To censor or not to censor…

Thunder's Blog
3 min readOct 18, 2021

An unpleasant personal experience with Twitter’s unaccountable censors has led me to reflect on the place of censorship in a free society (I document all of the ugly details at

The theory behind censorship is that there are “dangerous” and “insidious” ideas out there, that we just cannot afford to have circulating. Ideas that might suggest that a widely used drug could be re-purposed to treat Covid-19; or ideas that might cast doubt over the safety of the vaccine for certain age groups; or ideas that question the efficacy of community masking.

We have seen people censored for propagating such ideas. But on what grounds?

The science surrounding Covid-19 and public health measures is unsettled. Reputable physicians, scientists, and citizens adopt conflicting positions on vaccine safety, mask efficacy, the evidence for the efficacy of Ivermectin and other Covid treatments, and the desirability of aggressive forms of lockdown.

If we choose to censor one side of the debate, we are implying that the debate is sufficiently settled that the other side does not deserve to get a hearing in the public square. But if widely published scientists at reputable institutions come out on different sides, and if citizens of good will frequently disagree over these matters, then who can reasonably assume that these matters are settled or that one side is “information” while the other side is “misinformation”?

The category of “misinformation” has been used very generously as a basis for censoring doctors, scientists, academics, and ordinary citizens for expressing opinions that are politically unpopular or that not supported by influential scientific bodies like the WHO.

The problem is, this approach is fundamentally political and ideological, not scientific or philosophical. There is absolutely no reason to assume that a scientist nominated to the WHO or to a national health advisory committe is more likely than a scientist of a prestigious university to come out on the right side. Yet we have developed an irrational bias in favour of certain “official” organs as the unique arbiters of truth and propriety.

When Youtube censors a Harvard doctor like Dr Martin Kulldorff for suggesting that children do not need to wear masks, they are putting their own judgment on a complex scientific question above that of a qualified scholar of medicine.

They may argue that they rely on the views of WHO, or CDC. But they are perfectly aware that national health authorities in countries like Sweden and Norway do NOT recommend masking for children, or indeed for the general population. So falling back on “official” sources is really cherry-picking your favourite authority, the one that supports the narrative you have decided to defend.

The only way we can hope that complex and important scientific and political problems get resolved over time is by letting the argument play out.

If someone tells everyone to drink a bottle of Ivermectin a day, I would assume that is indeed “dangerous” misinformation and should be censored. But that is a very far cry from suggesting that Ivermectin (a very safe drug, incidentally, which is on the WHO’s list of “essential medicines” and has been taken by millions of people for over 20 years) might have a role to play in treating Covid-19. Even if the end-result of this debate is that we discover that the apparent benefits of Ivermectin were only apparent, pre-emptively shutting down scientific debate on such a life-or-death issue will not end well for anyone.



Thunder's Blog

Researcher and lecturer of political philosophy at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. For more info, see