26 April 2020 — Off Guardian
This week we discover that female leaders are better at beating viruses, that censorship is good for your health and that not all scientists are created equal
Our weekly feature rounding up the more shallow and vapid aspects of The Guardian‘s nonsense was one of the unnamed early victims of the coronavirus. When all the headlines are about the same thing, there suddenly seems little point in highlighting the silliest examples. Plus…there’s only so many hours in a day.
But now we’re back.
The initial plan was to try and move on, maybe talk about something other than the pandemic, but The Guardian proved uninterested in facilitating that. Deploying some delightfully frightening, agenda-driven and hilarious headlines…but all concerning the coronavirus.
So, in the spirit of steering into the skid, we present This Week in the Guardian: The Coronavirus Special.
The Battle of the Sexes
In the last couple of days, two separate articles have appeared talking about gender, leadership and how to correctly steer your country through a pandemic.
Apparently women are inherently better at doing this than men.
There’s this one about terrible, mean, brutish, hairy male heads of state being awful and handling the pandemic badly.
And this one about compassionate, friendly, educated, nice-smelling female heads of state being lovely and doing all the right things.
It really is as reductionist as that. The only thing any of the leaders have in common is their gender.
Though loosely described in the first article as ‘populist’, the male leaders listed don’t all agree with each other, haven’t enforced the same policies or all handled the coronavirus outbreak in the same way. Strict authoritarian moves in Hungary and the Philippines are listed alongside the virus “denial” of Bolsonaro in Brazil.
Likewise, the women have nothing in common but their chromosomes. They don’t all share policies or backgrounds or education. Jacinda Ardern’s hard, early lockdown is listed alongside the less stringent measures of Merkel and the comparatively non-existent lockdown in Taiwan. They all did “the right thing”, apparently, despite all doing different things, simply because they all did them whilst having a uterus.
Take away point: the really bad thing about populism is that men do it, but when women do it that makes it alright. Just like everything else.
Censorship Saves Lives
Another Guardian article from this week warns of “pro-Kremlin outlets” spreading “coronavirus disinformation”.
Nick Cohen has an “op ed on the same subject, urging action against free speech so that “Russian meddling” doesn’t persuade us all to break quarantine and rush outside like lunatics.
He spent the last four years comparing Jeremy Corbyn to Stalin, and now he’s arguing that Facebook and YouTube should do some Stalinist censoring of their platforms in line with government policy.
Has no one at Graun HQ even noticed that the Kremlin (as well as China) is actually in lockstep with the West on the issue of covid19? Or does no whisper of reality percolate through their glassy walls any more?
“Pro-Kremlin” and “pro-China” are labels which have literally lost all meaning in face of an almost totally unified global response to Covid19, and yet, if Nick has his way, they will be used to destroy any semblance of alternative media in Western society
His article’s headline “Social media no longer tolerates toxic lies? Don’t believe a word of it“, makes the intent plain. He is returning to the theme that big tech companies have to do their part to make sure Russians and “conspiracy theorists” don’t harm our society. But this time he is overtly demanding wrong-thinking people (specifically David Icke in this instance) should be un-personed and barred from social media to “protect public health”.
At one point in his incoherent diatribe he even cites “conspiracy theorists” alleged “antisemitism” (without any evidence to back it up). A beautiful example of what Huey Long called “fascism coming in the name of anti-fascism”.
Nick doesn’t care about that. He’s just here to promote authoritarianism and chew gum, and he’s all out of gum.
He’s a massive hypocrite. Nothing more need be said.
There’s “scientists”, and then there’s “scientists”
Rather like Lionel Hutz’s infamous 2 kinds of truth, it seems there are also two kinds of scientist. At least, according to this piece of “journalism”.
This article is a direct attack on the credibility of the recent California-based studies which found coronavirus antibodies to be far more widespread than previously estimated. Lowering the infection-fatality rate by at least a factor of ten.
According to The Guardian, Scientists and Experts have criticised the study. The fact the people who carried out the research were also “scientists” doesn’t seem to matter. By their questioning of the Virus they have been thrown out of the priest caste and are tainted with heresy.
The basic tools of bias are pretty evident. Every “expert” calling the “controversial” studies into question is named, and their qualifications listed. Only one of the authors of either of the research papers is even named – Dr John Ioannidis – and his qualifications are not listed, nor is he directly quoted. Excepting his “controversial opinion” that Covid19 is “not the apocalyptic problem we thought” (when THAT is the quote they trot out to make you look irrational, you’re a very rational man).
Nowhere does it mention that no expert anywhere questions that upwards of 80% of coronavirus infections are thought to be asymptomatic (right in line with these studies’ results). Nor does it mention any of the other studies showing that WHO’s “official” CFR is a significant over-estimated.
At one point the authors even accidentally argue against their own point, citing the fact reported Covid19 deaths were recently found to have started in California in early February…without realising this is a major argument in favour of the studies’ conclusion (obviously, the earlier the disease reached the US, the more it will have spread by now).
But the most hilarious part is that criticism of antibody tests used in the research because they have a reported false-positive rate of 2 in 371, or 0.53%. Hilarious because the PCR tests used to diagnose coronavirus infections (despite the inventor of the test stating it should never be used diagnostically), has a potential false-positive rate of 50%, or even as high as 80%.
But the Graun has no issue with this massive rate of uncertainty apparently. Because false positives for terminal cancer patients are good for the fear porn business. Whereas the population sampling, using an antibody test possibly over 100x more accurate, has to be discredited simply because it could be used as a counter-argument to a police state.
BONUS: Who Needs Juries Anyway?
Just weeks after Scotland announced plans to scrap Jury trials, only to take it back within 24 hours due to the outcry, The Guardian has decided to push the issue again. An opinion piece from a QC, and an article about the opinion piece, suggest England should give defendants the right to choose a bench trial over a jury trial to “clear the backlog”.
It’s not a concern, because they do it in Australia already and juries can be prejudiced and ill-informed, whilst Judges can’t. So it will probably be fairer in the end.
Who needs Magna Carta in the 21st Century?
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