A Few Further Thoughts on Covid

«Do you ever wonder what life would have been like if you’d said yes?» said Ridcully.
«I suppose we’d have settled down, had children, grandchildren, that sort of thing …»
Granny shrugged. It was the sort of thing romantic idiots said. But there was something in the air tonight …
«What about the fire?» she said.
«What fire?»
«Swept through our house just after we were married. Killed us both.»
«What fire? I don’t know anything about any fire?»
Granny turned around.
«Of course not! It didn’t happen. But the point is, it might have happened. You can’t say ‹if this didn’t happen then that would have happened› because you don’t know everything that might have happened. You might think something’d be good, but for all you know it could have turned out horrible. You can’t say ‹If only I’d …› because you could be wishing for anything. The point is, you’ll never know. You’ve gone past. So there’s no use thinking about it. So I don’t.»
«Lords and Ladies» by Terry Pratchett

I recently listened to Mikhaila Peterson’s podcast on “Opposing Views: COVID | Dr. Mercola and Dr. Kamil – Mikhaila Peterson Podcast #77”. It was interesting and stimulating — and it’s the right idea: Listening to positions, each one on one end of a continuum. Well, at least on different sides, there is still some space left for more extreme positions. The first one being on the alternative health and Covid critical side, the second one being on the mainstream medicine side.

But it raised a few questions about the situation, some closely related to the episode, others activating thoughts that were in the back of my mind.

Closely related to the podcast:

  • Where are the Covid-19 jokes? Seriously, humor is great, even if (to quote the first speaker), 99.9% won’t get it. Get it? Or the joke the first speaker told about two lab mice talking about the Covid-19 inoculation, and one mouse vehemently rejecting the vaccine because they “still test it on humans”. Yeah, the jokes aren’t that great, but humor *is* great to get some distance. And we seem to lack it. Seriously, there are people whose first action each morning is to check the current Covid numbers. How can that be good for a person’s mental health? No wonder some people are scared shitless by Covid.
  • Both sides had their flaws. The first speaker was … well, trying to ingratiate himself by complimenting the host. The second one used vivid single case descriptions. And yeah, those happen. There are also 20-year olds who die of a heart attack. But the reason why these stories are so powerful is that they are rare. Anecdotes are a really bad basis for decisions. Interestingly, both agreed on the need to think for oneself, just came to different conclusions.
  • There are three issues where I vehemently disagree with the second, mainstream medicine person.
    1. First, the idea of being responsible for an infection chain. Like you giving it to someone, who gives it to someone, who gives it to someone, who gives it to someone who dies. Seriously? That sounds suspiciously like an attempt to control all aspects of life, an attempt to prevent any kind of Butterfly Effect. What about the side-effects that saved lives? Like you giving it to someone, who gives it to someone, who gives it to someone, who stays home sick and did not cause that massive death toll when she drove into a crowd as she was texting while driving? How about we keep a healthy locus of control and be only responsible for our direct consequences. They are complicated enough, esp. considering how different short and long term effects can be.
    2. Second, the criticism of the profit motif, only to remove its relevance shortly thereafter. He warned people to trust those who profit from giving advice, e.g., those alternative health people who recommend food supplements they sell. Yeah, Mikhaila made the point herself, big pharma also profits when people get vaccinated. So that argument falls flat immediately. And frankly, if you don’t offer products that are in accordance with what you preach, then do you really believe in what you preach?
    3. Third, the use of identity politics to paint someone as a morally good person whom you can trust regarding unrelated actions. For example, I don’t care at all that a person does something for young black women in science. I care about science, and science doesn’t care about skin color, so neither do I. And even if a person was like Jesus, I still would need to hear arguments and evidence that show the merit of that person’s position. That’s one advantage of science. It does not care about morals, or about what you think of a person. It cares about truth, and so do I.

Thoughts this conversation brought to the foreground that have nothing to do with the conversation itself:

  • Perhaps this is an attempt at population control. If I were a conspiracy theorist AND if I would think that politicians were actually competent, this could be an impressive attempt at population control. Use a pandemic to induce fear, scare people shitless by dominating the news cycle and use dashboards and masks to keep the pandemic in the people’s mind. Attention makes it loom larger than it actually is. Then remove freedoms and tie “new freedoms” (= our inalienable rights granted by our constitution) to being vaccinated and make vaccines scarce. That makes people desire vaccines even more (a point also mentioned in the podcast). And now comes the completely far off part: Make the vaccination protect people against an adapted, currently unreleased but extremely deadly form of the virus. Once you have the eager people vaccinated (who trust the government and ‘want to be protected/taken care off’), then release the deadly variant. The ones who distrust the government will die like flies and you are left with a population that is easy to control. A bit like Hydra’s plan in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. Just done with biological warefare.
  • Equality in vaccinations is a really bad idea. The other side of the point above. Let’s assume the best. This is the world coping with a crisis nobody intended. And let’s assume the vaccine(s) work, and do not come with long-term health risks (like an overreacting immune system). If that is the case, why should the world be vaccinated equality? This sounds like an egoistic betrayal of everything most people consider moral, but sounding good and being good aren’t identical. After all, it were the WEIRD countries that developed the vaccines. If these countries fall, who will develop the vaccines for the next pandemic, and the one after that. Not countries that are overwhelmed in their day-to-day operations. So, being fair might sound good, but if (and I am critical here) Covid really is a killer — it’s a really bad idea.

Just a few thoughts.