I recently found myself embroiled in a heated dispute with an otherwise amiable young man, a lifeguard at the pool I frequent, on the vexed subject of vaccines and vaxxports, which I am highly skeptical of. Matthew insisted on the effectiveness of the vaccines and the necessity of vaxxports, or as I call them, vexxports. I suggested he might consult some of my many non-conformist and diligently researched articles on the question, easily accessible on half-a-dozen internet sites and magazines. Matthew was not interested.
“Are you a scientist?” he asked, in rebuttal.
“No,” I replied, “I have some mathematics from my university days but I’m not a scientist.”
“In that case, there’s no point in reading you.”
“What if I told you,” I rejoined, “that I have abundant links and references in my writings from accredited immunologists and virologists, renowned scientific authorities, from around the world, who at the very least merit consideration.”
“I won’t read anything you’ve written,” he said, with renewed emphasis. “I know what I know, and besides, you’re not a scientist.”
For a moment Matthew was taken aback. He did not know how to field a ricochet argument. Convinced that the vaccines were 100 percent beneficial, that adverse reactions were insignificant, that Big Pharma, provincial premiers, prime minister Justin Trudeau, the judiciary and the media were principled and ethical sources, and that vaxxports should be binding policy and practice with the force of law, he shut the discussion down. There was nothing more to be said on the topic.
You’re no scientist: As writer Irving Kristol noted in his 1994 essay Culture and Civilization, the Left has long perfected the art of ending discussions; these days the preferred debate stopper is to claim only scientists can have opinions about vaccines.
His attitude brought to mind Irving Kristol’s remark in his 1994 essay Culture and Civilization regarding the polemical tactics of the Left: “Ending the discussion is precisely the goal.” My discussion with Matthew ended relatively gently, but I should note that were I a concerned nurse or other health care worker, a dissident student or professor, or a skeptical corporate manager, in many instances I would risk shunning, demotion, expulsion or termination merely for trying to initiate such a discussion.
Like so many people, Matthew had no reliable or comprehensive data at his disposal. He reminded me of an earlier exchange with my luthier, who knows a lot about guitars but is woefully ignorant about the new vaccines. Believe it or not, he considers inoculation comparable to tattoo inking.
Inks are not an mRNA delivery system which enters the bloodstream and circulates throughout the body’s vascular system. Tattoos do not bind to cells lining blood vessels and thus create the risk of blood clotting. They do not produce severe adverse reactions or terminal morbidity even if applied as directed. They are not a form of gene therapy. Cells producing the spike protein generated by the mRNA vaccines may be attacked by our own immune system, a reaction of which tattoo ink is innocent.
No matter. To my luthier, a jab was no more serious an affair than a tattoo artist’s needle puncturing the epidermis. The level of scientific illiteracy was stunning.
Another brief episode with a grocery store manager, who insisted I wear a mask on the premises, was equally fruitless. When I mentioned several reports from major organizations and institutions doubtful of masking, including the WHO, she replied “I don’t believe it,” and walked away, abruptly ending the discussion. It was clear she would not access any of the studies I brought to her attention. I could not detect the slightest iota of curiosity or willingness to parley. She was content to religiously follow the newly re-imposed government mandate without question. (You can read much more about the ineffectiveness of masking in this C2C two-parter, including the recent German analysis that shredded the case for universal masking as an “assumption-led claim.”)
When I recounted the incident to my wife, she reminded me that I was lucky not to be in Australia – yet. Pepper spray, rubber bullets, physical brutality and immediate arrest would have been among the chosen response methods had I directly confronted authority, also effectively ending the discussion.
I thought again of Matthew, no less adamant in his certainties. He knew only what he had been told by the broadcast media, the plethora of bogus “factcheckers,” a go-along-to-get-along medical consortium, the Canadian dailies (bought and paid for by the Liberal government) and the political class. Nearly all of this would be delivered or pushed automatically via the usual internet amplifiers, rather than requiring any conscious or self-directed inquiry on Matthew’s part, a form of scholarship that clearly did not qualify him as a scientist.
He did not even bother to consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which (uncharacteristically) showed the survival rate for Covid-19 among people aged 20 years and younger is 99.997 percent, the rate for those aged 20-49 is 99.98 percent and for those aged 50-69, 99.5 percent.Matthew had never heard of renowned Stanford University epidemiologist John Ioannidis, whose prodigious work on Covid-19 includes this review of studies of seroprevalence estimates which concluded that infection mortality rates were dramatically lower than generally reported (thus obviating the need for panic). Nor was Matthew willing to engage a dissenter in conversation on the subject. He was, in effect, a cultural apparatchik and would have been perfectly at home in any socialist republic – indeed, Canada is already very close to becoming one. I could see him as a proud member of INGSOC.
Such apathy and low-to-no-information ignorance, coupled with unshakeable self-assurance, is to be expected. Yet it always comes as something of a shock. No less disconcerting, when the talk turned to other subjects – the day’s temperature, pool schedules, the towering Douglas firs that circled the facility, etc. – Matthew proved, like my luthier (though not like the grocery store manager), to be pleasant and friendly.
This presented a dilemma. How does one relate to a person who may, generally speaking, be quite agreeable, yet is utterly dogmatic in his unexamined convictions, responds like a commissar if he is contradicted and refuses to entertain a variety of sources and possibilities? After some reflection I decided the best option in the current repressive climate was (a) to keep one’s mouth shut, and (b) to avoid as many people as possible in order to stifle the temptation to become embroiled in futile controversy – even if the science is far more complex and unsettling than they are willing to concede.
For reports abound that the vaccines have little staying power, appear to be ineffective against the surfeit of new variants – which, according to a number of acclaimed virologists, they may actually cause or facilitate – and may work against the acquisition of herd immunity. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla remains confident that the vaccines are effective, as he obviously must, but admits it is “likely” that vaccination will not “neutralize…future strains.”
The future, however, appears to be now. Governments around the world and the medical bureaucracy have created a disaster from which people will suffer for years to come as variants continue to proliferate along with the march of the boosters that never seem to catch up. One need only consult virologist and immunologist Robert Malone, the actual inventor of the mRNA vaccines, who warns against their use as Covid-19 suppressants and in consequence has been vilified by the array of official organs described above.
My young interlocutor has little doubt that he is in possession of the unvarnished scientific truth. And so have the millions of Matthews who will readily accept everything they have been told by their leaders and public opinion-makers. As we’ve seen, they will not listen to non-scientists. But they will not even heed some of the world’s finest, accredited and unbought scientists who have nothing to gain but loss of status, official rejection, psychological harassment and public perfidy, campaign ribbons to their honesty and courage.
Of course, I could be wrong about any of this. Events could prove me mistaken, I could be missing key information, I might be misinterpreting things I think I understand, or I might even be misled from time to time. Those are the risks borne by any independent mind regarding nearly any serious issue, and I’m willing to practice some intellectual humility. But our political authorities, official scientists, experts and “top doctors” have been spectacularly and catastrophically wrong at critical steps of the pandemic and regarding essential aspects of the virus. Precious few evince an iota of humility or self-reflection, let alone admitting their errors. Far from it: the news and social media assist them in sending their past howlers down the memory hole.
In short, the issue has nothing to do with who is a scientist and who is not. The issue has everything to do with independence of mind and the willingness to canvas and investigate the spectrum of opinion, debate, clinical reports and authoritative documents, as well as – and this is crucial – the affiliations of their proponents. But we need to do this without discounting out-of-hand people and organizations we don’t like. I have cited both the WHO and the CDC in this essay, organizations with a checkered record. But they aren’t wrong about everything. We must take care to avoid becoming our own version of Matthew. The issue has to do with being alert, inquisitive and, yes, responsible citizens.
Responsibility involves knowledge and informed judgment. As Maximilian Forte, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Concordia University, argues, since “it is now solidly established that the fully vaccinated do carry as much viral load as the non-vaccinated, and do transmit the virus,” to subject the unvaccinated to coercive measures “while exempting others, is obviously unfair discrimination.” It is, in fact, immoral. Moreover, the government mandate violates “human rights conventions established under international law, to which Canada is a signatory.”
In the current milieu of contending claims and ever-changing narratives, and the evident failures of national Covid-19 policies – heavily vaccinated Iceland, Gibraltar, the U.K and Israel, for example, have experienced a significant rise rather than a reduction of cases– the government vaccine mandate is also in likely contravention of Section 1 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It “guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
In the current context of statistical variance, inconsistent testimony, conflicting reports and factious disaccord among the experts, as well as the example of other non-compliant countries such as Sweden and most recently Denmark, the “limits” to Section 1’s abrogation are by no means “reasonable.” Nor are they “demonstrably justified” – they are simply imposed by decrees that are often concocted behind closed doors during moments of panic.
The collateral and perhaps irreparable damage – social, political, economic – unleashed by government policies is not in doubt. They need to be rigorously re-assessed. Whether one is a scientist or not, one’s life and livelihood, as well as the democratic nature of our institutions, are at stake in getting this right.
David Solway’s most recent volume of poetry, The Herb Garden, appeared in 2018 with Guernica Editions. His manifesto, Reflections on Music, Poetry & Politics, was released by Shomron Press in 2016. He has produced two CDs of original songs: Blood Guitar and Other Tales (2014) and Partial to Cain (2019) on which he is accompanied by his pianist wife Janice Fiamengo. His latest book is Notes from a Derelict Culture, Black House Publishing, 2019, London.
Source of main image: Shutterstock.