Thursday, December 16, 2021

Do we live in China?

Google/Youtube's "misinformation" policy. 

You may not "contradict... local health authorities' (LHA) or the World Health Organization."  But read the note, they might change their mind, so watch truth/misinformation change in real time.  

Really? Scientific discussion never contradicts the edicts of "authorities?" Political discussion never does so? 

HT Martin Bazant's six foot rule lecture 


  1. I would comment, but I don't want to get this blog banned.

  2. Here's the problem: Misinformation leads to more deaths:

    Let me know how you intend to fix this problem

    1. The problem is that this presumes we actually can reliably decide on what is true or not and that enough agreement on this exists that mandating people whose judgment you cannot question to get rid of "disinformation" is not going to create problems larger than those you are trying to solve.

      Back in the real world, those conditions do not hold and your **actual** decision problem requires putting a place a process that is robust to both human limitations and the prospect that all powers granted will be abused. Before proposing a rule, ask yourself if you'd like that rule if the worst people you can imagine get to use it too. Because that's how it will work out, sooner or later: people you don't want using the powers you demand will use it in ways you did not anticipate and most likely will not approve.

      At the core of all defense of censorship lies an arrogant presumption of infallibility, both in terms of knowledge and ethics.

    2. I would like to have some serious talk about what might be the "counterfactual scenario" if nothing from 'Leadership' were done at all (besides, perhaps, exhortations of prudent behavior)?
      Does [he who remains 'Anonymous' - fearful of being attacked?] think US society would suffer as badly as in 1918? As badly as during the Black Death? Go ahead, make us all laugh.
      I do not believe it is Morally Correct to coerce people, for any 'self-benefit' nor 'social benefit.'
      How does 'Anonymous' (afraid to reveal his name) propose to help anything by invoking coercion?

    3. Critics of the vaccine skeptics ought to take pleasure in the prospect of all those potential "Trump voters" are going to die before the next election.
      (More morbid humor?)
      Meanwhile, throw them all in jail for being skeptics!

    4. So the 'no misinformation' policy's working really well, isn't it?

      More importantly, you're confusing cause and effect. The observation that pro-Trump counties have higher covid death rates tells us nothing about the cause — whether it's due to believing misinformation, or distrust of government, or just sheer bloody-mindedness. If anything, it's more likely that those counties are spreading the misinformation than they are passive victims of it.

    5. The data in your link is insufficient. Show me that the vaccines reduce all cause mortality. Also, we still allow drinking, smoking and driving faster than 5 mph. If you are looking for a problem to solve.

  3. How did we get here?

    Well, partly because the most risk averse among us determine policy after policy. The example amounts to determining opinion.

    Yes, I let my seven year old child try out the swings [when there were swings]!

    1. The problem is called "the Precautionary Principle." It is the fallacy that if anyone can imagine a problem with any innovation (including to damage incumbent economic interests?) it should be banned until studied-to-death.

    2. Read Robert Kennedy, Jr's book exposing Fauci, Big Pharma, and the hoax.

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  5. John,
    the claim is not correct.
    Free speech is the freedom to shout what you want through the channels available to you - not an obligation for every outlet to make itself available to you.
    50 years ago Times might not publish anything on this or that topic, and now and then the wall can have "post no bills" on it - and it's NOT violation of your free speech.
    US is not China because US government doesn't dictate content policy of every outlet, nor clamps down on outlets it doesn't like.
    There will always be outlets editorial policy of which you despise - and it's funny you pretend to be surprised big tech cos with core staff leaning hard left are in that group, after years of conservatives talking about their ever worsening bias. Guess it didn't hit home to you when they had "editorial policy" on trans, or whatever other out there leftie issue, which is as scientific as this one, but now barbarians are finally at your gate as well?
    Given the tendency of all neutral to leftish institutions to be captured by pretty hard left, and the degree of polarization of the country, isn't the natural conclusion that to have outlets editorial policy of which you don't despise we'll have to have explicitly conservative (or libertarian, as some of the valley was few decades ago?) outlets. WSJ is nice, let's have youtube/twitter as well.

    1. R.G. I don't think free speech is the issue per se. It is whether YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are "Publishers" as defined under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

      This section protects publishers against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do on their platforms. There are exceptions for copyright infringement and criminal acts. The issue is that when they censor content they are no longer retain that protection and could be sued for any content others publish on their platform. That would effectively end their business model.

      In his reply to "Anonymous", St├ęphane Surprenant really got at the crux which is the catch-22 for all censorship when he said, "Before proposing a rule, ask yourself if you'd like that rule if the worst people you can imagine get to use it too. Because that's how it will work out, sooner or later: people you don't want using the powers you demand will use it in ways you did not anticipate and most likely will not approve."

  6. Cochrane is understating this point. Google has already banned/blocked and reduced circulation of the lab leak argument, which is looking increasingly sure to be true. The SARS-CoV-2 virus was created at the Wuhan Institute of Virology with funding from the US government's NIH, by way of prime contractor EcoHealth. If you skim EcoHealth's DARPA proposal, they proposed modifying bat viruses to target human lungs in mice models, which lines up with SARS-CoV-2 exactly.

    1. Right.

      To this day the globalist community does not like an honest discussion about the origins of Covid-19.

      Or, for that matter, any discussion about what has happened to Hong Kong publisher Jimmy Lai.

  7. Reflecting your very wise summary of economics back at you: What is the question to which Youtube's behavior is the optimal answer?

    My guess: Government over-reach. People trying to "regulate" everything ended up making private companies dependent on big government.

    The answer is less regulation.

    Having said that, Youtube, Google, facebook, etc are all publishers now. They must follow the same laws as other content publishers. Then we can move on and free publishers from their libel liabilities and the rest as well. But first, you must level the playing field.

  8. Those in authority have never been receptive of dissent. Their belligerence always eventually provoke revolution. The modern trite, "Evolution not revolution," be damned. I believe what was written in the Declaration of Independence, that people ought not lightly to revolt, but also, that when governments surpass their limit of endurance, people have the right to revolt. In extreme cases, the have an obligation to.

  9. I am having trouble parsing the sentence, "YouTube doesn't allow content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authorities’ (LHA) or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical information about COVID-19." Having two subordinate clauses beginning with "that" may create some ambiguity.

    A careful reading is that the policy bans misinformation that contradicts. Here are three other possibilities.
    1. The policy bans misinformation only when it contradicts and allows other types of medical misinformation.
    2. The policy bans contradictions only when they misinform and allows contradictions that are "true".
    3. The policy defines and bans all contractions as misinformation.

    I expect greater clarity on such an important policy. Does anyone at Youtube edit?

    1. The ambiguity is a feature, not a bug. They can just ban anything they want.

  10. Well,in the Soviet Union during WW2 spreading misinformation and panic was punishable by death. So, things can always get worse.

  11. Obviously in an even worse condition: most of us think we don't.

    Anyone with an average epistemological culture (that is understanding how science/knowledge doesn't work) would never endorse these policies.
    Yet the elites in power skipped those classes... or became elites just because of that...


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