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Arnie gets brainwashed in Total Recall (1990)

Am I Brainwashed? – Finding the Real Reality

Combining poem and prose, this essay by Asa Boxer draws on ideas from films, literature, science and philosophy to examine a question of particular importance in our age of rampant censorship and disinformation: How do you know if you’re brainwashed? Pictured above: Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) gets his brain cleaned in Total Recall (1990).


It ain’t so much the things that people don’t know
that makes trouble in this world, as it is the things 
that people know that ain’t so.
 
—Folk saying attributed to Mark Twain
It’s like our visit to the moon or to that other star,
I guess you go for nothing, if you really want to go that far.

—Leonard Cohen

A Guide for the Perplexed in a Secular Age

If you commit to arguments in print,
or to those on television, or in the news, 
or in venerable tracts, or theoretical traps
and cannot suffer contrarian fools; 
  
if you find yourself cramming data 
for the purpose of being right;
  
If you proselytize and argue just to exercise 
your apish skills in gaining a branch 
above your brother;
  
if you worship the image of a teacher;
  
if your actions are a slavish routine
and your mind hides from itself
in the mind of another;
  
if the others are going straight to hell;
if the others are a frightful crew
hell bent on destroying the world and you;
  
if you stake out a field and cannot imagine
anything grows beyond it;
  
if you lock away imagination 
in a vault dead bolted closed 
with hard fast laws and staunch moral codes
and harbour no doubts. . . 
  
if you recognize yourself in these lines,
you are not beyond my therapy,
dear reader, carry on.

TOTAL RECALL

By definition, indoctrination immures the imagination and subjugates the will; it unduly narrows your range of experience and thereby limits your relationship with the universe, your ability to commune and communicate with the full range of experience that would otherwise be open to you. Thus brainwashing affects one’s psychological disposition, which, in turn, directs one’s range of experiences, which, in turn, affirms one’s psychological disposition. In other words, once you’re brainwashed, it is very difficult to know you’re brainwashed.

It’s the conundrum of Schwartzeneger’s Total Recall, where the hero discovers he’s trapped in a virtual reality—Which is the dream and which the real reality and how do we know we know when we know? This same speculation about the uncertain nature of consciousness is the metaphysical flaw in the subtext of The Matrix, for who’s to say whether the hero’s guide, Morpheus (named after the god of sleep, after all!), is not just another layer in the Matrix, whether he’s not a fantasy subprogram developed to keep the feistier minds occupied while the evil machines continue to milk the sleeping bodies of humanity for electric energy? There’s also Mal’s hellish state of despair in a limbo world in the film, Inception, where she believes the only way to wake up from her dream is to die in that dream, but this mindset returns with her to her originary reality, and consequently, she commits suicide for real.

Underlying each of these stories is the anxiety that once you’ve crossed the frontier into a false reality, you can never again be certain whether you’ve ever truly returned. This existential breakdown happens because the terms of reality are forever destroyed in these fantasies by the new reality; in fact, reality as a concept becomes meaningless in such scenarios—or almost. . . because when you think about it, the soma (or body)—the human organism—is forever the bedrock reality; it’s the only object that really counts in the end; in fact, one might observe that the body is the object of the hero quests in these films.

How do these narratives apply to us? Well, we all require boundaries; we all require role models; we all depend upon sources of information we consider reliable. In other words, we require an initial brainwash to prime our consciousness. We must wade into and immerse ourselves in a paradigmatic stream if we are to be at all functional: to learn a language, to be a child our folks can be proud of, to make it through our schooling, to make friends, get a job, raise a family. So the trouble is—much like the above mentioned heroes—even if we rebel against the cult that formed us, even if we manage to scramble up the banks of the stream that claims our being—we can never be entirely sure our reality is really real because ultimately, we must give ourselves over to some kind of paradigm. If you were brought up in a religious home, for instance, and later on in life you become an atheist, you are simply switching paradigms; and the more certain your commitment to the new paradigm, the more indoctrinated you are.

This mosaic of Adam brainwashed by the devil and so caught in the coils of original sin and death is from the Holy Souls Chapel in Westminster Cathedral
“Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 12:8)

The solution to this conundrum, then, lies in the recognition that this existential condition is inescapable. The only true sanity one can achieve is the understanding that there is no one true paradigm. The upshot is that there is no final authority, and to pursue one is a vain endeavour, as the book of Ecclesiastes pointed out long ago. “And I gave my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I perceived also that this is vexation of spirit and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:17).

Such a conclusion, however, threatens to lock us into a nihilistic paradigm. And we are wise to resist its draw. Accordingly, the best philosophies are those that acknowledge both the fixity and the flux that hold sway over reality, those philosophies that find value equally in attending to formalised finalities on the one hand, and to the changeable nature of all things on the other.

What I’m getting at is that an open minded worldview that still permits us to dedicate ourselves to a pursuit—whatever it may be, however foolish it may appear to our neighbours—is the healthiest stance a psyche can take because it keeps the door open to an ever widening range of experience, growth and understanding. This psychological position is the only one that keeps things real.

Sounds easy enough. But the difficulty is that we must face resistance in our pursuits, and to overcome that resistance, we must dig in our heels, focus our minds and apply all of our inner resources to fulfilling our quest. This activity entails such single-mindedness, one risks losing the open mindedness required if we wish to maintain a balanced sense of reality. So the trick lies in this: if one is too open minded, there can be no real commitment, no real power in one’s actions because any worthwhile achievement requires focus, and focus necessitates narrow minded, exclusionary attention over prolonged periods of time. It takes a steeled psyche indeed to be a hard minded believer and still maintain the humility to recognise the limited field in which one operates.

CONTROLLED FOLLY

Rupert Sheldrake has posited the notion of morphic resonance (or formative causation) to explain a host of phenomena, from how biological organisms take the shapes they do, to how flocks of birds instantaneously switch directions without bumping into each other, to how one can sense he’s being stared at. According to this theory, the universe has a memory. Sheldrake, by the way, is not alone in this observation; Henri Bergson elaborated on the implications of cosmic memory at the turn of the 20th century. By Sheldrake’s lights—and this is something Bergson did not write about—once a phenomenon first appears, it is more likely to appear again. Furthermore the probability of its recurrence increases the more often it occurs, giving rise to the stable, organized patterns we find in the universe.

If the universe has memory—or requires memory if it is to endure in any meaningful sense, as Bergson put it—the implication is that it has consciousness, and this consciousness expresses itself in the form of “morphic fields,” which both form and link biological organisms (as well as inert matter). This theory of morphism is compelling because, among other things, it accounts for a range of observations and experiences generally closed to science—even dismissed as delusional—things like telepathy (pets knowing when their masters are coming home) and synchronicity. It also goes some way toward providing an answer to how evolution might actually work.

The ecstasy of the fanatic is unavailable to the sceptic. The wry humour of the sceptic is unavailable to the fanatic. They are both brainwashed…

Image by Marie-Louise von Franz modelling the collective unconscious

The concept of morphic fields may also inform our sense of what’s going on with fashions and zeitgeists. Imagine any philosophy, scientific theory, religion, cult, mystical practice, ethnicity, identity group or political movement as a morphic field, a kind of resonant pond or plasma field (Sheldrake mentions the notion of a “vacuum field”), and flowing into and out of this pond, various streams connecting it to earlier ponds and leading away toward a network of supportive ponds, oppositional ponds, and in some cases, toward radical, new ponds. Total immersion in a given field will no doubt provide one with a depth of experience and sense of connectivity and purpose closed to those who only dip their toes in or wade in to their knees. The ecstasy of the fanatic is unavailable to the sceptic. The wry humour of the sceptic is unavailable to the fanatic. They are both brainwashed; unless, of course, they have consciously chosen their paths and understand the limitations inherent to their fields of reality.

In his novel, A Separate Reality, Carlos Castaneda introduces the notion of controlled folly to describe this approach to the world:

A man of knowledge chooses a path with heart and follows it; and then he looks and rejoices and laughs. . .Thus a man of knowledge endeavors, and sweats, and puffs, and if one looks at him he is just like any ordinary man, except that the folly of his life is under control. . .His controlled folly makes him say that what he does matters and makes him act as if it did, and yet he knows that it doesn’t; so when he fulfills his acts he retreats in peace, and whether his acts were good or bad, or worked or didn’t, is in no way part of his concern.

This attitude is the inevitable conclusion of one who understands the inconsequence of his choices. Instead of being concerned with the importance of his actions and their outcomes, he focuses on casting himself into action with heart. The ethics here may strike one as shaky, but they are hardly so, for they are anchored in one’s choices (however inconsequential they may ultimately be), which is a subject we will examine in the next section of this essay. Suffice it to say at present that the imposition of one’s will is always a cause of someone’s displeasure, so our commitments are best made in accordance with our lot and our core disposition.

In short, controlled folly allows one to fully experience a given field of action, and that full range of experience is not to be underestimated. All fields are populated by their particular forces, some beneficial, others antagonistic. For instance, mystics speak of providence as a force that aids the seeker in his quest. “When the student is ready, the master will appear”—to give an example. The forces of opposition equally arise, and they can range from shallow, petty yet still psychically damaging social challenges, to profound and invisible demonic trials. A mystic or witch—one who immerses himself completely and approaches the abyss of his field—will encounter the demonic; whereas a pragmatic, technician-type who only casually wades into the field will find himself at worst confronting cut-throat colleagues and will never experience either demonic forces or providential guidance.

Dulle Griet (1563) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Dulle Griet (1563) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

There have been periods in which demon possession was not uncommon; what the 19th century called delirium remains a mystery. There is no question that recategorising and redefining illnesses of consciousness has helped demystify and perhaps manage them better. But to dismiss past psychic disturbances as instances of psychosis or multiple personality disorder may very well be anachronistic, for who is to say exactly what is going on in the evolution of reality? Perhaps the field of psychological research has helped a great deal in drawing us away from the abyss and into the shallows. But equally plausible, by conducting certain forms of investigation, we have in fact altered the fabric of consciousness. What is certain is that in doing so, we have not only drawn away from our devils, but also from our angels—much as Rainer Maria Rilke feared when he refused psychotherapy, saying, “I am afraid it would exorcise my angels along with my demons.”

In Joseph Conrad’s short story, “Karain: A Memory,” Karain—the “war-chief” of a small group of people in the Southern Philippines—tells the narrator of the story, the captain of a British schooner involved in the illegal gun trade, that he is being haunted by a vengeful spirit. For protection, he escapes his own world and seeks refuge aboard the schooner: “He [the spirit] cannot come here—therefore I sought you,” he explains. “You men with white faces who despise the invisible voices. He cannot abide your unbelief and your strength.” Here Conrad observes something deeper than a merely psychological relationship with reality. The implication is that reality is in fact adjustable; in other words, your reality can be more limited or more open according to the field in which you abide. Flat out disbelief in a given phenomenon can actually limit the range of one’s experiences, whereas belief in a phenomenon can result in its manifestation. Moreover, Karain understands that simply being in the company of a collective of unbelievers will do the trick: “It is only near you, unbelievers, that my trouble fades like a mist under the eye of day.” Among this group, Karain is able to escape into another field of resonance inaccessible to vengeful spirits.

What I’m getting at is that there is a range of phenomena that can be affected by the observer…

This is not to say that anything you believe in can be brought into being simply by wishing it so; such a position would imply that there is no objective reality at all, that life is but a dream. What I’m getting at is that there is a range of phenomena that can be affected by the observer, not just in the interpretive sphere, but in the sphere of sense based reality. Also, the collective field in which one operates—what Sheldrake refers to as social and behavioural fields—can influence the available range of phenomena. In other words, there are domains of the sensual universe that are available or unavailable to the influence of consciousness according to one’s state of mind and according to the collective in which one operates.

If this sounds unscientific, it is only because it is an unexamined premise of present day science that claims all things unscientific that do not filter out effects that might be due to human attention. Without our noticing, this aspect of the scientific approach in fact confirms the potential effects of attention on laboratory experimentation. Consider how the protocol insists on blind testing and blind repeatability. This protocol exists because science only wants to deal with Euclidean realities—realities that are not affected by human consciousness, realities that are true despite psychic variables. Of course, Euclidean realities only exist on paper; and the same may be observed of experimental realities. Things get more complicated outside the controlled field of the lab because a lab is a place where statistically dominant outcomes are deemed more real than statistically anomalous outcomes. The greater universe, however, does not care for these neat arrangements. As a consequence of this approach, the secular mind tends to disregard the impact of human attention as unreal. Meanwhile, the scientific method itself confirms this reality by making efforts to filter out the noise it introduces to the data set.

Henri Bergson
Henri Bergson (1859-1941)

A whole area of investigation and experimentation awaits science in the domain of observer impact. It will be a more refined science that understands which areas of observation are affected and which remain unaffected by attitudes and attention. To put it another way, there are areas of reality that are open to the influence of will and imagination. What these areas might be would concern another essay altogether—but we can here propose that these are likely areas dealing with creative rather than destructive processes.

In his philosophical work, Creative Evolution, Henri Bergson explains why creative forces are beyond the reach of scientific cognition:

But in astronomy, physics and chemistry the proposition has a perfectly definite meaning: it signifies that certain aspects of the present, important for science, are calculable as functions of the immediate past. Nothing of the sort in the domain of life. Here calculation touches, at most, certain phenomena of organic destruction. Organic creation, on the contrary, the evolutionary phenomena which properly constitute life, we cannot in any way subject to a mathematical treatment. It will be said that this impotence is due only to our ignorance. But it may equally well express the fact that the present moment of a living body does not find its explanation in the moment immediately before, that all the past of the organism must be added to that moment, its heredity—in fact, the whole of a very long history.

Thus, the positive, creative powers available to those who immerse themselves in a field have been much more difficult to understand: psychic abilities, telepathic abilities, synchronicities, visionary experiences along with telekinetic influences are presently denied existence by present day science because these phenomena do not operate according to mechanistic, atomistic processes. If a process cannot be broken down and built back up, science is at a loss because its grasp of the world is one of reverse engineering. Creative processes involving cosmic memory systems lie outside its present reach. Unfortunately, indoctrinated scientists—the populists and technicians of the group—cannot accept what lies beyond their paradigmatic field.

How much reality we experience is partly up to us, but however much reality we experience, we never have the whole picture. To put it another way, we are never omniscient. And in an evolving universe, we are never even omniscient collectively speaking—as some scientists in populist quarters seem to suggest, not to mention certain mystic gurus. Internalising this understanding leads to the kind of humility necessary to engage with our fellows in true conversation for the sake of personal growth and for the sake of cohesive synergy at the collective level.

If you’re brainwashed, you believe—at an unexamined level—in some sort of human access to omniscience; and you will claim to know things that you do not know anything about. This is a tricky situation, for who decides what you know and what you do not know when it comes to your heart? Perhaps the best measure is to inquire what motivates your claims to knowledge.

AUTHORITY

Image credit: Joe Kissell

With controlled folly in play, the problem of identifying indoctrination has little to do with the outward signs, with one’s pieties and practices; the problem is the unquestioning belief in the final and absolute authority of the field in which one has chosen to operate; it’s the belief that all other fields are dangerous paths of dissolution leading to suffering, despair and damnation for both the individual and the world; it’s a condition of mind that leads to the fanatical sense that all other fields must be subverted, dominated or destroyed.

But controlled folly leaves us with an ethical problem: how does one make an ethical choice in these matters? Aren’t there in fact some paradigms that are harmful or that could use some innovation, and that therefore must be opposed, even subverted and destroyed? If all is folly, how is one to make moral choices? How do you know when a philosophy, scientific theory, religion, cult, mystical practice, ethnicity, identity group or political movement ought to be challenged?

In an ideal world, any group that actively seeks to gain ascendancy and authority would be deemed evil and that’s that. Unfortunately, however, we live in a complex environment. We tend to think of all oppressed groups as justified in casting off the yokes of their oppressors. Those involved in toppling dominant regimes are heroes after all. But often enough, a cycle of oppression sets in whereby the newly dominant group, the heroic one, simply oppresses a new group of disenfranchised. Casting one’s eye across history, one wonders if humanity isn’t doomed to endlessly repeat this cycle; and indeed this might be the case. Therefore, the only option left to a moral individual is to operate within these circumstances with one’s eyes wide open and to treat one’s fellows —barring obvious exceptions—with whatever dignity one can afford.

To make things more confusing, history casts us at times into conditions that obfuscate the terms of oppression. The present puritanical phase of Western civilisation is a case in point. In a glut of wealth, the bourgeoisie has come to classify certain forms of social discomfort as oppression. Meanwhile, the means taken to police the so-called “privileged” to relieve the designated “victims” of their discomfort is itself oppressive, often breaking some of this civilisation’s most sacred constitutional provisions, like freedom of speech, to achieve these ends. In fact, fanaticism in this arena has led us into a social nightmare in which some opinions are deemed criminal and are punished with ostracism and disenfranchisement.

The sciences, of course, are the last place this sort of repressive behaviour should have manifested.

Meanwhile, the troubled terms of oppression in the socio-political sphere find echo in the sciences, where the freedom to pursue intellectual inquiry has been equally curtailed. The sciences, of course, are the last place this sort of repressive behaviour should have manifested. The story of physicist Wal Thornhill’s uphill battle exploring, investigating and introducing the Electric Universe Theory is a clear case of scientific authority run amok. When Thornhill was starting out as a university undergraduate in the sciences in the 1970s, he sought training and guidance from his professors as anyone would. But when he brought up certain fundamental questions regarding the geological record and astrophysics—mainly inspired by his interests in Immanuel Velikovsky—his ideas were met with discouraging hostility.

Strange to encounter emotion of this kind in the sciences, one would think. I mean, the sciences after all, are supposed to immunise their practitioners to precisely this sort of authoritarian pettiness. Clearly, however, some indoctrination had set in; physics had become an institutionalised cult. Even at present, the attitude is that Newton and Einstein wrote the laws of physics, and that ideas that break these laws are verboten. Talk about putting the horse behind the cart! It’s as if these fellows were the gods who designed the universe, rather than thinkers struggling to describe it. Faced with this scientific farce, this glaring fraud, Thornhill had to strike out on his own; and in 2019, the SAFIRE experiment finally demonstrated that the theory of the electric sun could no longer be dismissed out of hand and ridiculed.

Suffice it to say that identifying oppression is a slippery business, and that any institution is liable—by dint of its own need to self-perpetuate—to become oppressive, even those institutions charged with guarding us against oppression.

So when it comes to the moral question of resistance, a certain measure of pragmatism helps. Finger pointing will only engender conflict. Social atomisation like identitarianism clearly sets folk apart without any plan of bringing them together. Therefore, a moral person must possess some measure of common sense.

“Resist not evil,” Christ recommended. Surely, in an age like ours, there could be no better advice.

Presently, however, we find ourselves in the midst of brainwashed hordes. And don’t get me wrong, many among these hordes are otherwise intelligent people. Intelligence is no immunity to indoctrination. In fact, it often seems to be a liability. In a way, it has never been easier to perceive indoctrination at work; but in another, it has seldom been more difficult to resist because to fight back is to join these brainwashed hordes. “Resist not evil,” Christ recommended. Surely, in an age like ours, there could be no better advice.

In short, the absolutely most important issue when it comes to brainwashing boils down to motivation. Do you believe what you believe and act the way you act because you seek authority? If so, you are brainwashed. If you are the servant of your knowledge, if you are its tool, and your knowledge does not, as it should, serve you instead as your tool, you are brainwashed. You are participating in a deadening, robotic, zombie-like existence. You are a mere follower and puppet. But it is not always easy to perceive one’s motivations. Indeed, it takes a self-critical clarity that few possess—and those few possess it only intermittently. What’s more, the first steps in that direction are painfully difficult.

One way of looking at the problem of indoctrination is to recognise that the crux of it is a misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of knowledge. Brainwashed folk seek knowledge as an instrument of authority, and so they memorise authoritative tracts and rhetorical strategies for the purpose of winning arguments. In fact, a glaring sign of indoctrination is the adoption of a peculiar technical vocabulary, a jargon full of references to an arcane or occult schema—and this is true of science as much as of any political, philosophical, spiritual or psychological practice. This is not to say that studying a schematised vocabulary is unhelpful to a seeker; quite the contrary. But coded language is a sign of a cabal or cult because it corrals together those who belong and locks out those who do not belong. If a specialised vocabulary cannot find incarnation, as it were, in layman’s terms, the schema it refers to may very well be a fraud engineered for the sake of authority. Knowledge is an evolving corpus, not a finite canon, and its purpose is not to inform for the sake of proving one’s superiority, but to encourage inner growth, to provide tools for discussion and deeper thought.

The only way to know you are not brainwashed is to wake up from the condition of mimicry whereby one imitates one’s mentor, whereby one quotes and thumps one’s bible (whatever text or manifesto or complex matrix it might be), whereby one shouts slogans and loses one’s eyes and ears and heart to the crowd one follows.

The only ethical approach to controlled folly, then, is to choose the stream into which you cast yourself with the full understanding that you might have cast yourself into any number of equally beneficial reality streams. Almost any cause can be just; and any cause can turn oppressive as soon as it turns fanatical. If anyone tells you the world is ending, for instance, you can be sure you’re dealing with a fanatic. It’s the oldest trick in the book, yet here we are in the 21st century, proud of how far we’ve come, and educational institutions across the West have fallen for it like marks at a rigged carnival game. Brainwashing has entered our civilisation at the institutional level, targeting our children, our governments and our judiciary. In the midst of such social turmoil, choosing one’s folly comes down to choosing one’s battles, and that is but a matter of lot and disposition.

At the start of this essay, I mentioned how disposition was a confusing subject because one’s disposition is a factor of one’s sense of reality. But we also determined that the body was the ultimate object of the quest for reality because the body is the final touchstone and truth. It takes time to get to know oneself, perhaps a whole lifetime. But there are indicators early on and along the way that give us a sense of both our strengths and our limitations: those are the contours of our core disposition. If you’re a warrior, then war is your destiny. If you are not, it would be wise to leave the battle axe to another: analogically, this rule extends to law, finance and spheres of power. If you are easily shamed, do not attempt a career in politics. If you are reclusive, observant, incisive, sometimes visionary, you may be a monk, an artist, an artisan or an inventor. If you are outgoing and charming and sly, you may be a performer or a politician—the choice is yours. But if you find yourself cutting across the grain of your core disposition; if you feel your calling is a pipe dream beyond your reach and that it would be wiser to pursue a safe career, you are either suffering some form of indoctrination, or you are being subjugated under an oppressive regime. Likewise if you are in a state of confusion and there seems to be no place for you, no calling at all. Under these circumstances, the body—that bedrock reality—will suffer; anxiety and depression will do their disquieting work until it is clear that you’ve been set against your core disposition and some self reflection is in order. In summary, self knowledge is central to the ethical implementation of controlled folly. To risk a cliche, the key here is to be true to yourself.

So after all that, bottom line: how do you know if you’re brainwashed? If you notice you’re working against yourself, that would be a sign; both psychological and physical suffering may be taken as indicators of such a predicament. Employing a specialised jargon to explain the world and your place in it necessarily limits the range of your vision and your ability to experience events that take place beyond the bounds of that narrow vocabulary. If yours is the only reality; if you pursue knowledge for the sake of authority, power and the dominion of your reality over the reality of your brother’s; if you dismiss the experiences of others out of hand because they do not conform to your sense of reality; in other words, if there is only one way of seeing and doing things, you are brainwashed. If you believe consensus is truth; if you believe that some group has it all figured out, then you do not understand the nature of reality or the purpose of knowledge, and you are brainwashed. Why does any of this matter? If you do not comprehend the evolving dynamism of the universe, and lack humility in your convictions, your relations with your fellows will be abusive. For those who truly wish to understand what is going on in this life, it matters because for us, it means the conversation is always open. It means there are always new things to be learned and explored. It means life is an adventure and no one ever has a full grasp of the cosmos. It means we need each other. It means the creative spirit is free.


Asa Boxer’s poetry has garnered several prizes and is included in various anthologies around the world. His books are The Mechanical Bird (Signal, 2007), Skullduggery (Signal, 2011), Friar Biard’s Primer to the New World (Frog Hollow Press, 2013), Etymologies (Anstruther Press, 2016), and Field Notes from the Undead (Interludes Press, 2018). Boxer is also a founder of and editor at The Secular Heretic.

Before the rise of safetyism children played freely on the streets

“Stay Safe!”: The Rise of Safetyism

In this paper, Frances Hutchens examines the doctrine of safetyism and the multitude of ways it has eroded not only our personal freedoms but also our sense of meaning and purpose in life. The paternalistic Nanny State resulting from safetyism and embedded in countries such as England and Canada, removes personal responsibility and autonomy from the individual and surrenders them to the bloated bureaucracy of the state, which gains more and more power and control over every aspect of our lives, a process we’ve seen accelerate with alarming speed during the course of the Covid-19 crisis. Is the rise of safetyism the harbinger of a totalitarian future? This article first appeared on the author’s website Movementum.

Ideas Have Real World Consequences

With the steady decline in organised religion among the British, other beliefs have stepped in to fill the vacuum, guiding us and providing a framework with which to live our lives. The decline of organised religion hasn’t ushered in a world that is rational, logical and rooted in empirical scepticism; our modern materialistic secular world is full of new superstitions, rituals and faith. One of the most visible of these new doctrines, after gaining traction for many decades, blossomed in 2020—that of safetyism.

Carl Jung, one of the most famous psychotherapists of all-time, revealed how modern mass society has “produced an individual who was unstable, insecure and suggestible” and claimed that a third of his patients were suffering from “no clinically definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. This can be defined as the general neurosis of our times.”

Psychiatrist Theodore Dalrympe writes how “determinism (whether it be of the economic or genetic variety) has led to fatalism . . . relativism has led to a wilful abstention from judging any action or individual as bad or as comparatively better or worse than anything else.” We sit in relative safety in our human zoo, protected from many challenges we used to face. But the bars of the cage remind us of our limitations as domesticated creatures and we comfort ourselves with material possessions perhaps as a way to forget how the lack of adversity has also stripped our lives of meaning and purpose.


“Safetyism refers to a culture or belief system in which safety has become a sacred value, which means that people are unwilling to make trade-offs demanded by other practical and moral concerns.”

The Coddling of the American Mind
In this age of safetyism children play mostly at home on their devices
Image credit: Eric Pickersgill

Victims of Comfort in the Nanny State

The phrase ‘nanny state’ conveys the view that government policies are overprotective in their regulation of matters considered to be private or personal, and that undue governmental interference undermines peoples’ autonomy. Paternalism, in the context of government, is when restrictions are imposed on our freedom in order to protect us—they bypass our free choice in order to serve our best interests. Many paternalistic interventions are so embedded that we forget they exist, such as seatbelt and helmet laws. Interventions that are considered paternalistic are often cited as evidence of the nanny state because they limit peoples’ freedom and are done for the (supposed) good of the citizenry. The UK Health & Safety Executive is an area where we can see this clearly happening; whilst reforms were clearly needed in the past, it has outgrown its original remit and continues to invade our lives through its unswerving desire for life to become safer and safer.

The Nanny State Index is a league table of the worst places in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape and shows us that countries which regulate tobacco more heavily do not have lower rates of smoking, nor do those with stricter alcohol regulations have lower rates of drinking. There is no correlation in any country between scoring highly on the Nanny State Index and having a longer life expectancy.

The Nanny State Index 2021
The 2021 Nanny State Index “consists of three main categories: alcohol, nicotine and diet. Each of the three categories is weighted equally at 33.3 per cent. Nicotine is subdivided into tobacco and e-cigarettes with an equal weighting for each, ie. 16.7 per cent. Each category has a number of different criteria. Points are scored for each criteria which are combined to reach a final score out of 100 . . . Countries with higher scores are less free and countries with lower scores are more free.”

One would hope that there would be some positive trade-offs for allowing the State such access into our personal lives to tell us what we can eat, drink and smoke. It is natural to assume that the more a government introduces nanny state policies, the better our health outcomes; the problem is this isn’t the case and, instead, we have a set of paternalistic policies that restrict freedom and make us poorer while failing to achieve their stated objectives.

Despite these policies always claiming to be in our best interests, they inevitably create a number of problems such as:

  • raising prices via taxation or monopoly
  • restricting choice
  • restricting trading hours
  • raising the cost of living
  • necessitating black markets when prices rise
  • restricting competition and innovation
  • draining police resources and creating excessive bureaucracy and paperwork

Our view on government restrictions is shaped by how we, as individuals, weigh up the relative importance of two competing arguments which occupy opposite ends of the moral—and sometimes legal—spectrum.

The case in favour of increased state control appeals to the importance of harm prevention and paternalism while the case against appeals to the value of individual autonomy.

Rarely do we hear the moral argument presented in the mainstream press, yet it is the crux on which everything else rests; why do we never talk about the level of control granted to the government to make choices on our behalf?

What kind of world do we want to live in when government after government has a say in every aspect of our existence, governing more and more of our decisions? Indeed, are the people in government so virtuous and ethical that they should be allowed free rein with such power to restrict our behaviour and levy punishments for not complying with their rules?


“Society tames the wolf into a dog. And man is the most domesticated animal of all. ”

Friedrich Nietzsche
Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK
Stevenage, Hertfordshire: designated the UK’s first “New Town” under the New Towns Act of 1946

Safety First!

In 1903 the Motor Car Act was introduced, requiring mandatory vehicle registration and drivers to obtain a licence which made it much easier to track owners of vehicles and enforce rules more rigidly. However, it wasn’t until 13 years later, in 1916, that the London Safety First Council was established as a response to the “alarming increase in road accidents” during blackouts as The Great War was being waged. In 1917, accident data was collated and the end of the war didn’t mark the end of the Safety First Council; an organisation was created with the noble intention of reducing traffic accidents and grew into a moral crusade that, to this day, uses fear and virtue-signalling to push its agenda.

An early example of safetyism in the UK in 1916

After World War Two, Labour won a landslide election and introduced sweeping reforms to Britain that were rooted in collectivism and included the nationalisation of industries, state direction of the economy and security ‘from cradle to grave’. These radical changes would alter the character of Britain, creating more dependency on the state and discouraging individual responsibility; it was now the Government’s job to keep us safe by reminding us what we could and couldn’t do.

Considerable changes took place in the aftermath of the war including:

  • The 1944 Butler Act which reformed schooling, with the commitment to full employment in the same year.
  • The 1945 Family Allowance Act.
  • The 1946 National Insurance Act.
  • In 1946 it became apparent that there was a baby boom at the same time as there was a housing shortage.
  • The 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, which laid the foundation of modern town and country planning.
  • In 1948 the NHS (National Health Service) was created.
Park Hill, Sheffield, a UK "New Town"
Park Hill, Sheffield, a UK “New Town”

Many cities had been reduced to rubble due to wartime bombing and town planners were eager to combat housing shortages in new ways; immense swathes of the country were levelled and rebuilt with the car placed front and center in their designs. In fact the war came to be seen as a blessing in disguise, allowing the country to be reshaped and reconfigured in a more rational way through central planning. Architects and town-planners rubbed their hands in glee and put their stamp on the country with brutalist style council estates, tower blocks and new towns such as Stevenage and Milton Keynes. By 1975 a total of 440,000 tower block flats had been built with the help of a government subsidy that increased with every extra storey.

Public policy encouraged driving in the post-war period and car ownership more than doubled in the 1950s. By 1955 there were over three million cars on Britain’s roads; the number of licensed vehicles in Great Britain had increased from about 4 million in 1950 to over 34 million in 2010.

In 1952, less than 30% of distance travelled in Britain was by car, van or taxi, 42% was by bus or coach, and 17% by train. The proportion of distance travelled by car reached 85% in the late 1980s and has stayed roughly constant since then—as has the total distance driven each year. Travel by bus and coach has been in long-term decline, accounting for just 4% of total distance travelled in 2016, a tenth of the figure of the early 1950s.

This was a remarkable shift from pre-war Britain and created a completely new way of life, with people commuting to work, fracturing communities and making the streets a less social space to spend time, drastically impacting children. Despite the radical modernism of the buildings, the planners and architects had failed to build with people in mind and close-knit traditional communities were never recreated as the architects appeared to have forgotten the principles of human-centered design. The new estates and tower blocks suffered from many social issues and crime and came to symbolise the decline of Britain, especially as it coincided with high unemployment and deindustrialisation as the 1970s wore on.

Children playing on the street in postwar England

The Street Was Our Playground

Traditionally, neighbours and extended family kept an eye on children playing in the street, but slum clearance and housing ‘improvement’ schemes broke up these bonds and destroyed the informal monitoring of children’s play. An assumption grew that streets are for car drivers and, as car ownership boomed, this created a massive increase in traffic accidents involving children, forcing them off the streets and into their houses at the same time that TV ownership increased from 350,000 people in 1950 to nearly 10 million by the end of the 1950s. Since 1946, every generation has been heavier than the previous one—and it is the most overweight people who are becoming even heavier, with 1 in 10 children born in 1946 becoming overweight or obese by age 11, compared to roughly 1 in 4 today.

Children taking risks while playing on the street

Many point out that the amount of child road deaths had fallen substantially between 1970 and 1990, claiming that all the endless safety measures of signs, speed limits and speed bumps were the reasons for this change. Perhaps that is true, but it could also be because most children stopped playing outside and were driven to school instead of walking or cycling. Researchers Hillman, Adams and Whitelegg conclude: “Road accidents involving children have declined not because the roads are safer but because children can no longer be exposed to the dangers they pose.”

In 1971, 80% of children aged seven and eight were allowed to go to school on their own and by 1990, the figure had fallen to 9%. This downward trend wasn’t inevitable and plenty of other developed nations designed their roads and infrastructure in ways that enabled and encouraged children to continue being independent:

Safetyism has caused such risk-taking to vanish among children

In Odense, Denmark, a city of around 200,000 people, 4 out of 5 children bike, walk, or skateboard to school. Many schools have a cycle network that is safe enough for children to ride on their own on the way to school, so it’s not uncommon for 6-year-olds to cycle to school without their parents.

In the Netherlands, 26% of primary school children still travel independently to school and the average age for them to go without their parents is aged 8.6.

In Japan some schools mandate that children travel to school alone. It’s expected that children aged 6 are supposed to be independent by the time they start school and it’s not unusual for children to commute for up to an hour using the train service which is famous for being safe, clean and reliable. According to cultural anthropologist Dwayne Dixon:

“Japanese kids learn early on that, ideally, any member of the community can be called on to serve or help others. Taking responsibility for shared spaces means that children have pride of ownership and understand in a concrete way the consequences of making a mess, since they’ll have to clean it up themselves. This ethic extends to public space more broadly (one reason Japanese streets are generally so clean). A child out in public knows he can rely on the group to help in an emergency.”

Zabriskie Playground, New Jersey, USA

The 1970s marked the beginning of newspapers increasing their readership through ‘clickbait’ sensational articles about stranger danger and the hidden dangers of playgrounds. This led to the risk-averse designs we now see today—impact absorbent rubber surfaces, safety-certified fibreglass boulders and, by the 1980s, many new laws were passed which required playgrounds to adhere to strict criteria. A new market was created, and companies advertised their services as prioritising safety—which came at a higher cost to build, install and maintain these new sterile playgrounds. David Yearley, head of play safety for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, argues that “as a society, it’s difficult to say, ‘we need to accept a 1 in 60 million chance of death.’”

In America, the situation was even more dire as the healthcare system is structured in such a way that there needs to be blame in order for insurers to cover the increasing costs of medical care. This meant that personal responsibility was shelved in favour of finding fault and a litigious culture meant fewer companies were willing to open themselves up to lawsuits by installing ‘risky’ play equipment.

Tim Gill, author of No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society, notes that there is an “inappropriate transfer to playgrounds of principles from workplace health and safety . . . in most workplaces the presence of physical risks—vertical drops, wobbly bridges or narrow balance beams—is a problem to be solved, whereas in a playground it is often an asset.”

In the book The Coddling of the American Mind, authors Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff discuss the unintended consequences of safetyism—the idea that people are weak and should be protected, rather than exposed, to challenges. What began as a focus on physical safety—removing sharp objects and choke hazards, requiring child seats, and not letting children walk home alone has morphed into protection from all kinds of harm, including emotional safety which doesn’t tolerate ideas that could trigger psychological distress. A well-intentioned safety culture has led to ‘paranoid parenting,’ in which unstructured play time has been replaced by screen time in a never-ending cycle of fragility as the focus on physical and mental safety—ironically—makes children weaker.

Fragility is a self-fulfilling prophecy, distorting our perception of risk because when children are protected they cannot develop appropriate resilience or coping skills to handle obstacles, nor can they develop healthy self-esteem. Just as our bones strengthen through stress (in what’s known as Wolff’s Law), the same is true for our mental health—resilience is created from facing many different situations.

Stresses are necessary for learning, adaptation and growth. Without varied life experiences, our minds do not know how to cope with day-to-day stressors. Over-protection can lead to learned helplessness, when people feel they have no control over a situation and believe that their own behavior has no influence on consequent events. This leads to a vicious cycle whereby whenever people are faced with a negative situation they don’t have the tools necessary to change their circumstances, reinforcing their feeling of powerlessness which, in turn, can lead to depression and anxiety.

The design of post-war housing, transport and infrastructure has deprived children of their ability to play outside and, although Britain has seen a major increase in prosperity since the war, there are substantial consequences for cosseting and overprotecting children that will be felt for generations to come. Slowly, however, there is a shift happening and people are beginning to see the benefits of risk, so perhaps this is the last gasp of the decades-long drift toward overprotecting children.

A child swinging from an old-school playground

The Growing Death Taboo

Despite the incredible material advances and technological innovations this past century has brought us, many studies continue to show that we are depressed, unhealthy and unhappy. According to recent reports, our society’s ability to meet our psychological and psychosocial needs “appears to have declined” and we are miserable, angry and fearful. Given the rise in anxiety disorders, just as we have enjoyed ever greater prosperity and security, it’s painfully clear we’re failing at personal risk management.

The Grim Reaper

Could much of our modern woes be connected to death becoming more and more taboo?

Up until very recently, if someone was ill, the burden of care was assumed by family, friends and neighbours. This responsibility has now been passed on to medical caretakers who are strangers employed in unfamiliar, purpose-built facilities. In the same way that giving birth is medicalised, death is now facilitated by experts. The unpleasantness of the dying process, which was once witnessed and understood, became hidden and many of us have never experienced death at all, except perhaps that of a beloved pet.

A death-denying culture may not be one that is happy, fulfilled or content. Ray Kurzweil states that “death gives meaning to our lives. It gives importance and value to time. Time would become meaningless if there were too much of it.” With so much perceived time ahead of us and never witnessing death firsthand, we are able to push much of our lives, dreams and aspirations into the eternal future which is when we believe much of our happiness will be realised.

The medicalisation and invisibility of the process of dying leads to a distortion of reality; on the other hand, when we acknowledge death, we become more self-aware about our habits, lifestyle and decisions. Death forces us to become more alive and to understand the temporary nature of our time here. For some, it is also the ultimate existential crisis (as seen in many a mid-life crisis), because it can only be faced when we ourselves are authentic, truthful and honest. As essayist Marin Mikulic observes,

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is to avoid excessive comfort . . . Craving perpetual relaxation, security, stability, a sense of safety that clings to us like a plastic wrapper, a warm embrace to eliminate all obstacles and suffocate all daring. We’ve got painkillers for the pain, sleeping pills for insomnia, medication for anxiety, Netflix to kill the time (thus killing the only thing we cannot have more of), Spotify to strangle and choke silence, alcohol for illusory courage, Tinder to suppress loneliness, and social media to construct a false bubble of perfection and bliss. We hunger to create these bubbles where, like in Huxley’s Brave New World, we sacrifice at the altar of perpetual comfort our ability to cope and learn from discomfort . . . To benefit from the comfortable, we must also be intimately familiar with the uncomfortable. This means sometimes accepting boredom, hunger, pain, loneliness, silence, imperfection, and sadness as a way for us to re-enter the space we seem to have lost along the way—the space where all the chatter fades away and we’re left alone with our thoughts.

Watch Out! Death Creeps Up on You

Perhaps it’s true that ‘real life’ will rear its head, hit us in the face and we’ll be too feeble to survive because we’ve spent our entire lives coddled and protected. Could the increasing division we see throughout our society be in part between those of us who accept death and embrace risk and others who fear death to such an extent that we spend most of our lives avoiding it?

The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality

In 1762 Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote The Social Contract in which he argued that the State will promise to protect its citizens if they relinquish their right to self-defence. He lived in France during a turbulent period known as The Age Of Enlightenment which laid the intellectual foundations for the French Revolution in 1789 and resulted in the creation of the French Republic. This period of time was marked by the development of the scientific method, which led to questioning about tradition and the status quo, and placed supreme faith in the power of reason and knowledge as the basis for the creation of a better society. Rousseau’s work remains influential to this day, although we have seen the dark side of relinquishing our right to defend ourselves against the State as the twentieth century’s sobering figures of democide show.

Curiously, at around the same time Rousseau was writing in France, Scottish historian Alexander Tytler put forth a theory that described a repeating cycle in history, claiming that societies and civilisations had gone through this 200 year cycle over and over again:

A democracy is always temporary; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist until the time voters discover they can vote for generous gifts from the public treasury. From that point, the majority always votes for the candidate who promises the most benefits from the public treasury. The result is that every democracy finally collapses due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The 200-year Tytler Cycle Chart
The 200-year Tytler Cycle: Which stage are we currently in?

Perhaps the two superficially opposing ideas of Rousseau and Tytler are interwined on a deeper level: as people trade their personal power for the protections of the State, this leads to an increasing outsourcing of personal decision making and accountability for our actions, with a by-product of becoming infantilised in our emotions, unable to move past superficiality and sentimentality.

What are the dangers of abandoning logic in favour of sentimentality? Feelings aren’t effective substitutes for critical thinking or empirical observation and making decisions based primarily on feelings leads to conflict with others because, as Theodore Dalrymple remarks, “sentimentality toward some is often accompanied by brutal and unfeeling rage toward others.” The sentimentalist, in other words, becomes a cynic, as Oscar Wilde illustrated:

A sentimentalist is simply one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it . . . We think we can have our emotions for nothing. We cannot. Even the finest and the most self-sacrificing emotions have to be paid for. Strangely enough, that is what makes them fine. The intellectual and emotional life of ordinary people is a very contemptible affair . . . they always try to get their emotions on credit, or refuse to pay the bill when it comes in . . . Remember that the sentimentalist is always a cynic at heart. Indeed sentimentality is merely the bank holiday of cynicism.

Just Culture: Balancing Safety and Accountability

The bureaucracy of Health & Safety seems less about managing the safety of workers companies are responsible for, and more about managing company or personal liability. How often in your own life have you witnessed the ineffectiveness of bureaucratic ‘solutions’? Rarely do they seem to dig down into the root causes of issues and instead just create another layer of red tape and paperwork.

An early example of clickbait advertising promoting safetyism

Safety culture has a habit of ignoring the plethora of data which shows how none of the recognised twelve psychological factors are consistently and reliably linked to actual safety incident rates. Organisations need to stop obsessively focusing on psychological factors when assessing safety culture and concentrate their improvement efforts on tangible situational and behavioural factors which are clearly linked to actual safety performance.

Dr Lucian Leape says that “the single greatest impediment to error prevention is that we punish people for making mistakes,” and Don Norman notes that

people make errors, which lead to accidents, accidents lead to deaths and the standard solution is to blame the people involved. If we find out who made the errors and punish them, we solve the problem, right? Wrong. The problem is seldom the fault of an individual; it is the fault of the system. Change the people without changing the system and the problems will continue.

Blame is more about finding fault than it is about holding someone responsible for something. It is inherently judgmental and it doesn’t focus on changing, improving or fixing anything—unlike responsibility which is focused on accountability, a far more noble aim. Failure is a common companion of blame, so we avoid it at all costs; indeed many of us never get started with anything because we fear the shame of failure so much. Until we are able to individually and collectively reframe failure as an essential ingredient of success, some of us will spend our entire lives avoiding both.

An early example of traffic safetyism par excellence

A culture—whether it is a family, an organisation or a nation—contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction if it is based on blame. Derek Sivers contends that it’s easy to not understand what is around you, because it’s all you know and culture is invisible; we’re surrounded by culture but it’s only possible to understand it once you leave and go somewhere else with different values. We mistake what is normal and familiar to us as the true way of doing things—some people might experience this when they change jobs and note how the management culture creates the whole culture of an organisation (for better or worse). Sivers coined the phrase ‘fish don’t know they’re in water’ to express this concept, emphasising that it is not until you take a fish out of water that the fish can compare a new experience to something familiar. In English we use the inverse idiom of being ‘a fish out of water’ to describe someone who is uncomfortable in an unfamiliar situation and—fun fact— we’ve been using this phrase since at least 1483 when Geoffrey Chaucer coined it in The Canterbury Tales. I have one more aquatic analogy that ties into culture—the ‘crabs in a barrel’ mentality. Lanre Dahunsi explains how this

mentality is a metaphor derived from a pattern of behavior noted in crabs when they are trapped in a bucket. While any single crab could easily escape, its efforts will be undermined by others, ensuring the group’s collective demise. The moment you try to leave the stereotype or comfort zone, the crabs in the barrel are always there to bring you down to their level and this can be observed everywhere, such as the workplace, families, friends, and places of worship.

Blame culture has very different norms than a just culture: culture affects our perceptions; perceptions drive behaviour; and the culture we belong to has a direct impact on our behaviour. The concept of a just culture has arisen out of ‘systems thinking’ which is a way of exploring and developing effective action by looking at connected wholes rather than separate parts. Instead of blaming someone when things go wrong, it seeks to consider wider systemic issues to understand actions in context and focuses on developing a mindset of openness, trust and fairness instead of fear of punishment.

Children playing among discarded boxes
Image Credit: Tom Jamieson/NYT

Conclusion

On the surface, safety appears benign and comforting; dig a little deeper and it becomes clear that personal freedom must be sacrificed in order to accommodate its expanding grip; the new laws or safety rules put in place eventually become constricting. Once safety culture is in place, it becomes entrenched as institutions grow around it and look for more ways to justify its existence; after all who’s going to dismantle the safety-industrial complex and lose jobs and lucrative contracts?

British culture, locked in a spiral of becoming ever safer and tolerating less and less future risk, heralds the decline of the West. It is a stark reminder of our growing ageing population, whose presence will impact and shape the culture and attitude of the country. In 2001, for the first time, there were more people aged 65 and older than people under age 16 living in the UK. The share of people aged 65 and over is projected to rise to 29% of the population by 2070; when this happens, the landscape of our society will reshape to reflect back the values and beliefs of these people. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that an ageing population will be more vulnerable—and less anti-fragile—to disease and less able or willing to change and adapt. They may be obsessed with avoiding death, and our culture will become more and more risk-averse to appease this sector of society—yet this avoidance risks curtailing everything that makes life worth living.

Safetyism sees risk-taking as akin to being a dangerous circus performer

Safetyism is founded on the concept of someone else knowing what’s best for you; you are freed from having to determine your own choices, freed from weighing up logic and proportion before you take action; you just need to follow rules set out in front of you. This freedom from responsibility also has a price; soon we will lose any sense of proportion because when safety is placed above all else, a risk-averse culture follows, one that infantilises us and strips us of important skills. After all, nothing’s our fault anymore as we’re being looked after. Only in the human zoo could this state of affairs exist.

We all pay the price of inaction, and children bear the brunt of this joyless, unlived, unexperienced life bordered on all sides by the diktats of others telling them what’s safe and what isn’t. In the real world, life is filled with risk—physical, emotional, financial, social—and reasonable risks are essential for healthy development. For 95% of human history we lived as hunter-gatherers, risking our lives to survive and, thanks to our courageous ancestors, we are still here today. In a society where there aren’t enough challenges in life, we create our own— after all, it is said that never are we more alive than when we’re close to death. Not only is it unrealistic to assume that life is essentially safe, it’s a false premise to build a life on; we can pretend there is zero risk but on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

What if we shifted the conversation from the risk of doing things, to asking what the risk is of not doing things?

Can there be rewards if there are no risks?

What would our culture look like if we consigned the safety-first mentality to the dustbin of history and all of its constraints, blame and barriers?

We must begin to paint a picture of the world we want to live in. Here’s an idea of mine, for what it’s worth—we learn to judge risks through failure (which isn’t seen as a negative experience, just a process of learning and iterating). We live our lives with a curiosity-first mentality, rooted in a wider just culture, and find other ways to motivate each other that aren’t based on shame and punishment. Otherwise, we may witness the end of democracy and its replacement with an authoritarian society, as Oliver Wiseman warns:

Nanny-state measures chip away at the divide between the personal and the political—and they are bipartisan. Since 2010, Conservative-led governments have not shown much resistance to paternalistic interventions that one would regard as the natural preserve of the Left. Nor have they shown much appetite to stand up to trigger-happy bureaucrats. If the Right, while in power, makes no principled objections to bans on food and drink, why should conservatives or pro-market liberals expect the Left to show restraint when it gets its turn? If advertisers are not permitted to deviate from a centrally determined set of values, why not prohibit dissenting voices altogether?

Nanny-statism also swells the ranks of bureaucrats whose instincts, almost by definition, are unlikely to be laissez-faire. Manning the desks of quangos—quasi-autonomous nongovernment organizations—are meddlers who, if left unsupervised, will only expand state intrusions into daily life. They are also given pulpits, and the credibility of an important-sounding job title, from which to criticize the government for not doing enough. The result is a trend of ever-diminishing freedom.

Children wearing masks during Covid-19
Perhaps one of the saddest recurring images of the Covid-19 crisis has been that of children needlessly muzzled with masks. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Safetyism is rooted in a totalitarian mindset and is a form of virtue signalling—a sentimental claim for emotional and personal safety which is merely cover for a power grab. Fragility, adherence to safetyism, and an emotional desire to be protected leads to the suppression of free speech and to the growth of dictatorship, as C.S. Lewis explains:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Feelings are always valid but they’re not always a helpful reflection of reality and we have now reached a point where many of us prefer comforting lies to hard truths. There is nothing wrong with educating ourselves and our children on certain dangers we all face—learning to cross the road is a proportionately sensible action, as is wearing a seatbelt or helmet when you assess the risks. But we need to pay attention to when these things are mandated into law, because it’s at this point that a paternalistic government has crossed an unseen but nonetheless psychologically ‘real’ border which marks a change in the relationship between a sovereign individual and the State.

Covid-19 lockdowns are the result of a process long in the making—of nearly a century of sub-contracting our personal choice and responsibility to the State. I’m dismayed by the number of people who think safety-culture is right and proper. Ultimately they’re the real enemies, the people who will gladly surrender not only their own freedom, but also yours, mine and unborn generations, for the sake of their own ‘safety’ and ‘protection’. Will these emergency lockdown powers be relinquished once the “pandemic” is over? It seems unlikely, according to philosopher Matthew Crawford:

I suspect the ease with which we have lately accepted the authority of health experts to reshape the contours of our common life is due to the fact that safetyism has largely displaced other moral sensibilities that might offer some resistance. At the level of sentiment, there appears to be a feedback loop wherein the safer we become, the more intolerable any remaining risk appears. At the level of bureaucratic grasping, we can note that emergency powers are seldom relinquished once the emergency has passed. Together, these dynamics make up a kind of ratchet mechanism that moves in only one direction, tightening against the human spirit.


Frances Hutchens is an AiM practitioner, autodidact and former head-on-a-stick. Her work explores the effects of modern life on our body and mind and she investigates the ways in which we can narrow the gap between what is considered normal and what is natural within our domesticated environment. To counteract her own disembodied tendencies, she trains parkour and partner acrobatics and lives furniture free. Hutchens is a co-founder and co-editor of Movementum, an online journal dedicated to exploring the best modern approaches to natural living.

Danger Poems

Pictured above: American acrobat, aerialist, daredevil and high wire artist Nikolas Wallenda walks a tightrope stretched directly over Niagara Falls on June 15, 2012. Image credit: Dave Pape


Chuck Fipke

I approach the world as I would face a tribe 
of cannibals clad in armour and warpaint: 
  
with courage enough and a readiness to trade
my shirt, trade my pants for dear life
  
and stand buck naked in the back-bush
of New Guinea, the Amazon and Africa,
  
exposed to every death, knocking at the door
of the earth as if to say, Here I am. Infest me:
  
let your parasites crawl under my skin
and feast awhile, for I belong to the earth.
  
Thus I cast myself into her deepest jungles
seeking her secrets in silt and stone: where 
  
her copper veins, where the laces of silver 
and gold, in which pipes her diamonds lie.
  
Either she will tolerate my prying, my staking
claims, or she’ll absorb and knead me
  
back into herself; but I’ll be damned if I peter
and play it safe—subsist to die of nothing.

Frank Cole

I crossed the Sahara on foot and camel-back.
No kind of living could knock the sand out of me after.
  
I put civilisation behind me, spent ten years with that year,
cutting and splicing, viewing and reviewing the miles
  
of footage I’d snatched from that country of death.
I should have died there. It is there I was forged.
  
Seven camels dropped, but I, despite all the signs, survived.
Having endured Hades, no greater crossing remains.
  
The eye of the Sahara still grips me in its blue whorl. 
Though such beauty will not abide us long, 
  
yet I will have her, and she, with her fire, will cure me
the way she cured this ancient sea.

The Great Wallenda

I keep revisiting this tightrope walk
across a gaping chasm. The tense cable 
  
is familiar: taut, stretched thin as hope.
I amble out and hang with God.
  
You might think I’ve taken these 
thousand careful steps a thousand times before,
  
and like a seasoned driver, I can glide along 
whilst eating and talking on the phone.
  
Perhaps you surmise it’s all practice: 
maybe the secret’s to imagine 
  
you’re just a few safe feet above ground.
But I assure you, I indulge no illusion.
  
Do you really think I’d turn my mind 
to football at such a sublime, ecstatic
  
moment in the evolutionary march?
Death is not a lady I aim to please.
  
Why would I walk this narrow path
if not for the crashing rush, the gnashing, 
  
slavering jaws of Niagara Falls, if not 
to peer down the throat of Grand Canyon?
  
The trick’s to take in the beauty, 
to throb with the thrill but to take it in stride, 
  
to let it ride over you, around you, 
but never through you like a chill. 
  
Be alert and beware your instincts.
Your every reflex works against you
  
when you’re teetering at the verge of the void.
I aim to overcome the vertiginous awe,
  
aware that should my ear twitch too curiously
toward some unexpected sound, or should 
  
a peripheral shadow cause my eye 
to jitter and that jitter trip a quake, why,
  
I should surely pivot and fall.
Until then, I must mind each step.
  
Where I stand is too profound
to pretend I’m somewhere else.

Jacques Mayol

I plunged just as deep into myself 
as into the swaying sea
  
and freed the dolphin sleeping
there under chains of memory.
  
But I sensed I was mere fathoms 
away from some lordlier creature
  
that kept the key to endless breath.
I longed to possess that gift,
  
enough to feel inklings
of metamorphosis
  
tingle through my limbs;
not that any webbing 
  
ever grew between my toes,
but tired of relentless gravity,
  
fed up with the terrestrial plod, 
I dreamt such changes.
  
I felt I had my finger
on an evolutionary trigger,
  
that one day I’d inhale and have 
all I’d ever need of this world.

Asa Boxer’s poetry has garnered several prizes and is included in various anthologies around the world. His books are The Mechanical Bird (Signal, 2007), Skullduggery (Signal, 2011), Friar Biard’s Primer to the New World (Frog Hollow Press, 2013), Etymologies (Anstruther Press, 2016), and Field Notes from the Undead (Interludes Press, 2018). Boxer is also a founder of and editor at The Secular Heretic.

Mark Twain

Damned Lies and Statistics: Climate Change & Covid-19

“How easy it is,” said Mark Twain, “to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!” Nowhere has Twain’s timeless insight been more accurate than during the Covid-19 and Global Warming scandals. In this essay, David Solway illustrates the many ways that people get easily brainwashed about these two subjects by those in power who further their own political agendas by manipulating statistics to spread fear and control the public.

PART I: CLIMATE CHANGE

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics,” a quote which Mark Twain in his Autobiography attributed to Benjamin Disraeli—though it more likely derives from the obiter dicta of the First Earl of Balfour. We all know—or should know—that statistics can be deceptive. Like language itself, they serve a dual function: to tell the truth and to lie—except that, unlike ordinary language, statistical contrivances appear to share the property of pure mathematics, that is, they seem objective, factual, impartial, and irrefutable. People are easily convinced, writes Darrell Huff in How to Lie with Statistics, by a “spurious air of scientific precision.”

The only way to disarm plausible but specious statistical accounts is to dig down into the source data or, when feasible, simply to use one’s common sense. Of course, statistics can be woven out of whole cloth, total fabrications which are easily rumbled with a modicum of attention, but it is their subtlety, their playing with half-truths, that can be most persuasive and damaging. Telling half the truth can be more insidious than a manifest falsehood.

The tactic is to present a lesser truth that disguises a greater one.

Global Warming statistics are among the most readily manipulable, delivering factoids that are true and yet false—in other words, in other words. The tactic is to present a lesser truth that disguises a greater one. For brevity’s sake, let’s take just a few examples of how “climate change” statistics can rank among the most effective means of producing assent to outright mendacities, coating whoppers with honey.

Consider the twaddle that came out of the University of Illinois’ 2009 survey that 97.4 percent of scientists agree that mankind is responsible for global warming, a finding which is easily debunked when one accounts for the selection methodology.

As Lawrence Solomon explains in a crushing putdown, the Illinois researchers decided that of the 10,257 respondents, the 10,180 who demurred from the so-called consensus “weren’t qualified to comment on the issue because they were merely solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists, astronomers and the like.” Of the remaining 77 scientists whose votes were counted, 75 agreed with the proposition that mankind was causing catastrophic changes in the climate. And, since 75 is 97.4 percent of 77, overwhelming consensus was demonstrated.

The real percentage, however, of concurring scientists in the original survey is a paltry .73 percent. That the chosen 75 were, as Solomon writes, “scientists of unknown qualifications” adds yet another layer to the boondoggle. This sort of thing is not a little white lie or an inadvertent statistical error. Once it reaches the point where a deliberate misconstrual must be maintained by the omission of details, the distortion of data and the suspicious liability to intentional error, we are in the presence of the great statistical charade as it is practiced by our accredited “experts.”

Climate Change protesters
Prophets of the Ecopocalypse Cult are legion. (Image credit: Joe Brusky)

Not to be outdone, the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia developed a graph showing the trend to global warming, but neglected to note that it is calibrated in tenths of degrees rather than whole degrees, giving the misleading impression that the world is heating up when there is, in effect, little to no global warming to speak of. Similarly, the British climate journal The Register points out that NASA data have been “consistently adjusted towards a bias of greater warming. The years prior to the 1970s have again been adjusted to lower temperatures, and recent years have been adjusted towards higher temperatures.” Moreover, NASA data sets, as is so often the case, were predicated on omission, so-called “lost continents” where temperature readings were colder than the desired result.

As The Register writes, “The vast majority of the earth had normal temperatures or below. Given that NASA has lost track of a number of large cold regions, it is understandable that their averages are on the high side.” Additionally, NASA reports their global temperature measurements “within one one-hundredth of a degree. This is a classic mathematics error, since they have no data from 20 percent of the earth’s land area. The reported precision is much greater than the error bar.”

The whole point, of course, is obfuscation, to keep people in the dark.

The problem, warns Joel Best in Damned Lies and Statistics, is that “bad statistics live on; they take on a life of their own.” Their longevity supports their putative truthfulness. And the public is gullible, prey to the baked-in lies that Best calls “mutant statistics,” no matter how implausible.

Similarly, Tim Harford in The Data Detective, a celebration of good and useful statistical models, refers to the tendency toward motivated reasoning, i.e., “thinking through a topic with the aim, conscious or otherwise, of reaching a particular kind of conclusion.” Obviously, such thinking can work both ways, disparaging reliable statistics as well as valorizing dubious ones. The whole point, of course, is obfuscation, to keep people in the dark. Our soi-disant climatologists could just as well have written that climate is defined by a statistical curve in relation to a congruence subgroup of a modular elliptic, and the effect would have been the same. Whatever it means, it sounds official and incontrovertible.

In his essay, “March of the Zealots,” John Brignell comments on such acts of dissimulation. “If the general public ever got to know of the scandals surrounding the collection and processing of data [about global warming] . . . the whole movement would be dead in the water . . . It is a tenuous hypothesis supported by ill-founded computer models and data from botched measurement, dubiously processed.”

Examples of data manipulation abound. For more thorough analyses, see Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never, Steven Koonon’s Unsettled, Tim Balls’ The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science, and Rupert Darwall’s Green Tyranny, all of which are eye-openers. As Stanford professor Dr. John Ioannidis writes in a much-circulated paper provocatively titled Why Most Published Research Findings Are False, “There is increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims. However, this should not be surprising.”

Flawed statistical analyses have become the established currency of the climate economy.

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

PART II: COVID-19

It would appear that to accept statistics at face value is a fool’s bargain. People are obviously swayed by the media hype, which assures them that the casualty numbers of the virus are statistically significant and that adverse reactions to the vaccines are statistically negligible. But are they?

Sucharit Bhakdi, formerly of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, currently chair of Medical Microbiology at the University of Mainz and co-author of Corona False Alarm? shows how Germany’s federal government and research agency for disease control, the RKI—the country’s counterpart of the CDC in the U.S.—had juggled the numbers. The RKI, he writes, “calculated that 170,000 infections with 7000 coronavirus deaths equals a 4% case fatality rate.” The problem is that “the number of infections was at least ten times higher because mild and asymptomatic cases had not been sought and detected. This would bring us to a much more realistic fatality rate of 0.4%.”

“If I drive to the hospital to be tested and later have a fatal car accident . . . I become a coronavirus death.”

Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi

Additionally, deaths from other causes were folded into the mortality count. A true statistical correction “would yield an estimate of between 0.24% and 0.26%.” Sucharit wryly provides a hypothetical example. “If I drive to the hospital to be tested and later have a fatal car accident . . . I become a coronavirus death. If I am diagnosed positive for coronavirus and jump off the balcony in shock, I also become a coronavirus death.” Statistically speaking, it’s a good gig if you can get it.

The trim-and-shuffle seems to be par for the course. For example, the FDA’s report on Pfizer’s vaccine counts “3410 total cases of suspected, but unconfirmed covid-19 in the overall study population.” Nonetheless, the pharmaceutical company reported “a 95% relative risk-reduction figure.” As Dr. Peter Doshi explains in the British Medical Journal : “With 20 times more suspected than confirmed cases, this category of disease cannot be ignored simply because there was no positive PCR test result.” Bundling in both the suspected and confirmed cases, Doshi notes, would drop “the 95% relative risk-reduction figure down to only 19%.”

A relative risk-reduction of 19 percent is far below the 50 percent effectiveness threshold for authorization set by regulators. And even the 19 percent tally assumes that the data are veridical. Bluntly speaking, what these interested participants are doing is eliminating unfavorable factors.

Covid-19 "vaccine"
These mRNA gene therapies are not vaccines, and they’re not effective. (Image credit: wita.org)

The Defender (Children’s Health Defense) points out that when one does the real math, the Pfizer clinical trial numbers showed that “the risk reduction in absolute terms [was] only 0.7%, from an already very low risk of 0.74% [in the placebo group] to a minimal risk of 0.04% [in the vaccine group].” Dividing 0.7 by 0.74 is the mathematical calculation that produced the touted “95% effective” number. The result has been corroborated by the quality virological journal Vaccines, which reports that the absolute risk reduction is less than 1 percent. Clearly, Pfizer cooked the books. The math was right, so far as it went—which was not very far—but the statistical implications were misleading. What cannot be denied is that, by any metric, vaccine efficacy remains low. It seems evident that data collection is often intended to paint the wished-for statistical canvas.

Equivocal statistical lattices are the optimal way of actually suppressing inauspicious or compromising information. A recent case in point: the CDC took steps to censure unfavorable data concerning breakthrough infections from their reporting systems. In fact, as The Off-Guardian reports, the CDC is now adjusting its testing protocols to reduce the number of “breakthrough cases” by lowering test cycles for vaccinated people and raising them for the unvaccinated. Higher test cycles will pick up junk virus and dead virus, creating a disease “that can appear or disappear depending on how you measure it . . . This is a policy designed to continuously inflate one number, and systematically minimize the other. What is that if not an obvious and deliberate act of deception?” The ginned-up statistical count will be through the roof. The Off-Guardian concludes: “If these new policies had been the global approach to ‘Covid,’” that is, employing reasonable test cycles for all participants, “there would never have been a pandemic at all.”

In effect, the tendency is to boost the casualty count with respect to the virus and to reduce it with respect to the vaccines. That is how the game is played by disreputable proponents of progressivist, “social justice,” and authoritarian causes, of which the most prominent today is COVID prevention. A medicated statistic is nothing less than a damn lie. The distinction is moot, the only difference being that between an outright falsehood and a clever dissimulation. Damn lies and statistics are among the best weapons our so-called “experts” can deploy. And it must be admitted these are effective instruments of subterfuge and control, owing both to their deceptiveness, their air of authority and their volume.

In The Data Detective, Tim Harford puts a more benign slant on the issue, pointing to inevitable selection bias in statistical claims. There are huge disparities in such claims since, for various reasons, many facts may not be recorded. Sometimes, what he wittily calls “premature evaluation” plays a role, i.e., early overcounting, undercounting or counting the wrong items. Harford shows how easy it is for researchers to get things wrong. Researchers may not be duplicitous—or at least, not always or often—but merely sloppy.

[T]he pandemic may be “a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco.”

Renowned Stanford University epidemiologist John Ioannidis is less sanguine. Ioannidis predicted in a landmark 2020 research paper that we would see exaggerated estimates regarding COVID cases, infection spread and mortality rates, in other words, false research findings. As he writes, “the majority of modern biomedical research is operating in areas with very low pre-and post-study probability for true findings.” Moreover, “conflicts of interest tend to bury significant findings.” Ironically, data relationships “reaching formal statistical significance . . . may often be simply accurate measures of prevailing bias” rather than of objective facts. In another paper written at approximately the same time, Ioannidis speculates that the pandemic may be “a once-in-a-century evidence fiasco.”

Instead of heeding Ioannidis’ warnings, the official echelons and media platforms chose to follow the doomsday statements, contradictory evidence and “voodoo mitigation efforts” promulgated by the increasingly distrusted Dr. Anthony Fauci, as Steve Deace and Todd Erzen amply detail in their cleverly-titled, must-read volume Faucian Bargain. They show how data can be routinely finessed to support prior assumptions and to erect statistical scaffolds for problematic arguments and false conclusions. Samples are regularly used either to swell or shrink averages. If one instrument doesn’t work, switch to another.

This is standard-issue practice, a form of statistical gerrymandering, manipulating the boundaries of a given data-set in order to produce a desired result. Pandemicians have not only, to use a popular phrase, continued to “move the goalposts,” they have performed the magic trick of moving the whole football field. For example, Fauci has constantly changed his “herd immunity” percentages from 60 to 70 to 75 to 80 to 85 and even 90 percent. Similarly, the WHO suddenly and for no sound reason changed its definition of herd immunity several times. The instances I have flagged above are merely illustrations of systematic deceptive protocols to shore up spurious or hypothetical clinical claims.

It has been said that if the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts. Analogously, if the statistics don’t accommodate the wished-for results, massage the statistics. The game is rigged from the start.

*Aside from those mentioned within, I cite three important books that deal, wholly or in part, with the nature of data manipulation and institutional guile: Liberty or Lockdown by Jeffrey Tucker, The Price of Panic by Douglas Axe, William Briggs and Jay Richards, and The FEAR-19 Pandemic: How lies, damn lies and statistics created a pandemic of fear by Tommy Madison. They make for essential reading.


David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. His most recent volume of poetry The Herb Garden appeared in spring 2018 with Guernica Editions. A partly autobiographical prose manifesto Reflections on Music, Poetry & Politics was released by Shomron Press in spring 2016. A CD of his original songs Blood Guitar and Other Tales appeared in 2016 and a second CD Partial to Cain accompanied by his pianist wife Janice Fiamengo appeared in June of this year. Solway continues to write for American political sites such as PJ Media, American Thinker and WorldNetDaily. His latest book Notes from a Derelict Culture (Black House, 2019) was delisted from Amazon as of Sunday December 13, 2020.

SARS & Influenza images

Covid Heretic

INTRODUCTION

The aim of “Covid Heretic” is to provide a resource page for those seeking reliable sources on the subject of viral transmission and lockdowns during an information crisis. At present, the terms “misinformation” and “disinformation” are being deployed to undermine and silence legitimate opposition to democratically unconstitutional policies. Surely, if a republic (or even a constitutional monarchy as exists in the UK, Canada and Australia) wishes to rescind or indefinitely suspend all basic civil and human rights, while at once shutting down entire economies, there must be irrefutable evidence that such actions are proportionate responses to a truly imminent threat. One hopes that such would be the standard. Unfortunately, in the case of COVID-19, such a standard has not been met. This page provides links to reliable, scientific evidence and careful data analysis to educate citizens on subjects that prior to 2020 were not essential knowledge, but that since have become necessary areas of inquiry to any citizen who wishes to hold an informed opinion.

WHAT IS A PANDEMIC?

The first subject of research is the definition of “pandemic.” What does it take to declare an emergency of the kind that requires extreme socio-economic intervention? One would expect the criteria to include both high transmissibility (i.e. rapid spread) and high impact on health and mortality. In other words, to declare a state of emergency, anyone would suppose that the disease in question must be dangerous. It is surprising to discover that the WHO removed the danger element from their definition following the “Swine Flu Panic of 2009.”

“The Elusive Definition of Pandemic Influenza.” Dr. Peter Doshi.  Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2011; 89:532-538.
https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/7/11-086173/en/
In this paper, Peter Doshi (Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy) examines the repercussions of the WHO’s decision in 2009 to change the definition of “pandemic influenza” from one in which “enormous numbers of deaths and illness” occur to one that defines a pandemic as simply a new “virus [that] appears against which the human population has no immunity.” The catastrophic repercussions of this definitional change are being felt today as virtually the whole world is locked down indefinitely due to SARS-CoV-2 which, while it is in fact a novel strain of coronavirus, has luckily been similar to seasonal influenza in terms of infection fatality rates.
“Why the WHO Faked a Pandemic.” Michael Fumento. Forbes: Feb 5 2010.
https://evidencenotfear.com/why-the-who-faked-a-pandemic-forbes/
This article was removed from the Forbes website in mid-October 2020, more than ten years after its initial publication, for reasons that should become obvious. The author provides further evidence for the observations made by Dr. Doshi in the previous paper: that the “pandemic declaration” the WHO had made about the swine flu in 2009 reflects “sheer dishonesty motivated not by medical concerns but political ones.” Removing the high mortality criterion from its definition of a “pandemic” enabled the WHO to coerce nations around the world to spend huge sums of money developing vaccines and making other costly preparations. The scheme failed, of course, when it became irrefutable that the swine flu was “a third to a tenth” as deadly as the seasonal flu, which prompted epidemiologist Wolfgang Wodarg, former chairman of the WHO’s health committee, to declare in late 2009 that the swine flu was a “false pandemic” and “one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century.” That is, until Covid-19 arrived...
“Reconstruction of a Mass Hysteria: The Swine Flu Panic of 2009.”  Der Spiegel staff. Der Spiegel: Dec 3 2010.
https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/reconstruction-of-a-mass-hysteria-the-swine-flu-panic-of-2009-a-682613.html
This article recounts how in 2009 the WHO, the pharmaceutical industry, governments around the world, and the mainstream media fomented worldwide mass hysteria over what turned out to be a “false pandemic” of H1N1 Swine Flu. In a chain of events eerily reminiscent of the global response to SARS-CoV-2, the WHO declared the swine flu a pandemic in mid-June 2009, though by then only 144 people had died with it worldwide, most of them elderly and with at least two co-morbidities. Not only that, but just a month earlier, the WHO had changed its definition of “pandemic” from an infectious disease with high transmissibility and high mortality to one that was simply a new virus. Why did the WHO suddenly change its long-standing definition of a “pandemic”? “"We wanted to overestimate rather than underestimate the situation," says [Keiji] Fukuda,” at the time an influenza specialist at the WHO. But why? The pharmaceutical industry, one of the WHO’s main funders, successfully pressured the WHO to raise the danger status of the virus to “phase 6”—the “pandemic” phase—not for the sake of public health, but for profit:
“Everything hung on this decision [of the WHO to declare phase 6]. At stake was nothing less than a move to supply large segments of the world's population with flu vaccine. Phase 6 acted as a switch that would allow bells on the industry's cash registers to ring, risk-free. That's because many pandemic vaccine contracts had already been signed. Germany, for example, signed an agreement with the British firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2007 to buy its pandemic vaccine—as soon as phase 6 was declared. This agreement could explain why Professor Roy Anderson, one key scientific advisor to the British government, declared the swine flu a pandemic on May 1. What he neglected to say was that GSK was paying him an annual salary of more than €130,000 ($177,000).”
This chart illustrates the "casedemic" phenomenon during the 2009 Swine Flu Panic

This chart, assembled by data engineer Ivor Cummins and taken from this video, illustrates the “casedemic” phenomenon (something we’ll look at in the context of Covid-19 in the section on PCR-tests) during the Swine Flu Panic of 2009. There were actual impacts of swine flu in Winter 2008/09, pictured on the left. However, at the end of that epidemic, a rapid PCR-test called FluChip was brought in and populations were tested on a mass scale during the summer. The media spread a lot of fear about the high number of positive tests, populations panicked . . . and yet nobody died. The testing was pushed into the fall, and the cases along with widespread hysteria continued to rise . . . but still nobody died. The Swine Flu never returned and eventually the testing stopped.

TRANSMISSION: HOW SARS-CoV-2 & INFLUENZA DO NOT SPREAD

It is common knowledge that any true science bases its conclusions on experimental evidence. It is however an article of faith among epidemiologists, virologists and the general public that certain diseases like Influenza and COVID are transmitted through human contact, including touching, hand shaking, embracing, breathing, coughing and sneezing. In fact, scientists have yet to determine how these spread. In the absence of this knowledge, it is natural that a society proceed according to custom. But custom is not science; often it’s superstition. Although scientific research has no answer for how these diseases spread, what is clear from experimentation is how these diseases do not spread.

“In the Grips of a Disease.” Elizabeth Gehrman. Harvard Medicine: Winter 2021.
https://hms.harvard.edu/magazine/pandemic/grip-disease
This article—among other things—tells the story of Milton Joseph Rosenau, a professor of preventive medicine and hygiene, who performed experiments in 1919, attempting to scientifically confirm the method of influenza transmission. Here’s a brief excerpt:
"The scientists gave each of the volunteers a very large quantity of a mixture of thirteen different strains of the Pfeiffer bacillus, some of them obtained recently from the lungs at necropsy. They also inoculated the men with specimens taken from the throats and noses of influenza patients and later with the patients’ blood. Still no symptoms, so next the volunteers shook hands with, talked with, and were coughed on by the actively ill. They remained healthy."
Other, more comprehensive, sources that relate the particulars of this experiment are available, and the reader is encouraged to seek them out. The original publication containing details of the experiments by Rosenau—“Experiments to Determine Mode of Spread of Influenza”—is to be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association 73, no. 5. August 2, 1919: 311-313.
“The volunteer was led up to the bedside of the patient. They shook hands, and by instructions, he got as close as he conveniently could, and they talked for five minutes. At the end of the five minutes, the patient breathed out as hard as he could, while the volunteer, muzzle to muzzle (in accordance with his instructions, about 2 inches between the two), received this expired breath, and at the same time was breathing in as the patient breathed out. This they repeated five times.”
Asymptomatic Spread? - FAKE NEWS
The source of the now discredited claim that the main danger of SARS-CoV-2 is asymptomatic spread is the following letter to the editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, published January 30, 2020 and signed by a list of doctors: “Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany”:
https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMc2001468
On February 3, 2020, the following article appeared hoping to ease panic. The central claim of the above article in The New England Journal of Medicine—i.e. that patient zero in that study was asymptomatic was simply false. As you’ll note from the later added notice pinned to this article, the editors have seen fit to circle the wagons, claiming that somehow it doesn’t matter whether the person in question was or was not asymptomatic. Of course, no such article would have been written in the first place if not for this bit of misinformation. Together with the information above re Rosenau, the reader is invited to draw his own conclusions regarding asymptomatic spread.
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/02/paper-non-symptomatic-patient-transmitting-coronavirus-wrong
Perhaps the most important thing to note on the subject of asymptomatic spread is that it is one of the main pillars of the rationale of masking mandates and lockdowns.
“WHO Official: Asymptomatic spread of coronavirus ‘very rare.’” Peter Sullivan. The Hill: Aug 6 2020.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/who-official-asymptomatic-spread-of-coronavirus-very-rare/ar-BB15cBHW
This article quotes Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead for COVID-19: 
"We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing. They're following asymptomatic cases, they're following contacts, and they're not finding secondary transmission onward. It's very rare. Much of that is not published in the literature." 
In other words, there’s no evidence that asymptomatic people, defined as such because they tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 but show no symptoms of the Covid-19 disease, spread their infection to others.
“Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: implications for infection prevention precautions: Scientific Brief.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization: Jul 9 2020.
https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/transmission-of-sars-cov-2-implications-for-infection-prevention-precautions
As you read the above bulletin from the WHO about possible vectors of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, please bear in mind the papers previously cited in this section which demonstrate that person-to-person viral transmission—via touching, hand shaking, embracing, breathing, coughing and sneezing—does not spread infectious disease. Whether the infected person is asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic, or showing symptoms, there is no evidence that he can transmit the virus to another person through physical contact or aerosol droplets. In light of the lack of scientific evidence on this matter, note the vague, hypothetical language systematically deployed in the above WHO bulletin: “Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is predominantly spread from person-to-person…This section briefly describes possible modes of transmission for SARS-CoV-2, including contact, droplet, airborne, fomite, fecal-oral, bloodborne, mother-to-child, and animal-to-human transmission…Studies using viral culture of patient samples to assess the presence of infectious SARS-CoV-2 are currently limited…SARS-CoV-2 transmission appears to mainly be spread via droplets and close contact with infected symptomatic cases…Many unanswered questions about transmission of SARS-CoV-2 remain, and research seeking to answer those questions is ongoing and is encouraged.”

SO WHAT GIVES RISE TO THESE TYPES OF DISEASES?

“On the Epidemiology of Influenza.” John J. Cannell, PhD et al. Biomedical Central Virology Journal: Feb 25 2008.
https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-422X-5-29
This peer-reviewed scientific paper overturns the assumption of “settled science” that sick-to-well transmission of infectious diseases is the primary mode of contagion. Instead, a seasonal Vitamin D deficiency which depletes one's "innate immunity" is currently understood as the most significant vector of influenza infection. And since the epidemiologies of Influenza and coronavirus are roughly the same, we can deduce that there’s no reason to fear getting Covid-19 through person-to-person contact.
“Ep 104 - Vitamin D and Viral Special with Dr. David Grimes et al. - Vital Viewing!”  The Fat Emperor Podcast: Dec 28 2020.
https://odysee.com/@IvorCummins:f/ep104-vitamin-d-and-viral-special-with:e
In this episode of The Fat Emperor podcast, host Ivor Cummins interviews two eminent doctors and vitamin D specialists who explain how critical a high vitamin D level in the blood is to a healthy functioning immune system, going so far as to call vitamin D “our innate vaccine” against Covid-19.
"Effect of calcifediol treatment and best available therapy versus best available therapy on intensive care unit admission and mortality among patients hospitalized for COVID-19: A pilot randomized clinical study." Dr. Marta Entrenas Castillo et al. PubMed.gov: Oct 2020.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32871238/
In this randomized controlled trial study from October, 2020, involving 76 participants and conducted at Reina Sofia University Hospital in Cordoba, Spain, ICU treatment was substantially reduced for patients hospitalized for Covid-19 who were administered a form of Vitamin D. Here’s the conclusion:
"Our pilot study demonstrated that administration of a high dose of Calcifediol or 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a main metabolite of vitamin D endocrine system, significantly reduced the need for ICU treatment of patients requiring hospitalization due to proven COVID-19. Calcifediol seems to be able to reduce severity of the disease, but larger trials with groups properly matched will be required to show a definitive answer."
“Evidence Supports a Causal Role for Vitamin D Status in Global COVID-19 Outcomes.” Dr. Gareth Davies et al. medRxiv: Jun 13 2020.
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.01.20087965v3
This report on new medical research offers an in-depth analysis of “global daily reports of fatalities and recoveries from 239 locations from 22nd Jan 2020 to 9th April 2020,” and draws the following conclusions:
"Our novel causal inference analysis of global data verifies that vitamin D status plays a key role in COVID-19 outcomes. The data set size, supporting historical, biomolecular, and emerging clinical research evidence altogether suggest that a very high level of confidence is justified. Vitamin D prophylaxis potentially offers a widely available, low-risk, highly-scalable, and cost-effective pandemic management strategy including the mitigation of local outbreaks and a second wave. Timely implementation of vitamin D supplementation programmes worldwide is critical with initial priority given to those who are at the highest risk, including the elderly, immobile, homebound, BAME and healthcare professionals. Population-wide vitamin D sufficiency could also prevent seasonal respiratory epidemics, decrease our dependence on pharmaceutical solutions, reduce hospitalisations, and thus greatly lower healthcare costs while significantly increasing quality of life."

HOW BAD IS THE PANDEMIC?

So the WHO diminished the terms of what constitutes a pandemic, and it turns out that scientific research on transmission tells us that asymptomatic spread is extremely rare, if at all a factor. Any controlled experiments involving human subjects in proximity fail to produce any statistically significant evidence that the disease is spread that way. (It is essential to differentiate the virus (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease (COVID-19), for although the virus may spread, the disease may not.) In short, we must set aside transmission and ask, How bad is it? Aren’t the hospitals overflowing? Let’s take a look at the data. But before we do that, it’s important to note how unreliable most of the available data has been, especially the official data promulgated by the WHO, governments around the world, and the mainstream media.

“John Ioannidis Warned COVID-19 Could Be a “Once-In-A-Century” Data Fiasco. He Was Right.” John Miltimore. Foundation for Economic Education: Jul 23 2020.
https://fee.org/articles/john-ioannidis-warned-covid-19-could-be-a-once-in-a-century-data-fiasco-he-was-right/
This paper illustrates a handful of some of the most unreliable methods of data collection during the Covid-19 crisis. To name two significant examples: in the USA, hospitals are incentivized to pressure physicians to include COVID-19 on death certificates and discharge papers even if the disease wasn’t necessarily the cause of death, because doing so increases Medicare payments to hospitals treating COVID-19 victims; what’s more, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in addition to other global public health bodies, has been “inflating its COVID testing numbers by including antibody tests,” perhaps to “bolster the testing numbers for political purposes.” As far back as March 17, 2020, Dr. John Ioannidis, the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, warned that making policy based on such insufficient or inaccurate data could turn out to be a “once-in-a-century evidence fiasco.”

Therefore, The Secular Heretic has made an effort to find reliable data furnished by independent quantitative data analysts, those not affiliated with the mainstream media, with governments or the pharmaceutical industry, or with universities funded by governments or Big Pharma. Much of the data presented below has been compiled and interpreted by data engineer Ivor Cummins, one of the most credible, sensible, independent voices out there on the Covid-19 crisis. Host of The Fat Emperor podcast, Cummins completed a Biochemical Engineering degree in 1990, and has spent the last thirty years in corporate technical positions, leading teams engaged in complex problem-solving activity. Since 2012 Cummins has been researching the root causes of modern chronic disease, with a particular focus on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, and he shares his research insights at public speaking engagements around the world. His book, Eat Rich, Live Long: Mastering the Low-Carb & Keto Spectrum for Weight Loss and Longevity (Victory Belt Publishing, 2018), was co-written with Dr. Jeffry Gerber.

Mortality Rates (Covid-19 v. All-Cause)

According to Worldometers, the current population of Canada is 37.9 million people, and 23,059 “Covid deaths” (as of Apr 4 2021) have been recorded. Compare that to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918/20, which killed about 55,000 Canadians at a time when our population was about 8.5 million.

This graph shows all-cause mortality rates in Canada from 1950-2020

Further, according to the graph pictured above from Macrotrends, the all-cause mortality rate in Canada has not increased substantially in the last 35 years. If you click on the site here and scroll the icon across the graph, you will see that since 1986, the all-cause mortality rate has hovered between 7-7.8 deaths per 1000 people. Covid-19 has not significantly affected Canada’s death rate compared to previous viral epidemics and seasonal illnesses. In fact, the annual percentage change in Canada’s death rate was higher during the 2017/18 influenza epidemic (+1.090-1.070%) than during the current Covid-19 “pandemic” (+0.580-0.590%).

This graph shows mortality rates in Sweden from 1851-2020

Note that the above graph provided by Ivor Cummins (but sourced from www.statistikdatabasen.scb.se) focuses on Sweden. COVID-19 is insignificant in the greater context of almost 200 years. There are spikes in mortality, as you can see, during the flu epidemics of 1976, 1988, and 1993, for example, but the mortality rates in those years were higher than for Covid-19 in 2020. Please keep in mind, too, that Sweden never locked down its healthy population as most other countries have, and yet their mortality rates are comparable, as we’ll see in more detail as we look at other graphs. Note as well that the dramatically high mortality rate during the Spanish flu in 1918 is exponentially higher than that of Covid-19, so the comparison between the two made by public health officials and the media is utterly false.

“The Last Word on Sweden Viral Issue - Understanding the Reality!”  The Fat Emperor Podcast: Nov 26 2020.
https://odysee.com/@alltheworldsastage:0/The-Last-Word-on-Sweden-Understanding-the-Facts-Covid-19-Coronavirus-Lockdowns-Masks-Quarantine:9
Here’s the episode in which the above graph on nearly 200 years of Swedish mortality rates appears. Remember that Sweden didn’t lock down as most of the rest of the world did, yet as you’ll see in this episode, Cummins presents a series of graphs showing that compared to other countries that implemented strict lockdown measures, Sweden has similar numbers pertaining to Covid-19 mortality rates . . . not to mention all-cause mortality, excess deaths, ICU bed capacity, and hospitalization rates!
These graphs show mortality rates from 2014-2020 in Sweden, Great Britain, Finland and Norway

These graphs, courtesy of Ivor Cummins, show mortality rates from 2014-2020 in Sweden, Great Britain, Finland, and Norway. As you can see, in Finland and Norway, mortality rates during the Covid crisis in 2020 were on a par with rates in previous years. As for Sweden and Great Britain, the spike in mortality during Covid-19 is understandable due to the less than expected deaths in previous years—ie. the troughs that precede the spikes on the right side of the graphs. During those trough years a lot of sick and elderly had gathered up who would have been very frail and vulnerable when Covid-19 arrived.

Excess Mortality

This chart shows excess mortality for those aged 65+ in 26 European countries during Winter seasons from 2017-2021

Note that this chart by Ivor Cummins focuses on cumulative excess mortality for those aged 65 and older in 26 European countries. We see that the excess deaths putatively caused by the Covid-19 “pandemic“ in the 2019/20 winter season—at 185,000 deaths per 360 million population—is not substantially higher than the excess death rate (140,000 deaths per 360 million population) during the influenza epidemic of 2017/18. Further, though all the data has not yet been tabulated regarding the 2020/21 winter resurgence (or “second wave”) of Covid-19, it is clear that the excess death rate is nowhere near as high as it was in winter 2019/20.

“Important: High Level View of Viral Epidemic Mortality - and Key Patterns.” The Fat Emperor Podcast: Feb 3 2021.
https://odysee.com/@IvorCummins:f/important-high-level-view-of-viral:0
In this episode, Cummins explains excess mortality data coming from Euromomo, the database covering 27 European countries. First, he shows that for the 15-44 age group, with the exception of the UK there is no significant spike in mortality during the initial Covid epidemic in winter 2019/20, and even less so during the winter resurgence 2020/21. The same goes for the 45-64 age group: except for the UK (and Spain during the “first wave” and Portugal during the “second wave”), there has been no noteworthy increase in excess deaths. As for the 65+ age group, there were spikes in mortality in Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and the UK. In other words, nine European countries experienced notable increases in excess deaths in their 65+ population; but 18 European countries did not.
"Provisional death counts and excess mortality,  January to December 2020." Statistics Canada: Mar 10 2021.
https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/210310/dq210310c-eng.htm
Canada’s national statistical agency states in its above report that from January to mid-December 2020, there were excess deaths in the country when compared to previous years, but those deaths were due increasingly to what it calls “indirect consequences of the pandemic [such as] delayed medical procedures [and] increased substance use” because of lockdowns:
"[T]he number of excess deaths has been higher than the number of deaths due to COVID-19, and these deaths are affecting younger populations, suggesting that other factors, including possible indirect impacts of the pandemic, are now at play." 

SO WHY DID WE HAVE TO FLATTEN THE CURVE?

Weren’t the hospitals overwhelmed, or at least the ICUs? Haven’t they been all along? Why else would we be going through these lockdowns? If the mortality rates of this pandemic are nothing to sneeze at, then how can the hospitals be full? In fact, official statements from public health officials across Canada, as well as reports from mainstream Canadian newspapers, paint a misleading picture when they say that hospitals across Canada are “full” because for most of the past year, hospital bed capacity has been reduced by two-thirds to curtail the risk of spread; in other words, if a hospital has 300 available beds—three per room, let’s say—it is only allowed to assign one patient per room, so that the hospital is designated as “full” when one hundred beds are filled, though two hundred potential beds remain empty. There have also been reports of entire hospitals being shut down due to “outbreaks” and patients being transferred to other hospitals. Why didn’t the government build field hospitals in the summer to prepare for what they repeatedly said was going to be a catastrophic resurgence of the virus in Winter 2020/21?

Having interviewed doctors and nurses in hospitals in Windsor-Essex County in southwestern Ontario—one of Canada’s so-called “Covid hotspots”—The Secular Heretic has learned that at the height of the “first wave” in winter 2019/20, hospital beds and ICU beds were nearly full and did sometimes exceed capacity which, however, was the normal state of affairs long before Covid arrived. In fact, nearly filled or over-filled hospital beds, nursing staff shortages, and waiting lists have been the norm since radical changes to Medicare and the Canada Health Act were implemented in the 1980s. The Covid-19 “pandemic” hasn’t significantly changed what had already been a crisis in our health care system for over thirty years. It’s difficult, however, to get factual data on this issue, for reasons which should be obvious, and doctors and hospital workers are intimidated into not speaking honestly on the issue lest they be publicly vilified so their professional reputations are destroyed, and they lose their jobs. What’s more, a March 15, 2021 article in The Suburban (Montreal, Quebec) has this to say on the issue of hospital bed and ICU bed capacity in Quebec:

Though vaccinations are underway and according to government statistics 296,143 (3.48% of the total Quebec population) have tested positive for the virus since the start of the outbreak in the province, [Quebec Premier Francois] Legault insists that the health care system is overwhelmed, though The Suburban visited multiple hospitals in the city and spoke to ICU designated staff, doctors, nurses and hospital administrators who shared the common viewpoint that there have been no exceptional surges since last April but that the medical system was and is overwhelmed more and more each year regardless of COVID-19 and that the novel virus has highlighted the already existing weaknesses of a broken system.

Hospital Beds & Hospitalization Rates

This graph shows Covid-19 hospitalization rates in nine countries from March 2020-March 2021

The above graph, sourced from OurWorldinData, compares the Covid-19 hospitalization numbers of nine countries, including Canada. If you link to the graph here and drag your icon across it, you will see that since March 1, 2020, the highest number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals across Canada was 4,868 on January 13, 2021. That’s less than 5000 Canadians hospitalized nationwide in a country with nearly 38 million people. Similarly, by dragging your icon across this graph showing the number of Covid-19 patients in ICU in the same countries, including Canada, since March 1, 2020, you will see that Canadian hospital ICU bed capacity cumulatively peaked on January 16, 2021, when there were 886 Canadians in intensive care for Covid-19.

WORSE WITHOUT LOCKDOWNS?

With the foregoing in mind, we may surmise that lockdowns were unnecessary, and clearly destructive economically, socially and psychologically. However, since the world—under the aegis of the WHO—took the trouble to conduct this globalist experiment, it is of interest to the curious whether lockdowns minimized the impact of COVID-19. Surely, common sense would lead one to trust that if you isolated individuals and families, the virus would have nowhere to go and would be starved out. In fact, this is the argument deployed by reasonable folk everywhere. Isn’t it obvious after all? The answer is no, not scientifically speaking . . . scientifically speaking, it isn’t obvious at all. It is conventional and customary to regard a viral disease in this manner, but as we saw in the section on transmission, custom is not science. However transmission is working, the question remains whether lockdowns can minimize viral impact, and the answer, as you will see is no. It may delay impact, but it cannot stop it. COVID-19 is a “self-limiting disease.” What is that? Keep reading.

The World Health Organization had never recommended lockdown measures during its entire history until Covid-19

Note in the above bulletin from the WHO that up until the Covid crisis emerged in early 2020, based on the culmination of decades of scientific data, the WHO did not recommend stay-at-home orders or quarantining exposed individuals to reduce the risk of transmission, because there was no scientific evidence that such lockdown measures reduced the spread of the virus once it had substantially come into the population. Instead, the WHO recommended letting the virus run its course until the population had achieved natural “herd immunity,” at which point the virus would die out.

The World Health Organization changed its definition of what "herd immunity" is between June 9 and November 13 2020

The above WHO bulletins show that in the space of five months—from June 9 to November 13, 2020, the WHO changed its definition of what constitutes “herd immunity,” excluding the well-documented phenomenon of natural immunity developed through previous infection. Now the focus is exclusively on vaccination, and on “protecting people from a virus, not exposing them to it” via lockdown measures. The WHO has overturned anti-quarantine and pro-natural immunity guidelines that constitute the logic of nearly a century of Western medical science, and Big Pharma stands to profit handsomely from the WHO’s reversal.

Self-Limiting Diseases & the Gompertz Curve

“Exponential Growth Is Terrifying.” Dr. Michael Levitt: May 14 2020.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCgPf1SuPNY&list=PLstiHTWcxU0KAj3q-MrpxKZeJh4aHcq2i&index=1
“Curve Fitting for Understanding.” Dr. Michael Levitt: May 14 2020.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw2ZTaiN97k&list=PLstiHTWcxU0KAj3q-MrpxKZeJh4aHcq2i&index=2
“COVID-19 Never Grows Exponentially.” Dr. Michael Levitt: May 14 2020.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aHrx68IT7o
In the three short vlogs featured above, Dr. Michael Levitt, professor of structural biology at Stanford University Medical School and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, explains how data is assembled to mark the trajectory of an epidemic disease such as Covid-19, specifically how data is plotted on a curve on a graph. Contrary to the fear mongering news coming from governments and mainstream media, SARS-CoV-2 and other infectious diseases never grow exponentially in a population, be it localized or on a global scale. Instead, viruses spread through a population according to the Gompertz Function, named after Benjamin Gompertz (1779-1865). The Gompertz Curve illustrates how the growth of an epidemic is slowest at the start and end of a given time period. By using the Gompertz Curve to show the rate of growth of coronavirus cases in South Korea and New Zealand during the “first wave” of Winter 2019/20, Dr. Levitt illustrates the following findings: 
“From the very first confirmed case the rate of growth of Covid-19 confirmed cases is not constant. Instead the ‘constant’ exponential growth rate is decreasing rapidly. Although the growth rate is very rapid at first, it is decreasing at an exponential rate.” 
Dr. Levitt’s insights match well with the fact that Covid-19, like other infectious diseases, is a “self-limiting illness”: it spreads through a population, kills the vulnerable, and expires. No amount or severity of lockdown can change that. It may delay the rate of spread, but the virus will run its course through the population eventually, one way or another. Excessive human intervention in managing epidemic diseases causes no good and does much harm.
“The end of exponential growth: The decline in the spread of coronavirus.” Dr. Isaac Ben-Israel. The Times of Israel: Apr 19 2020.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/the-end-of-exponential-growth-the-decline-in-the-spread-of-coronavirus/
This study by Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, Israeli military scientist and chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, uses data from dozens of countries around the world to demonstrate with a series of graphs how the trajectory of the coronavirus—in countries with strict lockdowns as much in those that didn’t lock down—follows the Gompertz Curve described by Dr. Michael Levitt:
"It turns out that a similar pattern—rapid increase in infections that reaches a peak in the sixth week and declines from the eighth week—is common to all countries in which the disease was discovered, regardless of their response policies: some imposed a severe and immediate lockdown that included not only “social distancing” and banning crowding, but also shutout of economy (like Israel); some “ignored” the infection and continued almost a normal life (such as Taiwan, Korea or Sweden), and some initially adopted a lenient policy but soon reversed to a complete lockdown (such as Italy or the State of New York). Nonetheless, the data shows similar time constants amongst all these countries in regard to the initial rapid growth and the decline of the disease."
“Making Sense of Mortality with Joel Smalley – MBA, Quantitative Analyst.” Pandemic Podcast: Feb 24 2021.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWTaEtkZiA4&list=WL&index=16
In this episode of the Pandemic Podcast, British quantitative analyst Joel Smalley uses a series of graphs assembled with raw data from the UK government Coronavirus website to illustrate with painstaking detail how the pattern of transmission of the virus through the British population, during both the Winter 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, followed the Gompertz curve. By referring to Covid-19 as a “self-limiting event,” Smalley means that the actual trajectory of the virus itself through the two winter seasons had its own natural curve, and it would have naturally followed that pattern whether the UK had done hard lockdown or not, which is precisely what we’ve seen in comparative data analyses of countries with more and less stringent lockdown restrictions:
"The [Gompertz] model theoretically was based on the notion that [transmission of SARS-CoV-2] was decreasing exponentially in terms of growth from day one."

Lockdowns & Collateral Damage

This graph shows that lockdowns have no effect on reducing the spread of Covid-19

Note that the above graph from Ivor Cummins clearly shows that lockdowns had no effect on slowing the rate of excess all-cause deaths in all ages in England from January 1, 2020 to December 21, 2020. Both “Lockdown 1” and “Lockdown 2” are shown to have failed to stop the excess death rate from rising; and “Lockdown 3” was implemented when the death rate was already falling.

“Published Papers and Data on Lockdown Weak Efficacy - and Lockdown Huge Harms.” The Fat Emperor.
https://thefatemperor.com/published-papers-and-data-on-lockdown-weak-efficacy-and-lockdown-huge-harms/
This absolutely indispensable resource page assembled by Ivor Cummins provides links to more than 47 scientific papers (and growing) showing that “lockdown ideology is destroying our societal health, selling the lie of saving lives. Lockdowns cost net suffering and lives—by a huge margin.” The harms, for example, to children from closing in-person schooling are dramatic, including poor learning, school dropouts, social isolation, and suicidal ideation, most of which are far worse for lower income groups. The majority of cancers haven’t been detected due to missed screenings. That health disaster adds to missed critical surgeries, delayed presentations of pediatric illnesses, heart attack and stroke patients too afraid to call emergency services, and others. What’s more, there have been massive increases in depression, anxiety symptoms, and suicidal ideation, particularly among young adults, not to mention drug overdoses and suicides. Domestic abuse and child abuse have been skyrocketing due to the isolation and specifically to loss of jobs. This unemployment catastrophe from lockdowns has increased mortality rates and is correlated to a drop in overall life expectancy over the next several years.
“The Great Barrington Declaration”
https://gbdeclaration.org/
The Great Barrington Declaration is a document created by a team of infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists who “have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts” of COVID-19 lockdown policies, and propose a far more sensible, effective policy. As of April 2, 2020, the declaration has been signed by 41,890 medical practitioners, 13,796 medical and public health scientists, and 764,075 concerned citizens. Co-authored by Dr. Martin Kulldorf (Harvard), Dr. Sunetra Gupta (Oxford), and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford), the declaration proposes to replace lockdowns with a more reasonable, less restrictive approach called “Focused Protection”:
"The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection."
“Ep78 Stanford Professor and Nobel Prize Winner Explains this Viral Lockdown - Fully!” The Fat Emperor Podcast: May 19 2020.
https://odysee.com/@IvorCummins:f/ep78-stanford-professor-and-nobel-prize:d
In Episode 78 of the Fat Emperor podcast, Ivor Cummins interviews Dr. Michael Levitt, professor of structural biology at Stanford University and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Dr. Levitt provides a sobering, data-driven analysis of why lockdowns don’t reduce spread and in fact cause considerable long-term social and economic harms. He and Cummins discuss, for example, how lockdowns reduce cancer diagnoses, delay medical screenings, increase the number of fatal heart attacks because people are afraid to go to the hospital even though they’re half-empty, exacerbate psychological problems including anxiety and depression, increase the rate of alcohol and drug abuse.
“Florida Wins the Lockdown Science War - Hands Down - no problemo!!!” The Fat Emperor Podcast: Feb 18 2021.
https://odysee.com/@IvorCummins:f/florida-wins-the-lockdown-science-war:9
Ivor Cummins uses data from RationalGround.com to show that in terms of Covid-19 management, Florida has outperformed the hard lockdown states, namely New York and California, even though Florida has a higher elderly population than those two states; and in late September it dropped the lockdowns, mask mandates, and opened schools and businesses. In fact, since then Florida has outperformed New York and California—as well as the entire U.S. national average!—in the following metrics: a lower increase in per capita mortality from 2019 to 2020; deaths per 100,000 for seniors 65+; daily new Covid-19 cases per million people; and hospitalizations per million people.
“How Finland and Norway Proved Sweden’s Approach to Covid-19 Works.”  John Miltimore. Foundation for Economic Education: Nov 13 2020.
https://fee.org/articles/how-finland-and-norway-proved-sweden-s-approach-to-covid-19-works/
This article provides a fascinating case study of disinformation from the pro-lockdown mainstream media lying about the success of Sweden’s no lockdown strategy: 
"[T]he Swedes have found themselves attacked. The New York Times has described Sweden’s policy as a “cautionary tale,” while other media outlets have used it as an illustration of how not to handle the coronavirus. Critics of Sweden’s policy point out that although Sweden has experienced fewer deaths than many European nations, it has suffered more than its Nordic neighbors, Finland and Norway. This is true, but it needs to be contextualized. Norway and Finland have some of the lowest COVID-19 death rates in the world, with 54 deaths per one million citizens and 66 per million respectively. This is well below the median in Europe (240 per million) and Sweden’s rate (605 per million). What these critics fail to realize is that both Finland and Norway have had less restrictive policies than Sweden for the bulk of the pandemic—not more lockdowns."

THE TROUBLE WITH CASES

If (a) the pandemic is not especially severe compared to previous flu seasons, and if (b) the ICUs aren’t more overwhelmed than usual, and if (c) lockdowns aren’t curtailing infection rates, then why is the media continually bombarding us with information about cases? The argument of course is that high numbers of cases are a harbinger of skyrocketing mortality rates. As we know from the section above on COVID-19 as a self-limiting disease, this argument is false. It is being deployed however as the primary rationale for lockdowns. Cases are rising, therefore we must lock down. Originally, the idea was to “flatten the curve” so as not to overwhelm ICUs, and this is still the underlying principle. As we have seen however none of the data support this strategy.

More importantly, regarding testing itself, until 2020, it had been standard medical practice to apply tests only to sick patients for the sole purpose of helping to confirm a diagnosis. The testing of healthy individuals (or the perception of all persons as patients) was considered malpractice because testing can yield false results, and mass testing of healthy individuals will inevitably yield very high rates of false and misleading results. In short, the idea of testing the healthy is a completely new way of conducting medical work, and one that stands in direct opposition to at least a century of medical practice.

Worse, the PCR test (the one that is being used to the exclusion of all other tests) was never designed to be used as an independent diagnostic, so one cannot claim that a change in the technology led to a change in the policy. And worse still, the PCR tests must be run at a cycling threshold (CT) that if surpassed yields extremely erroneous and misleading results. Most labs are running these PCR tests at cycle thresholds beyond the range of accuracy, and policies have not been adequately put in place to change this situation and demand that labs attach a notice to their tests declaring the CT.

PCR-Tests

These graphs show the "casedemic" that emerged after the "first wave" of Covid-19 had ended in May 2020

These graphs from this Ivor Cummins video show that in Germany and Switzerland—as in most of the rest of the world—when the “first wave” of Covid-19 ended in May 2020, deaths and hospitalizations decreased substantially while positive PCR-tests continued to rise. Most of the positive “cases” were either asymptomatic or false positives. And yet this “casedemic” was used as a pretext to justify ongoing lockdowns . . . which is happening again now during this “second wave” . . . and we might add now during the “third wave” despite our having solid data on which to base public policy.

“The Truth About PCR-Tests.” Dr. Sam Bailey Podcast: Jan 12 2021.
https://odysee.com/@EMF-ECOLOGY-HEALTH:c/The-Truth-About-PCR-Tests---Dr.-Sam-Bailey:9
In this episode Dr. Sam Bailey details why the PCR-test—the test being used worldwide to determine if someone has been infected with SARS-CoV-2—is not a legitimate clinical diagnostic tool and thus unable to actually determine if you’ve been infected with the virus. In fact, the inventor of the test, Dr. Kary Mullis, has warned that the PCR-test “doesn’t tell you that you are sick. These tests cannot detect free, infectious viruses at all.” Dr. Bailey explains:
"When a biological specimen is taken from a living host with a nasal swab, it contains all sorts of things, including genetic material from any number of microorganisms. Humans are covered in billions of microorganisms, most of them living in symbiosis with us, meaning they don’t cause any harm or disease. Most of them have nothing to do with illness, so the mere apparent detection of their presence [on the PCR-test] doesn’t mean you’re sick. As Kary Mullis pointed out, a PCR-test does not detect an infectious agent. This is because it is an indirect test that only detects genetic fragments of organisms. Your body may have encountered a potential pathogen that your immune system rapidly destroyed but the test still detects remaining fragments."
As Dr. Bailey illustrates, this is one of the many reasons why the PCR-test has up to a 96% false positive rate. In other words, the current Covid-19 crisis is a “casedemic” and not a “pandemic”: an enormous number of people who’ve tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 didn’t actually have the virus. Remember that skyrocketing case numbers has been one the main drivers for justifying lockdowns!
“The Trouble With PCR-Tests.” Swiss Policy Research: Oct 2020.
https://swprs.org/the-trouble-with-pcr-tests/
This valuable resource page offers a trove of information about the manifold problems surrounding the PCR-test: large-scale test kit contamination; testing site or lab contamination, which has led to countless false positives; the PCR-test can react to other coronaviruses; the test can detect non-infectious virus fragments weeks after an active infection, or from an infection of a contact person; the test can detect viable virus in quantities too small to be infectious; and the list goes on. In fact, there are so many issues concerning the validity of the PCR-test that on January 21, 2021, the WHO had to finally admit that the way the test has been administered worldwide up to now has been producing far too many false positives:
"WHO guidance ‘Diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2’ states that careful interpretation of weak positive results is needed. The cycle threshold (Ct) needed to detect virus is inversely proportional to the patient’s viral load. Where test results do not correspond with the clinical presentation, a new specimen should be taken and retested using the same or different NAT technology. WHO reminds IVD users that disease prevalence alters the predictive value of test results; as disease prevalence decreases, the risk of false positive increases."
Blue Hydrangea, the Blue Death flower

The Mask of the Blue Death

The burden of cancellation levied on the infected shall not be abridged on account of race, gender, or degree of victimhood.

Amendment I, Permanent Safety Code

The “Blue Death” had finally ravaged the country by the third or fifth year of lockdown. No virus in human history had ever been so contagious, or so depressing. Boredom was its nature and its course—the blueness and the monotony of boredom. During the first several waves of mass infection, there were sore throats, runny noses, fever, fatigue; some vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach aches; and then a few deaths—mostly the elderly and infirm—followed by collective hysteria, nation-wide safer-at-home orders, and the economic devastation of mass unemployment with attendant bankruptcies, declining mental and physical health due to a steep rise in poverty, domestic abuse, drug abuse, depression, suicide; and an acute scarcity of toilet paper. Many in the cities, convinced that the strictness of the confinement measures far exceeded the dangers posed by the pestilence, chose to live as normally, or as recklessly, as possible, congregating at parks and backyard barbecue parties, where they didn’t wear masks or socially distance, and in extreme cases, touched and kissed each other. Such heartless, selfish behaviour was the pest ban which cancelled them from the culture of their fellow settlers—even before the catastrophic mutations the virus underwent in subsequent waves necessitated even sterner security measures than the ones originally put in place.

These horrifying mutations brought about the Age of Permanent Safety, when the Blue Death was, the health experts informed us, still very little understood. They arranged their data to present, nonetheless, a frightening image of a steadily rising mortality rate, which helped persuade the public that the virus had evolved to attack not the immune system anymore, but the emotional and reasoning centers of the brain. New symptoms appeared first among those who still had friends and families, when they gathered illegally inside each other’s homes to eat and socialize. They used the same utensil to dole out food to one another, and they laughed. Laughter had been prohibited because it spread contagious droplets over unacceptably long distances and with such force that they easily penetrated the protective layers of a mask.

But even more pernicious symptoms arose among the infected in the form of public outbursts of virulent rage, in which they dismissed the pandemic as a “hoax.” They disseminated wildly delusional conspiracy theories about the secret motives of the state and its corporate administrators in Big Tech, Big Pharma, and the Mass Media, conveying the naive belief that, instead of protecting the public health, our leaders sought only to stoke fear so as to keep the masses cowed and compliant—all to increase their own power and wealth. The virus was, above all, a shrewd adversary, a skilled organizer—brilliant, even diabolical—for somehow it convinced people that it didn’t exist, and that was when they became the most contagious. Around this time, Prime Minister Kim Jong Laurendeau signed his highly popular Permanent Safety Code into law, and in doing so, he saved countless millions of lives. He was a great leader. Under his aggressively progressive system, when the infected organized public demonstrations or took to social media to claim that their righteous anger wasn’t a symptom of the virus itself, but of what they deemed the state’s disproportionately extreme, authoritarian response to it, they were confined in remote Safe Spaces overseen by the Disease Rehabilitation Council—in accordance with the second amendment of the PSC.

So, while at first the virus infected mostly the old and frail, and yet killed a mere fraction of one percent of them, soon the most vulnerable became the young and healthy, and a mere fraction of one percent of them survived. Those who had robust immune systems and, curiously, those most enamoured with the idea of freedom—the most critical, so-called “free-thinking” minds in society—became the most susceptible to an infection almost certain to be fatal. The health experts, a team of doctors drawn from the humanities and social sciences departments of the country’s most distinguished universities—not medical doctors, mind you, most of whom had by then succumbed, regrettably, to the Blue Death—emphasized that due in large part to neocolonialism, white supremacy, racism, sexism, transphobia, and The Patriarchy—though mostly due to anthropogenic climate change—more and more pandemics, and more unpredictable, even deadlier ones, would be an inevitable consequence.

It was, in fact, within these DRC Safe Spaces where the latest, most ominous mutation of the virus occurred, which from there soon after spread across the country. Within a few months of their forcible but necessary confinement of indeterminate length, the infected began their rapid descent into the bluest depression verging on catatonia—they became rigid and unresponsive, seemed to give up on life, and only on occasion, usually during their weekly bath, when, watching the ripples of water expand and vanish, they could be heard to mutter, “But I don’t feel blue… But I don’t feel blue…” Actually, during the final seizure and termination of the disease, which were the incidents of a few minutes before dissolution, the skin all over their bodies—but especially around their mouths, concealed by the masks they were required to wear at all times—turned dry and brittle as parchment, then cracked open in lesions from head to foot, through which their flesh, which had partially liquefied, oozed out in streams of livid pus.

It was said a long time ago by some dead white man of the Western canon that ignorance was the nutriment that helped evil to flourish, but in truth an excessive preoccupation with freedom was the true cause of malevolence. Freedom was a quaint idea, but that’s all it was—an idea, and a childish one at that—for in the real world of responsible grown-ups, one’s freedom necessarily ended where the safety of society began. So many, however, still wanted to be free, as if the human brain wasn’t little more than a data processing machine through which the unconscious expressions of various social and economic inputs—rather than conscious expressions of an autonomous will—were transmitted. The pathology of the virus, then, wasn’t mysterious at all, but of their own making. Clearly the greatest obstacle to permanent safety was an elitist, cultish obsession with individual sovereignty, promoted by legions of fascists who, caring only about themselves, never considered the superior moral virtue of being a good neighbour. The virus wasn’t to blame; the infected were. An abiding faith in “free will” was the true contagion. There was something really wrong with them that needed immediate correction. I was excited, I must admit, that the Blue Death, though at great cost, might finally rid the world of these people.

I might have ended up as one of them had it not been for Rachel, my beloved ex-wife. I still missed her very much, and the child we had lost. She was incredibly smart and beautiful. She always explained to me with such eloquent precision how wrong I was in all my opinions—and yet her calm grey eyes appeared magnanimous above her bold, prominent mouth shaped like the trumpet of a wild daffodil. Her beauty seemed all the more vivid to me because I knew I wasn’t especially attractive. True, I was tall and lean and, despite being middle-aged, had a full head of hair, but my head was too large for my body, with a rounded cranium flattened at the temples; I wore square-shaped glasses that magnified my beady eyes. At the time I would have never admitted to nurturing the narcissistic desire that I had always wanted to be a father, and to raise a family. Then as the years of the pandemic blended together, I came not only to repudiate my former longing, but to resent it, both in myself and perhaps a little more so in others. Still, I found my enduring affection for the family I would never have both touching and pathetic, for in the very heart of the plague, the solipsism of love had enabled me to preserve a sense of indifference that cushioned me somewhat against the general distress. It also hardened me to the difficulties of my latest career. Working as a security operative for the Disease Cancellation Directorate, I gradually became inured to observing the infected scream with their last gasp, “I’m not a disease!” They left me feeling a kind of bemused incredulity. There was nothing I could do for them, resistant as they were to the virtue that their sacrifice for the public good was signaling, so when I left their homes, though I could still hear their screaming in my ears, I felt a certain inner peace.

At the same time, the nature of my work helped to change the way I regarded my fellow human beings, especially white people like me. Reduced to abstractions, they became dearer to me than ever. I wanted to save them from themselves. So that’s why—shortly after the virus had evolved to corrupt the mind before the body—I was grateful to be called on by the Ministry of Radical Health and Well-Being to redeem myself by adding my exceptional inculcative skills to the nation-wide effort underway to re-engineer society into one exponentially more diverse in every component but speech and thought. I was given the choice of either having my divorce sentence upgraded to the maximum penalty—a permanent marriage ban with installment of an internet-enabled ‘smart’ chastity cage—or becoming a DCD agent; and if I chose the latter, my alimony would be reduced to 50% of the income earned in my new profession. I understood almost immediately that it would be foolish of me to refuse the ministry’s offer.

My life had come full-circle—my future no longer a terminus, but the start of a personal revolution in the wider context of the cultural revolution accelerated by the Blue Death. Living in a permanent state of emergency in which the city was sealed off and movement restricted to one’s neighbourhood, I had never felt safer or more in my proper place. This new Great Depression would go on forever, an epic struggle against calamity that every generation had to suffer through. It proved to the survivors that the infected were dead wrong when they had earlier insisted that public acquiescence to the state’s so-called “draconian safety rules” during the initial outbreak was evidence that we were a weak, coddled society that hadn’t been through the kind of suffering people in earlier ages had, like those in the last century who endured the barbarism and privation of two world wars. At last the survivors understood that if they wanted to stay alive—but more importantly, if they would just wash away their petty egos and consent to merging with something far greater and purer than themselves—then all they had to do was obey the PSC amendments and submit to the New Normal. 

Long ago, it seemed, during the Old Normal, I had worked as a high school history teacher. I taught postcolonialism, and served as Head of the Right Side of History Department. Then, about a year before the media started reporting the first cases of infection, I was fired for what amounted to a hideous misunderstanding, which, though a reasonable decision on the part of the administration given the circumstances, had banished me forever from the teaching profession. That only made matters worse, for I was already penniless, lonely, and utterly bereft of hope. I mean, I still had hope for the future of the country which, I believed, was making some progress toward greater justice and equality for its historically oppressed and systemically marginalized peoples; but my personal future I had all but given up on. You see, I had recently gone through a divorce. According to Section 16-C of the Diversity Code, the Extraordinary Tribunal for Struggle Against Heteronormativity had awarded Rachel an alimony allowance that equaled 75% of my annual income. They based their judgment on the truthiness of her accusation that, because of me, she had developed severe gender dysphoria. The emotional trauma I was guilty of subjecting her to, furthermore, had left her no choice but to get an abortion. Her affidavit detailed the psychological abuse I inflicted on her during the long process of my silent accretion of new beliefs in which my sense of the role I played as a cisgender white male in the subjugation of women, for example, had finally revealed to me that when I thought I was “making love with” my wife, in fact I was raping her. I thought that I had become what she always wanted me to be, but instead I gave her posttraumatic stress disorder, or at least that’s how the tribunal judges interpreted her closing statement: “Having sex with my husband made me feel like a lesbian.” This was ironic, of course. Our politics couldn’t have been more different when we first started dating, but the reasons why eventually I brought mine into accord with hers, I believed in retrospect, pertained not only to the white guilt that she slowly proved to me I should beat myself up over during the many political arguments we had had over the years—but also to my enduring love for her. I couldn’t wait to help bring someone else like Rachel into the world.

So, what happened on the day I got fired was, as I said, simply a grievous mix-up. My error hadn’t emerged as a result of, and wasn’t directed toward, any one particular student of the thirty or so seated before me at the time. That morning I had a terrible hangover, and hangovers, for some reason, had always raised my libido. Standing in front of all those students perched at their desks in rows, their heads at my waist level, I held my arms akimbo as I usually did while reciting the same lesson I had given so many times that I could do it in my sleep—and I was, in fact, half-asleep—lecturing them on the urgent need for every non-aboriginal settler to immigrate to their ancestral countries and return to their rightful owners the unceded First Nations territories that constituted the whole of our illegitimate country—all the while absorbed in a day-dream about raping my ex-wife. Only one student filed an anonymous complaint about the bulge, but that was enough to bar me from ever teaching again. I fell into a morbid depression, had nightly drunken fantasies about hanging myself, and bought a dog.

It was on an evening toward the close of the thirtieth or sixtieth month of confinement, shortly before curfew, and while the Blue Death continued its rampage across the country, that I took Onco, my toy poodle, for a walk under a moonlit sky with a halo of blue radiance around the moon. Before the lockdown, I had never taken much notice of the moon, or the sun or the sky for that matter, and I wondered if the blue halo wasn’t a phantasm, a symptom of my servitude to the vast indifference of the plague. That night the moon beamed over the rooftops, and everything in the neighbourhood lay naked to the dazzling impact of its light. It turned Onco’s curly brown fur a pale yellow, and as he proudly trotted along beside me, his head held high with its bobbed hairstyle resembled a sheaf of freshly cut wheat. The moonlight stalked us along every sidewalk, and crept into every silent, empty nook of the listless houses. Here in the suburbs little was left of the usual animation between the long, narrow streets and invariable rows of circa-fifties, red-brick, semi-detached homes. Ordinarily at this time of year in late spring, back in the days of the Old Normal, my neighbours would spend the evening chatting on their front lawns and imbibing the warm, fragrant air, while their children chased each other up and down the sidewalks, screaming with joy; but now every door was shut, no one was to be seen, even the blinds and drapes stayed down, and I couldn’t tell if it was the moonlight or the virus they were trying to shut out. The soft noise of distant traffic from the highway, already surprising given the economy had long been ground to a halt, startled the otherwise silent spaces that Onco and I traversed, so that even the slightest sound—be it a woodpecker nearby or the far-away honk of a horn—had a heightened significance. The unvarying brightness of the moonlight, the very smells rising from the soil that signal the change of season, had the same sinister import in my thoughts as the Blue Death itself. The virtual extinction of all movement around me might have been due as much to the fierce moonlight as to the pestilence, and there was no knowing if the air had grown heavy with menace or merely gotten warmer. The trees and hedges along the street all shimmered, and the rustle of leaves sounded like water streaming over pebbles. The balmy, lucid air made the sidewalk underfoot feel oddly supple—though perhaps what added to the ground’s suppleness were the draggled rubber gloves and cotton masks which had covered over every lawn, street, and sidewalk.

In such a soothing lunar ambiance, I had an eerily outrageous encounter with one of my neighbours, a woman in her early thirties whom I hadn’t seen since the start of the outbreak, but before that, we would occasionally run into each other on the street, though I never asked her name. She had a dry sense of humour, and was graceful and genial once; but now she looked unwashed, haggard, perhaps a little dead-looking, and she very nearly came upon me just as Onco was evacuating his bowels under the hedge that lined the front of her property. Her liquid eyes trembled nervously; her pale skin looked ashy grey and her shiny black hair metallic. I had been so lost in reverie that it seemed she had come out of the blue, so to speak, taking short, shuffling steps as though in no hurry to get home before the curfew minutes away. She carried in her arms a carton of milk, a loaf of bread, and several rolls of toilet paper. Wondering where she had acquired the toilet paper, since for many months there had been next to none available in state-approved corporate retail outlets, I noticed too that the mask she wore was like one I had never seen before. It was of a design so ludicrous—so extraordinarily improbable—that it seemed to have come from another world. In fact, it didn’t look real at all. It looked like a 3D image projected onto her lower face from some invisible realm. Considerably larger and thicker than the latest 12-layer mask authorized in the forty-third amendment of the PSC, her mask protruded bulbously from her face, had a grey surface marked with yellow speckles and orange clumps, around which stood a cluster of sharp red spikes that formed a sort of halo—or corona. I gazed at it in astonishment, though only momentarily, for then she had the audacity to pass me at a dangerous distance of exactly four-and-a-half metres—and I was an acute judge of such matters because my work required me to know precisely how far anything short of the amended nine-metre safe distance measured. Her mask was enormous but I could still hear the ragged wheeze of her laboured breathing, and then a vague odour of grave soil came drifting into my nostrils. She may be infected, I thought. Seized with terror, I reached inside my coat, lurched backward into Onco, who yelped, and stepped on his pile of turds. Though it had become almost impossible to hear what people were saying through steadily thickening masks with layers corresponding in number to the latest wave of infection—and so conversation, the sound of human words, had all but vanished from the public sphere—I felt so triggered by her reckless contravention of several PSC amendments that I stabbed a finger at my shoe. “Look what you’ve done!” Then I waggled my finger at her. “Don’t you understand? For your own health and safety, keep nine metres away!”

She stopped in her tracks—exactly nine metres from me. Dropping the milk, bread, and rolls of toilet paper on the ground, she turned and stared straight into my eyes. Her moist, glaring eyes outshone her greasy forehead in a way that reminded me of a circus sideshow freak. She raised her bony, rubber-gloved fists in the air like a boxer ready to fight, her face blanched as if to the point of fainting, her skull damp with fever. “My health and safety? What about yours?” Her voice groaned and rattled like the hiss of a startled serpent, and it seemed to emanate not from her mouth hidden behind that ridiculous mask, but from either side of me. I shuddered and felt my skin crawl. Inside my coat, I tightened my grip on my state-issued, life-saving weapon holstered there. “Miss!” I started backing away from her, Onco pressed against my leg, barking and trembling. She kept pace with my steps, however, moving forward at just the same speed that I was stepping backward, maintaining always nine metres distance between us.

Then she placed one hand on top of the other over her heart and, chuckling, her voice a gravelly rasp, said, “I was only kidding.” This time I heard her voice directly behind me. I turned around. Nobody was there. I turned back and she had shortened the distance between us by half. She stood there erect and motionless—a deadly four-and-a-half metres away—her hands now raised over her head, as though she were waiting to be arrested; and her mask was gone. I gasped in inexpressible horror. Her lower face resembled the inflorescence of some kind of blighted hydrangea: a cluster of tiny sores, reminiscent of buboes, bloomed around her mouth like the interior of a flowerhead, in the middle of which her teeth were glimmering white in a rictus grin, the lips rotted away except for a few tatters of flesh. On her nose, chin, and cheeks were huge blisters shaped like petals. The ghastly blossom on her face seemed to pull at my consciousness—just as the moonlight seemed to pull the sounds from the air and bury them within its warm, bright softness. “I’m not a disease!” She screamed, but what was left of her mouth didn’t move, and I heard her voice come out of mine.

I pulled my taser gun out of its holster—set by DCD engineers to a voltage at which the heart was guaranteed to fibrillate, causing sudden cardiac arrest—and fired two electrode darts into her chest. Her body convulsed and wriggled, and the look in her eyes changed from one of defiant mockery to an expression mingled with shock, disappointment, and a profound sense of betrayal—which reminded me a lot of the look in Rachel’s eyes that I had made the mistake of noticing on the rare occasions when we still made love in the late stages of our marriage. Finally it collapsed backward to the ground, and though it continued twitching for a few moments, that feeling of being sucked toward it went away. Its eyes stared blankly at the moon, the white grinning teeth all agleam, around which a viscous, livid discharge dribbled from every swelling onto its bed of moonlit rubber gloves and cotton masks. Onco whimpered and took a few small, cautious steps toward it, until I yanked him hard by his leash back to my side. I regretted making him gag and choke like that. He was my only family.

I notified Disease Sanitation Services about sending a truck to pick up the body, and to unlock the door of its house, since one of my duties involved inspecting the former homes of the cancelled to determine whether any useful goods remained there to be expropriated, disinfected, and redistributed by the state to those who belonged to identity groups that had been most oppressed through history by white supremacy. I carried Onco home, which was a few blocks away, put on my hazmat suit, and returned to the house of my former neighbour, all the while feeling depressed again because the penultimate look in its eyes had conjured up that memory of Rachel.   

Once I had entered the house, though, to my surprise I heard the soft, nasally sound of a sleeping child, and the hum of its slow, regular breathing quenched my whole being. I tiptoed through the hallway but the wooden floor crackled so loudly that the child woke up and started crying. A gloss of moonlight gave the air in its bedroom a gauzy whiteness, the window stained with fingerprints and dried saliva. It was a girl no older than four, perhaps a little younger, I recalled, than our child would have been if Rachel hadn’t cancelled it. The girl was sitting on her bed, curled up in a ball, shaking, clutching her stuffed rabbit. She was trying to swallow her sobs. She had a little, fresh, round face with green eyes and long, blond hair curling at the end, like a golden playground slide. Remarkably, my presence as a total stranger—dressed, no less, in an aluminized hazmat suit that made me look like a martian—didn’t seem to frighten her. Quite the opposite, in fact. She stopped crying and stared at me curiously, as though I might be someone familiar. Instead of fear, her eyes conveyed wonder, perhaps even a bit of hope. “Daddy?” She said.

Transported by a sudden feeling of being outside myself, I thought I heard someone else instead of me reply, “Hello, my name is Gordan.” 

“Where did you went? Mommy say you never come back.” Almost unconsciously, I felt as if I were observing myself huddle beside her on the bed and stroke her back. With her chubby little index finger, she pressed on my hazmat suit, its outer plastic crinkling. “Daddy, did you came from the moon?”

“Sshh, little girl. Go back to sleep.”

Her thin eyebrows fluttered like wings, her lips quivered, her glance trembled. “But…,” she muttered, “but…I want to sleep with Mommy.”

“Mommy’s asleep, sweetheart,” I said, stroking her chest, and as she resumed her weeping, I stretched straight out on the bed. “I’ll stay for a moment.” She begged a second time for her mother to no avail and lay down next to me, sniffling. “Sshh,” I whispered. Soon enough her tears had ended and she stared at the ceiling, scratching the marble eye of her tattered rabbit cradled in her arms. I listened to her softening breath and, somehow through the layers of rubber and plastic, felt her heartbeat relaxing. I watched the moon turn her hair and face entirely white, wondering instead if the light emerged from within her by the touch of my gloved hand. Then a sudden joy seemed to carry me away to the frontier of a vast, uncharted realm beyond the physical. I found myself in a deeper state of unreality where it felt as though I could remove my mind from my body. I had been gazing into the girl’s eyes, and sensed that I was being pulled outward toward them, when suddenly I thought I had entered into a dream she was just beginning to have as her eyes glazed over and her heavy eyelids began to droop. In the dream we were lying in her bed, facing each other. There was pale morning sunlight, a breeze whispering through her open window, and the steady patter of someone showering. The little girl wrapped her arms around my neck and pressed her forehead against mine, rubbing them together until her hair was thickly curtained between our faces. “Daddy,” she said, “I can’t see you!”

“Well,” I said, “that’s because you’ve got all your pretty hair in my face!” She laughed at my reply with such insouciant delight that I started laughing along with her. Amid the smell of urine rising from her diaper and the sound of Rachel taking a shower, for a while our daughter and I laughed and laughed, blowing the scalloped curtain of her hair between our bright crimson faces.      

And then, without warning, the scene became itself again. I was back in my hazmat suit, lying next to the little girl who had since closed her eyes and appeared to be asleep. With a strangely reluctant sense of relief, I got up off the bed, but then she woke up again and pressed her finger into the rabbit’s eye. Gazing drowsily at me, she murmured, “Thank you for sleeping with me, Daddy.” I stood in the doorway a few moments longer, until she drifted back to sleep. And before I went away to inspect the contents of the house, I called a friendly associate in the Children’s Disinfection Society.


Marko Sijan co-founded and co-edits The Secular Heretic. His novel, Mongrel (Mansfield Press), was named among the “Best First Books” of 2011 by The Globe and Mail. His stories and essays have appeared in journals including Canadian Notes & Queries, Maisonneuve, Geist, and This Magazine. Sijan lives in Montreal, where he is writing another novel.

Covid-19 produces Covid Rage aka Covid Fatigue

Hashtag Suicide is the Best Vaccine

Pictured above in a screenshot from a viral video: “B**ch, kill yourself! I’m a f***ing teacher! I work in schools! I teach students, my students’ families are dying!” A woman screams at anti-lockdown demonstrators in Bend, Oregon on December 6, 2020.

Friend, The Spirit of Evil walks among us. True, there is always some mischief, some witchcraft at work. But right now, evil is an immanent miasma, taking on a body, a form, a figure. It masks its hideous face, veiling nose and mouth from the foetid odour of its own corruption. It’s as palpable as a cold shoulder, as intimate as a wheezing breath. It emits the acerbic odour of a shrivelled gut, seeps and simpers like a clotted heart. 

Though it hasn’t the drama of cholera, inducing one to weep blood; and though it hasn’t the elbow grease of small pox or proper bubonic plague to scrub out whole communities household by household; though it’s the mild mannered half-brother of Influenza, Covid-19 is attended by a train of masked demons rubbing elbows with us all, involving each and every one of us in its shadowy waltz with Baron SamediAleister Crowley, the Bogeyman and Beelzebub.

No literary magic is required, no transport to gothic, torch belit passageways, through saltpetred catacombs, or down dank, cobwebbed passageways. No such transportations are necessary to enhance the terror of this stark tale. No, we remain right here in the mundane, the pedestrian, the unpoetic twenty-first century over which the dark beast Baphomet most comfortably presides.

The WHO changes its definition of "herd immunity" regarding Covid-19
In the space of five months, the WHO has completely changed its definition of what constitutes “herd immunity.” Big Pharma stands to profit handsomely from the WHO’s mendacious reversal… 1984, anyone?

Picture a spacious, wide-aisled pharmacy, clean and clinical, the bright neon overhead gently undulating. It all begins here among the gum and junk food strategically placed to tempt and poison those in queue awaiting their turns at the cash register. It all begins here with an utterance, a scrambled item of speech requiring brain time to reconstruct: “Two metres.” Grumbled and garbled, the words issue from a mask. A figure cocks its head autistically sideways. The manner resembles that of a bird, the way it jerks its little skull to look at you with just one eye. Picture that gull eyeing you as you take your lunch on a park bench, the way it indirectly sidles in your direction while you eat. Picture Norman Bates.

Throughout the encounter I am about to describe, the mask in question dealt with me sideways. I wouldn’t be surprised if those suffering from Covid Rage in fact believe that engagement at a right angle minimizes their risk of exposure. 

It was about seven months into the Covid-19 lockdowns. If one was a radiohead or a news zombie who bathed long in the eerie blue light of television and computer screens and believed in government authority and the long defunct integrity of the free press. . . if one was this sort of blue-face, the messaging had been relentlessly monomaniacal and without journalistic inquiry. There was only one news, only one story, and any questioning of state policy was immediately suppressed and branded “fake news.”

The information feed was a continuous ticker tape of fear mongering that followed two alternative formulae: either (a) lead the covid editorial with Covid Dread; that is, news of how many have died, regionally and worldwide since the earliest onset of the virus in Wuhan, China, late November 2019; or (b) save the grotesque but juicy morsels of death-counting for the end to be sure and leave the viewer (or listener) infused with irremediable Covid Dread. Either way, the strategy was to rationalise the latest suspensions to basic civil rights, like the right to congregate, to do business, to play sports, to visit family and friends, to celebrate holidays and successes, to mourn the passing of your loved ones. . . the right to walk side by side with a friend, the right to hug in public. The consequences for violating lockdown were unclear. What was clear, however, was that the police state, which had already been developing for well over 20 years, was finally asserting itself. Police could now obtain insta-warrants to kick in the door of a private residence based on a call from a snitch. 

The goal of these reports was to induce panic and intimidation. To this end, the death counts were given without context, without informing the populace of “excess deaths”—of whether we’d exceeded the average annual count. In fact, once death counting became unhelpful to the covid narrative, the subject was summarily dropped and exchanged for case numbers. That said case numbers represented largely innocuous cases along with a hefty number of false test results (97% false) was of no concern to scare slingers. What was important were covid numbers, whichever numbers looked biggest were the ones deployed.

For many, such continuous focus on memento mori caused necrosis of the heart. Many, from overload of fear, turned savage and simply abandoned the dictates and protocols of civility and human decency. Some hoarded toilet paper and canned goods and hid under their beds. Some watched their neighbours through the curtains and turned to snitching on folk they deemed disobedient to the new draconian dictates, and some vanished into social media and lost themselves in the blue fog of pixel town. That’s how the Spirit of Evil crept through the static and insinuated its way into High Definition.

Ontario health minister Christine Elliot warns Canadians that failure to take the Covid-19 vaccine may result in severe social and travel restrictions
Ontario health minister Christine Elliott has threatened citizens that if they choose not to take the Covid-19 vaccine, there “may be some restrictions…for travel purposes, to be able to go to theatres and other places.” Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams added that even non-vaccinated children may not be allowed to attend school. In other words, so-called “anti-vaxxers” could become part of a new “Covid underclass,” virtual prisoners under permanent house arrest, barred from working and socializing, cast out of society. (Image credit: Jwiki2014)

Never before in my 45 years had I seen such incompetence and dereliction of duty on the part of our politicians. Perhaps one could have seen it coming. After all, Covid-19 was not the first rage-inducing dread promoted by inept authorities and a corrupt press in recent years. Climate Change had been top of the agenda just prior to the popularity of SARS-CoV-2. Early on, indeed, sinister attempts had been made to argue that Climate Change had caused the virus, but the wily pharmaceutical industry had this bug in the bag, and this dirty bag was all theirs (except for what greenbacks leaked out to their hired husks on key medical boards). 

What Climate Change did was set the grim stage of our damnation by establishing a rhetoric of immanent doom: “The world’s on fire,” announced the posters; “Our house is burning,” was another poeticism. The “sustainability” propaganda was adeptly handled and extremely well funded. Climate Change was the first clearly misanthropic doctrine to take hold of the collective soul. Climate activists managed to popularise the term “Anthropocene” to lend a scientific air to the notion that humanity had radically impacted and upset our serene and fragile blue planet with our pollution. Human industry and ingenuity were branded “colonialist,” and the crumbled and mouldering outposts of colonialism were read as cause for grievance, which was a sly corruption of reality, for in actual fact the decay and waning of the colonial enterprise was clear proof of positive progress. 

It was that ancient paradigm of Man versus Nature, but diabolically turned on its head. The original version insisted that Nature is evil, so humanity must free itself from Nature (including one’s own Nature). The novel version proved a rather less coherent cousin, asserting that Human nature is unnatural evil, and that Nature must therefore be saved from evil humankind. It was a cheap cannibalisation of the doctrine of original sin.

There was still more to the psychology of the public hysteria. Seething behind the Climate Change Weltanschauung and the doctrine of the “Anthropocene,” at a barely subconscious level, lurked the taboo of mother rape. You’ve ravished Gaia, and because of your sacrilege, you are a reprobate and a sinner. Shame on you. 

The Scroll of Shame had been gaining parchment for decades. Some say all the trouble started as early as the 1960s, but that’s a stretch. It was the ‘90s when all the trouble truly began. That’s when the radical phantasmagoria began to issue forth from the universities, pathologizing all aspects of human intercourse, moving us ever closer to self-loathing and the grim call of Thanatos. When this literature (think Judith Butler et al.) first began its mildewy creep, it seemed toothless enough. It was so damn ridiculous, surely, it was purely academic bafflegab and would remain on the high shelf without utility because it was too theoretical, too refutable and too socially destructive. Consequently, this body of insane misanthropy and misandry was permitted to grow like blood mycosis in a condemned slaughterhouse. 

By 2013, as the ubiquitous thumbs of social media began casting their long jittery shadows, the hand of Leninist Puritanism took hold. Shame!—chided the well-manicured hand. Shame on you for speaking with confidence. Shame on your heritage and on the pigmentation of your skin. Shame on you for your manhood and your attempts at becoming a man. Shame on you for slavery. Kneel! Repent! Shame for being heterosexual. Shame on you for hoping you might raise a family. Shame on you for stealing land from the First Nations. Shame on you for the oppression of women, for wanting to have sex with them, for starting a conversation with one on a bus or for even checking out a woman with your horrible, patriarchal eyes. Disgusting, loathsome creature: shame on you, you rapist of Gaia, destroyer of worlds. 

That had been the public programming for over two decades, the messaging from the most reputable and mainstream papers and news networks. The same influence campaign echoed in the hallways of the schools, in the corridors of government institutions and corporate towers as issued by HR offices, the smooth, intrusive fingers of the state. 

Inevitably, the denizens of our bustling world were absorbed into what can only be described as a malevolent cult that instilled one with a sense of himself as a toxic bag of sin and biological iniquity. This was the prevailing mood when the Covid Masquerade began its lurid waltz through our city. It became a sign of virtue to express a sense of one’s shame for being a contaminated organism shedding contagious bacteria and viruses of death in its wake. Goodman John, Goodwoman Jane and Goodperson Them not only went about the streets bemasked on windy days, but also sprang aside into curbs and dodged behind trees at the approach of other bipeds to preserve maximal distance lest some dislocated wickedness should leap like a Dybbuk into one’s skin. Of course, none of it was so colourful. It was all couched in scientific terms. Not demons, but droplets were to be feared. Droplets flew out of the lungs carrying plague. The trick was to duck and take cover wherever the droplets might be riding the air or sitting like microscopic gargoyles on doorknobs, elevator buttons, countertops. Kill them with alcohol, bleach, peroxide. One community in California bleached the grass where children had played leaving their filthy droplets willy nilly all over the park. Signs warned that touching one’s own face could be deadly. Many jumped into traffic to avoid the mephitis of droplets. 

Sadly, our hearts were ripe for this final nail in the coffin of Love. “Never again,” authorities proclaimed, will we kiss each other upon the cheeks by way of greeting. “We will never shake hands again,” the elbow-rubbing politicians told us. Sex should be conducted through a hole in the wall, one spokesperson enthused. Maintain your distance even when dating: the covid awaits the sinful. The covid is caused by the sinful. The covid is the scarlet letter and emblem of your complicity in poisoning history and the living Earth. It might not sound atheistic or especially scientific, but I assure you, friend, the Scroll of Shame was understood to be bolted to the cement of science and fact by the staunchest atheists. That this so-called science and fact did not agree with reality was of no consequence. 

In a world that criminalised “misgendering”—calling someone “he” when said citizen identified as a she; in a culture where discomfort was deemed equivalent to feeling “unsafe” (not threatened, merely unsafe); in a society that actively set out to do away with all forms of adversity, Covid-19 did not have to be much of a bug. It might as easily have been an itch.

This letter written by a courageous Ontario police officer speaks for itself. The incident in Calgary that the officer refers to at the bottom of the letter has to do with a recent viral video from Saturday December 19, 2020, in which a 21-year old man is seen being kneed, kicked, and arrested by two police officers. Why? He was playing outdoor hockey with friends.

So, a nos mouton, as Rabelais put it; back to our story: it was a hoarse whisper the mask had uttered; it was mechanical, as though tripped by a laser scanner and triggered like a computerised voice from a small, built-in speaker lodged somewhere in the infrastructure. So much was sideways in how the message reached me, it took a few seconds for my brain to register that the muffled sound had been directed at me. “Two metres,” came the garbled message.

When I’d cottoned on that something had been blurted gruffly my way, I looked up to assess the situation. Before me stood a couple in tired-looking, black masks. She was very short, dark carré, probably in her 40s. He was six feet and maybe about 50 years old, dark hair, narrow eyes. I glanced down at the floor. It was true. I had overstepped the rubbed out two metre mark, and was now roughly 1.5 metres from these two masks. 

“I’m not a bag of contagion,” I replied with a resigned, judgemental tone. Then pausing. . . to give it a moment to sink in, I continued: “I’m a human being.” I added this quietly by way of explanation, to indicate that he might demonstrate some civility. Judging from the body language of the figure before me, however, it did not seem that my comments had quite reached their intended mark.

Then raising my voice as I saw the mask begin formulating his reply, I interrupted what appeared to be a stammer with, “You know the best way to keep the virus numbers down? . . . It’s to keep your mouth shut.” This was harsh, I admit. It was a provocation. I admit that. But in the moment, stupidly, I actually wanted to end the conversation, and naïvely, I figured that statement would do the trick. You might say I felt Beelzebub’s hand on my shoulder and couldn’t stop myself. Something territorial had taken hold of me. It was like the Gestapo were at my door, and there was no way I was going to be bullied by a Black Shirt anywhere, and certainly not in an empty pharmacy. Given the circumstances, if he’d wanted that extra half metre so desperately, he could easily have taken a step forward. This mask was simply fixated on the floor markings. It was reminiscent of the classic bubble gum wrapper cartoon of some beach bully drawing a line in the sand to establish grounds for a fight.

“Oh, you’re just trying to pick a fight,” the shorter mask muttered mouthlessly.

“I’m not trying to do anything of the kind. I just wanna buy a few items and get out of here. You’re the ones picking a fight.”

“You know what?” He growled. “It’s because of people like you. . .” There was a thuggish and husky gruffness in his tone. You could hear him suck back saliva behind the mask. . . but he was too emotional to find the words to complete that truly shameful thought. (Who were people like me, exactly? And what precisely had we done, my people and I?) So he tried this: “You’re just an angry person looking for trouble.”

“Wow. That’s rich. Do you even hear yourself? I’m not the angry one.”

His body began to look a little contorted as he turned slightly and bent dangerously toward me. This mask was clearly at the end of his chain, at the extremity of what appeared to be a choker, and that choker was the kind with spikes, pointed toward the throat, the kind made for massive, potentially vicious dogs. More baffled verbiage issued from the straining mask twisting unnaturally toward me. The voice went grizzly: 

“You invaded my space.”

“Excuse me? You’re the one who invaded my space,” I reminded him. “I was minding my own business before you bleated at me.” 

This was an odd moment to be sure. His space? My space? Whose space was it? In contention was the Safe Space, the relatively new incarnation of which first appeared in radical form in schools and universities in the early 2000s. I think such spaces had begun decades back as places where victims of rape or physical abuse could spend time without fear of molestation. By 2013, however, the Safe Space had become a designation alerting political non-radicals that they were unwelcome. Such spaces were now zones of intolerance where freedom of respectful expression and freedom of conscience were deemed noxious. It seems my masked interlocutor, an envoy from Baron Samedi’s mausoleum, had come to believe that his aura encompassed such an inviolable space. 

He began, however, to lean in toward me, even shuffled away from his designated circle on the ground. The choker tightened on him. I said, “Oi!” reaching out my arm, “You’re in my space. You’re breaking the two metres.” 

I’d smacked him down (figuratively speaking), humiliated him badly enough. . .  and now, according to the rules of his own petty game, he had to handle the altercation from a safe distance of two metres or more. No doubt, this mask had been ready to pop long before our encounter. He’d been primed by the television and social media for over 20 years, and these last seven months had proven a wicked radicalisation campaign. Who knows when the last time had been that he’d pulled his head out of a computer monitor and put himself in a social situation. For all I knew, this mask had been living in Facebook for a month and had just emerged because he needed some sun block. Was it wise to poke at a startled and frightened snake? 

As the air intensified into emotional plasma, one could sense that the mask was beyond stung. He wanted blood, but couldn’t manage to get that flavour of living flesh, of vein and sinew he was craving without foreshortening the state-mandated two metres he was so keen on personally enforcing. 

He walked away from me and up to the available cash (where he was separated from the young lady at the register by a thick pane of acrylic glass). From that safe distance, within just a few breaths of time, upon a mere flutter and skipped heartbeat, he finally burst, exploding at full volume and with an air of abandoned aggression: “You’re a fucking asshole!” I looked his way. The dark hair on his head was suddenly dishevelled. 

(Keep in mind that each expression cast my way was propelled with especial vehemence through tooth and cloth and with progressively homicidal inflexion.)

“Oh, an f-bomb. Your choice of vocabulary demonstrates true class. So pleasant to see one maintain such civility and equipoise in trying times.”

Upon those words, whatever composure he might have had vanished like a silk tunic in a hurricane. I hadn’t seen a fit of this magnitude since high school. It was a complete and utter abandonment of self-possession.

“FUCK YOU!” he shouted. “FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING FUCKER!” The mask barked this in front of the stunned cashier. The whole silent, covid-empty pharmacy resounded with f-bombs. The pills surely trembled in their bottles; the same, no doubt, could be said of the band-aids in their roomy boxes. The various fluids on the shelves must have rippled slightly. . . and the security guard must have been hiding because there was zero intervention.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you suffered from Tourettes,” I snapped.

I was upset by this encounter. I had not entertained the idea that the mask might become violent. But here I was, faced with a Cro-Magnon, and I began to tremble. I resented the sensation. It was as though I’d been bitten and poisoned by some kind of snake.

Their damage done, the masks finally left. I approached the cash, paid and made my way out. The cashier seemed sympathetic and wished me a good day, but I was too upset and distracted and didn’t reciprocate as I should have. I wish I had been more gracious because that was the point I’d been trying to make: let’s be civil to one another. Perhaps I’d failed at that entirely; on the other hand, perhaps I’d done the right thing standing up for myself. 

Now get this. The Covid Crusader is waiting for me outside with his masked companion. But true to distance safety, obedient to state decree (and his own conscience no doubt), he waylays me from afar, begins cursing me from across the street:

“FUCK YOU! It’s two fucking metres! It’s t-w-o f-u-c-k-i-n-g metres. F-U-C-K-E-R!” The mask was flailing his arms, wailing at me with a grim and horrifyingly preternatural voice. I was witnessing an infantile fit with shades of Caligula, shades of The Exorcist. This mask was truly possessed. It is only slightly hyperbolic to suggest his head turned 360 degrees. He was projectile vomiting bile, channelling pandemonium: “You just fucking remember that you fucking asshole fucker.” He was shouting in harsh, hoarse tones at the top of his lungs like a wild escapee in a straightjacket confused and raging in the busy street. No one could tell who he was yelling at. And as I gained my distance, stoking his empty fury further with each step, he sang out with a bloodcurdling and frenzied cry, “PSY-Y-Y-CHO-O-O.” It was a throaty swan song, a hostile howl summoned from so deep in his psyche, he might well have torn his soul right out of his own body. But this fellow’s spiritual centre had been replaced by a slippery, brainwashed mass of fear, and all that noise was the sound of a mask pounding its chest to ward away a monumental sense of impotence. 

It was all very sad for him. This mask had been played. The many years of social indoctrination that had hollowed out his will now made him the perfect instrument of the state. As Hamlet would have observed, here was Fortune’s perfect flute; a thing whose stops were easily learned and played upon. In this case, however, I would say, Here was Baron Samedi’s perfect trumpet, for surely this mask had found a voice to wake the dead.

In the days that followed, I didn’t give the incident too much mental time. Probably due to the inarticulate bluntness of the violence levelled at me, the confrontation failed to lodge itself emotionally. Of course I sketched out the rough contours of the affair to a few confidants for our amusement, but that was the full extent of its psychic reach. It was about two weeks later when I received a text from my best friend, Nicholas: “Hey. Wonder if this is the mask you had that run-in with.” Along with the note was a link to a news piece: Mass Stabber Hashtags ‘Suicide Is the Best Vaccine’. 

The article was a bizarre specimen from several perspectives. It described a masked assailant who had gone to Central Park on a sunny afternoon and begun stabbing folk with a steak knife. Witnesses said he shouted “Two fucking metres” over and again as prelude to each attack, but also as conclusion as well as intermittently throughout each assault. “Two fucking metres.” “Two fucking metres.” He stabbed 20 people before cutting his own throat. But the journalist refused to report the piece as Covid Rage. Instead, and even though it made no sense, the stabbings were attributed to the anti-vaccine movement. Apparently, just a day earlier, he had posted on Facebook and Instagram a photo of a page with #suicideisthebestvaccine printed over and over again. It didn’t matter the message was hardly that of an Anti-Vaxxer. Nor did it make any difference to the state narrative that the perpetrator had no ties whatsoever to the movement. The media had its storyline, and so, an obtuse analysis of events was du jour.

Five people died in those gruesome attacks and three were in critical condition. These were among the last targeted when he was in a frenzy, striking his victims over and over again. The first dozen he stabbed a mere two to three times. A few sustained seven deep wounds apiece. But in two cases it was as many as 13 and 15. It requires an effort to properly imagine the blind fury driving that kind of act. Consider for a moment the force required to cut a raw chicken carcass, or to stick a raw lamb roast. And still this imagining misses the psychological element involved when knifing a living creature, its hot blood spraying the hands, spurting into the face, the vocal outcries gurgling and frothing from the struggling victim. 

Luckily, the initial leg of his spree was a warm up, so the first ten, though he’d sunk his knife in deep, were only badly maimed. The thirteenth victim had been a man who attempted tackling the mask as he fled a stabbing by the edge of the water near the southern end of the park. This 30-something man heard shouts, and seeing the bloody slayer, gave chase. Events did not transpire in his favour, and unfortunately, he was quickly struck in the nape of the neck, after which, the mask straddled him and began thrashing away with the blade, hacking the young hero’s insides to a pulp. 

Most witnesses were shocked and paralyzed, finding themselves unable to move to save themselves. Some fled the scene. 

A photo of the maniac was printed with the news piece. I looked it over, covering the mouth and nose with a finger. If it wasn’t the mask who’d had that fit in the pharmacy, he certainly bore a close resemblance. Should I feel guilty that I may have been the catalyst to these horrific events? Should I feel at all responsible?

I once heard of a fellow who’d made a pastime of pulling up railroad spikes from the neighbourhood tracks. He kept a collection in boxes in his basement. Ultimately, this mischief led to a spectacular derailing, entailing enormous collateral damage along with the deaths of over 200 people and the injury of some 250 more. He continued his wickedness even following the debacle, and that’s how he was caught. A passer-by out walking her dog caught sight of him pulling up nails in the fog of a spectre grey and rainy dawn. Apparently he preferred wet weather for gathering his rusty simples. The soaked earth eased his drawing up the points. She reported the sighting, and authorities afterward found his cache of spikes. When brought before a court, he insisted there was no connection between his actions and the derailment. Even after it was explained to him, he admitted no causal relationship. (No doubt, he’d have made a fine politician.) Insofar as the analogy serves, you can see that I was not culpable for the unravelling of this citizen’s psyche, for I’d only pulled up the final peg. The rest had been carefully pried out over years by the machinations of a sinister cult. And so I lay this bloody train wreck at the pedicured feet of a thoroughly corrupt and bedevilled culture.


Children sing Oh Canada! wearing masks

It’s Time to Stop Wearing Masks

In this paper, David Solway illustrates with exquisite detail that there is no evidence that wearing non-medical masks during the Covid-19 “pandemic” provides any protection against infection. Quite the contrary, mask wearing may in fact increase the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. Saying so, however, is sure to land you in hot water on social media and among the general public. Pictured above: One of the more disturbing images from the Covid-19 lockdowns has been this one of mask-muzzled grade 3 schoolchildren signing their national anthem.

I refuse to wear a mask. I believe, as many people do—but not enough to make a wrinkle in the vast bubble of mass delusion—that masks are largely ineffective. But the consequences of holding to this belief and appearing in public without a mask can be quite unpleasant.

My experience in the streets and shops of my city will be familiar to those who feel as I do. The masked give me a wide berth. Others stare balefully from the only exposed part of their faces. On occasion I find myself in confrontation with those who believe I am a “spreader” to be mocked, shamed, condemned and threatened.

COVID Rage is all the rage. And I am always astounded by the level of ignorance wedded to self-righteousness among the unvisaged, the tendency to follow the diktats of their political leaders and government appointed medical officers without question and to accept implicitly the reports of a suborned media apparatus. The lack of common sense and the unwillingness to conduct independent research are truly staggering, if entirely predictable. Instead of herd immunity, we have herd mentality.

Masks are not only unsightly, even grotesque, but they obscure proper articulation—I rarely understand what these people are trying to say—and eliminate all signs of personality. One feels one is trapped inside a particularly lurid Zombie movie.

More importantly, masks are generally useless. The weave and filter are not resistant to the miniscule COVID virion. Wearing masks has been compared to setting up a chain-link fence to keep out flies. Former naval surgeon Dr. Lee Merritt has done the research. Viruses are passed by tiny micron particles, she explains, “that sneak out through the mask and around the mask.” As Merritt points out, the popular meme of “viral load,” which masks are said to reduce, is misleading; it takes only one COVID micron and a compromised immune system to trigger the infection. So much for director of the HIV Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Monica Ghandi’s argument that masks significantly reduce ingestion of viral particles, and that masking can make you “less sick.” A mask is not a silver bullet, it is a blank cartridge.

We might note that the more sophisticated N-95 masks, which are used by medical personnel, provide insecure protection. Medical Life Sciences tells us that the diameter of a COVID particle ranges from 60 to 140 nanometers (nm) and that N-95 masks are non-functional under 100 nm, rendering them only 50 per cent effective at best. As founder of American Frontline Doctors Simone Gold states: “The facts are not in dispute: (cloth) masks are completely irrelevant in blocking the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” N-95s bring their own problems, as noted below. (Naturally, she has been roundly attacked by “medical cancel culture.”)

Face mask or adult diaper?

Droplets are apparently another matter, being larger than aerosols and thus impeded by masks, whether on the receiving or emitting end. A little common sense tells us that droplets evaporate and the particles hitching a ride on them remain to be breathed in or out. Moreover, a Cambridge Core study concludes that “any mask, no matter how efficient at filtration or how good the seal, will have minimal effect if it is not used in conjunction with other preventative measures, [including] regular hand hygiene.” Since wearers are frequently adjusting their masks, regular hand hygiene is by no means practical or possible. Aerosols or droplets, same difference.

But there is another side to the problem. Science Daily, citing a study conducted at the University of New South Wales, indicates that “cloth masks can be dangerous to your health.” This is also true for the much-hyped N-95. Prolonged wearing is likely to cause hypoxia (diminished oxygen supply). The masker breathes in his own CO2, leading in some cases to grogginess and even somnolence—the reason birds in winter conserve energy and warmth and sleep at night by tucking their heads under their wings.

People who drive masked are asking for trouble. People who wear masks for extended periods are at risk. Hypoxia can also lead to a condition of immune cell dysfunction. The immunologic consequences can be critical, causing neurological damage and rendering the individual susceptible to whatever pathogens are lurking in his own system or in the air around him. This alone is a reason not to wear masks—and certainly not for excessive periods. Even the more reliable surgical masks must be changed frequently. (Plastic face shields are no solution since the larger surface area acts as a storehouse for the viral molecule.)

Obviously, the pro-and-con controversy over the efficacy of masks is particularly contentious. Political and professional reputations are at stake, especially in journals and institutions with a distinctive leftist bias. Politics will mostly trump science, and the common observer must be scrupulously careful in evaluating evidence.

In Quebec, Canada as elsewhere, the state regards its citizens as children, as evinced in this poster explaining how to properly wear a mask, displayed at Georges-Vanier Metro Station in Montreal.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that trusted data sources like the W.H.O.The New England Journal of Medicine, and The Lancet are profoundly compromised and have been compelled to revise or retract some of their studies and surveys. But it is interesting to note that The Center for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) finds that “despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks…assuming 20% asymptomatics and a risk reduction of 40% for wearing masks, 200,000 people would need to wear one to prevent one new infection per week.” 

Timothy Taylor at Conversable Economist points to many random controlled trial studies that “do not find a reason to wear a mask.”Wired magazine is also ambivalent regarding data, stating: “the research literature on mask usage doesn’t provide definitive answers. There are no large-scale clinical trials proving that personal use of masks can prevent pandemic spread; and the ones that look at masks and influenza have produced equivocal results.” 

Such a “large scale clinical trial” has, in fact, just been conducted. A major Danish controlled study involving 6000 participants, the only study of its kind, has been predictably rejected by three medical journals. One of the researchers, Thomas Lars Benfield, states that publication will have to wait until “a journal is brave enough to accept the paper.” The Lancet, among others, won’t touch it, as is to be expected. Reviewing the travesty, Conservative Review editor Daniel Horowitz wonders “how many other scientific and academic studies covering an array of very consequential policy questions rooted in scientific debate are being censored because they don’t fit the narrative of the political elites?” And indeed, why is NIAID Director Anthony Fauci disinclined to pursue a controlled study on the effectiveness of masks? Of course, like CNN journalist Chris Cuomo and Canada’s Minister of Health Patty HajduFauci was spotted not wearing a mask in public. Do as I say, not as I do.

By the same token, Bioengineer Yinon Weiss at The Federalist shows via data comparison and representative graphs of seven European countries and three American states that renewed mask compliance has led to an exponential spike in infection rates, in some cases by as much as 1500 percent. Weiss cites major international studies, as well as the U.S. surgeon general and the Centers for Disease Control, revealing the ineffectiveness of commercial masks. Masks, lockdowns and quarantine protocols merely delay the development of herd immunity and are practically guaranteed to prolong the epidemic. Nevertheless, fear not only of the disease but also of punitive measures and of being conspicuous dissenters exposed to social opprobrium are operative factors.

“Behind our masks, let’s keep smiling!” So says this state-issued poster at Snowdon Metro Station in Montreal. In other words: “Put on your mask and like it!”

Mask hysteria seems primed to continue. Psychiatrist Dr. Mark McDonald calls the standard response to the virus “a pandemic of hysteria…a delusional psychosis…It is killing us physically, mentally, socially, psychologically.” Masks dehumanize us and make us timid and afraid, vulnerable to the designs of our political masters seeking, as Weiss writes, “to twist the pandemic for political and electoral purposes.”

The situation has grown even more perverse. We seem to have reached a point where government propaganda and coercion are no longer necessary. People have become the servants and enablers of the state, having by and large internalized the official compulsion and are now their own stringent monitors and self-appointed mask police—the final ingredient in the time-tested recipe for totalitarian control. Swallow the lie. Become the lie. Enforce the lie.

At best, mask wearing should be discretionary. If you wish to wear a mask, no one can legally prevent you from doing so. But some things are clear. Masks should not be mandated by political authority since: (1) the requirement to do so is an infringement of the Charter rights of free citizens living in a democratic state; (2) masks are largely, and perhaps in most cases wholly, ineffective; and (3) they can be demonstrably harmful to one’s health and the health of other people.

Ironically, mask wearing is the real risk, not only delaying or preventing the development of immunity while inducing a false sense of comfort, but also acting as a disease incubator, and a conceivable threat to non-maskers. A highly qualified friend who has diligently studied the virus for the last six months writes me: “Mask wearers are becoming an additional potential source of environmental contamination, increasing not only their own but the risk to others.”

I do my best to avoid maskers, although it is difficult considering the numbers.


David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. His most recent volume of poetry The Herb Garden appeared in spring 2018 with Guernica Editions. A partly autobiographical prose manifesto Reflections on Music, Poetry & Politics was released by Shomron Press in spring 2016. A CD of his original songs Blood Guitar and Other Tales appeared in 2016 and a second CD Partial to Cain accompanied by his pianist wife Janice Fiamengo appeared in June of this year. Solway continues to write for American political sites such as PJ Media, American Thinker and WorldNetDaily. His latest book Notes from a Derelict Culture (Black House, 2019) was delisted from Amazon as of Sunday December 13, 2020.

Children snitching on their parents portends social collapse

A Metaphysics of Social Collapse

Is a culture on the brink of social collapse when it begins authorizing its children to snitch on their parents? Pictured above: a screenshot from an episode of The Rubin Report after Tuesday November 24, 2020, when Vermont Governor Phil Scott ordered schools to interrogate children for the purpose of assessing whether their parents had broken Thanksgiving lockdown rules. Meanwhile, during a news conference earlier on Sunday March 29, 2020, Montreal mayor Valerie Plante and police Chief Sylvain Caron encouraged residents to snitch on neighbours breaking lockdown rules. “If there is a situation that is happening close to your home and it is abnormal. . .like if you hear a gathering with loud music, what we’re asking people is to warn us.”

Due to fraud and incompetence, the public loses faith in the fourth estate, a critical pillar of our democracy. All information is cast in doubt. The authorities have arranged their data; and the people who analyse the data for themselves have other ideas. Tension grows between the governing and the governed. A rift is growing between the herdsmen and the herd. We face a crisis of belief, a crisis of trust. We grew up being warned away from ever establishing a police state, yet here it is. The question becomes, What sort of social order may be carved out of such a situation? Scarier perhaps, we must face the Corporate Feudalism that quietly crossed the Rubicon some decades ago.

Typical, how civilizations unravel: they formalize and establish a system of doing things (of procedures, protocols)—this happens in all arenas of human activity (i.e. professionalization, gentrification, canonization, colonialisation, legalism, feudalism, Marxism. . .). The metaphysical premise may or may not be true—and this conundrum is often acknowledged, only to be dismissed because the premise (whatever it might be) is generally deemed in some way to be “obvious” to anyone with eyes and a modicum of imagination. The premise, however (as history bears out), is invariably incomplete. With time it develops into a perception utterly fanciful and with very little correlation to reality. Such a schism between perception and reality engenders psychological agony and social upheaval. Procedure and protocol, however, lock out dissenters and lock in the nightmare. Without fail, some form of brutality ensues.

A culture unravels inevitably because it takes its paradigm, worldview, metaphysic, first principles to their logical conclusion through a deductive process, a reductio ad absurdum, at which point the society loses coherence, goes mad and thereby loses credibility. Summarily, it is perceived to have been barbaric, and is judged mercilessly, often resulting in violence and war.

Let’s be more specific. A culture establishes first principles to form a baseline that the group takes to be common sense: let’s say. . . Jesus is our saviour; we eat God as sacrament. In fact the magical blessings of priests make God literally flesh and blood through a transformation of bread and wine. Therefore, we eaters of God should make everybody just like us. After all, we possess the only true Truth (in our guts). God wants us to be good people. We should turn the other cheek and not fight but love our neighbours—well, at least most of them. You’re a born sinner and suffering is your lot unless you’re saved. To be saved, the priests have to pray for your soul after you die. So make sure you pay them well even though lucre has nothing whatsoever to do with matters spiritual. In fact paying off priests is as bad as sinning gets, but do it anyway just in case and call it charity. Whatever else, be a good person. Here are the ideals you should live up to: be honourable, courageous, loyal, chaste, humble, moderate, loving, generous, charitable and helpful. When you fail to live up to these values, sit in a box and feel shame for a few minutes. Jesus passes on the Holy Spirit with the laying on of the hands, and the Spirit is passed along like a social disease through touching—(some touching may unfortunately lead to an embarrassing fall from grace, not that kind of touching)—touching from generation to generation through time so that you get Jesus by contact, and in a way you become a smidgen of attenuated Jesus. Ergo, as the people of the Spirit, we must defend The Holy Land against the infidels; let us go out among the heathen and slaughter them.

The reasoning may seem a trifle weak in retrospect, but in its day, this was the stuff of scholarship and the daily porridge and mainstay the majority chewed. They made it their bread and their mortar and cement. It found expression in the ornate architecture, the attention to beauty, to ornamentation, celebration of successes and victories, and pride in one’s works and social standing.

It could easily have been an absurd reduction from the no more reasonable Age of Reason. For instance, the first principles assume that the universe is like a machine. We see machines all around us and they function according to an engineered system. Therefore God is a Watchmaker and Mighty Engineer. Let’s call Him The Supreme Being. Actually, correction: the whole orderly design emerged accidentally out of an accident. We don’t know how, but here’s a story (hem! a hypothesis, hem! a theory) we’ll make up and call “science” because that’s what reasonable (rather than superstitious) folks call their cogitations. In short, by Occam’s Razor, God is superfluous to our hypothesis. In fact only primitives believe in God or anything that does not appear to the eye or appeal to the fingers. Therefore forget millennia of wisdom and ethical thought and put your faith in money. Consequently you’ll need insurance for your salvation. Consequently your safety is the highest priority. Consequently you’re grounded and under house arrest indefinitely; it’s safer and cheaper that way. Meanwhile, we are engineering a master race that will live forever because we’re taking over the unmysterious processes of accidental mutation without design that resulted in outstanding complex design accidentally. Actually, cancel that: we’re working on a master intelligence based on special bean-counting algorithms. All of History is about power and money, the control of resources, the means of production. Therefore competition is key to your spiritual perfection. Learn to resent your neighbour for the privilege of his race, ancestry, gender and sexual orientation. Nurture a jealousy of those who have more wealth because healthy, rational folk measure themselves in dollars. Purchase physical enhancement surgeries that make you look like a lizard-person in a human bodysuit. Everyone should look perfect and clean. Therefore you must wear a mask that hides your face. Uniqueness is primitive. Don’t say “primitive”; that’s offensive. Well, uniqueness is offensive. Those who will not be free of their own free will, will be forced to be free. Thus spake Jean Jacques Rousseau early on in the establishment of this new ethical experiment.

The cultural story need not be coherent; it is never more than a jumble of semi-apprehensions and deductive riffs on the first principles or underlying assumptions. Those who perceive the lack of cohesion are the poets, the visionaries, prophets. They believe all can see what they see; but a metaphysic is a blind like the kind they put on horses. The group becomes enchanted, falls under a spell of righteousness and pious habits. It becomes a herd of administrators. The keys to unlocking the gates of this prison are Beauty and Metaphor. The making and reading of metaphor and symbol reveal the shakiness of any ground upon which we establish first principles. Awaiting always on the horizon is a new reading, a new significance, a new formulation, a novel analogy adumbrating a previously unperceived relationship, an undiscovered purpose; we stand without ground beneath our feet; we stand in the precipice, held aloft by the vital, creative energy of Evolution.


Asa Boxer’s poetry has garnered several prizes and is included in various anthologies around the world. His books are The Mechanical Bird (Signal, 2007), Skullduggery (Signal, 2011), Friar Biard’s Primer to the New World (Frog Hollow Press, 2013), Etymologies (Anstruther Press, 2016), and Field Notes from the Undead (Interludes Press, 2018). Boxer is also a founder of and editor at The Secular Heretic.

π and human suffering

Rede-phi-ning π: On Measuring a Circle

The following investigation is a product of the ongoing scientific inquiry ‘whence human suffering?‘, the same encountering a critical need to call into serious question the long-standing pi (π) “approximation” methodology (ie. of exhaustion) first employed by Archimedes (late, c. 287 – c. 212 BCE), and then by mathematicians and scientists ever since.

To begin, the author draws attention to an important inquiry: ‘ does π ever naturally emerge as a product of a square? ‘ If so, it must be measureably so such to negate any/all need/inclining for “approximation” methodology(s) employing the use of multiple straight-edged polygons. Now consider the quadratic:

x² – x – 1 = 0

and find it to have positive solution x = (1+√5)/2 which, as the reader may recognize, is the so-called golden ratio (hence: Φ). By expressing Φ in/on a base of 2π (thus generally applicable to rotational motion):

Φ = (π+π√5)/2π = 1.618…

and then squaring:

Φ² = (3π+π√5)/2π = 2.618…

we find a numerator difference (being a matter) of a discrete :

Φ² – Φ = /2π

and so we have an answer to the former inquiry: 2π discretely emerges as a natural product of a square (if/when based on the same).

Concerning Φ: there are non-trivial (universally unique) properties it possesses as intrinsic – it is the only positive number (irrational, no less) whose reciprocal is precisely one less than itself:

                                                Φ = (1+√5)/2 = 1.618...
                                                1/Φ = (Φ – 1) = 0.618...

and (as we previously encountered) Φ is the only positive number whose own square is precisely one greater than itself:

                                                Φ = (1+√5)/2 = 1.618...
                                                Φ² = (Φ + 1) = 2.618...

If π is a natural product of a square, we must be able to utilize the geometry implied by Φ such to precisely measure this emergent π and, importantly: do so without the need/inclining for”approximation”

Prior to this endeavor, the author implores the reader to suspend (if even temporarily) any/all hitherto taken-to-be-true notions concerning π: both quantitative and qualitative.

The square is composed of four equal sides whose interior angles are four right angles. The circle is composed of four symmetrical quarters whose axial radii also compose four right angles. By way of inscribing a circle of diameter d = 1 (equiv.: r = 1/2) inside the unit square s = 1, we find four axially situated points (D₁₋₄ shown above) dividing the circumference of the circle into four equal quarters (each c/4 wherein c = π). These four critical points both simultaneously and geometrically correlate the r = 1/2 circle with the unit square s = 1. Further, these same points compose the square whose side lengths are equal to the reciprocal of √2 viz. s = 1/√2, noting:

1/√2 = √2/2

By extending any two opposite sides of the unit square s = 1, we obtain the remaining constituents of Φ: √5 (as the diagonal of the emergent 2×1 rectangle) and (a division by) 2. This extension of the unit square can be performed on both sides wherein the 8 vertices of both 2×1 rectangles can be used to compose another larger circle whose diameter is equal to their own √5 diagonal:

By extending the √5 diameter circle in all directions by one (1) discrete unit, we find the real geometric basis underlying the circumference of the r = 1/2 circle (such to measure):

Upon one full rotation, D (= Φ) incessantly coincides with the full circumference of the r = 1/2 circle while”kissing” each of the four sides of the unit square equidistantly. The real geometric square underlying this relation can be obtained arithmetically via:

wherein the irrational √Φ has an underlying magnitude(s) of ±1.27201964… and whose own reciprocal (normalizing to 1) is:

If/when plotting the first three powers of Φ (as they relate to the geometry we are presently working with):        

the square of the golden ratio can be seen to geometrically coincide with a real diameter (2r) of a real circle in real relation to a real square(s) of equal area – the emphasis on real being as (in) contrast to “transcendental”. A real circumference of a real circle (ie. π) can not possibly be “transcendental” if possessing a real geometric radius. The area of the inscribed square (whose vertices are D₁₋₄ as shown) is equal to the radius of the circle viz. r = 1/2 = s². 

We began by correlating the four right angles of the square to the four axial radii of the circle, the latter dividing π into four symmetrical quarters (each π/4). We observed the four associated axial points to simultaneously correlate the square s = 1 with the circle r = 1/2 and found them vertices of the square s² = 1/2. We also found how the real circumference of the r = 1/2 circle naturally emerges by way of a rotational motion utilizing the real geometry implied by Φ. 

We may now obtain the exact circumference of the r = 1/2 circle by observing the nature of the relationship between √Φ and π/4:

                                              π ≠ 3.14159265358979...
                                            (human approximation error)
                                             Line and curve are resolutely
                                                  reciprocally related:
                                                         1/√Φ= π/4
                                          ...from Φ's own root is derived π..."

The author wishes to impart that Archimedes’ “approximation” methodology catastrophically misses an entire constituency of the circle (albeit small, non-trivially so). A real, symmetrical 1000mm diameter circle will certainly have a real circumference greater than ~3141.6mm (ie. the latter is too short). Should this ever become a source of dispute, the author suggests a simple experiment such to resolve: actually measure a real 1000mm diameter circle, and should it discretely measure (any) more than c = 3141.6mm, the same would resolutely demonstrate the deficiency of a “transcendental” π of 3.14159… as 4/√Φ is a real root of an integral function:

f(x) = x⁴ + 16x² – 256

It is the opinion of the author that the very notion π is somehow “transcendental” (let alone “proven” to be so) is absurd. A real circle is composed of a real radius relating four discretely real  loci. While the “approximated” number of 3.14159… is indeed “transcendental,” it is so for a simple reason: it is not really π, but an “approximation” of π deficient from the thousandth decimal place. Because Φ is geometric, π follows, as from the root of the former do we derive the latter naturally by way of reciprocity viz. 1/√Φ = π/4.

As for the golden ratio: the author suggests stripping it of any/all exotic and/or esoteric notions, and rather focus on the real underlying mechanics (ie. the practicality of the relation): Φ naturally couples terminating rationals with non-terminating irrationals and perpetually suspends their sum on a rational base of 2, giving rise to the universally unique (properties of the) Φ ratio.

The geometric union of Φ and π is reflected in/as the above integral function: the real/imaginary roots reflect a discrete rational integer difference of ’16’. The real element is imperatively fixed to the ratio of 1/2 as this constitutes the real, scalar constituency of a real circle, the same 1/2 to be found in/of:

                                                     1/2 + √5/2 =
                                        ("real" terminating rational)
                                                           +
                              ("imaginary" non-terminating irrational

In other words: all real circumferences of all real circles resolutely possess a real, scalable base of 1/2 (such to scale from) and only the golden ratio permits/employs such a universal scalability

Thus as it concerns the outstanding Riemann Hypothesis problem; in particular, the underlying question: 

“for which s does ζ(s) = 0?”

the problem (ie. question) is outstanding due to the catastrophically culprit “approximation” (ie. deficieny) of π. In short: Euler’s famous solution to the Basel problem such to derive a ζ(2) involves a sin(x)/x relation, thus implies (radians in terms of) a π of 3.14159… 

While the solution fits a mathematically constructed “reality” upon a “transcendental” π of 3.14159… the real unrecognized problem is the real, physical universe does not employ such an “approximated” (let alone “transcendental”) π. For this reason, the hypothesis itself is not (only) a problem, but in reality a symptom of a much deeper underlying problem (hithertomeasurable over a span of at least ~2200 years): a deficient π as due to a deficient “approximation” methodology.

The underlying magnitude of such a blunder of millenia compels the author to sympathetically hypothesize: the Riemann Hypothesis problem will not be solved until humanity consciously acknowledges the underlying “approximation” deficiency in/of a π of 3.14159… 

Finally, as for the concerned inquiry ‘whence human suffering?‘, though the real underlying root lies beyond the limited scope of this investigation, for the purposes of the latter alone (suffice it to say): as a natural consequence of a more general failure(s) to incessantly challenge basic underlying assumptions (incl. and esp. the bases of any/all oustanding “beliefs”), human beings suffer knowing not how to (properly) measure a circle, as:

π ≠ 3.14159…

                                                        π/4 = 1/√Φ
                                                         π = 4/√Φ
                                                         π2 = 16/Φ
                                                         16 = Φπ2
                                                        (e = MC2)
                                                        1 = Φπ2/16
                                                        1 = Φ(π/4)2

π is ∴ not “transcendental” (!)

such an endeavor rationally provides a real means to discern what is real from what is not (the same needed to discern a real π from an imaginary “transcendental” one). Whereas the latter is a measure of millenia of human ignorance, the former rationally clarifies the universal constancy of both: Φ and π (not as two, but as one).


J.F. Meyer is a pseudonym for the author of this paper who wishes to remain anonymous. The inquiry ‘whence human suffering?’ began as a personal inquiry into the suffering of someone the author refers to as “Isha”. She and her family were displaced from Iraq due to ongoing wars in that region. By circumstance, the author happened to meet Isha, and she eventually imparted to the author her own childhood experiences as involving: being sexually exploited (ie. raped) as a very young child; being forced into an “arranged” marriage wherein she was physically abused to the point she had to flee; being disowned for her choice to marry someone her family did not approve of due to “religious” reasons; being used as added “incentive” for a family business transaction (as a wife/concubine) etc. There is much more to this underlying reality precipitating the inquiry, but suffice it to say: as the author looked deeper for the real root(s) of the suffering of Isha, they found not only what underlies her own suffering, but the (same) suffering of many others. It was for this reason the inquiry naturally evolved from a personalized ‘whence her suffering?’ to a more generalized ‘whence human suffering?’ and is examined according to a scientific methodology(s), the results of which are contained in/as a practical theorem to be made publicly available on the ThinkSpot platform in the near future. The author concludes by stating that now the reader can “perhaps…better understand my wish to abstain from biographical notes: there is nothing of myself that merits any attention before those like Isha, as the latter is the reason for the endeavor entirely.”