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.