For those who didn’t panic and remained curious throughout the long two years of the (ongoing) ‘pandemic’, take a bow and enjoy this quality reflection by Author Gabrielle Bauer. Nothing in her story is dissimilar to how sceptics of climate alarm are smeared, vilified, othered, and cancelled. Exact same tactics employed.
“The urge to save humanity is almost always a
false-front for the urge to rule it.”
– H.L. Mencken
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely
exercised for the good of its victims
may be the most oppressive.”
– C. S. Lewis
“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct,
and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not
regarded as members of the herd.”
— Bertrand Russell
“Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation
can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely
under the influence of a great fear.”
— Bertrand Russell
Those Who Chose Shaming Over Science
For the first 62 years of my life, I don’t recall anyone calling me a selfish idiot, much less a sociopath or a mouth-breathing Trumptard. All that changed when Covid rolled in and I expressed, ever so gingerly, a few concerns about the lockdown policies. Here’s a sampling of what the keyboard warriors threw back at me:
- Enjoy your sociopathy.
- Go lick a pole and catch the virus.
- Have fun choking on your own fluids in the ICU.
- Name three loved ones that you’re ready to sacrifice to Covid. Do it now, coward.
- You went to Harvard? Yeah, right, and I’m God. Last I checked, Harvard doesn’t accept troglodytes.
From the earliest days of the pandemic, something deep inside me—in my soul, if you will—recoiled from the political and public response to the virus. Nothing about it felt right or strong or true. This was not just an epidemiological crisis, but a societal one, so why were we listening exclusively to some select epidemiologists? Where were the mental health experts? The child development specialists? The historians? The economists? And why were our political leaders encouraging fear rather than calm?
The questions that troubled me the most had less to do with epidemiology than with ethics: Was it fair to require the greatest sacrifice from the youngest members of society, who stood to suffer the most from the restrictions? Should civil liberties simply disappear during a pandemic, or did we need to balance public safety with human rights? Unschooled in the ways of online warriors, I assumed the Internet would allow me to engage in “productive discussions” about these issues. So I hopped online, and the rest was hysteria.
Village idiot, flat earther, inbred trash, negative IQ… Let’s just say that my thin skin got the test of a lifetime.
And it wasn’t just me: anyone who questioned the orthodoxy, whether expert or ordinary citizen, got a similar skinburn. In the words of one community physician, who for obvious reasons shall remain anonymous: “Many doctors including myself, along with virologists, epidemiologists and other scientists, advocated a targeted approach and a focus on the most vulnerable cohorts of patients, only to be dismissed as anti-science, tin foil hat kooks, conspiracy theorists, antivax and other equally colorful disparaging labels.”
Early in the game I decided I wouldn’t respond to such insults with more insults—not because I’m especially high-minded, but because mudslinging contests just leave me angry and it’s not fun to walk around angry all day. Instead, I took the shaming on the chin (and still walked around angry).
The Shame Game
The shaming impulse asserted itself right from the start of the pandemic. On Twitter, #covidiot began trending on the evening of March 22, 2020, and by the time the night was over, 3,000 tweets had coopted the hashtag to denounce poor public health practices. When CBS News posted a video of spring breakers partying in Miami, outraged citizens shared the students’ names in their social media networks, accompanied by such missives as “do not give these selfish dumbfucks beds and/or respirators.”
In the early days of the pandemic, when panic and confusion reigned, such indignation could perhaps be forgiven. But the shaming gained momentum and wove itself into the zeitgeist. Also: it didn’t work.
As noted by Harvard Medical School epidemiologist Julia Marcus, “shaming and blaming people is not the best way to get them to change their behavior and actually can be counterproductive because it makes people want to hide their behavior.” Along similar lines, Jan Balkus, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Washington, maintains that shaming can make it harder for people to “acknowledge situations where they may have encountered risk.”
If shaming “covidiots” for their behavior doesn’t accomplish much, you can be sure that shaming people for Wrongthink won’t change any minds. Instead, we heretics simply stop telling the shamers what we’re thinking. We nod and smile. We give them the match point and continue the debate in our own heads.
For two years I’ve been that person. I’ve smiled politely while dodging insults. To put my interlocutors at ease, I’ve prefaced my heterodox opinions with disclaimers like “I dislike Trump as much as you do” or “For the record, I’m triple-vaxxed myself.”
Just today, I’ll allow myself to drop the pandering and call it as I see it.
To everyone who dumped on me for questioning the shutdown of civilization and calling out the damage it inflicted on the young and the poor: you can take your shaming, your scientific posturing, your insufferable moralizing, and stuff it. Every day, new research knocks more air out of your smug pronouncements.
You told me that without lockdowns, Covid would have wiped out a third of the world, much as the Black Death decimated Europe in the 14th century. Instead, a Johns Hopkins meta-analysis concluded that lockdowns in Europe and the US reduced Covid-19 mortality by an average of 0.2%.
What’s more, long before this study we had good evidence that anything less than a China-style door-welding lockdown wouldn’t do much good. In a 2006 paper, the WHO Writing Group affirmed that “mandatory case reporting and isolating patients during the influenza pandemic of 1918 did not stop virus transmission and were impractical.”
You told me that social interaction is a want, not a need. Well, yes. So is good food. In truth, social isolation kills. As reported in a September 2020 review article published in Cell, loneliness “may be the most potent threat to survival and longevity.” The article explains how social isolation lowers cognitive development, weakens the immune system, and puts people at risk of substance use disorders. And it’s not like we didn’t know this before Covid: in 2017, research by Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad determined that social isolation accelerates mortality as much as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Her findings splashed the pages of news outlets around the world.
You told me we need not worry about the effects of Covid restrictions on children because kids are resilient—and besides, they had it much worse in the great wars. Meanwhile, the UK saw a 77% increasein pediatric referrals for such issues as self-harm and suicidal thoughts during a 6-month period in 2021, in relation to a similar stretch in 2019. And if that doesn’t shake you up, a World Bank analysis estimated that, in low-income countries, the economic contraction ensuing from lockdown policies led 1.76 children to lose their lives for every Covid fatality averted.
You told me that vaccinated people don’t carry the virus, taking your cue from CDC director Rachel Walensky’s proclamation in early 2021, and we all know how well that aged.
You told me I had no business questioning what infectious disease experts were telling us to do. (I’m paraphrasing here. What you actually said was: “How about staying in your lane and shutting the eff up?”) I got my vindication from Dr. Stefanos Kales, another from Harvard Medical School, who warned of the “dangers of turning over public policy and public health recommendations to people who have had their careers exclusively focused on infectious disease” in a recent CNBC interview. “Public health is a balance,” he said. Indeed it is. In a 2001 book called Public Health Law: Power, Duty and Restraint, Lawrence Gostin argued for more systematic assessments of the risks and benefits of public health interventions and more robust protection of civil liberties.
So yeah. I’m upset and your finger-wagging posse left me alienated enough that I had to go looking for new tribes, and in this quest I’ve been rather successful. I have found more kindred spirits than I could ever have imagined, in my city of Toronto and all over the world: doctors, nurses, scientists, farmers, musicians, and homemakers who share my distaste for your grandstanding. Epidemiologists, too. These fine folks have kept me from losing my mind.
So thank you. And get off my lawn.
Gabrielle Bauer Gabrielle divides her time between writing books, articles, and clinical materials for health professionals. She has received six national awards for her health journalism. She has written two books—Tokyo, My Everest, co-winner of the Canada-Japan Book Prize, and Waltzing The Tango, finalist in the Edna Staebler creative nonfiction award—and is working on two more.READ MORE
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‘Revolutions always devour their own.’
By Tim Graham ~
An MSNBC producer for Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell left the network in dramatic fashion on Monday, writing a harshly critical open letter on her personal website.
“July 24th was my last day at MSNBC. I don’t know what I’m going to do next exactly but I simply couldn’t stay there anymore,” Ariana Pekary wrote on her personal website. “My colleagues are very smart people with good intentions. The problem is the job itself. It forces skilled journalists to make bad decisions on a daily basis.”
She then quoted an anonymous “successful and insightful TV veteran” who said: “We are a cancer and there is no cure… But if you could find a cure, it would change the world.”
As it is, this cancer stokes national division, even in the middle of a civil rights crisis. The model blocks diversity of thought and content because the networks…
View original post 495 more words
TO whom it may concern,
CC: Josh Frydenberg (Australian Minister for the Environment & Energy)
Last year I contacted you in regards to updating 7 years of missing tropical cyclone data on the BoM record.
August 16, 2017
I have been a keen observer of weather and climate for well over a climate point (42 years)!
The chaotic system of climate and “climate change” is ever fascinating. Though, today the ‘chaos’ has been replaced by an unhealthy polarization of “the science”, all too often determined by belief, politics and ideology. Sadly, dogma has trumped empirical evidence, corrupting the scientific method.
That said, I am seeking from you an updated version of the cyclone trends graph which ends at 2011. The BoM site has excellent data up to 2017 to complete the series. Is there a reason why the data has not been translated to the current graph? I would be happy to work on getting it up to date if resources are limited!
As a start, there is a written record from 2012-2015 here: http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/history/index.shtml
Jamie Spry (Melbourne, Australia)
TO your credit, communication was swift and missing data promptly updated to 2016/17:
I write to you today seeking access to valuable historical information you once had on your website pertaining to historical “extremes”, namely the devastating 7 year “Federation Drought” 1895-1902…
THE page is no longer available:
ORIGINAL content of Australia’s important climate change history has been thankfully saved in the WayBackMachine and sent to me by Apafarkas Agmánd:
Drought. The word evokes images of barren fields, dying stock, and water holes and reservoirs drying to cracked mud. Shrivelled hopes, failed crops, and often economic ruin are its trademarks.
Drought is also part and parcel of life in Australia, particularly in the marginal areas away from the better-watered coasts and ranges. Of all the climatic phenomena to afflict Australia, drought is probably the most economically costly: major droughts such as that of 1982/83 can have a major impact on the national economy. Moreover, apart from crop failure and stock losses, droughts set the scene for other disastrous phenomena, such as fires, dust-storms, and general land degradation.
Denuded earth and dry watercourses during drought near Gunnedah, in the normally well-watered Namoi Valley region of New South Wales (photo courtesy of the NSW Dept of Land and Water Conservation).
Why is Australia drought prone?
Australia is prone to drought because of its geography. Our continent sits more or less astride the latitudes of the subtropical high pressure belt, an area of sinking, dry, stable air and usually clear skies. The far north and south of the country come under the influence of reasonably regular rain-bearing disturbances for at least part of the year, and the east coast is watered reasonably well by moisture from the Tasman and Coral Seas. However over most of the country rainfall is not only low, but highly erratic.
Many, but by no means all, droughts over eastern and northern Australia accompany the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon, which typically lasts about a year, as in 1982/83. Droughts in the western areas and over much of the interior normally have different causes. Nevertheless, on some occasions (such as 1914 and 1994) El Niño-related droughts may extend across virtually the entire country. On such occasions, the economic and livestock losses are exacerbated
Hand-feeding sheep in western New South Wales during the extended drought in Queensland and New South Wales during the 1990s
(photo c/o the Fairfax Photo Library).
Over much of the country, droughts can extend over several years, relieved only by brief, transitory rains. Indeed, probably the most damaging type of drought is when one or two very dry years follow several years of generally below-average rainfall. The “Federation drought” of the late 1890s through 1902 is an example, as is the more recent 1991-95 drought in Queensland, northern New South Wales and parts of central Australia. Over still longer time-scales, Australia’s rainfall history features several periods of a decade or longer that seem to have been distinctly “drought prone”. For instance, the mid to late 1920s and the 1930s were a period of generally low rainfall over most of the country, continuing through most of the 1940s over the eastern states. A similar dry spell occurred in the 1960s over central and eastern Australia. During these low rainfall periods, not every year is dry; it is just that rainfall in most years is below the long-term average, and there are often runs of years with recurrent drought. Thus in the late 1930s-40s major droughts occurred over eastern Australia in 1937-38, 1940-41, and 1943-45.
The 1990s saw formal Government acknowledgement that drought is part of the natural variability of the Australian climate, with drought relief for farmers and agricultural communities being restricted to times of so-called “exceptional circumstances”. In other words, the agricultural sector was expected to cope with the occasional drought, and relief would be available only for droughts of unusual length or severity.
AS Eastern Australia suffers through another awful drought, it is important that the public is educated into the causes of long-term drought such that appropriate action can be taken, as noted by the Australian Government in the 1990’s, “The 1990s saw formal Government acknowledgement that drought is part of the natural variability of the Australian climate, with drought relief for farmers and agricultural communities being restricted to times of so-called “exceptional circumstances”.
EDUCATION and understanding of the “land of sweeping plains,/Of ragged mountain ranges,/Of droughts and flooding rains.” helps to eliminate spurious claims of human-induced climate change as the cause of drought, all-too-often used by the mainstream media to push a political agenda or ideology.
SUCH wistful activism encouraging a misallocation of funds in a vain attempt to “stop” climate change with precious public money awarded to wind farm, solar panel corporations and power companies, rather than fund drought mitigation schemes (dams) and to aid farmers through tedious times that will always occur naturally, regardless of Australia or the world’s carbon dioxide output.