Thirty years ago, the man who taught me quantum mechanics at Harvard wrote that the suppression of debate will be the “death of science”. Perhaps he saw the shape of things to come.
Today, science is being perverted for political ends to an unprecedented extent. To look for an appropriate analogy, we would have to go back to the authority of the Church in medieval Europe.
“Attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on science.”
— Anthony Fauci
So G-d speaks through the mouth of the Pope, and maybe the Prophet Elijah and Charles Manson. But the Good Doctor of NIAID is the one with a direct line to Science.
My point is not that Fauci has grown too big for his britches, but that science is not religion. The whole reason that we trust science is that it’s a community of open debate. Dr Fauci aspires to be the high priest of epidemiology. But if science carries more weight than the Church, it’s not because its priests are smarter or better qualified, it’s because science has no priests.
Science means arguing the case on its merits, and arguing on the merits is exactly what they are trying to avoid by calling anyone who disagrees with them, “anti-science”.
A real scientist said,
Science is not a set of beliefs. Scientists don’t believe anything… You always have to be ready to have your favorite theory proven wrong, and if you’re not, you shouldn’t be doing science. [Video]
Eight months ago, I wrote about the hijacking of the imprimatur of “science” for political ends. Of course, politicization of science is much older than eight months. Perhaps it’s as old as The Enlightenment, but certainly as old as Social Darwinism and the Fabian Society. But the current wave of censorship began five years ago, with a gradual but persistent movement in the mainstream press to legitimize censorship.
Protecting the public from “fake news”
“Fake news” wasn’t a thing until five years ago. The lies of Donald Trump were deemed more dangerous than other lies, and the Beltway think tanks decided that the Public needed protection. For the 227 years before this, we Americans generally agreed that freedom of the press held the highest value for the viability of democracy. Deciding what is true and forbidding the publication of falsehoods sounds like a good idea only for the first millisecond, until you ask, “who decides what is true?”. Stalin knew well the power of Pravda. Hitler had his Völkischer Beobachter. Do you remember the origin of the phrase “memory hole”? George Orwell described in detail the way in which totalitarian governments must continually rewrite history to support a constantly-changing agenda.
Donald Trump was dangerous to the Establishment not because his lies were more pernicious or more convincing than other lies, but because occasionally, the rambling, self-serving monologue that continually streamed from his lips included some inconvenient truths. He charged that software in voting machines was rigged. He talked about the CIA’s blackmail racket, based on entrapment with child sex slaves. He proposed a new, independent inquiry into 9/11. He promised to declassify millions of pages of military documents on UFOs. The Establishment needed to silence Trump, not to protect the Public, but to protect the Establishment.
Lately, it is fashionable to smugly dismiss the deranged beliefs of “right-wing kooks” rather than endure the inconvenience of documenting just why these beliefs are “right-wing” and why they are wrong. This recent propaganda piece from University of Southern California exploits fear of The Deadly Virus to promote an idea that is far more deadly: legitimizing government surveillance of people with opinions at odds with the prevailing narrative. Need I remind you that the Fourth Amendment forbids the government from spying on citizens unless a judge has issued a search warrant, based on evidence that law enforcement agencies need this information to investigate a crime that has already been committed.
“Crime prevention” is an idea I can endorse with full conscience when it involves anti-poverty measures, drug rehab services, and housing for the homeless. But arresting people before they commit crimes is a practice absolutely forbidden by a millennium of British and American common law, and for the best of reasons: It has historically been used to jail the political opposition and hide the machinations of the powerful. It’s probably true that AI can make statistical predictions about who will commit a crime based on videos, and certainly true that the potential for abuse of this technology is a red flag.
Research behind the USC piece associates conservative political views with doubts about vaccination. The unstated implication is that vaccines are so obviously and universally safe that the only reason even to study their safety would be an anti-science bias which, incidentally, is common among fanatics of the Far RIght.
Why do some people decline the COVID vaccine? According to the NYTimes, It must be that their thinking is deranged. It can’t possibly be because vaccines are less safe and less effective as a COVID preventive than traditional, well-tested measures such as vitamin D, zinc, ivermectin, and hydroxychloroquine. It can’t have anything to do with the fact that twice as many people have died from the COVID vaccines compared to the sum total of all other vaccines in the history of the VAERS reporting system. [This simple numerical statement has been fact-checked by all the usual suspects and ruled “false”. What does this say about the fact-checkers?]
This month, the cover story of Harvard Magazine was written by a young staff writer with no scientific background. The title poses the question, “Can Disinformation be Stopped?”, while ignoring important preliminary questions, “Should disinformation be stopped?” and “How can we tell disinformation from information?” and “Whom can we trust with the awesome responsibility of discerning truth from falsehood?” The three examples of “disinformation” cited on the cover are nothing of the sort, and in fact are topics where questioning points to deep sources of corruption, which the Powers that Be are most desperate to suppress. 1. “Election in question: were votes stolen?” 2. “Hydroxychloroquine is the cure for COVID-19” 3. “5G Networks Spread Coronavirus”
- “Election in question: were votes stolen?” America has a sordid but largely hidden history of election theft. But the Help America Vote Act of 2001 has opened the floodgates for election theft on an unprecedented scale. Elections are so much easier to steal because vote tabulation is accomplished with black-box software that has been ruled a “trade secret” by our highest court. I have been a statistical consultant to election integrity activists since the 2004 election was stolen in Ohio on behalf of George W. Bush. We have used exit polls as the best available check on election results, and we have seen a growing rightward shift in the reported Federal results compared to exit polls. But in 2020, there were no exit polls for the first time in modern American history. So many people mailed their ballots that the people who showed up at the polls could not be considered a fair sample. In short, 2020 was the most opaque election in American history. There is no reason to trust the reported election results. At a time when America desperately needs a system of tabulation that the average voter can trust, all questioning of vote tabulations is ridiculed as the paranoid fantasies of right-wing partisans. [No, I’m not saying that “Trump really won”; I’m saying that I have no idea who really won, and that questioning our election machinery is not only legitimate but essential for the future of democracy.]
- “Hydroxychloroquine is the cure for COVID-19” The American CDC and NIH have been criminally culpable in suppressing effective preventives and cures for COVID since the beginning of the pandemic. Exhibit A is a super-sized observational study of 100,000 COVID patients on 3 continents that was rushed through peer review last year and published prominently in Britain’s most prestigious medical journal. But there was no data to back up this study. It was retracted. It was an obvious and scandalous scientific fraud, used to discredit the most effective available treatment, keeping alive the fear of COVID until a vaccine could be released. In combination with zinc, chloroquine is a safe and effective preventative or early treatment. But doctors have been fired for prescribing it, and pharmacists have been ordered not to fill prescriptions. Later, Ivermectin, an even more effective treatment for COVID, useful at all stages, has been demonstrated. Dr Pierre Kory and Dr Peter McCullough each testified before Congress about the extraordinary effectiveness of their treatment protocols, but to no avail. Is Ivermectin a right-wing drug? America’s most popular expert on natural medicine received death threats when he posted evidence on his blog that vitamin D lessens the severity of COVID. Treatments are still being suppressed by government, by social media, and by medical authorities. This has cost millions of lives worldwide. It is being done to keep fear of COVID alive, and to make sure that vaccines are the only game in town. If I may offer my expert opinion as a biostatistician: Many more people have died of COVID in the last year than if the world’s governments had done nothing at all, imposed no restrictions on commerce or culture, and allowed the medical system to operate without interference as it has in the past.
- “5G Networks Spread Coronavirus” There are thousands of credible studies associating radio frequency radiation with anxiety, depression, insomnia, inability to concentrate, and even cancer. There are known mechanisms by which such non-ionizing radiation affects electrochemical cell signaling. Still, there are physicists and engineers who deny the possibility of biological effects from cell phone radiation on theoretical grounds. For 30 years, the telecom industry has stonewalled, denying that further regulation is necessary, publishing bogus studies that report “no significant evidence” of risk. (Let me wear my statistician’s hat again, to tell you that it is very easy to design a study that fails to produce evidence of associations that are real, but much harder to design a study that demonstrates associations when none realy exist.) Last week, I was on a panel of engineers discussing safety standards for a new generation of cell phone technology. Most members were inclined to impose the burden of proof on those of us claiming a danger. In other words, unless we could clearly prove that 5G technology caused disease and we could explain a physical mechanism of harm, they thought that implementation of 5G should continue without safety standards. This is opposite to the attitude that American safety regulators have taken in every other field of technology. Why are health standards being determined by electrical engineers with no background in health sciences? And yes, there is legitimate and disturbing science associating higher COVID death rates in cities where 5G has been adopted early.
Make no mistake about it: The “fake news” campaign is not about protecting the public from lies; rather it is about establishing a state-sanctioned news network, which has been a central pillar for the stability of every totalitarian regime in history. Despotic leaders can only remain in power by hiding the truth of what they are doing from the people they govern. Conversely, there can be no meaningful democracy if there is only one source of centrally-managed information.
Other examples, past and present
For decades, UFO sightings were fake news. Now we’re supposed to believe that UFOs are real, but that the tens of millions of Americans who believed in them before that belief was sanctioned are ignorant, gullible thrill-seekers. None of the investigative reporters who have covered UFOs in the past are welcome when the self-important talking heads discuss UFOs as a new phenomenon.
Last year, the idea that COVID arose in a laboratory was fake news. Now it’s mainstream science, so long as you blame COVID on lax safety standards at Chinese laboratories. Questioning the bioweapons research at Fort Detrick and nine other American Biosafety Level 4 labs is still verboten in the public discourse. Moreover, the idea that COVID might have been deliberately released is nowhere mentioned, despite all the simulations and preparedness exercises that seemed to foretell the future with their focus on Coronaviruses of Chinese origin.
Twenty years ago, on September 11, the Twin Towers and a third tower not struck by aircraft all fell straight down in free fall, indicating there was zero resistance from the steel structure underneath. In one moment, the steel is holding up a 110-storey building; in the next moment there is nothing inhibiting its collapse. It doesn’t happen in nature that all the supporting members just happen to melt at exactly the same moment. This requires precision engineering and precisely-timed explosive charges. And yet, if you search for “9/11 building collapse”, Google will lead you to the retracted Federal NIST report claiming, absurdly, that collapses of all three buildings were the natural and expected results of localized fires. You can find the realistic science that proves all three buildings were wired for demolition if you search through DuckDuckGo. Science professors have lost their careers for telling the truth about 9/11.
58 years ago, John Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas. The Warren Commission report concluded that a single bullet passed up and down and in and out of Kennedy’s body, subsequently breaking the arm of John Connally, then Governor of Texas, and falling out of his body onto the gurney, unscarred, where it could be conveniently discovered by hospital personnel. The Warren Report claims Kennedy was shot from behind, even though Kennedy’s head is seen to lurch violently backward with the impact of a bullet in the only video evidence recorded that day. Despite the fact that the Warren Report is physically implausible, and despite the fact that a Congressional committee in 1979 concluded that Kennedy was “probably” killed by a conspiracy rather than a lone gunman, scientific challenges to the official narrative are banned from Wikipedia and social media. There are many good books, and you can preview some of the truth on Wikipedia’s page for conspiracy theories.
But the story of vaccines is in a class by itself, by far the most successful corporate propaganda campaign in history. In every other field, we define pathological fanaticism by its extreme dogma, taking an absolute position, with no recognition of subtlety and no regard to evidence. This is the attitude of the religious zealot. But in the case of vaccines, the propaganda narrative has turned this common sense on its head. The dogmatic view is deemed to be “science”. All vaccines are safe. All vaccines are effective. Full stop. Anyone who questions a particular vaccine, or identifies a side-effect, or claims that getting the disease provides better protection than taking the vaccine, is an “anti-vaxxer”, a science-denier, a menace to the universal social good of herd immunity. BTW, the term, “herd immunity” used to be defined in the world of public health as a condition of a population which had been through the disease, and so was resistant to future epidemics. In the age of COVID, “herd immunity” has been re-defined by WHO as a benefit that can only be conferred by vaccines. The community of medical researchers is long overdue for a full and nuanced examination of vaccines, one-by-one, their short- and long-term effects both on the target disease and other aspects of health, including the ecological and evolutionary effects that develop only over decades.
My mentor at Harvard (first paragraph) was Julian Schwinger, one of the most brilliant physicists of the 20th Century, who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize with Richard Feynman for (independently) formulating relativistic quantum field theory. His physics papers had been prized by the scientific community and were published in top-tier physics journals ever since, as an 18-year-old wunderkind working under J Robert Oppenheimer, he conducted pioneering research in nuclear physics. But after the cold fusion controversy of 1989, Schwinger became interested in the phenomenon, and suggested some deep theoretical insights. He was told by the world’s foremost physics journal that they would not consider a paper on cold fusion because the editors didn’t believe it was real. This is what prompted Schwinger’s warning about the future of physics. He resigned from the American Physical Society in protest.
I first discovered the cold fusion story in 2012. Over the ensuing two years, I attended two conferences and visited five cold fusion laboratories. I can attest from talking to the experimental scientists and reviewing their data that cold fusion is real. Of course, the potential for solving the world’s energy problems and for learning fundamentally new principles of physics are both monumentally exciting. Despite many replications of cold fusion worldwide and several companies pursuing it as a new energy source, this remains a topic that mainstream physics journals refuse to touch.
Real science is never served by censorship. You, readers of ScienceBlog, have intuitively sensed this truth from the beginning. Where you lead, the world will follow.
11 thoughts on “How Real Science became Fake News”
The “truth” about vaccines is dauntingly complex. Some vaccines have saved hundreds of millions of lives, while others have cost more lives than they saved. Even more difficult is the fact that the impact of a vaccine on public health is very difficult to predict from its effect on individuals in a trial. Epidemiology is a communal affair, and all the complexities of human associations as well as human biology come into play.
To have found and read the words of one of sound mind, I find reassuringly edifying, especially in these dark times of brazen obfuscation.
Cold Fusion is a suppressed science. (It is inconceivable that in 30 years, no one would have figured out how to turn it on and off reliably enough for commercial applications.) There are rumors of people in the field being threatened. There was one suspicious death.
Is this just the fossil fuel industry defending its turf? Or is Cold Fusion suppressed because it opens a uniquely dangerous possibility of terrorist applications?
“Science is not a set of beliefs. Scientists don’t believe anything… You always have to be ready to have your favorite theory proven wrong, and if you’re not, you shouldn’t be doing science.”
Charles Darwin, upon receipt of much criticisms of his many often astute observations, wrote that “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Now I don’t necessarily believe that Darwin was a genius, but perhaps an astute observer, one more capable than most of abandoning personal biases, beliefs & prejudices, and willing to consider that observational data that led him to perhaps to think & reconsider his former thoughts.
That observation by Darwin forms the general basis of the Dunning Kruger effect.
Those with lesser capabilities, less fully-encompassing knowledge, fewer facts & such tend to hold greater confidence on what they think they know.
They don’t possess the intellect to know what they don’t really know.
Thus they think they know more than they do.
The “liberal” Educator, Philosopher, Mathematician & Polymath Bertrand Russell wrote, as part of his Ten Commandments of critical Thinking, “Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.”
And, “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”
In another source wrote, “A habit of basing convictions upon evidence, and of giving to them only that degree of certainty which the evidence warrants, would, if it became general, cure most of the ills from which the world is suffering. But at present, in most countries, education aims at preventing the growth of such a habit, and men who refuse to profess belief in some system of unfounded dogmas are not considered suitable as teachers of the young…”
Then consider the time-tested words of Alexander Pope: “A little learning is a dangerous thing…”.
And of Thomas Gray, “where ignorance is bliss, ‘Tis folly to be wise.”
Knowledge is often a form of power.
The suppression of true knowledge has been held over the heads of the masses since known recorded history.
The suppression of true knowledge begets dependence. The masses become increasingly dependent on the “scholars” & “experts”.
14th century Italian poet, Francesco Petrarca (aka Petrarch), often considered a leading figure of the Humanist & Renaissance movements, was reportedly a frequent critic of the “Scholastic Movement” of the Middle Ages.
He viewed it as a corruption of true logic & philosophy & such, by the powerful & wealthy Church, as a method of skewing logic towards mere theological ideologies.
It was a movement seeking to abandon the classical concept & practices of questioning for the sake of greater mental enlightenment, towards merely framing questions for specific indoctrinations.
Real, critical thinking was displaced for mere complicity, compliance and conformity to per-conceived beliefs & views.
Beliefs & views held by the powers that be. Those that sought control of the masses, via their power of “knowledge”.
Petrarch is often regarded as the creator of the concept of the Dark Ages.
Interestingly, that “scholasticism” of the “Dark Ages” gave rise to our contemporary systems of “education”.
Most schools exist merely to indoctrinate students towards certain beliefs, habit, customs, trends, etc.
Taking Darwin’s thoughts, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”, and the concept of the Dunning Kruger effect to their logical extensions, means that in those times, by those people whom think they know the most & are the most intellectually advanced, are in fact at their most ignorant.
The brightest minds throughout history are those who never stopped questioning their own beliefs.
People that sought truths, but were never certain they had achieved those truths.
Thus continued looking, considering, thinking, & such.
It amazes me at how often, how so many people are certain they know things, so definitely.
As such, I charge that we are truly living in the Dark Ages of the 21st Century.
Way too many presumed “experts”, way too few learning students.
Wow, we are definitely on the same page. These days, people so smugly tell you to “follow the science.” But what they are really saying is “what Bezos and Zuckerberg tell me is the science is good enough for me!”
Sometimes it feels like people are trying to tell me the world is flat and I am an idiot for believing that it is not.
You would enjoy my post on Covid19reader.com on the same topic:
Parrying sound scientific challenges with ad hominem attacks is hardly a new phenomenon. In Chapter 3 of George Eliot’s last novel (1879), she parodies the dogmatism of academia, telling the story of how one titan of science obliterates the career of a young challenger in order to defend his turf, before quietly stealing his idea.
“The serene and beneficent goddess Truth, like other deities whose disposition has been too hastily inferred from that of the men who have invoked them, can hardly be well pleased with much of the worship paid to her even in this milder age, when the stake and the rack have ceased to form part of her ritual. Some cruelties still pass for service done in her honour: no thumb-screw is used, no iron boot, no scorching of flesh; but plenty of controversial bruising, laceration, and even lifelong maiming. Less than formerly; but so long as this sort of truth-worship has the sanction of a public that can often understand nothing in a controversy except personal sarcasm or slanderous ridicule, it is likely to continue. The sufferings of its victims are often as little regarded as those of the sacrificial pig offered in old time, with what we now regard as a sad miscalculation of effects.”
Vaccines may work well for bacterial diseases, where chemical drugs often leads to adaptation and adaptation of superbugs. There is growing body of evidence, that antiviral vaccines have it opposite . reddit.com/r/Physics_AWT/comments/mocp2q/deconstruction_of_the_vaccination_hype_v
Two relevant quotes that are helpful here and spot on target.
“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Socrates
“Science is the Belief in the Ignorance of Experts” Richard Feynman
Trump also said, on Twitter before he was president, that vaccines cause autism. It was something like the following (paraphrasing from memory), “Kid goes to the doctor, gets a bunch of vaccines, and becomes autistic. Happens all the time.”
Your belief that vaccines have saved hundreds of millions of lives is debatable. A good thoroughly-researched source is Dissolving Illusions by Suzanne Humphries, MD.
The war on science has a long history: