Scientists say don't look at the sun during an eclipse, you may damage your eyes. And yet:
Creator: Andrew Harnik | Credit: AP
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This was an iconic Trump moment, hilarious on all sides. Perhaps to his supporters this was a satisfyingly obscene gesture to all those scientific, left leaning, expert types that can't help but condescend when speaking to the right leaning factions of this country. To partisan opponents of MAGA leader Trump, this was emblematic of his stupidity and evidence that he was worthy of ridicule and scorn. Though stupid, it reminded me of your typical class clown where there is some respect for the fact he’s brave enough to break the rules and have fun doing it. I can laugh along with those mocking a grown man staring at the sun, but this particular moment didn't seem worthy of scorn.
Fast forward to 2020. The stakes were raised from the President risking the health of his own eyes, to risking hundreds of thousands as the Covid19 Pandemic set in. Simple expert advice of wearing a mask to prevent the spread of an airborne virus was just one of the basic social distancing measures the President decided to flout. Trump doubled and tripled down on his brand of stupidity in the form of countless political rallies serving as mass spreader events and culminating with Trump mocking Biden for making too much of a show of wearing a mask while probably infected with Covid19 at the time. Trump’s stupidity certainly became worthy of all sorts of heated scorn.
The thing about staring at the sun, or any bright light, is when you look away there may be bright spots in your vision from the after image. Stare long enough and you could have a permanent blind spot. Many are convinced that metaphorically, Trump supporters have a Trump sized blind spot when it comes to not seeing his flaws. But getting too caught up in hating Trump has its own distortions as well. The phrase 'Trump Derangement Syndrome' is an expression used by the right to note that political opponents of Trump have a bias about everything he does. The term, per Wikipedia, actually traces back to Charles Kauthammer who used it to describe how Bush was treated in 2003. And the tan-suit-wearing Obama certainly had this treatment as well. If a person can't help but reflexively dislike anything and everything associated with a President, that amounts to its own distortions, its own blind spots.
We have people blindly following the President and we have people that can't wait to hate the next thing he says, or does, or is simply touched by the miasma of his aura. People in red hats with MAGA blazoned across them get charged and sentenced to full lefty scorn. Around any pandemic there is going to be a sea of misinformation, see the Spanish Flu for reference, but it's a sad state of affairs when the sitting President could be contributing up to 38% of that misinformation. From delayed acknowledgement of the full scope of the issue for the sake of political posturing, to mixed messaging on masks, real damage was done and continues to be done.
One particular instance of Covid19 misinformation that we won't know the full impact of for some time was Trump’s support of an unproven drug and treatment in hydroxychloroquine (HQC). Some were suspicious it was an attempt to make money but, it seems Trump really believed in the treatment, per Vox. (Perhaps because he's proud he can say the word and it’s fun to say). But its effectiveness against Covid wasn't fully demonstrated while its harsh side effects were underplayed and his backing led to shortages for people that needed HQC for Lupus. These were just the initial negative effects of this misplaced endorsement.
The worst impact of the HQC backing may end up being the opportunity cost involved. With medicine, there are always various treatment options to be considered, tried, and studied. What Trump did with HQC, was to create friction, to any emerging treatment involving existing drugs. It’s like Trump vaccinated Medical Practice with HQC, preventing it from considering more viable treatments using existing medicines off brand.
The broader concept of HQC is the potential of reusing any existing drug that while not designed for Covid19 nonetheless are found to be an effective treatment. An existing drug has the distinct advantage of already proven to be safe. It may sound suspect that a medicine developed to stave off parasitic infections such as worms in our pets could help with a Corona Virus and yet who would think a clear spot on a moldy petri dish would lead to antibiotics. (Viagra was designed as a hypertension medication) But for now the concept itself is associated with the much derided President and might as well have a MAGA hat sitting on its head.
If Ivermectin ends up proving to be what the President claimed HQC was then I just buried the hell out of the lead. But I did so to bring the Fake News skeptic along for the ride in an effort to get others to consider this potential news as I received it. As the news has not been in the mainstream I’ve had the uncomfortable self-awareness that this narrative I’m following looks very similar to news around HQC or Remdesivir which to some may as well be as serious as swallowing bleach. Maybe stricken with Pandemic fatigue I’m being foolish in wanting this to be more than it is, maybe I’m the guy staring at the sun so why not take the opportunity to make it a teachable moment, an academic exercise of deciphering Fake News from Unreported News.
If you are still with me we’ll go one snippet of news at a time as received starting in late November but before we do let’s level the playing field between the status quo versus the emerging science as well as between mainstream news outlets and new media.
This clip from Always Sunny captures the essence of it. In it Mac points out how science has evolved to make the point that perhaps The Theory of Evolution has no more scientific grounding than creationism. Idiotic yet by the end you can't deny that Mac has made some points and has, at least in spirt, won the case as Charlie and Danny DeVito can confirm.
Most of us can laugh at Mac touting creationism but his point remains valid, that in the history of science even Newtonian Physics eventually gets overthrown by new theories. Dismiss everything that is new and eventually you'll be on the wrong side.
The science around emerging treatments and Medicine always has an uphill battle, always has to emerge from many bogus and wrong theories and now add to this the bias against Trump, the stigma the left attaches to anybody who ends up on the MAGA side of a debate. To be a scientist that perhaps agrees with Trump about something would be akin to standing next to him and staring up at the sun. Likewise media outlets refusing to risk their reputation by falling for another HQC may bypass other treatments that deserve more consideration. We’re not even sure we should publish this and wonder if we need a disclaimer.
Even before the pandemic the problems of our media landscape and the proliferation of Fake News, as well as the accusations thrown at any News we don’t' like as being fake has us living in a modern day version of the Tower of Babel, where we don't always speak the same language, and many are questioning whether there is a Tower at all. Who won the election? How real is climate science? Pizzagate, Flat Earth, Qanon and other fringe conspiracies. But fringe and silly isn't the only wrong headedness occurring. Fake News of the fringe leads to socially ridiculed outbursts. Fake News of the mainstream leads to socially accepted never ending wars or ignored devastating problems such as contaminated drinking water. The mainstream has its lies of omission, its manufacturing of consent and isn't above crowd controlling fibbing (lying). We were all told Masks don't do much in the early going because the authorities were worried about a supply shortage. Maybe the authorities are worried Ivermectin may lead to less people getting vaccinated, and that could prove valid.
So with that in mind I have a 'Fake-Or-Unreported-News-Challenge that I want to present those mainstream subscribers to consider. An academic exercise, an audit of the editorial decision making of the various News outlets we subscribe to.
Ivermectin Challenge: Fake or Unreported News
The Fake or Unreported news related to a possible Covid 19 Treatment that involves using an existing medication for staving off parasites and worms in animals, Ivermectin. I'm worried this is a story that has gotten lost in the blind spot of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Or simply is being slow played for a similar reason we were told Masks weren't effective when the authorities were worried about a shortage of supplies.
Here are the clips and snippets that have brought Ivermectin to my attention over the last 10 weeks. I'll include my own notes and takeaways.
Huge fan of the TMBS. Initially heard of Ivermectin on this show in late November with Dr. Eric Osgood MD. It's time marked and jumps in with him walking through the early stages of Covid. The hospital he worked at was overwhelmed. He took a week break to avoid burnout, came back and things were back under control. Steroids as an accepted treatment made a big difference. He notes that this treatment was first touted by a group of Doctors with this group the FLCCC. Goes on to talk about the limitations of just having vaccines, that this leaves Doctors with nothing to do once a patient is diagnosed. Ivermectin looks like a drug that could be something prescribed for those that test positive. At the time I didn't make too much of this other than noting that if I got Covid I'd probably ask for it and made a point to follow Dr. Osgood on Twitter.
On Twitter see Osgood post FLCCC Press Conference in Early December. Seems a bit suspect given no coverage but then again who am I waiting for to cover it? CNN? MSNBC? They aren't saying this is a cure. They are making a point to note it is a complementary treatment to Vaccines. They are acknowledging there is limited data and more study is needed but this should be getting attention as a bridge to the Vaccines. Not exactly claims and pleas one would get from a scam or grift.
Less than a week later see a Tweet form Dr. Osgood noting how a Democratic Senator is framing a Doctor form the FLCCC as being political. Note there is a hearing. Still not seeing anything other than passing coverage from CNN or MSNBC.
Weeks go by. Vaccines are going out. It's late December. Still nothing about Ivermectin. Google it and still the results are of smaller sites such as TrialNews which production quality wise makes this look suspect. But do find this meta analysis clip which bores me to tears as a non-Doctor but doesn’t strike me as fraudulent.
Even if you think this is probably nothing, does the lack of coverage exploring it bother you? Or necessary given the risk of bad information during a pandemic?
Stay Safe and don't stare at the Sun during an eclipse but don't be so judgmental about it either, it might look really cool before it burns your eyes.
[Post Edit: 1/26/2021]
January 15, 2021
NIH Revises Treatment Guidelines for Ivermectin for the Treatment of COVID-19 Ivermectin is Now a Therapeutic Option for Doctors & Prescribers
January 20, 2021
The dam is slowly cracking. pic.twitter.com/mFPLtqqmPH— Dr. Eric Osgood MD (@EdoajoEric) January 20, 2021
January 25, 2021
Oxford’s PRINCIPLE Trial: Bringing Ivermectin Directly into the Developed World in the Battle Against COVID-19