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Media employs the no true Scotsman fallacy to discredit an internationally acclaimed expert, demonstrates why no one trusts the media
Apparently, Dr Aseem Malhotra is no true Expert
The no true Scotsman fallacy, or appeal to purity, argues that all people belonging to a certain group have the same trait. This trait is an identifier of group membership - anyone claiming to be part of the group who does not share that trait is not really part of that group.
All true Scotsmen eat haggis.
Ewan, a Glaswegian, does not like haggis. In fact, he has never eaten it.
Ewan, therefore, is not a true Scotsman.
Similarly, mainstream media (MSM) and the ‘fact checkers’ often claim no true Expert when a professional who has hitherto been considered expert in their field publicly critiques Covid measures, and especially vaccine effectiveness or safety.
All true Experts believe that Covid vaccines are safe and effective.
An expert in a relevant field has raised questions about the safety of Covid vaccines.
The expert, therefore, is not a true Expert.
Observe, The Guardian, which framed its ‘no true Expert’ coverage of Dr Aseem Malhotra’s interview with the BBC with an ‘appeal to authority’ of ‘true Experts’.
”Experts have criticised Dr Aseem Malhotra’s appearance on the corporation’s news channel on Friday, accusing him of pushing “extreme fringe” views, which are “misguided”, “dangerous” and could mislead the public.”
Dr Aseem Malhotra may be an internationally recognised leader in the field of cardiology; he may contribute to reputable medical journals; he may have won many awards and appeared at conferences and media calls all over the world; he may be an expert consultant to the NHS; and he may have enthusiastically promoted Covid vaccines in the early stages of the rollout. He may even have been a consulting expert to The Guardian since 2011.
But Dr Aseem Malhotra has questioned the safety profile of Covid vaccines, and so he simply is not a true Expert.
No true Scotsman/Expert is one of a cluster of logical fallacies and lazy rhetorical fallbacks that are easily employed to bypass genuine rebuttal. Others include:
Ad hominem (attack the person, not their arguments)
False dichotomy (you can only be pro-vax or anti-vax)
Straw man (distort the person’s argument, then rebut the distortion)
Consensus gentium (the argument is true because most people believe it to be so)
Appeal to authority (Experts say, therefore it’s true)
The motte and bailey (Conflating two arguments, one that is easy to defend, the ‘motte’, and one that is controversial and harder to defend, the ‘bailey’)
They often overlap. For example, the Smoking Doctor is a mash-up of consensus gentium and appeal to authority.
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The Guardian article doesn’t bother addressing any of Malhotra’s claims, other than to say that they have been “repeatedly debunked by factcheckers”. The debunks themselves present an assortment of strawmen, false dichotomies, consensus gentium and appeals to authority, sprinkled generously with a few erroneous claims of their own. That’s no surprise. We know by now that ‘fact checkers’ are anything but neutral, and are one of the primary fonts from which misinformation flows, second only perhaps to the government.
Watch Malhotra’s much-talked-about BBC interview here:
Malhotra has been actively calling to ‘stop the shots’ since September 2022, when he published a dovetailing pair of peer-reviewed papers in the journal Insulin Resistance (Malhotra discloses that he is on the Editorial Board of the journal). I actually expected the ‘no true Scotsman’ attack pieces immediately after these papers were published, but instead, Malhotra and his calls to halt the Covid vaccination program were met with a wall of silence from the MSM. It is only since he made his claims on the national BBC network that MSM has had to go on the defence.
Read a summary of Malhotra’s papers, with links, below:
Malhotra told the Guardian (my comments inserted in square brackets),
“Medical science is ever-evolving – discussing new developments openly is hard because the complicit media wants to only frame mRNA as right or wrong, [false dichotomy] to conflate mRNA vaccine debate as an entire attack on all vaccines [straw man], and to politicise views as left or right [another false dichotomy].
“I’ve promoted vaccines my entire career, including Covid vaccines on Good Morning Britain in early 2021. Labelling individuals who flag mRNA vaccine concerns as anti-vaxxers – pursuing personal attacks [ad hominem] rather than analysing the latest data (with now overwhelming evidence of serious and common cardiac harms) and who funds it – sows public distrust and leads to a dangerous fall in safe vaccine uptake.”
This exactly the point.
Fewer and fewer people trust the mainstream media, and for good reason. No longer do journalists carefully consider claims, test their veracity, examine motives and offer alternative explanations. Some do, but by and large, the MSM serves as the propaganda arm of the government and big business (pharma, oil, ag, energy, etc).
“Government and media fuel a cycle of distrust.”
In the most recent Munk Debate (November 2022), Douglas Murray and Matt Taibi debated PRO for ‘Be it resolved, don’t trust mainstream media’, against CON team Malcolm Gladwell and Michelle Goldberg. The PRO team won resoundingly with the largest vote switch in Munk history. Though Murray and Taibi were outstanding, in truth it was the CON team that sealed the deal. Gladwell and Goldberg, with their blinkered sophistry and penchant for arguing fallacies over facts, basically performed an NYT article, live. It was truly embarrassing, and I will never be able to take Gladwell seriously again. Watch the debate in full and I think you will come away with a clear understanding of the nature of the problem.
And this is why you are reading this post, here on Substack. When you can’t take the MSM’s word for it, you’ve got to find alternative sources. It’s more work than passively consuming a junk food media diet, but then, readers of independent reporting are hardly the types to be satisfied by that. It requires judging each alternative source on its merits, sorting through conflicting arguments case by case, and ultimately assembling your own constellation of trusted news sources. Thinking, in other words.
To Aseem Malhotra’s credit, he consistently seeks to engage in healthy debate over his claims. When challenged, he leans in, and he argues fairly without resorting to logical fallacies. I’m not saying that I know he’s right (although I think he probably is). I’m just saying that I’m yet to see him proven wrong in an honest debate in the MSM.
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