Fear in the Time of Coronavirus
Things Are Getting Real
I wanted to come to you this week with a carefully considered, thoughtfully written post. It’s a new year, after all, why not start fresh. But that’s just not where my head is at. So here are several things I have read or run into this week which are fraying my consciousness. I keep seeking falsification, looking for the evidence that I, and so many others, are wrong about what we are seeing.
About some of it, I want desperately to be wrong: I want the Covid vaccines to be both safe and effective. I want them to be the simple, easy solution that was promised. I want the public health measures to have been effective and for us to be returning to a democracy that is intact and healthy. I see many pronouncements asserting the veracity of these claims, but no evidence that any of them are true.
About much of the rest, though, I can’t wish to be wrong. I won’t wish that it was actually a good choice for public health officials to never discuss the free or cheap ways to improve your health and your outlook. I won’t wish for a reductionist, trade-off-free world in which “zero pathogens = perfect health” makes sense, or one in which improvements to air, water and food don’t quickly improve people’s health, and therefore their lives. I won’t wish for a world in which we have no agency over our own health or decision-making. Luck happens, good and bad, but we can mitigate the role of luck in our lives, and we should do so. I won’t pretend that JAMA Surgery publishing a research result that—hey-o!—losing weight leads to better health outcomes, including from Covid—is in any way surprising, nor will I go along with the insipid CNN’s reporting of same. I won’t pretend that talking about losing weight and moving your body and spending time in the sun is somehow dangerous or that the many governments and health agencies that refuse to discuss such things are actually doing us all a service.
They are not. They have failed miserably in their jobs. Or at least, they have failed miserably in the jobs that we have been told they are trying to do.
“Free” drugs and human experimentation
In 2006, Celia Farber published an exhaustively researched and reported article in Harper’s. It explores how, early in the AIDS epidemic, research done under the auspices of the NIH and NIAID included experimentation on humans with extraordinarily toxic molecules. Said molecules were supposed to cure AIDS, but often seemed instead to cause the symptoms of AIDS, up to and including death. Many of the people thus experimented on had been healthy before being involved in the trials. Some of the research subjects—the human beings—were in the U.S., and many were in Africa, where it was easier to get away with such experimentation. Here is an excerpt from Farber’s article:
“America is a place where people rarely say: Stop. Extreme and unnatural things happen all the time, and nobody seems to know how to hit the brakes. In this muscular, can-do era, we are particularly prone to the seductions of the pharmaceutical industry, which has successfully marketed its ever growing arsenal of drugs as the latest American right. The buzzword is "access,” which has the advantage of shortcircuiting the question of whether the drugs actually work, and of utterly obviating the question of whether they are even remotely safe. This situation has had particularly tragic ramifications on the border between the class of Americans with good health insurance, who are essentially consumers of pharmaceutical goods, and those without insurance, some of whom get drugs "free" but with a significant caveat attached: They agree to be experimented on. These people, known in the industry as "recruits," are pulled in via doctors straight from clinics and even recruited on the Internet into the pharmaceutical industry and the government's web of clinical trials, thousands of which have popped up in recent years across the nation and around the world. Such studies help maintain the industry's carefully cultivated image of benign concern, of charity and progress, while at the same time feeding the experimental factories from which new blockbuster drugs emerge. ‘I call them what they are: human experiments,’ says Vera Hassner Sharav, of the Alliance for Human Research Protection in New York City. ‘What's happened over the last ten to fifteen years is that profits in medicine shifted from patient care to clinical trials, which is a huge industry now. Everybody involved, except the subject, makes money on it, like a food chain. At the center of it is the NIH, which quietly, while people weren't looking, wound up becoming the partner of industry.’ "
From Out of Control: AIDS and the corruption of medical science, by Celia Farber, published in Harper’s Magazine in the March 2006 issue. Farber expanded the article into a book, Serious Adverse Events. This book appears to be effectively unavailable now.
People are dying at higher rates than usual. Much higher.
On the first day of 2022, we got more news about excess deaths:
“The head of Indianapolis-based insurance company OneAmerica said the death rate is up a stunning 40% from pre-pandemic levels among working-age people.
“We are seeing, right now, the highest death rates we have seen in the history of this business – not just at OneAmerica,” the company’s CEO Scott Davison said during an online news conference this week. “The data is consistent across every player in that business….
“Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a three-sigma or a one-in-200-year catastrophe would be 10% increase over pre-pandemic,” he said. “So 40% is just unheard of.”
These excess deaths—these excessive excess deaths—aren’t attributed to Covid. And they’re not in old people. They are most abundant in people between the ages of 18 and 64. And what can be inferred from the CEO’s numbers are that this increase represents a 12-sigma increase over pre-pandemic, where “sigma” is the standard deviation, a measure of spread in a population, or how tightly clustered around the center the values are. Twelve standard deviations. That really is unheard of.
So we’ve got excess deaths, and a lot of them. One obvious question, for which the answer must exist in the form of data that we already have, is this: Do excess deaths differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated people?
Would reality crack in half if we were allowed access to the numbers that would answer that question? In what world is discussion of risks and possibilities forbidden? In this world, apparently.
As the formidable Dr. Robert Malone notes in his response to this news out of Indiana, “It is starting to look to me like the largest experiment on human beings in recorded history has failed.”
And Mathew Crawford, in his Rounding the Earth Newsletter, is on this too, so fiercely and reliably that you can start here on just about any Covid-y topic and find depth and insight.
Through the Looking Glass We Go
Since May of 2017, Bret and I have frequently been using the metaphor of having gone through the looking glass. When it happens to you, and you look back through at the distortions on the other side, and also at how you survived the voyage not just intact, but actually more fully realized, better in fact, one thing that may overcome you is a desire to say to others: Try it! Come through the looking glass!
Right now, though, it’s a tough sell. Everyone can see what those of us who seem to be yelling into the abyss are being subjected to. Margaret Anna Alice, author of the newsletter, Through the Looking Glass, is putting up with none of it. Here are some of her words from a November 2021 post titled Letter to an Agree-to-Disagree Relative:
“How would you feel when you’re doing everything in your power to prevent more human beings from being massacred, and most people don’t want to hear about it, don’t want to think about it, don’t want to even consider the snowballing scientific data because it contradicts the worldwide propaganda campaign being scripted by the very entities committing these crimes against humanity?
“I know that sounds hyperbolic. That’s what purveyors of the Biggest Lie in world history count on. It is too titanic, too ridiculous to be believed.
“All of their mouthpieces tell you so. They tell you we’re ‘anti-vaxxers.’ They tell you we’re ‘conspiracy theorists.’ They tell you we’re spreading ‘misinformation.’ They tell you we’re ‘right-wing extremists,’ ‘Deplorables,’ and ‘Trump voters.’
“They tell you not to listen to us. They tell you we can’t be trusted. They tell you THEY are your ‘single source of truth.’ ”
Nobody and no thing should be your single source of truth. Not Celia Farber or Robert Malone. Not Mathew Crawford or Margaret Anna Alice. Not me, and not you, either. Your own brain will lie to you, deceive you even when part of you knows that you are better off not being deceived. And even without deception, we all make mistakes sometimes. We have blind spots. Perhaps we are standing somewhere from which we can see patterns that others cannot, but in turn, our vantage point may obscure other patterns. Trust nobody and no thing completely.
Women Are Leading the Charge—but not in a good way
Here’s my least defensible point for today, but it builds on years, nay decades, of thinking about the differences between men and women. This week, or maybe next, I have an invited commentary being published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior on the different kinds of competition that men and women engage in, complete with several testable hypotheses. I’ll expand more on that piece and the thinking in it in future posts, but for now, let me say this:
Men and women behave differently. This is true at the population level—that is, on average, there are differences between men and women (in some cases, actually, the differences are ones of variance—those standard deviations again). And it is true when things are going well, and also when they’re not. When celebrating, men and women tend towards different kinds of behaviors. And under duress, they do as well.
Under duress, within each group, there are two valences: there are men at their best, and men at their worst. And there are women at their best, and women at their worst.
When the shit hits the fan, some men spring into action, take what appropriate control of the situation can be taken, and say and do what needs to be said and done.
Other men lash out at others, or hedge their bets, or stand quietly in the corner hoping not to be noticed until the worst is over, after which perhaps they can continue on as they were.
When the shit hits the fan, some women also spring into action, take what appropriate control of the situation can be taken, and say and do what needs to be said and done. It’s going to look different in men than in women, though. Men are more likely to be direct and perhaps confrontational, either with words or with physical force. Women are more likely to work behind the scenes, and to phrase things in ways that sound gentler, but may reach different demographics than the male-typical approach. This is not a moral claim. This is an observation of a pattern.
Other women—like those other men who behave in what can only be called toxic, even if it’s the passive hiding-in-the-corner or hedging-one’s-bets kind of toxicity—engage, themselves, in toxic behavior. Toxicity, like strength and courage, tends to look different in men and women. When the shit hits the fan and toxic female behavior shows up, it looks like fear, it looks like crying for help and acting helpless, and it looks like demanding that the entire world cater to the woman’s fears, no matter how unfounded, or how manipulative the entire situation is.
Observe Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC, effectively arguing that her sense of “impending doom” should be sufficient to convince us that we ought continue with exactly the same policies that have already failed. And watch Jen Psaki, Biden’s Press Secretary, argue that mask requirements in schools, and not letting children talk to each other while they eat, is justified, because “safety.” For her three-year-old, she continues, “it’s no big deal.”
What happened to the mama bear? What happened to fierce displays of terrifying defense on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves? Since when are we a people who accept all that is said to us by authorities, while the evidence that runs counter to the accepted narrative is wiped clean away? Is it stupidity? I don’t think so. Is it mass formation psychosis? In part, yes. But in part it is also the elevation of bad-female-typical ways of responding to bad situations, over bad-male-typical ways of responding to bad situations.
Before the haters get their panties in a wad over this, I don’t prefer bad-male-typical responses to bad-female-typical responses, thank you very much. I prefer neither.
Of course what we actually need are honorable male and female ways of responding to the contorted and endlessly draining situation that we are all now living through. Men who behave selfishly by lashing out in violence or hedging their bets or cowering in the corner should have no power to decide policy now. Similarly, women who behave selfishly by publicizing emotion-based fears should have no power to decide policy now. By publicizing their fears they are, in part, triggering many men to rush to protect them by…what? Mandating ineffective and unsafe medical treatments on children? Destroying a generation’s ability to empathize and sympathize by obscuring everyone’s faces into eternity? Undermining demonstrably effective treatments and underplaying behavioral modifications that render people less nasty, less brutish, and less short(-lived)?
Women (and men) who are fearful because they’ve focused on the one and only thing we have all been told to focus on for two years now deserve our sympathy. They do. What they do not deserve is the platform by which to dictate policy for everyone.
To them I would say: I’m sorry you’re scared. Your fear is misplaced. Let me help you.
We are catering to the delusions of the weakest and most confused members of society. It is not the only place that we are doing this.
We are also doing this on our college campuses, encouraging trigger warnings and safe spaces for fragile students instead of realizing that humans are anti-fragile. Being anti-fragile means that when kept from challenge, we become weak; and when exposed to challenge, we become strong.
We are also doing this to our children and teenagers and young adults, many of whom have been fed some crazy lines about sex and gender. Some among them may decide that, while obviously I’m not Batman, even though I said I was yesterday, today I say I’m a girl, so obviously I am and always have been because…why again?
Why are we catering to the delusions of the weakest and most confused members of society?
If you think you’re a girl but are really a boy, or
you think that exposure to ideas that you don’t agree with are violence against your soul, or
you think that discussion of early treatment or lockdowns or vaccine passports or mandates or the origins of the virus or the incentives of the drug makers or vitamin D or repurposed drugs or modifiable risk factors or actual risks from the disease or anything outside of the extremely narrow accepted covid narrative is dangerous to you and to society, then
I’m sorry, but you are wrong.
Again: I’m sorry you’re scared. Your fear is misplaced, however. And your fear shouldn’t be allowed to obliterate my freedoms.
Alas, the women are leading the way. I don’t mean this in a good way. Women are leading the way in fear and yes, hysteria. Enough already.
I don’t tend to talk this way, but sisters, wake the fuck up.
Seriously. Stop huddling behind your fear. Stop taking comfort in your fear. Stop using the power—yes, power—that you have, as women, to get men to behave in certain ways. You are using that power for ill, encouraging more fear, more destruction and depravity and incoherent public policy, all in the name of a single variable, one that is, by the way, not what you have been told. Stop using feminine power to wreak havoc on the world.
Most of us can see that #metoo, had it been honorable and up to the job and not immediately gamed, had the potential to reduce toxic masculine power in the world, and that that would have been a good thing.
Surely—surely—we can all agree, then, that toxic feminine power is also real, and also toxic, and that careening from one kind of gendered-toxicity to another is putting us all at risk.
Women ought accept no toxic bullshit from men. And men ought accept no toxic bullshit from women. Enough. Women, stop being fearful. Men, stop cowering before the fearful women. We are all in this together.
You go girl! Amen and Amen, we need truth. This is a cycle of behavior I have witnessed, I am thankful for your ability to explain it in a clear and concise manner. The challenge is that many who have that pattern of fear, don't want to break it. It works for them, but toxic for everyone around them. It's time to be a little louder in calling bullshit on their bullshit.
I know it's only January 4th, but this is the best substack of the year. Thank you, Heather. Not your typical tone, but you said exactly what needed to be said. I know this topic is a difficult one, and I appreciate you taking it on.