Good morning all! On NPR yesterday evening it was reported that France is now pushing much stricter vaccine requirements for all people who want to do anything in public. And suddenly, all these French people are rushing to get vaccines. It's a little hilarious but very interesting at the same time because France was one of those places hugely resistant to vaccines of any kind (despite being, as Macron said, the birthplace of Pasteur in one of his more elliptical lines, since Pasteur is best know for making milk safe to drink). But they want to sit in restaurants and go to museums and concerts so suddenly they're all about vaccines. https://www.npr.org/2021/07/16/1017012860/people-will-soon-need-a-vaccine-pass-or-negative-test-to-enter-frances-restauran

I know that people will be yelping about "free speech" and, stunningly, men will whine about having the "government" making decisions about their "bodies" (don't even get me started), but this kind of universal "we're all in this together, you arses, so stop behaving like petulant children and grow up" message needs to be sent.

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In Mrs. O'Brien's 4th grade class at the Spring Glen School in Hamden, Ct., circa 1960, she taught us that freedom of speech did not mean you could shout "Fire!" in a crowded movie theatre.

I think Mrs. O'Brien would also have had something to say about people who deny the value of medical science by refusing vaccinations, then show up mortally ill at a hospital expecting treatment; very expensive treatment at that.

If I was a medical person treating such people, I think I would have a difficult time not dropping my professional demeanor and giving them an earful; at the very least.

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Social media companies are part of the problem but to me the main issue is the anti-vaccination campaigns being waged by right wing media. Specifically, people like the execrable Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, etc. Let’s not forget, at CPAC, attendees CHEERED the decline in vaccination rates.

What the hell is wrong with these people?????

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When i first joined FB seven years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into. I immediately felt like I was being attacked by friend requests, and not wanting to be "impolite" I accepted them all. At that point, I didn't realize that being polite was not a part of social media. What I wanted was a way to share photographs and personal news with hometown friends and family since I live "away." I would have paid a subscription price for that service without news stories and advertising.

Instead, FB became a monster. You are tracked with every move you make on line and targeted by news and advertising that fit your "likes." In essence, FB culls you into a particular herd with some herds being led down a more and more sinister path. In the mean time, Zuckerberg rakes in over 125 billion net, and he defends his policies by hiding behind Free Speech. As he is called to take responsibility for his policies, he points to a vast number of fake news and hate speech that has been removed from the platform, but that number is never expressed as a percentage of the misinformation slithering through his product.

I deleted my FB account two years ago. I'll admit I miss it. But I could no longer stomach the thought of being part of Zuckerburg's profit. His billions feed his ego; his ego has no conscience. Behind his self-righteous claims of free speech, he destroys our country. I can do without him - and keep in touch with loved ones through phone calls, texts, and cards.

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Peter Doocy adds fuel to the disinformation wars. Jen Psaki has the patience of a saint.

“Speaking of misinformation and the announcement from yesterday,” Doocy began, “for how long has the administration been spying on people’s Facebook profiles, looking for vaccine misinformation."

Doocy accused the administration of spying on private Facebook accounts. In reality, Doocy was referring to a reference Jen Psaki had made on Thursday about the Disinformation Dozen, cited by the Center for Countering Digital Hate. The CCDH (cited in this letter by HCR) is a non profit based in the UK and has nothing to do with the US Government.


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I guess I am a bit surprised so many Americans are unaware of the concept of "relative risk", and, hence, are not able to perform a balanced individual relative risk assessment. I am not suggesting that all Americans should be able to do that task at the level of an actuary, but, I would think any human that can read a bit should be able to do simple relative risk balancing. Presumably all Americans, except the most recent immigrants, can read English language news.

For example, I was vaccinated with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Why? I chose this vaccine over the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines here in NY because, well, those vaccine appointments were booked out for months and appointments were impossible to get last March.

However, NY state opened a 24 hour J&J vaccine center in Syracuse and if one was willing to get vaccinated at 2am, well, one could get the vaccine that very day!

The relative risk of waiting to get the Moderna vaccine, in a few months, for its ostensibly higher efficacy seemed larger than the relative risk of getting the J&J vaccine right away. Some protection seemed better than none. At that point, I hope, the contamination issue was not present and that was not yet known. Aside: Boy, did it make me sick for 12 hours!

Likewise, by the time I received the J&J vaccine some early information was available on a very, very rare event in women and men over 50: Deadly blood clots. The incidence rate is so small an engineer would instantly ignore it, but, hey, even though I am an engineer, it was me that was going to get the vaccine. I could gin up some fear and ignore statistics.

I went ahead and got the J&J vaccine and did not think too much. Maybe the 0.000001 chance that I get a clot would be my last event? But, Covid, at age 61, even though I am healthy, seemed a higher relative risk.

So? I got the J&J vaccine based on a very simple relative risk assessment.

But, it seems many folks in America now are unable to perform their own, simple, relative risk assessment and are choosing, based on attraction to hysteria, to avoid vaccination.

I guess there must be some emotional reward for running toward hysteria instead of thinking independently for oneself?

I don't have Facebook so I don't know what the rewards of going to a hysterical Facebook page and reading it are. Maybe I would instantly become hysterical and afraid of vaccines?

To use a phrase I once saw in a movie: Not Sure.


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Thank you Heather.

Who in this room is surprised by this outcome? Yeah, none of us.

As talks of opening up different facets of businesses in New York, I would be chastised when I would speak up about the peril of what could happen to the unvaccinated. I think to a local article regarding the New York State Fair opening this year and I commented that it would most definitely produce a spike in the COVID-19 numbers. Simple statement right? It was met with some of the most vulgar name calling and harassment that I have ever had on Social Media. It's truly mathematics folks, if you cram millions of unvaccinated people from many different States who have a penchant to not believe Science into crowded buildings and a bombastic at best Midway, the outcome will not be a positive outcome.

Ignorance has come to roost in the form of a serious spike in numbers of the unvaccinated contracting COVID-19.

I can rest easy in knowing I was responsible and was vaccinated as soon as I could and continue to mask up whenever I go out and will do so. I'm not part of the problem. That would make a good slogan for a tee-shirt if I were that vindictive.

Be safe, stay well.

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My patience has long grown thin with FB. Two days ago, a sponsored post came through my feed advertising to keep the state government from requiring masks, particularly in schools. I flagged it for being misleading, but when I tried looking up the name of the sponsor, my query went nowhere. The misanthrope could literally be anybody in the whole world.

I've not totally abandoned my FB page just to keep up with personal and professional contacts I would not easily reach otherwise, but seriously, Facebook is terrible. If we had a truly functioning government, they would be regulated as a utility, and the Do Not Call List would stop robo calls.

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It's a shame that freedom is juxtaposed with public health when it comes to COVID vaccines. It's like apples and oranges. Children are vaccinated against mumps, measles and whooping cough. I think that the juxtaposition of freedom and COVID vaccination is a fabrication for deliberate obstruction.

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Again and again - slippery slope that it may be - how can it be that disinformation is considered free and protected speech - especially when proved it can lead to not only harm but death?

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The news that a Dozen people account for 65% of the Disinformation on COVID vaccines I find it incredulous that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have done almost nothing to stop them. One thing that could be regulated is the algorithms the media companies use which put readers into disinformation bubbles -- in order to make more money. This article (also listed in HCR's notes) talks about the twelve! https://252f2edd-1c8b-49f5-9bb2-cb57bb47e4ba.filesusr.com/ugd/f4d9b9_b7cedc0553604720b7137f8663366ee5.pdf

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Algorithms for profit = death.

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It seems finally to be official, disinformation is being recognized as a public health issue. What we have now in social media is something akin to conditions in most large cities of the late 19th century - they were full horse manure and other garbage that shortened the lives of many people. With freedom comes responsibility. Many of us have either forgotten or never learned that. No one has the right to yell fire in a crowded theater. No one should tell life threatening lies and then be able to hide behind the first amendment. Ideally, we should all police the content we upload or pass along, but we don't. Allowing disinformation to flourish unchecked is literally shorting the lives of thousands.

The public health measures that are largely responsible for almost doubling human lifespan over the past century were born of a lot of hard work, often done in the face of severe opposition (think tobacco and lead paint). The public mental and medical health crisis of disinformation is a similar challenge that will require honest appraisal, hard work, a willingness to call out lies when we see them, and take action when needed. President Biden's Calling out of Facebook on 7/16 is an encouraging development.

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Thank you, Dr. Richardson. I'm always grateful for your Letters.

Seems to me that anti-vaxxers were in a petri dish way before someone descended that golden escalator in NYC. Seems to me those anti-vaxxers were fueled by the same country that saw a golden opportunity to fuel a narcissistic con man. Same country, same motive. Divide and conquer. Divide, divide.

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Texas is becoming the Animal Farm of the 21st Century. Or perhaps call it Animal Ranch. I've been reading the Critical Race Theory bill SB3 and would find it amusing if it weren't so appalling. For example: page 7 line 7 (4) a teacher, administrator, or other employee of a state agency, school district, or open-enrollment charter school may not: (A) require or make part of a course inculcation in the concept that: (i) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex [..except White Males] (ii) an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously [...except White Males] (iii) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual's race or sex [except White Males]; (iv) an individual's moral character, standing, or worth is necessarily determined by the individual's race or sex [... except White Males]; (v) an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex [...except White Males]; .... (viii) the advent of slavery in the territory that is now the United States constituted the true founding of the United States [.. 1776 not 1619]; (ix) with respect to their relationship to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to the authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality [except White Males] etc. For me, just like women's rights, white males have no standing in a court of law to decide what can be done to a women's soveriegn body or what to teach about race and sex by White Males who generally have no clue what discrimination is and think they did it all on their own

merits. ... (vi) an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual's race or sex [except White Males]; Poor babies! ... (C) require an understanding of the 1619 Project. What they are instructed to teach is the Founding Father's document (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Federalist Papers) ALL written by Privileged White Males. I'd like them all to read Frederick Douglass's speech of 1852 on the 5th of July: "Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?" https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/speeches-african-american-history/1852-frederick-douglass-what-slave-fourth-july/ No, we mustn't teach this in Texas. It might hurt some poor white boy's image of himself. Poor baby.

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Yes, social media is spreading the lies. But so are the GOP. I wish he'd included them in that statement. Call out the politicians going on stage and still saying it's a lie, still saying we don't need vaccine mandates, don't need to follow health rules. And indict the ones who've voted to make it state policy to be against vaccination campaigns, who've voted to make it illegal to enforce public health measures.

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