In these challenging times, the University is looking to develop new courses. I suggest we offer a course in “Twitterdemiology”. The degree takes typically 2–3 months to complete, involves sharing, preferably uninformed, opinions on Twitter about the spread of diseases, preferably late at night and slightly drunk. A bonus is you never have to wear a mask during class. Involves some study in terms of looking at the occasional graph on a few websites and making a hasty conclusion. The degree is wholly part-time. The degree strongly appeals to those who like to think they are smarter than others for no good reason other than that social media now allows them to share their views in public unfiltered.
That said, the ability to look at a graph and understand what lines are going up or down is an essential criteria to join the class. Students will only be considered if they enjoy a good conspiracy theory and if they generally think experts are prone to exaggeration. Experience in the field of “Climate Change Denial” will stand you in good stead for this degree. Any former study in basic statistical knowledge is strongly discouraged. In fact, any study of the natural sciences is not considered essential for this course as science often makes things too complicated or produces anomalous results. This is not helpful. The beauty of the degree is that it is short and focused, and graduates will leave being clear in their opinions, which is the real benefit of not considering alternative science-based perspectives. We could roll the degree out to thousands of graduates. The course is online, opening an international market. It is also open access and appeals to all strata of society. Students could even take the course while stuck in residence over Christmas or at any time really. It is cost-effective as it takes fewer resources than the traditional 7–10 years it normally takes to become a competent epidemiologist (in fact the University could start a redundancy process for all those in the natural sciences saving millions).
The course requires limited input from the lecturers, if at all. Some assessment might be necessary for accreditation, but this could take the form of observation of students performance on Twitter and Facebook, and involves taking the odd screenshot. Students will get extra credit for sharing their opinion on other mediums, especially phone-in radio shows. Lecturers can perform their assessment duties without a mask and at home while watching TV in their underwear, thus meeting all health and safety requirements and decreasing staff stress. Such an assessment process does not preclude being slightly drunk at the time and will thus appeal to the lecturing staff immensely, meaning uptake in terms of staffing the new degree should be straightforward. The lecturer time to student ratio is excellent, meaning significant profits could be made through the cost of the official accreditation process alone.
I understand it has been proven that it now only takes a few months to become an epidemiologist and disprove the medical establishment without any formal training whatsoever, so you might ask why do the degree? But offering official recognition for the new science of Twitterdemiology, and a university backed degree, would no doubt appeal to many. I know additional risks may arise such as our new graduates could end up challenging the University on other matters such as many staff continuing to believe mistakenly in evolution and also staff promoting perverted ideas such as social justice and equality (occasionally even teaching students about Marxism, shame on them). In these challenging times, difficult choices need to be made and after all, do we not encourage critical thinking? Furthermore, if we remove all natural sciences from the University, and also stop all this leftist and free-thinking claptrap as the government advises, this problem may not arise.
Career paths are numerous for Twitterdemiologist. Students can go on to be prominent politicians and share their views with a broader audience. Maybe a cross over degree with policy and politics should be considered. Why not replace the Chief Medical Officer with one of our newly minted Twitterdemiologists? Importantly, the degree also allows you to obtain your qualification and practice Twitterdemiology in your own time or while holding down another job. Twitterdemiology thus complements the new government retraining scheme.
The cumulative positive effect on society, as we have already seen through the views of many amateur Twitterdemiologist on mask-wearing and lockdown strategies, has proven immensely helpful. The graphs on Coronavirus infection prove this. So we can build on that. Officially recognising the positive contribution of Twitterdemiology could only enhance the university claims concerning social impact. I strongly suggest we move at speed to formalise this new science.
Published by Brandon Hamber, 23 October 2020, Medium.com. Brandon Hamber is Professor of Peace Studies at Ulster University.