The problem is that you are facing: 1. coercive institutions, 2. public media, and 3. social pressure.
You can have all the scientific arguments and common sense on your side, but the status quo will be impermeable.
Since nowadays everything we’re talking about is the pandemic, let me use it to illustrate what I mean…
The pandemic has not shaken the status quo, it does not pose a threat to it. Quite the opposite! The pandemic brings various benefits to coercive institutions. There are extra reasons to command behaviors and people will follow these commands as they seem to be for their own good. Restricting personal freedoms in the name of the “common good” is further intensified by social pressure.
Science, too, can be interpreted in such a manner that it comes across as a 100% supporter of the general “consensus,” while rare opponents of the consensus are irrational dissidents.
The problem of (non)soveregnty
If you don’t agree with global virus containment measures and really want something different, you have to become independent from the system as a whole. You as a natural person need to “sign out” of society and as a sovereign individual take full responsibility for your life, well-being, and health. By doing so, you take full responsibility for the damage that your “freedom” may directly or indirectly cause to others. This means terminating all contracts with the system.
In the case of infectious diseases, you have to consciously bear responsibility for the consequences if you become ill and if you infect someone else. Of course, the same applies to the flu, cold, and all other infectious diseases. This would require a high level of self-responsibility and solidarity — as in the so-called Swedish model.
It wouldn’t be adequate if the system enforced draconian sentences for “irresponsible behavior” in transmitting infectious diseases, as it is impossible to point the finger at the one and only culprit with full certainty. The virus is literally in the air, it is an inevitable natural force; but scapegoating is hard to resist as it is such an effective tool of coercion. The media is hungry for personal stories attracting readers to click on them (and get exposed to ads).
Unfortunately, the system doesn’t respond well to common sense when it is intensely convinced of something. In such conviction, it only expects obedience for the “common good.”
If you doubt the general “consensus” and want to have any power in dialogue with people who sincerely believe and advocate the prescribed behaviors, you must be part of a sufficiently large group that’s ready to show its integrity in what they advocate. They need to fully walk their talk and, for example, expose themselves to the “anti-quarantine.” That’s the only way to put general measures in perspective.
Inherent in such a decision is relieving the system of any responsibility for the health and survival of the “test group.”
But is that even possible? If you are an integral part of the system (we all are), you are not really the owner of your body – not even after your death – which you’ll quickly find out if you want a different treatment for your dead body to what’s legally permissible. Your relatives will be faced with that fact after your death, no matter what you wrote in your will. Corpses have no freedom, and what about the bodies of living people?
As long as you’re in the system, you willingly or unwillingly agree to the rules of the game. When you are on the periphery of the system or even outside it, you have a bit more personal freedom, but you are also more exposed to natural threats – and if something bad happens to you, you will still turn to the system for help. Most people, when they go into the wilderness, break off their relationship with the system only temporarily. Even indigenous peoples are increasingly enrolled in the global system. Who would blame them: when a toothache strikes, it would be dumb not to go to the dentist.
As long as that’s the case, we cannot blame the system for protecting its members, the people, exactly the way it does. If we want something different, we must be prepared to bear all the consequences of our decisions.
The test group would need to enter the “anti-quarantine” by defining the time frame and relations with the wider society, since it is difficult to expect (although that would be ideal), it could ensure full self-sufficiency in basic goods: drinking water, food , energy, health care, etc.
The test group would need to live without restrictions (masks, prohibitions on socializing, etc.), but within the geographical boundaries of a community, ie without interactions with the wider world. They would need to undergo monitoring, tests, and statistical assessments of their conditions (both COVID-positive and -negative) even more accurately than in society at large. This would include monitoring the natural transmission of infections, symptoms, development of immunity, natural mortality, connections and combinations with other diseases, etc.
Were such an experiment to be carried out for years or even decades, individuals could be observed in the light of new variations of viruses and epidemics, not just COVID-19. We could understand how they respond to various infections in comparison to vaccinated and quarantined individuals. This would put into perspective the natural herd immunity claim – that would be the way to confirm or invalidate it. Over the years, we could compare different reactions to seasonal flu, how newborns develop immunity, etc.
Of course, as I said before, we would need a large enough closed community prepared to undergo such an experiment. They could invite the scientific community, which advocates general vaccination, to create another test group equally isolated, vaccinated, exposed to infection, and then monitored like the other group. Side effects could thus be more precisely ascertained, even better than in usual testing of new vaccines.
In the U.S. alone, there are enough homeless people who might be happy to engage in such an experiment in exchange for a roof over their heads in one of the vacated industrial cities and a minimum wage. Even if each test group included 10,000 people and the experiment lasted 1 year, the cost would be a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of global measures in 2020.
A strawberry on the cake would be four additional groups, or six in total, namely:
- unvaccinated and then infected,
- unvaccinated and uninfected,
- vaccinated and then infected,
- vaccinated and uninfected,
- “vaccinated” and then infected,
- “vaccinated” and uninfected.
The infected and uninfected would not know which is which. Also, vaccinated would not know who is receiving the vaccine and who is receiving the placebo (the “vaccinated”). What I’ve just described is a broadened procedure (in lay terms) of the process vaccine developers are obliged to carry out. This process is being drastically compressed in the case of COVID-19, which calls into question the ethics of vaccine developers.
I don’t deny that my proposal to have six test groups is morally questionable. It is unethical to deliberately expose volunteers to infection and to risk their lives. So, I am aware of the ethical questions associated with the seemingly Mengelean experimentation on living people.
Im acquainted with the ethics related to the pandemic and I understand the concerns and logical arguments. My plead is for powerful people to stop censoring alternative views and preaching about ethics from their posh villas, imposing vaccination on everyone, including the poor in Africa, to save them from the virus, so they could go on living in hunger and misery, violence and conflict, while doors to the developed world remain as closed for them as ever.
I find it hard to shake off the impression that social ethics is selective and can be just as much an excuse for good deeds as an excuse for ignorance.
I’ll briefly go astray now and share my personal experience with science in a completely different field.
I am barefoot everywhere I go — except, of course, when the feet need to be protected (in thorns, heat, cold). Just as I protect my hands with gloves when necessary, I protect my feet. I put some shoes on also in some special cases, for example when I want to enter a venue barefoot, but the coercive officials demand that I put on my shoes. Sometimes I manage to talk with the person, sometimes not. The coercive authorities have never given me reasonable or scientific arguments or legal provisions as to why I am obliged to wear shoes. They used sheer coercion. When entering the venue is not so important for me, then I don’t put on my shoes, but I smile at the person that banned me entrance and walk away.
I decided for barefooting on the basis of careful consideration, reading many scientific studies, and, ultimately by testing it personally. By doing so, I came to the conclusion that being barefoot most of the time is the best choice not only for foot health, but for posture, mobility, balance, and more.
In my 14 years of barefooting, I’ve come to realize that the mainstream consensus on shoes, how it’s only normal and proper to be constantly shod, has nothing to do with common sense and science. Shoes are shaped wrong and actually hurt us. Yeah, yeah, I know, this is screaming in the desert — no one will pay attention to reasonable arguments that support barefooting 24/7 in the modern world. I imagine someone screamed something similar 50 years ago about cigarettes, but no one listened to them, everyone smoked on.
Social conventions are so strong that science often falls into their trap. The shape of shoes, for example, is fundamentally unscientific: the pointed and raised tip of the shoe, the squeezed toes, the massive widened and raised heel — or even the extremely thin high heel — are all artificial and in so many ways harmful.
I’m not saying everyone should take off their shoes by coercion. I would like a clear, reasonable, scientific recommendation when, how, and why to wear different types of shoes. I would expect the same in regards to masks.
Were scientists to come together, put aside their biases (and their shoes!), and make experiential comparative studies of barefootness and footwear, could they come up with a balanced recommendation. Then it could said that they were not coming from the one and only acceptable precondition: obligation to wearing shoes.
Being shod is normal, but barefoot is abnormal, period.
Wearing a mask is normal, not wearing a mask is abnormal, period.
I agree with everyone that’s saying we need consistent and reasonable measures in response to COVID-19. Even if we had that, it wouldn’t guarantee that people would respect the recommendations. Social pressure will win over reason and interfere with common sense, no matter what.
I used shoes in comparison with masks precisely because you never think about your shoes! You don’t ask yourself when it’s better to be barefoot and what kind of footwear would be healthier for your feet than socially “prescribed” shoes. You just follow the example of those around you. It never crosses your mind that shoes might be superfluous for walking, work, running, going for dinner, driving a car, etc. If you approached this question scientifically, rationally, you’d select situations where shoes are really needed and be barefoot otherwise.
The same goes for masks. The rational assessment and choice would support consistency but make it reasonable and balanced, not coercive. To implement such an approach you would need people willing to take the trouble of challenging their own convictions. That’s hard to imagine.
Shoes and masks are not the only things you wear because that’s a general convention. You repeat hundreds of cultural habits like parrots, and you lack the will or even the ability to make rational judgments about them. Science is banned from everyday culture.
What I’m saying is that you cannot expect objectivity from the science on items that concern our everyday life. Science will remain caught up in polemics, debates, and denial. Coercive institutions and social pressure will keep your behaviors inside the boundaries of general conventions.
That’s a norm for everyone. You can have the best arguments in the world and loads of personal experiences, but the pressure to follow the conventions will not go away.
Fortunately, barefooting is not contagious, so at least nobody can force me to wear shoes with the argument that I might spread the virus by being barefoot. When it comes to vaccinations, I really don’t know …
There is no science without comparison
I’ve written about the claim in this title in one of my previous blogs (here, in Slovenian). I would gladly and with all solidarity wear a mask all the time, lock myself in a room, adhere to all the precautions, and accept the vaccine, if conventional science mustered enough pluralism, realism, natural ethics, while also not pushing away, ignoring, or censoring alternative explanations and suggestions.
I would love scientists from various groups that understand COVID-19 differently to sit together and discuss it, finally coming in front of the public together and announcing something like this:
Advocates and skeptics among infectologists have come together to support an open experiment. Groups of volunteers will participate in an extensive study to evaluate the behavior of COVID-19 virus in vaccinated and in unvaccinated individuals.
The first phase of the test will last 12 months. During this time, out of precaution please observe general measures. Preliminary results will show which measures will have to be longer-term and which can be abandoned.
After 24 months, we will propose a sensible long-term strategy for tackling future pandemics based on the results — if leaving the population to natural herd immunity proves to be the best course, measures and bans will be lifted. We will provide increased medical care for seasonal infections as in the case of colds and flu. Vulnerable groups and general population will be able to opt for free voluntary vaccination.
If the experient shows that the consequences of COVID-19 justify drastic measures, and if vaccines show high results in curbing the spread of the pandemic, we will classify the COVID-19 vaccine as a mandatory vaccine for all. The test itself will be under the scrutiny of the scientific, political, and lay public. The general consensus will be adopted transparently — in an open dialogue with skeptics and opponents of vaccination.
Monitoring of those included in the test will continue in the future to understand the consequences of the infection in those who have not been vaccinated as in those who have been.
Pharmaceutic companies are cooperating transparently and without profit. The recipe for the vaccine will be freely available. Recipients of the vaccine will be informed about the ingredients, the safety risks and their rights in case of side effects.
If I read in the media (approximately) such a statement, supported by both sides, those who advocate vaccination, as well as those who are skeptical about vaccination, it would give me confidence that science can be impartial, that it can overcome blind conventions, consensuses, and prejudices, and that it can work together for the common good.
The world rushes forward, that’s what it does best. Mistakes are harder to admit, the longer you repeat them and the more people are involved in them. When you’re talking with decision-makers who continue making decisions in a certain way, it is useless to bring up the Swedish model. They are not Swedes, neither are the people they represent, so they will stick to their own model, whatever that is.
Rational arguments are inadequate in conversation with people who are sure of themselves and convinced of their references.
What can we do?
If we are unable to create a large enough free community, we are left to accept general measures when we are in the system and/or expand the room of personal freedom along with people with whom we share everyday living space and life — with whom we do not need masks.
The system of coercion will not allow you much more than that — just look at how the cultural appropriation of indigenous peoples developed. Rarely do they keep their old identities. COVID-19 is a great excuse for the coercion system to intensify cultural appropriation and domination over the peoples in the name of conventional global ethics.
On the one hand, I am critical of the system, but on the other hand, I find it hypocritical when individuals who enjoy all the convenience that the system offers require special treatment for themselves and get angry. The system tries to do the best it can for the “common good,” as it understands it. The system attempts to protect the vulnerable according to the ethics on which it’s based so that people wouldn’t suffer a fate no one wants: severe consequences and even death. It doesn’t want this especially for all those people who placed confidence in the system and depend on it.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we’re all part of the system as it gives us comfort, provisions, security, information, infrastructure. If you had the time to read this blog post on your computer or smartphone, you are privileged and you are doing well. Don’t complain, please. Be in solidarity and look for solutions in dialogue, not in a dispute.
It is not difficult to find errors in the system. There is, of course, plenty of room for improvement! But if you travel around the world, you will see that the system in your own country — with all the media hype and political machinations (or in spite of it) — is still doing its job quite well and before you start criticizing it, you should sincerely thank it for everything that takes place invisibly in the background and allows you to live so comfortably — even during the lockdown and restrictions.
First understand, only then ask to be understood.
As I call for an alternative, I try to understand the system as it is. Only when the person I speak with agrees, that I understood her or him, will I present my new proposal and help that person come to the point of understanding me.
Unfortunately, in our society we do not encourage much of such discourse, where doubt enhances dialogue, encourages the airing of opinions and the convergence of views. Doubt is a threat and the only answer is a counterattack. The winner is usually the majority — even if majority means 50.1%.
In the system where general conventions are dictated by: 1. coercive institutions, 2. general media, and 3. social pressure, it is to be expected that the majority of the scientific community will follow the mainstream version of the “consensus”. Consensus skeptics may form dissenting circles, comprised of thousands of eminent experts, but that number will still be insignificant in comparison to the majority. The guardians of the status quo will turn their backs on the minority and a comparison will never take place because it won’t gain a broad enough support.
Were we really to take things into our own hands…
…we wouldn’t oppose the system radically and announce a war against it. We would create the aforementioned test groups and rigorously monitor them. We would invite all sides of scientists to the same table, open a dialogue with all possible outcomes, and invite everyone involved to reach a broad scientific consensus.
If scientists were able to be so open-minded as to overcome their own prejudices and allow for a variety of possible approaches supported by empiricism — I would trust them as professionals. But as long as science is divided and while the majority tries to silence and censor the minority, something seems fishy to me. Only too often has progressive science proven that the majority was wrong and the minority right — the theories of many ingenious scientists were initially considered ridiculous.
I’m particularly suspicious of scientists supported by pharmaceutical companies and billionaires, where enriching themselves non-transparently during the pandemic is not unlikely. If science cannot imagine a better solution for the pandemic (for the good of humanity) than rushing to create a vaccine, that is — at least for me — offensive to my dignity. Give me an alternative — I’ll take the consequences, can I please?
When pharmacy, politics, and the media shout through all possible channels, THE VACCINE IS OUR ONLY SOLUTION!!!!, that brings up a big red flag! Something is wrong. Present a comparative study and you will have my trust and the trust of many other people, believe me. Especially if vaccine development and marketing are fully transparent and not-for-profit.
I doubt that will happen any time soon. I’m afraid that the shouting will continue, the coercive institutions will support the measures and stop the rebellion. Global society will move on pretty much the same as before.
I don’t know anyone with enough power and influence (plus hope and will) to unite a large enough group of people to take responsibility and enter an “anti-quarantine” in the name of science and partake in the entire experiment I’ve described above. That would be an example of uniting science for the common good, and not merely following orders of companies to do studies in their interest to increase the value of their shares.
What do we have left? Do what we’re told and shut up. Or go to the person we disagree with and start a real conversation.