Unorthodox Science Online – Are They Talking About Us?
This is a fascinating paper that describes how anti-maskers used the scientific method, data, and reason to challenge the mainstream narrative. While we aren’t specifically anti-maskers, just swap in the words “anti-masker” with “peakprosperity” and it will still read pretty accurately.
The document sums to: “Hey, wait a minute! These guys aren’t stupid!”
I’ve cherry-picked some paragraphs to entice you through the front door:
Defying public health officials, coronavirus skeptics on US social media spent much of 2020 creating data visualizations showing that the government’s pandemic response was excessive and that the crisis was over. This paper investigates how pandemic visualizations circulated on social media, and shows that people who mistrust the scientific establishment often deploy the same rhetorics of data-driven decision-making used by experts, but to advocate for radical policy changes.
This paper investigates how these activist networks use rhetorics of scientific rigor to oppose these public health measures. Far from ignoring scientific evidence to argue for individual freedom, anti-maskers often engage deeply with public datasets and make what we call “counter-visualizations”—visualizations using orthodox methods to make unorthodox arguments—to challenge mainstream narratives that the pandemic is urgent and ongoing. By asking community members to “follow the data,” these groups mobilize data visualizations to support significant local changes.
These findings suggest that the ability for the scientific community and public health departments to better convey the urgency of the US coronavirus pandemic may not be strengthened by introducing more downloadable datasets, by producing “better visualizations” (e.g., graphics that are more intuitive or efficient), or by educating people on how to better interpret them. This study shows that there is a fundamental epistemological conflict between maskers and anti-maskers, who use the same data but come to such different conclusions.
While previous literature in visualization and science communication has emphasized the need for data and media literacy as a way to combat misinformation [43,47,89], this study finds that anti-mask groups practice a form of data literacy in spades. Within this constituency, unorthodox viewpoints do not result from a deficiency of data literacy; sophisticated practices of data literacy are a means of consolidating and promulgating views that fly in the face of scientific orthodoxy. Not only are these groups prolific in their creation of counter-visualizations, but they leverage data and their visual representations to advocate for and enact policy changes on the city, county, and state levels.
And in the lead-up to the conclusion, this gem:
We argue that the anti-maskers’ deep story draws from similar wells of resentment, but adds a particular emphasis on the usurpation of scientific knowledge by a paternalistic, condescending elite that expects intellectual subservience rather than critical thinking from the lay public.
The phrase: “a paternalistic, condescending elite that expects intellectual subservience” describes Pope Fauci and his support structure fantastically well. “If you attack Dr Anthony Fauci, you are attacking SCIENCE ITSELF!”
How well will Fauci’s statement age, I wonder? Especially after people finally learn about:
* NO TREATMENTS FOR YOU! (with 500,000 people dead as a direct result)
* Experimental shots for the 5-year-olds – who aren’t at risk! [NNV to save 1 5-year-old using “the Vax”: north of 5 million, at current attack rates]
“I was just following orders. I did not know!”
We have to repeat this sort of thing every 80 years, it seems.
Disgusting, truly. But on the brighter side, this shows that we cannot be ignored, and it is gaining traction to some degree!