November 5, 2022

Responses to Emily Oster’s plea for ‘covid amnesty’

emily oster's no good, really bad, terrible idea
"when we were in the dark about covid" is not a useful excuse for bad behavior
el gato malo

... just to be clear, emily is not advocating forgiving “those who deliberately spread misinformation” (though she does seem a bit confused about just who that might be) but her “we were all in the dark and people said lots of things and some wound up right and some wrong and we all just need to get over it and move on as recrimination is not useful” take rings hollow and false here.

what does this serve?

why should we forgive those who through stupidity, cupidity, and fear spent 3 years denying 100 years of evidence based science to attack our lives and livelihoods?

oh, no worries! i'm sure you had your reasons?

you were "just following orders"?

you were just doing what the authorities said?

because i seem to remember a whole pile of excuses that sounded an awful lot like that being rejected back in the late 40’s.

and i must agree with that take and take issue with emily. ...

it is precisely BECAUSE following vicious, evil orders is so easy in times of fear and that humans break and bow to authority with such ease that there must be sharp penalties, reputational and otherwise, for so doing.

otherwise, you're just greasing the rails for next time.

it’s the low energy path of submission, and freeing it from consequence serves only to render it a path more followed. ...

even if we accept this “we were in the dark” line of reasoning it still makes no sense.

1. we were not in the dark. we had 100 years of evidence based pandemic and epidemiological guidance and guideline upon which to rely. some tried to follow these bodies of canon and were shouted down by those seeking to do exactly what that guidance admonished against. that is lack of knowledge abrogating actual knowledge and panic driven superstition superseding evidence. equating those two viewpoints as “equivalent” is pure nonsense.

2. even if truly no one knew anything, then this is a reason for humility, not stridence. the base case is always “respect others and their rights. do not panic. don’t do anything crazy or drastic without a very sound reason.” that’s not what happened. a bunch of terrified anti-science loons got loose with global government and pushed literally unprecedented in human history programs of societal and economic upheaval that flat out broke the world while, predictably, having zero effect on the pandemic. guys, you took you lead from china. china. the precautionary principle does not state “every time you get scared, do the most radical thing you can think of it if feels like safety.” that is precisely what it warns against. such excursions into superstitious supplication of pseudoscience are not evidence based epidemiology. they are not even sanity. and again, calling that an equivalent viewpoint to “we need strong, data-driven evidence to take such outlandish actions” (presuming they are permissible at all, itself deeply questionable) is pure nonsense.

3. the presumption of prerogative to force upon others the unfounded desires of “those in the dark” fails inherently on every metric germane to sustaining a free society. “we didn’t know, so we took your rights away just in case” is not much of justification. this lays claim to “emergency powers” of dictatorial nature and is exceedingly dangerous as a societal foundation. it’s also incompatible with the basic idea of a republic in which the rights of the individual stand paramount to the whims of the state or the mob. this ought be especially so in emergencies with low information for what could be more likely to work vast harm than great power to coerce usurped and wielded by “those in the dark”? again, this is not a viewpoint that can be granted equivalence to a system that respects rights. doing so is, yet again, pure nonsense. ...

of all the people who should have had the confidence to follow data over diktat, should not a trained professor of data handling rise to the fore?

but this failed. and if we would avoid such failure in the future, perhaps a bit of culpability ought be spread around.

as an economist, surely ms oster must understand incentives. if there is no cost to having acted poorly, rashly, and without consideration or information despite the ill effects it had on others, are we not just subsidizing more such antisocial activity in the future? ...

but this gets more complex: being wrong is one thing. OK, you made a mistake. and this, i can forgive so long as it was YOUR mistake. but when you take that mistake and make it mine by forcing upon me actions and restrictions to which i do not consent and to threaten the lives and livlihoods of me and mine because you’re running around half-cocked and have no respect for the rights of others, well, that’s something altogether different, isn’t it? ...

getting a disease wrong is one thing, but presuming the coercive dispensation to take whatever your “conclusion” is (especially if you are “in the dark”) and force it upon the rest of us because it makes you feel less frightened (or perhaps allows you to savor the dark frisson of being beastly to others while telling yourself you’re a good person for doing it) is not something you get amnesty for.

there is a sleight of hand in the thinking here like somehow having misunderstood a pandemic excuses the mass scale abrogation of rights and reason.

it doesn’t.

such ideas are anathema to the persistence of a free society.

and this is not where team oster came down. ...

even had they been right on covid and NPI’s or anything, they still had no right to do this. they had no right to take over media, social and otherwise and censor it. that is “the dark.” they had no right to lock you down, mask you up, and force an ill-tested and ill-effective jab on people as predicate for basic freedoms.

and all the people who favored that, who brayed and cheer led for it, they are guilty too. and i just cannot see “just dropping the matter” because they’d like it to go away now. ...

if you got rolled by this, got jabs you did not want, and suffered as many did, well, so long as you did not advocate forcing this on others, you already have my forgiveness. you were a victim here.

but as soon as you cross the line into advocating coercive policy or willful data suppression, that’s a whole separate issue.

being wrong is no crime nor even is being bullied into acquiescence.

but forcing others to join you is.

knowingly suppressing data and spreading lies is. ...

if you wielded the whip hand of of the covidian crusader i’m sorry, but i don’t care if you were “in the dark” as that is no excuse. it stands rather as indictment.

having done so out of ignorance (or worse the sort of dark desire to act the dictator or demagogue by assuming a faux moral mantle to vilify and attack others) makes you a hazard and precisely the sort of actor that ought be penalized, not accommodated.

society must develop an immune system to you.

forgiving such would be past enabling and into ennobling anti-social action and technocratic science perversion. ...

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"Amnesty" Is Not the Solution to Disastrous Policy Decisions
And "gloating" is not the motivation for calling them out
AJ Kay

... I write today in response to Emily Oster’s most recent Atlantic article entitled, “Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty: We need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the dark about COVID.”

The piece starts with a lively anecdote by Emily in which her family is hiking outdoors in cloth masks, and her son screams at another small child for getting too close to him.

“These precautions were totally misguided,” she said, “But the thing is: We didn’t know.”

Two things right off the bat: They weren’t ‘precautions’ because the Precautionary Principle requires us to weigh the costs of implementing any ‘precaution’ with the same critical eye as not. We didn’t do that.

And, of course, we absolutely did know.

That’s just the first paragraph in Emily’s pseudo-conciliatory piece, which is littered with precisely the same kind of gaslighting, self-interested double-speak that landed us here. ...

Emily says, “Given the amount of uncertainty, almost every position was taken on every topic.”

We were never facing a grabbag of completely disorienting situations and unknowable outcomes. Our positions were clear and fully aligned with this list of things we knew by or before March 2020:

  • COVID has a clear risk-stratification skewing dramatically toward the elderly
  • COVID is not nearly as deadly as once feared
  • Panic, stigmatization, mandates, and politicization are anathema to public health
  • We have immune systems, and natural immunity exists
  • Missing school hurts kids, especially disadvantaged ones
  • Isolation of anyone is cruel and harmful
  • Loneliness kills
  • The media profits off fear-mongering
  • Health is not just about disease avoidance
  • Masks don’t work + faces are important
  • Forcing people to die alone is inhumane
  • Lockdowns are human rights violations
  • Informed consent is essential
  • Bodily autonomy is paramount
  • Incentives incentivize
  • Shutting down manufacturing causes supply chain disruptions
  • Supply chain disruptions threaten economic stability
  • Science doesn’t advance by “following”
  • Panicked people don’t make rational decisions

Acknowledging the truths above would’ve been enough to keep probably 90% of the harm from occurring. But not only were they ignored, they were suppressed, despite rational people screaming them from the rooftops. ...

“In the face of so much uncertainty, getting something right had a hefty element of luck. And similarly, getting something wrong wasn’t a moral failing.”

Luck was not a factor. Just a dash of common sense was sufficient for most, and the lion’s share of the wrongs perpetrated were absolutely moral failings, not least of all because one could not promote the prevailing narrative without obfuscating the truth.

A team led by Dr. Tom Inglesby, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and including D.A. Henderson, the man credited with eradicating smallpox, wrote the following in 2006:

«Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.»

For whatever reason, to whatever end, the powers that be implemented policies that ran counter to everything we knew about public, mental, social, developmental, and immunological health, as well as virology, epidemiology, and pandemic management.

And we knew it. ...

Emily’s diagnosis of the problem is: “The people who got it right, for whatever reason, may want to gloat … Treating pandemic choices as a scorecard on which some people wracked up more points than others is preventing us from moving forward.”

Are you kidding, Emily? The backlash to this article was not a result of some trivial scorekeeping fixation. These policies hurt people. They killed people.

And it’s misleading to even talk about “choices” because, in most cases, we didn’t have any (at least not legally). Masks were mandated. Testing was mandated. Vaccines were mandated. Travel was restricted. These “choices” were imposed upon people.

And the worst part is that we absolutely knew better.

And we’re not going to allow people to claim they didn’t.

Not because of “points” but because we don’t want it to happen again. ...

You can’t blame “fog of war” when you walk around with a fog machine mounted to your back. Likewise, “We were in the dark!” loses plausibility when you block everyone’s access to the light switch.

The reason I refuse to accept calls for “amnesty” is not because I am vengeful.

It’s because granting “amnesty” leaves the people who have already been crushed by the weight of these decisions vulnerable still. ...

If they really want society to recover from the last two going on three nightmarish years, Emily et al are going to have to dig a little deeper. Pleas for forgiveness ring hollow when there’s no acknowledgment of error. “But we didn’t know!” is just more of the same self-interested trope we’ve been spoon-fed for years.

Because we did know.

And we have receipts.

And we’re going to keep showing them for as long as it takes to begin the actual recovery.

Because while Emily may want forgiveness, what we want is for this to never, ever happen again.

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Osterism
When you want to move on from the damage you helped cause but haven't told the truth about it
E.Woodhouse

Dr. Emily Oster, the Brown University economist who spent a good part of the pandemic response denying that her own data indicted the uselessness of masking kids in schools, published an article in The Atlantic today, calling for “a pandemic amnesty.” Short version: Let’s chalk up the devastation caused by fear-driven policies to benign ignorance and good intentions. ...

Oster’s implicit claim that next-to-nothing was known about SARS-CoV-2 – and therefore all the pointless, unethical, & illegal things people were forced to do are understandable – isn’t the pathway to healing, because it’s dishonest. Inexplicably, she denies that, from the get-go, we knew (for example)

  • covid’s risks were highly skewed toward sick elderly people,
  • plexiglass & masks don’t stop viruses,
  • school closures are harmful, and
  • exposure quarantines & contact tracing are useless.

She also defends things like closing beaches as “hard calls that people had no choice but to make with imperfect knowledge.” This twisted thinking - this Osterism, I’ll call it - both a) denies the truth about what was known, and b) excuses doing the worst, most non-sensical and predictably harmful things in the name of not knowing.

If an out-of-touch professor were the only person pushing such ideas, we could ignore it. Unfortunately, other vocal credentialed experts - not to mention public officials, school & church leaders, and friends/family members who embraced all manner of superstitious and harmful mitigations - have a similar mindset.

Osterism in any form will never, ever lead to healing, nor will it prevent this nightmare from happening again. ...

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Emily Oster proposes “a pandemic amnesty,” suggests that “we need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the dark about COVID”
eugyppius

I don’t know much about the American pandemic pundits, but I gather that Brown University economist and “parenting guru” Emily Oster is far from the worst of them. Her Twitter timeline suggests she spent the early months of the pandemic terrified about the virus until school closures took their toll on her kids, at which point she repositioned herself as a kind of lockdown moderate, opposing the worst of the hystericist excesses while validating their central premises whenever possible to save face with friends and colleagues.

«April 2020, with nothing else to do, my family took an enormous number of hikes. We all wore cloth masks that I had made myself. We had a family hand signal, which the person in the front would use if someone was approaching on the trail and we needed to put on our masks. Once, when another child got too close to my then-4-year-old son on a bridge, he yelled at her “SOCIAL DISTANCING!”

«These precautions were totally misguided. In April 2020, no one got the coronavirus from passing someone else hiking. Outdoor transmission was vanishingly rare. Our cloth masks made out of old bandanas wouldn’t have done anything, anyway. But the thing is: We didn’t know.»

The thing is, Emily Oster, that we did know. We’ve studied respiratory virus transmission for years. All the virologists and epidemiologists who aren’t total morons knew your 2020 mask routine was crazy and they just didn’t care. They wanted you to do it anyway, because they thought that if they got you to act paranoid and antisocial enough, your insane behaviour might have some limited effect on case curves. Joke’s on you, and it’s sad you still haven’t realised.

«[T]here is an emerging (if not universal) consensus that schools in the U.S. were closed for too long: The health risks of in-school spread were relatively low, whereas the costs to students’ well-being and educational progress were high. The latest figures on learning loss are alarming. But in spring and summer 2020, we had only glimmers of information. Reasonable people—people who cared about children and teachers—advocated on both sides of the reopening debate.»

No, reasonable people could see already in March 2020 that SARS-2 posed no measurable threat to children. There was never any honest debate to be had about this.

«We have to put these fights aside and declare a pandemic amnesty. … [W]e need to learn from our mistakes and then let them go. We need to forgive the attacks, too. Because I thought schools should reopen and argued that kids as a group were not at high risk, I was called a “teacher killer” and a “génocidaire.” It wasn’t pleasant, but feelings were high. And I certainly don’t need to dissect and rehash that time for the rest of my days.

«Moving on is crucial now, because the pandemic created many problems that we still need to solve.»

I’m sorry somebody called you genocidal, Emily Oster. That must’ve been tough for you. You know what’s also tough? Getting your head kicked in by riot police because you had the temerity to protest against indefinite population-wide house arrest.

Or being fired from your university job and banned in perpetuity from the premises because you uploaded a video to social media complaining about the onerous and expensive testing requirements imposed upon unvaccinated staff. Or being confined to your house and threatened with fines because of personal medical decisions that had no chance of impacting the broader course of the pandemic in the first place. But somebody called this woman genocidal in French and she’s ready to move on, so it’s all good.

Emily Oster may have said a few reasonable things in the depths of her pandemic moderation, but she can take her proposal for pandemic amnesty and shove it all the way up her ass. I’m never going to forget what these villains did to me and my friends. It is just hard to put into words how infuriating it is, to read this breezy triviliasation of the absolute hell we’ve been through, penned by some comfortable and clueless Ivy League mommyconomist who is ready to mouth support for basically any pandemic policy that doesn’t directly affect her or her family and then plead that the horrible behaviour and policies supported by her entire social milieu are just down to ignorance about the virus. We knew everything we needed to know about SARS-2 already in February 2020. The pandemicists and their supporters crossed many bright red lines in their eradicationist zeal and ruined untold millions of lives. That doesn’t all just go away now.

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“Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty”—Not
Let’s not declare a pandemic amnesty. Let’s declare a real pandemic inquiry.
Michael P Senger

... The article is about as pathetically transparent as it is self-serving. Gee, I wonder what Oster did and said during Covid for which she might want amnesty ...

First, no, you don’t get to advocate policies that do extraordinary harm to others, against their wishes, then say “We didn’t know any better at the time!” Ignorance doesn’t work as an excuse when the policies involved abrogating your fellow citizens’ rights under an indefinite state of emergency, while censoring and canceling those who weren’t as ignorant. The inevitable result would be a society in which ignorance and obedience to the opinion of the mob would be the only safe position.

Second, “amnesty,” being an act of forgiveness for past offenses, first requires an apology or act of repentance on the part of those who committed the offense. Not only has no such act of repentance been forthcoming, but in most cases, establishment voices like Oster’s have yet to stop advocating these same policies, much less admit they were wrong. With no accompanying act of contrition, these calls for “amnesty” in light of rapidly-shifting public opinion have a real ring of fascist leaders calling for “amnesty” after losing the War.

Third, there’s some question as to whether Oster herself really did know better at the time. Like many other mainstream Covid voices, Oster had long been closely attuned to Covid data showing that these mandates did not work, yet she often seemed reluctant to share that data insofar as it contradicted the mainstream orthodoxy that mandates were necessary. In that sense, the policy prescriptions of Oster and those like her may have had less to do with ignorance than with cowardice, tribalism, and “following orders,” which can’t be considered acting “in good faith.”

And that leads to the ultimate problem, from a legal perspective, with Oster’s call for “amnesty” for the advocacy of totalitarian policies during Covid: The implicit assumption that all those who advocated lockdowns, mandates, censorship, and an indefinite state of emergency, all the way up the chain of command, did so in good faith. If those who advocated these policies are simply presumed to have done so out of well-meaning ignorance, then any inquiry into the many outstanding questions as to the origin of these policies—and the underlying motivations of highest-level officials who promulgated them—is foreclosed.

The implicit assumption is that, owing to their socioeconomic status, the superficial cutesiness of public health, and the panic surrounding the pandemic, all those who advocated these mandates must have done so in good faith. But this argument presupposes that the “pandemic” was a natural phenomenon, like a tsunami, which would have inevitably led to panic. On the contrary, studies have long shown that it was the mandates themselves that caused the public to panic, making them believe their chances of dying of Covid—which never had an overall infection fatality rate much higher than 0.2%—were hundreds of times greater than they really were. Further, there’s a growing mountain of evidence that the handful of key officials who led the initial push for unprecedented lockdowns and mandates did not, in fact, do so in good faith.

Our institutions are in serious need of restoration after the incalculable damage that’s been done to them during the response to Covid. But we forget, at our peril, that those institutions weren’t built with flowery words and good intentions. They were built with blood, sweat, and tears, by those who fought for them with their lives. Let’s not declare a pandemic amnesty. Let’s declare a real pandemic inquiry.

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With whom does Emily Oster want an amnesty? Moms, so they will return to the democratic fold
Just another cynical attempt to ask women to forget the harms of the last few years.
Emily Burns

... The political establishment—left and right—want desperately to move on, to pretend the last 30 months didn’t happen. With very few exceptions (Ron DeSantis, Kirsti Noem, Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, Ron Johnson, and a few others, later), they betrayed their core values. Many Republicans and so-called Libertarians quickly capitulated the primacy and importance of individual liberties. Whereas supposedly equality-loving democrats embraced policies that in no uncertain terms screwed women, children and the poor. The 2020 democrat campaign slogan might as well have been “protect the rich, infect the poor.” Or “only the rich need to learn.” They’d all very much like that you forget about that. They’d like to go back to the fights they know how to fight, the golden oldies that turn the bases out, and turn us against each other. ...

First, let’s be clear to whom Emily Oster is speaking. She’s speaking to the furious well-educated suburban women who are swinging towards Republicans in this cycle, even in the bluest of states. Because it was the bluest of states that were hit hardest by these policies. It was in blue states that the schools were closed longest, that the economic devastation was worst, that crime spiked the most, where masks were required longest. The damage done by these policies is at its beginning, not its end. Dr. Oster, would like women to believe that it was all just a mistake, a mis-understanding, and remember that it is the Republicans who are looking to limit the freedoms that really count. That while Democrats had no problem sacrificing the well-being of our living children for three years in support political power, it is Republicans that pose the real threat.

The problem for Emily is that while the hardcore democrat base of women voters never questioned any of these policies, others did—and they incurred significant personal costs for doing so.

An embarrassing portion of well-educated women acted as the regime’s stormtroopers. They sicced social media mobs on any who dared to voice a question, much less dissent. The pain of having family, friends and neighbors turn on them for voicing an opinion or asking a legitimate question caused many women to seek out others with similar questions.

In so doing, we found a smart, snarky, data-driven community pushing back hard on the totalizing power of a government trying to re-define reality. In some cases women were the generals, in others we were the infantry, going forward and taking constant fire from above, so that some recently discredited truth might once again retake its rightful place in the sun of acceptable opinion.

Emily Oster would like us to forget that. But we can’t—and I hope we won’t—because we were there bringing the government’s own data to shine a light on the lies it so ceaselessly manufactured. These weren’t lies of omission, they were lies of commission. They were lies that were wrought by smelting the credibility of science and medicine in the fires of politics to create weapons wielded by the powerful against us. They literally called us terrorists for our opposition.

Now, after having been called terrorists by our governments for arguing for the well-being of our own children, Dr. Oster wants us to forget that. In asking us to forget, she beseeches those who strayed from the flock to return, to believe that it is not their shepherd who takes them to slaughter that would do them harm, but the wolf lurking unseen in the shadows of the wood. So now we must talk about abortion.

What Democrats, and their credibility-launderers like Oster want women to do, is to put two things on the scales. On one side is the fear of a loss of access to abortion services. They hope that their female base will forget that rather than living in 1972, with limited access to contraception, we live in 2022, where contraception that is more than 99% effective is inexpensive and widely available, even if paying out of pocket; that this contraception includes abortion pills, which can be accessed anywhere in the country by mail up to 10 weeks of gestation. They want you to forget about the interstate commerce clause which would make hindering this nearly impossible—even, or especially, with a conservative court. They want you to forget that a flight to an abortion-providing state is at most a $200 plane ride away. Or that should you fail to secure an abortion, the worst-case scenario results in a baby you choose to give up for adoption. They want you to forget that if they [anti-abortion politicians] win the senate, they would still have to overturn the filibuster and the important political stabilization that the 60-vote threshold provides.

They want you to forget that they failed to legally codify access to abortion for 50 years. And they want you to forget that there is no way on earth they are going to give up the only issue they have to reliably stoke fear, drum up dollars, and drive women to the polls. Not a chance in hell.

On the other side is the harm that was done to your children, to you, to your community over nearly three years. On the other is the fear of a loss of access to abortion services. What they are hoping is that their female base will believe the lie that Dr. Oster is peddling, that it was all just an unfortunate mistake, and could never happen again. It’s in the past! Don’t worry about it.

But it wasn’t a mistake. It was a political calculation, and on the cost side of that equation was the education and welfare of our kids—and so much more. The people who made this calculation wagered that the fear that they could drum up around access to abortion could be used to distract women from the manifold harms these policies caused to children and/or that they could craft a narrative that would mask the truth. If you understand the cynicism of that decision, you have to expect the same cynicism on the other side of the equation. ...

The narrative that conservatives seek to limit access to abortion in order to keep women down is a just that—a story. In order to prop it up, fetuses had to be literally dehumanized, and the narrative bolstered with overtly anti-natal supporting philosophies, philosophies which, in their anti-natalism rob life of most of its meaning for most people. For women, this anti-natalism is expressly anti-mother, hence, anti-feminine, transforming motherhood—one of the few truly transcendent human experiences—into a dupe’s prison.

That said, I remain pro-choice, fundamentally because after the past two+ years, all I want is the government smaller and weakened in every possible capacity. I don’t want the government legislating or coercing morality (we’ve had quite enough of that over the past few years) any more than I want it coercing medical decisions. Further, I believe that the vicissitudes of life can make such government interventions result in dangerous corner cases.

But despite being pro-choice, I have become a single issue voter. My vote this cycle is a vote for vengeance against the party that kept my kids masked for two years; that robbed me of my best friends, and strained every relationship I have; that caused us to move to an entirely different part of the country; that perverted a discipline that I love, and which I use to navigate my life (science); and that then lied about doing it, and called me a terrorist for being upset about it. After this cycle, my vote will always be for the party that represents the most decentralized power structure, and the greatest respect for individual rights and responsibility. For me, the new f-word is “federal”.

While I can only speak for myself, my experience has been that in the aftermath of our leaders’ decision to break and reset the world, there are new coalitions forming. I don’t think I’m alone in my efforts to try to better understand the positions of others who became my “comrades in arms”—and I have felt that reciprocated, with the possibility of compromise arising out of mutual respect and in the face of a greater perceived mutual threat. At the moment, I think this is only happening on the “right”. But if the democrats get the drubbing that looks likely in the mid-terms, this will also happen on the left; it’s why this drubbing needs to happen. Such a shake-up can only be to the good. Indeed, our leaders may yet have gotten a “Great Reset”—just not the one they were hoping for. ...

Moms in general, and stay-at-home moms in particular, played a very significant part in the grassroots pushback of COVID policy malfeasance. I believe this was due to three key things. First, COVID policies created many more SAHMs, as the exigencies of virtual school made work impossible. Second, these SAHMs experienced the harmful impacts of COVID policies directly for years in their own lives, and in those of their children. Third, I think that SAHMs ended up being a very important and vocal minority because they could be. You can’t fire or cancel an SAHM, and there is significant power in not being anonymous.

As women, we have felt far more acutely than at any time in the past what it really means for government to interfere in our lives—controlling whether our children go to school, whether we can socialize, or go to a gym, or a restaurant, how many people can be invited to our home, whether we can spend holidays with family, whether we can run our businesses. These are all violations, violations of our personal liberty that harmed us, our children, and our communities, and which were done solely in service to political power. We have internalized this, and many will not be quick to forgive.

Emily is asking us to forgive a mistake. There was no mistake. There was a political calculation that harmed us, but even more, that harmed our children. The harm was considered acceptable because those who undertook it, took the votes of women for granted. They assumed they could lie and manipulate us into believing these harms were necessary, or barring that, unintentional. If we, as women, want our votes to be courted in the future by either party, we must vote to punish the past three years treachery. ...

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Emily Oster’s Plea Bargain
Shuck-and-jive from America’s broken thinking class, the people who pretend to know better than everybody else.
James Howard Kunstler

By now, everybody and his uncle has seen Emily Oster’s plea for “pandemic amnesty” in The Atlantic magazine, a house organ of the people in America who know better than you do about … really … everything. Emily’s wazoo is so stuffed with gold-plated credentials (BA, PhD, Harvard; economics prof at Brown U) it’s a wonder that she could sit down long enough to peck out her lame argument that “we need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the dark about COVID.”

Emily wasn’t “in the dark.” She had access to the same information as the Americans who recognized that everything the public health authorities, the medical establishment, and many elected officials shoveled out about Covid and its putative remedies and preventatives was untrue, with a patina of bad faith and malice — especially when it was used to persecute their political adversaries.

These dissenters turned out to be “right for the wrong reasons,” she declared, the main reason being that they were not aligned in good-think with the Woke-Jacobinism of her fellow “progressives” at Brown U, and academics all across the land, who were righteously busy destroying the intellectual life of the nation, making it impossible for the thinking class to think.

Let’s face it: every society actually needs a thinking class, a cohort able to frame important issues-of-the-moment that require argument in the public arena to align our collective thoughts and deeds with reality. America used to have a pretty good thinking class, with a pretty good free press and many other platforms for opinion — all animated by respect for the first amendment to the Constitution.

The thinking class destroyed that by vigorously promoting a new censorship regime in every American institution, shutting down free speech and, more crucially, the necessary debate for aligning our politics with reality. Hence, America’s thinking class became the torchbearers of unreality, in step with the Party of Chaos which held the levers of power. This included the powers of life and death in the matter of Covid-19.

These were the people who militated against effective early treatment protocols (to cynically preserve the drug companies’ emergency use authorization (EUA) and thus their liability shields); the people who enforced the deadly remdesivir-and-ventilator combo in hospital treatment; the people who rolled out the harmful and ineffective “vaccines”; who fired and vilified doctors who disagreed with all that; and who engineered a long list of abusive policies that destroyed businesses, livelihoods, households, reputations, and futures.

How did it happen that the thinking class destroyed thinking and betrayed itself? Because the status competition for moral righteousness in the sick milieu of the campus became more important to them than the truth. In places like Brown U, what you saw was an escalating contest for status brownie-points, which is what virtue-signaling is all about. And the highest virtue was going along with whatever experts and people-in-authority said — the pathetic virtue of submission. Anything that got in the way of going along — such as differences of opinion — had to be crushed, stamped out, and with a vicious edge to teach the dissenters a lesson: dissent will not be tolerated!

Some thinking class. The case of Emily Oster should be particularly and painfully disturbing, since she affects to specialize, as an economist, on “pregnancy and parenting” (her own website declares), while the Covid regime of public health officialdom she supported instigated a horrendous pediatric health crisis that is ongoing — it was only days ago that the CDC added the harmful mRNA “vaccines” to its childhood immunization schedule for the purpose of conferring permanent legal immunity for the drug companies after the EUA ends, a dastardly act. Where’s Ms. Oster’s plea to the CDC to cease and desist trying to vaccinate kids with mRNA products?

The CDC is still running TV commercials (during World Series ballgames!) touting its “booster” shots when only weeks ago a top Pfizer executive, Janine Small (“Regional President for Vaccines of International Developed Markets”), revealed in testimony to the European Union Parliament that her company never tested its “vaccine” for preventing transmission of SARS CoV-2. The CDC under Director Rochelle Walensky is still extra-super-busy concealing or fudging its statistical data to obfuscate the emerging picture that MRNA “vaccines” are responsible for the shocking rise of “all-causes deaths” in the most heavily-vaxxed nations. In short, the authorities are to this minute still running their whole malign operation.

Notably, Ms. Oster’s plea for amnesty and forgiveness, showcased in The Atlantic, omits any discussion of accountability for what amounts to serious crimes against the public. A whole lot of people deserve to be indicted for killing and injuring millions of people. At the heart of her plea is the excuse that “we didn’t know” official Covid policy was so misguided. That’s just not true, of course, and is simply evidence of the thinking class’s recently-acquired allergy to truth. The part she left out of her petition for pandemic amnesty is: We were only following orders.

October 24, 2022

Militarized advertising and public relations and the imperative of war

From The Fall of the Dynasties: The Collapse of the Old Order 1905–1922, Edmond Taylor (Doubleday, 1963):

«Two world wars and a decade of cold war between the West and the Communist-bloc nations have made us all familiar with the miscellaneous manipulations and unpleasantnesses that for purposes of administrative or journalistic convenience are lumped under such headings as “psychological warfare” or “political warfare.” … The words are relatively new, and so of course are some of the techniquest, but the basic tactical patterns go back to the dawn of human history. …

«During the first world conflict, however, these black arts of war (and of diplomacy) were practiced so systematically and on such an unprecedented scale that they virtually constituted a new dimension of warfare. For the first time in history, elaborate specialized machinery was set up to furnish unorthodox support to the conventional operations of armies, foreign offices, and police departments. That peculiar modern phenomenon, the psychological (or political) warrior – the militarized version of the advertising man or public relations expert and the bureaucratic cousin of the professional revolutionary – was born.

«At the beginning of the war the emphasis, at least in the propaganda field, was defensive rather than offensive, and focused on the home front (in itself a new concept). … As Professor Harold A. Lasswell remarks in his classic work, Propaganda Technique in the World War, “propaganda is a concession to the willfullness of the age.” In the twentieth century – or at least in its first decade – men could no longer simply be ordered to give up their right to private happiness at a ruler’s whim; they had to be persuaded. The spread of literacy and the development of rapid mass means of communication facilitated the task of persuasion. Naturally – though at first glance paradoxically – the worst propaganda excesses were committed in the Western democracies, where the common man was, in Lasswell’s terminology, the most “willful.”

—————

«One type of Western morale-building propaganda which proved to be particularly self-defeating and even traumatic in the long view was the abusive appeal to the latent idealism of the masses through slogans such as The War to End War (originally inspired by H. G. Wells) and Make the World Safe for Democracy (derived from President Wilson’s message to Congress of April 2, 1917). No doubt the politicians who thus exploited the hopes of their peoples with these high-sounding but demagogic pledges of a better world were the first victims of their own propaganda; the unending wonder, when we look back upon it, is how intelligent and cultivated men – including a trained historian – could ever have deluded themselves into believing that prolonging the sordid massacre in Europe would make it possible to build a better world. The apathy and skepticism of the Western masses a generation later, when confronted with Hitler’s naked threat to the survival of their most elementary freedom, can be traced in good measure to the overdoses of war medicine that the new witch doctors had brewed for their fathers between 1914 and 1918.

«Even more deadly in its ultimate effects than the propaganda of misdirected idealism was the propaganda of hate. Again the democracies  were the worst offenders. In France a kind of forgery mill, supported by secret government funds, ground out fake photographs of German atrocities to back up the no-less-cold-bloodedly fabricated news reports of Belgian babies with their hands wantonly hacked off, of women with their breasts cut off by German bayonets or sabers, of factories for making soap out of human corpses. The British were a trifle more subtle, but hardly more scrupulous in exposing the outrages of the savage “Hun” …. Twenty years later the scars left on the public mind by this wartime atrocity propaganda – which of course was speedily exposed after the fighting ended – were still so inflamed, that American newspaper correspondents in Europe had the greatest difficulty in persuading their editors to print authenticated reports of authentic Nazi atrocities.

«As the war advanced, the propaganda activity of the chief belligerent powers became increasingly intensive and organized. … In all the belligerent countries the propaganda bureaus worked more or less closely with the General Staff, with the military censors, with the secret police and intelligence services and with an extensive volunteer (sometimes covertly subsidized) network of journalists, writers and politicians. The end result was a series of what amounted to immense – and immensely powerful – lobbies with a vested interest in fighting the war to the bitter end; the remorseless pressure of these bellicose lobbies on both the German and the Entente governments seems to have been a substantive factor in blocking the movement for a compromise peace that was launched so promisingly by the [new] Emperor Karl in March 1917.

«The political warfare activities of the several belligerents, aimed at demoralizing or splitting up their enemies, were an even greater impediment to peace negotiations. … As the deadlock continued, each side became increasingly irresponsible and unscrupulous in attempting to foment revolution behind the enemy’s front. Every racial or religious minority, every disaffected social category became the target of subersive incitements and appeals. Every group hatred, fear, or greed was played upon; every irredentist ambition was encouraged. Generally, it was only the most extreme minority leaders who would accept to work for, or with, the enemies of their nominal fatherland. Sometimes, however, the heavy-handed repressiveness of the wartime dictatorships – or hatred of the war itself – drove previously responsible and moderate minority leadership into collaborating with the enemy; in such cases it inevitably turned extremist, and in the process sometimes succeeded in committing its new allies to more radical objectives than they had originally contemplated.

«The career of Thomas G. Masaryk, the son of a Bohemian coachman who became the founder and first President of the Czechoslovak Republic, was a case in point. …»

—————

“To the Bitter End”

«… For the Bolsheviks, the awakening was terrible. As a starter the Central Powers demanded that Russia cede Poland and the Baltic territories. Recognition of Finnish independence was soon added to the conditions. Then came the crusher: Russia must also recognize the independence of the Ukraine, which had been proclaimed by the anti-Bolshevik and pro-German local government in Kiev on January 1 [1918]. Some of the Austrian and even German delegates felt that the precarious Soviet regime was being strained to the breaking point, but this did not worry General Ludendorff, the occult dictator of Germany and the real author of the Brest-Litovsk diktat. “Paranoia had him in its grip,” declares John W. Wheeler-Bennett in his masterly Brest-Litovsk: The Forgotten Peace, and the diagnosis seems plausible. Ludendorff’s ultimate aim was the total dismemberment of Russia and though this objective implied the final liquidation of the Romanov dynasty it had seemingly been approved by the Kaiser. In fact, according to Wheeler-Bennett, a dangerous rivalry had developed among the minor German royal or princely houses over the distribution of the expected Eastern spoils …»

September 7, 2022

Glenn Greenwald on the censorship regime

The regime of censorship being imposed on the internet – by a consortium of DC Dems, billionaire-funded "disinformation experts," the US Security State, and liberal employees of media corporations – is dangerously intensifying in ways I believe are not adequately understood.

A series of "crises" have been cynically and aggressively exploited to inexorably restrict the range of permitted views, and expand pretexts for online silencing and deplatforming. Trump's election, Russiagate, 1/6, COVID and war in Ukraine all fostered new methods of repression.

During the failed attempt in January to force Spotify to remove Joe Rogan, the country's most popular podcaster – remember that? – I wrote that the current religion of Western liberals in politics and media is censorship: their prime weapon of activism.

But that Rogan failure only strengthened their repressive campaigns. Dems routinely abuse their majoritarian power in DC to explicitly coerce Big Tech silencing of their opponents and dissent. This is *Govt censorship* disguised as corporate autonomy.

There's now an entire new industry, aligned with Dems, to pressure Big Tech to censor. Think tanks and self-proclaimed "disinformation experts" funded by Omidyar, Soros and the US/UK Security State use benign-sounding names to glorify ideological censorship as neutral expertise.

The worst, most vile arm of this regime are the censorship-mad liberal employees of big media corporations (@oneunderscore__, @BrandyZadrozny, @TaylorLorenz, NYT tech unit). Masquerading as "journalists," they align with the scummiest Dem groups (@mmfa) to silence and deplatform.

It is astonishing to watch Dems and their allies in media corporations posture as opponents of "fascism" - while their main goal is to *unite state and corporate power* to censor their critics and degrade the internet into an increasingly repressive weapon of information control.

A major myth that must be quickly dismantled: political censorship is not the by-product of autonomous choices of Big Tech companies. This is happening because DC Dems and the US Security State are threatening reprisals if they refuse. They're explicit: “The issue is not that the companies before us todayare taking too many posts down. The issue is that they’re leaving too many dangerous posts up.”

https://twitter.com/i/status/1567292638524571648

But the worst is watching people whose job title in corporate HR Departments is "journalist" take the lead in agitating for censorship. They exploit the platforms of corporate giants to pioneer increasingly dangerous means of banning dissenters. *These* are the authoritarians. https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1567292900312064000

This is the frog-in-boiling-water problem: the increase in censorship is gradual but continuous, preventing recognition of how severe it's become. The EU now legally *mandates censorship of Russian news. They've made it *illegal* for companies to air it.

So many new tactics of censorship repression have emerged in the West: Trudeau freezing bank accounts of trucker-protesters; Paypal partnering with ADL to ban dissidents from the financial system; Big Tech platforms openly colluding in unison to de-person people from the internet.

All of this stems from the classic mentality of all would-be tyrants: our enemies are so dangerous, their views so threatening, that everything we do – lying, repression, censorship – is noble. That's what made the Sam Harris confession so vital: that's how liberal elites think.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1567293629462372352

This is why I regard the Hunter Biden scandal as uniquely alarming. The media didn't just "bury" the archive. CIA concocted a lie about it (it's "Russian disinformation"); media outlets spread that lie; Big Tech censured it – because lying and repression to them is justified!

The authoritarian mentality that led CIA, corporate media and Big Tech to lie about the Biden archive before the election is the same driving this new censorship craze. It's the hallmark of all tyranny: "our enemies are so evil and dangerous, anything is justified to stop them."

How come **not one media outlet** that spread this CIA lie – the Hunter Biden archive was "Russian disinformation" – retracted or apologized? This is why: they believe they are so benevolent, their cause so just, that lying and censorship are benevolent.

The one encouraging aspect: as so often happens with despotic factions, they are triggering and fueling the backlash to their excesses. Sites devoted to free speech – led by Rumble, along with Substack, Callin, and others – are exploding in growth.

But as these free speech platforms grow and become a threat, the efforts to crush them also grow – exactly as @AOC, other Dems and their corporate media allies successfully demanded Google, Apple and Amazon destroy Parler when it became the single most-popular app in the country.

It is hard to overstate how much pressure is now brought to bear by liberal censors on these free speech platforms, especially Rumble. Their vendors are threatened. Their hosting companies targeted. They have accounts cancelled and firms refusing to deal with them. It's a regime.

In even the most despotic nations, the banal, conformist citizen thinks they're free. As Rosa Luxemburg said: "he who does not move, does not feel his chains." Of course the Chris Hayes's and Don Lemon's think this is all absurd: Good Liberals threaten nobody and thus flourish.

The measure of societal freedom is not how servants of power are treated: they're always left alone or rewarded. The key metric is how dissidents are treated. Now, they are imprisoned (Assange), exiled (Snowden) and, above all, silenced by corporate/state power (dissidents).

For more than a month, I've removed myself from the news cycle and The Discourse because my only priority right now is my family, my kids and my husband's health. But distance brings clarity.

This censorship mania consuming Western liberals is deeply dangerous – and growing.

As I've often said, the media outlets screaming most loudly about "disinformation" are the ones that spread it most frequently, casually and destructively (NBC/CNN/WPost, etc).

It's equally true of those now claiming to fight "fascism": real repression comes *from them.*

I'm going to remain detached until the health crisis in our family is resolved. But internet freedom and free speech are not ancillary causes. They are central. This was the core cause of the Snowden reporting.

Without a free internet and free speech, dissent is an illusion.

Above all, stay focused on who your real enemies are.

They're not your neighbors who have been deceived into supporting the wrong party or wrong ideology. They are victims of the repression, which is all about maintaining a closed system of propaganda that can't be challenged.

The worst of all - the most repugnant and despicable - are those calling themselves "journalists" while doing the opposite of what that term implies: they serve rather than challenge power, they deceive rather than inform, they demand censorship rather than free and open inquiry.

Heap scorn on the corporate outlets and their deceitful, pro-censorship employees abusing the "journalist" label. Read them with full skepticism, or just ignore them.

Support outlets and platforms that want to protect free inquiry and the right of dissent, not rob you of it.

Twitter, 6 September 2022

Ivermectin doses

According to the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, the basic dose of ivermectin is 0.2 mg/kg/day. That is the usual dose of ivermectin for most parasitic infections, typically repeated the next day or the next week. The same dose (by weight) can be used in children weighing at least 15 kg, ie, 33 pounds. See the drug information at UpToDate.

Opinions differ on whether ivermectin should be taken on an empty stomach or with a meal, though the latter has been shown to increase its absorption.

Ivermectin comes in 3-mg pills and multiples (eg, 6 mg and 12 mg).

One kg is 2.2 pounds. So the basic dose of 0.2 mg/kg is 3 mg per 33 pounds body weight, ie:

  • 9 mg for someone who weighs around 99 pounds
  • 12 mg for someone around 132 pounds
  • 15 mg for someone around 165 pounds, etc.

The dose can be repeated as often as weekly for prevention.

After exposure, the basic dose can be doubled, to 0.4 mg/kg, ie:

  • 18 mg for someone who weighs around 99 pounds
  • 24 mg for someone around 132 pounds
  • 30 mg for someone around 165 pounds, etc.

This or the smaller dose is then repeated after 48 hours.

Either dose can also be used when sick, repeated after 48 hours or, if still sick, repeated daily for up to 7 days until symptoms subside.

The daily dose when sick can even be increased to 0.6 mg/kg, ie:

  • 27 mg for someone who weighs around 99 pounds
  • 36 mg for someone around 132 pounds
  • 45 mg for someone around 165 pounds, etc.

For “long covid”, the FLCCCA-recommended dose is 0.2–0.3 mg/kg daily for 2–3 weeks, ie:

  • 9–15 mg for someone who weighs around 99 pounds
  • 12–18 mg for someone around 132 pounds
  • 15–21 mg for someone around 165 pounds, etc.

That is also the FLCCCA-recommended dose for post–mRNA injection recovery, daily for up to 4–6 weeks.

As for cost, larger-dose pills are cheaper. For example, at the Indian supplier misleadingly called Canadian Pharmacy Online, 120 mg of ivermectin cost, at the time of writing, $87.60 as 40 3-mg pills, $61.80 as 20 6-mg pills, and $36.90 as 10 12-mg pills. Ivermectin.com, which claims to ship from the USA, sells only 12-mg pills: 50 (600 mg total) for $105, 100 (1,200 mg total) for $190.

And remember to make sure you have enough vitamin D!

August 26, 2022

Consent Factory: New Normal Fascism

13/01/2017: Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works
10/07/2019: The United States of Fascism Hysteria
08/08/2019: The War on White Supremacist Terror
20/08/2019: Manufacturing Mass Fascism Hysteria
03/09/2019: The Future of the Spectacle … or How the West Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Reality Police
04/10/2019: Trumpenstein Must Be Destroyed!
21/10/2019: The Putin-Nazis Are Coming (Again)!
05/11/2019: The Ministry of Wiki-Truth
19/11/2019: Reclaiming Your Inner Fascist
18/12/2019: The Year of Manufactured Hysteria
13/01/2020: World War III
27/01/2020: Dead President Walking
10/02/2020: Bernie Sanders’ Commie Kill Swarm
21/02/2020: Subcomandante Bloomberg
09/03/2020: The Great Chinese Bat Flu Panic of 2020
18/03/2020: Covid-19 Global Lockdown
26/03/2020: The War on Death
13/04/2020: Brave New Normal
04/05/2020: Virus of Mass Destruction
20/05/2020: Brave New Normal (Part 2)
01/06/2020: The Minneapolis Putsch
10/06/2020: The Worst Literal Hitler Ever
29/06/2020: The New (Pathologized) Totalitarianism
20/07/2020: GloboCap Über Alles
29/07/2020: The White Black Nationalist Color Revolution
09/08/2020: Invasion of the New Normals
02/09/2020: New Normal Gleichschaltung, or: The Storming of the Reichstag Building on 29 August, 2020
20/09/2020: The War on Populism: The Final Act
13/10/2020: The Covidian Cult
27/10/2020: The Last Days of the Trumpian Reich
10/11/2020: THE WAR IS OVER … GLOBOCAP TRIUMPHS!
22/11/2020: The Germans Are Back!
08/12/2020: Where’s the Hitler?
16/12/2020: Year Zero
11/01/2021: Are You Ready for Total (Ideological) War?
24/01/2021: That’s All Folks!
08/02/2021: The (New Normal) War on Domestic Terror
23/02/2021: The Vaccine (Dis)Information War
08/03/2021: The New Normal (Phase 2)
22/03/2021: The New Normal “Reality” Police
29/03/2021: The “Unvaccinated” Question
21/04/2021: The Covidian Cult (Part II)
03/05/2021: The Criminalization of Dissent
25/05/2021: Greetings from “New Normal” Germany!
20/06/2021: Manufacturing (New Normal) “Reality”
29/06/2021: The War on Reality
14/07/2021: The Approaching Storm
19/07/2021: The Propaganda War (And How to Fight It)
31/07/2021: The Road to Totalitarianism
13/08/2021: The Propaganda War (Part II)
02/09/2021: The Covidian Cult (Part III)
12/10/2021: The Great New Normal Purge
31/10/2021: (New Normal) Winter is Coming
22/11/2021: Pathologized Totalitarianism 101
16/12/2021: The Year of the New Normal Fascist
18/01/2022: The Last Days of the Covidian Cult
04/02/2022: Attack of the Transphobic Putin-Nazi Truckers!
20/02/2022: The Naked Face of New Normal Fascism
07/03/2022: Revenge of the Putin-Nazis!
27/03/2022: Springtime for GloboCap
09/05/2022: The Rise of the New Normal Reich
25/05/2022: Monkeypoxmania
20/06/2022: The Federal Republic of New Normal Germany
22/07/2022: The Normalization of The New Normal Reich
06/08/2022: The “Unvaccinated” Question (Revisited)
26/08/2022: New Normal Germany’s Geisterfahrer Geist
31/08/2022: The Rise of the New Normal Reich: Consent Factory Essays, Vol. III, banned in Germany, Austria, and The Netherlands!
03/10/2022: The Morning After 16/10/2022: The Gaslighting of the Masses 13/11/2022: The Road to Totalitarianism (Revisited)

July 28, 2022

Agriculture (and Energy) Revolutions

The First, or Neolithic, Agricultural Revolution was the wide-scale transition of many human cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, making an increasingly large population possible. [Also the beginning of centralized government and social hierarchy]

The Second, or British, Agricultural Revolution, was an unprecedented increase in agricultural production in Britain arising from increases in labor and land productivity between the mid-17th and late 19th centuries. Agricultural output grew faster than the population over the hundred-year period ending in 1770, and thereafter productivity remained among the highest in the world. This increase in the food supply contributed to the rapid growth of population in England and Wales, from 5.5 million in 1700 to over 9 million by 1801, though domestic production gave way increasingly to food imports in the nineteenth century as the population more than tripled to over 35 million.

The Third Agricultural, or Green, Revolution is the set of research technology transfer initiatives occurring between 1950 and the late 1960s that increased agricultural production in parts of the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s. The initiatives resulted in the adoption of new technologies, including high-yielding varieties of cereals, agrochemicals, controlled water supply (usually involving irrigation), and newer methods of cultivation, including mechanization. … It contributed to widespread reduction of poverty, averted hunger for millions, raised incomes, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced land use for agriculture, and contributed to declines in infant mortality.

The energy for the Green Revolution was provided by fossil fuels in the form of fertilizers (natural gas), pesticides (oil), and hydrocarbon-fueled irrigation.

(above from Wikipedia)

Obviously, there have been adverse consequences for the environment and other animals, but you can't just outlaw it without an alternative in place (and support for the transition, eg, to large-scale organic agriculture) that can sustain what it created. But that's what much of the new "green" agenda is doing, particularly in energy, pushing (much) less efficient technologies (requiring more resources – both materials and land – and infrastructure) that are therefore even more harmful to not only people but also the planet as a whole.
 

July 16, 2022

“Ethics” in a moral vacuum; or an hubristic pile of false premises and untested assumptions

Compulsory moral bioenhancement should be covert
Parker Crutchfield
Assistant professor in Medical Ethics, Humanities, and Law
Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo
Bioethics 2018;33:112–121
doi:10.1111/bioe.12496

. . . . .

The present issue is not whether the public health program of administering moral bioenhancement ought to occur; it’s a matter of how it should occur. Let us suppose that if it were to occur overtly, it would occur similarly to vaccination programs for children: At the age where the moral bioenhancement is safe and effective, children would receive the moral bioenhancement from their pediatrician or family physician or community health department, and that would be that. That information would then go on their health records, and they’d go on with their more moral lives. Let us also suppose that if the program were administered covertly it would be conducted in similar fashion. When children are scheduled to receive vaccinations, they are at the same time given the moral bioenhancement, but neither the children nor their parents or guardians are told about the moral bioenhancement and it doesn’t go in their health records. The administration of it could be double- or even triple‐blinded, so that only a few individuals are aware of the moral bioenhancement. Everyone would go on with their lives unaware of the moral bioenhancement. The question is: Which is the most ethically desirable scenario? I argue it is the second scenario, in which the moral bioenhancement is administered covertly.

. . . . .

Consider first the fact that as compared to a covert moral bioenhancement program that is blind to everyone except few, an overt program would reduce the expected utility of the program. This is because if people knew that they were being morally bioenhanced, at least some of them would fail to receive the bioenhancement. They would request exemptions from the policy on the grounds that it conflicts with their religion or their personal convictions, or they would falsely believe that the moral bioenhancement leads to various disorders or diseases unrelated to the intervention. People would slip through. Some would slip through because of failing to pay attention, while others would outright refuse the intervention. That this would happen is obvious when we consider policies on vaccination or quarantine: People refuse vaccines or otherwise fail to get them, and people slip through quarantines and other methods of isolation.

If the moral bioenhancement were overt, the expected utility would be less than it would be if it were covert. It’s not that the utility of preventing ultimate harm is less; it’s that the expectation that the moral bioenhancement will succeed in preventing it is lower. The more people that avoid the compulsory moral bioenhancement, the lower is the expectation that ultimate harm will be prevented. If the program were covert, people would be unaware of the intervention, and so would not be in a position to avoid it, resulting in many fewer people failing to receive the intervention.

Both overt as well as covert compulsory moral bioenhancement programs would restrict the range of moral attitudes, dispositions and behaviors of its participants. The range of moral attitudes, dispositions, and behaviors that would be restricted would be the same for both types of program, as it is the intervention upon these that is presumably necessary to prevent ultimate harm. So the extent to which the interventions themselves are liberty‐restricting, the liberty restrictions will be equal between a covert and an overt program. But for overt compulsory moral bioenhancement programs, participants would also know that their moral attitudes, dispositions, and behaviors are being intervened upon. Some of these people who know that their moral capacities are being restricted, will desire to not be so restricted. Thus, the desires of these people will be frustrated, which results in suffering.

If the program were covert, the people who desire to not have their moral capacities restricted wouldn’t be aware of any restriction, so, from their perspective, the desire to not be restricted wouldn’t be frustrated, which means they wouldn’t suffer from knowing that they are participating in a compulsory moral bioenhancement program.

… The same point could also apply to other public health programs, such as those that require people be vaccinated. Some people desire to not be vaccinated. When these people knowingly receive a vaccination — to attend school, for example — their desires are frustrated, and this frustration causes suffering. If it were possible to achieve all of the benefits of vaccination without having to cause the suffering that results from believing that one is vaccinated, then that would be preferable to actual vaccination procedures. … A covert compulsory moral bioenhancement program is less liberty‐restricting than a similar overt program is. …

Moreover, given that the expectation of preventing ultimate harm is lower for an overt program, the potential for more significant liberty restrictions is greater, as our liberties may be more likely to be restricted by our harsher environments that result from having undergone ultimate harm. And upon one’s death from ultimate harm, one’s liberties are fully restricted — dead people have no liberties.

… A covert program better promotes equality, because by keeping the program covert to everyone, the program ensures that all participants are treated equally. It is totally impartial. In an overt program, it would remain open that some populations are in a better position to avoid the intervention, such as those that could easily afford the penalties imposed for refusing, or those that do not rely on public health clinics.

Another potential source of unequal treatment is that likely many physicians would disagree with the policy, putting them in a better position to refuse to administer the moral bioenhancement. Based on this variance of attitudes within physicians, it is likely that the treatments would be administered unequally.

Similarly, a covert program would be fairer than an overt program. Because everyone would receive the moral bioenhancement, there is no population that would be forced to bear a disproportionate burden. … An overt program, however, may encourage others to find ways to avoid receiving the enhancement, meaning that they wouldn’t be required to bear any burden, which is unfair.

. . . . .

[A] compulsory moral bioenhancement program does violate autonomy, but only if the program is overt. If a person is compelled to participate in a moral bioenhancement program, and the person believes that the new moral capacities — including the new desires, values, and other attitudes — are caused by the enhancement, it is much more difficult to see how the person would embrace these capacities as their own. The knowledge that some of one’s moral capacities are the result of manipulation by another agent undermines trust in their authenticity. Thus, an overt program is likely to violate the authenticity condition. If the moral bioenhancement is covert, one is in a much better position to embrace the new capacities as one’s own. Though the new capacities are in fact not one’s own, there are fewer obstacles to embracing them as one’s own, such as the knowledge that they are not. … So, if a moral bioenhancement is compulsory, to best preserve authenticity, it is preferable for the program to be covert.

Even if a moral bioenhancement program does diminish a person’s autonomy, there is no implication that to do so is wrong.