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Stephen Soldz on the “mob psychology” of Medialens July 1, 2009

Posted by dissident93 in Medialens.
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Quote source: Medialens message board 18/3/09

In March 2009 a remarkable “discussion” took place on the Medialens message board. It’s no longer available there, and a Google search shows nothing, so I’ll post a few excerpts here…

To summarise: Stephen Soldz, a long-time advocate of the Lancet studies (on Iraqi deaths) changed his mind about the Lancet 2006 study, and wrote, “I do not feel that their estimate of 650,000 post-invasion surplus deaths can be trusted”, and, “the study cannot be considered reliable”.*

Not surprisingly, the Medialens crowd were outraged. One Medialens follower (Gabriele Zamparini) wrote that Soldz was providing “propaganda for the mass murderers”. The Medialens editors added that Soldz’s mind showed signs of being affected by “propaganda weathering and erosion”. Soldz, who’d been a Medialens supporter upto this point, described the Medialens discussion as follows:

I do think that what occurred here is in the spirit of the Stalinist Gulag, or perhaps the Maoist criticism-self-criticism session, though on a vastly different scale, since, thankfully, the folks here are powerless. With one exception, there was no attempt at any real dialog, there was simply a process of finding grounds to dismiss me, combined with a constant hectoring because I didn’t phrase things the way that is to be officially tolerated. But it was the lynch mob psychology that was the most disturbing, and the fact that no one said “STOP!” The message implicitly was being sent to anyone who might publicly deviate from the group consensus that this is what will happen to you should you deviate.

The fact that I received private emails from people who were afraid to speak out against this here is a terrible sign. I would never engage in “dialog” with this group again. […]

I used to think that we needed a group like Media Lens in the US. Now I am simply thankful that this particular flavor of Stalinism hasn’t yet emigrated. The society you fight for would end up, despite the nice words, as being one of the jackboot stomping on the human face forever.

Thankfully, not all Medialens supporters succumb to the mob psychology. A dwindling few think for themselves. One of them responded to Stephen Soldz’s remarks:

I myself have long given up expecting to enjoy the freedom to participate in open and fair debate here. The last straw came when one of my posts vanished without trace. When I enquired, the [Medialens] Editors admitted they had deleted it. Their excuse that “it didn’t add anything to the debate” struck me as disingenuous. Plainly they were preserving the precious feelings of one of their favoured sons. They could not cite any board rules which it had violated. Seeing this happen, another thread contributor abandoned the board for a long time, though he has since returned. My response was to stay here and post occasionally but to give up the prospect of serious debate governed by anything resembling the principles of logic.

The Editors also claimed to be concerned that valuable truths are being lost in excessive feuding. But they were happy to signal their support for the attack dogs against you [Soldz] in this thread. This must mean that they alone know what these valuable truths are in advance. This is contrary to the principle of freedom of speech.

*Stephen Soldz’s piece on the Lancet 2006 study is available at Znet.

[For the full text of the Medialens message board thread which I’ve quoted from, please refer to this PDF file]

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