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Brownstone Institute

Fact-Checker, Check Thyself


13 minute read

From Brownstone Institute


In two articles on this site on November 13 and March 18, Andrew Lowenthal explained the intimate connections in the Virality Project between the US government, Stanford University, and Big Tech, to enforce Covid orthodoxy via the Censorship Industrial Complex. A similar collusion has operated in Australia but not, as far as we know, as an initiative of the security state.

This is the ABC RMIT Fact Check Unit. It is hosted jointly by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) that is mostly a publicly funded institution and the public broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that is entirely funded by the state. It describes itself rather grandiosely as a partnership that combines “academic excellence and the best of Australian journalism to inform the public through an independent non-partisan voice.” This boast has helped to provide plausible cover for enforcing the orthodoxy of the medical establishment that suffers from the delusion that it is the single source of medical scientific truth.

The self-important pretentiousness was punctured this week. During a radio interview with 2GB host Ben Fordham on March 18, businessman Dick Smith said, “No country has ever been able to run entirely on renewables – that’s impossible.” He said this in the context of advocating for nuclear power to be added to Australia’s energy mix.

The Fact Check

ABC RMIT Fact Check promptly investigated this and adjudged that “experts consulted by RMIT ABC Fact Check suggested Mr Smith’s statement doesn’t hold up.”

In a follow-up interview on 2GB on March 25, Smith was angry. “The whole document is full of misinformation and lies, it’s designed to discredit me. Absolutely disgusting,” he told Fordham. He demanded immediate corrections from the taxpayer-funded broadcaster’s fact-check unit and threatened defamation action otherwise as the verdict was damaging his credibility.

US columnist Michael Shellenberger, who played a central role in breaking the Twitter Files story, said:

The Australian government is demanding that X, Facebook, and other social media companies censor content that its fact-checkers say is inaccurate. But now, one of the government’s main fact-checker groups has been caught spreading misinformation about renewables and nuclear.

X owner billionaire Elon Musk joined in, posting that “Having government ‘fact-checkers’ is a giant leap in the direction of tyranny!”

Bizarrely, to support its negative verdict on Smith, the fact check quoted Stanford University’s Professor Mark Jacobson to the effect that California had “been running on more than 100 per cent WWS [wind-water-solar] for 10 out of the last 11 days for between 0.25 and 6 hours per day.” Similarly, the fact check cited a forecast from the Australian Energy Market Operator that renewables will be able to meet the entire demand of the national electricity market by 2025, “albeit for short periods of time (for example, 30 minutes).”

This demonstrates gross reading comprehension problems. Or is it elementary maths? If California has been relying on renewables for between 0.25 and 6 hours per day, quite clearly that confirms Smith’s claim, for renewables could not manage power needs for between 18 to 23.75 hours per day. In addition, Smith claimed subsequently, California can draw on its own and two other states’ nuclear power as base-load backup power to renewables. Nor does a 30-minute capacity indicate the ability to meet Australia’s electricity demand 24/7 for 365 days a year.

The Proliferation of Fact-Checkers

The fact-check industry came into its own during the Covid years, gained in popularity, and proliferated in numbers of organizations and individuals. However, they typically operated with little transparency and clarity on the credentials of the fact-checkers and their qualifications to adjudicate between world-renowned experts making competing claims. After all, contestation is normal in scientific discourse. Anything that cannot be questioned but relies on authority alone is dogma, not science.

A good example of this syndrome was provided to this site on March 27 by Peter Gøtzsche, co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration and Professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis at the University of Copenhagen, who has published more than 97 papers in the “big five” medical journals (JAMA [Journal of the American Medical Association], LancetNew England Journal of MedicineBritish Medical Journal, and Annals of Internal Medicine).

Gøtzsche had produced a video of a conversation he had with Professor Christine Stabell Benn, “one of the most outstanding vaccine researchers in the world.” On their own Broken Medical Science site, the video (published last October) is described thus:

In this episode, Peter C Gøtzsche discusses with Professor Christine Stabell Benn the research that has shown that live, attenuated vaccines reduce total mortality by much more than their specific effects would predict; that non-live vaccines increase total mortality; that the order in which the vaccines are given is important for mortality; what the harms are of the Covid-19 vaccines; and why they are overused.

After reading Martin Kulldorff’s story in the City Journal on March 11 of how he was fired by Harvard University, Gøtzsche decided to test YouTube and put up the video on March 24. It was taken down within an hour for violating its medical misinformation policy. They appealed but having “reviewed your content carefully,” YouTube “confirmed that it violates our medical misinformation policy.” Gøtzsche was very impressed that YouTube fact-checkers were able to conduct a careful and thorough review of a 54-minute conversation, involving two internationally eminent medical experts, in less than an hour.

Is it any wonder that fact-checkers were quickly discredited for several reasons. They took official claims by governments and the WHO as authoritative and true. This produced some hilarious flip-flops as the narrative on Covid changed with respect, for example, to the likely origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan’s wet market or the research laboratory in the Wuhan Institute of Virology located just a few kilometres away. Also with respect to claims that the vaccines stop infection, transmission, and death.

Second, fact-checkers were shown to have a pronounced left-liberal bias. Third, their modus operandi turned out to be to ask different experts for their reactions to the claims under investigation and then side with the experts who aligned with their own bias. Fourth and most importantly, when challenged in court Facebook’s defence in December 2021 was that fact-check pronouncements were protected “opinions” under the First Amendment.

Thorsteinn Siglaugsson was wickedly accurate in sketching the typology of fact-checking techniques. Create a straw-man argument that can be easily knocked down. Assert that a claim is not supported by evidence, is questioned by other experts, lacks context, is misleading, or is only partly true, etc. Engage in ad hominem attacks against the person rather than with their evidence and argument.

ABC RMIT Fact Check, Check Your Own Facts

Smith makes the point that the fact-checker never contacted him. He could have told them he was talking about the total energy requirements, not just electricity requirements. Professor Jacobson told Fact Check that four countries draw 100 percent of their electricity power requirements solely from renewables: Albania, Bhutan, Paraguay, and Nepal.

The first thing to note is that even the electricity consumption per capita of the four countries is substantially lower than that of Australia as an advanced industrial economy (Figure 1).

Second, none of the four countries is an island continent without the option of connecting to a geographically wider energy grid to make up for shortfalls in national energy needs. In 2021, 24.1 percent of Albania’s, 27.6 percent of Nepal’s, and 10.1 percent of Paraguay’s energy needs were met from imports.

Third, according to Our World in Data, the share of electricity production from renewables for Paraguay was 99.88 percent in 2021, and for the remaining three was 100 percent. But power for the electricity grid made up only 22, 41, 13, and 38 percent of the total energy consumption of Albania, Bhutan, Nepal,  and Paraguay, respectively.

Figure 2 shows the energy mix of three countries using data from the International Energy Agency (Bhutan’s is not available from that source).


I’d like to look in more detail at Nepal, for a simple reason. I was born and grew up in the state of Bihar just 20-30km from the border with Nepal which is an open border for citizens of the two countries. Consequently I am intimately familiar with life and communities on both sides of the border. Like people in northern Bihar, many Nepalese lack access to electricity and rely heavily on wood, agricultural waste, and dung with high CO2 emissions for their daily cooking and heating needs.

Similarly, on both sides of the border fossil fuels power the majority of transportation and diesel generators are commonly used as a power source to offset unreliable grid electricity supply. Speaking of which, a common complaint from local Indians is that Nepal imports a lot of the electricity produced in India even though India’s own power requirements are not fully met.

In other words, the ABC RMIT Fact Check conclusions were misleading, lacked context, and made false claims about what Dick Smith had said in his interview. Good to see that despite repeated insistence that it was standing by its work, late on March 26 the Fact Check unit apologized to Smith and amended its report.

But this does rather beg the question. Having stood by their verdict for over a week, ABC buckled upon receiving a letter from Smith’s lawyers. He is both a public figure with access to media and politicians and very wealthy. The founder of the successful Australia-New Zealand retail chain Dick Smith Electronics, his state honour includes the highest level of civilian recognition, the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), awarded in 2015. Ninety-nine percent of Australians lack his reach and ability to issue credible legal threats and risk penury. Consequently his win is unlikely, on its own, to end the ABC’s attitude problem rooted in arrogance, hubris, and complacency.

An earlier version of this was published in  The Epoch Times Australia on March 27.


  • Ramesh Thakur

    Ramesh Thakur, a Brownstone Institute Senior Scholar, is a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and emeritus professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

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Brownstone Institute

How Did a Small Group Do This?

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From the Brownstone Institute


“You know, it’s kind of our own science experiment that we’re doing in real time.”

A very interesting study appeared last week by two researchers looking into the pandemic policy response around the world. They are Drs. Eran Bendavid and Chirag Patel of Stanford and Harvard, respectively. Their ambition was straightforward. They wanted to examine the effects of government policy on the virus.

In this ambition, after all, researchers have access to an unprecedented amount of information. We have global data on strategies and stringencies. We have global data on infections and mortality. We can look at it all according to the timeline. We have precise dating of stay-at-home orders, business closures, meeting bans, masking, and every other physical intervention you can imagine.

The researchers merely wanted to track what worked and what did not, as a way of informing future responses to viral outbreaks so that public health can learn lessons and do better next time. They presumed from the outset they would discover that at least some mitigation tactics achieved the aim.

It is hardly the first such study. I’ve seen dozens of such efforts, and there are probably hundreds or thousands of these. The data is like catnip to anyone in this field who is empirically minded. So far, not even one empirical examination has shown any effect of anything but that seems like a hard conclusion to swallow. So these two decided to take a look for themselves.

They even went to the next step. They assembled and reassembled all existing data in every conceivable way, running fully 100,000 possible combinations of tests that all future researchers could run. They found some correlations in some policies but the problem is that every time they found one, they found another instance in which the reverse seemed to be true.

You cannot infer causation if the effects are not stable.

After vast data manipulation and looking at every conceivable policy and outcome, the researchers reluctantly come to an incredible conclusion. They conclude that nothing that governments did had any effect. There was only cost, no benefit. Everywhere in the world.

Please just let that sink in.

The policy response destroyed countless millions of small businesses, ruined a generation in learning losses, spread ill health with substance abuse, wrecked churches that could not hold holiday services, decimated arts and cultural institutions, broke trade, unleashed inflation that is nowhere near done with us yet, provoked new forms of online censorship, built government power in a way without precedent, led to new levels of surveillance, spread vaccine injury and death, and otherwise shattered liberties and laws the world over, not to mention leading to frightening levels of political instability.

And for what?

Apparently, it was all for nought.

Nor has there been any sort of serious reckoning. The European Commission elections are perhaps a start, and heavily influenced by public opposition to Covid controls, in addition to other policies that are robbing nations of their histories and identities. The major media can call the victors “far right” all they want but this is really about common people simply wanting their lives back.

It’s interesting to speculate about precisely how many people were involved in setting the world on fire. We know the paradigm was tried first in Wuhan, then blessed by the World Health Organization. As regards the rest of the world, we know some names, and there were many cohorts in public health and gain-of-function research.

Let’s say there are 300 of them, plus many national security and intelligence officials plus their sister agencies around the world. Let’s just add a zero plus multiply that by the large countries, presuming that so many others were copycats.

What are we talking about here? Maybe 3,000 to 5,000 people total in a decision-making capacity? That might be far too high. Regardless, compared with the sheer number of people around the world affected, we are talking about a tiny number, a mico-percent of the world’s population or less making new rules for the whole of humanity.

The experiment was without precedent on this scale. Even Deborah Birx admitted it. “You know, it’s kind of our own science experiment that we’re doing in real time.” The experiment was on whole societies.

How in the world did this come to be? There are explanations that rely on mass psychology, the influence of pharma, the role of the intelligence services, and other theories of cabals and conspiracies. Even with every explanation, the whole thing seems wildly implausible. Surely it would have been impossible without global communications and media, which amplified the entire agenda in every respect.

Because of this, kids could not go to school. People in public parks had to stay within circles. Businesses could not open at full capacity. We developed insane rituals like masking when walking and unmasking when sitting. Oceans of sanitizer would be dumped on all people and things. People were made to be afraid of leaving their homes and clicked buttons to make groceries arrive on their doorsteps.

It was a global science experiment without any foundation in evidence. And the experience utterly transformed our legal systems and lives, introducing uncertainties and anxieties as never before and unleashing a level of crime in major cities that provoked residential, business, and capital flight.

This is a scandal for the ages. And yet hardly anyone in major media seems to be interested in getting to the bottom of it. That’s because, for bizarre reasons, looking too carefully at the culprits and policies here is regarded as being for Trump. And the hate and fear of Trump is so beyond reason at this point that whole institutions have decided to sit back and watch the world burn rather than be curious about what provoked this in the first place.

Instead of an honest accounting of the global upheaval, we are getting the truth in dribs and drabs. Anthony Fauci continues to testify for Congressional hearings and this extremely clever man threw his longtime collaborator under the bus, acting like David Morens was a rogue employee. That action seemed to provoke ex-CDC director Robert Redfield to go public, saying that it was a lab leak from a US-funded lab doing “dual purpose” research into vaccines and viruses, and strongly suggesting that Fauci himself was involved in the cover-up.

Among this group, we are quickly approaching the point of “Every man for himself.” It is fascinating to watch, for those of us who are deeply interested in this question. But for the mainstream media, none of this gets any coverage at all. They act like we should just accept what happened and not think anything about it.

This great game of pretend is not sustainable. To be sure, maybe the world is more broken than we know but something about cosmic justice suggests that when a global policy this egregious, this damaging, this preposterously wrongheaded, does all harm and no good, there are going to be consequences.

Not immediately but eventually.

When will the whole truth emerge? It could be decades from now but we already know this much for sure. Nothing we were promised about the great mitigation efforts by governments turned out to achieve anything remotely what they promised. And yet even now, the World Health Organization continues to uphold such interventions as the only way forward.

Meanwhile, the paradigm of bad science backed by force pervades nearly everything these days, from climate change to medical services to information controls.

When will evidence matter again?

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  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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The Enemies of Food Freedom

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From the Brownstone Institute


In every war, there is necessarily an enemy force, and the war on our food supply is no exception.

My previous article addressed the ongoing attacks on farmers across the globe. In today’s article, we will look at some of the culprits behind this agenda. For anyone who delved into the entities behind the tyrannical Covid policies, many names on the list below will seem quite familiar.


Bayer merged with Monsanto in 2018, combining the companies responsible for Agent Orange and pioneering chemical warfare. In 1999, Monsanto’s CEO Robert Shapiro bragged that the company planned to control “three of the largest industries in the world—agriculture, food, and health—that now operate as separate businesses. But there are a set of changes that will lead to their integration.” Today these chemical manufacturers control a huge percentage of the world’s food supply.

Cargill and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Cargill is a World Economic Forum partner and the largest private company in the United States. This behemoth monopolizes unimaginably vast swaths of the global food industry, including meat processing in the United States. Cargill’s business practices, along with bigger-is-better policies enforced by their cronies at the United States Department of Agriculture, have led to the closures of many local abattoirs which forced farmers to depend on a few corporate mega-slaughterhouses. This leaves farmers waiting 14 months or longer for butchering slots, for which they often must transport their animals hundreds of miles—indeed, farmers and ranchers must book processing dates up to a year before the animal is even born. The high fees charged by Cargill’s slaughterhouses contribute to the skyrocketing price of meat—all while the farmers themselves are barely paid enough to cover the cost of raising the livestock. The USDA, meanwhile, makes sure their policies prevent farmers from processing meat themselves on their own farms.

Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust, the former owner of Glaxo before it merged with SmithKline, played a major role in Britain’s Covid debacle and is unapologetic about its goal of reducing your food sovereignty. Wellcome Trust funds Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP), an organization dedicated to developing and testing behavioral modifications to coerce the public into removing meat and dairy from their diets. LEAP’s co-director Susan Jeffs bemoans that motivating people with environmental impact labels on their foods does not seem to work: “People are already settled into very established habits” and suggests instead altering what the industry provides, thereby forcing consumer choice. Wellcome Trust researchers recommend “availability interventions” that “rely less on individual agency” to reduce access to animal food products. Researcher Rachel Pechey opines that “meat taxes show a promising evidence for effectiveness but have been less acceptable in survey work…we don’t want to just go for the most acceptable [solutions].”

The World Health Organization

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s Director-General, would like you to believe that food production is responsible for almost one-third of the global burden of disease. He calls for transforming the global food system toward plant-based foods, reducing meat and dairy in our intake, and enforcing policies to save the climate through restricting diet. A WHO 2022 report concluded that “considerable evidence supports shifting populations towards healthful plant-based diets that reduce or eliminate intake of animal products.”

World Economic Forum

You are likely familiar with the World Economic Forum and their Great Reset agenda. Visit their webpage and treat yourself to such morsels as 5 reasons why eating insects could reduce climate changewhy we need to give insects the role they deserve in our food systems, and why we might be eating insects soon. Suffice it to say that their plans for your dietary future are clear.

EAT Forum, the Lancet, and their Big Tech and Big Chemical Partners

The EAT Forum is “dedicated to transforming our global food system through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships.” It was co-founded by the aforementioned Wellcome Trust, the Strawberry Foundation, and the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Their FRESH initiative—Food Reform for Sustainability and Health—aims to transform the global food system. Partners in the FRESH initiative include Google, Cargill, Syngenta, Unilever, Pepsico, and many chemical processors such as BASF, Bayer, and DuPont—a rather odd cast of characters for developing a healthy and sustainable dietary plan. EAT’s Shifting Urban Diets Initiative advocates for cities to adopt the Lancet-endorsed Planetary Health Diet, in which plant-based proteins are set to replace meat and dairy. Red meat is limited to 30 calories per day. A report drafted by EAT found that the transformation they want to foist upon our diets is “unlikely to be successful if left up to the individual,” and “require(s) reframing at the systemic level with hard policy interventions that include laws, fiscal measures, subsidies and penalties, trade reconfiguration and other economic and structural measures.”

The Rockefeller Foundation

Members of the Rockefeller family may carry more blame than anyone else in history for turning agriculture away from independent family farms towards corporate conglomerates.

In 1947, Nelson Rockefeller founded the International Basic Economy Corporation to modernize and corporatize agriculture in South America, particularly in Brazil and Venezuela. IBEC transformed farming to depend on expensive machinery and inputs that priced subsistence peasant farmers out of viability. The American International Association for Economic and Social Development (AIA), a Rockefeller-funded philanthropic organization, helped build the market through which IBEC could enrich its owners. While IBEC’s promotional literature claimed that the company was generously assisting the Third World by providing necessary consumer products while turning a profit, on closer examination, it was simply a business enterprise built on the Rockefellers’ old Standard Oil model, in which smaller competitors are forced out using monopolistic practices before prices are raised.

This tactic was taken to a whole new level with the so-called Green Revolution, first in Mexico in the 1940s, then in the Philippines and India in the 1960s, as well as in the United States. Traditional farming practices such as the use of manure as fertilizer for heirloom native crops were replaced with a model of mechanized chemical farming, using Rockefeller-funded new seed varieties which had been developed to require petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides to produce significantly increased crop yields compared to the traditional crops grown by peasant farmers in these countries.

It is worth noting that the Rockefellers, as oil oligarchs, stood to profit handsomely from the petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides that this new method demanded. The crops grown were almost all cereal crops like rice and replaced more nutrient-dense, traditional crops like millet. India experienced an increase in food but a decrease in nutrition: with more empty calories but fewer fruits, vegetables, and animal proteins, micronutrients disappeared from the diet. Anemia, blindness, fertility problems, low birth weight, and immune impairment increased.

While the Green Revolution was hailed as the solution to world hunger and poverty, it also poisoned local water supplies, depleted the soil, and left farmers drowning in debt as they could no longer independently produce the fertilizer and seeds they needed. Informed readers can see how the later Monsanto GMO Roundup-Ready seed model followed this playbook established by the Rockefellers.

In 2006, the Rockefeller Foundation, Bill Gates, and others pushed the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA, and they again followed this proven playbook. Since AGRA’s launch, African biodiversity has been lost, and the number of severely undernourished people in sub-Saharan Africa has increased by nearly 50 percent, even by the UN’s own reports. Just as in India, farmers are being tricked into abandoning nutrient-dense, drought-resistant crops like heirloom millet in exchange for the empty calories of GMO corn. Hundreds of African organizations have demanded that this neocolonial project end, leaving the future of African agriculture in the hands of the native farmers who know the land best.

Now the Rockefeller Foundation has set its sights on the US food system with its Reset the Table agenda, handily launched in 2020 just weeks after the Great Reset was announced. Under rosy language calling for inclusivity and equity, the report states that “success will require numerous changes to policies, practices, and norms.” This includes a major focus on data collection and objectives that align closely with the One Health Agenda—more on that in a future article.

Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation

Bill Gates has followed the Rockefeller playbook for fumigating his fortune and transforming his image—while building more wealth—through the cynical ploy of philanthrocapitalism.

His fingers are deep in every public health pie, and his influence is nearly equal in the food wars. Besides financing the development of fake meats, he is behind the aforementioned AGRA program, is investing in geoengineering programs to dim the sun, and as of January 2021, owned 242,000 acres of prime US farmland, making him the largest private owner of farmland in the US. It is disconcerting to think that a man who believes we should phase out real meat controls so much of the method of production.


Another organization pushing you to eat bugs is USAID. This may surprise some of you who think of USAID as an organization dedicated to helping third-world countries, rather than as a longtime Trojan horse for CIA operations. (Skeptical of that claim? Go down the rabbit hole here and here and here and here.) Their Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, known as BIFAD, released a report titled “Systemic Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.” This report calls for a complete transformation of the food supply and global agriculture. They propose to do this through ESG scores, carbon tracking, and eating insects.

So how do these organizations manage to push their agenda on the global population? We will cover that in a future article.


Tracy Thurman is an advocate for regenerative farming, food sovereignty, decentralized food systems, and medical freedom. She works with the Barnes Law Firm’s public interest division to safeguard the right to purchase food directly from farmers without government interference.

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