So... why are official state (and provincial) health departments telling obvious lies about COVID?

Or, why we shouldn't be censoring "misinformation"

Yesterday brought what must be the most striking example I’ve yet seen of an official government health agency telling lies to encourage vaccination. The tweet is still up 17 hours later but I’m going to post a photo in case they do finally delete it.

Now if we were making a list of wrong things you could say about COVID-19, “your risk is not determined by age” might be the top thing on your list. Your risk is absolutely determined by age, the age stratification of risk is extremely strong. The risk of hospitalization for a 90-year-old is something like a thousand times greater than the risk of hospitalization for a child1. (Your risk is determined by fitness level and community as well.) This fact has been understated by health agencies looking for compliance with their orders all along now, but the example above is particular for just being a flat denial of the truth.

You’ll note the 3000 quote tweets there - that is people (including myself) pointing out how wrong they are. So you might think they’d say “our bad, that was poorly phrased, the intern was running the account, what we actually meant was…”. No, in fact they interacted with a few of the early people calling them out and told those people to stop spreading misinformation, and basically “justified” their original tweet with claims that children can get COVID too2.

And elsewhere, sorry this is a smaller screenshot but you get it:

A lot you could say here3… the conflation of “risk” with “cases”, and the treating of “misinformation” as the latest magical, get-out-of-jail-free word. Remember that when sites like YouTube censor people, they censor them for promoting COVID-19 “misinformation” as determined by things like “contradicts the pronouncements of local health authorities”. But here is a local health authority that is itself not only spreading misinformation, but accusing people who correctly try to point out its error of themselves spreading misinformation!

What is going on here? I’ll offer you just a couple thoughts.

  1. A subset of humans do seem to have this sort of mental block where they have difficulty thinking in terms of probabilities instead of absolutes. Such a person may genuinely have difficulty understanding that “children can get it too, just like 90-year-olds can get it” is absolutely not the same thing as “your risk is not determined by age”. If that’s the case here, by golly such a person should not be running communications for a scientific authority.

  2. The health authority is knowingly telling a lie to encourage vaccination, but they don’t care… and perhaps they really didn’t expect the public to jump all over them for it. This goes along with a James Poulos sort of claim that our public institutions have, in many cases, still not really adjusted to the 21st century information environment. They’re still thinking “we issue statement, media repeats statement, the end”. Being called out en masse and immediately for a lie is still not really part of their thinking (and calls for censorship are largely a desire to make that accountability go away).

Remarkable.

1

Worth mentioning perhaps that their original tweet lumps “cases and hospitalizations” together under the same number… which is a terrible idea. Were this a science class, I might say that you’re basically adding together two numbers with different units. You can’t do that.

2

Late edit here, but it occurs to me that another falsehood implicit in that lower tweet is “get vaccinated and you won’t even test positive”. We know that isn’t true, our vaccines are symptom reducers that prevent neither infection nor transmission. And where you find cases is significantly driven by where you go test people. But it does make you start to wonder if many of our “statistics-driven” institutions do not understand their own statistics - the usual question again of “are they lying, or are they just incompetent?”.

3

Actually another objection you could make is that they’re engaging in a sort of misdirection, “answering” one statement by making an unrelated statement. JRonin tells them that unvaccinated children are at less risk than vaccinated adults, which is generally true. They seem to accuse him of claiming that children are not affected, which is not what he said. This is just, like, “inability to properly form and respond to an argument” stuff.