Philipp Markolin Profile picture
May 15 12 tweets 17 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter

#Distort, #discredit, #dismiss - 6 additional tactics of media manipulators and why they work to sabotage public discourse


Details follow:
1/ 6 types of media manipulators
Anti-science activism never went away, it got a new ugly face in the #information age:

Quacks, gurus, contrarian doctors, fake experts, influencers, political commentators and similar media manipulators.

Previously we looked at "merchants of #doubt"

Today, we take a look at the "merchants of #ambiguity"

Their overarching goal is to create the perception that scientific issues are either eternally #unresolved or that #alternative interpretations are just as plausible or likely.

3/ Image
First up, we have the civility #crusaders.

Why are we #polite? How can our social expectations be used against us? Why is framing #legitimate scientific criticism as a #personal attack a tactic that works?

4/ ImageImageImageImage
Second, we investigate uncertainty #inflaters.

Our brains generalize & try to avoid #uncertainty, yet dealing with uncertainty is part of the scientific process. How can manipulators #exploit this rift between scientific practice and our preference?

5/ ImageImageImageImage
Third, we look at a certain breed of back-to-nature #zealots.

We humans value nature for many beautiful reasons, yet how can this makes us #susceptible to anti-scientific theories and false #appeals from manipulators?

6/ ImageImageImageImage
Fourth, the obnoxious faux-persecuted #truthtellers.

We have a soft spot for the #underdog, and casting suspicions against an "establishment, mainstream or elite" narrative is a great #marketing trick for manipulators. But why is this tactic problematic for discourse?

7/ ImageImageImageImage
Fifths, we question the counterfeit #freedom fighters.

We humans value our freedom and react badly on perceived #repressions. But what if our reactance can be cultivated and #weaponized all too easily by manipulators?

8/ ImageImageImageImage
Sixth, we check out the gish-galloping #whataboutists.

Whataboutisms appeal to our sense of #fairness and consistency. How can they be abused by manipulators to #discredit, sabotage or #divert conversations?

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If you are tired, like most of us, from being manipulated, please take a look at my article.

Here is also a free medium version if you are not a fan of substack:…

If you are a science educator, or just want to use some of the resources, feel free.

High resolution images and pdf of the infographics (#GMO, #vaccine, #abortion, #evolution, #climate, #lableak versions) can be found & downloaded for free at:…

You can build upon, modify, use it as you please.
If you do, please reference the source

11/ ImageImageImageImage
I hope these resources help us all to make sense of our chaotic online environment, #protect us against being #manipulated, improve our media #literacy, and renew our #commitment to truth and intellectual rigor.

Please share and let me know your thoughts.

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More from @PhilippMarkolin

May 2
Frustrating but important perspective by @PeterHotez:

"The phenomenon of red Covid was not a random occurrence but instead an expected outcome of predation linked to extremist politics"

Read in full:

A few thoughts follow 🔽…
In this perspective, Dr. Hotez offers some insights on the topics I have been writing & talking about, namely the #weaponization of conspiracy #myths by political actors to attack unwelcome scientific authority in public discourse.

He first outlines the damage: Needless deaths Image
How could it have come so far?

For Dr. Hotez, part of that answer lies with anti-science messaging from political elites; how else does one explain the "red covid" phenomenon?

Furthermore, there has been no course correction by political elites. If anything, they doubled down Image
Read 10 tweets
Apr 4
My talk at @fiocruz about the #lableak theory and the rise of #information pathogens is now freely available.

Thanks @cmmorel and @KropfSimone for this wonderful event.

Here is the youtube link to the full video with time stamps for easy accessibility:
@fiocruz @cmmorel @KropfSimone Here are some more highlights from the talk:

First: How do scientists deal with uncertainty and how can this help us inform ourselves about the most likely
#originofcovid ?

It comes down to asking P(Evidence|Hypothesis):
@fiocruz @cmmorel @KropfSimone Second:
What is the state of evidence (now in 2023) for a #zoonotic origin of SARS-CoV-2 versus a #lableak ?

If you don't have the time, energy or interest to watch the whole talk, here are some take away summaries:
Read 7 tweets
Apr 2
Fascinated by the dispute around #theoriginofcovid ?

I was invited to give a talk at Fiocruz. The event takes place in Rio de Janeiro, starting at 12:30 EDT / 5:30 pm CEST and, and will be broadcast via Zoom.

Access link can be found here tomorrow:… Image
Still working on the presentation (also, my luggage did not make it... thanks airfrance), but this will be the approximate outline of the talk: Image
There will be a Q&A and discussion following up; and one gets a chance to see me being uncomfortable being the one interviewed rather than the other way around. 😅

Please join via zoom on Monday if you are interested.
Read 5 tweets
Mar 21
There are new pathogens in our midst.

My latest article about media #manipulators, velocity #hacking, and the latest Covid origin #controversy.

Maybe some #mainstream journalists & influencers take a good look in the mirror.

Read:… Image
How much should we think about the role of information in society?

In this article, I use the recent media coverage surrounding #lableak versus #zoonosis to point toward a new threat we have not yet wrapped our heads around:

Information pathogens with high #velocity. Image
#Velocity is a metric for the transmission efficacy of information given a particular content payload, its viral packaging, and its host environment.

Basically the R0 of information, a measure of #contagiousness.

Info pathogens with high velocity outcompetes good information. Image
Read 11 tweets
Mar 16
🚨🚨🚨 NEW EVIDENCE #zoonosis
Chinese researchers (who have had troubles getting data out) finally managed to sneak upload full #sequencing data from environmental swaps at Huanan market.

Show: Co-occurance of #animal sequences with SARS-CoV-2 RNA

Added to the evidence map 🔽
@KatherineJWu 's atlantic article first reported on this new development.

(independent reseachers have been waiting on these data to come out for over a year)

I will give some context in the next few tweets:…
1⃣ Does this prove that SARS-CoV-2 came from racoon dogs?

Not definitively. Co-occurance of sequences could be from chance contamination in theory. Also, even if racoon dogs were indeed infected, they might just have been amplifiers at market, not the original source.

Read 8 tweets
Mar 16
🚨🚨🚨 @KatherineJWu first to get this scoop down.

The Chinese CDC finally uploaded market sampling data, and as expected, environmental swaps positive for SARS-CoV-2 point to raccoon dogs.

Yet another strong piece of evidence for #zoonotic origin & against any #lableak myth
@KatherineJWu Just to add a bit of context:

Environmental swaps were taken from the Huanan market, and that many of them tested positive was already confirmed a year ago in a pre-print from researchers at the Chinese CDC.

However, they did not make their sequencing data available and...
@KatherineJWu ...thus had trouble getting their pre-print accepted.

It now appears that in order to get the paper published (speculation!), one of the researchers uploaded the sequences, and voila, they contained exactly what people like @edwardcholmes @MichaelWorobey expected; animal DNA/RNA
Read 4 tweets

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