Expect lies when dealing with swine flu protests

by endlesspsych

Yesterday after spending quite some time stating how nice the protestors were and suffering somewhat of a crisis of conscience about thinking of them as duplicitous two-faced drooling psychotics before meeting them and seeing they were actually quite nice people… I awoke to find an email from gimpy in my mailbox with the following link.

Demonstrators marched through Scotland’s capital to protest against swine flu vaccination.

The group believe H1N1 is not as serious as it is claimed, and have concerns about the safety and usefulness of the vaccine.

Around 80 people took part in Saturday’s march along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile from St Giles’ Cathedral to the Scottish Parliament.

Now perhaps there is a high degree of innumeracy or some inability to actually count (quadruple vision perhaps?) but there were nowhere near that many people at the protest. There were thirty at most (My head counts all averaged around 27)  taking part in the actual march.  Or maybe this is just a pernicious out-and-out lie in order to make the whole farrago seems somehow less embarrassing and claim more people were there?

I have some sort of loose sense of betrayal that after appearing so nice in the flesh they would adopt such duplicitous grandstanding tactics. I mean why not claim 100? 800? 10,000 even? Whats wrong with the truth of the matter of around 30? There was a ratio of 1.5 protesters to every 1 police officer!

I mean it’s not as if Anti-vaxxers haven’t played fast and loose with the facts in the past? Indeed their entire movement is based on a loose interpretation of facts, blended with a sizeable chunk of fiction all squeezed through conspiracy theory nonsense. Some genuine quotes from the protesters (although I hasten to add they may not be representitive of the protest at large) “Rompey (actually I had to interject with the name of the new EU president) said Copenhagen was the start of a New World Order” and “They want an army of many nationalities so they can shoot each other” (ok this I am paraphrasing because i didn’t quite understand the original mewlings) “50% of doctors won’t take Swine flu because they know whats in it” (I think the poor lad meant the swine flu vaccine in honesty…) Alongside leaflets filled with fear and paranoia about “chem trails”, “Microchips in vaccines” 9/11 and general conspiracy nonsense.

I have fired off an email to Lothian and Borders finest in the hope they carry some sort of official numbers on the protests as this count of out-and-out lie deserves to be debunked.

Although this in itself is pretty much symptomatic of the issue of churnalism. Journalists working to deadlines, overworked and probably underpaid, don’t have the time to actually attend such demonstrations (and given it was as small as it actually was thats not suprising) and it’s probably quite hard to fact check  such numbers (well we will find out about this when the polis get back to me…). But this means that any fringe group of loonies can stage a protest and claim vastly inflated numbers. They can make their case seem more important by pretending more people care about it then actually do.

I am pretty damn livid at the minute. The bare-faced cheek of it all is understandable but… it’s just dishonest.

I’m also appalled that the Scottish press have shamefully swallowed this out-and-out untruth and piece of misinformation wholesale quoting the numbers from the press release. Could you not have sent one reporter down to have a look?

If anyone doubts my word, as a skeptic perhaps I have a vested interest in making the protest seem smaller than it was, just have a look at the photos on the VAN website. They give a true idea of the actual scale of the protest and the amount of people in attendance. Far Short of the numbers claimed.

Although why did I even for a moment expect anything less?

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