Viruses, Vaccines, Science, and the “Progress Trap”

My post was blocked on Facebook. You can read it here.

Hi People,

The post below was blocked on Facebook a few days ago. I am sending it out in my newsletter in the hope that people will have the debate in the Comments section that Facebook didn’t allow on its platform. I was getting a huge amount of support as well as a lot of criticism for posting this. I have never seen a subject as divisive as this one — and it seems to be creating new divisions in society. I never claim to be perfect but I feel it is important to be able to have and express an alternative perspective, particularly in this situation. I modified the piece slightly in response to some of the comments I received. I encourage you to subscribe to this newsletter (free or paid) as I am afraid that Facebook’s censorship will get worse and more insidious over time. I will put links to articles I reference in the comments.

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Why is the question of the origin of COVID-19 such an important one? I think it is because of the implications on a meta level for the dominant technological / scientific / progress paradigm. 

If Covid originated in a wet market, through human / animal intermixing, then we can say it is caused by overpopulation and our mistreatment of animals / the environment. This meshes with the standard liberal progressive paradigm, where science comes to the rescue with vaccines etc. 

If Covid originated in a lab due to human interference (and if it turns out that the “gain of function” research into bat Coronaviruses was supported by both the Chinese and the US, as seems to be the case), then the progress narrative becomes murkier, and establishment science becomes something we must start to interrogate. 

For me, Rand Paul’s interrogation of Fauci was, indeed, eye-opening. While I never thought Fauci was perfect, I have never been convinced that he is somehow a villain, as Right Wing conspiracy theories would have it. However, it was quite clear that he wasn’t willing to admit that the US appears to have supported the gain of function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. 

Those who identify as Liberals / Democrats have been shockingly unable to question the establishment narratives. Perhaps because to do so is to begin to undermine the myth of the “Church of Science,” which has the status of a religious faith. I realize that science and technology have accomplished many amazing things. They have extended the human lifespan (although this has to be unpacked: while the lifespan was under fifty years old at the start of the Twentieth Century, that was also to some extent a result of modern industrial society. When I visited the Amazon in Ecuador, I was amazed to see indigenous elders in their seventies, eighties, perhaps even nineties able to climb trees and march for hours effortlessly through the forest). They have connected us across the world via communications media, etc. But our progress has also been at the expense of the natural world, which is starting to crumble around us.

When we look back at the history of scientific and industrial progress, we also see the principle of unintended consequences: Fossil fuels were an amazing discovery but have led to accelerated warming. Plastics were considered an amazing advance but have contributed to massive cancer epidemics and pollution that degrades ecosystems. Genetically modified organisms and pesticides seem to be causing the disappearance of insects including bees and butterflies (along with perhaps EMFs). Etc. 

Every new level of technology seems to create more complex problems which then require more complicated and futuristic technologies to solve. This appears to be the “progress trap.” At some point, it seems plausible that we will reach a point where we can’t solve our way out of our problems in this way. This seems to be the case already with climate change and the 6th extinction: We don’t have answers commensurate with the scale and speed of the emergency. 

So if it is the case that Covid is an inadvertent catastrophe created directly by human interference, this could change public opinion about biotechnology, etc. This is why it has been downplayed until now. In fact, a few years back, a number of virologists said that the gain of function research into bat coronaviruses at Wuhan should be stopped because it was only creating a new “non-natural risk” in the environment. The research stopped for a few years and then restarted. 

Suddenly, Science doesn’t look like a hero anymore. In fact, quite the opposite. 

As for the vaccines, I continue to have deep concerns and misgivings. 

These are still experimental treatments that did not go through standard protocols. I am hearing many secondhand reports of healthy adults suddenly dying or having mysterious symptoms days, weeks or months after getting the vaccines. I assume we have all seen the articles about blood clots and strokes, which led some countries to suspend certain vaccines. In Connecticut alone, 18 young people developed heart problems after taking the vaccine. We still do not know the long term effects of these treatments.

The CDC just announced the results of a new study that shows that mask wearing outside has close to zero effect on transmitting Cvd infections. This means the world’s population was inconvenienced for a year for no reason. Across the street from my apartment, I watch construction workers in 95 degrees heat laboring outside forced to wear masks when nobody is near them, which seems a kind of unnecessary torment. Or perhaps there was a reason: All the inconveniences softened people up to be ready to take these experimental treatments, which basically turn them into human Guinea pigs. 

Pharmaceutical companies are, along with fossil fuel and car companies, the biggest sponsors of the mainstream / establishment media. This means you can hardly trust any of the reporting about the vaccines that comes from the mainstream media. The media companies have a massive financial incentive to say that these vaccines are working well. 

Pharmaceutical companies have a very spotty track record, and have often rushed drugs to market that turned out to be dangerous or fatal (Vioxx and Thalidomide for instance). Pfizer alone — one company — will make $26 billion this year from its Coronavirus vaccine. Moderna was basically a moribund company as nobody wanted its experimental mRNA products. Now they will also make billions.

What will people do for such vast sums of money? What have they done in the past?

Younger people are, statistically, at extremely low risk from Covid. It seems that the media found rare cases where there were long term problems and trumpeted them to create more fear. Meanwhile there is evidence that Covid death rates were manipulated to look far worse, as former NY Times journalist Alex Berenson, who covered the pharmaceutical industry for years, explores in his four-part series, Unreported Truths. (Berenson is a controversial figure but I find him to be intelligent and evidence-based). Also, “Long Covid” figures may have been manipulated to appear worse than they are.

While Covid morbidity and dangers appear to have been overhyped, when it comes to the dangers of the vaccines, the government and the media seem to be doing the opposite: They are downplaying the dangers and the legitimate concerns people have about them. 

Corporations are forced by the logic of the stock market to maximize short term profit and enhance shareholder value. This is why cigarette companies downplayed the damage of smoking for decades, why fossil fuel companies spent billions to create massive amounts of disinformation on climate change and continue to target anyone who fights their illegal exploitation of resources (such as the lawyer Steven Donziger). The pharmaceutical companies are no different, as the historical record makes clear.  

Despite the history of corporate malfeasance, most people — particularly liberals and progressives, for some reason — are completely ready to take these experimental vaccinations. That is fine for them — everyone should be able to make their personal decisions. But many people also seem okay with government and society mandating them for the whole population. People — including young people at very low risk from the virus — are being essentially forced or strongly coerced (since they can’t work, travel, or go to school otherwise) to take them. This is wrong.  

I really think we need a re-think.