“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
I’m old enough to remember when I was instructed to fear ISIS. I didn’t know anyone in my neighborhood who supported ISIS, let alone belonged to it, but surely they were a formidable and dangerous foe, otherwise why would the television set be so insistent on bringing it to my attention?
When I was 32, I went to the doctor for a routine checkup and blood tests, and my cholesterol came back high. I felt fine and played in vigorous full court basketball games every weekend, but cholesterol was “The Silent Killer,” and I was to start immediately on a course of statins. My doctor who was nearly 80 at the time told me he was only alive because he took them. I refused, but I was made aware that inside my body was less a heart than a ticking time bomb that could kill me without warning.
Two years ago, I was told we were in a deadly pandemic, that I should stay home, stay away from people, wear a mask and wash my hands 10 times a day. I went along with most of this for about eight months, but a few things didn’t add up. First off, I didn’t know anyone who had died of covid personally — maybe a few people who had gotten pretty sick, but no one who had died. I would think in a pandemic that necessitated me not leaving home, I’d know 10 people from high school who died, 15 from college, a few work colleagues and at least a dozen people (many of whom were older and not in great shape) from my extended industry. As of December 2020, not a single one.
Okay, maybe my limited (extended) circle of a few thousand people and Heather’s, which is larger than mine, were too small, but what about all the famous people? Aging rock stars like Mic Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Ray Davies, Neil Young — these are old people! — were all fine. Movie stars, all the professional athletes and ex-athletes, virtually none of them were dead of covid. From the news and extreme restrictions put in place — kids not going to school, family businesses destroyed permanently — I’d have expected to be stepping over bodies in the street! Instead virtually everyone I knew or knew of was perfectly fine, including old people. That January we got drunk indoors with friends and afterward never looked back.
Climate change is the new boogey man. The ice caps are melting, we are assured, it’s only a matter of time (or it’s actually too late and we’re already doomed!) The seas will swallow the land, and the polar bears will die. But the dire predictions haven’t come true yet, and the real estate prices in places like Miami and Martha’s Vineyard are near all-time highs. Of course, scientists can measure things we can’t perceive directly, and it’s indeed possible this time the thing about which they are warning us is as advertised. The problem is, now that the cholesterol heart hypothesis is in shambles, the covid response (lockdowns, mask mandates and school closures) arguably made things worse — setting aside the blatant lies about the efficacy of the mRNA treatments — the notion that because “scientists say” something it must be true is a tough sell.
Scientists can be bought, captured, incentivized or simply fallible. Whenever a scientist is alleging something that also happens to be what the most powerful factions in society want you to believe, my radar goes off. If a scientist claims something antithetical to the interests of the powerful, he’s censored, ridiculed, deplatformed and drummed out of the profession. After seeing what happened to dissenting scientists during covid, the notion that “97 percent of scientists agree” is laughable. Non-compliant scientists are treated as non-existent.
To be clear, I am not arguing climate change isn’t real or even that it’s not in fact catastrophic. I doubt it is, but of course I could easily be wrong. The point I am making is if there is something you cannot verify personally, if you don’t see coastal real estate in free fall, if you don’t hear the globalist climate warriors took electric buses rather than private jets across the continent to their meet-ups (or are doing it over Zoom!), if you don’t experience the summer in your city or town much differently this year than during the last 20, then believing in catastrophic climate change is an act of faith.
It’s faith, not in science, because science is about experimentation and observation, but in what scientists (and their corporate media spokespeople) say. Trusting the word of other humans (no matter what their official titles) is what people did pre-enlightenment when only priests were fit to know the ways of God.
“But it’s different!” you argue. “They have models, they have data!”
How are the models that predicted arctic summers would be “ice-free” by 2013 holding up? Or Neil Ferguson’s models used to justify lockdowns in the UK? Why did they have to remove signs predicting the glaciers in Glacier National Park would be gone by 2020? Why is the Great Barrier Reef recovering, and most good news about the environmental impacts largely suppressed? Models and data can be interpreted to show virtually whatever scientists design them to show — and that’s before they’re filtered and oversimplified by a compliant media. Don’t be fooled by modern day hocus pocus.
“But if science is hocus pocus, explain how we have electricity, the internet, the airplane. The enlightenment happened, science is real!”
The chief characteristic of the enlightenment was a tradition of skepticism, criticism of prevailing ideas and the willingness to experiment on theories outside the consensus. The people who report to and are funded by powerful governments and NGOs did not invent the light bulb or split the atom. They are functionaries, apparatchiks, modern priests who give cover to power in a technocratic society.
One tell is they use words like “disinformation” and advocate for censorship. They purport not to espouse a particular scientific theory but to represent science itself to “own the science." Does that sound more like people upholding enlightenment principles or a repressive religious sect?
The invisible terror gives rise to another phenomenon, and that’s the triumph of the midwit. Simple people believe their eyes. They don’t know any better. Smart people believe their eyes — they know enough about human nature that trust must be earned. But the midwit — he loves the invisible terror. Once he learns its supposed mechanism and the required code of conduct to combat it, he has knowledge unavailable to the common rube and can signal that knowledge through his behavior. Why is he masking by himself in his car? Because it reveals his belief, his identity as someone who is in step with The Science.
He is also in line with the authorities who reward him for erudition in these matters and deem him superior to those who aren’t in on the protocol. He talks about what’s counterintuitive, yet true. He knows “The Science” and all its commandments. If you disagree with him, he rolls his eyes because disagreement can only mean one thing: you are one of the rubes!
It’s hard to disabuse the midwit of his positions for two reasons. One, he is rewarded for holding them by his peers as well as society’s most powerful factions. As Upton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it,” and by “salary” we can these days include social status and personal identity. The second reason is the terror is invisible — it’s almost impossible to disprove that climate change doesn’t pose existential risk because we wouldn’t necessarily be able to see it if it did!
It’s only the scientists who can tell, just like it’s only the doctor who knows the condition of your health, just like you can’t possibly know what microscopic viral particles might lurk and overwhelm your insufficient natural immunity. (Hint: in the selfish unvaccinated person next to you! He’s basically ISIS!)
But as I said, I don’t really care to argue the specifics of the current invisible terror because (1) I’m not making the rules; and (2) I won’t be persuaded by “scientists say” without being able to verify it for myself in some capacity. Coastal real estate prices cratering disproportionately to other real estate would be a simple and accessible signal to me, for example, and I have not seen that personally. Maybe someone could make inroads with me by offering other verifiable examples I hadn’t considered, but that’s beyond the scope of this piece.
The scope is essentially Orwell’s quote above, only put less succinctly: Be dubious of those who ask you for faith in their proclamations and edicts. Verify them for yourself to the extent practicable and ask yourself what they have to gain if you and people like you believe them. Ask yourself what they have to lose if you were to doubt. Seek out dissenters who have paid a price for their heresy and try to understand why they disagree and verify to the extent you can their claims with an open mind.
The spirit of science is skepticism and doubt, and while it is necessary to trust other people, you should evaluate first whether they have earned it, whether we are in an era where the authorities that issue their edicts are trustworthy and transparent, or whether, as in the middle ages, they are dissembling and opaque.
It was once possible to terrify people with warnings about demons and hell, but this won’t work anymore for large swaths of the educated West. No matter, as long as the new priests deliver warnings of invisible terrors, in jargon just decipherable enough to signify its rigor, but still too opaque for the layman to comprehend (you’re not an epidemiologist!), the flock will obey the edicts of the Church. But you should ask yourself — is this fearful, compliant and intolerant congregation one of which I want to be a part?