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Funny things are beginning to happen.
It appears that the mainstream media, in concert with pretty much every Democrat who’s spent the past two years circumscribed by galactic reservoirs of willful ignorance, is in the process of orchestrating a not-so-subtle about-face vis-à-vis covid and their collective desire to usher in permanent state control of basic behavior under shaky pretenses.
Headlines bearing assertions that were getting people censored and banned and pilloried just a few months ago are now appearing in the publications that were most fervently calling for the censoring and the banning and the pillorying of those people.
This week included politicians, pundits, and members of the progressive Stasi suddenly reversing course on everything from mask mandates to natural immunity in a thinly veiled group effort to memory hole responsibility.
The common refrain has been “the science has changed.”
No, folks. The science hasn't changed. The polls changed. The politics of the pandemic changed. And now, after incompetent and politically motivated bureaucrats took away civil liberties for two years, they’re very much hoping to minimize the blowback.
I doubt I’m alone in saying it doesn’t seem right to just sweep everything under the rug. Our government officials, public health experts, elites, mainstream media minions — basically everyone with a left/liberal agenda in a position of power and/or a significant platform — intentionally whipped up hysteria and fostered internecine hatred by exploiting psychosocial patterns; leveraged the pandemic to justify their authoritarian overreach; and used their tech-media-Democratic party complex to arbitrarily label dissenting views as “misinformation” and propagandize a cycle of content reinforcing fact free narratives at the expense of the greater well-being of the country.
Stipulations passed down from the prevailing echno-pharmaco-politico-corporate tyranny have taken on the force of law, with increasingly draconian penalties for recalcitrants. And yet, the heavy-handed suppression strategies have achieved nowhere near the beneficial impact that proponents have promised.
Is it finally beginning to dawn on people that the risks posed by covid have been greatly overblown relative to the costs, both tangible and not, of shutting down society, establishing vaccine apartheid in an already deeply fractured social landscape, and indulging people afflicted with what can only be described as a fetishistic attachment to solipsistic navel-gazing and a pathological need to feel morally superior to others?
There’s something else, though. Something that really, really doesn’t sit well with yours truly. It’s all the more bothersome because too few people seem to even be aware of it. I’ll do my best to explain anon.
“Follow The Science”
When the media is utterly beholden to one side of the political spectrum, it facilitates the creation of an epistemic regime that works within a defined ecosystem to impress narratives on the populace until those narratives become Holy Writ. And because our epistemic regime — the pantheon of cossetted, affluent media luminaries who determine what’s true and what/who gets recognized and esteemed — has managed to reframe dissent as the main cause of our polarization woes, the regime effectively wields the power of consecration.
Which is why so many people in this country are under the impression that opinions can be transformed into facts if held passionately enough; which in turn is why so many people have morphed into glassy-eyed zealots invulnerable to reason; which in turn is why a non-negligible number of people have been totally okay with adopting “follow the science” as their pandemic motto/lodestar even though the pretense of covid policies having any basis in actual science was discarded by the liberal establishment a long time ago.
We become passive and obedient folks who barricade ourselves behind feel-good illusions and lies and are easily won over by the dubious narratives and fear campaigns whipped up by the thick-witted demagogues among us.
Now, I’m pretty sure they still teach the basic principles of the scientific method in like the 4th grade. But because critical thinking, inquiry, and skepticism have all been hijacked by a culture of counterproductive moralism, you can’t even ask for clarification on anything even remotely related to The Science™ without being castigated as a heretic.
It’s unfortunate, really. If things had been different, maybe more folks would’ve realized that “following the science” was never actually about following the science, because we weren’t, in fact, following science.
Lockdowns Never Should've Happened
It’s not just my opinion.
The lockdowns our “experts” subjected us to — the consequences of which will continue manifesting for years to come — went against decades of research in preparation for a pandemic exactly like the one we now find ourselves mired in. Lockdowns have no prior precedent other than city-wide measures taken in the 1600s to manage plagues. Covid-19 is not a plague. (In fact, a comparative study of covid relative to the bubonic plague would do a lot of people a lot of good—it killed 30% of Europe, folks; were the "Black Death" to occur today, it'd kill 2 billion.)
It's important to understand this, as they’re already beginning to claim it’s only in the clarity of the backward glance that we know they were badly mistaken.
But that’s not true. They knew. They knew lockdowns were extremely inadvisable and the benefits hypothetical at best; they knew the socioeconomic costs would almost certainly cause more harm in the aggregate than the virus itself; they even knew there was a very real possibility that lockdowns would lead to more covid-19 fatalities and an excess mortality rate.1
Why/how did they know?
Because extensive planning for a novel respiratory virus like covid-19 was conducted every year at WHO meetings featuring the world’s preeminent epidemiologists and public health professionals.
Indeed, speaking to reporters on January 24, 2020, Saint Fauci himself said that shutting down the country wouldn’t work:
“That’s something that I don’t think we could possibly do in the United States, I can’t imagine shutting down New York or Los Angeles . . .Whether or not it does or does not [work] is really open to question because historically when you shut things down it doesn’t have a major effect.”
The international scientific community didn't even consider the viability of lockdowns a subject worth debating. It was the actual consensus before political corruption set in and The Consensus™ turned into a daily catechism courtesy of CNN and friends.
Put plainly, our pandemic policies have been premised on measures that the foremost international experts had long ago established as borderline idiotic. Decades of research overwhelmingly disfavored lockdowns.
See for example:
A WHO study determined that, based on the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, “forced isolation and quarantine are ineffective and impractical.” (2006)
In an article titled “Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza,” epidemiologists at John Hopkins University wrote: “As experience shows, there is no basis for recommending quarantine either of groups or individuals. The problems in implementing such measures are formidable, and secondary effects of absenteeism and community disruption as well as possible adverse consequences, such as loss of public trust in government and stigmatization of quarantined people and groups, are likely to be considerable.” They concluded that “…communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.” (2006)
Seton Hall’s Center for Global Health Studies Director detailed an analysis concluding travel restrictions did not delay the transmission of SARS. (2009)
A report (below) from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security stated, “In the context of a high-impact respiratory pathogen, quarantine may be the least likely NPI [non-pharmaceutical intervention] to be effective in controlling the spread due to high transmissibility.” (2019)
In 2018, the World Health Organization held a conference in preparation for a global pandemic. They explicitly stated that “home quarantine of exposed individuals to reduce transmission is not recommended because there is no obvious rationale for this measure, and there would be considerable difficulties in implementing it.”
In the WHO’s 2019 “Non-pharmaceutical public health measures for mitigating the risk and impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza” publication, the chart below was included. You can see that “quarantine of exposed individuals” is categorized as “not recommended in any circumstances.”
The CDC Tele-briefing
In his new book, Unmasked, Ian Miller describes a February 26, 2020 CDC tele-briefing with members of the media, the purpose of which was to discuss policies that local and state governments could implement in their covid-19 mitigation efforts. According to Miller, the CDC presented a document called “Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza United States 2017,” which based its findings on nearly 200 journal articles written between 1990 and 2016. It was noteworthy, if only because the focus was on nonpharmaceutical interventions for a set of illnesses extremely similar to the covid-19 outbreak.
At the telebriefing, a spokesman for the CDC said,
“This document looked at what can be done at the individual and community level during a pandemic when we don’t have a vaccine or proven medical treatment for the disease. We’re looking at data since 2016 and adjusting our recommendations to the specific circumstances of COVID-19. The CDC and other federal agencies have been practicing for this since the 2019 influenza pandemic. In the last two years, CDC has engaged in two pandemic influenza exercises that have required us to prepare for a severe pandemic and just this past year we had a whole of government exercise practicing similarly around a pandemic of influenza.”
But even more importantly,
“Personal protective measures reserved for pandemics include voluntary home quarantine of household members who have been exposed to someone they live with who is sick.”
Once again: Lockdowns represented an unprecedented and unjustified shift in scientific opinion from where it stood only a few months before the discovery of covid-19.
There were some leading scientists who spoke out, or tried to speak out, about the contradictions at play.
“This is just mind- boggling: this is the mother of all quarantines. I could never have imagined it.” — Howard Merkel, Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan
“The truth is that these kinds of lockdowns are very rare and never effective.” — Lawrence O. Gostin, Professor of Public Health at Georgetown University
“We’re falling into a trap of sensationalism. We have gone into a complete panic state.” — John Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Population Health
Group efforts were also marshaled.
In March 2020, 800 credentialed medical professionals associated with Yale organized and signed a letter sent to government health officials. They warned that the lockdowns, travel restrictions, school and business closures, and loss of essential economic services would be extremely counterproductive, if not catastrophic. But as would become thematic, the dissidents were dismissed and maligned by their more powerful contemporaries.
Perhaps the best example of this occurred in October 2020, when a group of scientists met at the American Institute for Economic Research. There, they drafted and signed the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a statement urging public health officials and government leaders to consider the economic harms of lockdowns and adopt alterative strategies focused on protecting the most vulnerable members of society.
The statement quickly gathered signatures from tens of thousands of health, science, and medical professionals the world over—a number that has since risen to nearly 1 million. But it infuriated lockdown proponents, who immediately forewent scientific debate over the merits of such policies and engaged in a vilification campaign.
Fauci, he of the rather less than honorable constitution who has revealed himself to be dazzlingly short on endearing qualities and whom I loathe with a passion reserved for only the scummiest of scumbags, led the effort. (Shocker.)
I believe one of the more lamentable features of the pandemic has been how, in the face of censorship, professional retaliation, and mockery driven by authoritarian bureaucrats and tech platforms that increasingly function as private arms of the state, scientists and public officials who’ve maintained a fidelity to the truth have struggled to make their voices heard.
“It is possible that lockdowns will go down as one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in modern history.”
Social distancing, stay-at-home orders, lockdowns, business closures, gathering limits—all have consistently been shown in peer-reviewed studies to have no significant impact on outcomes such as a reduction in covid transmission and fatalities.
Below, I’ve included a handful of recent examples illustrating as much. The first (pictured below) is arguably most noteworthy, but this of course means it’s either been completely ignored or (incorrectly) described as “flawed” by the mainstream media since it doesn't comport to the preferred narrative.
Indeed, we do find some evidence that limiting gatherings was counterproductive and increased COVID-19 mortality.
Finally, allow us to broaden our perspective after presenting our meta-analysis that focuses on the following question: “What does the evidence tell us about the effects of lockdowns on mortality?” We provide a firm answer to this question: The evidence fails to confirm that lockdowns have a significant effect in reducing COVID-19 mortality. The effect is little to none.
The use of lockdowns is a unique feature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns have not been used to such a large extent during any of the pandemics of the past century. However, lockdowns during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic have had devastating effects. They have contributed to reducing economic activity, raising unemployment, reducing schooling, causing political unrest, contributing to domestic violence, and undermining liberal democracy. These costs to society must be compared to the benefits of lockdowns, which our meta-analysis has shown are marginal at best. Such a standard benefit-cost calculation leads to a strong conclusion: lockdowns should be rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument.
An examination of over 100 Covid-19 studies reveals that many relied on false assumptions that over-estimated the benefits and under-estimated the costs of lockdown. The most recent research has shown that lockdowns have had, at best, a marginal effect on the number of Covid-19 deaths… The limited effectiveness of lockdowns explains why, after more than one year, the unconditional cumulative Covid-19 deaths per million is not negatively correlated with the stringency of lockdown across countries.… It is possible that lockdowns will go down as one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in modern history.
“Inferences on effects of NPIs are non-robust and highly sensitive to model specification. Claimed benefits of lockdown appear grossly exaggerated.”
“The UK lockdown was both superfluous (it did not prevent an otherwise explosive behavior of the spread of the coronavirus) and ineffective (it did not slow down the death growth rate visibly).”
“…stay at home orders, closure of all non-essential businesses and requiring the wearing of facemasks or coverings in public was not associated with any independent additional impact.”
“Comparing weekly mortality in 24 European countries, the findings in this paper suggest that more severe lockdown policies have not been associated with lower mortality. In other words, the lockdowns have not worked as intended.”
“Whether a county had a lockdown has no effect on Covid-19 deaths; a non-effect that persists over time. Cross-country studies also find lockdowns are superfluous and ineffective (Homberg 2020). This ineffectiveness may have several causes. “
The question that inevitably comes to mind is… why? Why did they immediately dispense with everything they had learned in preparation for a pandemic exactly like covid-19? Why would they minimize and malign an effort like the Great Barrington Declaration? Why did they ignore decades of research and the lessons gleaned from previous, more severe pandemics?
The actual toll lockdowns took on not just the U.S. but the entire world…I guarantee that the vast majority of Americans have no idea just how much immiseration we're responsible for. I cannot emphasize this enough: Both at home and abroad, the lockdowns were catastrophic. I hope to write about this soon.