Status; Links and Comments: Conservative Willful Misunderstanding of Coronavirus Deaths

I’m behind on commenting on newspaper and magazine articles; it’s been almost two weeks!

This is because, as I’ve detailed on Facebook (though I realize some readers of this blog might not see my Facebook posts), I’ve been busy finishing a year-long project expansion of my site, creating a history of sf/f/h anthologies (, which I posted a week ago today; and keeping up on my biweekly reviews for Black Gate, the latest one about Philip K. Dick is here.

Also, I’ve spent some time this week answering email interview questions from James Patrick Kelly, a fiction writer who also does a column about the Internet in every bimonthly issue of Asimov’s magazine (he’s been doing these since… 1998! — per, about my site, which he feels, along with the Science Fiction Encyclopedia ( and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (, are three essential science fiction sites on the web. (I’m flattered, and gratified.)

Let’s go back to some links from the end of August. Here’s a couple about willful misunderstanding, on the right, about the coronavirus pandemic.


NYT: ‘But I Saw It on Facebook’: Hoaxes Are Making Doctors’ Jobs Harder. Subtitle: Without the support of social platforms, our efforts to stamp out viral misinformation feel futile..

It ends:

Purveyors of false news will always exist; for as long as there have been epidemics there have been snake oil salespeople exploiting fear and peddling false hope. But Facebook enables these charlatans to thrive. Absent a concerted effort from Facebook to rework its algorithm in the best interests of public health — and not profit — we will continue to throw water on little fires of misinformation while an inferno blazes around us.

I keep saying this: Don’t get your news from Facebook.


Nature: How many people has the coronavirus killed? Subtitle: Researchers are struggling to tally mortality statistics as the pandemic rages. Here’s how they gauge the true toll of the coronavirus outbreak.

People who want to think the pandemic does not exist, or isn’t an issue (because big government, conspiracy theories by scientists to take control of the world, or whatever), willfully misunderstand statistics.

This is about deaths directly attributable to Covid-19, and the actual “excess” deaths this past year, compared to previous years. If the substantial number of excess deaths aren’t attributable to Covid-19, then what have they been caused by? Trumpists haven’t thought it through this far. They are not very smart.


Salon drills down the theme: Why the “6%” meme stating COVID-19 deaths are exaggerated is wrong. Subtitle: Trump and other conservatives seized on a misunderstood CDC statement as “proof” that coronavirus isn’t that deadly.

Yet the viral spread of the “6%” meme seems to speak to both a larger scientific illiteracy and the rapidity with which the conspiratorial right jumps on misinformation that appears convenient to their political narrative.

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, called the “6%” meme “a ludicrous misunderstanding and misinformation.” “Basically, [they are] arguing that if you die with COVID and have any risk factors, then it somehow doesn’t count as COVID,” he told Salon. Feigl-Ding compared the situation to that of cancer patients, who frequently have compounding conditions that increase their risk of dying of cancer.


I’ve begun reading Ezra Klein’s Why We’re Polarized, and will report about it soon.

This entry was posted in Culture, Lunacy, Personal history. Bookmark the permalink.