Why Science Is Losing to Authoritarian Mass Murderers

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out an unprecedented attack on science, which has accelerated flaws already apparent in the scientific method and published literature. Even prior to the pandemic, lack of transparency, conflicts of interest and bias were rampant in the scientific and academic communities, but a community had emerged to get back to scientific integrity and understand and minimize bias. “One might therefore have hoped that the pandemic crisis could have fostered change,” wrote John Ioannidis, professor of medicine and professor of epidemiology and population health at Stanford University, in Tablet. “Indeed, change did happen — but perhaps mostly for the worst.”1 Skepticism Gets Caught Up in Political Warfare During the pandemic, skepticism has been met with backlash and censorship, acts that have only further hindered science. Healthy skepticism is a necessary part of science, but one that is often confused with denial. While denial describes a belief that persists even when evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, skepticism, as reported by NASA, “allows scientists to reach logical conclusions supported by evidence that has been examined and confirmed by others in the same field, even when that evidence does not confirm absolute certainty.” They continue:2 “Skepticism helps scientists to remain objective when performing scientific inquiry and research. It forces them to examine claims (their own and those of others) to be certain that there is sufficient evidence to back them up. Skeptics do not doubt every claim, only those backed by insufficient evidence or by data that have been improperly collected, are not relevant or cannot support the rationale being made.” During the pandemic, skepticism has been regarded as the enemy and skeptics labeled as conspiracy theorists. Respected leaders in fields have been threatened with discipline and even loss of their licenses for questioning the official narrative. In one example, Dr. Jeremy Henrichs, a member of the Mahomet-Seymour school board and a physician for the University of Illinois Athletic Department, was targeted by state investigators who said they had opened an official investigation due to his skepticism of mandatory masks in classrooms.3 The state agency later issued a letter of apology to Henrichs, backpedaling on their inquiry,4 but many other “skeptics” have not been so lucky. While healthy skepticism has become viewed as intolerable, the COVID-19 science cult — made “out of science, expertise, the university system, executive-branch ‘norms,’ the ‘intelligence community,’ the State Department, NGOs, the legacy news media, and the hierarchy of credentialed achievement in general”5 — has been held as gospel during the pandemic. Meanwhile, many credible reputations have been destroyed in the name of public health and the “war” against a virus:6 “This is a dirty war, one without dignity. Opponents were threatened, abused, and bullied by cancel culture campaigns in social media, hit stories in mainstream media, and bestsellers written by zealots. Statements were distorted, turned into straw men, and ridiculed. Wikipedia pages were vandalized. Reputations were systematically devastated and destroyed. Many brilliant scientists were abused and received threats during the pandemic, intended to make them and their families miserable.” Authoritarian Public Health Over Science “Science” has become a loaded word, one used as a basis for decisions that affect basic freedoms, life and death itself. However, as Ioannidis explained, science isn’t based on facts but interpretations, often in the context of political warfare:7 “Organized skepticism was seen as a threat to public health. There was a clash between two schools of thought, authoritarian public health versus science — and science lost. Honest, continuous questioning and exploration of alternative paths are indispensable for good science. In the authoritarian (as opposed to participatory) version of public health, these activities were seen as treason and desertion. The dominant narrative became that ‘we are at war.’ When at war, everyone has to follow orders. If a platoon is ordered to go right and some soldiers explore maneuvering to the left, they are shot as deserters. Scientific skepticism had to be shot, no questions asked. The orders were clear.” What’s less clear is who gave these “orders” that dissenters must be silenced. Dr. Peter McCullough, an internist, cardiologist and epidemiologist, has described it as a form of psychosis or a group neurosis.8 Ioannidis also believes that some form of societal dysfunction has pushed groupthink ahead of science during the pandemic:9 “It was not a single person, not a crazy general or a despicable politician or a dictator, even if political interference in science did happen — massively so. It was all of us, a conglomerate that has no name and no face: a mesh and mess of

Why Science Is Losing to Authoritarian Mass Murderers

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out an unprecedented attack on science, which has accelerated flaws already apparent in the scientific method and published literature. Even prior to the pandemic, lack of transparency, conflicts of interest and bias were rampant in the scientific and academic communities, but a community had emerged to get back to scientific integrity and understand and minimize bias.

“One might therefore have hoped that the pandemic crisis could have fostered change,” wrote John Ioannidis, professor of medicine and professor of epidemiology and population health at Stanford University, in Tablet. “Indeed, change did happen — but perhaps mostly for the worst.”1

Skepticism Gets Caught Up in Political Warfare

During the pandemic, skepticism has been met with backlash and censorship, acts that have only further hindered science. Healthy skepticism is a necessary part of science, but one that is often confused with denial.

While denial describes a belief that persists even when evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, skepticism, as reported by NASA, “allows scientists to reach logical conclusions supported by evidence that has been examined and confirmed by others in the same field, even when that evidence does not confirm absolute certainty.” They continue:2

“Skepticism helps scientists to remain objective when performing scientific inquiry and research. It forces them to examine claims (their own and those of others) to be certain that there is sufficient evidence to back them up.

Skeptics do not doubt every claim, only those backed by insufficient evidence or by data that have been improperly collected, are not relevant or cannot support the rationale being made.”

During the pandemic, skepticism has been regarded as the enemy and skeptics labeled as conspiracy theorists. Respected leaders in fields have been threatened with discipline and even loss of their licenses for questioning the official narrative.

In one example, Dr. Jeremy Henrichs, a member of the Mahomet-Seymour school board and a physician for the University of Illinois Athletic Department, was targeted by state investigators who said they had opened an official investigation due to his skepticism of mandatory masks in classrooms.3

The state agency later issued a letter of apology to Henrichs, backpedaling on their inquiry,4 but many other “skeptics” have not been so lucky.

While healthy skepticism has become viewed as intolerable, the COVID-19 science cult — made “out of science, expertise, the university system, executive-branch ‘norms,’ the ‘intelligence community,’ the State Department, NGOs, the legacy news media, and the hierarchy of credentialed achievement in general”5 — has been held as gospel during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, many credible reputations have been destroyed in the name of public health and the “war” against a virus:6

“This is a dirty war, one without dignity. Opponents were threatened, abused, and bullied by cancel culture campaigns in social media, hit stories in mainstream media, and bestsellers written by zealots. Statements were distorted, turned into straw men, and ridiculed. Wikipedia pages were vandalized.

Reputations were systematically devastated and destroyed. Many brilliant scientists were abused and received threats during the pandemic, intended to make them and their families miserable.”

Authoritarian Public Health Over Science

“Science” has become a loaded word, one used as a basis for decisions that affect basic freedoms, life and death itself. However, as Ioannidis explained, science isn’t based on facts but interpretations, often in the context of political warfare:7

“Organized skepticism was seen as a threat to public health. There was a clash between two schools of thought, authoritarian public health versus science — and science lost.

Honest, continuous questioning and exploration of alternative paths are indispensable for good science. In the authoritarian (as opposed to participatory) version of public health, these activities were seen as treason and desertion.

The dominant narrative became that ‘we are at war.’ When at war, everyone has to follow orders. If a platoon is ordered to go right and some soldiers explore maneuvering to the left, they are shot as deserters. Scientific skepticism had to be shot, no questions asked. The orders were clear.”

What’s less clear is who gave these “orders” that dissenters must be silenced. Dr. Peter McCullough, an internist, cardiologist and epidemiologist, has described it as a form of psychosis or a group neurosis.8 Ioannidis also believes that some form of societal dysfunction has pushed groupthink ahead of science during the pandemic:9

“It was not a single person, not a crazy general or a despicable politician or a dictator, even if political interference in science did happen — massively so.

It was all of us, a conglomerate that has no name and no face: a mesh and mess of half-cooked evidence; frenzied and partisan media promoting parachute journalism and pack coverage; the proliferation of pseudonymous and eponymous social media personas which led even serious scientists to become unrestrained, wild-beast avatars of themselves, spitting massive quantities of inanity and nonsense; poorly regulated industry and technology companies flexing their brain and marketing power; and common people afflicted by the protracted crisis.

All swim in a mixture of some good intentions, some excellent thinking, and some splendid scientific successes, but also of conflicts, political polarization, fear, panic, hatred, divisiveness, fake news, censorship, inequalities, racism, and chronic and acute societal dysfunction.”

Lies Surround COVID-19 Origin

One of the most heated scientific debates is whether COVID-19 originated in a laboratory or from a natural source. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — an arm of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — has denied funding gain-of-function (GOF) research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), even though evidence shows he did.10

Speaking with Newsweek, Richard Ebright, board of governors professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University and laboratory director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, said that documents released by a FOIA lawsuit show without doubt that grants from NIH were used to fund GOF research at WIV, and that Fauci lied about it:11

“The documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement in Wuhan are untruthful."

Much of the controversial research was carried out by the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance. Fauci told a House Appropriations subcommittee that more than $600,000 was given to EcoHealth Alliance, which funneled the money to WIV, over a five-year period for the purpose of studying bat coronaviruses and whether they could be transmitted to humans.12,13

The FOIA documents, which were released by The Intercept,14 reveal GOF research using humanized mice and coronaviruses. Ebright told The Intercept, “The viruses they constructed were tested for their ability to infect mice that were engineered to display human type receptors on their cell … While they were working on SARS-related coronavirus, they were carrying out a parallel project at the same time on MERS-related coronavirus.”15

China has also refused to be transparent over what took place at WIV and other laboratories. “Opening the lab books of the Wuhan Institute of Virology would have alleviated concerns immediately. Without such openness about which experiments were done, lab leak theories remain tantalizingly credible,” Ioannidis said.16

The coverups to obstruct research into COVID-19’s origin have further eroded public trust in scientists,17 the ramifications of which are likely to be felt long after the pandemic.

“[I]f full public data-sharing cannot happen even for a question relevant to the deaths of millions and the suffering of billions, what hope is there for scientific transparency and a sharing culture?” Ioannidis added. “Whatever the origins of the virus, the refusal to abide by formerly accepted norms has done its own enormous damage."18

If it turns out that SARS-CoV-2 did come from a lab, it’s the type of thing “that could obliterate the faith of millions.”19 To go from actively censoring and ridiculing those who urged officials to investigate the lab-leak theory further to suggesting they may have been right all along, is to call into question every other detail we’ve been told to believe about the COVID-19 narrative, and beyond.

Big Tech Has Become the Regulator Instead of the Regulated

Scientific norms are rapidly changing during the pandemic, such that everyone is suddenly an expert. Ioannidis reported that by August 2021, 330,000 scientific papers had been published about COVID-19, written by about 1 million different people.20

There are 174 scientific subfields, and all of them had specialists who published papers on COVID-19. Ioannidis and colleagues called “the rapid and massive involvement of the scientific workforce in COVID-19-related work” unprecedented21 but noted that much of it is fundamentally flawed:22

“[W]e have anecdotally noted that many published contributions represent situations of epistemic trespassing, where scientists try to address COVID-19 health and medical questions, although they come from unrelated fields and probably lack fundamental subject-matter expertise.”

Social and mainstream media have played a role in deciding who is an “expert” and who is not, while those who questioned the “expert” data or asked for more evidence were vilified — a “dismissive, authoritarian approach ‘in defense of science.’”23 The end result is an altered reality in which heavily conflicted corporations have emerged as regulators of society instead of being regulated themselves:24

“Other potentially conflicted entities became the new societal regulators, rather than the ones being regulated. Big Tech companies, which gained trillions of dollars in cumulative market value from the virtual transformation of human life during lockdown, developed powerful censorship machineries that skewed the information available to users on their platforms.

Consultants who made millions of dollars from corporate and government consultation were given prestigious positions, power, and public praise, while unconflicted scientists who worked pro bono but dared to question dominant narratives were smeared as being conflicted.”

The end result is that many scientists self-censored to avoid getting caught in the crossfire, which represents “a major loss for scientific investigation and the public health effort.” Yet, it remains true that the path to good science and the truth depends on continued scientific exploration, challenges and skepticism — all things that have been seen as anathema due to the authoritarian control that has taken over during the pandemic.

Source : Mercola More   

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CDC Panel Outlines Who Should Get Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Booster Shots, And Who Should Wait

The panel limited the additional dose to people who have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

CDC Panel Outlines Who Should Get Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Booster Shots, And Who Should Wait
booster shots of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 years or older, as well as anyone over 50 with certain underlying medical conditions. The committee also recommended allowing people 18- to 49-years-old with underlying medical conditions to receive a booster if they desired, based on individualized decisions about the benefits and risks to them.

But in one of its four votes, the committee decided against recommending booster shots for adults working in high-risk settings such as health care and school systems. That vote went against the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision on Sept. 22 to authorize a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people over 65-years-old, those ages 18 to 64 who are at higher risk of getting the disease, such as people with health conditions that weaken their immune systems, as well as health-care, front-line and emergency workers and teachers among others whose jobs make them more vulnerable to getting exposed to COVID-19. The FDA recommended that the booster be given at least six months after an individual receives the second of the two-dose vaccine to all of those groups.
[time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”]

It was up to the CDC committee that met today, however, to determine how that authorization should be translated to the eligible groups. While the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) often follows the recommendation of the FDA, it doesn’t have to—the CDC’s mandate, which focuses more on public health goals, differs slightly from that of the FDA’s, which is more centered around evaluating safety and efficacy. “What we need to be doing is to look at the totality of evidence and think about what makes the most sense using the tools we have to protect as many people as possible, and how to operationalize this considering other things like feasibility,” Dr. Beth Bell, professor of global health at the University of Washington, reminded the committee. While the members generally agreed about recommending a booster for those over 65, they were divided about the necessity of the booster at this time for younger people, even those at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure because of their jobs or other circumstances.

So far in the U.S., 220 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech have been administered, and 27 million people over age 65 years have received both doses of the vaccine. They were among the first to get vaccinated after Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine was approved, and now show the first signs of waning immunity—which is why the committee prioritized them to receive a booster dose to strengthen that protection.

In discussing whether boosters should also be extended to people with underlying medical conditions and those whose jobs might put them at higher risk of exposure, some members noted that authorizing the booster for these populations would raise concerns about health care equity, arguing that it could deepen gaps in coverage as those without access to care who remain unvaccinated continue to miss out on the opportunity to get protected against COVID-19. Ultimately, the committee decided to fully recommend the booster for everyone over 50 with underlying medical conditions, but to offer a less full-throated endorsement for those aged 18 to 49 with such conditions. For them, the ACIP is recommending that people choose for themselves whether they want to get a booster dose.

The CDC committee then deviated from the FDA when it came to people like health care workers under age 65 whose jobs might put them at increased risk of exposure and infection, noting that there isn’t strong evidence to suggest that they, if they are vaccinated, are experiencing higher rates of severe disease. The data show that the currently approved two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech continue to provide good protection against COVID-19, especially against severe illness, hospitalization and death. In particular, while Pfizer-BioNTech did provide the FDA and CDC with some data showing that a booster shot raised antibody levels among young people, those data only followed those people for a few months. And committee members also raised the point that, while apparently rare, some young males can develop a rare inflammation of the heart tissue as a side effect of getting the vaccine.

That’s why some of the members emphasized that their support of the booster today was an interim one, for an initial group of people, based on the available data available. “This is the beginning of a lot of activity around booster doses,” said Bell. “At this moment, given the lack of evidence for marginal benefit of boosters in people in certain groups who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech primary series—it’s too narrow, and too soon, and given the potential risks or adverse outcomes it’s worth waiting until we know a little more about what we are doing, and we can better assess the opportunity costs, and the unintended consequences.”

The CDC committee was instructed that its booster decision would only apply to those who had been inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to begin with, since the FDA only reviewed data on that population. Some committee members, however, argued that the decision should also apply to people who initially got Moderna or Johnson&Johnson-Janssen shots in order to be fair and equitable. (Moderna has also submitted a request to the FDA for authorization of a booster dose of its vaccine, but the agency has not yet reviewed those results.) Such mixing and matching of doses, however, isn’t supported by currently available data.

Some committee members, like Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, argued that allowing mixing and matching of boosters would help more people to get vaccinated. He noted the burden of asking people to keep track of their vaccination records, and of asking those administering vaccines to validate those records. Dr. Sarah Long, professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine, added that limiting the booster to only those who initially got the Pfizer shot would be especially unfair to those living in long-term-care facilities who received an initial series of Moderna vaccine and would not be able to get a booster while their neighbors who received the Pfizer shot would be vaccinated again. “I don’t understand how later this afternoon we will say to people over 65 years that you are at risk of severe disease and death, but only half of you can protect yourselves right now,” she said.

But, as Dr. Doran Fink, from the FDA’s office of vaccines research and review told the committee, “there is currently no data available to inform interchangeability of authorized COVID vaccines, either for completing of the [two-dose] primary series or for use as a booster dose.” Because of this lack of data, the CDC panel ultimately decided that only people who previously received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should receive a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. This, however, is another area where today’s recommendation may not be the final word: study results on such mix-and-match approaches are expected imminently; researchers said the trial was completed, and the data have been submitted to a journal for publication.

The committee stressed that, for most people who have been vaccinated, the current two-dose regimen still provides strong protection against SARS-CoV-2, including against the Delta variant. “Our decision today is not about who deserves a booster but who needs a booster,” said Dr. Matthew Daley, senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “If you are in a group for whom a booster isn’t recommended today, the reason the booster isn’t recommended for you today is because the vaccine efficacy against serious outcomes is already high for those who have gotten the primary series.”

Source : Time More   

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