Thursday, February 3, 2022

The British Medical Journal Story That Exposed Politicized "Fact-Checking"

In an article for one of the world’s oldest academic outlets, the British Medical Journal, Thacker wrote a piece entitled, “Covid-19: Researcher blows the whistle on data integrity issues in Pfizer’s vaccine trial.” He did what he’d done countless times, shepherding into print the tale of an apparent whistleblower with an unsettling story. Brook Jackson worked for a Texas firm called Ventavia that conducted a portion of the research trials for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. This is the same vaccine that Thacker himself, who now lives in Spain and is married to a physician, had taken.

After going through both legal and peer review, but without contacting Ventavia — apparently, they feared an injunction — the BMJ published Thacker’s piece on November 2nd, 2021. The money passage read:

A regional director who was employed at the research organization Ventavia Research Group has told The BMJ that the company falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events reported in Pfizer’s pivotal phase III trial.

Beginning on November 10th, 2021, the editors began receiving complaints from readers, who said they were having difficulty sharing it. As editors Fiona Godlee and Kamran Abbassi later wrote in an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg:

Some reported being unable to share it. Many others reported having their posts flagged with a warning about “Missing context ... Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.” Those trying to post the article were informed by Facebook that people who repeatedly share “false information” might have their posts moved lower in Facebook’s News Feed. Group administrators where the article was shared received messages from Facebook informing them that such posts were “partly false.”


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