Science and Conspiracy: COVID-19 and the New Religion

As with the press conference with doctors at Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield, California on April 24, 2020, Plandemic, a documentary about the COVID-19 hysteria, is being pummeled by the running dogs and useful idiots of the medial-industrial complex. As with the doctor’s press conference, YouTube (along with Facebook and other social media platforms) quickly moved to censor the documentary. While this blog entry, as was my blog entry on the Bakersfield doctors, is inspired by the media frenzy and social media action surrounding the documentary, I will not pursue here a defense of Plandemic. I simply cannot pursue that matter right now given other commitments. However, I will take this opportunity to make some points about how the rhetoric and status of science are used by corporate propagandists and their lackeys to discredit and marginalize those who raise objections to the medical-industrial complex.

This would be the case regardless of whether Plandemic was correct in whole or part. It was not unexpected that Plandemic would trigger pro-vaccine zealots. The memes and takedowns had to come fast and furious on social media. It’s a reflex. As some readers will surely already know, one of the targets of pro-vaccine zealotry has been lawyer and environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The true believers go after him the same way industries across the spectrum went after Ralph Nader, Rachel Carson (remember how the chemical manufacturers came after her?), and anybody else who stood and stands up to corporate power and the corruption of conflict of interests. It doesn’t matter whether RFK, Jr. or Dr. Judy Mikovits, the research scientist featured prominently in Plandemic, is a crank. RFK, Jr. is routinely painted as an “antivaxer” even while he is pro-vaccine. “I am for vaccines,” RFK, Jr. said in an interview with Science. “I am pro-vaccine. I had all my kids vaccinated. I think vaccines save lives.” But if you don’t swallow hook, line, sinker the claim of the pharmaceutical oligopoly, then you are an “antivaxer” even when you vaccinate your own children. Just like if you question what chemicals we should inject into our environment and bodies and with what processes we manufacture these chemicals you suffer from a psychiatric disorder called “chemophobia.”

Why does the truth matter so little to these people? Because it is the demand that the medical-industrial complex change the way it does business that is at issue not vaccine safety. Vaccine safety doesn’t matter to the industry. They are protected from liability anyway (learn about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and its billions of payouts bankrolled by your tax dollars). What matters is the billions in profit vaccines generate. Its about the shareholders not the stakeholders. Given the number of viruses in the world, the sky is the limit in terms of large and sustainable profits for the investor class. So industry propagandists recode skepticism as paranoia. This is a standard method for shutting down critical thinking. This intervention has been most powerfully effective among progressives, who operate with a profound double consciousness concerning regulatory institutions such as the CDC and the FDA. On the one hand, we must uncritically accept their claims regarding pharmaceuticals, while acknowledging that the Washington establishment is beholden to the industries polluting land, air, and waters, what is called regulatory capture. Progressives are horrified by the FDA and USDA regulation of the meat industry, to take the obvious example. Pharmaceuticals? Meh.

So here we are with folks in a frenzy on social media admonishing us in the most strident terms imaginable to “trust science.” Be a good dog. Don’t spit in the fan. But, hell, a good scientist doesn’t even trust himself. That’s why a scientist never claims to have proven anything and why he gets up everyday trying to disprove his claims and the claims of others. Faith in science is why the history of science is littered with the corpses of stupid ideas—and the human and other victims of policies and practices based on those ideas (not to mention the research subjects upon whom those ideas were “established”). They never talk about how scientists as human beings are status and wealth seekers with massive egos, insatiable appetites, and destructive ambitions. They never talk about how industry pulls eager scientists into their money-making web, directs their research, and corrupts them.

Have you noticed that most of the people saying “trust science” are not scientists themselves? How they will mock those who also aren’t scientists for thinking they know science when they themselves are not scientifically literate but are absolutely sure they know which scientist is right? How they don’t usually even spend any time actually looking at the science in question? Rather they appeal to some authority who “confirms” their opinion, opinion generated by partisan ideological commitments. Or they just attack those whose claims do not align with their opinions with memes and ridiculous analogies, even when their targets are scientists. The “new skepticism” on the progressive left is not skepticism at all, but a mob who finds (more like fed) experts in support of their views and then promote them as if they represent the One True Science. Actual skeptics become conspiracy theorists, cranks, quacks, and wing nuts—like the person who might ask the Witchfynder General whether the Malleus Maleficarum is the best way of dealing with persons with disturbed psyches. Or, for that matter, whether the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association is. Watch out for pitchforks and torches while they gaslight you.

If two groups of scientists make competing claims, who are you supposed to trust? Of course you go with the group of scientists who are saying what you wish to be true. Wrong. Confirmation bias. You educate yourself and study the science. Or you tell the truth: “I don’t know.” Or, even better, be honest and say, “I don’t care to know. I only care to believe this because it serves some agenda I may or may not know I serve.” Appeal to authority is not science. Experts make stupid claims—often claims that they don’t even believe. Take Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College (please!). This isn’t the first time this man has been spectacularly wrong. “But he is an expert!” Yeah, so were the monsters who performed lobotomies. Thanks for the global economic meltdown, Neil. Hope your trysts were satisfactory (I hope she or her family are not at risk from your COVID-19 infection).

The appeal to authority is a faith-based exercise. Cherry picking scientists you want to tell you to be afraid so you hide in your basement is like relying on clergy for doctrine and guidance. COVID-19 is like the devil. What does Donald Trump call it? “The invisible enemy”? Whatever we think we can trust in the world, the last trustworthy practice is that which is based in faith. Yet, after centuries of Enlightenment, people are treating science like religion. And since there are plainly different churches on the terrain of this picture of science, scientific debate becomes a sectarian affair. Each have their own clergy. But only one of them has the truth. And that is why the zealots want social media corporations to censor information. They have to smash the heretics. And they have the corporations and the assets class at their back.

So it is that you either you believe that the virus was the result of a person in eating an infected bat at a wet market in Wuhan China (the theory the Communist Party promotes) or you believe it was a bioweapon engineered by the Chinese government (which the Chinese Communist Party denies). Are these the only two options available?

We might as well just toss away the first option without much trouble. The first documented cases weren’t found in people eating bats. Bat-eating proles represent the Chinese Communist Party slagging the average Chinese person, whom they loathe (you do not deny people freedom if you love them). The authorities bleached the wet market in question so it’s not like you can falsify the claim anyway. It’s a stupid theory.

As for second option, why would the virus necessarily need to be created in a lab? Is it not possible that the biotech labs in Wuhan working with coronaviruses, in particular SARS type coronaviruses (this one is SARS-CoV-2, the successor of SARS-CoV), had an accident? Why, in 2018, were US science diplomats sent on repeated visits to the lab working on this reporting back to US State Department of serious problems with the work being conducted there, especially around safety? (State Department cables warned of safety issues at Wuhan lab studying bat coronaviruses, The Washington Post.) Why would the chief researcher at the Wuhan Institute of VirologyWuhan, Shi Zhengli, tell Scientific America that, when the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention called her in to look at samples of the virus, she wondered, “Could they have come from our lab?” (“How China’s ‘Bat Woman’ Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus.” She changed her story to say she knew it could not possibly have come from her lab.) Why would this researcher suspect the virus came from her lab if her lab wasn’t working with SARS-Cov viruses? Why would they call her in if they assumed that it was possible that it did? Why did the international community come together in 2014 to emplace a moratorium on gain-of-function research when it learned that researchers were altering potentially lethal viruses to become infectious in humans? And why would the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci at the heart of this research, announce in 2017 that they would resume funding gain-of-function experiments involving, among other things, SARS coronavirus. (“Ban on gain-of-function studies ends,” The Lancet.) Is it troubling that Fauci is so sure that this virus did not come from a lab? Is it not true that the SARS-Cov virus from 2003 has on more than one occasion escaped containment and sickened individuals? All these questions are based not on conspiracy but on facts. All these questions are simply matters of record turned into questions. Does anybody really believe that the Chinese Communist Party intends to abide by international law? The CCP is the modern-day equivalent of the Nazi Party. They put people in concentration camps and harvest organs from prisoners and political enemies. It appears that blind trust in science begets blind truth in communists. But why is the United States taxpayer funding research in knowingly unsafe labs in China working with SARS viruses?

So how about a third option? All the evidence suggests that this came from a lab accident that the CCP tried to cover up, thus allowing the virus to escape China and infect the world. This is branded a “conspiracy theory.” Why is challenging the official narrative of the Chinese Communist Party and the scientists in their employ a conspiracy theory? (By the way, there are conspiracies and one can have theories about them. Ask any prosecutor who has works a criminal conspiracy case.) Whose side are people on? The people of the world, which includes the Chinese people, or the Chinese Communist Party?

As for Plandemic and the people asking how to stop it, you don’t stop it—you rebut it. And you do so in a sober and charitable manner. Like a good scientist. That’s the way things work in a free and open society. Totalitarian societies like China remove posts and videos. Free societies don’t. I understand why Forbes and other corporate state propaganda units push totalitarianism. Liberty is for them contingent on their interests. I know progressives admire China’s approach. For them, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is an instruction manual (sorry to be cliché). But this is America. Wave the freedom flag high. Trust the proles to figure it out. Stopping being such an elitist snob.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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