen to have some book recommendation or any other suggestion on hand?

I don't, sorry - my dad is the journalist and he studied this a number of decades ago.

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