A sad year not only for Freedom of Speech, but for Science too

My faith in scientific modesty and reason is crumbling

I’m not a spiritual person, but I trust in nature. And I’d say I believe in science. I’m a misanthropist, I do not trust in people and most of the time I don’t believe them either. I guess I always viewed scientists as an exception, with a mission to tell the truth, to be modest and reasonable. To be the ones to go: “Calm down everybody, there is no reason to panic!”. I’ve always believed people more who started a sentence with: “We cannot be absolutely sure, but evidence points toward xyz”, than people who made definitive statements.

This year has seen unprecedented censorship in the “free” world by our new promoters of democracy, such as Facebook, Google, and the likes. I will not go into the evils of “social” media platforms and internet 2.0 in general. You can get your fix of that elsewhere. But like anybody with a functioning brain, I am of two minds about them: they have brought us a wealth of information and ways to connect. They have given everyone a platform to speak. Then again, our society is split in half now. And they have given everyone a platform to speak. Some people simply shouldn’t get a platform. And I am saying that, because a huge number of people do not have the capacity to parse information or they lack a certain common-sense-compass. Need an example? Burning down 5G antennas, because the Chinese supposedly spread the virus through them. So no, those people should not get a platform. If we lived in a black and white world, it would be easy to shut the effin’ idiots up. But unfortunately, our world confronts us with more than 50 shades of you-know-what.

Social media and the internet 2.0 weren’t just bungling along and we have not just sort of ended up in a pickle. Mr. Zuckerberg can put on his puppy dog eyes all he wants when testifying to Congress. That shit is highly engineered and they’ve known exactly what they’re doing since day one. It’s a problem for me, because today’s environment has not just corrupted Joe down the road, forced regular media to be even more lurid, but to my mind it seems to have corrupted scientists as well. (Are some scientists just people after all? For heaven’s sake … what a nightmare). We’ve had top-tier scientists censored in 2020 for asking questions, for being critical. Other scientists who decided to side with the popular (i.e. let’s-stir-panic) view went on tirades against them, rather than engage in a dialogue to find reaonable solutions. Doesn’t that just sound like a comment section on Facebook? Yes, some scientists who were censored made some questionable statements. But so did all kinds of uncensored scientists advising various governments. Absolute, definitive, often false statements based on only shreds of evidence.

The first lockdowns happened based on a flawed model. The second round of lockdowns were still based on that same model, because presumably no country would have the guts to stand up and say they made huge mistakes after they’ve ruined the lives of billions of people. The WHO and other scientist were shouted down for pointing out inaccuracies in various data and studies, related to all kinds of terminology floating around this year. Such as the myth and incorrect wording of “asymptomatic transmission”. Or basics like “novel” virus — Sars-Cov2 has never been novel, but a mere mutation, proven by the fact that parts of the population had T-cell immunity from the very start, because they had previously been exposed to other coronaviruses. No self-respecting scientists calls a mutation novel.

A complex issue requires many words to be explained properly. You cannot fit everything into a Tweet. But you have generations now who cannot process more than a Tweet’s length. Hell, some countries have a president like that. So information gets condensed, shortened to headlines, and the punchlines go missing. For example, don’t we now all believe that Covid immunity is unachievable because antibodies last only a short time? Great headline! The punchline is missing in that the human immune system doesn’t just consist of antibodies and in fact it seems that we can indeed have long-term T-Cell immunity as shown by many studies of patients who’ve contracted Covid-19. But scientists are just humans after all and don’t we all just want attention? Isn’t that why we’re all here on this platform? So who can blame scientists for dropping the second part of the story and not preface it with: “We’re really not entirely sure …”.

The extraordinary overflow of information this year was mostly contradictory and to 95% bullshit or a variation thereof. Under normal circumstances I would welcome the contradictory information, take it as a challenge to drill down further, and find a theory that lines up with all the evidence, not just a cherry-picked percentage of it. But scientists these days are like the worst of the worst on social media: opinions that don’t match their own are labelled “lies”, and critical voices are marked as “dangerous” to the system. Scientists should seek dialogue and should take critical voices as valid input. But today, critical voices get censored, even if they are correct. Or if one element in an otherwise correct statement turns out to be wrong it serves as an “aha, we were right to shut that person up” moment. If that were the case, Fauci and co should all go to prison for making various false statements, and for not reacting to the situation as it developed evidentially, but rather as it developed in the media. Much of what this year’s well-regarded scientists said turned out wrong. Have they admitted to it? Have they apologised? Have they been asked to formulate statements more carefully and with more nuance? No, they have to keep walking the paths they laid out, like any bully, because if they turned around to face the pain and damage they’ve caused, they’d probably want to kill themselves.

As scientists we know that someone can make a wrong statement, without making everything that person has ever said wrong. A story can still be true, even if there’s typo. We know that, but this year we’ve applied it only to the opinions we wanted to hear and not to those who dared asking questions. My fellow scientists, of all the shit that went down this year, you are the biggest disappointment for me personally. You march for science once a year, but you do not scream and shout when your peers get censored from platforms that cater to those who believe an antenna can spread a virus? Shame on you! You were supposed to collaborate, to dig into this virus or other worthwhile projects, not to make statements until you had enough evidence to make reasonable guesses. It is not your place to take down those of your peers who are critical. Any one of them could be Ignaz Semmelweis. You have divided yourselves into two fronts, like teenage girls fighting over a boy.

You should have stopped the panic, instil reason in all of us, and maybe even make us face our mortality with dignity. I said above that I trust in nature. Not to go all Darwinian on your asses, but I do see sense in this virus. [Before you get outraged, read this entire paragraph] The planet has always been in a fine balance until human beings started to take over everything. Trying to control nature and having the arrogance to believe that we’ve somehow mastered nature and along with it disease. Nature is brutal, but nature follows an order. Honestly, I do not see what’s that bad about a good pandemic, restoring some balance by killing off human beings. I’m not being crude — I look at it purely biologically: the planet has a pretty good way of controlling numbers of animal and plant populations, why shouldn’t the number of humans be controlled? After all, it’s us destroying everything in our path. (I am well aware of the tragedy of personal loss, and the inequalities we’ve created as a society which are at odds with the principles of Survival of the Fittest. I’ll write a separate piece on that maybe). My view’s an extreme one — I would have just let everybody die — for controversy’s sake only, to get your synapses firing. But the view that was taken this year was extreme in the other direction: every life is worth saving, no matter the cost to everyone else. See, as a true scientist, I would have loved to be paired up with someone from the other side and come up with a plan that actually made sense, a plan that would have saved some lives, but would not have ruined the lives of a vast majority of people.

Because one side of the argument was censored this year, the other extreme had free rein. Does that strike you as sensible? The public never got to hear all the evidence and therefore couldn’t actually come to a reasonable verdict themselves. And in this whole vicious circle, those who wanted to speak out, got beaten down. On occasion literally. The sad situation is that none of the measures any country took, really worked. The scientific advisor to the Swedish government said early on (I’m paraphrasing) that whoever was going to die, was going to die. That the virus could not be stopped. Lockdowns did slow it down, but slowed it down too much; everyone who didn’t get it over the summer is getting it now. (Sweden took a different approach, which I guess equally didn’t work; but I’d like to believe that Sweden recognised that most measures were pro-forma only). And once again, our healthcare services are overwhelmed — as if this was a surprise and nobody saw it coming? Come on people! You had 9 months to prepare. 9 months to come to your senses.

I guess the irony is that scientists warned of a second wave that was of their own making. Not that scientists made policies, but they were sure happy to be in the spotlight this year and prance around. Yey, finally our time to shine, let’s participate in this madness and abandon everything we stand for. Let’s be sure to put the fear of God in people so we, scientists, seem needed, rather than stick to the actual science and biology of this planet. And most of all, let’s not be honest with people, let’s make up all kinds of fiction for them to think their government has their best interest at heart, so eventually they’ll lock themselves up voluntarily. Uh, what else can we come up with that is scientifically unproven? Like, wearing a mask even if you’re healthy, even though we know that you won’t wear it properly and constantly touch it and not discard it after every wearing, so it will actually put you at higher risk of infection. But let’s instil a warm and fuzzy false sense of security in everyone with unproven methods, over which they in turn can then go and shame others on social media. There’s nothing better than thinking you have the moral high ground based on information that sounds correct. We’ll guess what, you haven’t read the second part of the story. Shame on you, scientists, for not insisting that the second part be broadcast and written about IN ALL CAPS.

Scientists and politicians all over this world kept breaking their own rules this year, knowing that they were not reasonable and made little sense. But it was okay to ask these unreasonable things of us, the plebs, apparently, to fine us and press criminal charges against us. Ultimately, it’s our lives hanging in the balance, our livelihoods, our sacrifices, our having-to-live-with-the-consequences for years to come. The pretence was that we had to endure this year for our own protection, because our lives were valuable and governments cared. I do not have proof, of course, but I have great intuition and I’d venture to guess our lives have never been worth less than this year. Nobody at the top has been suffering, and the rich folk just fled town. All the while, the powerful critical voices were either banished to questionable outlets or were outright gagged. Meanwhile scientists at best remained silent, at worst actively participated in the sensationalist witch hunt with torches and pitchforks of their own. Shame on you!

Image from thegwpf.com

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I am a scientist and writer. I aim to be a voice of reason and facts in this distorted world in which opinions are considered truth.

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