As the Covid-19 crisis progresses, censorship programs advance, amid calls for China-style control of the Internet
The Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massahi video had over 5,000,000 views in 3 days when it was taken down by the owners of YouTube-- (not "Despacito" territory, but impressive). The comments section was filled with interesting discussion (I'd say as many against as for, but I didn't count). It gave people a public sphere. The point by point dissection of the doctors' presentation by many commenters expanded understanding. Many of the commenters provided refutation and data analysis. Taking the presentation down ended the discussion.
The rush to censor is fearful. At least the Erickson and Massahi video provided (for a brief few days) a forum where people of different viewpoints engaged each other.
OK, Matt, loved you for years, but this one got me to cough up the $40 subscription...your ability to see clearly amidst this insanity we are in is both rare and invaluable. Thank you thank you thank you.
Tremendous article. Well done mate. Several ringers in here. All aces.
I am shocked at how badly the pandemic has been covered in terms of a 360 view. "If it bleeds it leads", so there's lots of gory stories of packed hospitals people drowning in their own lung fluid, etc. Second is the financial impact, either on the billionaires, or on the working poor, lots of outrage on both sides.
But those aren't the only stories. Somehow we've lost the narrative that 95% of people affected by the pandemic are elderly and have at least one major illness. A child is many more time likely to be killed by the regular flu - or a car accident - than CV-19, but everyone is shrilling talking about home-schooling six months from now.
I haven't added up the numbers, but abuse, addiction, depression and suicide are all way up - for all ages and all conditions of health. We also have millions of people waiting on cancer treatments and angiograms and other life-saving treatments because they are all closed. Do we count a death due to cancer in six months as Covid because they missed the window for effective treatment? Are we so myopically focused on the primary effect of the pandemic, and yet blind to the all the secondary effects that DO add up?
And then of course there's the financial effects. We could have millions and millions on the street in a few months - singles, families, elderly, all because they lost their income and had no way to keep the bills paid up. Because of the multi-billion dollar bailout, many large companies are sitting on stacks of cash that they don't have to spend on employees. The longer those employees are gone, the longer those companies have to automate, or just not replace those jobs, the worse the unemployment and poverty situation will go on.
I don't agree on forcing people to go to work in dangerous conditions, but for most people they aren't that dangerous. Yes, there are those random stories of people that you wouldn't expect dying from the pandemic that do - but the risks of Covid-19 for the healthy and the non-ill are reasonable given all the other risks of everyday living that exist no matter what.
We should be concetrating our efforts on how to protect the vulnerable - because they are by far the most likely to suffer ill, and figure out rational, reasonable ways to protect them from the general population, while allowing the general population more freedoms.
In my opinion, the US is so mired in self-pity, victimhood and drama - that we are unable to function in a rational way. I think we have less than ten years, tops, before it's pure authoritarianism.
While I probably disagree with Taibbi on a fair number of policy issues, he is one of the few left of center journalists who possesses intellectual honesty. I agree with him that we need to stop looking at every fact from the standpoint of how it might play for my side politically. As I say often, if it rains today, nothing that Trump, McConnell, Pelosi, or Ocasia-Cortez says about the rain will change the fact that it rained. I will not say that it did not rain because I prefer the source, or that it did not rain because I do not prefer the source. As to the advocacy of prior restraint on the press, this Atlantic article argues a position at odds with the intent of our Founding Fathers, and at odds with our jurisprudence. What makes it so disturbing is that it is the position of two law professors. I am an attorney, and I have believed that if we put 100 attorneys in a room, they might not agree on much. But they would oppose restrictions on free speech, and prior restraints on the press, with a few exceptions such as troop movement. This Atlantic article was not published in the Daily Stormtrooper, or The Spartacus League. It was in a mainstream publication, and it was written by experts in the law. Regardless of whether you are right, left, or center, if you want to live in a democratic republic, you must oppose prior restraints on the media.
Full disclosure: I'm a libertarian. I do not agree with much of what Matt Taibbi says. That out of the way, over the past year, Matt has been doing yeoman's work in taking on the terrifying anti-intellectualism sweeping the left in their effort to attack Trump. As Taibbi says in this article: the cure is worse than the disease.
We cannot allow the central tenets of public discourse and critical examination of facts to be a casualty in the left-right total war we've experienced since Reagan.
Thank God for Matt Taibbi having a platform.
Like always, I agree and am moved deeply by most of your positions. I do however find the argument not entirely convincing. I've seen you down on Russiagate from the beginning and I've never felt like I understood why. I get the barrage without the evidence and what that means for the broader context but seriously, Washington's entire currency is lying. So too is Wall Street. But Putin's isn't? Trump's? Is it really that complicated? Trump was laundering real estate for bad guys for decades. It's his business model. Deutsche Bank was involved with fraud in every dimension and direction and Trump was a relatively small play all things considered, but the SOB knew what he was involved with and doing. He went so far as to claim the "Act of God" defense based on deuschbag Greenspan's insane lie that no one saw 2008 coming. Trump went so far as to sue DM for being a victim of predatory lending. Trump? Victim of Predatory Lending??!?!?! WTF?!?!? Given all of that and then some (Mercers, Bannon, etc.) are we to pretend it wasn't exactly what it looks like? Why wouldn't we? Because Clinton was on the other side? I really don't get that part at all.
You might enjoy reading this, written by a "risk communicator" for the WHO.
(a snippet, but I recommend reading the whole thing.)
"I’m especially interested in sources of expert bias that usually fly under the radar. Friendship and peer pressure, for example, rarely get as much attention as money, or even as ideology. As I’ve already discussed, experts’ opinions are mostly secondhand, just like everybody else’s opinions. And just like everybody else’s opinions, experts’ opinions are greatly influenced by affiliation – that is, by the opinions of their friends and colleagues. (See for example this discussion of conflict-of-interest issues affecting experts who advised the World Health Organization on how to handle the 2009–10 swine flu pandemic.)"
Matt, I disagree, perhaps, with your reference to Kemp and the other governors who opened their states. Don't you agree that their effort seems to be an attempt to prevent workers from claiming unemployment benefit and that, as such, their efforts should not be seen as motivated by a simple, freely determined skepticism about the merits of the science or even the biased journalism? I do applaud your general thesis, and would add for my part that one of the most interesting phenomena regarding the media response to coronavirus and scientific material in general is a seeming mass desire to settle matters once and for all rather than fostering an attitude that scientific activity is more than anything else a manifestly long-drawn out, labor intensive pursuit, that requires much time, almost always, before actionable insights can be formulated, much less acted upon. It is odd that, as you have noted so many times, a media so addicted to manufacturing themes that must be continually resuscitated, like Russia, do the exact opposite with science: as you note, pundits and reporters, when confronted with science, tend to cram and swot maniacally (under deadline, assuredly) in order to get as close to a definitive statement as possible as fast as possible, when the entire process is designed (though increasingly commercialized and siloed privatized science mitigates against this in important ways, whilst reinforcing it in others) only to provide "answers" of any sort extremely tentatively. This is perhaps one of the most annoying things about many Americans' expectations of scientific activity, which you see in medicine (and weather forecasting!) perhaps most of all: people frustrated with the underlying uncertainty of medical prognoses seem to expect cookie-cutter specific formulations virtually on the spot, and are angered when these are not forthcoming. I even know people who have taught philosophy of science who have never stepped foot in a lab or have the vaguest notion of how "knowledge" is produced there. This sort of thing adds fertile ground for themes development of potential misunderstandings amongst lay-people that raises the deleterious effects to another level. But I am digressing. My main question is about Kemp and the others, but if you could speak a little to flesh out your interesting comments on reporters and scientific subject matter, I would be most grateful. I love your work, Matt, keep up the good job!
We've been warned about this before. How quickly we forget that the thousand page Patriot Act appeared almost out of no where during the 9/11 hysteria and was passed almost unanimously. At this stroke of a pen our representatives launched the national security state on steroids and drastically undermined our Fourth Amendment rights. Even worse, when it came up for renewal under the "liberal" leadership of Barak Obama, Congress passed it again even though the original bill being based on lies. Someone once said that American fascism will not come by military coup. It won't have to. We willingly sign away our rights one by one. And those that don't disappear with our acquiescence are secretly undermined by the NSA. Taibbi's article is notable because members of our legal community, who swear to uphold the constitution are suggesting that we carve out a slice or two from the First Amendment. They can't have the rabble making a mess of "their" democracy. But democracy is supposed to be messy. Our history is replete with examples of elites trying to direct and control and peoples movements saying 'not so fast.' Hopefully we still have enough peoples movements to appose these recommendations. When honest journalism fails, so does our democracy.
Well I agree with every single word in this article.
In the USA:
1. People under 35 make up <1% of COVID-19 deaths (but 45% of the total population).
2. People under 25 make up 0.13% of COVID-19 deaths (but 32% of the total population).
3. People over 65 make up 79.4% of COVID-19 deaths (but only 16% of the population).
4. The average age of someone who dies from the COVID-19 in the US is almost 75. Average age of the total population is around 38.
We hammered an amazing economy needlessly. This will cost lives. We were afraid, so we let experts make best-guess (and that's being generous) decisions based on extremely limited data and information, and completely inaccurate assumptions.
Kids should be in school. Businesses should be open. Workers should be working. Life should, for the most part, move on to normal activity. It should have always been this way, with PERHAPS the allowance of a two-week shut in. There are of course some exceptions. The elderly and high-risk groups should be isolated. Personal safety measures should be taken (wash hands, stay home if sick, cough into elbow, etc.). People and businesses should be free to take extra measures if they wish (limited business hours, wear masks, limit store traffic, etc). But only if they want.
Here is where I got my numbers:
You've really hit the nail on the head. But it turns out that your reference to "the Idiocracy set injecting fish cleaner" perfectly exemplifies your statement, "We actually know jack". First of all, the mainstream media's version of the story was that some guy had decided that he and his wife should drink fish tank cleaner because the label said it contained hydroxychloroquine, not that anyone had injected it.
But more importantly, this was totally out of character for the man who died. All it took to discover that was a few calls to some of his friends. The deceased was an engineer with an extensive science background. According to his friends, this was wildly out of character for him, but they also reported that he'd long been victimized by his abusive wife. It was his wife who mixed the fish tank cleaner that they both drank. Interestingly, the dose she fed him killed him, while the dose she took sickened her but left her alive.
So, at best this is a case of sloppy reporting that produced a false story that fit perfectly with the media's disdainful attitude toward anyone who's not part of the coastal elite. At worst it's a case of intentionally fraudulent reporting.
For more detail, see: https://freebeacon.com/coronavirus/man-who-died-ingesting-fish-tank-cleaner-remembered-as-intelligent-levelheaded/
The breakdown is occurring solely because those in power are corrupt. That causes all kinds of rebellious chaos. People don't trust their leaders. They don't trust the longtime establishment media. And since any intelligent organized opposition is quickly thwarted, we are left with people scattered to find answers.
Bravo Matt for so fairly calling out the tyranny of unreason that is the really deadly pandemic possessing our-oh-so-reasonable self-satisfied culture of "enlightened" experts and their scolding sycophants!