Conspiracies and parallel worlds, alternative facts and opinions-wishing facts into existence is a serious problem now

Do you know someone, a friend or family member perhaps, who appears to be occupying a parallel universe when it comes to conspiracy theories generally, and covid-19 conspiracies in particular?

The Ryan Tubridy radio show received an email from an individual last week telling Ryan of a family member who sees conspiracy everywhere.

The writer went on to say that the family member gets all her news from online sources, groups of members with similar views, Facebook, YouTube, various forums, etc.

He/she avoids mainstream media such as RTE, BBC, Channel 4, Irish Times, Irish Independent and other; and the frustration for the writer is that even though they have similar facts or data available to them their opinions and views are diametrically opposed and different.

It is as if they occupy parallel worlds. Worlds in which each of them can have their own facts and views of equal value and merit.

This radio show emailer came to mind when I read the report of the High Court case in which a Kildare doctor, with a practice in Celbridge, Co. Kildare, has had his licence suspended.

The background to the case was a complaint to the medical council received from a patient of the doctor’s who was subjected to a ‘barrage of nonsense’ about covid 19 not being a pandemic at all.

In fact, the doctor told the patient that his chest difficulty may be caused by the mask he was wearing and told him to ‘take that f***** thing off’. The doctor describes himself as a ‘conscientious objector’ and distributed pamphlets in his surgery saying, ‘no pandemic is killing us’, that ‘hoax that is covid-19’, and ‘the State and the Government are scamming the people’.

He described covid-19 as ‘inconsequential anyway’ and suggested the patient’s illness was as a result of ‘that silly f*****’ thing he was wearing, referring to the mask the complainant wore.

The medical council applied to the High Court to have the doctor’s licence to practice suspended.

Justice Mary Irvine did so on the basis that the doctor’s failure could have serious consequences not just for his patients but for the wider community.

The High Court judgment also referred to the fact that neither the doctor nor his staff wore masks and the medical practice (the Whitethorn Clinic in Celbridge) did not comply with public health measures such as the use of PPE and social distancing.

The doctor, Dr Waters, is appealing the High Court order.

Different opinions, different facts

It goes without saying that different opinions are to be welcomed in any sphere of activity or part of life. Debate, diverse views, alternative perspectives all help to educate, learn, entertain, test the boundaries of an issue or opinion.

But a rational person is obliged to arrive at a logical conclusion based on evidence, data, facts. You cannot simply make up your own facts or so called data in a vacuum, devoid of the widely available evidence and facts from unbiased, objective sources.

The advancement of human thinking and endeavour must be carried out within some boundaries of logic, rational thought, evidence, objectively verifiable facts, and so on. To do otherwise, I argue, is to reduce oneself below the level of an animal, operating on instinct or intuition, for even an animal will engage in rational thought and response to his experience.

One of the biggest problems facing society today is the ability for a person to occupy their own universe, with their own facts and opinions, courtesy of the tailored, biased feeds of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others.

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