by Think for Yourself
This article is on the misuse of science for political purposes. It is not a rejection of science itself. Rather, it is intended as an affirmation of the scientific method (which requires limits on its use and open-endedness in its method) and a discussion of how legitimate science has been undermined by those pushing the Covid ‘vaccines’ at any cost.
My qualification for writing it is having studied the philosophy of science in graduate school and having written one published scientific article, which was a compendium and summary of resources on the environmental cots of industrialized agriculture. This acquainted me with the scientific method and Popper’s principle of falsifiability, and also the topic of blind faith in scientific authority, called ‘scientism.’
Please note that I am using the term scientism not in its anti-science usage, but more as philosophers of science to use it. Karl Popper, for example, does not reject science, but articulates a philosophy of it that seems designed to avoid its misuse. It is misused when it is given absolute authority in the social and political realms. When science is predicated on an emphasis on philosophical materialism and logical positivism, it can be given absolute authority, one could argue, so Popper addressed it on that level, methodologically.
Popper’s work was in all likelihood in response to the egregious misuse of science by totalitarian regimes in the 20th century. He therefore sought to place limits on it, to negate its claim to absolute authority. It is for this reason that he wrote The Open Society and its Enemies.
[As an aside, it’s unfortunate that the phrase “open science” has been appropriated by George Soros to implement the very kind of society Popper opposed: an autocratic globalist society.]
An example of philosophical scientism occurs in the final chapter of Freud’s The Future of an Illusion, which seeks to unseat traditional religion through faith in science. The Future of an Illusion is a thought-provoking analysis of religion and society, but its errs in uncritically adopting science as the means for addressing humanity’s problems. It was written at a time when Utopian technological progressivism was widely adopted. It has since mutated into something called “technological optimism.” Bill Gates is a good example of that attitude: that science and technology can solve all the world’s ills.
Scientism as such is “the dogmatic endorsement of scientific methodology and the reduction of all knowledge to only that which is measured or confirmatory.” At its most extreme, it presumes to be able to solve all of humanity’s problems, and usurps traditional sources of authority and decision-making. Technique because over-arching. But this assumes that science is always purely objective and benign. In reality, it is still subject to the problem of excessive self-interest, either personal or corporate (or in Christian terms, sin). As misused by the state or corporations it can be used to push a political or financial agenda incommensurate with the public’s interests. Science can be and has been used for evil.
Those who refer to “the science” and our duty to bow to “scientific consensus” and who use the popular slogan, “trust the science” without question, don’t seem to understand how science works. They are using it as an authority figure to compel obedience to a political agenda — including giving up inalienable rights and freedoms. It has been used — and is being used — to advance a collectivist mentality, for political purposes.
Scientism, as such, is the promotion of science as the best or only objective means by which society should determine its values. It’s an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of science in all areas of human endeavor. And it is corruptible.
Stanislav Grof comments that “Unlike scientism, science in the true sense of the word is open to unbiased investigation of any existing phenomena.” What we are witnessing today, through phrases like “trust the science” and the censorship of dissident scientists, is scientism at work, to the detriment of real science.
Fundamentalism of any kind delimits what can be known. It closes off new knowledge. The scientific method, according to Karl Popper, relies on the principle of falsifiability. That means it can never claim absolute truth, but is open-ended and may be proven false through new evidence and theoretical insights.
The vaccines were rushed to market. They’re still experimental, despite the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer Covid shot –which was premature, given the usual time allotted for such approvals, and which seems politically and financially motivated see https://www.redvoicemedia.com/2021/08/the-fda-vaccine-approval-coming-from-same-person-who-approved-drugs-that-caused-opioid-epidemic/.
In fact, we don’t have all the data, and adverse events of it are being underreported and dismissed. Deaths from the Covid vaccines are being accepted as the cost of having them, from a utilitarian perspective — but without thought of possible long-term consequences from ADE. For example, if ADE creates an endless cycle of variants and vaccines in response to them, and a wave of new adverse events, how is this better than developing natural herd immunity?
Examples of the past failure of medical authorly are not hard to find. At one time, thalidomide, lead paint and smoking all got the okay by health officials in Germany and the U.S., due to commercialized institutional pressure. In time, this was corrected, due to a few brave souls who spoke up and were sometimes recognized later for doing so – but were maligned at the time. At the time, the ads for “Distival” (Thalidomide) claim there are no harmful side-effects and that it’s safe. There is a similar story with Vioxx, a painkiller that was eventually recalled after killing people.
Self-correction in science has a huge hurdle to overcome when there are immense political and institutional pressures brought to bear against physicians who don’t adhere to orthodox or dominant institutional thinking. But they are needed, as the history of medicine has shown.
Question of miscarriages
There have been reports of miscarriages in conjunction with the Covid vaccine, so why do some medical authorities claim they’re safe for pregnant women, but others do not?
There is a serious discrepancy over an important question of safety. The pro-vaccine proponents are employing a utilitarian risk-assessment model that seems slanted in favour of an establishment position that could be putting proper fetal development at risk.
They say the risk of Covid for the fetus is greater than the risk of vaccines, but has this claim really been firmly established?
“Given that negative reaction to the vaccines are often underreported, with the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ) study stating that less than 1 percent of vaccine adverse events are reported to the FDA [italics added] the true number of post-vaccination miscarriages and stillbirths may actually be in the hundreds or thousands.” (“Covid-19 Vaccine Miscarriage Stillbirth Concerns for Mothers” in Vision Times, 2021, as cited in https://jonathanturley.org/2021/07/15/youtube-fined-by-germany-for-removing-pandemic-protest-video/).
In contrast, Ivermectin “has a wonderful safety profile. 3.7 billion doses have been given since 1975 and … no pregnancies lost.” So why isn’t it the drug of choice, given its safety record? And yet alternative treatments were widely maligned and discouraged in 2020 by the media. Why? Why is the statistically less safe (and far more costly) vaccine preferred?
Profit is the obvious answer: pharmaceutical corporations stand to make not just billions, but trillions over time.
But another less obvious factor could be greater control of the population: a “vaccine passport” could be used to create a two-tiered society in which the unvaccinated are discriminated against. Dividing people is a good way to control them. Such a tactic has political value for those in power who view some citizens as potential “extremists” who need to be monitored and controlled in an autocratic technocracy. It also seems like an opportunity to pass sweeping censorship laws against so-called “misinformation.”
The White House supports partisan censorship efforts by social media companies, which would include censorship of physicians who have spoken up. In the former U.S.S.R., the Kremlin also censored scientists who dared to reject Communist mandated science of that time and place. It was a distortion of agricultural science and genetics in the former USSR is called Lysenkoism, a term that is now identified as any deliberate distortion of scientific facts or theories to advance political or religious objectives. This ideological distortion of science reigned for 40 years until Stalin’s death. Lysenkoism contributed to the Ukraine famine that killed millions.
The famous physicist Paul Feyerabend, in a famous essay “Against Method,” says, “science must be protected from ideologies [italics added] and societies, especially democratic societies, must be protected from science … In a democracy, scientific institutions, research programs, and suggestions must therefore be subjected to public control, there must be a separation of state and science just as there is a separation between state and religious institutions and science should be taught as one view among many and not as the one and only road to truth and reality.”
But what are now witnessing is the appropriation of science by the state, just as happened in the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Why and how is this being done? Power is easily manipulated when people defer to scientific authority. The Milgram Experiment illustrates this point: “it was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University … an authority figure instructed the [test subjects] to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience. Participants were led to believe that they were assisting an unrelated experiment, in which they had to administer electric shocks to a “learner”.
These fake electric shocks gradually increased to levels that would have been fatal had they been real. The experiment found, unexpectedly, that a very high proportion of subjects would fully obey the instructions, albeit reluctantly.
“Authority bias is the tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure and be more influenced by that opinion.” Commentator Patrick Carroll writes that “the pervasive influence of authority bias throughout the pandemic has been particularly disconcerting. From the very beginning, people have blindly trusted “the experts” even as they shut down our businesses, undermined our response efforts, and trampled our civil liberties.”
The philosopher Immanuel Kant noted a similar phenomenon in the 18th century with regard to religious authorities. The lesson he advances is that it’s necessary to question authority because it’s easier to blindly obey than think for yourself. He advocated the use of one’s own reason in all matters, including medical issues.
In the Soviet Union, psychiatry was misused to punish political and scientific dissidents. This was a misuse of science. Today there are also political and scientific dissidents but they are dealt with through censorship and scapegoating them as “conspiracy theorists.” Some are also fired or fined or arrested. This mistreatment of dissidents could get worse in time.
Another infamous examples is the Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) doctrine of “blood purity.” Physicians at the time “medicalized” the state’s agenda by focusing on racial hygiene, based on what’s now know as scientific racism, in support of the collective body of the nation, the German Volk. Individual rights and lives were considered expendable to rid the Volk of the disease of those with ‘impure’ blood.
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 gave the state full authority to this now debunked medical theory. It received the support of the German people, who bowed to the authority of medicine and the state, either out of ignorance or fear, or prejudice.
When Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed that to question him is to question science itself, it was evident to me that he’s a demagogue, not a true scientist. Such a preposterous claim is not unlike corrupt religious figures claiming that to question them is to go against God and is thus heretical.
The philosopher Thomas Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, argued that science (and by extension medicine) is socially and politically influenced. If we go by Kuhn, then Drs. Malone, Bridle, et al, who dissident in their views, are ridiculed and dismissed unjustly by those within the paradigm who are protecting their careers and reputations. Their anomalous views, if proven right, might in time be adopted by honest scientists but right now it’s not politically expedient to do so.
When Kuhn’s book came out (in the 1960s) it contested the standard view of science as entirely objective, but showing that social and political forces could influence the design of experiments and the premises upon which they’re predicated, resulting a scientific process that occurs cyclically, rather than linearly. As a result, science is not the entirely linear, cumulative process we’re taught to believe it is.
There is still much philosophical debate over this. For example, Israel Scheffler’s book Science and Subjectivity challenges Kuhn’s thesis philosophically, but the importance of Kuhn’s work was to demonstrate that science can and has been influenced by political forces, and is not purely objective.
I believe there is such a thing as objective truth, even if our models and symbols can never quite approximate it. However, a purely objective language is never entirely possible — or so some philosophers of science have argued in response to the thesis in favour of logical positivism, advanced by the Vienna Circle (e.g., Quine’s Two Dogmas of Empiricism”; Kuhn; Norwood Hanson’s Patterns of Discovery, and Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery). We must accept that representations are limited and not give them absolute power over our lives.
Instead of pretending that science is always above reproach in all cases or that “scientific consensus” and authority is something we always ought to defer to, I would tend to go along with Popper’s principle of falsification. As applied to Covid-19, this principle can be used to suggest that since by the admission of vaccinologists themselves, it’s too early to determine the long-term effects, and there is the problem of ADE. We need further studies.
And this is to say nothing of the ethical objections to its widespread use and forcing it on people through mandates.
The philosophy of science is a deep topic, beyond the scope of this essay (e.g., the question of verisimilitude, etc.), but suffice it to say that the public ought not to accept scientific and medical authority at face value without question.
Both philosophical and science truth operate through models and representations and symbols, necessarily. These models can — for various reasons — be inaccurate and inexact. When political power or money or careerism is added to the mix, there is an incentive to design experiments based on presupposed results in order to achieve those results. This is not to say that scientists are purposely skewing results: it could be an unconscious process, influenced by existing models and types of experiments available to them (e.g., animal testing over non-animal models). As Kuhn notes, science operates through paradigms.
The current paradigm involves the use of statistical models, using computers. As applied to Covid, the Imperial College London computer model upon which the initial Covid scare was predicated, turned out not to be an especially good approximations of the truth. It was inaccurate and exaggerated.
The results of the epidemiology modeling team at Imperial College-London, led by the physicist Neil Ferguson has been deemed a spectacular failure by critics:
“the governments of the United States and United Kingdom explicitly credited Ferguson’s forecasts on March 16, 2020 with the decision to embrace the once-unthinkable response of ordering their populations to shelter in place. Ferguson openly boasted of his team’s role in these decisions in a December 2020 interview, and continues to implausibly claim credit for saving millions of lives despite the deficit of empirical evidence that his policies delivered on their promises. Quite the opposite – the worst outcomes in terms of Covid deaths per capita are almost entirely in countries that leaned heavily on lockdowns and related nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in their unsuccessful bid to turn the pandemic’s tide.” https://www.aier.org/article/imperial-college-predicted-catastrophe-in-every-country-on-earth-then-the-models-failed/
They over-inflated the risk and caused mass panic, especially when amplified in the mainstream media. The media itself appears to have been politically influenced, due to the vested interests of its ownership, and political bias of some Left-leaning journalists who believed this event (Covid-19) represented an opportunity for the “Great Reset” needed to mitigate climate change and bring about a new (and in their minds, better) regime.
One could easily speak of media “lies” (of which there have been many) but it’s more tactful and perhaps more accurate to speak of “cognitive bias”: “The Cognitive Biases Behind Society’s Response to COVID-19: The pervasive influence of authority bias throughout the pandemic has been particularly troubling.”
“While COVID-19 infections and deaths were widely publicized and therefore widely salient, the negative impacts of the impending lockdowns went largely unnoticed. In fact, the disregard for these impacts eventually got so perilous that a group of over 600 physicians sent a letter to President Trump warning about “the exponentially growing negative health consequences of the national shutdown,” and pointing out that “the downstream health effects…are being massively underestimated and under-reported . . . as more and more people bought into the alarmist narrative, there was an ever-increasing amount of availability, salience, repetition, and overconfidence. The ensuing positive feedback loop was inexorable, as was the corresponding bandwagon effect.” (Ibid)
Complex statistical models that are both descriptive and predictive (and when an ethical and political element is added, also prescriptive) have emerged. Called “the Fourth Paradigm”, these computer models, can in some cases lead to inaccurate and disastrous results on a global scale, as the ICL model proved — and as critics of climate models allege.
From the start of the (so-called) pandemic a predictive model of Covid-19 said that a great portion of humanity was at risk from the disease, contributing to the panic and over-reaction by health officials and governments and media. https://www.aier.org/article/how-wrong-were-the-models-and-why/
The ICL model said the best case scenario would be 1.1 million deaths in the U.S. As it turned out, there was a quarter million (and that number is alleged to be over-inflated). The vast majority of deaths were among those with co-morbidities: one study, for instance, found that the CDC inflated the number of deaths by 1,600 per cent: https://stateofthenation.co/?p=52286
The ICL’s recommendation of a lockdown response (the shelter-at-home order) was based on the Chinese response in Wuhan province, but that response was excessive and ended up killing people unnecessarily: there were reports from Feb. 2020 of the authorities welding people into their homes, as though it were the Bubonic plague and not a disease with an over 95% recovery rate: https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/coronavirus-residents-welded-inside-their-own-home/
It also appears that the CCP staged the appearance of a deadly epidemic through fake videos and photos of dead in the streets, in order to frighten the world into an exaggerated response out of all proportion to the real risk. https://stateofthenation.co/?p=51303
This was also done in Italy, which has hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers and which has taken money from China through the Belt and Road Initiative. Here is an example an article from Feb 2020 attempting to show how serious it is, through the use of officials wearing hazmat suits and bodies lying in the street: https://www.news.com.au/world/europe/deadly-coronavirus-spreads-to-britain-as-countries-crack-down-on-china-travel/news-story/ But this appears staged.
As to the issue of medical authority, Phillip W. Magness writes for The American Institute for Economic Research that, “it remains something of a social media taboo for non-epidemiologists to scrutinize the underlying statistical claims of credentialed experts such as [Neil] Ferguson. ‘Stay in your own lane,’ we’re told, and let the experts do their own work. Epidemiology has its own proprietary methods and models, even as their most alarmist scenarios – the ones that Ferguson publicly hyped to the media a month ago – falter in visible and obvious ways …
“Epidemiological expertise may convey specialized knowledge about the nature of disease transmission that is specifically suited to forecasting a pandemic’s spread. But it does not exempt the modelers from social scientific best practices for testing the robustness of their claims. Nor does it obviate basic rules of statistical analysis …
“As these examples reveal, epidemiology, health economics, and related fields that specialize in medical statistics are not a single ‘consensus’ to be deferred to as a monolithic voice of expertise. ”
The Covid scare, the aggressive response by pharmaceutical corporations and the state and the media, and the politically and financially motivated censorship of alternative treatments and so-called “misinformation” (even when it was legitimate), as well as the demonizing of dissident physicians — all these factors have served to undermine public trust in science and medicine and public health authorities.
I believe that in time, the coercive rollout of the vaccines will be thought to have gone too far, especially if there are long-term adverse events for millions of people — such as reduced immunity due to ADE. In the meantime, we would be wise to follow Kant’s suggestion to “think for ourselves.”