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Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active

Covid’s Lessons for Carbon Drawdown & Effective Climate Action

covid fake new vaccines journalism ethics carbon drawdown effective climate action

How to Tell an Inconvenient Truth from an Incontrovertible Lie, or what a maverick Belgian virologist can tell us about climate change

By SternWriter

A Bolt From The Blue

One Sunday morning a few weeks back an old friend got in touch, seeking our opinion on something he’d just heard and couldn’t work out. 

We’ll call this friend X – why will become apparent later, and is pretty much the point of this article.

X and I met in the 90s, when we were both working for major international news networks in the Far East. We’ve kept in touch ever since, and he’s now one of the most senior foreign correspondents for one of the most trusted international news brands you can think of.

X retains old-school news values, an unabated passion for speaking truth to power, and a long track record of following loose threads that the rich, influential and famous would rather keep tucked out of sight.

X had read a series of See Through News articles I’d written comparing the Covid responses of two tea-drinking island nations (spoiler – UK, nul points, Taiwan, Gold Star).

Knowing that I, a fellow non-scientist, had also been wading deep into the weeds of epidemiology, and publishing my conclusions online in an effort to inform public debate, he gave me a call to ask my views on this thing he’s just seen. 

X and I share many interests, professional experience and attitudes, but our professional paths have diverged, and our conversations often revolve around comparing our different experiences and challenges. 

We peer over the fence dividing us, and try to assess the verdant intensity of each other’s grass. We debate whose lot is tougher, joke about which of us is harder done by, along the following lines.

Me

  • Online maverick, shouting and waving among the grass roots
  • Cutting-edge online citizen journalist, sticking it to the Man
  • Nimble mammal darting between the tottering legs of Old School dinosaurs
  • Single pixel struggling to shine among the dazzling internet firmament

Pros:

  • Complete editorial freedom
  • Complete freedom of expression
  • Agility, in the absence of company policy, editors, bosses, budgets and other Gatekeepers.

Cons: 

  • No money 
  • No resources or staff 
  • Competing with Everyone Else 

  • Mighty oak working for a global news source, 
  • Blessed by status, a Cardinal proclaiming from a lofty pulpit
  • Big Beast working for a Big Beast

Pros: 

  • More than pays the bills
  • Loads of resources and backup, despite budget cutbacks
  • Much less noise to compete with
  • Employer’s brand and impressive name card status opens doors

Cons:

  • Incomplete editorial freedom
  • Limit to expression – needs to stifle personal views
  • Working for the Man 
  • Hard to quit (see first Pro above)

So now you have the context of the conversation, when I took that call a few Sundays back. 

What Do We Do With A Problem Like Geert? 

On this particular Sunday morning, X called because he’d just come across a 1hr47min YouTube video, had sat through the whole thing, and was still unsure whether he’d been watching Fake News or a Smoking Gun.

The video was hosted by Dr. Bret Weinstein, interviewing his guest Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche for his Dark Horse podcast.  It was about Covid. I’d not heard of either interlocutor, nor the podcast, but a quick consultation with Wikipedia revealed the following.

Hosted by Who?

Bret Weinsten is a former Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Evergreen University, Washington State. It’s not for a non-scientist like me to characterise his academic career. His 2002 publication mentioned in his academic bio is:

The Reserve-Capacity Hypothesis, which proposed that the telomeric differences between humans and laboratory mice have led scientists to underestimate the risks that new drugs pose to humans in the form of heart disease, liver dysfunction, and related organ failure.

The Telomeric Test

If you don’t know what ‘telomeric’ means, join the club. This is pretty much the point of this article. It’s actually a pretty effective litmus test, shibboleth, or Sorting Hat. You can now work out which of these best describes you.

  • If you’re an ordinary punter, you might be curious enough to look it up, but, let’s be honest, probably wouldn’t bother and just plough on. Fair enough – you get the gist, life’s too short etc. 
  • If you knew what telomeric means, well done. You’re a scientist, and probably a better judge of all this stuff than me, to be honest, if you can spare the time. 
  • If you’re an ethical journalist, like me, you look it up, or follow a helpful Wikipedia link. You do this partly out of curiosity, but mainly just in case it might be important, even if you suspect it won’t be. You keep reading until you get enough of the hang of it to feel comfortable moving on. It’s hard to explain exactly how you know when that point comes, as it’s a very fuzzy line. It comes from experience, but even experienced journalists sometimes get it wrong. To guard against this, ethical journalists are constantly self-critical, imagining how critics might call them out, and how their defence would stand up to scrutiny.
  • Unethical journalists aren’t bothered by this kind of thing, due to laziness, arrogance, ignorance, stupidity or cynicism.  

When is enough?

Given that no one can be an expert in everything, this elusive knack of knowing when we know ‘enough’ to publish, pontificate or prognosticate, is an effective diagnostic to tell ethical and unethical journalists apart. 

It’s like not being expert enough to swim, but having the confidence to keep your feet touching the bottom of the pool or sea-bed. 

Or is it? This metaphor, while striking, isn’t really all that useful when you think about it. This conjuring trick of empty verbiage is a common sign of unethical journalists, who’d sooner reach for a thesaurus to put a final flourish on their fancy phrase, than a reference book to check their facts. 

The British Prime Minister overseeing Britain’s Covid response was such a journalist, and is such a politician, bursting with dazzling, but ephemeral, verbal fireworks.  When faced with the formidable leadership challenge of flattening the exponential rise of first wave Covid cases, he appeared more engaged with substituting his vivid, but vacuous, phrase ‘squashing the sombrero’ than with addressing the complex range of interlocking public health measures required to suppress the epidemic.

We shouldn’t have been surprised, let alone shocked. Before entering politics, Boris Johnson, was such a spectacularly unethical journalist, he was fired by his first employer, The Times, in the late 80s for fabricating stories, the last straw being making up a quote that helped land him his first front-page story.

He displayed the same way with words, and waywardness with truth, in his first jobs in politics. 

In 2003, he repeated his trick of going in straight at the top (his first journo job at The Times was the result not of a diligent apprenticeship in local news, which might have suppressed his Pinnochio instincts, but a favour from a family friend). Johnson’s first job was not one, but two top jobs, Conservative Party Vice-Chairman and shadow Arts Minister. 

The story was well-known then, and is better-know now. Within a few months, the tabloids were reporting he was having an extramarital affair. Johnson floridly assured the party supremo who’d appointed him to these powerful positions, that these reports were “an inverted pyramid of piffle”. 

When the story was proven to be true, he refused to resign, shortly before being sacked for lying for the second time, also just a few months into his second career.

Fact-checking, getting in the way of good stories

Did I remember all this detail off the top of my head? No, I just spent half an hour fact-checking all the details. 

Can you discern, deduce or guess my political affiliation from the fact that I spent half an hour re-hashing old stories? You tell me. 

Apologies for the apparent digression, but this is actually pretty much the point of this article.

Back to Dr. Bret Weinstein, via the always-helpful and usually reliable Wikipedia.

In 2017, Dr. Bret, who self-identifies as a ‘political progressive and left-libertarian’ – I’ll leave you to pick the bones out of that one –  got embroiled in one of those baffling American university campus cancel culture punch-ups. Wikipedia can provide details, if you’re interested.

When the dust settled, Dr. Bret had resigned his Professorship in exchange for an out-of-court settlement of $250,000, and re-invented himself as a scientific bad boy maverick, largely via his Dark Horse podcast and website, which bears strap-lines like ‘Audacity. Veracity. Tenacity’ and ‘Professor in Exile’.

His brother Eric, who works for Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, for what that matters, dubbed Dr. Bret a leading light of  ‘the intellectual dark web’, a term Dark Horse fans relish, for what that’s worth.

I mention all this background because, well, it’s also pretty much the point of this article, which we had better finally get on with…

Interviewing Whom?

Dr. Bret’s interviewee for the episode that had so baffled X was Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche. 

Dr. Geert doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, which I find extraordinary, but will leave that for others to investigate and explain, as I should get on and tell you what X’s head-scratching was all about.

The following information comes not from Wikipedia but from the About section of his blog. As you never want to rely on one source, especially when it’s the man himself, I’ve done some basic fact-checking, and show my workings below. 

Dr. Geert is a Belgian virologist with a seriously impressive CV.  A PhD in vaccinology was followed by research roles at Big Pharma heavyweights GSK and Novartis. He then entered the non-profit sector, as Senior Programme Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Thence to a quasi-governmental organisation GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, a multi-agency group that does what it says on the tin, where he was Senior Ebola Program Manager.

In this capacity, he worked closely with the World Health Organisation to monitor ‘progress on the fight against Ebola and to build plans for global pandemic preparedness’. His blog bio says:

‘His critical scientific analysis and report on the data published by WHO in the Lancet in 2015 was sent to all international health and regulatory authorities involved in the Ebola vaccination program.’ 

Checking the Lancet article, I was a bit surprised not to find his name among 28 named authors, but re-reading his claim, he never actually said he’d authored it. We all know and understand this kind of not-over-burdening-the-reader-with-unnecessary-detail editing. It defines the art of the CV, and is the reason why, in the absence of Wikipedia’s crowdsourced fact-checking, it was important to do some of my own.  

But fair play, click on the names of those 28 authors, check out their boffin chops, and they’re proper heavyweights. Professor John Edmonds, Faculty of Epidemiology & Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, has become a high-profile Covid commentator and expert.

Edmonds is the BBC’s go-to expert on the Covid pandemic. Prof. Edmonds is the most media-friendly person among the scientific experts advising the Prime Minster and his cabinet on its pandemic policy. He sits on both the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

I did all this legwork, which I’ve just summarised for you, after I’d hung up with X, but before listening to this mysterious podcast that had prompted a distinguished foreign correspondent to seek a second opinion  from me. He wouldn’t have asked me lightly. Ethical journalists use each other to deploy a different battery of bullshit-detectors, and benefit from another independent mind’s journalist spider-sense. Covid is a challenge to us all.

Why did I go to all that trouble instead of just clicking on the YouTube link X had sent me and getting it over with? 3 reasons:

  • To determine whether I should spend 1hr 47min of a lovely Sunday morning listening intently to, and taking notes on, a podcast about something of which I had only a very limited grasp, rather than, say, getting on with my own work, digging over the veg patch, taking the dog for a long walk, calling Mum, or catching up with some paperwork.
  • In order to establish how seriously I should take Dr.s Bret and Geert. 
  • Because I’m an ethical journalist.

For the sake of this shaggy dog story, you’ll be pleased to hear I found both Bret and Geert’s CVs compelling enough to take the risk of wasting the morning. Covid is important to understand. So I made myself a cup of tea, settled down with a pen and notepad, and clicked play.

So was it all worth it?

I soon discovered that like most podcasters, Dr. Bret is confident he’s excellent company, and very much enjoys the sound of his own voice.

But he’s also an excellent interviewer – good both at listening carefully, and at clearly explaining enough of the science, at just the right moment, to permit non-scientists like me to follow what turned out to be the very subtle, complex and detailed hypothesis Dr. Geert was putting forward.  

He challenged Dr. Geert at every logical step, but only after clarifying the precise point of interrogation, and explaining the necessary biological background.

Weeks later, some of my notes baffle me, but at the time I felt that I was being expertly guided through some cutting-edge genetics by a trusted guide. Dr. Bret was polite, but sceptical, always clearly distinguishing his subjective opinions from objective scientific fact. Actually, he was a great help. Had he been a less attentive host, I would have given up.

So I sat all the way through the 1hr 47min.  

I then made another cuppa, took a look at my notes and checked, via Wikipedia and other YouTube videos, that I really understood a few bits of jargon I’d missed. Covid has made us all experts, up to a point, but you gotta know your T cells from your B cells, your innate from your adaptive immunity…

Then I tried a helpful trick, that other ethical journalists might find familiar, to see how well I felt I’d understood it. I imagined explaining it to an intelligent 10-year-old. Then I looked out the window for a bit, and watched the grass grow.

Then I sat through the whole thing again, taking more notes.

Why? Well, by now you may have your own answer, but mine is that I did it because I’m an ethical journalist. 30 years working for the likes of ABC News, CNBC, CNN, NHK and the BBC, compels me to be able to justify anything I publish, upload or broadcast.  

This is pretty much the point of this article, but I still haven’t told you how Dr. Geert came over, what he was actually saying, and what Covid has to do with effective climate action.

The trouble with complexity

The Dark Horse interview had been prompted by an open letter Dr. Geert had written to his former colleagues at the WHO, regarding their advice on global Covid vaccination. It’s very hard, even after all that prep, to briefly summarise his hypothesis, but broadly speaking, stripped of all the genetics, and molecular biological jargon, it goes something like this.

  • Vaccines can control and ultimately suppress the Covid pandemic.
  • But vaccines can only be fully effective if  administered to an entire population in the absence of exposure to any variant.
  • If we do both half-arsed, prolong the vaccination process, or perform it only partially, while not sealing our borders to variant incursions, the long-term consequences could prolong, rather than, curtail, the pandemic.
  • If these mistakes are repeated throughout many different populations, the risk is multiplied.
  • The biggest risk is that by vaccinating for Covid without sealing borders, we could in fact increase the chances of a variant mutating to the point that it will dodge the vaccines we’ve developed, and we’re back to Square One.
  • Except it’s not Square One, because we’ll have blown our stock of critical public health assets, like the collective goodwill, public cooperation and trust.
  • Oh, and the billions we’ll have spent on the, now useless, Covid vaccines.
  • Vaccinating without sealing borders is analogousto (my italics) not completing your course of antibiotics. It might make sense to you individually to stop taking them once you start to feel better, but collectively, popping all your pills will ensure any remaining bad bugs in your body won’t get the chance to work out how to defeat the antibiotics. 
  • The new mRNA technology that enabled us to come up with vaccines so quickly is great, but completely new. In other words, all the vaccine experience, knowledge, good practice and common sense we’ve accumulated since Edward Jenner acted on his hunch and deliberately infected a young boy with the pox (those were the days!) to prove the principle of vaccination, may NOT necessarily apply to the mRNA vaccines, and it would be reckless to assume so.

All clear now?

There you have it. I told you it was complex and subtle, but that’s why I had to listen to that 1hr47min interview twice. Of course you could have done it yourself, but who’s got the time? 

This is precisely what ethical journalists are for, to sit through eggheads talking for hours on end, and try to make sense of it, so that you don’t have to. 

I’ve given you this excruciating blow-by-blow of what I did to fact-check everything I could, in order to make this point.  

If I expect you to trust me, and believe what I publish, I need to do this hard work.

If you call me out on a mistake, and you’re right, I’ll fess up. Nobody likes the taste of humble pie, but it’s not so bad if you don’t have to eat it very often.  

Unethical journalists, like the Prime Minister, never get to taste it. They’ll do anything not to eat their ethical greens, as they’ll keep insisting on their version of the Truth, or being evasive about the number of children they’ve sired, even after they’re sacked for lying. As we’ve written elsewhere, not all governments are like this, even tea-drinking island nations.

Show me evidence I’m wrong, and I’ll address it. But watch out if you try that with our PM – he’ll put your phone in his pocket, or walk into an industrial fridge rather than confront it.

Back To What Dr Geert Was Saying – Wasn’t That Really Important?

Yes. In case it wasn’t evident among all the caveats and explanatory clauses, here are possible tabloid versions of Dr. Geert’s carefully laid-out hypothesis.

  • Top Boffin Warns Covid Vaccines Are Dangerous!
  • Covid Jabs A Waste of Money – Expert
  • Foreigners Sabotaging our Great British Covid Vaccines!

So if you haven’t yet come across Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche, maybe now’s the time to Google him. It’s the first thing anyone – including me – would do, to see what other people think. A crowdsourced, online version of what X was doing when he called me that Sunday morning.

But if you do take the trouble to Google Geert Vanden Bossche, you’ll quickly note that, like anything connected to Covid vaccines, his theory has sparked predictable online conniptions.  

Anti-vaxxers have embraced him as The Messiah, duly prompting public health advocates in turn, to condemn him as The Devil. 

The delicate nuances of his hypothesis have been treated with the respect a bunch of drunken football fans would confer on a Ming vase, used as a communal chamberpot in a pub because they can’t be bothered to make it to the Gents, and playfully tossed to each other until it smashes.

These online Covid-feuds have been fuelled by social media platform algorithms, engineered by the finest brains our species has raised, to optimise online brawls to as close to 50/50 as possible. 

Online, 99% of all posts related to Dr. Geert’s hypothesis falls into this category of ill-informed culture warriors co-opting his name for their particular belief system; fire and fury fulminating from the flagrant fringes of the Anti-Vaxxers and the Woke Brigade. Even sophisticated friends, when I’ve mentioned Dr. Geert, say isn’t he trying to ‘peddle’ (giveaway verb) his own Covid cure?

That 99% figure by the way, is illustrative, not empirical. By the time I thought of keeping a tally, it was too late to start doing so. But I can now reveal a handy hint to quickly work out what commentary you can safely ignore.

Ad Hominem, Meet Ad Rem

Ad hominem is one of those Latin phrases that are so well-used that we hardly realise they’re Latin any more, like ad nauseam, quid pro quo, et cetera, etc.. 

Most of those who deploy the phrase, nearly always criticising other people’s Bad Arguments, know it’s Latin for ‘towards the man’, i.e. killing the messenger, playing the man and not the ball, focusing on the arguer, not the argument.

So Ad Hominen is the Bad Argument guy. but now meet his sweet, lesser-known twin, Ad Rem, ‘towards the thing’. Unlike his brutish, bullying brother, Ad Rem is bespectacled, respectable. He’s Good Argument, addressing the point, not the pointer, the message, not the messenger.

Together, these twins form a helpful triage team. Scroll down the list of articles, skim the comments, and if it looks like Big Bad Ad, ignore it. You’ll soon sift out all the bogus grandstanding, and will be left with a much more manageable pile of Little Good Ad critiques that actually address Dr. Geert’s arguments, and not his character or background.  

My rule is that if the writer hasn’t got to an ad rem argument within the first two sentences, bin it and move on. This eliminates 99% (ish) of all online commentary. I double I’m missing any pearls.

The remaining 1% consists of proper scientists, actually engaging with ad rem argument. 

Beware the straw men

But not so fast, only a small fraction of this 1% merits being taken seriously, because 90% of that 1% turns out to be Straw Man argument, which address rem, just not the Covid rems Geert was saying. 

This is a more sophisticated, but just as irrelevant, attack, being no more than knee-jerk criticism dressed up in ad rem clothing. Many such articles drip with sarcastic faux-respect for Dr. Geert’s credentials while ripping his theory to shreds. They’d be very convincing if you hadn’t actually sat through that 1hr47min video, clocked the subtleties of Dr Geert’s hypothesis, and realised the theory they’re so expertly demolishing isn’t actually his.  

For example, a great many of the 0.9% Straw Man articles by eminent scientists mock Dr. Geert for saying Covid vaccines obey the same biological laws as antibiotics.

If you hadn’t been listening carefully (or I hadn’t used italics, and pointed them out when summarising his hypothesis) you might even think they had a point. But they don’t. Dr. Geert was very explicit in saying his mention of antibiotics was as an analogy to illustrate how carefully we should deploy valuable resources in tackling Covid, not a description of the relevant biological processes.

So that leaves the 0.1% of all that online verbiage. This is the good stuff, by qualified, serious, eminent scientists, who address Dr. Geert’s theory on its own merits. They’re written by the kind of people who co-authored that Ebola vaccine paper. Real experts.

What the proper experts say

These articles, like Bret and Geert’s podcast, are hard going. But any experienced journalist with a deadline knows how to skip to the executive summary, the abstract, and look for the relevant verbs and adjectives. Here’s my executive summary of their executive summaries:

  • Nothing in Dr. Geert’s hypothesis is incorrect, it’s all logical and feasible.
  • It might be true, but we won’t know for sure until we’ve gathered all the empirical evidence.
  • It will probably take many years to gather such evidence to prove or disprove this hypothesis.

Or to put it even more briefly.

  • Only time will tell.

This is not at all reassuring, when you strip away all the polite academic niceties, and consider the consequences of Dr. Geert’s Covid vaccine hypothesis being proven correct.  It would mean:

  • The UK’s current vaccination programme, whose success UK Cabinet members constantly, and desperately pivot to, whenever asked awkward questions about their many failures in managing the pandemic, may turn out to be a colossal waste of time and money.
  • Not only might the Covid jab programme be useless, but doing it without sealing national borders, and thus allowing new variants in while jabs are going into arms, might actively accelerate mutations in new variants that will defeat the vaccines we’re depending on to end the pandemic.

Oh dear.

Which inconvenient truth?

By now you’ll have worked out that Dr Geert’s scary Covid hypothesis, while an inconvenient truth, is not the Inconvenient Truth to which I most want to draw your attention. That one comes at the end.

But first let’s skip back to the 0.9% of eminent, qualified and distinguished scientists who, through laziness, ignorance or malice, seek to dismiss Dr. Geert’s hypothesis, even though they’ve either not understood it, or bothered to examine it properly.  Why would they do such a thing? 

This is not a rhetorical question. Indeed the answer is pretty much the point of this article.

And I’m going to answer it using the very thing I dismissed 99% of Dr. Geert’s critics for employing, but not to rebuke, but to reveal. Let me explain.

How To Be Sure To Be Sure

Disparaging though I’ve just been about it, if you recognise ad hominem argument for what it is, and handle it with care, it can be really useful, a time-saver, a short-cut.  

The more astute among you will have noted that it’s exactly what I did before I clicked play on the video. I checked out the reputations of two people I’d never heard of, in order to evaluate whether they might be worth listening to.

It’s what you’re doing now. If you’ve read this far, you must be getting a feel for the kind of person I am, and whether you might trust SternWriter’s integrity and judgment on other matters that you’re interested in, but not an expert. You might even check out that See Through News. 

So let’s do a bit of ethical ad hominem now, and answer that rhetorical question about the 0.9%

Ethical ad hominem isn’t directed at individuals, but at our tendencies as a species. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong, one small jab at mankind, rather than man. 

  • In your family relationships, do you always speak your mind and tell it like it is, even if you know it’s really going to upset people you love?  Is it always worth it?
  • In your sports team, is there any minor point of principle on which you might be prepared to compromise, in order not to rock the boat for no good reason, and to demonstrate solidarity?
  • You think the big boss is making a terrible mistake, and suddenly find yourself in the lift with her. Do you tug her sleeve and whisper in her ear?
  • The teacher asks a question. Everyone in your class immediately raises their hand. You’re pretty sure they’re wrong, but do you keep your hand down? 

We’re all human, and scientists are human too. Despite being trained to quest for empirical truth, they have feelings, desires to fit it, an instinctive attraction to conformity, a cultural respect for hierarchy.

And bills to pay.

Follow The Money

Follow the Money is a tricky one for journalists. The phrase itself was made famous by the Origin Story of True Conspiracy Theories, the one that has spawned a thousand semi-eponymous scandals, Watergate.  

Follow the Money can lend itself easily to conspiracy theorists, but that doesn’t mean it’s always wrong.  

If I listen line by line, taking words at their face value and ignoring any context, I can find myself nodding along to 90% of what many conspiracy nuts say about The Establishment, how They’re All In It Together and It’s All About The Money. 

They lose me at their killer twist, when they reveal we’re actually ruled by lizard aliens, or that the Truth They’re all trying to suppress is that the Earth is flat. Just because they took a wrong turn a few miles from their destination doesn’t mean they were on the wrong track the whole way.

Money does talk. Power does corrupt. Reason doesn’t always trump, well, Trump. And we’re all susceptible. Don’t take it from me, just see a Shakespeare play, talk to the Taliban, or read Forbes magazine.

The following are general observations, which I consider Incontrovertible Truths, but I’m making them in the context of the 0.9%. Take them alongside my earlier illustrations of the power of groupthink, and humans’ evolved tendency to consensus and collaboration, and draw whatever conclusions you wish.

  • There’s a massive amount of money, brainpower, corporate muscle, political capital, and personal status invested in the global Covid vaccination programme.  
  • Britain’s Covid track & trace system alone, even though it’s barely functional, still costs £22Bn/year.  
  • Big Pharma drug companies are making jaw-dropping sums from Covid vaccine production and IP. From nowhere, Covid vaccines have become a huge new revenue stream that’s guaranteed for the foreseeable future.
  • Medical research, at universities and institutes, and all forms of public health, are already heavily dependent, directly or indirectly, on commercial collaborations in general, and Big Pharma funding in particular. This trend is continuing to grow. 
  • If Dr. Geert’s hypothesis, in the fullness of time, turns out to be correct, a lot of people will have made a ton of money in the meantime.
  • If, just in case it turns out to be true, Dr. Geert’s hypothesis were to be acted on immediately and his Covid vaccination programme followed, most experts think it would indeed be effective in subduing the pandemic, even if in the future there turns out to be some way of proving his hypothesis false. 
  • Because it would require all countries to lock their populations down, seal their borders and vaccinate en masse, ideally simultaneously, Dr. Geert’s hypothesis is not considered practical, even if it’s feasible.

A final reflection on the relative professional statuses of the 0.9%, the 0.1%, and Geert and Bret. which also, finally, starts to steer us back towards the little comparison between the relative professional situations of me and X.

The 0.9%:  are all employed by drug companies, government institutions, or some combination of the two. They pay the 0.9%, and the 0.9% then pay their bills. 

The 0.1%: have reputations so burnished they’re almost immune to getting sacked. These are the people who almost agree that Dr. Geert is probably correct.

The muffling power of money

In the podcast, Dr. Geert mentions that he’s received many private messages of support from his former colleagues at drug companies, NGOs and government bodies, telling him to keep pushing his Covid hypothesis, but apologising that they can’t risk declaring their support publicly, or they may lose their jobs.

There’s clearly no way to corroborate this, but if this was a cunning PR move, Dr. Geert is really crap at it. He only mentions it in passing, right at the end of the podcast, to the tiny number of people still listening after an hour and three quarters. People like me.

Dr. Bret and Dr. Geert are currently self-employed. Does this make them fearless speakers of truth to power, or loose cannons who can blab whatever they want, with no consequences? I don’t know, any more than if my own self-employed status makes me subconsciously identify with Dr. G, and blinds me to his faults. That’s for you to decide.

But I do know, because he’s told me, that my senior journalist friend X can identify with those 0.1%  

Unlike me, X can’t just shoot his mouth off about any topic. A mighty oak has responsibilities, is an integral part of a complex eco-system, that a little seedling like me, shouting for attention among the grass roots, can ignore.

It’s not that X shirks challenges – he’s just spent months convincing his colleagues to stop publicly dismissing the ‘lab leak’ theory of Covid’s origins as ‘conspiracy theory’, and to recognise the authority of serious, respected experts, who say it’s perfectly plausible.

But of course this caused friction, made enemies, and even someone with X’s integrity and tenacity has to pick his fights. X has the reputation of his employer to consider, his own track record, his mortgage, his job, his professional reputation, his stature among his peers, and colleagues, future funding…is this starting to sound familiar?

It’s why, in the end, he asked me to identify him as X, which I perfectly understand, and actually agree is best for him.

The Whole Point of This Article 

Time for another wee leap, and we bunny-hop to our conclusion, and what this article is really pretty much all about.

There was a point when Copernicus was the only expert who thought the earth revolved around the sun. This didn’t make him wrong, it just meant he was the first to spot what in due course became an Incontrovertible Truth, Inconvenient though it was in its day.  

I dare say 99% of 16th century Prussians attacked Copernicus ad hominem, maybe the 1% who were astronomers challenged his theory ad rem, of which, possibly, 0.1% thought:

  • Nothing in Dr. Copernicus’ hypothesis is incorrect, it’s all logical and feasible.
  • It might be true, but we won’t know for sure until we’ve gathered all the empirical evidence.
  • It will probably take many years to gather such evidence to prove or disprove this hypothesis.

Or to put it even more briefly.

  • Only time will tell

Today 100% of experts know it’s true. Does this mean I’m comparing Dr. Geert with Copernicus? I wouldn’t make so bold, I’m just a journalist, trying to ask the right questions and be consistent.

It’s not even my point. The real point of this article is coming up right now.

Better Safe Than Sorry – The Precautionary Principle

One thing we know for absolute definite sure 100%, is that there’s absolutely no way that Dr. Geert’s Covid vaccine hypothesis is going to make any government invoke the Precautionary Principle, and follow his advice.  

Colloquially, we’re all familiar with the concept; ‘a stitch in time saves nine’, ‘don’t spoil the ship for a ha’penny’ worth of tar’, ‘belt and braces’, ‘better safe than sorry’.

But there’s a more technical definition of the Precautionary Principle, as defined by the United National Environment Programme:

“Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation” (UNEP 1992).  

In 1992 they were still being a bit mealy-mouthed, and that phrase ‘environmental degradation’ was probably a last-minute compromise following massive lobbying by the carbon lobby to avoid explicitly stating ‘Global Warming’. Or as we now know it, Global Heating.

Despite Exxon suppressing its internal confirmation, we’ve known about the human causes of climate change since the 70’s, and have always had the technology to avert it.  

So why, 50 years later, are we now facing the catastrophe of +2C?   Big Oil’s strategy back then, literally taken from Big Tobacco’s playbook, was to deny, delay, distract. There’s not enough evidence, they said, no need to rock the boat, they whispered, wait and see, they placated.

  • Nothing in the Global Warming hypothesis is incorrect, it’s all logical and feasible.
  • It might be true, but we won’t know for sure until we’ve gathered all the empirical evidence.
  • It will probably take many years to gather such evidence to prove or disprove this hypothesis.

Or to put it even more briefly.

  • Only time will tell.

Well, now we know.