By Dr. Lubos Motl
As recently as on February 14th 2020, I wouldn’t have believed that it was possible for billions of people in the world – plus their elites and “elites”, governments, Parliaments, media, bosses of the business world etc. – to voluntarily agree with government regulations that force them to stay home – with the justification that it’s desirable to fight against a cousin of flu.
But here we are. 25 million Americans became unemployed in 5 weeks, the U.S. GDP dropped by 4.8% in Q1 of 2020 and Q2 will show much worse numbers. The situation is similar across the world – not only in “the West” but in most other countries, too. Many people want this insanity to continue. As far as I know, it has never happened in the history of civilizations that the bulk of a large enough nation, let alone the world, was kept at home for several months.
The general public has failed in the test of common sense, the would-be elites have failed, and yes, I must praise Elon Musk as an exception. How did it happen that a majority of the people have agreed with the lockdown – something that only seems to bring catastrophes and no advantages?
I think that this outcome should be blamed on the increasingly pathological propaganda that was spread in the recent decades and especially on the precautionary principle.
Yes, the climate hysteria has been the most important rehearsal of all these insane aspects and methods to brainwash the regular (and not so regular) people and to strip them of the last traces of common sense. But the precautionary principle hasn’t started with the climate hysteria. Nevertheless, this kind of fallacious thinking isn’t too old, either. The Wikipedia article I just linked to reveals that the precautionary principle has only been promoted as a meme since the 1970s when it appeared as the “Vorsorgeprinzip” in German discussions about the deforestation and sea pollution.
The precautionary principle is an extremely dangerous fallacy whose purpose is to make an absolutely irrational assumption – namely that some risks must be considered infinitely more critical than all other risks – sound more intelligent or maybe even scientific. Needless to say, there is really no controllable method to pick which of the risks should be considered infinitely more important than others. The choice is always being done by the filthy demagogue(s) who have the power to determine the details how the precautionary principle “should” be applied.
Most famously, the precautionary principle has been used to argue that the emissions of CO2 are so infinitely terrible that their reduction justifies the elimination of the most economic sources of energy, the filling of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences by fraudulent scum that belongs to the electric chairs, and many other crimes against humanity.
In the context of the coronavirus hysteria, the precautionary principle says that the society as well as every single individual is “obliged” to pay literally any price to reduce the probability that the virus is transferred from one person to another. You are “obliged” to do even things that actually make the public health conditions worse, and the national quarantines almost certainly did add deaths (probably because the viral doses are higher and more lethal when people are confined to their small apartments). But a part of the “obligation” dictated by the precautionary principle involves the citizens’ duty to worship the incorrect or irrational beliefs and slogans, including the lockdown and the commitment to “flatten the curve”, aside from similar stupidities.
We may say that the precautionary principle is “absolutist” or “dogmatic” – in the sense that it places one goal infinitely far above all other goals. The chairman of the German Parliament Wolfgang Schäuble recently stated that the protection of the human lives mustn’t be the absolute goal of the government.
It is rather obvious that the coronavirus hysteria plus the lockdown will have caused a greater number of deaths than the virus itself. Just the number of cancer deaths due to the people’s avoidance of the treatment is likely to exceed the death actually caused by the virus. Add the people who die because they won’t be able to afford some expensive healthcare acts, kids starving due to the enhanced poverty in some countries, deaths due to a less healthy (cheaper) diet, suicides, and more. Economic devastation simply mustn’t be considered “infinitely less important” than the reduction of the spreading of a virus – even if it were achieved by methods that work – because the economic quantities aren’t just some numbers (and they’re surely not just numbers that measure some immoral acts). The economic numbers measure the material well-being and the material well-being ultimately greatly affects the health, too.
For many years, Gr@tins of the world have been training mankind to think about risks irrationally. The rational approach is the cost-and-benefit analysis: you assign some positive or negative values to various outcomes, you weight them by the probabilities of outcomes, sum the products, and you may find out which of the decisions leads to the highest mean value of benefits or the lowest mean value of costs and damages (well, to the highest mean value of the difference between benefits and costs). And you pick the best option in this sense.
The precautionary principle does things differently. You start with the “leaders” who know everything better (although these “leaders” are sometimes chosen according to their adherence of the pre-existing “religion”), they determine the absolute priorities, and everyone is obliged to do everything that the spiritual “leaders” dictate because the leaders also say that it’s needed to achieve the absolute priorities.
Some people, and especially kids, may have been brainwashed to be genuinely afraid of the climate change and the subsequent hypothetical Armageddon. The Swedish teenager is said to be just a marketing campaign and I largely agree it is – it is the important part of the phenomenon. But underneath the marketing campaign, there may still be a girl (an irrelevant girl, like millions of others) who is really terrified of all these pseudoscientific delusions. I think that she is defective enough to be really afraid. And because she is afraid, everyone else is obliged to do everything he is told – and paid billions for that.
In the same way, tons of people – a much higher number of the people – may have been genuinely terrified of the Wuhan Flu. The list of these people has included lots of those who were presenting themselves as right-wingers and/or critics of the climate hysteria. However, when they were brainwashed to be terrified of something, they started to behave just like the most hardcore climate alarmists – and as the Swedish teenager in particular. These people, including the former conservatives, have completely melted down and became just another wave of the hysterical fanatical leftists who think that everyone is obliged to restrict his life in incredible ways just because these new hardcore leftists are snowflakes who are afraid of something. Everyone is obliged to become a part of a centrally controlled herd of mindless scared zombies.
Sorry, a civilization that has a future doesn’t work and cannot work in this way. If you’re pathologically afraid of something and you can’t live with the knowledge that some kids without face masks play volleyball in the park (I saw 20 kids of this kind an hour ago!), then it is your problem. Again, if you escalate your fanaticism and decide that it is a lethal problem for you, then it is you, and not the volleyball players, who must die. You are free to commit suicide but you are not allowed to murder. It is you, and not the kids playing volleyball in the park, who is severely sick – a person with a dangerously dysfunctional brain – and the basic logic says that it is the sick people like you, and not the healthy kids playing volleyball, who should disappear if the human species is supposed to have any significant and rosy enough future.
More optimistically, it is you who should be trying to emulate the kids doing sports in the park because it’s the better and healthier approach to one’s life. It is wrong when you are trying to force other, healthy, productive people to emulate your fudged-up life, a life in the cage, a life without a genuine meaning.
The similarities between the climate hysteria and the coronavirus hysteria are numerous and it’s no coincidence that they are so close. The coronavirus hysteria has evolved so quickly because the climate hysteria has previously created the “infrastructure” – the wrong thinking and responses that you get from tens of millions of people. The coronavirus hysteria has only changed the “detailed threat” (it’s a virus and not a CO2 molecule) and the “precise methods to wrestle with it” (now it’s a lockdown for its own sake instead of the restriction of people’s lives to lower the CO2 emissions).
But in practice, the differences are tiny and the bulk of the important things – the widespread fallacies, people’s irrational behavior, the corruption of the media plus its illegitimate relationships with various other types of power, and all the patterns of propaganda that work because mankind has become so incredibly degenerated – are virtually the same.
So viewers have bought the cheapest methods to make masses hysterical. During the climate hysteria, filmmakers could show you a heartbreaking scene with a drowning or hungry polar bear. Some viewers – perhaps just several percent of the viewers – started to be emotional and they easily bought the nonsensical message that the poor polar bear is drowning or it is hungry because of their SUV. These emotional pictures are clearly the simplest and most disgusting type of manipulation.
The coronavirus propaganda does almost the same. But instead of dying polar bears, we are shown corpses in morgues, in hospital beds, and perhaps in freezers in those hospitals. The basic theme is almost the same but the dead human bodies are even more hardcore than the polar bears. And just like in the case of the polar bears, totally unrelated duties were sold along with the pictures. Because of the picture of your polar bear, you need to abandon your SUV. Now, because of the film from a morgue, you need to stay home.
In both cases, there is clearly no valid implication of that kind. There have always been some hungry polar bears as well as human corpses, and some of them were in freezers. The existence of these things doesn’t depend on CO2 or the virus and it has nothing to do with renewable energy or lockdowns. But some people are easily manipulated and even many of those who were criticizing the manipulative climate hysteria have been doing the same in the case of the coronavirus. The difference is that the coronavirus manipulation was more hardcore – well, it had some real underlying suffering which was heavily amplified and misinterpreted – and the costs of the misguided policies aren’t just 1-10% of the GDP, like in the climate case, but they’re in the interval 10-100% of the GDP in the coronavirus case.
Also, in both cases, it’s the actual “religion”, and not the tangible acts, that became the primary litmus test measuring someone’s “morality”. In the CO2 case, people were allowed to fly in their private jets. As long as they presented a hateful sermon against the “deniers”, they were doing great. On the other hand, the “deniers” – even if their CO2 emissions were nearly zero – deserved to be burned at the carbon-neutral stake. While the “religion” says that the most important thing is “not to emit CO2”, the people are actually evaluated differently. The most important thing isn’t “not to emit CO2” but “to say that we mustn’t emit CO2”! 😉 It’s a big difference and a necessary condition that allows this difference to exist is the staggering hypocrisy and dishonesty of the believers who love to talk the talk even if they don’t walk the walk.
Once again, this meltdown of the people’s thinking got directly copied to the coronavirus hysteria. Officially, the Flat Curve Society that leads the coronavirus hysteria says that “we must stay home and not to spread the virus”. However, it’s not really what matters. What matters is that we must worship the virus as the “greatest threat for the Universe at least since the Big Bang” and we must denounce the deniers who dare to question that everyone must stay at home, ideally forever (and people are immortal if they do so).
In fact, pretty much like Islam, the coronavirus hysterical religion says that a “good believer” is obliged to lie in order to make the hysteria even bigger. So you could see tons of people who were rather obviously trying to misinterpret and “push” the official numbers of cases and fatalities. It’s their duty to make the numbers bigger! It’s their duty to accuse everybody that he made the numbers small and the numbers should be inflated. The more they inflate numbers, the better people they become! Of course they want to add lots of “deaths with Covid” and perhaps even “deaths that were clearly due to something else” to the Covid fatality counts. It seems that they believe that they are obliged to invent and improve conspiracy theories about 20 million Chinese Covid fatalities, about the infertility of male patients, about the non-existence of immunity for the Covid survivors, and numerous other crazy things that contradict the basic scientific knowledge (including some knowledge that is routinely taught to kids in the kindergarten).
The rest of us would say: Not really. The more you lie and the more you inflate these crucial facts that have led to the destruction of trillions of assets, the more criminal liar you are and the earlier and more painful your execution should be. I think it’s clear that all the assets of those who have actively caused the lockdowns and the drop of the economy should be confiscated to partly cover the losses of the victims of the lockdown terror.
In the foundations of both phenomena, you have a more or less innocent natural player – the CO2 molecule or the SARS-CoV-2 virus, respectively. The latter is just a little bit less innocent than the former because it causes a variation of common cold whose symptoms are sometimes worse than those of flu. But there are lots of things on Earth that are similarly important and more dangerous than the CO2 molecules and the SARS-CoV-2 viruses.
The bulk of the “topic” is all the “social constructs” that the regular people, the fake news media, and “experts” who aren’t real experts (but who are conveniently called “experts” by the corrupt media that find the promotion of the lies beneficial) are adding on top of the “modest beef”. All the lies, fantasies, misinterpretations, irrational prescriptions how to act, intimidation, censorship, and everything else that allowed the pro-lockdown loons to achieve what they wanted and actually lock a big part of the world economy (plus leisure time) for some 2 months. Most of the “topic” is clearly about the liars, hysterical loons, fake experts, Goebbels’ constant repetition of the lies and irrelevant factoids – all these things that brainwash billions of people on Earth (instead of “just” tens of millions, as in the climate hysterical case).
SARS-CoV-2 is a pretty harmless flu-like virus. It’s the multi-storey skyscraper of lies, fantasies, and stupidities that is the real story, the real problem – an existential threat for many national economies, for the basic individual rights and freedoms, and for the survival of the civilization. And this real problem is just the coronavirus edition of the previous problems that were growing and evolving in recent decades, culminating with the climate hysteria as the most prominent pre-Covid representative of these grave societal pathologies.