Coronavirus (634) Uncertainty amidst COVI-19 (7)

20 May, 2020

Good morning HIFA members, good morning David, thank you for raising this point. [David Gisselquist, USA: 'Truth' and 'falsehood' are a lot more elusive than some online discussions would suggest!

In the face of adversity, for most people the question is not 'which pieces of the terabytes of information available to me are true, and which are false?'

The question is more like 'what is my next step, what do I do for myself, my family, people close to me?' They check a newspaper, TV or laptop, rather than a microscope, library or peer-reviewed medical journal.

In professional groups there are political, economic, scientific, social and other considerations, some of which lead to wildly differing conclusions about what individuals, groups and countries should do, and what the world should do.

But the example of injectable Depoprovera shows that even incontrovertible evidence of the harm it can do ('the science') can be trumped by other considerations; maybe politics, academic allegiances, money, all of those things or something else.

As far as I can see, every individual expert, team, institution or group can be wrong sometimes, but they will often continue for as long as their favoured politicians, media, the public or donors continue to support them.

When the lockdown started in the UK my first thoughts were about people in East Africa, where my own family are. I am well aware of the effect that sudden changes in circumstances there can have on access to food, water, transport, healthcare and other goods.

Covid-19 appears to be less serious than some of the numerous endemic conditions that health services have never been able (or enabled) to address successfully. A lockdown in such a fragile economy could kill far more people than even some of the worst endemic conditions.

If HIFA can give access to a range of views, ones critical of revered institutions and journals, as well as ones wholeheartedly approving of them, then it may help users to formulate views that are only, at present, as partisan as the mainstream media and other influences.

HIFA profile: Simon Collery is an independent information consultant in London, with over 20 years experience working in information. He also has 11 years experience working in international development, mainly in East Africa - collery (@)