Can the controversy between opposing camps on COVID be resolved?
Yes, by invoking undisputed historical facts
So these people that got duped, I have nothing but love for them. And I think the only way we are going to get out of this, is we forgive them. And people are so hesitant to do that. They’re like “Fuck them, fuck this, fuck that”—you can’t… you can’t have a society with “Fuck them.” Cuz we are them. They are us. I could have been one of them… The only way that we can help each other, is for people like you, and people like me, and other people that have had these other perspectives …, these people that have been demonized, to forgive people. And if we don’t do that, [then] we just continue these ideological tribes that battle each other…
—Joe Rogan #1919 (interviewing Bret Weinstein, 1:36:24)
COVID is not a binary controversy.
Here is an example of a binary controversy: ‘people who believe Adolf Hitler was bad’ vs. ‘people who believe Adolf Hitler was good.’ The ‘wishy-washy’ in-between positions seem to have few adherents. A binary controversy is a relief to the taxed mind, which can grok it on the cheap.
If the COVID controversy were binary, I would be saying there are two kinds of people: Authority-Following, who always believe government and corporate authorities on all issues COVID; and Distrustful, who doubt everything those same authorities state about COVID. And then I would list some beliefs and positions in which members of these categories expressed a perfect disagreement.
But COVID, Alas!, is not a binary controversy.
Let, then, Authority-Following and Distrustful be the names of two fuzzy categories, blending at the boundary yet opposites, a bit like how ‘young people’ and ‘old people,’ blend at the boundary but are opposites, because relatively clear membership in one category means that you do not belong in the other. In the Authority-Following vs. Distrustful contrast, clear membership in one or the other category is a matter of holding a sufficient number of the relevant beliefs for that category.
The reality is complex: unambiguous inclusion in either category can be earned via different combinations of beliefs. My two lists below therefore do not represent the categories—Authority-Following and Distrustful—in all their complexity. Each list represents, rather, for each category, an idiosyncratic token carefully chosen from among its relatively clear members.
These chosen tokens should be understood as caricatures. The entire point of a caricature is to exaggerate certain details and thereby make them shockingly recognizable. And that is my purpose. I mean to give us a strong contrast that will assist a clear discussion.
Authority Following Person—core beliefs. SARS2 (SARS-COV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, almost certainly has a natural origin. This is what the most prestigious scientific journals in the world, starting with Nature, have said. The lab-leak hypothesis is ridiculous—a conspiracy theory. Yes, some labs have done ‘gain of function’ (GOF) on SARS viruses to make them more contagious and lethal to humans, but this is medical research to understand better how these viruses are likely to evolve and thus prepare for a future pandemic, as explained in congressional testimony by Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and responsible for the US response to the COVID crisis. The lockdowns ordered by Fauci and other health bureaucrats were costly but necessary to avoid a larger catastrophe. The pharmaceutical companies did a heroic job developing COVID vaccines in record time, as validated by the Food & Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, mainstream scientific publications, and the health ministries of countries around the world. Alternative treatments for COVID do not exist (all claims to the contrary are disinformation and fraud), which is why the COVID vaccines earned emergency authorization and why the governments even exempted the pharmaceutical companies from any possible liability for harm. Okay, the vaccines were less effective at stopping infection and transmission than hoped, but they are generally safe, so it is a good idea to get boosters. And yes, people must be mandated to get them because this is a transmissible disease and each of us needs to protect our neighbors. This is what health authorities, governments, and pharma spokespeople say and, c’mon, they wouldn’t all be saying that if it weren’t true. What are you, a conspiracy theorist?
Distrustful Person—core beliefs. SARS2 almost certainly leaked from a lab and probably from the Wuhan lab near the first recorded cases of COVID. Since Chinese scientists in that lab were doing ‘gain of function’ on SARS viruses from bats, and since they have worked with the Chinese military, SARS2 may have been an experimental bioweapon. But whose? That’s a good question, because the Wuhan lab was doing its work with US funding and US technical assistance (which may help explain why US institutions and an apparently controlled press hysterically accused ‘racism’ if anyone looked at China). Big Pharma did not develop a safe and effective vaccine; the statistics show plenty of harm. But Big Pharma is immune from liability thanks to corruption. An alliance of Big Pharma with governments, assisted by the media, demonized safe and effective treatments for COVID in order to get us all inoculated and make a gigantic profit, see how far State control could be extended, and reduce the population. The inoculation mandates (‘vaccine mandates’) imposed on formerly free peoples everywhere amount to a Nuremberg-level crime. The lockdowns are another, for they killed, maimed, and impoverished countless people all over the world while making a net zero or net negative contribution to our COVID response. Measured by number of people affected, this is history’s biggest crime. The COVID policies imposed have revealed the intentions of Western bosses, who’ve gear shifted, wheeled and maneuvered, and are now charging into totalitarianism. Everything may soon be lost.
There is symmetry in this polarity: people in these two camps look across the boundary at those other people as if they are just completely crazy.
Authority-Following people listen to Distrustful people talk and they say: Okay, there are some things that don’t look good. Fishy stuff happens, yes. But c’mon. What you are proposing here is a conspiracy on such a scale as to make no sense! And for what purpose? They want to make everyone sick!? All the bosses are in on it? The scientific institutions? All over the world? Nuts!
Distrustful people hear this and think: this is a madhouse. How can these people not see the conspiracy when it is right in front of them, staring them in the face, spelled out in giant letters across the globe? What more evidence could they possibly need?
Can this controversy be resolved? Perhaps…
I have noticed lots of frustration on both sides of this controversy. People despair of talking sense to anyone on the other side. And it rankles each side that those others should call us crazy when, clearly, they are crazy.
In principle, of course, both sides might be completely wrong, just in different ways. It may also turn out that reasonable and unreasonable beliefs exist on both sides in roughly equal measure, and we must pick and choose among them to build a reasonable model of the world. Or perhaps one side really is mostly unreasonable. How to find out? How can we move this controversy forward and make scientific progress?
It seems there is no way out, because, if you think the guys on the other side are crazy, can you even consider their arguments? You are terrified of agreeing with them (because they are crazy). They’ll never convince you of anything. Your identity as a sane person demands it. An impasse.
But—call me an optimist—I think maybe there is a way out: accepted historical fact.
An accepted historical fact is a tremendous thing. It’s something that nobody—whether people on the left or on the right, whether mainstream or not—deny happened. An accepted historical fact is a fact that nobody disputes. Like, for example, that the first president of the United States was a man by name George Washington. Nobody disputes that.
The beauty of an accepted historical fact is that, unless someone can credibly challenge it, you just have to deal with it. Whatever that fact implies, you must take it into account, because there is no getting rid of the fact itself.
How accepted historical facts work: an example
Suppose that something of yours goes missing. You think it was stolen, but you don’t know. You think it was Tim, who has recently been in your house, but you don’t know. Somebody challenges you. That person says: “How can you possibly think that Tim did it? That is lunacy!”
Is there anything you might say to this person to make them consider the hypothesis that Tim stole your thing? Well, that depends on what the history is.
Suppose it is an accepted historical fact that Tim has always been ethical—to a fault. And suppose it is an accepted historical fact that Tim has always had money and that, if he wanted your thing, he could just buy it. If that is the context, then your hypothesis is in some trouble. You won’t convince anyone that your first suspect should be Tim.
But now consider a different context. Suppose it is an accepted historical fact that Tim has been in and out of prison the last several years, each time for stealing other people’s stuff. If this is the context, then anyone who labels as “lunacy” your move to put the ‘Tim stole my thing’ hypothesis on the table is not being reasonable.
Of course, the history of Tim’s behavior—all by itself—can neither exonerate nor convict Tim on the question of your missing thing. But it does tell you—until you get more evidence—what can be legitimately considered a reasonable working hypothesis for an investigation.
So one way to begin tackling this difficult COVID controversy is to ask ourselves: Do we have accepted historical facts that, on either side, might make us reconsider ideas that we had discarded as ‘crazy’?
If so we should talk about such facts, because they will make it easier to talk across the divide. And we must communicate and cooperate to figure this out. Because this moment is a key historical juncture and we need all hands on deck.
I think I found one useful fact.
From 1949 to 1969 the US Army dumped experimental bioweapons on US citizens
This was reported by the Washington Post on 9 March 1977:
“The [US] Army disclosed yesterday that it secretly conducted 239 germ warfare tests in open air between 1949 and 1969.”1
What does “open air” mean? It means they were spraying entire cities with biological weapons.
This disclosure was made before a US Senate committee officially investigating the matter. The US Army, of course, called these attacks “tests” and claimed that ‘national security’ made them imperative—you know, to prepare in case of Soviet biological attack. The Washington Post obliged by simply accepting that convenient interpretation. So they all said that. And some are still saying it. But nobody is denying that it happened.
This is an accepted historical fact—it is undisputed.
Let me be clear: nobody is disputing that the US Army conducted, in secret, at least 239 biowarfare open-air ‘tests’ on—by the way—millions of unsuspecting and non-consenting US citizens.
I did write (and italicize) the word ‘millions’; you did read correctly.
A few years after those Senate hearings, basing himself on that research and much else, Leonard A. Cole, director of the Terror Medicine and Security Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, wrote the most extensive and erudite accounting of these astonishing mass crimes, which nevertheless remain almost completely unknown to the US public and the world: Clouds of Secrecy: The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests over Populated Areas.2
I can understand it if you need to slake your full curiosity on this, in which case go read Cole. Or if you need something short, read my own (very brief) piece on this. And perhaps you need to understand—right away—why you are just learning about this here and now (I have another piece on that). But please finish this piece first (you are almost done) because I am making a point.
What are the logical implications of absorbing this undisputed fact?
One thing must right away be admitted: despite the above-mentioned history, it is still possible that a new claim of secret biowarfare attacks by the US government against the citizens might turn out to be false.
But one logical implication of our undisputed fact simply cannot be shaken: it is not reasonable to dismiss out of hand as lunatic nonsense the claim that the COVID pandemic may be a consequence, whether accidental or intentional, of US biowarfare research. Because the US Army has already confessed that, in the course of doing biowarfare research, they intentionally sprayed experimental bioweapons on millions of US citizens—at least 239 times.
And the US government’s fingerprints are all over the Wuhan lab, the place from which SARS2, which causes COVID-19, most probably leaked, according to all the evidence we have.
So we are forced to put on the table, for its due and deserved consideration, the most serious and most extreme claim that Distrustful persons have made about the COVID pandemic.
That doesn’t mean, a priori, that everything Distrustful persons say must automatically be accepted (remember: complexity). But it does mean that claims made by Distrustful persons should be investigated rather than ridiculed.
My larger point is that, with an open mind, we must talk to each other, investigate, present evidence, and reason logically about all this. Enough polarization. We need to figure out what the COVID crisis was. If Distrustful persons are right even about half of the things they say, then this is a dangerous moment, and, as I said, we’ll need all hands on deck.
I invite you, then, to consider with me, in this larger context, the famous lab-leak hypothesis:
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‘Army Conducted 239 Secret, Open-Air Germ Warfare Tests’; Washington Post; 9 March 1977; by George C. Wilson.
Cole, L. A. (1990). Clouds of Secrecy: The Army's Germ Warfare Tests Over Populated Areas. United Kingdom: Rowman & Littlefield.