TWO distinct, but repeatedly (and deliberately) confused concepts of science have defined global politics since March 2020: the rhetoric of viral epidemiology, in fact consisting of pseudo-scientific propaganda, and an essentially totalitarian science of behavioural and psychological control.
The ambiguity between these two images of science has itself been systematically exploited. When politicians claim they’re ‘following the science’ they’re technically telling the truth. Yet the public assumes they mean the science of epidemiology, when what they really mean is the science of control.
In fact the status of epidemiology as a scientific discipline is more questionable than generally assumed, despite the huge prestige and financial resources which the field enjoys. Writing in the Lancet in 1968, G T Stewart, a distinguished epidemiologist, memorably defined the germ theory of disease from which modern epidemiology stems as ‘the biological equivalent of the economic determinism of Marx and Engels’.
For Stewart, ‘mankind collectively always welcomes simplified and unitarian explanations of complex happenings: the germ theory was one of the greatest of all scientific simplifications’. Like any simplification the theory is not exactly false, but becomes a dogma to the extent that its limits aren’t recognised.
These limits are profound. As Stewart notes, the postulate that a specific pathogenic germ is invariably associated with a given disease leaves the question of causality unanswered. ‘If it is defined etymologically as any microbe capable of causing disease,’ writes Stewart, ‘a range of organisms which are habitually harmless have to be included; if at the other extreme, the definition is restricted to those microbes which invariably cause disease and are never harmless, few if any can qualify since most disease-producing organisms can be isolated at times from healthy persons.’
This ambiguity has been exploited with a vengeance in the last two years in the form of case numbers generated by Christian Drosten’s clinically meaningless and possibly fraudulent PCR tests which identify the presence of microbes as opposed to disease, which by definition requires the presence of symptoms.
As Stewart recognised, the relationship between disease and the presence of pathogens is complex, but from a medical perspective only disease is meaningful. On this point it is notable that UK media appears to have ceased to publicise hospitalisation numbers, which remain flat, even as it broadcasts irrelevant soaring positive test numbers. Here once again the evidence suggests an intention to mislead.
The epidemiological science which has been promoted for two years presents a crudely reductive version of an already simplistic theory, closer to a magical doctrine of supernatural contagion than a scientific model of disease. This doctrine is plainly driving public hysteria, as manifested in the hurricane of paranoid and pointless measures which now choke the human spirit, like billions of useless masks choke the oceans of the world. But this doctrine is not the driving force of global policy. The truth is the reverse.
As Graham Medley, the chair of the Sage modelling committee SPI-M, admitted on December 18 to Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, his committee is explicitly ordered to produce doomsday scenarios to justify political decisions. In other words, his models have zero scientific status, not even a flawed or incomplete status. They are propaganda projections being produced on demand to sell policy through fear: they have no connection to any rational assessment of the evidence.
This has been clear for some time. Every chart waved before the cameras by Ferguson, Whitty and Vallance since March 2020 (or in Ferguson’s case, since 2001, when he supported the future war criminal Anthony Blair’s policy of liquidating political opposition in British agriculture via foot and mouth) has been wrong without exception. In any situation in which accuracy was valued, these men would have been fired for incompetence, if not investigated for fraud. They are instead protected and rewarded, because they are performing as expected: not as scientists, but as mercenaries, paid to issue statements which support the interests of their political and corporate masters, regardless of the cost in life.
What these men supply, for money, is a simulacrum of the scientific method, if not a parody of science. Despite unblemished records of unmitigated failure, at no point in the past eighteen months have they re-examined their premises in the light of the evidence, or reflected on the demonstrated weakness of their models. Real scientists are humble in the face of nature. In their lethal combination of incompetence and arrogance, the psychological profiles of Whitty, Vallance and Ferguson are closer to the First World War generals who pointlessly threw millions of men into machine gun fire from distant chateaus, if not the apparatchiks of totalitarian regimes.
The government are not basing their decisions on data, but laundering data to enact their decisions. So on what basis are the government making decisions? The fact that this question is not being asked, or not being asked with sufficient insistence, testifies to the reality of the political forces at work, and also the power of the propaganda apparatus in play. This apparatus consists of an integrated science of conditioning and control with fundamentally sociopathic implications, deployed through media and entertainment. Emerging as a modern science at the beginning of the twentieth century through Pavlov’s discovery that he could stimulate precise physiological responses in dogs by associating and withholding rewards, and Freud’s discovery of the contingency of the unconscious, this dimension of power has long been normalised in liberal democratic societies in advertising strategies, in political persuasion, and in military campaigns.
At the heart of this science is a vision of a human being as essentially a nervous system, available for technical manipulation. Thanks to social media, the reach of this science has now expanded to the point where highly systematic interventions into individual psychologies can be staged on a continuing basis by canalising flows of information and emotion. Every click on social media is added to a constantly updating digital psychological profile mapping the pressure points and weaknesses of every individual user. The effective mass hypnosis which now defines many of our contemporaries is the result of these operations.
Behavioural science has no explicit objective; it is instead a technique deployed in order to achieve other ends. Yet in the process of deployment it also extends a set of premises which are not themselves technical but correspond to a psychological stance. As the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan observed, the real subject of Pavlov’s experiment, if it really is an experiment, is not the dog, but Pavlov. The conditional reflex depends on his presence, and ultimately his enjoyment. It is Pavlov’s desire which makes the dog drool and only Pavlov is satisfied.
Today it is the desire of Pavlov’s successors to make other people dance like marionettes for their pleasure. Richard Feynman memorably defined science as belief in the ignorance of experts. The last 18 months has demonstrated a further need to acknowledge their malevolence. An expert is not a scholar or a scientist or doctor, but a frightened and insecure individual pushing buttons from behind a screen of expertise. The desire to dominate implicit in the pose of wielding knowledge like a weapon is essentially sociopathic and eventually sadistic.
The psychological violence which is today being enacted around the world by figures such as Susan Michie, Chris Whitty, Anthony Fauci and their political colleagues expresses an essentially psychotic mentality. This fact is actually obvious from even a cursory look at some of the so-called global public health experts who have pushed most aggressively for restrictions.
Much has made of the fact that Michie is a lifelong Communist. The key point is that her research in behavioural psychology extends from the same psychological complex which draws her to find pleasure in a politics of mass murder. These individuals are criminally insane fanatics. As in Soviet Russia or National Socialist Germany, the elevations of such figures to positions of quasi-religious authority speaks to the reality of a brutalised humanity searching for new masters. Like their 20th century predecessors, what these masters offer is death.