Not Everything Is Fake
You're manipulated primarily by tricks of context and emphasis, not outright lies. This strategy is cheaper for mass media to sustain, and just as effective.
My post on why PCR tests yield real results, even if they’re often abused to propagandise the population provoked a lot of acrimony from the commentariat.
First off: I don’t just write things like that to antagonise my valued readers. I understand that disputing the validity of mass testing seems like a path towards cutting regime propaganda off at the knees. The problem is that our testing data isn’t totally garbage; and to the extent that it provides real information about the virus, it even helps us. If we throw out all of these numbers, for example, we lose our ability to talk about the failure of lockdowns and masks and vaccines to stop transmission. (We also have to wonder why the fake pandemicist numbers so often end up undercutting their own narrative, but that’s another matter.)
The general hostility to PCR is only part of a much broader phenomenon that characterises discourse in this sphere. Basically, whatever the subject of any given post, a steady 10% of readers will argue that it is somehow fake or staged or so contrived as to be unworthy of analysis. From the existence of viruses to Anthony Fauci having COVID to lockdowns in China to Biden taking Paxlovid to the war in Ukraine, 10% of everyone is always arguing that each of these is fake in some substantial way.
Perhaps it is true to say that we have our own problems with polemicisation and ideological formation here. We’re also beset by a bewildering array pseudosophisticated sciencey arguments, and there’s a great demand for counterpoints that disable the whole machine without having to deal overmuch with the deliberately messy details. Finally, at a more basic level, decades of escalating media propaganda and the sheer volume of exaggerated, wrong and hyperbolic press reports have caused many to flatly doubt the nature of the world they inhabit. In hyperreality, nothing seems real anymore, and this is one of the ways that propaganda works. Some people believe the lies, while others stop believing anything.
The misuse of PCR is entirely typical of the way authorities deceive us. The pandemicists turned to a widely trusted and well-understood method for detecting small amounts of viral RNA, used this method to screen millions of people for the presence of virus particles, compiled statistics derived from this testing stripped of crucial context, and reported relentlessly on the resulting numbers every day. Way too many people, scattered across far too many jurisdictions, were involved in this project for the numbers to be invented or entirely meaningless. No few scientists did have misgivings and even voiced them, but scruples about cycle thresholds are no competition for daily tallies of the sick and the dead, and it took a long time for their critique to make itself heard. Precisely because these numbers weren’t lies from whole cloth, attacking them proved to be a difficult and technical matter. Half-truths are robust to refutation like that.
As a rule, only intelligence and security services have the command discipline and coordination necessary to field outright fictions. Everyone else, including especially our public health authorities, are too diffusely staffed and uncoordinated to sustain lies from whole cloth. They work instead via emphasis and manipulation of context. Rarely is any given press report totally false; it doesn’t need to be. You could incite a panic over any pathogen via selective coverage and anecdotal reporting on tragic virus deaths and overwhelmed hospitals.
Related to the constant denial of many phenomena, is the tendency to argue that stupid or ill-conceived state policies are mere pretexts for deeper, cleverer ends. This is generally not the case, and I really want to warn against recasting every last instance of obvious stupidity as a genius twelve-dimensional strategic move. The blunt truth is that Western states are massively powerful, and being stupid and heavy-handed is a luxury they can afford. One source of their incredible power is the diffusion of political initiative downwards, out of the political arm, ever deeper into the ranks of the bureaucracy, the media and academia. This is itself a profound source of stupidity, for the governance borg actually has very little strategic scope, profound problems with planning and execution, and acts according to an easily propagated oversimplified political programme. There are other sources of institutional stupidity too. Bureaucrats are selected for their ability to succeed within their institutions, rather than for their breadth of vision; they act primarily to secure internal promotion and advantage, rather than to achieve specific real-world outcomes. Nobody should expect our governments to be smart, above all because because they don’t have to be.
Finally: Theories have to be judged on their predictive power and their robustness to new events as they unfold. It’s trivial to develop alternative compelling theories of things that have just happened. The test is whether these theories hold up over time, or whether they have to be adjusted and reconstructed with every new press report.
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