#Denounce, #deny, #deceive - 6 common tactics of media manipulators and why they work to sabotage public discourse

It is time to stop being naive about online discourse.

“The discourse holds so many traps for the unwary. It’s a bit like financial scams and gambling that are a tax on the financially naïve. A similar tax is being levied on the intellectually naïve.” —  @ArthurCDent

@ArthurCDent In the article, I lay out 6 common #manipulation tactics and why they work to sabotage discourse on scientific topics.

First up is "just asking questions" or "#sealioning", which uses social expectations and #framing effects to distort conversations.

@ArthurCDent Second, we look at the power of sensationalist stories and baseless rumors.

Why does a compelling #fiction win over nuanced #truth every time?

@ArthurCDent Third, we move on to "#anomaly hunting", a practise that gained incredible popularity on social media.

What is it? Why do people do it? Why is it not legitimate?

@ArthurCDent Fourth, we take a look at fake experts and media #biases.

Why do #contrarian opinions get preferential treatment? Where do the media and even established #journalists predictably go wrong?

@ArthurCDent Fifth, we look at emotional manipulations through #moralizing discourse.

Why are we so susceptible to moral #outrage and moral #panics? What is moral #grandstanding?

@ArthurCDent Sixth, it get's visceral.
We look at #toxic behaviors that try to #repress, bully or #threaten experts out of fact-based conversations.

From #poisoning the well to #character assassinations, this is nothing for the feeble minded.

@ArthurCDent If you do not want to be easily #manipulated, or if you are wondering if discourse is #inauthentic or not, please read this article:

@ArthurCDent If you do not have the time to read through everything, I compiled some high-resolution infographics to summarize the tactics against #vaccine, #climate and #origin science.

Feel free to consult, use and share them.
PDFs can also be found for free in the article.
@ArthurCDent If you do not like substack, my article can also be found on medium, here is a friend's free access link:…
@ArthurCDent And because I often get insulted and harassed for my science communication work (see tactic 6, 'mudslinding'), here is a disclaimer of why I am doing it:

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More from @PhilippMarkolin

Feb 2

Some real talk:

It can be difficult to tell with certainty whether a random virus is engineered or not based purely on the sequence, but when we talk about a specific virus, e.g. SC2, we were 'lucky' that we can tell with high certainty it is a natural virus.

We were lucky in the sense that coronaviruses evolve through recombination (not only random mutations & selection).

That means their genomes consist of a patchwork of puzzle pieces assembled by crossings paths with other CoVs.

In SC2's case, we talking like 27 recombination pc
Each piece comes with its own evolutionary history and can be mapped on a #phylogenetic family tree based on common ancestors & cousin viruses.

This allows researchers to figure out what "crossing events" lead to SC2 genome by sampling CoVs in the wild…
Read 6 tweets
Dec 25, 2022
The Brownstone institute is a fracking-billionaire funded anti-science #disinformation outlet

I just highlight some passages to show that the #lableak conspiracy myth would always have happened, no matter where COVID first broke out

If not the WIV, then 🔽

A master thread:
Many amplifiers, including some science journalists, believe that a legitimate scientific uncertainty & geographic coincidence underneath the #originofcovid controversy is the root cause and driver for the conspiracy myth.

This is false
Yes, the inital uncertainties were real
but no matter where the virus initially broke out, there would always be some lab or some scientists that could be made to associate with.

All pandemics were followed by #conspiracy theories about their origins. The 1918 flu was blamed on the Germans and their aspirin, ffs.

Read 15 tweets
Dec 25, 2022
Alina Chan is not a friend of a GOP witch hunt into US virologists. She knows it will not yield any evidence. Albeit related to her endless mudslinging, she fears it will eventually backfire & vindicate her targets... quite cynically, she'd rather prefer to abuse uncertainty.
For her strategic goals, it is much better to manipulate the public with endless speculative tantrums and artificial uncertainty than see virologists being not found guilty in congressional hearings.
The simple fact is that she made a big bet being a vocal contrarian and now...
all that awaits her is the public waking up to her nonsense and a fall from grace (she has already fallen out from professional circles because of her conspiracy mongering ofc)
To stay in the public limelight, she much rather sees the origins uncertainty never resolve, or go...
Read 5 tweets
Dec 23, 2022
Special Christmas episode everybody.

We sat down with Professor Edward Holmes to put him to task about his evolutionary research, his role in finding the #origins investigations, proximal origins, collaborations with China, and much, much more.

Some context:

Prof. Holmes is involved in many scientific papers related to origins research; studying how RNA viruses (including HIV, Ebola, SARS, Hantavirus etc) jump species boundaries for many years, and working with Chinese scientists since 2012, he was perfectly...

positioned to contribute to the rush for more understanding when Covid started; among his many scientific achievements, he was the first to get the SARS-CoV-2 genome published, he was involved in studies finding SC2 relatives in the wild, he has been at the Huanan market in...
Read 6 tweets
Dec 11, 2022
Inventing conflicts of interest for scientists is a tactic from vested interest to discredit domain experts

Dr. Chan, a non expert, is profiting directly from book sales (& knock on gains from profile boosts) by #discrediting scientific experts

Tell us again how does CoI work?
There is no need to write a sensationalist & false book with a lifelong anti-science attack dog, climate change contrarian and AIDS conspiracists to smear scientists that reach conclusions one might disagree with, one can just publish papers to advance another point of view.
The problem is of course that alternative views based on speculation, not evidence, are not credible.
The only play contrarians like Dr. Chan have to bridge that credibility gap is not to improve hers, but trying to drag domain experts through the mud with mostly made up BS.
Read 4 tweets
Nov 24, 2022
I've written a bit about this Musk Twitter thing from a system's perspective, and this here 🔽 is a clear signal for what I deem one of the likely outcomes.

System disintegration into smaller subsystems.

Twitter will become smaller, weaker & probably align itself with
other ecosystems to hold info power.

If you are in the EU (+adjacent), expect Twitter to be gone sooner rather than later and live with an alternative that will be more European and less global.

If you are in the US (+adjacent), expect Twitter to stay but transform.
For the US, @davetroy has laid out some suggestions (which I do not fully endorse but can see going in that direction) how a Musk Twitter might look like & be used to further the interests of a very specific network and thought ecosystem.

For the EU, Twitter competitors will
Read 7 tweets

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