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LETTER: Separating opinions from disinformation

From reader Ben Carson

Re: LETTER: A different perspective on the Epoch Times, Feb. 4

While I side with letter-writer Jerry Svida’s statement that “people should be allowed to express different opinions and not to assume that their opinion is the correct one,” I believe we need to separate opinions from disinformation campaigns.

Epoch Times was behind the documentary that claimed that coronavirus was invented in a lab. Peer-reviewed studies state otherwise, with a clear consensus that the genetic structure of the coronavirus rules out this possibility. At what point did we begin listening to conspiracies over the consensus of our leading experts? A MIT study discovered that false information is 70 per cent more likely to be re-posted than the truth.

Coupled with the illusory truth effect and confirmation biases, we can forgive those that are unknowingly spreading such content – the defining difference between misinformation and disinformation.

While the peer-reviewed gold standard is not always readily attached to consumable information, a good place to start is an author. Epoch Times (Falun Gong) not only created conspiracy theories but distributed QAnon theories, which are attributed to an anonymous author.

A certain amount of compassion should be held for those wondering why the QAnon’s great awakening didn’t happen. In the end, they are victims of disinformation. Lest we forget that far-left disinformation also exists, in 1983, a disinformation campaign accused the U.S. military of creating AIDS in a lab as a weapon against the KGB (eerily similar to today’s Epoch Times conspiracy).

The solution is not to attack victims of disinformation, who are merely spreading misinformation, but to disassemble the levers of disinformation, and this includes outlets like the Epoch Times and QAnon. A judge once ruled against someone’s “freedom of speech” claim who yelled “fire” in a crowded theatre. How is this any different?

Ben Carson

Nelson

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