Accuracy in Media

Over the last year the progressive site Vice has published more than 20 articles fighting “misinformation” regarding the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, which proponents have said could be effective in treating the novel virus Covid. 

Vice has called the claims about ivermectin from enthusiasts “potentially dangerous.” Yet, despite the “potential” danger from ivermectin, there are still 84 clinical trials registered with the National Institutes of Health looking at the various ways ivermectin can be used to fight Covid, even two years after the virus first emerged. 

That seems like a big number of trials for a drug that’s already been classified as dangerous and inconsequential by Vice.  

By contrast, Vice recently promoted a study that looked at 3 cases of overdoses of LSD that resulted in “unpredictable, positive sequelae that ranged from improvements in mental illness symptoms to reduction in physical pain and morphine withdrawal symptom.” The conclusion by Vice? 

“It’s a remarkably safe product,” said Mark Haden author of the LSD study via a Vice Instagram post, who added, “That’s just another reason why it shouldn’t be criminalized—it’s remarkably non-toxic.” 

Non-toxic, however, in this case, should not be considered synonymous with “non-dangerous.”

While noting that these events are “extremely rare” Nature said that “psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD can evoke a lasting psychotic reaction, more often in people with a family history of psychosis.” 

Recent studies have shown LSD to be an interesting adjunct to other therapies in treatment-resistant mental illness, but only under the highly-controlled supervision of patients in specially constructed spaces with safety protocols in place which can relieve the psychosis-inducing anxiety that sometimes accompanies LSD use. 

Neither the risk of long-term mental illness nor the requirement that LSD be used in a highly-supervised environment make it sound like LSD is a “remarkably safe” drug. But it serves no purpose to get into the lengthier discussion of technical details regarding the safety or efficacy of either or both LSD and ivermectin. 

There is likely sufficient evidence to study both the effectiveness of LSD on mental illness and the effectiveness of ivermectin on non-parasitic infections, without needing to be a cheerleader or debunker for either. 

We can leave both drugs’ risk and efficacy studies to medical researchers, who apparently have more work to do.   

But the two Vice stories are instructive as to the editorial strategy that Vice follows.  

Because it’s clear from the two stories that cater to the recreational drug enthusiasts who apparently make up a good portion of Vice’s readership compliments the preening that Vice does to cater to those other readers; the readers who make up the rest of Vice’s visitors;  the ones who use the debate about Covid as a political weapon with which to pummel the right, as they did with ivermectin.  

Suffice to say that the 20-or-so stories by Vice about ivermectin is a long way down from the promise Vice first made to shine “a light on underreported stories around the globe.” 

If anything, ivermectin, along with Covid, has suffered from over-reporting. In fact, ivermectin only became a story as a result of the mass-hysteria that journalism has induced in the general population over Covid.  

Finally, it’s also instructive to note that Vice’s Instagram post promoting LSD as a miracle drug is free from the usual “missing context” and other panicked warnings that parent Facebook/Meta slaps on anything remotely right-of-center.

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