Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Follow-up: Deliberate lies, threats to freedom of speech, etc. based on “Unsettled”

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[Fauci, journalism, politics, society, COVID] As a follow-up to my text on “Unsettled” and various COVID texts:

Recent controversies around “it might be a Wuhan lab, after all”, “hydroxychloroquine might work, after all”, and the various Fauci emails, again point to the dangers of e.g. preventing scientific debate or trying to force-feed others a fix opinion, instead of giving them the opportunity to form their own. Note my “three questions to consider” from the prior text.

I have no deeper insight into these specific controversies (as with climate change, I have not done the leg work), but it seemed to me from very early on, that many ideas, Wuhan lab-leak and hydroxychloroquine among them, were struck down without a proper scientific investigation and without strong arguments (as opposed to “Fake News! Must be censored!”). Indeed, at least one article that I read this week claimed evidence that e.g. the Wuhan-lab-hypothesis had been struck down in a blanket manner for the simple reason that it was favored by Donald Trump. (This, incidentally, matches an impression that I have often had of the Left—that they often pick positions based on what their opponents believe, that what the opponents believe must be the wrong thing to believe, or that what the opponents believe must be discredited in order to discredited the opponents.)

Of course, the constant stream of misinformation, misinterpretation, exaggeration, and whatnot from the Left does a lot to explain the great skepticism that many show, even on (the few) issues where the Left might be right. This might, in turn, explain why some U.S.* Conservatives tend to go for what might seem to be conspiracy theories. Consider vaccinations and two scenarios: In the one, a skeptic is told that, yes, vaccines can have negative effects, but they are rare and the benefits outweigh them. In the other, he is told that vaccines are perfectly harmless and never, ever cause problems. What will happen when one of these meets evidence (or even rumor) that a vaccine has had negative effects? Well, the first will note that this was one of the rare cases, shit happens, and no-one and nothing is perfect. The second will note that he was misinformed, grow even more skeptical than he was to begin with, and quite possibly turn into an “anti-vaxxer”—especially, when he has met a plethora of other cases of the government, the Left, or whoever, misinforming him. (Similar reactions can be presumed e.g. when climate-change proponents overstate an otherwise potentially legitimate case.)

*The same pattern is absent or considerably weaker in e.g. Sweden and Germany.

Overlapping with the previous paragraph: While my opinion of Fauci is and remains highly negative, some of the current criticism might be unfair, in that his changing positions sometimes might reflect a changing state of knowledge (as opposed to deliberatele lies that are now being revealed). Had he been less cock-sure, categorical, and black-and-white, and if he had had the decency to be open to other positions, to admit that what we believe today might be found wrong tomorrow, etc., the criticism against him might have been far smaller.

Excursion on lab-leak as cause of overreactions:
I have long toyed with a (hopefully) hypothetical scenario: If (!) the lab-leak hypothesis is true, if (!) the virus resulted from gain-of-function experiments, and if (!) world-leaders knew of this, then it would explain the extreme and disproportionate reactions. They might then have known that the original virus was problematic and that the modified was worse, but, critically, they might not have known by how much. Of course, other explanations have to be found for the continued overreactions after the first few weeks or months of pandemic.

Excursion on “Unsettled”:
I was greatly puzzled to find the last sentence of “Unsettled” to be a grossly hypocritical Biden quote:

We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, or even manufactured.

Let that sink in: Biden rides this “culture” to get where he is today, and then tries to take the moral high-ground and reject it, as if he, the Democrats, and the Left were staunch proponents of truth and the Republicans were the serial liars. (Of course, the quote lacks the original context. Maybe it was preceded, in that context, by “Forgive me people, for I have sinned. Hear my repentance.”, or some such.)

Also, let this sink in: A book seeming to be about the need for better science, communication of science, greater honesty in opinion making, etc., turns around and cites Joe Biden (!!!) in a positive manner. For Pete’s sake!


Written by michaeleriksson

June 5, 2021 at 4:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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