Today into tonight I am adding 200+ new titles. They will be uploaded first, then categorized within a few days.
Also, the desktop version of this page (did) show inline embedded files of the book for download (that is, displayed the entire contents of the book in a display case, if you will). On the mobile view version of this page it has always just shown a thick bold red line of the title. I am underway with altering all the titles to the thick bold red lines, for it makes the page load much more expediently.
To download the title, by clicking the line item, the PDF will be downloaded to the device you are using.
As far as the catalog of titles, I own physical and/or digital copies of all of these titles. Titles that I have paid for.
Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) I am lawfully allowed to make copies available to the public. Resale of the copies is a violation of the DMCA.
If any links are broken, please feel free to contact me and I can restore the media to the link. I can be reached at: email@example.com.
On Twitter I received a few messages in the past few days asking me to add the authors of the titles to the line item. This is a fair request and I will do this soon as well. Also, I was asked to add a small description of each book, this too is a great idea. Within the next few weeks I can work on this. I have this week off from work and I enjoy this blogging community and the subject matter therefore I believe this is a good idea.
Question on Posts by Eric( me):
This was asked in comments, by email and also a few Twitter people. I am putting a page together with a collection of strictly my posts.
Years ago when using WordPress to build and manage small websites for clients, it was relatively easy to segregate posts from the owner of the blog apart from reblogged/pingbacked/RSS feed items/etc into distinct columns on the homepage of the blog. WordPress has made some changes which – for instance – simply activating a “premium plugin” breaks the blog apart from the WordPress framework (the community) and it is bizarre.
One may notice, I have paid for the domain and WordPress services (the main reasons I did this was to have advertising removed- and to have storage space to upload files beyond the 6or8GB the free service allows for). Right now, I am keeping the theme as is and keeping part of the WordPress framework blogging community. Reblogging interesting stuff is my favorite part of this thing.
Sacred Destabilization Series:
Five posts were made and a sixth, an interlude. There are 22 additional parts coming. Possibly more. It’s a massive thing. The books/documents/etc I have uploaded thus far and others to come in the Recommended Reading Page were used as source material. Alongside nearly 400 web sources. Many people that gravitate towards the “conspiratorial inquiry” of this blog know much of the history (ie Bolshevik Revolution, Weimar Republic, “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, occult influences on the methods and rituals of the elite – ideological, philosophical, business and academic influence, etc) – the who/what/when/where of history is there nonetheless my objective is and always has been to understand the why and how. Parts that are coming focus on aforementioned necessary historical background, moreover, on what is happening right now and most importantly: my job is to present evidence of where this thing is going.
And I’ve gotten hold of a shit ton of evidence, of proof – beyond speculative posturing – proof. Therefore, informative pieces are coming in parts Eight thru Ten. Part Seven will be one last historical overview. The parts thus far:
This is an idea I was given by a blogger who commented that as opposed to reblogging as often – to showcase blogs/their posts/etc as a post of my own is a good idea. I completely agree and will begin to do this beginning this week. I am going to reach out to bloggers and to those that wish to participate I will gather posts (chosen by the blogger, if they prefer), short bio (if they would like), etc ..it is a good way to build up the community. Yes. I know, the internet is a vastness of the infinite and what is the point? The point is that it is enjoyable. Simple!
In the meantime, I refer you good readers to:
This man has a great blog and he is a good friend I have been fortunate to have met thru this platform. He authors alot of content, including this fiction which is a great read:
The study of information has been remarkably clarified by information theory. This is the scientific study of the quantification, storage, and communication of digital information. The field is at the intersection of probability theory, statistics, computer science, statistical mechanics, information engineering, and electrical engineering.
Information theory has found applications in other areas, including statistical inference, cryptography, neurobiology,perception, linguistics, the evolution and function of molecular codes (bioinformatics), thermal physics, molecular dynamics, quantum computing, black holes, information retrieval, intelligence gathering, plagiarism detection, pattern recognition, anomaly detection and even art creation.
The world has recently been witness to much emphasis on misinformation in relation to the pandemic. The United Nations and its Specialized Agencies have been very explicit regarding the challenge of misinformation:
Misinformation is understood to be false, inaccurate, or misleading information that is communicated regardless of an intention to deceive. Disinformation is a subset of misinformation that is deliberately deceptive. The principal effect of misinformation is to elicit fear and suspicion among a population. News parody or satire can become misinformation if it is believed to be credible and communicated as if it were true. The terms “misinformation” and “disinformation” have often been associated with the concept of “fake news” (Varieties of Fake News and Misrepresentation: when are deception, pretence and cover-up acceptable? 2019).
Less evident is how to distinguish what is speculative misinformation, by which collective understanding is confused, from disinformation about the nature of the crisis, How to distinguish deliberate lies in support of particular agendas?
A valuable article, relative to the quantity of confusing and misleading information otherwise available, is the study by Adam M. Enders, et al, (The Different Forms of COVID-19 Misinformation and their Consequences, Misinformation Review, 16 November 2020). Appropriately this argues that as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, an understanding of the structure and organization of beliefs in pandemic conspiracy theories and misinformation becomes increasingly critical for addressing the threat posed by these dubious ideas. As stated, this preoccupation is itself problematic in that it appears to frame and conflate in a rather particular manner what is “misinformation”, “dubious”, and the focus of “conspiracy theories” — potentially excluding what some would argue (with evidence) as being of legitimate and strategic scientific concern.
Reference to “misinformation”, as being a major problem of the “infodemic”, can be recognized as exploiting this confusion. There is great advantage to vested interests in disguising deliberate lies within a context of speculative claims which can be readily dismissed — and claimed to be harmful. This has resulted in major initiatives by social media platforms and search engines to eliminate anything that can be readily labelled as “misinformation”. Sophisticated use is being made of artificial intelligence to that end.
Which truths upheld by one party however, would not now be dismissed as misinformation — if not a lie — by another? Opposing factions, whether in politics, science, religion or business typically accuse each other of misrepresenting the truth — if not “lying”, possibly even with “evil” intent. Does disagreement automatically imply misinformation in that one party is held by the other to be misrepresenting the truth — lying — to the other?
Far more challenging is the criteria by which the institutional promotion of any “Big Lie” would be detectable with the tools of information theory (Existential Challenge of Detecting Today’s Big Lie, 2016). The difficulty more generally is that increasingly any claim regarding such a “lie” is itself readily dismissed by authorities as “misinformation” meriting suppression — dismissing those claiming an unquestionably truthful alternative perspective. This pattern is most dramatically evident in political leaders accused of corruption — who deem their indictment as “political”.
Framed as a “war” by many leaders — thereby justifying a deceptive propaganda modality — is it then totally naive to assume that the official narrative regarding the pandemic is not based in some measure on misinformation, disinformation, deception, or deliberate lying? From a military perspective, this would be fully justified, given the highly valued role of deception in warfare.
Are “fact-checking” initiatives to be upheld as totally free of bias — and unquestionably so, as some would claim them to be (Samikshya Siwakoti, et al., How COVID drove the evolution of fact-checking, Misinformation Review, 6 May 2021). Or does fact-checking depend on selectively framing particular information as false, according to the constraints of unquestionable criteria, governed by prescription of an often undeclared agenda (Sungkyu Park, et al, The presence of unexpected biases in online fact-checking, Misinformation Review, 27 January 2021).
It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in that conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. (Drug Companies and Doctors: a story of corruption, The New York Review of Books, 15 January 2009).
The problematic nature of the distinction between true and false is highlighted in a different context by the highly controversial discussion of critical race theory, especially in the USA — where it is proving to be an existential challenge to academia. As argued by Kerry Cosby, this raises the more general issue that the problems of today call for less binary and more systems thinking (Is Critical Race Theory Too Complex for U.S. Politics?The Globalist, 20 July 2021). It notes the relevance of the question to the pandemic, climate change, and other issues. Does politics have the ability to confront issues for which academia has (in some cases) begun using more complex methods to examine? Cosby argues:
Today, the U.S. political system largely relies upon establishing a binary choice for voters. Meanwhile, for many of today’s problems, researchers use models that consider multiple causes, feedback loops and systemic structural influences.
The argument can be evoked with respect to the manner in which “information” and “misinformation” are distinguished — given the limitations of the binary mindset focusing primarily (if not solely) on “truth” verse “falsehood”. Is information really either true or false — or possibly both, or even neither? This complexification has been explored by Kinhide Mushakoji (Global Issues and Interparadigmatic Dialogue, 1988). The non-binary insights of quantum computing, and their social implications, suggest that other perspectives may be pertinent (Alexander Wendt, Quantum Mind and Social Science: unifying physical and social ontology, 2015).
The title of this document is itself necessarily ambiguous — a “science of misinformation and deception” — given that considerable science has been acknowledged to have been applied in the course of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal. As a marketing initiative to manipulate the opinion of voters, it frames the question as to whether advertising and puffery merit exploration as exercises in misinformation — in the guise of information (Rebecca A. Clay, Advertising as Science, American Psychological Association, 33, 2002, 9; Livia Gershon, Can Advertising Be a Science?JStor Daily, 4 December 2016; Adi Ignatius, Advertising Is an Art — and a Science, Harvard Business Review, March 2013).
Does the framing of the pandemic as a “war” preclude any assumption that authorities are complicit in processes of deception — as would be a natural option in the implication of the need for a “military” response?
Information theory and cognitive bias?
Media bias: Noting that media may be biased regarding political and ideological leaning/orientation especially, the awareness of such bias is a key factor for readers in deciding how much content/opinion they accept or reject from a given source, as argued by Victoria Patricia Aires, et al (An Information Theory Approach to Detect Media Bias in News Websites, WISDOM, 24 August 2020). The authors that:
Over the years, especially nowadays, biased information has been used as a tool to control and manipulate public opinion, ultimately leading to the proliferation of fake news. Consequently, it is important to develop methods to automatically identify and inform the reader about the eventual political and ideological bias of the sources. The majority of current research focuses on polarity detection or a bi-class problem, such as left vs. right-wing leaning or Democratic vs. Republican. In addition, most of them are based on a large number of features (lexical or bag-of-words), resulting in computationally intensive methods. In this work, we introduce Poll (POLitical Leaning detector), a strategy based on Information Theory concepts to detect media bias in news websites/portals considering bi-class and multi-class problems. Our strategy reduces the feature space to as little as the number of classes being considered, significantly reducing the overall computational cost.
The modelling of deceptions in game theory and decision theory has not been well studied, despite the increasing importance of this problem in social media, public discourse, and organisational management. This paper presents an improved formulation of the extant information-theoretic models of deceptions, a framework for incorporating these models of deception into game and decision theoretic models of deception, and applies these models and this framework in an agent based evolutionary simulation that models two very common deception types employed in “fake news” attacks. The simulation results for both deception types modelled show, as observed empirically in many social systems subjected to “fake news” attacks, that even a very small population of deceivers that transiently invades a much larger population of non-deceiving agents can strongly alter the equilibrium behaviour of the population in favour of agents playing an always defect strategy. The results also show that the ability of a population of deceivers to establish itself or remain present in a population is highly sensitive to the cost of the deception, as this cost reduces the fitness of deceiving agents when competing against non-deceiving agents. Diffusion behaviours observed for agents exploiting the deception producing false beliefs are very close to empirically observed behaviours in social media, when fitted to epidemiological models. We thus demonstrate, using the improved formulation of the information-theoretic models of deception, that agent based evolutionary simulations employing the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma can accurately capture the behaviours of a population subject to deception attacks introducing uncertainty and false perceptions, and show that information-theoretic models of deception have practical applications beyond trivial taxonomical analysis.
Why aren’t scientific results having more impact on public opinion, policy and political will? The use of misinformation by vested interests has a long history, however the advent of social media, and the fracturing of the media landscape, has vastly increased the power wielded by those bent on introducing confusion into debate. The sophistication of the deception, coupled with the severity of the consequences, has prompted a large amount of recent research into the nature of misinformation…, and how best to combat it…. High impact research has recently been published on the spread of `fake news’…, and the need to combat scientific misinformation…] however there has been no attempt to quantify the spread and impact of scientific information on public opinion and policy development.
Understood as a means of tackling the fundamental barriers to the use of science in society, the project envisages the use the tools of network analysis to quantify the nature of information flow within, and between, the networks of scientists, the general public, and key influencers (such as politicians and media organisations). This would then give a measure of the extent to which influencers are relying on misinformation versus science in the development of policy. The project would also identify the characteristics of “super-spreaders” in the network, and seek to determine how these characteristics may be harnessed for a “public inoculation strategy”.
Rumor spreading can have a significant impact on people’s lives, distorting scientific facts and influencing political opinions. With technologies that have democratized the production and reproduction of information, the rate at which misinformation can spread has increased significantly, leading many to describe contemporary times as a ‘post-truth era’. Research into rumor spreading has primarily been based on either model of social and biological contagion, or upon models of opinion dynamics. Here we present a comprehensive model that is based on information entropy, which allows for the incorporation of considerations like the role of memory, conformity effects, differences in the subjective propensity to produce distortions, and variations in the degree of trust that people place in each other.
The relevance of information theory to misinformation does however require particular clarification, as argued by Uyiosa Omoregie (A Wittgensteinian Approach to Online Content Misinformation Analysis, SocArXiv, 25 Jan 2021)
How can misinformation online (World Wide Web) be effectively analysed? Online platforms initially left content consumers to discern for themselves whether information online was true or false. Outright censoring of content followed and then fact-checking. We propose in this paper that misinformation analysis should aim to make clear what is stated by clarifying the propositions and claims in such content. The early philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) is relevant for such analysis. Presented here is an online content information quality check model for written (non-graphical) misinformation analysis and prevention. This model is inspired by Wittgenstein’s book Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Applied to Web browsers and online social media platforms, the rating and labelling of content with this model can help users discern content qualitatively, avoid being misinformed, and engage more analytically with other users. This Wittgensteinian model can also be viewed as a theory of information quality.
Renaissance of science? So called “Science 2.0” is a suggested new approach to science that uses information-sharing and collaboration made possible by network technologies. Understood as similar to the open research and open science movements, it is inspired by what are termed Web 2.0 technologies. Science 2.0 therefore stresses the benefits of increased collaboration between scientists using collaborative tools like wikis, blogs and video journals to share findings, raw data and “nascent theories” online.
A journal promoting this alternative has noted with respect to misinformation that:
Online misinformation works, or so it would seem. One of the more interesting statistics from the 2019 UK general election was that 88% of advertisements posted on social media by the Conservative Party pushed figures that had already been deemed misleading by the UK’s leading fact-checking organization, Full Fact. And, of course, the Conservatives won the election by a comfortable margin. (Darren Lilleker, Spurious Thinking: Why You’re More Susceptible To Misinformation Than You ThinkScience 2.0, 11 January 2020)
The existence of recurring forms of credulity and conversely denial — from holocaust denial to climate change denial — suggests that patterns of belief and disbelief will not be easily resolved either with fact-checking or with the regulation of the press. While such approaches see the problem of misinformation in terms of a contest between truth and falsehood, history suggests that people believe falsehoods, because they need to for a variety of psychological or socio-cultural reasons. While understanding what “needs” falsehoods meet may not provide an immediate solution to the problem of misinformation, it does open a different perspective on the question. In the end, the essay suggests that the current trend towards STEM education, to the growing exclusion of the humanities, may be slowly undermining the very analytical skills the public needs to be able to counter the tides of misinformation.
Tragically, and ironically, science could be said to betray Galileo, whilst upholding him as an exemplar of science. This is evident in the systematic promotion of reference to “sunrise” and “sunset” by meteorology and astronomy — a reversion to the geocentric perspective which Galileo heroically endeavoured to correct. No appropriate expressions have been offered to reinforce a heliocentric perspective in the face of a flat Earth and flatland mentality. This pattern can be understood as equivalent to the logocentric and egocentric perspectives reinforced by many religions — in contrast with the radical cognitive insights to which mystics endeavour to point.
Game theory, hypergames and the role of deception
Misperception in games: With applications to the social sciences, game theory is the study of mathematical models of strategic interaction among rational decision-makers. With the pandemic frequently framed in terms of warfare, as such it is more usefully recognized in terms of cyberwarfare or memetic warfare (Conceptual defence systems and memetic warfare, 2001). Information theory could then be applied to the dynamics between those variously opposed in the pandemic and misinformed of each others intentions and motivations. Clarifications include:
When dealing with conflicts, game theory and decision theory can be used to model the interactions of the decision-makers. To date, game theory and decision theory have received considerable modeling focus, while hypergame theory has not. A metagame, known as a hypergame, occurs when one player does not know or fully understand all the strategies of a game. Hypergame theory extends the advantages of game theory by allowing a player to outmaneuver an opponent and obtaining a more preferred outcome with a higher utility. The ability to outmaneuver an opponent occurs in the hypergame because the different views (perception or deception) of opponents are captured in the model, through the incorporation of information unknown to other players (misperception or intentional deception).
Mapping game roles? As offered by game theory, missing in efforts to understand the dynamics between the variously opposing parties in the pandemic is any approach to mapping out their respective positions:
Games aging institutions play in anticipation of collapse? Of potential relevance is the recognition of how individuals cultivate forms of deception in their personal interactions understood as games (Eric Berne, Games People Play: the psychology of human relations, 1964). This understanding has been extended to organizations (James R. Rogers, et al, Institutional Games and the U.S. Supreme Court, 2007). In the case of individuals, the role of deception is especially evident in how people choose to “disguise” and “camouflage” themselves through choice of dress and cosmetics — at all ages, but especially when they would otherwise appear less youthful. Arguably the process is evident in the use of public relations by organizations to enhance their strategic relevance. This is clearly recognized in deceptive marketing reference to “greenwashing” and “bluewashing” — as an extension of “whitewashing“.
Seen in this light, the current focus on masking and social distancing could be understood as an institutionalization of deceptive disguise, inhibiting the former degree of transparency in social relations — otherwise upheld as a human right. Little is said of the manner in which masking undermines those dependent on facial cues in negotiation — most notably in the case of lip reading by the deaf. It remains to be determined how the future will interpret the deception associated with worldwide inoculation.
Naivety in acquisition of truth from accredited sources?
In this context it is then relevant to ask where truth can be sought with confidence. The challenge is as great for any individual as it is for leaders, especially of nations and international institutions. An obvious difficulty is that many potential sources claim to offer unquestionable truth — in contrast to the falsehoods offered by their effective competitors and opponents.
Engaging with sources of truth: Engaging with each such source it quickly becomes evident that the source would consider highly offensive any implication that the truth it offers is anyway questionable. Those claiming greatest authority also tend to claim never to be wrong — and do so with a degree of arrogance. They tend to have sophisticated procedures to demonstrate the contrary, if challenged with evidence of particular instances of their falsehood. In some cases any critics are simply referred to the “small print” covering cases whereby truth was not in effect claimed. This may may in itself be difficult in that it is typical for insurance contracts to indicate what is covered, but not to clarify what is not.
The attitude is well exemplified by the TINA declaration of Margaret Thatcher: There Is No Alternative, or that of the President of the USA (Bush: ‘You Are Either With Us, Or With the Terrorists’, Voice of America, 21 September 2011). Unfortunately there is no evidence whatsoever that “being right” offers a viable remedy to the challenges of global governance. Are those who disagree with the dominant narrative simply to be framed as “wrong”, possibly with implications fatal for their livelihood and even for their existence. Should injunctions against the critics of vaccination be recognized as following the pattern of fatwas of the Islamic faith, as with that condemning Salman Rushdie to death for his novel The Satanic Verses (1988)? Does this pattern constitute a reversion to the treatment of heretics by the Catholic Church?
It could be considered naive to assume that those perceiving advantage in their claims to truth would not seek to exploit that advantage and to reinforce it. The processes whereby they do so in order to position themselves to greater advantage may be questionable in the eyes of others. They may well detract from the credibility of the source, however much that is denied or considered irrelevant to the truths presented.
The influential framing offered by Leo Strauss and cultivated by his followers tends to be readily ignored. Strauss believed that essential truth about human society and history should be held by an elite and withheld from others who lack the fortitude to deal with truth. In their view it has been necessary to tell lies to people about the nature of political reality…The elite keeps the truth to itself… This gives it insight and …power that others do not possess (William Pfaff, The Long Reach of Leo Strauss, International Herald Tribune, 15 May 2003).
As noted by Jim Lobe (Leo Strauss’ Philosophy of Deception, 19 May 2003), deception is considered to be the norm in political life. The political order can only be stable, according to that argument, if it is united by an external threat. Following Machiavelli, Strauss maintained that if no external threat exists, then one has to be manufactured. In his view you have to fight all the time (Thoughts on Machiavelli, 1958). Has the pandemic been framed as just such an external threat?
An associated major difficulty is increasing recognition that in many contexts it may simply be a matter of the cost payable to an authority for switching to an alternative interpretation of the truth. This may simply take the form of making vital funding dependent on a switch in emphasis. More blatantly, this is exemplified in the case of corruption of legal proceedings and evidence tampering. Any truth can then be understood to have a price — whether or not it is expressed in monetary terms. Less obvious tactics may simply be to reduce the competence of those in any investigating body, or to change its mandate, such that problematic issues are overlooked or avoided. This is a questionable individualisation of “oversight”, with all that the ambiguity implies.
Sources of truth? Particular instances of relevance include:
Science: It is natural to expect that science, in the form of scientific institutions or their representatives, would be a primary source of truth. The difficulty is that the guarantees of science in that respect are variously constrained. A particular piece of research may present a clear conclusion — readily claimed as a truth. However other research, or a related discipline, may challenge that interpretation and offer another. Over time there may be a convergence of views — again offering a firmer conclusion — but with the potential of being challenged by new research at a later date from another perspective. It is not to be forgotten that scientists achieve a reputation by proving earlier research to be wrong — whatever the implications for the truths derived from it
Such difficulties are especially evident in the health sciences on which so much reliance is placed under pandemic conditions. It is especially significant to note the extent to which health professionals take particular care in offering “opinions” rather than truths in complex matters on which their advice is sought. Any such professional will happily suggest that a “second opinion” could well be sought from another professional — leaving it to the person in quest of truth to draw a conclusion.
Any truth apparently offered by research is naturally questionable given the insidious role of institutional funding, especially in academia. Funding may well be made available on condition that it is framed in a certain manner with a view to achieving certain results and justifying desired conclusions. It is difficult for disciplines and scientists to disassociate themselves from such institutional pressures and to reflect this in research results — despite efforts at indicating “conflicts of interest”.
A further difficulty in seeking truth from science derives from the many disciplines into which science is fragmented. Many of these have limited appreciation for each other, given the methodological constraints under which each is held to operate. The truth which might potentially emanate from a unified science or a Theory of Everything, remains hypothetical and elusive. Science devotes little resources to the possibilities of interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in this respect. Truths are therefore relatively constrained by discipline.
The difficulty is all the greater when a discipline, claiming itself to be a science, is condemned as a pseudoscience by other disciplines — namely a source of forms of truth which are automatically deprecated by them
Religion: For adherents of any religion, it is natural to seek recourse to an appropriate religious institution as a source of truth. Religions and their representatives make very strong claims in that regard — mandated as they often are by sacred scriptures and divine revelation.
The importance of religion in this respect is evident when evidence is presented as truthful under oath — with specific reference to deity (“so help me God”). Reliance on spiritual guidance is remarkably evident in the practice under some American presidents of daily prayer meetings in the White House. As a source of truth, it remains unclear how this provides guidance for military campaigns in which thousands are killed — or in the presidential authorization of capital punishment.
An obvious difficulty is the nature of the truth offered, irrespective of that sought. Religious discourse typically reframes a request for truth in a larger framework which is of seemingly little relevance to requirements for a simple answer. Dominant religious may not be embarrassed by the perspectives of alternative religions and the truth they may offer. This is less evident in societies claiming to be secular where religious bias may itself be criticized as a form of untruth. Like science, religions have been relatively unsuccessful in efforts at inter-faith initiatives, as is evident with regard to the uptake of the Global Ethic (1993)
A further difficulty for religions over millennia is the extent to which they would claim never to have been wrong — despite embarrassing evidence to the contrary. For the Catholic Church, for example, its questionable assertion during the Galileo Affair of a geocentric perspective (despite evidence of the validity of a heliocentric perspective) is indicative of a form of fallibility. This denied institutionally by belief in the Infallibility of the Church, namely that the Holy Spirit preserves the Christian Church from errors that would contradict its essential doctrines. Associated truths are currently called into question with regard to the status of women, divorce, abortion, and same-sex marriage. With respect to truth, the challenge extends to Biblical infallibility and Biblical inerrancy.
As a source of truth, especially problematic is evidence of institutional denial of error having taken the form of systematic cover-up, as most recently indicated by the incidence of sexual above by the Catholic clergy. This is consistent with cover-up of the tragic fate of children and their mothers in Catholic institutions. Those issues help to make the point that misinformation may take the form of omission rather than lying.
Government: Given the tradition of sovereign authority, and notions of “divine right”, there is a natural tendency to associate truth with sovereign power — more commonly now invested in secular governments elected by the people. Unfortunately as a consequence of well-documented instances, trust in government as a source of truth is now remarkably low. This in no way prevents governments from authoritatively presenting information as being factually truthful — assuming that it will be deemed credible — despite evidence of the extent to which such data can be massaged in support of a particular agenda.
Most obvious is the extent to which the results of democratic elections are contested as having been manipulated in some manner. The assiduous efforts to recount the Arizona results in the last US presidential election are a clear example. Although discounted by many voters, considerable attention has been given to documenting the credibility of Donald Trump (Trump’s false or misleading claims total 30,573 over 4 years, The Washington Post, 24 January 2021)
The question is increasingly to what lengths government institutions will go to manipulate data in support of particular agendas. A prime example is offered by the questionable evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as presented by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to the UN Security Council in justification for the subsequent military intervention. Of similar relevance is the incidence of false flag covert operations — and the manner in which they are justified in defence of national security.
More intriguing is the systematic presentation of misleading information by government agencies, or its omission, as revealed by the publication of secret US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks. The reaction by authorities to these revelations in turn evokes confirmation of their untrustworthiness.
Private business corporations: Governments have increasingly turned to private enterprises in the expectation of reliable, if not truthful, responses to their needs — rather than depend upon government agencies as was a previous tendency. Perhaps most surprising is the use of private contractors for security purposes, even in foreign campaigns. It has become evident the extent to which corporations seek immunity from prosecution when engaging in such contracts — as evident in the use of injunctions and superinjunctions.
There is however extensive documentation on the lack of transparency of corporations, most notably with respect to environmental issues — accompanied by patterns of increasingly dubious denial. Given the focus on profit-making, it is understandable that when requested for truth corporations would frame their response such as to serve that purpose. It is increasingly naive to expect otherwise.
Intelligence agencies: These are a natural source of truth for government. The difficulty is that they are necessarily preoccupied with security issues and frame all questions from that perspective. Additionally they are necessarily secretive and therefore constrained in their ability to present information in a truthful manner.
As recently documented, notably in relation to justification for intervention in Iraq, the dynamics of the relation with government render problematic the quality of information they provide — despite the immense resources devoted to its collection.
Military services: As with the intelligence agencies, the military are necessarily preoccupied with security issues and frame any quest for truth in that light. Additionally it is the military which is most dependent on strategies of deception in engaging effectively with any potential threat — including any threat to their own funding. Where truth increases the risk of empowering an enemy, it is clear that the military would have little compunction in quashing its expression.
As a source of truth, such groupings are an extension of the pattern of consultation with allies with a shared agenda, exemplified by bodies such as NATO and the OECD. Secretive variants include the so-called Five Eyes intelligence sharing group.
Media: As the means whereby public attention is drawn to the expression of truth, it is clearly esteemed as a valuable source. The role of journalism has been held in high regard for that reason.
It has however become evident the degree to which vested interests may be threatened by the transparency offered by the media. As a consequence efforts are made to control the content of communications to ensure its support of particular agendas. This is most obvious where much of the media is recognized to be influenced or controlled by government and is not free to express truths which contradict a narrative favoured by government. As a matter of convenience, specific measures may be enacted to prevent coverage of issues too readily framed as a threat to national security
Although not directly controlled by government, media controlled by corporations ares necessarily respectful of the government narrative for the advantages this offers. An additional constraint for media dependent on advertising revenue is the need to avoid expression of truths which may cause cancellation of advertising contracts — potentially including those associated with political parties.
Nongovernmental nonprofit organizations (NGOs): Such bodies are typically created to articulate truths with regard to human rights, environmental degradation, corruption, and other issues — and are esteemed for that reason. With the development of the internet, many have acquired an electronic presence, or have been replaced by social media fora and websites.
Whether purely virtual or not, as a source of truth NGOs face a problem similar to think tanks in that they are embedded in an ecosystem of sources of mutually contradictory information. They may well be created by vested interests as a front whereby particular truths may be promoted and others discredited.
Secret(ive) societies: Much-cited examples as a potential source of truth include the Rosicrucians and Freemasonry. The latter is notable for being a focus of conspiracy theories associated with the so-called Illuminati.
Gatherings of the eminent: Given the problematic quest for truth from those identified above, recourse may be had to individuals or groups recognized as having a higher degree of credibility for some reason. This may take the form of consulting those esteemed for their “wisdom”, as a source of insight on an issue of concern — or enabling a “council of the wise” . Some “NGOs” may frame their role in this way — possibly as a vehicle for the insights of a charismatic individual (or those awarded as icons of human insight) — whilst seeking to distinguish themselves from the label “NGO”. Obvious international examples include the following, possibly reflecting equivalents at the national level:
The Elders: an international organization of public figures noted as senior statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates
Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award: upheld as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”, although specifically distinguished from it
Any such listing raises the somewhat ironic question as to whether sources of truth-telling could be rated with a star system, as are restaurants and hotels. Clearly academia makes various efforts to rank universities, think tanks and journals as a means of prejudging the quality of their research. To what extent such rankings are unquestionably indicative of truth is another matter. In other domains, a form of ranking is achieved through reputation and word-of-mouth, as with speaker rankings and individuals as sources of wisdom.
The point to be emphasized is that, as a guide to truth-telling, all such rankings are suspect — with those so ranked characteristically critical of others and of any implied order of precedence or “pecking order”. Is any one source of truth necessarily suspect due to its own tendency to ensure future dependency on it?
Identifying information specifically held to be misinformation
As noted above, a relevant study is that of Adam M. Enders, et al, (The Different Forms of COVID-19 Misinformation and their Consequences, Misinformation Review, 16 November 2020). However, as noted, the argument there appears to conflate in a rather particular manner what is “misinformation”, “dubious”, and the focus of “conspiracy theories” — potentially excluding what some would argue (with evidence) as being of legitimate scientific concern. The study could be seen as avoiding reference to the misuse of information by government and vested interests — appropriately understood as “misinformation (as noted below) — with an implication that it is the “anti-vaxxers” and the like who are the primary source of such misinformation.
The Enders study cites another valuable source, namely that of J. S. Brennen, et al. (Types, Sources, and Claims of COVID-19 Misinformation, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 2020). As with the Enders study, the implication there is that fact-checking bodies are themselves free from bias (although constrained by extreme shortage of resources). It concludes with the recommendation that misinformation about COVID-19 comes in many different forms, from many different sources, and makes many different claims. Such misinformation frequently reconfigures existing or true content rather than fabricating it wholesale, and where it is manipulated, is edited with simple tools (rather than the use of AI).
The study does however conclude that much misinformation directly or indirectly questions the actions, competence, or legitimacy of public authorities (including governments, health authorities, and international organisations), noting (only in a footnote) that: Beyond the issues discussed here it is worth recognising that some governments globally are arguably withholding public interest information about the pandemic and in some cases actively misinforming the public about the health situation and the actions taken to address it.
No reference is made in the study to the extent to which such misuse might be evident in scientific institutions, health authorities or the pharmaceutical industry. Although it is noted that: COVID-19 appears to be supplying the opportunity for very different actors with a range of different motivations and goals to produce a variety of types of misinformation about many different topics. In this sense, misinformation about COVID-19 is as diverse as information about it.
The study does however conclude that it will be difficult for public authorities to address or correct such claims directly without running into multiple problems: How many people will accept as credible a government trying to debunk or refute misinformation that casts that very same government in a negative light?
A final conclusion of the Brennen study notes:
The risk in not recognising the diversity in the landscape of coronavirus misinformation is assuming there could be a single solution to this set of problems. Instead, our findings suggest there will be no silver bullet or inoculation – no ‘cure’ for misinformation about the new coronavirus.
In determining what exactly is misinformation, there is however a fundamental difficulty highlighted by the very title of a seemingly relevant study (John E. Newhagen and Erik P. Bucyxx, Overcoming Resistance to COVID-19 Vaccine Adoption: How affective dispositions shape views of science and medicine, Misinformation Review, 29 October 2020). One form of misinformation is evident in the assumption that the health experts are necessarily and unquestionably right (and without bias), and that anti-vaccine protestors of whatever shade of opinion are unquestionably wrong — and that their mistaken attitudes must be rectified. The assumption is only too evident in the abstract of that article:
Health experts worry that a COVID-19 vaccine boycott could inhibit reaching “herd immunity,” and their concerns have only grown as the pandemic has spread. Concern has largely focused on anti-vaccine protestors… But anti-vax extremists make up only about a third of respondents in surveys who said they would not vaccinate. Health officials must also take into account a swelling group who may understand the importance of a vaccine but are hesitant and confused because they feel the vaccine’s development is being rushed and may not be safe or effective. The challenge for the public health community is complex; it has to fashion messages to a set of disparate groups, each employing a unique set of biases when processing information about the efficacy of getting a vaccination.
As indicated above, there would seem to be a form of “cognitive gerrymandering” in avoiding any consideration of the possibility that many aspects of marketing merit consideration as misinformation — and therefore calling for their exclusion from social media platforms. Such consideration would necessarily include dubious claims made in the promotion of ideological positions by vested political interests as well as those made with respect to religious beliefs, as argued separately (Comparability of “Vaxxing Saves” with “Jesus Saves” as Misinformation? Problematic challenge of global discernment, 2021).
Whilst journal editors may encourage authors to indicate any conflict of interest, whether such declarations are the focus of appropriate fact-checking is an appropriate question.
Misuse of information by authorities — as neglected “misinformation”?
“Authoritative” assertions: There is seemingly considerable confusion regarding questions surrounding the misuse of information by public authorities. As public authorities, there is an unquestioned assumption by many that their use of the information at their disposal is necessarily “authoritative” (implying correct) — and therefore beyond question in their mandatory role in acting in the best interests of the electorate. Such an assumption invites challenge in the light of the recognized use of propaganda and the documented tendency to withhold information.
A striking example is the manner in which UK authorities “egged-up” the case for “humanitarian intervention” in Iraq, as subsequently reviewed in the 12-volume report of the Chilcot Inquiry (2016). As noted above, an influential case for withholding information to the extent possible has been made by Leo Strauss.
As is especially evident in critical analysis of dictatorships by outsiders, the misuse of information by the state is however deprecated. Within such societies any such criticism is severely penalized. Curiously the tendency of governments to massage data critical of their performance — to present a positive impression — is tolerated to a degree, without being labelled misinformation. It does however raise issues when government spokesperson make authoritative assertions on any issue citing data which has been manipulated in this way. The question framed is the nature of the quantitative evidence in support of any such declaration.
“Demonisation” of critics: These issues are evident with respect to the pandemic. Critics of authoritative quantitative declarations, notably with regard to vaccination, are readily dismissed as “anti-vaxxers” and “conspiracy theorists” — corresponding to the treatment of critics under dictatorships. The criticism — not what is criticized — is then framed as “misinformation”. Those responsible are a focus of demonisation to varying degrees (Phillip Cole, The Myth of Evil: Demonizing the Enemy, 2006; Jakob Schwöre et al, Demonisation of political discourses?West European Politics, 2020; Arnold Kling, Political Demonization in the Time of Coronavirus, Discourse, 22 April 2020)
This playbook is employed to an extreme degree in framing the leadership of countries and groups held to be a threat to security. Portraying opponents as corrupt, sexually depraved, with cannibalistic tendencies, associated with torture, and the like, are all standard practice (if the “dirt” can be usefully made to stick). Historical examples include the framings of the “Yellow Peril“, the “Black Peril“, the “Red Peril“, or of the Communist “fellow travellers” identified in the USA by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee during the McArthy era.
It is in this light that it is appropriate to look at criticism of the misuse of information in relation to the pandemic by authorities — whether government, health, scientific, corporate, or possibly religious. Such criticisms may indeed feature in social media fora framed as “anti-vaxxer”. There is considerably naivety in such condemnation, given the extent of negative advertising in modern electoral campaigns.
Focus of criticism of authorities: Most evident is criticism of data manipulation, otherwise known by such terms as “data massaging”, otherwise termed “data cleansing” with use of “data wrangling tools“. This is the process of detecting and “correcting” (or removing) records held to be corrupt or inaccurate from a record set, table, or database. It refers to identifying incomplete, incorrect, inaccurate or irrelevant parts of the data and then replacing, modifying, or deleting the “dirty” or coarse data. Reference to “massaging” implies adjusting the data according to a strategic requirement:
It would be naive to argue that manufacturers of vaccines, masks (and other protective gear), and sanitising fluids do not have a major interest in lobbying for policies which increase demand for them — with the support of commissioned research. The absence of transparency on such matters can only exacerbate suspicions, as suggested by the manner in which contracts are awarded under emergency legislation.
A critique of Australia’s vaccination policies is necessary because the government has adopted vaccination as the default position for certain groups in Australian society, even whilst claiming vaccination in Australia is not compulsory. Pressure is being placed on individuals to use multiple vaccines by linking financial incentives in the form of welfare benefits, childcare places and employment to the use of an expanding number of vaccines…. (p. 23)
Undone science also includes science that is founded on assumptions and extrapolations as opposed to direct empirical observations. An example of this type of undone science is the development of safety standards for the use of chemicals in humans and the environment. The majority of data that is used to establish safety standards for toxic chemicals is collected from observations in animal studies or naturally occurring accidents rather than controlled clinical trials on humans…. Extrapolation produces uncertainty from both ‘known’ and ‘unknown knowledge’… Unknown processes can influence the results in these cases. In some cases this uncertainty arises because the sponsor has chosen to ignore researching this area for political reasons…. (p. 222)
Whilst some scientists have attempted to enforce the precautionary principle in a form that states ‘The absence of certainty is not an excuse to do nothing’ the industry representatives are reversing this principle to state ‘there is no evidence of harm’ therefore no action is required… (p. 225)
Policy-makers, scientists and the public are increasingly acknowledging that harmful consequences of new procedures and technologies cannot be reliably determined through the usual risk assessment framework. This is because the areas of ignorance that result from undone science are increasing (p. 225)
Modelling implications: The concerns can be highlighted otherwise through the contrast between the highly influential early modelling of the pandemic by Neil Ferguson in leading the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team and the case more recently made by another Imperial College team (Institute of Global Health Innovation) with regard to the value of opening a dialogue with those holding critical perspectives. Although the latter can be seen as token acknowledgement of the concerns of critics, the tone is condescending and paternalistic — with no recognition of the misinformation in which scientific health authorities and government have become recognizably complicit.
The switch in attitude towards critics could be seen as a late response to the unresolved challenge of vaccine hesitancy — increasingly seen as highly problematic in quest of herd immunity. The difficulty for those with the power and motivation to deceive is the virtual impossibility of proving that they are not doing so — however vigorously this is claimed to be the case and that unquestioning trust is justified. The difficulty is exacerbated to a high degree by the failure to debate openly with critics and to rely solely on dismissal and suppression of their arguments as dangerous myths. Such a tendency would be vigorously challenged by politicians in a democratic society.
There’s a tendency to assume that all vaccinated people are pro-vaccine and all unvaccinated people are anti-vaccine. But your experience suggests that there’s also vaccine hesitancy among vaccinated people…. A lot of vaccine information isn’t common knowledge. Not everyone has access to Google. This illustrates preexisting fault lines in our health-care system, where resources—including credible information—don’t get to everyone. The information gap is driving the vaccination gap. And language that blames “the unvaccinated” misses that critical point…. The language we use around unvaccinated people comes with a judgment—a condescension that “you’re unvaccinated and it’s your choice at this point.” That attitude is papering Twitter. It’s repeated by our top public-health officials. They’re railing on the unvaccinated as if they’re holding the rest of us back from normalcy. But unvaccinated people aren’t a random group of defectors who are trying to be deviant. They’re not all anti-vaxxers.
Much has however been made of the 12 people held by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate to be primarily responsible for misinformation on social media with respect to vaccination. Curiously dismissed is the argument of some “conspiracy theorists” that only a small number of people are responsible for framing the mainstream pandemic narrative and universal vaccination as a strategic response.
“Lies” as perceived by critics: It is especially difficult to determine with clarity what exactly are the preoccupations framed (as “lies” by authorities) by those who perceive them, in contrast to what they are reframed to be by authorities (naming them as “myths”). The difficulty is compounded by any recognition that, framed as a war, one side or both will engage to some degree in propaganda and deception. As propaganda, it is predictable that each side would endeavour to frame and position the other as negatively as possible. For those claiming lies by authorities, conspiracies will necessarily be exaggerated — with implications of evil intent. For authorities whose mainstream narrative is challenged, critics need to be portrayed in as negative and ridiculous manner as possible. Such playbooks are normal in warfare and would be expected to be further developed in memetic warfare.
It is unfortunate that those claiming “lies” on the part of the authorities tend to make use of social media websites which package the claims in a somewhat exaggerated marketing context — “sign up to our blog”. In any presentation by authorities of “myths” , it is unfortunate to note the probable inclusion of some preoccupations which are sufficiently extreme to discredit those more seriously presented with evidence. Critics must necessarily be presented as negatively as possible. The pattern is evident in electoral advertising in democratic societies.
“Myths” as defensively articulated by authorities: That said, the presentation of “myths” tends to be more informative, but without any means of determining the bias by which they are presented. More obvious is the manner in which the presentation of such myths tends to exclude preoccupations of more fundamental concern — readily understood as having been a victim of data massaging. However declarations by authorities are especially noteworthy for presenting data in a highly selective manner to avoid offering any legitimacy to the arguments of critics. Most noteworthy is limited mention of vaccine injuries and, more significantly, the burgeoning death rate amongst those already fully vaccinated. It is unclear to what extent data is manipulated to disguise vaccine failure.
It would seem that authorities have abandoned hope of satisfactorily countering the arguments of critics presented on social media and are actively switching to efforts to ban completely their capacity to do so, as noted in the case of Joseph Mercola (President Biden Demands Mercola Be Banned From Social Media, 26 July 2021). There is a sense in which authorities have now become terrified of their critics and respond to them as a major threat — a pattern evident in the response to any opposition in undemocratic societies.
As a dangerously unexplored bias of science, the clear preference for framing the views of critics as “myths” merits very careful reflection in the light of the powerful role of myths in society (Joseph Cambell, The Power of Myth, 1988; Karen Armstrong, A Short History of Myth, 2005).
It is noteworthy that some of the more reputable “myth-busting” documents are undated, and are consequently faced with the challenge of becoming outdated as suspicions are confirmed. There is relatively little consistency between the listings of myths, raising questions as to why some are highlighted and others not. In their simplistic application of true-or-false measures to what are cited as myths, little consideration is given to the possibility that some suspicions may be valid under some circumstances, or may become so following further research.
Complementary concerns articulated by health care professionals: As one method of collecting preoccupations, the above approach is extremely unsatisfactory in many respects — and essentially “messy” — especially since they tend to be defensively dismissed as of little significance because of the questionable qualifications of those who articulate them. Another source of potential interest is therefore the various declarations of groups of health care professionals possibly in support of legal action, although these too tend to be ignored in media coverage of the pandemic or questionably dismissed in a mud-slinging mode characteristic of political campaigns (Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’, The Guardian, 10 October 2020). Noteworthy is the fact that care is apparently taken to exclude those articulating them from any publicized debates on the issue. Also noteworthy is that those dismissing myths, make no mention of evidence regarding the questionable value of lockdown policies of authorities that are a focus of many protests). Examples include:
Great Barrington Declaration (850,000 signatures): Elaborated by infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists who have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach called Focused Protection.
The major commitment to repression of dissenting voices and debate necessarily also ignores any discussion of how this may well be characteristic of a hoax or scam beyond the capacity of any institution to debate. The argument is presented on a website already censored by search engines and preditctably scheduled for “deplatforming”:
Checklist of pandemic concerns, whether framed as myths or lies
The following list is necessarily tentative and provisional. It is subject to the reservations and criticisms noted above, especially with regard to its “messiness”. It includes some “myths” seemingly selected by authorities in order to render ridiculous other criticisms which may be made.
Vulnerability, severity and protection:
COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.
Only older adults and people with preexisting conditions are at risk of infections and complications
Children cannot get COVID-19
Everyone with COVID-19 dies
Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, makes people more vulnerable to other illnesses.
COVID-19 vaccines can increase vulnerability to COVID-19
Vaccination ensures inability to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others
Mask wearing is unnecessary
Face masks always protect against the coronavirus
Microwaves sanitise masks
Mask-wearing exemptions are available in exceptional cases.
Those diagnosed with COVID-19, don’t need to receive the vaccine.
The CDC is now recommending fully vaccinated Americans return to wearing masks in indoor spaces in communities where coronavirus transmission is substantial or high (Joseph Mercola, More Bad News for Masks , 16 July 2021)
Transmission / Vectors:
Goods, products and facilities
Covid-19 can be transmitted through goods produced in countries where there is ongoing transmission
Clothes can enable the spread of Covid-19 2019
Urine and feces spread the infection
Ordering or buying products shipped from overseas (China) can spread the virus
Eating Chinese food can result in infection
The outbreak began because people ate bat soup
Coronavirus can be contracted in swimming pools
Mosquitoes spread coronavirus
Cats and dogs spread the coronavirus
Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be caught from pets
Hot temperatures kill the virus: Covid-19 is transmitted in cold climate to a greater degree than in hot and humid climate
Low temperatures kill the COVID-19 virus.
Vaccines and the vaccinated
Vaccines are increasing the number of new variants of the COVID-19 virus
Vaccination makes individuals more likely to infect others with new super-strains.
People vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines can shed disease-causing particles to others.
Authorized vaccines shed or release some of their components
It is necessary to be with someone for 10 minutes to catch the virus
Herd immunity will slow the spread of COVID-19.
Herd immunity can be achieved by letting the virus spread through the population
Small gatherings don’t spread COVID-19.
Public protests lead to increased transmission.
:COVID-19 is a disease of affluence.
5G mobile networks help the spread of SARS-CoV-2
Vaccines are available to prevent COVID-19 infection
There are drugs that can prevent and treat Covid-19
Flu and pneumonia vaccines offer protection against COVID-19
Hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment
Antibiotics kill the coronavirus
Ibuprofen exacerbates coronavirus
Conventional remedies and disinfectants
Drinking alcohol can help prevent Covid-19
Injecting, swallowing, bathing in or rubbing on disinfectants or alcohols offers protection against COVID-19
Injecting, consuming or gargling bleach offers protection
Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection lamps kill the virus
Vitamin C is an effective treatment
MMS (miracle mineral supplement) is an effective treatment
BioCharger NG can help treat coronavirus
Eating garlic/immune boosters prevents infection
Gargling salt water will prevent coronavirus
Breathing techniques can cure the virus
Rinsing the nose regularly with saline solution (saline nasal wash) prevents Covid-19
Hand dryers kill the coronavirus
Home remedies can cure and protect against COVID-19
Drinking water prevents infection
Taking a hot bath can stop COVID-19.
Those not dependent on regular flu shots do not need COVID-19 vaccination
Those with strong immunity can handle the illness without a problem
Fit and healthy people should not need to be vaccinated
Having been diagnosed with COVID-19, there is no need to be vaccinated.
Those not at risk of severe complications of COVID-19 do not need to be vaccinated.
Certain blood types have less severe COVID-19 infections, making vaccination unnecessary.
Vaccine testing, safety and long-term effects
Hasty inadequate testing:
COVID-19 vaccines are potentially unsafe because drug companies did not follow normal test protocols
Biased or constrained testing
COVID-19 vaccines are not being tested against a placebo in clinical trials.
Trials for COVID-19 vaccines were not designed to show the vaccines’ effectiveness in preventing severe cases of the disease.
Natural immunity (immunity after natural infection) is better than vaccine immunity
Any vaccine will be unsafe and a bigger risk than getting COVID-19.
A negative COVID-19 test means a person is not infected.
The mRNA vaccines being developed for COVID-19 will alter human DNA.
Vaccines contain toxic ingredients that can harm
COVID-19 vaccines will cause “pathogenic priming” or “disease enhancement,” meaning that vaccinated individuals will be more likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19 if they are infected with the COVID-19 virus.
mRNA inactivates tumor-suppressing proteins, meaning that mRNA vaccines used to protect against COVID-19 can cause cancer.
Vaccines wipe out the body’s natural antibodies (rendering the blood unsafe for donation).
The unreliable PCR test can be manipulated into reporting a high number of false-positives by altering the cycle threshold (CT value)
The incredibly broad definition of “Covid case”, used all over the world, lists anyone who receives a positive test as a “Covid-19 case”, even if they never experienced any symptoms.
Questionable changes to CDC case counting policy:
This notably means that in future unvaccinated people will find it much easier to be diagnosed with Covid19 than the vaccinated people. The CDC is understood to have put new policies in place which effectively create a tiered system of diagnosis. To boost the appearance of vaccine efficacy even further, the CDC also will no longer record mild or asymptomatic infections in vaccinated individuals as “COVID cases”. The only cases that now count as COVID cases — if the patient has been vaccinated against COVID-19, that is — are those that result in hospitalization or death. (Joseph Mercola, CDC Caught Cooking the Books on COVID Vaccines, Truth News Hub, 19 June 2021).
New policies artificially deflate “breakthrough infections” in the vaccinated, while the old rules continue to inflate case numbers in the unvaccinated. CDC is altering its practices of data logging and testing in order to make it seem the experimental gene-therapy ‘vaccines’ are effective at preventing the alleged disease. (Kit Knightly, How the CDC is manipulating data to prop-up “vaccine effectiveness”, Off-Guardian, 18 May 2021)
Efficacy of vaccines
COVID-19 vaccines are not effective
COVID-19 vaccine do not always work so being vaccinated is not necessary
COVID-19 vaccines do not work on new strains of the virus; since viruses mutate, the vaccines not necessarily be effective against new variants .
After vaccination, it is no longer necessary to take precautions and life can go back to normal
vaccination requirement even after recovery from COVID-19 (because length of natural immunity is not known)
multiple vaccinations and booster shots are becoming the norm (Clinical trials show that these offer the best protection)
Hundreds of patents show SARS-CoV-2 is a manmade virus that has been tinkered with for decades. Much of the research was funded by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) under the direction of Dr. Anthony Fauci, and may have been an outgrowth of attempts to develop an HIV vaccine
CDC holds patents to a SARS coronavirus that is 89% to 99% identical to the sequence identified as SARS-CoV-2, as well as the PCR test to diagnose it
Exploitation and financial implications
Wealthy elites intentionally spread the virus to win power and profit
Vaccinations and testing are not necessarily free and may be beyond the means of many
Legality and imposition (whether mandatory or by coercion)
Government food stamps will be denied to those who refuse COVID-19 vaccines.
COVID-19 vaccines violate the Nuremberg Code, which bans medical experiments from being performed on humans without their consent.
Although not necessarily mandatory, people can be penalized for failure to be vaccinated
Hidden agendas and undeclared content:
The COVID-19 vaccine will use microchip surveillance technology created by Bill Gates-funded research.
COVID-19 vaccine includes a tracking device.
PCR tests used to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 can also be used to secretly deliver the COVID-19 vaccine
Vaccines contain ingredients which are potentially harmful
Hydrogels in some vaccines are also used to stimulate stem cells and may enable electronic implants
COVID-19 vaccines alter a person’s DNA
Vaccination programs are a cover for collection of DNA
However they may have been expressed, or not, it is useful for authorities to recognize the possibility of concerns to which some may be sensitive in the light of the historical parallels. These could include:
Lack of transparency with regard to the identity of health experts and their conflicts of interest — and their capacity to consider alternative possibilities
Avoidance of open debate with inclusion of those with dissenting perspectives
In many cases the evidence presented in support of suspicions (however unfounded) tends to be more credible than the “facts” selectively presented in dismissing them as myths
The extent to which the “wartime” strategies deployed constitute a form of triage (without naming it so), without openly considering the option of triage and its relative costs — despite the unprecedented effects on the economy
The historically unprecedented transfer of financial resources from countries to pharmaceutical corporations, as required by the confident contracts for access to an adequate supply of vaccines
Of potential relevance in the light of its status as a myth, is the treatment of the unresearched question of the possibility of HIV infection via mosquitoes — given the widespread preoccupation with “dirty needles”. Similarly it might be asked whether COVID-19 infection is possible via the eyes given its airborne nature (Koji Kitazawa, et al., The Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Infection on the Ocular Surface and Prevention Strategies, Cells, March 2021). Clearly this unresearched possibility is considered a myth, although without any explanation as to why front-line health workers use face shields in addition to masks. As “facial contraceptives”, do masks constitute adequate protection? Is it irresponsible not to recommend that people wear goggles, as separately argued (COVID-19 Infection via the Eyes and Mask Protection Misinformation, 2021)?
Requisite scientific compilation of pandemic preoccupations
In the scientific study of any phenomenon, there is a strong case for recording data prior to determining what is irrelevant to further study. In the case of (mis)information, a major difficulty is that decisions on what is valid information, in contrast with invalid misinformation, are made in advance of due consideration of any kernel of truth which may be associated with what is too readily determined to be misinformation. This prejudgment is self-serving, and prejudices appreciation of the scientific discipline in question.
It is unfortunate that so many authorities choose to distinguish as “myths” the sets of pandemic concerns which they seek to dismiss as irrelevant. It is especially ironic in that authorities are faced with other arenas in which there are constituencies that find it convenient to frame matters of concern as myths. For example, there is no lack of references to the “unemployment myth”, the “inequality myth”, the “poverty myth”, the “climate change myth” or the “myth of overpopulation” — now seemingly with the implication that these should also be removed from web media (Prohibition of Reference to Overpopulation of the Planet: draft Proposal for an International Convention, 2018). It could be asked which political issues of concern to one party are not typically framed as a myth by an opposing party.
Changing towards long-range social planning requires that, instead of avoiding, exposure to and acknowledgement of error, it is necessary to expect it, to seek out its manifestation, and to use information derived from the failure as the basis for learning through future societal experiment. More bluntly, future-responsibility societal learning makes it necessary for individuals and organization to embrace error. It is the only way to ensure a shared self-consciousness about limited theory as to the nature of social dynamics, about limited data for testing theory, and hence about our limited ability to control our situation well enough to expect to be successful more often than not. (On Learning to Plan and Planning to Learn. 1973, p. 131
In a global society which has been slow to acknowledge that there is a powerful “underworld”, and that corruption is rife at all levels of society — however much it is denied — the nature of this “unconsciousness” merits recognition, as variously argued (John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization, 1995; Vasily Nalimov, Realms of the Unconscious: the enchanted frontier, 1982). Are there more creative ways of “embracing” the unconscious?
More challenging is the degree to which the universal inoculation agenda is an unconscious surrogate for the religions and groups whose aspirations to ensure that the whole world subscribes to their particular belief. It is in this sense that it can be recognized as an insidious form of indoctrination — which those with that aspiration would vigorously deny.
Science in particular may be too readily disposed to condemn the errors of others, whilst lacking sensitivity to those it may itself be making out of ignorance — a case of people in glass houses… In that it follows the tragic historical pattern of religions with seemingly no capacity to apply its own skills to that trap.
Recognition of falsehoods and ignorance: Given the challenges implied by the above, how then to identify what are to be appropriately recognized as lies in articles such as the following:
Remedial processes? The seeming inadequacies of the checklist above (as credible sources of truth) highlight the dramatic role of whistleblowers, and the controversies surrounding suppression of that function. Arguably recourse to legal proceedings with respect to controversies regarding truth and truth-telling can be seen as a means of eliciting truth. Examples have ranged from the International War Crimes Tribunal (“Russell Tribunals”), to the role of the International Court of Justice, and to “truth commissions” (“truth and reconciliation” commissions). The constraints on the efficacy of their operation can however be considered a constraint on eliciting truth — potentially in contrast to any subjective sense of poetic justice or its desirability.
Arguably, without qualifying its content as “truthful”, the difficulties associated with controversial distinctions between truth and falsehood can be circumvented to some degree through the methodology of encyclopedic initiatives, such as the following:
Wikipedia: This is renowned for opening its 495 million pages of content to modification by volunteers, this enables the presentation of controversial issues with specific provision for criticism from other perspectives. The dynamics between editors contributing and modifying texts in this way has resulted in widely documented “edit wars” and growing criticism of the accumulation of biases within it. The critics have little to offer as alternative models — other than those supportive of their own biases.
Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential: This relatively little known initiative profiles some 56,000 problems articulated by international constituencies (such as those profiled in the associated Yearbook of International Organizations) together with some 32,000 strategies advocated for their alleviation. It complements the profiles by drawing automatically on corresponding Wikipedia entries where these exist. In contrast with Wikipedia, the content is not directly open to external modification but assiduously draws upon articulations in external sources, most notably with respect to the manner in which the problem or strategy may impact on others, or be impacted in turn by others. It is more deliberate in incorporating claims and counter-claims regarding the content of any profile. Thus with respect to the “lies” framed as misinformation in the case of the pandemic, the articulation by those presenting them as “truths” would be matched by counter-claims from those indeed claiming them to constitute “misinformation”.
The latter initiative includes profiles on zombies, haunted houses, evil eye, and Flat Earth promotion. All of these are of particular concern to certain constituencies, however misguided they may be held to be. There are numerous web references to eradicating zombies, for example.
The question posed by strategic responses to the current pandemic is whether references to all seemingly eccentric concerns should be eradicated from web platforms. Given the highly questionable existence of “evil” from a scientific perspective, should these also be eliminated even though some religions are especially preoccupied with exorcism?
How best to document vigorously held claims to truth before passing judgement on their veracity from other perspectives? Perceptions of truth merit consideration as data before being dismissed through any data massaging exercise to privilege a particular conclusion. Such perceptions, and those people associated with them — however misguided — are a feature of global psychosocial dynamics, as might be said of the dubious beliefs.of any culture or cult, from some other perspective.
It is curious to note that references to the “science” substantiating strategies with respect to the pandemic (social distancing, masking, sanitising, lockdowns, and vaccination) cannot be readily identified and publicly consulted — especially in the light of the evolving conclusions by scientists in that regard. Authorities should be ensuring its availability in many languages rather than promoting the requirement for unquestioning belief in its existence and coherence. That is the role of an encyclopedic compilation of the kinds noted above.
Science, especially fundamental physics, indulges with pride in the unthinkable — but dismisses the right of others to do so. The credibility of “dark matter” for which there is no evidence, should caution science on the credibility of beliefs for which there is no evidence admissible by science. Ignorance may be more pervasive and influential than science is yet capable of recognizing (Nicholas Rescher, Ignorance: on the wider implications of deficient knowledge, 2009). Is there a case for honouring the arguments of those held to be ignorant and enabling both their more fruitful articulation and their right to defend their perception. The science of today may need to defend its ignorance in the eyes of the future.
Probability approaches to pandemic truth beyond binary fixation
As argued above, there is a dangerous, “knee-jerk” naivety to the binary distinction between truth and falsehood. Curiously science indulges in the contradiction between such a binary distinction and its considerable sophistication in allocating a probability of truth in research results. Much is made of “statistical significant” higher probability and an associated “confidence level“. No such methodological approaches are applied by science to the perceptions of those critical of vaccination and condemned as “conspiracy theorists”. An exception to this conclusion would appear to be the methodology applied by Enders, et al to a selection of forms of misinformation, as mentioned above (The Different Forms of COVID-19 Misinformation and their Consequences, Misinformation Review, 16 November 2020).
The irony is evident in the contrast between simplistic statements by authorities that vaccines are “safe” and “effective”, and the “small print” of research papers indicating the results of relevant research in probabilist terms. Given the experimental nature of the vaccines, even the confidence levels for short-term efficacy and safety may be called into question over a longer period.
Probability theory of truth: The Russian statistician, Vasily Nalimov (Realms of the Unconscious: the enchanted frontier, 1982) provides a remarkable synthesis, drawing on the entire range of knowledge (including elements of semantics, natural and social sciences, mysticism, and the arts) in an effort to understand how the human mind perceives the world. The methodology is borrowed largely from physics (as capable of tolerating paradoxes within its own theories), with considerable attention to the role of metaphor and the function of human imagination in capturing manifestations of consciousness and unconsciousness.
Nalimov’s primary ontological position is that the world is an open one, the outcome of processes that are probabilistic in nature and constantly the domain of novelties and uncertainties. The language in which one captures aspects of reality is itself polymorphic, metaphorical, and constrained by Godelian principles of undecidability.
Axes of bias: The argument above notes the challenge of cognitive bias, whether on the part of authoritative scientists and politicians framing the pandemic narrative or those critical of it. Little effort is made to explore such biases in scientific terms — rather than unconsciously indulging in them and the fallacies to which they give rise. It is therefore of value to note the approach to the matter by the author of a History of Western Philosophy dismayed at the unfruitful discourse between academics with regard to the “romantic period”. In his study generalizing from that example, W. T. Jones identifies a set of axes of bias which essentially determine the intractable positions taken in any controversy (The Romantic Syndrome; toward a new methodology in cultural anthropology and the history of ideas, 1961).
In an effort to transcend the binary mindset, there is a case for using such a framework of contrasts to clarify the positions in any discourse relating to pandemic (mis)information. The axes identified are summarized separately in terms of the following preferences (Axes of Bias in Inter-Cultural Dialogue, 1993):
Order versus Disorder Static versus Dynamic Discrete versus Continuous
External versus Identification Sharply versus Implicitly defined Comprehensible versus Incomprehensible
Due versus Spontaneous process
Curiously it could be argued that such a framework could clarify a degree of complicity between those holding the most radically opposed views in pandemic discourse. Seemingly both extremes have a preference for a mode of discourse which renders it very difficult to identity the instances of misinformation. At one extreme, any disagreement with the mainstream narrative of authorities is framed and condemned as “misinformation” — with little articulation or consideration of the arguments of nebulous and nefarious conspiracy theorists. At the other extreme the extensive articulations are primarily embedded, somewhat inextricably, in video presentations with little transcription into text — readily understood as justifying suspicion regarding nebulous and nefarious authority.
Curiously those at both extremes indulge in a form of blackmail. For the scientist it is: read my (lengthy) book, and it is not my fault if you cannot understand it or afford it. For the social media critic it is: view my (lengthy) video, irrespective of whether you have time for that mode of presentation or appreciate it.
Truth-tables, post-truth tables, and comprehension tables: As discussed separately, to the extent that the conventional relevance of truth has now been called into question in the political arena at least, and the advertising process more generally, there is a case for considering the nature of a “post-truth table” in the light of the apparent limitations of the truth table (Towards articulation of a “post-truth table”? 2016).
As understood in mathematics, a truth table sets out the functional values of logical expressions on each of their functional arguments. In particular, truth tables can be used to show whether a propositional expression is true for all legitimate input values, that is, logically valid. Further clarification regarding the origins of “post-truth” is provided by Andrew Calcutt (The Surprising Origins of ‘Post-truth’ — and how it was spawned by the liberal left, The Conversation, 18 November 2016).
What now appears to be required is an extension of the truth-table to encompass the emerging reality that “THEM” are understood (by “US”) to be misrepresenting the truth (if not lying), especially about “US” — whether deliberately or inadvertently. This is complemented by the understanding by “THEM” that “US” is misrepresenting the truth (if not lying), especially about “THEM” — again, whether deliberately or inadvertently. The situation is rendered more complex to the extent that if either US or THEM has the power to misrepresent (or lie), it becomes impossible for either to prove incontrovertibly that they are not. This is especially problematic for any authority, whether a government, a corporation, a religion, or any institutionalised belief system. Authoritative declarations of truth can then only be understood as assertions of “fiat realities”, analogous to the creation of fiat money.
Curiously missing from any discussion of the subtle intricacies of “truth tables”, is the challenge they may imply to comprehension, as discussed separately (Memorability: “comprehension tables” as complement to “truth tables”, 2019). It is as though the simple presentation of such patterns is naively assumed to trigger comprehension of the knowledge implied — as with declarations regarding the threat of global warming and other crises. Whereas the focus of truth tables is on the “shades of grey” in the relation between “true” and “false”, their presentation is seemingly to be recognized as constituting a simple binary distinction between “knowledge” and “ignorance”. The reality that any “eightfold way” (as potentially encoded by such tables) may be meaningless (or incomprehensible) is not a consideration.
Many unresolved strategic challenges then lend themselves to exploration as being variously conflated in the associated discourse:
Arrogance versus Humility: Just as the comprehension dimension is missing from consideration of truth tables, fundamental to the complexity of dynamics between strategies and their advocates is the dramatic consequence of any association of arrogance with possession of truth. Such possession is subtly related to the widespread preoccupation with acquisition of intellectual property — potentially to the point of holding to ransom a society in crisis (Future Coping Strategies: beyond the constraints of proprietary metaphors, 1992). How does exclusive possession of truth — in the form of secrecy — condemn others to a condition of falsehood?
Whilst truth is a focus of considerable attention, the arrogance potentially associated with any assumption of its exclusive possession is a remarkably neglected focus of study — despite widespread acknowledgement of its effects in practice. The arrogant scientist is as recognizable as the arrogant politician, ideologue or entrepreneur. How is the assertion of truth to be distinguished from the perception of arrogance? As yet to be clarified with respect to any compactification of dimensions are the dynamics framed by the following table, indicative of the self-reflexivity associated with higher orders of cybernetics.
Although tending to favour the experts (seen as so unfortunately ignored), whilst deprecating their the critics, arrogance features implicitly in the argument of Luke Zaphir (How not to fall for coronavirus BS: avoid the 7 deadly sins of thought. The Conversation, 1 April 2020). Cited are: gullibility, cynicism, pride, closed-mindedness, prejudice, negligence, and wishful thinking. These are cited as instances of what is otherwise studied as vice epistemology (Quassim Cassam, Vice Epistemology, The Monist, 99, 2016, 2; Charlie Crerar, Motivational Approaches to Intellectual Vice, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 96, 2018, 4). These are fallacies of argumentation which are no credit to science and further undermine its credibility and relevance.
Need for enemies: The case has long been made that nations tend to need enemies as a means of distinguishing and affirming their own identity — even through triumphing over those framed as a threat (Dominic Tierney, Does America Need and Enemy, Foreign Policy Research Institute, 20 October 2016; Shoon Kathleen Murray, et al, Do People Need Foreign Enemies?The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 43, 1999, 5).
Arguably there is not only a need for enemies but there is an unconscious need to frame them carefully in order to maximize the learning to be derived from them. In that light it might be asked what the West so desperately endeavours to learn from its successive invasions of the “Graveyard of Empires” — Afghanistan (Akhilesh Pillalamarri, Why Is Afghanistan the ‘Graveyard of Empires’?The Diplomat, 30 June 2017).
It has long been suggested that the only means of reducing conflict, and achieving coherent governance on the planet, would be an invasion by extraterrestrials — a common enemy. The argument gave rise to The War of the Worlds (1897) by H. G. Wells, and to its many subsequent adaptations. With the call of authoritarian science to repress all arguments which contradict its own in mainstream discourse, there is a delightful irony to the degree to which it is coming to resemble the early ETs — the Daleks — appearing in the UK TV science fiction series Dr Who from 1963 Their simplistic response to opponents — Exterminate — entered popular culture over subsequent decades.
Viral form of ETs? With the pandemic widely framed as a war, there is a case for recognizing the coronavirus as appropriately filling the role of extraterrestrials — and clearly constituting an unprecedented evocation of global unity, however contrived. The drama is somewhat complicated by the authoritative declaration that the anti-vaxxers have also taken pandemic form (C.D.C. Director Warns of a ‘Pandemic of the Unvaccinated’, The New York Times, 16 July 2021). Are they to be perceived as inhabiting another world — even another reality — also to be held to be engaging in conflict with the mainstream consensus?
The drama of the pandemic clearly plays out to a significant degree in the imagination — as has been the case with adaptations of War of the Worlds. As a war of the imagination, the widely depicted form of the spiked COVID-19 virus suggests that extraterrestrials might indeed take such an unusual form. This perception could be reinforced by the final authoritative publication of the secret ely collated data on UFOs (2021) — especially the questionable conclusion that no extraterrestrial implications could be inferred from the conventional methodology employed in the analysis..
Rather than taking any vaguely humanoid form, as had long been imagined, humanity is seemingly now confronted with an enemy which is invisible to the naked eye and acts swiftly and unexpectedly — far beyond the capacity of any guerilla force — a major challenge from a military perspective, having committed so heavily to a vast array of missiles. There is of course a degree of irony in having to recognize that the missiles were of the wrong scale and needles were closer to the mark (Missiles, Needles, Missions, Rifles, Projects, Bullets, 2020).
Martial arts of ETs in memetic warfare? More intriguing is to explore the invasion from the perspective of the skills and organization of the coronavirus. Engaging in a conventional military invasion, as has been so widely imagined by Western science fiction, could be seen as amateurish by an advanced civilization of extraterrestrials skilled in biochemistry, psychology and martial arts (of an Eastern style, for example). In unconsciously anticipating such a necessary threat to its unsustainable assumptions, the West may have effectively positioned itself like the North American Indians, who traded Manhattan for a few beads — or like the Central American Indians in their reception of Cortez. Poetic justice?
As in the Eastern philosophy of martial arts, the key to ET success is to get humanity to “shoot itself in the foot” by eliciting a widespread behavioral pattern of effectively “scoring-own-goals”. The global consensus on a universal vaccination program, masking, and lockdowns are instances of the pattern so successfully elicited. The “martial art” would be to ensure that humanity effectively “inoculates itself” with nonsense, as is already only too evident in the elective dumbimg down of the mass media and the accumulation of a factoid analogue to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, The ET art is evident in ensuring that humanity’s leaders define their peoples as too dumb to discern misinformation and disinformation — whilst submerging them in advertising to an ever higher degree. Rising “sea levels”?
Inspired by the previous exercises, in the following images a set of 60 COVID-19 concerns (selected from the list above) are positioned experimentally on the vertexes of a truncated polyhedron. The animations are understood as an imaginative exercise in configuring perceptions to elicit a degree of coherence from the fears they may individually engender. In popular imagination, they correspond to the familiar Death Star of the Star Wars movie (1977).
Given the ease with which preoccupations of vaccine hesitants are dismissed as “myths”, there is a case for configuring in a similar manner a selection of other “myths” with which authorities are confronted — and which have proven to be much more difficult to dismiss. Although arbitrarily distributed, the great circle colouring is suggestive of possibilities of gaining more coherent insights into an active “mythogy” — as with the animations above.
Myth of climate change Myth of poverty Myth of unemployment Myth of biodiversity loss Myth of overpopulation Myth of inequality Myth of sexual harassmentt Myth of modern-day slavery Myth of progress Myth of pollution Myth of peace Myth of civilization Myth of control by the 1% Myth of resource scarcity Myth of Earth overshoot
Myth of human supremacy Myth of elite conspiracy Myth of techno-optimist capacity Myth of exceptionalism Myth of sustainability Myth of economic recovery Myth of “being great again” Myth of consensus Myth of digital democracy Myth of capitalism Myth of a food crisis
Myth of cultural homogeneity Myth of the liberal order Myth of the skills gap Myth of an insect apocalypse
As stressed in the earlier paper, of particular interest is how the “spikes” may be usefully recognized in relation to the challenges of governance. Thus they may be understood as the individual elements of a global strategy, as a configuration of global problems addressed by a global strategy. They might also be understood as the set of principles or values on which any such strategy was based — by which it was informed. Similarly it might be understood as the set of values rendering any set of problems recognizable — since in the absence of a value a problem is invisible and effectively non-existent.
Strategic displacement of fearful global preoccupations?
Displacements of the past? If human civilization is indeed in desperate need of an intractable enemy to engender a sense of coherence, possibilities other than ETs merit exploration. As a substitute for the viral pandemic, however engendered, “evil” has proved inadequate — as the fragmented engagement of religiously inspired strategies has demonstrated over centuries. As “organized crime”, no imaginative global response can be said to have been successfully evoked — especially given an evident degree of complicity at the highest levels of authority. How indeed to learn from “pandemics” of the past, as separately queries (COVID-19 as a Memetic Disease — an epidemic of panic: learning from terrorism, communism. fascism, and evil, as pandemics of the past, 2020).
A case can be made for “terror”, given the focus on a Global War on Terrorism since 2001 — launched as the Operation Enduring Freedom. Another can be made for “climate change”. Both have been effectively displaced by the pandemic although recognized as possibly only temporarily, especially in the latter case. The problematic response to both may offer insights of relevance to the pandemic. This is especially true now that the Resolute Support Mission (successor to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force) has withdrawn its forces from Afghanistan after two unsuccessful decades — leaving the Taliban free to act once again.
Vaccine hesitancy? In the absence of any such map for Copenhagen, as an experimental exercise it was therefore instructive at that time to adapt the rich analytical framework of the Afghanistan counter-insurgency analysis to climate change. It is similarly instructive to adapt it to the current “counter-insurgency” requirement in dealing with the threats of vaccine hesitancy and criticism of authorities.
The legitimacy of any adaptation of the original counterinsurgency map derives from the viability of such strategic initiatives dependent in cybernetic systems terms on a set of interacting functions. From the perspective of general systems theory, it is to be expected that there is a degree of isomorphism between a systems analysis of the global initiative in Afghanistan and that with respect to climate change or “vaccine insurgency”. It is in this sense that the strategic narrative of any one of them might be applied to the other (Application of Universal Vaccination Narrative to Climate Change, 2021).
Whatever the inadequacies of such an exercise, it may at least serve to highlight the knowledge tools used to focus initiatives on which unprecedented global resources are being expended. This is especially the case given the shameful paucity of resources devoted to representing the challenges of climate change in the light of the conflicting relations between those party to that process.
Dynamics of the “holier than thou” narrative in practice
There is a strange sense in which the narrative in response to the pandemic is drawing upon and conflating memes, both from the past and an active feature of problematic religious and racial discourse. In the latter cases there are traces of the historical reaction to the “unclean” and to “evil”. Commentary on the narrative therefore benefits from exploring it in terms of the dimensions of a hypergame (as argued above) — as an engagement with hyperreality rather than in an overly simplistic conventional mode, The global challenge of the pandemic is sufficiently surreal to warrant that (Surreal nature of current global governance as experienced, 2016).
Memes characteristic of the pandemic narrative: In guarding against a viral evil, the following phrases are now evident in media reports, readily understood as framed in the light of public health propaganda:
protecting others: the emphasis being on loved ones and on one’s immediate community. No mention is made of distant others, most notably those in developing countries with extremely limited access to vaccines
not being selfish: the emphasis being that getting vaccinated is essentially unselfish, irrespective of whether others have access to that possibility — and whether one is depriving them of that resource. A striking example has been offered by the refusal of the other individual states of Australia to share their vaccine resources with New South Wales, when the latter faced a crisis
obeying the law: the implication being that authorities have a clear understanding of what is appropriate, irrespective of information to the contrary — to be deemed misinformation. Especially problematic is the ambiguity of such obedience in the light of the Nuremberg Code with regard to experimentation on humans.
getting back to normal: the emphasis being that compliance with the recommendations of authorities is necessarily the most rapid means of returning to normality, irrespective of any contradictions in that normality, and in business-as-usual
doing the right thing: used to frame all of the above, with the implication that authorities are unquestionably right. Whether this constitutes complicity in a process of human experimentation is a matter carefully avoided.
not being stupid: the emphasis being that acting otherwise in the light of any other preoccupations — accepting risk, however courageously — is simply silly and unwarranted
roll up your arms: used as a form of punch line, echoing participation in collective effort, or possibly evoking the suggestion of arming oneself
Practical measures: There are insights potentially to be gained by exploring the practical responses to the pandemic in terms of symbolic implications:
social distancing: ensuring that people maintain a measurable distance from each other is unfortunately reminiscent of practices in relation to the “unclean” (lepers), to the “impure” (as in caste systems), or to those of different ethnicity (as in systems of apartheid).
sanitising: clearly reminiscent of the ritual washing required on entry to places of religious worship, and the symbolism of holy water
lockdown: reminiscent of the requirements for curfew under wartime conditions, with the problematic implications of “cowering” when those with “stupid” courage act otherwise in taking risks
testing: reminiscent of trials in traditional rights of passage, with the associated religious requirement for confirmation of indoctrination
vaccination: with such inoculation recognizable as a surrogate for the indoctrination through which a degree of inner purity or cleanliness is achieved or guaranteed
Measures to ensure compliance: The narrative framing means of ensuring compliance includes:
achieving herd immunity, despite the absence of hard evidence that this will indeed constitute a guarantee of a return to normality
emphasizing informed consent, despite the difficulty for many to be informed when contrary opinions are simply prohibited, and with the reservation that lack of consent can be overridden
mandatory vaccination, framed as necessary — at least for those in front-line occupations, deemed essential or critical
use of COVID marshals to ensure compliance in public spaces — effectively health commissars — despite the problematic role of political commissars in dictatorships of the past
contact tracing, despite the degree to which it constitutes invasive surveillance and despite the lack of solid guarantees on how that information may be otherwise used; variants envisaged include software indication of proximity to a person of a lower standard of cleanliness.
health passports: deemed essential to enable future travel and entry into public spaces, despite the extent to which this will create a two-class society.
compliance hotline: envisaged as a means to enable neighbours to report on compliance failure to ensure intervention of health security services
door-to-door solicitation: envisaged as following the proselytising practices of certain religions, and associated peer-group pressure
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There’s seems to be something about polar bears that really sets off the climate change fact-checkers. Mention that the situation for the bears is not quite as dire as we were told they would be 15 years ago and they can’t wait to sink their teeth in. In early September this year, an Australian a […]
The scientific method used to govern much of popular American thinking.
In empirical fashion, scientists advised us to examine evidence and data, and then by induction come to rational hypotheses. The enemies of “science” were politics, superstition, bias and deduction.
Yet we are now returning to our version of medieval alchemy and astrology in rejecting a millennium of the scientific method.
Take the superstitions that now surround COVID-19.
We now know from data that a prior case of COVID-19 offers immunity as robust as vaccination. Why, then, are Joe Biden’s proposed vaccination mandates ignoring that scientific fact? Dr. Anthony Fauci, when asked, seemed at a loss for words.
Is this yet another of the scientific community’s Platonic “noble lies,” as when Fauci assured the public last year that there was no need for masks?
He later claimed he had lied so that medical professionals would not run out of needed supplies.
Fauci also threw out mythical percentages needed for herd immunity, apparently in an attempt to convince the public that it will never be safe until every American is protected from COVID-19 by vaccination only.
And why was it that hard for the scientific community to postulate a likely origin of COVID-19 Some of the very scientists engaged in gain-of-function research oversaw an investigation with Chinese authorities. They confirmed the predetermined conclusion that the virus likely had little to do with gain-of-function engineering. And they saw little proof it was birthed in a Wuhan virology lab. Yet scientific opinion, emerging evidence and basic logic have suggested the opposite.
How can the government hector citizens that they have a moral duty — and soon a legal obligation — to be vaccinated when it does not mandate vaccinations for unvetted refugees flying in from Afghanistan?
How can the government medical community remain largely silent when an anticipated 2 million foreign nationals will cross into the United States in the current fiscal year — almost none of whom are vaccinated or tested for COVID-19?
Why do the media and government blame particular races for the delta variant outbreak on grounds that they were insufficiently vaccinated?
Why wouldn’t officials simply urge the Latino and Black communities to be vaccinated as quickly as possible?
Data shows that both groups have lower vaccination rates than white and Asian populations.
Are woke political agendas discrediting science and losing public health?
We saw just that in June 2020, when more than 1,200 “health care professionals” signed a petition demanding exemptions from lockdowns and quarantines for Black Lives Matter protesters marching en masse. And they concocted medical excuses such as “vital to the national public health” to insist that violating quarantines was less unhealthy than not pouring into the streets.
Why did presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, warn the American people on the eve of vaccination rollouts that an inoculation under the Trump administration could be unsafe, thereby undermining confidence in vaccines?
Why was the medical community largely silent about such dangerous sabotaging of new vaccines, but months later became vociferous in warning the public that any doubts about the safety of these Operation Warp Speed vaccinations were scientifically misplaced? Was there a medical breakthrough on Jan. 20, 2020, to alter their consensus?
From rewarding wokeness in medical school admissions to the peer reviewing of scientific papers, the anti-scientific mania has polluted scientific endeavors.
“Critical race theory” would preposterously tell us that we need racism to fight racism.
“Critical legal theory” ludicrously claims that laws have no rational basis but simply reflect power inequities.
“Modern monetary theory” defies millennia of evidence and basic logic in stating that governments can simply print money without worrying about balancing expenditures with revenues or inflating the currency to ruination.
Corporations are now asked to substitute a new woke agenda theory — “Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG)” — in lieu of market realities, rules of investment and economic data.
Science is dying; superstition disguised as morality is returning. And we’ll all soon become poorer, angrier and more divided.
At some point, there will be a revolt. The longer the arbitrary insanity persists, the more violent the reaction will be.
The most cheerful headline I have seen in weeks was on Glenn Reynolds’ New York Post column: “No, Karen, we’re not masking again.” I hope he is right. I do wonder, though. I have no doubt that the second part of his headline—“A winning GOP message for 2022 [and] beyond”—is correct. At least it’s correct if it is expressed as a conditional: It would be a winning strategy were it adopted. As Reynolds notes, “There is a great deal of pent-up frustration and resentment over the inconvenience, the loss of freedom and the general climate of hectoring that the government’s pandemic response has created.” Indeed. And he’s right, too, that
It’s irritating to be lectured by officials who claim to be smarter than you. It’s infuriating to be lectured by government officials who claim to be smarter than you—but clearly aren’t.
The on-again/off-again claims on masks and vaccination are just part of it. Tired of masks? Get vaccinated, they told us. Now they’re saying wear a mask, even if you’ve been vaccinated and even if you’re associating with others who’ve been vaccinated.
And there’s talk of more lockdowns, which a growing body of scientific evidence suggests were perfectly useless and downright harmful.
As Molly Bloom exclaimed in a different context, Yes, Yes, Yes!
But to return to the question of hope, I am reminded that hope was said by some cynics to have been the last evil in Pandora’s pithos. It seems like only yesterday—in fact, it was just this past May—that both the president and the vice-president of the United States insisted that (as Joe himself put it) “Folks, if you’re fully vaccinated—you no longer need to wear a mask.”
Of course, that was more than a year after “15 days to slow the spread,” Anthony Fauci’s steady stream of contradictory, though authoritatively delivered, advice, not to mention the recent advent of (cue the scary music) The Delta Variant.
It was the New York Post, again, that cut to the chase on the latest (unless we’re on to the epsilon variant already) with its cover of July 30. “Insanity!” read its oversized headline and below was a large grid with a tiny bit of the upper right square marked. Of the 161 million people who have been vaccinated, only 5,601 have been hospitalized with the new version of the virus. Of those, only 1,141 have died. That’s .0007 percent. (And how old, one wonders, were those who succumbed and from what comorbidities did they suffer?)
Now it turns out that the latest CDC advice was based largely on an outbreak at Provincetown after the informal party time of “Bear Week” in early July. Andrew Sullivan treated the news with some portion of the skepticism it deserves. In fact, as another commentator pointed out, what the Provincetown outbreak really shows is that “even under perfect conditions for a superspreader event, the vaccine works spectacularly well.”
But even to talk about studies and statistics and “expert” advice is to assume that we are talking primarily about an issue of public health. We aren’t. Consider this list from Jim Treacher:
Absolutely do not wear a mask
You must, must, must wear a mask or you’re killing Grandma
Don’t leave the house or you’re killing Grandma
If you can’t avoid leaving the house, stay at least six feet away from any other human being you see or you’re killing Grandma
Wash your hands 20 times a day
Do not touch your face or anything else, ever
Get vaccinated so you don’t have to wear a mask
You have to wear a mask even if you’re vaccinated
When the above rules change, and then change back, and then change back again, shut up about it or you’re a stupid MAGA-head
Don’t forget to vote Democrat!
Of course, the last item is more often left unspoken than it is overtly expressed, but it is a sentiment, an assumption, that infuses the whole shifting kaleidoscope of contradictory advice. Treacher is right. “This isn’t about science. It’s about control. You will do as you’re told, peasants, and your moral, ethical and intellectual betters will continue to do whatever they please.”
I think Glenn Reynolds is correct that opposing the tyrannous spirit that stands behind the lockdowns, the mask mandates, and the smug, hectoring, politically correct demands for proof of vaccination would be a winning strategy for GOP politicians. Will they adopt it? Most will do so timorously, if at all. That’s my prediction.
Last year at Encounter Books, we published an admonitory book by Joel Kotkin called The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning To The Global Middle Class. Some people thought Kotkin was overstating things with his talk of an increasingly stratified society in which a tiny elite lorded it over an increasingly pauperized and disenfranchised mass. It turns out, though, that if anything Kotkin understated the trends. The weaponization of public health diktats, their enforcement by a vast and increasingly overbearing cadre of nanny-state bureaucrats, is simply the latest manifestation of the profoundly anti-democratic spirit that has taken hold in Western societies.
It’s all about social control, as Jim Treacher says. At some point, there will be a revolt. The longer the arbitrary insanity persists, the more violent the reaction will be. The question is whether we are at or are approaching the point of crisis. Will the voters stand for another lockdown as we approach the 2022 election? Lockdowns markedly increased the opportunities for voter fraud; 2020 showed that. That is precisely why the swamp is prepping us for another go. Let’s see if we stand by grumbling impotently or if, finally, we actually do something. I am not holding my breath.