Ahab was a whale expert. We have our COVID experts. Same dogmatic expertise, same results.
Updated: May 27
“It taught me a lesson, smart folks are just guessing, they think they know what’s best for me.
They got theories and scripture and dogma and science, But they’re as dumb as you and me.”
-The Great Stupidity, the final song from the book of the same name.
Vinay Prasad, who has been spot on in his blogs and articles during the pandemic (and pretty much when it comes to our health care system in general) just published a piece that (in his very analytical and even-handed way) derided people who claim to be experts when so much doubt, uncertainty, and varying opinions exist when it comes to how to handle COVID.
The fact is, as Prasad states, and which I make clear through several of my books, when self-declared “experts” don’t have facts to back up what they say, when they don’t acknowledge uncertainty, when they fail to learn from experience in seeing what works and what doesn’t, and when they stick to their dogmatic approaches and declare them to be scientific when they are just the opposite of that, they create an atmosphere of vitriol and myth rather than an atmosphere of humanity and science. Much like Ahab, they are hell bent in destroying every COVID particle in their one and only way, even if people’s lives are destroyed by their cure, and even if their cure doesn’t work. Masks and strict social isolation have not been shown to save a single life, but the collateral damage they have caused is immense, which my co-author Erik Rifkin and I quantitate and demonstrate in our two books, Understanding COVID-19 Risks: A Picture is Worth More Than 1,000 Words, and Utilizing Effective Risk Communication in COVID-19. The magnitude of destruction caused by the advice of experts is likely to grow as we further study the horrific consequences of our COVID-19 policies.
Policies that were orchestrated by our own Ahab, by Dr. Fauci who spit out mistruths and declared them to be science, by University Infectious Disease and Epidemiologic “experts” who prophesized the end of days and who insisted that all of us hide out for a year, behind the veil of feckless masks and other measures that have no scientific backbone, depriving kids of school, robbing imprisoned elders of their health and joy and lives, and stealing so many others' dreams and happiness. And how did they justify their dictatorial grasp of our lives and of society while declaring their truth to be unassailable gospel and all those who question their cure to be dangerous heretics? Well, because they’re experts!
Our COVID experts used their fabricated scientific myths as a club to scare the entire world, while bullying people into followings each of their remedies, as absurd as their declarations often were. Is it three feet, or six feet? One mask or two? When we walk down those one-way aisles in stores, what if we pass someone, is that a threat? Masks out in the woods are really saving lives? Nothing they said had any basis of truth or scientific legitimacy, but because they said it, and because the media and our mayors and governors saw them as experts, they didn’t have to utter facts. They just had to stand behind their self-proclaimed holiness and say whatever they wanted, and when it didn’t work, well, it wasn’t because they were wrong, it’s because people weren’t doing it right.
As I talk about in The Geriatrics Vengeance Club, experts told us that we were going to win in Vietnam, and when we were not winning, they said we were; after all, we’re killing more of them than they are of us, so isn’t that winning? What about all the lives lost and the money squandered? Well, the experts said, that’s a necessary sacrifice when we are facing so dire a threat. Experts told us that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They constantly tell us that we have to take every drug and undergo every test our thorough doctors offer lest we die. And in all cases, the media spits out their words like it’s from God Himself, only backing down when public opinion shifts. Yes, the New York Times, the bible of many who praise Anthony Fauci as the next coming of the Lord, supported the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, and were on the wrong side of so many issues until they decided to pivot at the last minute. As with COVID, the media doesn’t question experts, or seek to substantiate what they say, they just are the expert megaphone, inventing facts and proclaiming them to be undeniable truths.
In our book Understanding COVID risk, we use a theater with a question mark to show what we don’t know. Do masks work in hospitals? Do quarantines help? Are more people dying from the quarantine than are being helped? To all those questions, and more, we have this:
What we do know, we put in a theater. How many people do masks help to avert COVID death in a community setting, whether it’s outside or inside? How many lives are saved from closing schools and colleges? For those we show this theater. As you can see, no seats are blackened. These interventions we know don’t work, despite the fact that many experts claim that they do. We use facts. Experts, well, apparently they don’t have to.
What are the ramifications of a prolonged quarantine and of closing schools? Again, we don’t know the full extent of the damage, but, like with Captain Ahab, we may kill the whale and in the process slaughter everyone else in the process. Ahab was ok with that calculus, as were those who sent us to Vietnam, and those who orchestrate our COVID policy and appear in the New York Times and on CNN. We are starting to get some sense of the damage these experts have caused us. Like the theater below; this shows how many people report an increase in their depressive symptoms from the quarantine. How many have died from this, experienced domestic violence, committed suicide, abused drugs or alcohol, lost their jobs, or just lost their joy? Hopefully one day we will learn, but COVID experts won't tell you. Like Ahab, they're happy to wreck the ship and kill all the sailors and blame it on the whale!
Today my son graduated from NYU law school. Except, there was no graduation, no ceremony, no celebration. Why? Because the school believed that the risk was too high. His entire last year was virtual and truncated, most activities curtailed, his experience and social contacts decimated. His tuition actually increased, because, well, NYU has to make some money. But let’s face facts. The risk to these kids of dying of COVID is lower than the risk of them crossing New York City streets, or of dying of an alcohol related injury, or of committing suicide from having their lives so destroyed. Those are facts. And, to top it off, most of them are immunized, making their risk lower than dying of a lightening strike! But, likely, the geniuses of NYU, the people who are supposed to be showing their students how to bring humanity and intelligence to the world, they likely talked to some “experts” who told them that there may be a few COVID bugs floating around and, well, best to cancel graduation. Can’t be too safe, right, even if death and devastation are the result. Got to kill that white whale!
You see, experts don’t care about collateral damage. They blame everything on COVID anyway. COVID cancelled the graduation and closed down the school, not any of their very brilliant policies. That’s what experts will tell you. Like Ahab, they are happy to destroy the ship and most of the crew as long as their gospel(which, of course, to them is scientific fact despite no scientific basis for it) is followed to the tee, as long as no one ever questions them.
So many lives were needlessly damaged and lost because of our experts, who stood behind their titles and tossed science into the trash can. That they claim to be scientists is a despicable insult to the integrity of science. If they are scientists, then so too are those who had scientific proof that African-Americans are inferior to whites, something I discuss at length in Three Brothers from Virginia. You see, the best and the brightest “experts” back then were no different and no less bombastic about their “scientifically validated” beliefs; to them, there was one truth, and that truth provided justification for slavery, for the imprisonment of Japanese Americans, for the sterilization of the handicapped, and for the Holocaust. And the people who weaved these truths were scientists from some of the most prestigious universities who no one was willing to question. They were the Ahabs of their day.
In my soon to be published book, The Great Stupidity, the main character journeys through France to find the Great Frenchie, who is said to know how to save the world from the Black Death. On his way, he finds doctors and experts who wear masks with flowers in them to keep the bad air out, lock people up for two weeks when sickness comes by, slaughter Jews, whip themselves, and declare certain absolute truths that seem laughable and even cruel to us now. But the more I read about the Black Death, the more I see that Anthony Fauci and all of the academic “experts” who drove our world into a pit in pursuit of the Great White Whale are no wiser than the doctors from 1350. No more compassionate or concerned about the ramifications of their actions. No more scientific. Dogmatic “scientists” were dangerous then, and they are dangerous now. We don’t need more experts. We need humanism and science to be our guides.
In The Geriatrics Vengeance Club, the main character and his concert friend make tick tock videos about what to do with your mask once they are not needed. In once video, an elder singer puts the mask on his crotch and says, “Just as good as preventing urinary leaking as it is in protecting you from COVID,” as the camera shows his pants to be soaking wet. Someone sent me this picture today and it made me laugh and cry all at once, just like that video.
Sadly this is COVID science, and as we listen to our experts and make them heroes, we are driving compassion and true science into the ground. Captain Ahab has won again!