Last month, the peer-reviewed journal Minerva: A review of science, education and policy Published an important article on COVID-related censorship. I already wrote about it here. The researchers introduced their article by defining some terms, recalling certain COVID controversies, and noting how several respected medical professionals were affected by the pandemic controversy.
They went on to describe the specific experiences of their study participants, including 13 established doctors, scientists and medical professionals who were censored, suppressed or otherwise punished for dissenting from the prevailing COVID-19 orthodoxy. All of the participants have an MD or PhD in their respective fields, and four have both. So these are not conspiracies or internet trolls. They are respected minds who have simply transgressed against the “consensus” view, which, as I stated in my previous article, has changed drastically since March 2020.
Permanence and credibility
The researchers kept these participants anonymous to protect them, but emphasized their position and credibility. In the interview, they list the tactics the medical establishment and the media used against them, showing how harsh and blatant the censorship was in some cases. They reported:
Censorship and suppression strategies described by our respondents include exclusion, derogatory labels, hostile comments and threatening rhetoric from the media, both mainstream and social; Dismissal by the respondents’ employers; government inquiries; Revocation of medical license; Litigation and retraction of scientific papers after publication.
Study respondents noted that publications that had previously supported and published them began to drop their work and refused to publish or interview them. One participant said,
Not X or Y [two major newspapers in the respondent’s country] Wanted to publish my article. without proper explanation. …It was quite clear that they stopped accepting articles expressing different views from the Ministry of Health (MOH). The number of journalists who can really talk to, who are willing to listen to, express other views, has dwindled, and most health reporters today are very biased towards the MOH.
Apart from mere exclusion from publication facilities, the respondents also faced utter contempt. News headlines have called them out for criticizing them, defaming them, damaging their reputations and distorting their views. “I’ve been insulted…I’ve been called a quack…, an anti-vaxxer and a covid denier, a conspiracy theorist,” said one participant. Faced with this kind of ridicule, other like-minded medical professionals were understandably silent. Thus, the strategy of silence may suppress many other medical professionals, as the researchers point out in their introduction.
Not the Only Casualties
The study also showed how fame was not the only casualty. Entire careers are ruined. Another respondent reported:
I lost my job…, I was working in X for last 20 years [the institution’s name]… And so, the media started coming to X… There was a concerted effort to destroy my reputation, even though it was incredible, they basically had the lowest death rate in the world, and the doctor who brought them to them, got insulted and slandered. So, myself. I left from…
Other respondents described being censored by social media. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and LinkedIn have removed heterodox posts and in some cases suspended the respondent’s account. That Twitter has been blacklisted and “shadow-banned” prominent medical experts like Stanford’s Dr. Joy Bhattacharya. One study participant said:
I’ve always had videos, just my teaching material I’m putting on YouTube…, but I’ve also started presenting these things, just talking through some research… looking at vaccine effectiveness data… YouTube started to take down. And so now…, I can’t post, even mention the vaccine, because within seconds, as soon as I actually try to upload the video, YouTube will say that this video is against our guidelines…
No explanation or reason process
Beyond media censorship, the medical establishment has suppressed research and diversity of opinion. Academic institutions, peer-reviewed journals and scientific committees have played a hand in excluding certain respondents and denying their voices a fair hearing. One respondent stated that he had been “excluded” from a committee and editorial position without explanation or due process. The respondent had been on this particular committee for decades, but was cut off without a word. In addition, the researchers noted that some respondents “described how their research was retracted by the journal after publication.” During the pandemic, it became increasingly difficult for some respondents to publish in journals where their work had previously been welcomed.
The study documented how participants initially responded to these coping strategies and the coping strategies they used. I will cover this in my next and final post in this series.