Wuhan Coronavirus: Can you separate fact from fiction?

in #wuhanlast month

Please, keep that quote in mind as you read this and continue your journey of seeking truth. I'm not suggesting you should stop questioning or that you shouldn't find patterns and highlight inconsistencies in the narratives fed to us. I am saying you'll be more effective at determining reality (and at being a first-rate intelligence) if you're researching the lower depths of QAnon, 4chan, 8chan, 8kun, etc while at the same time researching other possibilities and narratives that debunk the theories you find.

Too often, IMO, people latch on to one narrative and run with it as deep as it will go. This is not good scientific or experiential thinking. If you have a theory, first you have to work to disprove the theory via careful experimentation and data analysis. You have to find out you were wrong about something before you'll gain new information and figure out when you're right.

To illustrate this point, please watch this great video by Veritasium. It's less than 5 minutes long and has over 11M views:

This might be a good time to also mention how the human brain works (give Thinking, Fast and Slow a read for more on that) and how we love pattern recognition.

In psychology and cognitive neuroscience, pattern recognition describes a cognitive process that matches information from a stimulus with information retrieved from memory.

-- Wikipedia

It concerns me how few people understand that the brain creates false patterns all the time as part of this pattern matching strategy. Again from Wikipedia:

False pattern recognition
Main article: Apophenia

The human tendency to see patterns that do not actually exist is called apophenia. Examples include the Man in the Moon, faces or figures in shadows, in clouds, and in patterns with no deliberate design, such as the swirls on a baked confection, and the perception of causal relationships between events which are, in fact, unrelated. Apophenia figures prominently in conspiracy theories, gambling, misinterpretation of statistics and scientific data, and some kinds of religious and paranormal experiences. Misperception of patterns in random data is called pareidolia.
-- Wikipedia

Before writing this post, I hadn't even heard of the word apophenia. Had you?

Many of us know the phrase "conspiracy theory" is being over-used to discredit and marginalize truth seekers on the fringe of the agreed upon narrative. Before you fall for that trap, Google "conspiracy theories that turned out true" to find pages like this describing everything from a heart attack gun, to operation mocking bird, to a "gay bomb." Many conspiracies aren't just theories, but well documented historical fact.

That said, statistically, most of the crap shared online is bogus because humans like to create patterns, even if they have no real connection and violate logical fallacies. Please, spend some time and Know They Logical Fallacies. Instead of throwing around the term "conspiracy theorist" maybe we can instead describe, with data, how someone may have a case of apophenia.

Now, back to the point of this post. As of right now, there are 141 million search results on Google for "Wuhan Coronavirus." This is being talked about all over social media and there are a lot of theories ranging from the Bill and Melinda gates foundation working to depopulate the world to a bioweapons facility engineering this to begin with. How are we to know what is fact and what is fiction? We do so through epistemology, something I posted about 3 years ago: Problem: Alternative Facts or Poor Epistemology?

I think the answer goes back to the original quote I shared by F Scott Fitzgerald. We have to explore the theories while at the same time exploring the counter arguments and still keep our functioning minds at high capacity.

If you have spent some time researching these theories, at the very least, you may want to spend an equal amount of time trying to disprove them. Only then will you know if you have new knowledge or you're falling into the apophenia trap.

Some links to get you started:

Before you commit a genetic fallacy and tell me you'll never read a post from Snopes, I encourage you to take a different perspective. If you are convinced of your position (a very precarious place for a real truth-seeker), view these sites as a way to better understand what you might call controlled opposition. Read their arguments and the supporting data as the next front in the battle for truth. Work to disprove each and every point instead of just sticking to a pattern that feels familiar.

A truth-seeker is someone who wants the truth, even if it doesn't fit their own paradigm or world-view. It requires very little ego because the answers you find may change your very understanding of reality and expose your biases.

My encouragement to the keyboard warriors out there: Keep seeking truth. Leave no stone unturned. And, at the same time, check yourself. Are you sharing information to bring about a greater understanding of truth or to get egoic attention and spread fear, uncertainty and doubt? Fear is a powerful human emotion and it sells well. If you participate in sharing false information leading to increased fear, you may be helping the very people you stand in opposition to who use that fear to control the masses.

Thanks for reading this far. I hope you continue to seek truth, even if no Big "T" Truth can be found.

Luke Stokes is a father, husband, programmer, STEEM witness, DAC launcher, consultant, and voluntaryist who wants to help create a world we all want to live in. Learn about cryptocurrency at UnderstandingBlockchainFreedom.com

I'm a Witness! Please vote for @lukestokes.mhth


The ascending numbers experiment was quite revealing. Thanks for sharing!

Generally speaking, the media is shifting more and more towards hysteria new reporting, instead of going into it with the goal to educate the civilisation. I get it, fear sells, but I do hope that somehow we could incentivize news coverage to put a focus into education instead of hype.

The snopes article was actually quite good. Especially the last part:

You can protect yourself in the same way as you would against other respiratory illness: by being vigilant about hand-washing and practising good cough and sneeze etiquette, which means coughing or sneezing into your flexed elbow or into a tissue, and washing your hands.

But still, why isn't there anything mentioned about maintaining a healthy immune system? Good sleep, high-quality food and other stuff: i.e Wim Hoff Breathing etc. That would be something to actually help people, instead of creating even more fear.

Yeah, for real. Much of the "food" most people eat has very little nutritional content to support our bodies. I'm very thankful to be married to a woman who cooks real food and participates in CSA's (community supported agriculture).

Yeah, that video is one of my favorites for quickly understanding how we actually gain knowledge. It's counter intuitive, but when we are wrong, that's the best thing!

Finding a collection of people when delving into trying to uncover fact from fiction has become a tedious task, still a good thing to question everything from many angles.

Take 5G WHO says yeah, when scientists in various fields related to the topic strongly oppose, most times I go with scientists once more than a few public works have been published.

Excellent post. New word learned: Apophenia

@tipu curate

Thanks for your comment!

Yeah, the 5G thing is a great example. I have friends who are convinced it will have devastating consequences on human wellbeing while I know other people who have worked in the wireless telecommunications industry for decades who are convinced it's completely fine and the people concerned fundamentally don't understand the technology so they are demonstrating their fear driven by ignorance.

For myself, I'm hoping whatever is thrown my way, my body can adjust and evolve through positive epigenetic changes to survive and thrive. :)

IMHO I don't care what people do to each other, I do take objection to destroying animal life, negatively affecting environment.

Man is so greedy (part of our destructive nature), they will continue with cloak and dagger ideas to further enrich themselves.

As humans I think our bodies have been adjusting to whatever has come our way for decades already, as we change so does nature in viruses and the likes.

When I was still with Ramsey, we built a log aggregation system for populating our data lake for analytics. I named it 'apophenia' out of fear that we would use it to inter patterns with insufficient mathematical rigor.

I don't know how many of its users know what the word means, but I just visited earlier this month, and the dev team is still using 'apophenia.'


That's awesome, man. Super fun to think the word is being used in perfect context with significance and yet people still don't understand the meaning behind it. Great use of the word!

it's all over the media, which immediately makes me suspicious.

flights also still going in and coming out of wuhan airport make me even more suspicious:


if snopes say i should be worried ( i read their piece) i will be sleeping soundly.

“If snopes...”

Did you just commit the genetic fallacy I described in my post?

yes, on purpose - thanks for taking the bait and ignoring my other points.

in less than 2 weeks, this won't be news any more, just like the last thing and the next thing.

Taking the bait? Are you a human or a troll?

I’m not familiar enough with that flight tracking site or its data source to comment on it. I don’t know if those are WHO flights or whether the media is full of BS when it says flights have been shut down.

It’s very possible this will blow over, but it’s also true that millions of people died in 1918 from outbreaks that were as deadly and as viral as things we’re seeing today. We were lucky that SARS wasn’t very resilient but we may not be so lucky next time. Stuff like this is taken seriously for a reason. Read the history on this stuff.

i'm a human troll. this will blow over, and you will look back and forget, getting absorbed in the next crisis they throw at you. remember when world war 3 with iran was all the rage?

the flights are listed below the tracker. how many WHO flights do you think there are?

i believe nothing on the telescreen, because of years of experience of their total lies and deception. wmd's, syria chemcial attacks, climate change (nee global warming,) just otomh.

it's not theory, it's all provable. you know the gulf of tonkin never happened right? declassified lies that took the u.s. to another long war and killed thousands of young men.

the world is run by evil people, and they control all of it. digital cashless currency coming shortly too. the ultimate tyrants' tool.

no joke:

mind bending video, but I should have had my coffee first.

It's worth watching many times, before and after coffee. :)

The "official" number of infected people is 2,000 (Sunday, January 26th). If this number is doubling every two days, then we will have 65 million infected people at the end of February. If the morbidity is 2 -4 % , we will have ...In case of a pandemic, news are are often late compare to facts, which cannot be assess properly.

I tweeted about a tool for tracking things which is pretty cool: https://twitter.com/lukestokes/status/1221546564931457026