What’s Wrong with the World

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

The day life changed

I could make what follows an excuse for my not posting on here at W4 more frequently, but that would be somewhat dishonest, since I was already posting far more on Facebook and pushing hard on my Youtube channel and NT studies books even prior to April 14, the day when Everything Changed. Nonetheless, what happened on April 14 and thereafter is *one* of the reasons.

For about five months now I have not posted this publicly, but I have finally decided to do so, and it is only a partial coincidence that I'm doing so right after the attempted Biden mandate. (As a matter of fact, I posted it on Facebook just *before* that.)

My W4 colleagues have known all along, and I appreciate their discretion in keeping it to themselves until I chose to mention it.

So, just in case someone reads W4 but not Facebook, here, worded virtually identically, is what I just put up the other day:

After nearly five months, during which I have posted about this matter with the privacy setting on “friends only,” I’ve decided to make some personal information public: I had an extreme reaction to one dose of the Covid vaccine (Pfizer), which I received on April 14, and this has badly harmed my health. I was completely healthy prior to the shot and regularly walked 4 miles a day or more. As of now I appear to have an unnamed, mysterious disorder (probably autoimmune) which causes nerve inflammation and does not, in my case at least, respond to steroids. This condition is causing chronic, often severe pain and greatly reducing my activities. Symptoms like an allergic reaction began within about 12 hours of the shot (along with expected side effects like fatigue). I developed intermittent nerve pain within the next few days. Symptoms worsened to include major pain, nerve tingling and buzzing, and other problems over the following 3-4 weeks. So far no effective treatment has been found for me. It is unknown whether I will remain permanently where I am now, get better, or get worse. There is no clear trajectory of improvement.

I recorded all of my symptoms independently for months until just a little while ago and was astonished at that point to get in touch with many other people in support groups who are separately reporting similar neurological reactions with variations. This has a grim fascination for me as an epistemologist.

My symptoms are many and vary unpredictably. One major practical effect is that I cannot sit in a chair or even a partially reclined seat for more than a short time without significant pain. I need to change position often, recline almost flat, or stand for a lot of the day. I still try to walk at least one mile each day (sometimes in bits and pieces and usually slowly) when possible.
I am still hoping and planning to speak at the ETS in November (at an invitation-only session on Johannine studies), though the trip is going to be difficult, and I won't be there for the whole conference. I am still doing interviews and weekly videos. I try to time these at less-bad times of day and accommodate my problems in various ways. I am not doing really long-form interviews (more than an hour long); I have a preference for pre-recorded interviews so that I can take breaks; even that can be negotiated if the session isn’t too long. I’m trying to write a new, popular book on evidence for the reliability of the Gospels.

During all of this Tim has been a rock and a hero, and the Lord continues faithful. I'm learning a lot about taking one day at a time, especially since every day is so different and unpredictable. Prayers are appreciated—for recovery of course, that I at least won’t get worse, and that whatever happens the Lord will sustain my trust in Him. I’m finding it hard to accept that this may mean lifelong pain and disability, beginning so unexpectedly in the midst of ministry and writing. Of course I’m still praying for recovery.

I’ll leave it at that. My FB “friends” have known about this and have been praying faithfully for some time. As time goes on with no resolution, a time has come when I think it needs to be acknowledged more publicly.

Comments (65)

We hear about too much success and not enough about failure. It's an annoying projection. I've had several friends suffer adverse.

A friend of mine has had a very similar experience and can't sleep or sit normally anymore... he's decided against further shots.

The jokes write themselves as time goes by " the Nth shot is the trick I hear. "

I pray for your complete recovery.

Sasha

P.s. What most people fail to see, is that the world system considers them as individuals to be an absolute nuisance and would prefer they didn't exist.

Praying for your complete recovery with minimal lingering pain; and hope you can make it to ETS.
Please have your doctor report your incident to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) https://vaers.hhs.gov
It is important these reactions, especially chronic ones, get noted on this website.
We have lost 2 friends within a month of getting both treatments.

Thanks both of you!

My doc reported it at first to VAERS as reactivation of shingles, which is what we thought it was at first. (I had shingles last year.) Eventually it became clear that it was something much worse, so the other day I put in a second report to VAERS on my own with the fuller panoply of symptoms. I had delayed because I wasn't sure if I'd be blocked since "I" had been reported once before as reactivation of shingles. But it was quite easy to upload this more accurate report.

I am so sorry to hear you are unwell. I will pray for your full recovery.

I appreciate you sharing this here at W4 as I don't have a Facebook account. You have been such an encouragement to me over the years.

I'm so sorry to hear this. I'll be adding you to my thoughts and prayers of those affected by these reactions.

BTW I forget about this it happened so long ago, but my uncle got Guillain–Barré after a flu shot probably 25 years ago and almost died and spent a month in the hospital. It's a rare reaction, but when you're talking about comparisons of low probability events with each other the math seems pointless. I have a very strong immune system, as does my family, and I always supposed the worst thing would be if my immune system got confused and attacked the wrong thing. What's so surreal for me is that my doctor of a dozen years or so had become so obsessed with myself and family's refusal of seasonal flu shots that to the point where it seemed like Moby Dick tracking the whale. The last year I was under him he would say in urgent tones "Do you know how many people die each year from the flu?". Of course I'd say "roughly, yeah" and just look at him blandly. So unprofessional. That was the last straw and if my company hadn't changed plans I'd have found another doctor anyway. I actually think toward the end he once misdiagnosed me to try to induce us to get flu shots. That was all pre-Covid. The quest for bureaucratic compliance knows no bounds.

Lydia,

I have you in my prayers.

I just underwent a severe infection (unvaxxed) and it drove me back through a theology of illness. Should I look for healing now, or hereafter? Jesus treated illness as an offshoot of evil (rebuking fever as He would a demon). I'll spare you the details of where this took me, save to say it was helpful when I felt most helpless. Stay close to the Gospels and Psalms (31 helped me).

John

I have been hearing that there is possible evidence that a third shot, i.e. a "booster", this early in the game, may actually reduce effective immunization, as some kind of getting the body overly exposed to the virus proteins. I don't know if this is true, and I would love it if anyone has any reliable links on the question.

Also, last I saw, the Israeli study that came out in August has been handled by suggesting different - competing - claims about what it shows. Some say that it shows natural immunity (from having COVID) is several times more effective than the Pfizer vaccine, but others cite the data in a way that says they are (roughly) equal. While either result would be worthwhile to have established, it matters which one is actually supported by the data. Does anyone know? And I gather that the study is (a) in "pre-publish" state, and (b) not peer-reviewed...I have no idea whether these are grave strikes against using the study to draw conclusions, or minor ones.

In any case, now that Biden is trying to make the vaccine mandatory, does anyone know if people are filing lawsuits against that mandate, and if so, if they are being taken seriously in the courts? Let me be clear: I am not against vaccines in principle, and I am willing to look at evidence that tells us when a vaccine is effective, and when it is safe - or "safe enough" (which are different questions). I am doubtful that the evidence we have right now would have been considered satisfactory evidence, say in 2005, regarding one of the long-standing world diseases, precisely because of the compressed time frame of the trials / studies...but that doesn't mean it is impossible for the evidence to be sufficient. What I hate about Biden's attempt is that it puts the power of the federal government into a position in which (at my estimate) it is using as "evidence" the knowledge we had as of, say, April, but not the additional evidence we now have which seems to suggest that maybe we were a little hasty about such things as (a) whether you "need" the vaccine whether you had COVID or not, or (b) that taking the vaccine is "perfectly safe" even if you had COVID; and (c) whether taking the vaccine AFTER you had COVID may possibly reduce effective immunity. As far as I have been able to tell, these three points are NOT settled science. But I am not on top of all the evidence, so I am open to being taught better.

In any case, now that Biden is trying to make the vaccine mandatory, does anyone know if people are filing lawsuits against that mandate, and if so, if they are being taken seriously in the courts?

Undeniably, people *will* file lawsuits. But they're presumably waiting until OSHA does his bidding and puts such a rule in place. The suits will have to be tailored (it's amazing the puns I make when my brain is not working well) to the actual rule made. The Daily Wire, to name just one entity, has already lawyered up and is eagerly planning a suit. I'm pretty sure various state governments will do so as well. These will not simply be thrown out by the courts unless they are very poorly done. There is such obvious constitutional merit to such suits (read: Biden's mandate is so blatantly unconstitutional) that even some of the more liberal news outlets are reluctantly admitting that there is something to the claims that the federal govt. lacks this legal authority. Indeed, I believe that until recently the CDC's own website stated as much. The suit or suits will undoubtedly go to SCOTUS. God knows what will happen then. We've gone from wondering what is in Justice Kennedy's Wheaties on a given morning to wondering what is in Justice Roberts's. A lawyer social media friend of mine who sometimes annoys me by referring to court precedents as laws and being too darned detached about such matters for my taste was heard recently to mutter the phrase "outright fascism." I take this as at least a semi-hopeful sign.

Sorry to hear about your situation, Lydia. Will add you to the prayer list.

Re: the booster, I'm still looking for guidance on whether I "need" it, seeing that I had COVID in November, then got the Pfizer vax in February. I don't plan to get the booster until there's more info out there, if I get it at all.

My entirely personal opinion (for which nonetheless, I have evidence): Be glad nothing really bad happened to you with the Pfizer vax and don't get any other mRNA vaccines (or the J & J adenovirus-delivery one) unless absolutely forced to do so by circumstances beyond your control.

I will say here and now that I consider it gravely unethical for companies to mandate this for their employees on pain of losing their jobs. It is therefore quite sickeningly immoral for the government to attempt to coerce companies into such coercive and unethical action vis a vis their own employees. I believe that employers should resist to the greatest extent that they are able, up to and including splitting their companies into multiple companies with fewer employees to avoid any such mandate, should it actually go into effect.

Thanks. That's pretty much where I'm at, and intend to stay there barring considerable demonstrative evidence.

I will say here and now that I consider it gravely unethical for companies to mandate this for their employees on pain of losing their jobs. It is therefore quite sickeningly immoral for the government to attempt to coerce companies into such coercive and unethical action vis a vis their own employees. I believe that employers should resist to the greatest extent that they are able, up to and including splitting their companies into multiple companies with fewer employees to avoid any such mandate, should it actually go into effect.

In the current environment of uncertain science, I have roughly the same conclusions. I am thinking of ways I, personally, can fight back against the mandates even though I have been vaccinated. I find the mandates morally repulsive, and am horrified at our government.

At the same time, I have to say that I don't understand the position taken by the Catholic Church's documents, so far, about taking vaccines. On the one hand, the Church seems to say vaccines in general are a LICIT but not MANDATORY option:

5. At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.

And then in the very next breath, to point out that taking vaccines can be the morally appropriate way to serve the common good:

In any case, from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed.

Since the government is the primary formal social arm whose duty is to protect and pursue the common good, it seems possible IN PRINCIPLE for conditions to be such that the government can properly determine conditions make taking the vaccines a moral imperative for all, except for some designated subset whose medical circumstances make the vaccine inappropriately highly risky. If, for example, the vaccine is correctly proven to be extremely safe, and the vaccine is produced from sources untainted by direct evil, and the vaccine is extremely effective at preventing the disease and its spread, and if the infection rate of the disease is very high along with the effects of the disease (including death for many) being extremely severe (such as the bubonic plague), it does seem possible for a government to RIGHTLY MANDATE taking the vaccine, for most of the population. (Yes, I firmly acknowledge that these conditions are NOT present in the current situation. I am talking theoretical here.)

I guess the first sentence I cited must be taken in the sense that since IN GENERAL vaccines may or may not be

proven extremely safe, or
proven extremely effective, or
not from untainted sources, or
the disease is not highly infectious, or
the disease is not very dangerous,

then IN GENERAL the moral condition of whether a person ought to take the vaccine will depend much more on the particulars of each person's specific condition, and therefore IN GENERAL no law should mandate taking them. But this does not inherently preclude cases like the one where I outlined above, e.g. a very safe, very effective vaccine against the plague, it COULD BECOME a moral imperative for nearly all individuals to receive the vaccine and thus could be a situation suitable for a government mandate.

About fighting the mandates: I am close to a person in her 30's who has not been vaccinated and who JUST HAD the disease, a relatively "mild" case in that she did not come close to needing hospitalization, but whose job is being a health-care worker and whose employer is generally mandating vaccines - with as yet untested boundaries for such things as having a medical condition (such as immunological problems) warranting not being vaccinated. I would welcome links for sources on such things as the scientific uncertainty that taking the vaccine almost immediately after having the disease is either (a) useful vs. detrimental to being immune, or (b) safe (or not). I wonder whether having a strong show of scientific basis that taking the vaccine soon after having the disease might actually be more unsafe, or entirely useless in contributing toward being immune, could enable her to get a doctor's note saying she "should not get the vaccine at this time". Any ideas?

My off the cuff conclusion on the liceity of vaccine mandates is that they could be justified, ala capital punishment in current RC teaching, in principle, but virtually never in practice. My take is simple: my primary obligation, insuperable by any agency of state, is towards my family - my wife and children. They are the inner circle of my moral and practical obligations. Any other obligations exist and obtain further out in the concentric rings, and the state may not ever ordain that one of those outer rings - towards random people I might cross paths with, say - somehow displaces that innermost ring, such that I become morally and legally obligated to undertake something that might impair me, or kill me, preventing me from fulfilling my primary obligation towards my family, in favour of some remoter and less certain benefit to others to whom I am not, nor can ever be, so intimately obligated.

It is a metaphysical error begetting and moral and legal error. Stated differently, because my risk from the coof is nil (I had it and recovered in three days, and was at negligible risk in the first place), and my risk from the vaccine is not nil, being forced to take the vaccine would be coercion into an act of supererogation, a state of affairs incoherent in itself, but also practically incoherent: being told to assume risk on behalf of those for whom I am not obligated to assume risk at that level. Still less are my children obligated to risk shortening their own lives to avoid contracting a disease that not only cannot harm them (apart from their infinitesimal risk, they've already had it along with me), but for the benefit of others. For example, if you develop myocarditis, you WILL die earlier than otherwise, all other things being equal, because your heart WILL scar and become less efficient. And the ghouls and wraiths of a public health establishment are insisting that children, especially boys, who are more at risk of adverse reactions, assume this risk to their detriment, for the ostensible benefit of others, when the vaccine doesn't actually prevent transmission in the first place. So your vaccinated child could still pass the coof to someone else, vaccinated or not, and that person might be vulnerable.

But, you know, sCiEnCe.

Lydia, we are praying for you. I know as many who have been killed by the vax as by the coof, and more harmed by the vax than had a hard run of the coof.

None of this is normal. None of it is right. This is the Smoke of Satan moment for the Western world.

They are the inner circle of my moral and practical obligations. Any other obligations exist and obtain further out in the concentric rings, and the state may not ever ordain that one of those outer rings - towards random people I might cross paths with, say - somehow displaces that innermost ring, such that I become morally and legally obligated to undertake something that might impair me, or kill me, preventing me from fulfilling my primary obligation towards my family, in favour of some remoter and less certain benefit to others to whom I am not, nor can ever be, so intimately obligated.

Jeff, while I agree with the point that we have a much stronger and more direct obligation to our own family than to strangers and others outside the family, I don't think your phrasing here quite works. In particular, it would seem to make it impossible for a government to tell you to report to the army for duty in a war. Ever.

To my mind, the weighing and balancing is certainly the sort called "prudential" reasoning in Catholic tradition: it is impossible to settle at the level of principle, because principle allows the possibility that a government mandate is morally right - in the right conditions. So it comes down to correctly judging the right conditions, and THAT means it is going to dependent on facts and circumstances, lots and lots of them. Any one individual may well have at his fingertips a number of the necessary facts, but not know ALL of the necessary facts that, say, a government official has, or that bear on the correct judgment. (In theory, that is.) So effectively there will often be situations where government officials can and MUST make judgment calls that rightly constrain the actions of individuals, that, absent certain (known) facts and conditions, would NOT be licit judgments for the government official. Where those officials are judging facts that not only are NOT known to everyone, but cannot be made available to everyone, (e.g. certain national security situations) we more or less are obliged to simply rely on their grasp of the facts and their resulting judgments - that's what it means to be "subject to" authorities. But in the cases where the "facts" are being made known widely, we DO (more or less) have the ability to peer over the shoulders of officials and reflect on whether they are making reasonable judgments: in cases where they CLEARLY are not, then we have a situation where we should object. In the gray areas, where reasonable and upright men can disagree, in THOSE cases, we can DISAGREE with the judgments made, but are still bound to comply with the authority's requirements. That is (again) what it means to be subject to authority of another.

In the current case, I have seen a sufficiency of evidence that seems to suggest (but is not conclusive about) the significant possibility that the vaccines' safety, effectiveness, or benefits are inadequate - at least for SOME SUBSETS of people - and that officials should not be making any such mandates for vaccines. Yet I know my information is incomplete, and I know that there is data out there I have not studied. I have been unable to ascertain - from data and information thrown my way - that officials KNOW ABOUT this evidence that seems to suggest, and have taken that evidence into account in a reasonable way. Yet I do not have firm confidence that THEY HAVE NOT, either. In a free society you would want officials to TELL US what information they are basing their judgments on, but in practicality there are limits to this, and there are going to be places where we (again) don't know everything they know or are taking into account - nor everything they took into account by discounting because it seems (to them) unfounded.

I am already on record, above, that I think the "science" does not seem to be there (at this time) to justify mandates, and so I am against them: my best guess is that officials are mainly going by the state of "the evidence" that was available in April or May, and not currently. Yet I don't think it is virtually impossible for the proper foundation to be there to justify a mandate, and while I despair of prospects for our CURRENT crop of officials reforming their thinking so that they realize that not only did they err in judging the particulars, they have been wrong-headed about the whole process, I am equally wary of expressing the constraints of rightly determining upon a mandate being so stringent that we can basically assume it will never happen. (And that's separate from my belief that the current pope's view that we can assume the conditions for a right case of capital punishment basically will never happen... is pretty much completely out to lunch.)

Tony, I fully accept the flexibility of prudential reasoning when it comes to war, if only in the case of a defense of the homeland, and not in the case of power projection abroad. The notion of a draft for cannon fodder for, say, another war in West Asia, justified by reference to the classified information allegedly possessed by government officials, after the crimes and enormities of the past two decades, is more than I can swallow. They just made it up. Sure, there was no draft. But the victims are dead all the same. A draft would only have added to the criminality of what they did.

But as regards vaccine mandates, I maintain my categorical opposition. Full disclosure: my health status is such that the coof posed no risk to me before I contracted it, but other health markers render me substantially more likely to suffer severe adverse reactions. And my position is simple: the state, absent an existential threat (war), and certainly not with regard to something (a respiratory disease) the spread of which is aleatory, may not order that I, and any others like me, be forcibly subjected to something likely to harm or kill, for the benefit of others. The state may not perform, or order to be performed, human sacrifices, doing evil that good may come of it. The state may not engage in a utilitarian trolley calculus, judging that I may be sacrificed to the possible benefit of some others, most of whom, statistically, have done rather less to maintain their health.

Again, this is not about me, specifically. It is to state that a government should not be mandating that anyone not vulnerable to threat X be subjected to countermeasure Y, which does plausibly threaten them, for the benefit of someone else. They are not a means to the end of.... whatever the public health authorities hallucinate that they are achieving. Teenaged boys are not obligated to risk myocarditis to marginally, if at all, reduce the risk to 58 year-old obese diabetics, and only the wickedest of states would attempt to impose such an obligation.

Now, in point of fact, the authorities are *not* impartially evaluating all of the evidence, which includes the utter failure of the vaccines in Israel and the UK, as well as the absolute non-necessity of the vaccines in India, where nearly two-thirds of the people are seropositive for antibodies, and thus have no need of vaccines. They wave away all reports of adverse events, even when impeccably documented, and even when the data show a 1 in 4-6K risk of myocarditis for teenaged/college-aged boys, they press on ahead - and there is no data concerning covid that remotely justifies this. The risk of covid to them is many orders of magnitude lower than their risk from the vax, so all they can do is invoke model-based projections of R-naught, false IFR numbers, and so on, to justify vaccinating youth.

We can attempt to disambiguate a) the trustworthiness of the authorities, b) the data, and c) whatever moral principles we believe to be relevant. But there has been enough data to demonstrate the mendacity of the authorities since March 2020 - Neil Ferguson's projections were always false, and provably so, and FraudXi himself wrote in NEJM in Feb 2020 that covid-19 would probably end up with an IFR comparable to a bad flu season.

In fine, I embrace the necessity of prudential judgment in governance, and this is precisely what has never been utilized. There has never been a cost-benefit analysis, no acceptance of the reality of trade-offs, only a monomaniacal focus on One Thing. But even so, prudential judgment must always be backstopped by hard lines, things that must never, ever be done because they are simply evil. Sacrificing those not vulnerable to a disease to protect those vulnerable, where contracting the disease is an aleatory event amenable to partial mitigation by focused protection and therapeutics, is an evil, in my judgment. Our authorities are not worthy of any credence, but they wouldn't be entitled to enforce *this* mandate even if they were.

>> Since the government is the primary formal social arm whose duty is to protect and pursue the common good, it seems possible IN PRINCIPLE for conditions to be such that the government can properly determine

It's possible in principle for conditions to be such that ... anything. No one agrees on the common good, and they never have, never will, and it's a good thing. Failing to recognize this is a big part of the problem.

>> I wonder whether having a strong show of scientific basis that taking the vaccine soon after having the disease might actually be more unsafe, or entirely useless ..

The latter. It's useless because it's not an honest attempt to better your health. It's an honest attempt to control you. There is one good answer to such things.

>> Our authorities are not worthy of any credence, but they wouldn't be entitled to enforce *this* mandate even if they were.

Right. "even if they were" would mean there's no justification for this. That's why it's puzzling why all the verbiage that one would think normally would imply how it might have been possible for authorities to justify mandates, when in fact there could be none.

Personally I've always thought that these were philosophy of life questions that some can decide in advance. Of course none of us can be sure we've got that down, but to the extent we've been able to think, reflect, and been afforded experience to test us, we can adopt a certain philosophy of life and live by it. And the assumptions behind that for Christians I assume involve an understanding of God's providence.

People are so terrified of being perceived as having some sort of extreme fundamentalist faith that God won't let them die–which isn't a good thing–that they merely tack to the other extreme. They may not have faith in "the science", but they're afraid of being perceived that way so the practical effect is quite similar at the other extreme by entertaining the idea that there are no beliefs other than empirical practical ones that might matter. And under common grace non-believers should understand that in any case Iatrogenesis is a thing; it's always been a thing with even the best of intentions under the best of circumstances.

I was quite impressed a dozen years ago or so hearing Paul Griffiths speak about how Christians should approach medical advances. It's a personal thing of course, but he expressed–and I'm in full agreement–a skepticism of many of the recent promises of the medical establishment. Primary among them is the "early detection" mantra. Can early detection of a disease save your life in some circumstances? Sure it can. Of course. How could it not? And yet, is there not something disturbing about the promises made for it for a Christian. If they can just get ahold of you and run the right tests, or stick a camera to peer about your insides, then they can declare you healthy. They can give you hope that you'll be alright. If you don't allow them to do to they can give you no such hope, and in fact they'll doubt you're really healthy and the unwary will let that doubt seep into their minds such that they'll crave to be so certified as healthy.

If that doesn't creep you out, then nothing will. And that's why I don't see this pushing of vaccines that aren't vaccines in the traditional sense as anything new. Nor do I see attempts to enforce mandates as anything other than attempts to control us. George Carlin called this sooooo long ago. I'm just not sure what's philosophically new with covid and "vaccines" other than the extreme push and the Chinese enablement in so many ways. It's a philosophy of life question, and those without one and who've not been encouraged to find one had better find one.

Augusto Del Noce says somewhere that once a society starts prioritizing life over truth it's on its way down. (Something to that effect -- going by memory.) Wendell Berry was onto this a long time ago as well, when he called out modern medicine for concentrating on extending sheer biological life at the expense of a proper understanding of life as a whole.

There is an idea in the Greek Fathers that original sin and the fear of death are inextricably linked. As our society moves ever further from God and the related consciousness of sin, it should be no surprise that fear of death is intensifying. At bottom it's what the "triumph of the therapeutic" is all about.

Hey Nice. That statement by Berry is one that makes a lot of sense, one of probably few I'd think that of though I'm not well versed on him. I'm skeptical of the secularization thesis. I know a medical ethicist who it seems to me anyway by his emphasis to think the main problem in end of life ethics is that people can't accept death. If that's fair, I don't see it quite that way. There are two extremes to be avoided. Those would be giving up on life when it doesn't please us–thinking it worthless–and avoiding death.

By my lights to the extent that potential life extending treatments are given at all stages of life, we should not discount unintended consequences and careerism. The promises of early detection I think are way oversold, as I've said. On your or Rieff's philosophical account, fear of death is driving a need that the medical industrial complex is happy to fill. On my account, the influence of the medical industrial complex through local doctors, advertising, and such is promising to solve various problems preys upon the naive who don't have clear defenses against such boosterism. A fool and his money, or someone else's money in this case. BTW, if you think the secularization thesis is a slam dunk, I'd just say you should do some reading on that. It's a product of Europe. Austrian Peter Berger who did as much an anyone to propagate it, actually repudiated it later in life and you should google and consider some of the interviews he did about that. It's no longer fair to say it's a consensus among scholars that it's true.

Doctors do things at all stages of life that have a low probability of success, because of fear of lawsuits, but just as much as likely more because of simply a bias for action. That bias for action I have to say is common to humanity, and as much in the patients as the doctors. But most doctors are only too willing to fulfill that because it's good for their discipline and themselves. Testing for covid falls into that category. It's entirely possible my employer may to comply with a future state mandate require covid vaccine or testing. If it comes to that they'll have to fire me because I won't do either one. It's absurd the faith people have in this test. They are notoriously inaccurate and no one even cares. Who knows what threshold they're even using. Used as it is in lieu of the jab it's just a form of coercion.

BTW this medical ethicist that I think thinks the main problem is vitalism or whatever, wanting to live forever, is fully convinced that that everyone should get covid vaccine to minimize their possibility of death. First he thinks people can't accept death but in this case in effect he thinks they're too accepting of its possibility. That's where the community comes in I guess. Do it for them. I think it's nonsense.

He took a lot of flak for it, but he was right: Rusty Reno was right to say that many things in life, and certainly the things that make life worth living, are more than bare physical life.

For those on the Left, Giorgio Agamben was right, too.

It is a sign of the corruption and bankruptcy of both Left and Right that both were nearly-universally maligned by their respective ideological camps.

People have been psychologically and spiritually broken, by a supervolcano of mendacious propaganda about what this virus was, its lethality, and every detail about it, in point of fact. I saw a topline quoted from a recent survey indicating that majorities of Millenials think they have a 38% chance of dying if they catch it. Madness. *They* destroyed every bond of human fellowship and conviviality over *lies*, and with every second that they persist in this malicious act of destruction, they postpone indefinitely the moment when the fugue state of fear will lift, the patient crumpled on the floor, exhausted, weakened, but returning to her right mind. This is the psychological - and physical - torture of whole countries. Abu Ghraib writ large. We could be broken for a generation. Or two.

But if we don't stop the entirely political response to covid soon, we will lose representative government, and liberty, for much longer than a generation.

In fine, I embrace the necessity of prudential judgment in governance, and this is precisely what has never been utilized. There has never been a cost-benefit analysis, no acceptance of the reality of trade-offs, only a monomaniacal focus on One Thing. But even so, prudential judgment must always be backstopped by hard lines, things that must never, ever be done because they are simply evil. Sacrificing those not vulnerable to a disease to protect those vulnerable, where contracting the disease is an aleatory event amenable to partial mitigation by focused protection and therapeutics, is an evil, in my judgment.

Jeff, maybe I am mis-construing your meaning, and if so, I apologize, but: you seem to be taking away with the right hand what you offer for the left. You agree that there are indeed cases of prudential judgment, and (above) you agreed that - at least in theory - there can be cases where some vaccine regimen (not the current ones) might be the subject of a morally licit government mandate. But on the other hand, you undermine the VERY BASIS of such a possible mandate. All vaccines, everywhere, have ALWAYS had SOME LEVELS of risk for the recipients. In fact, in my research, I didn't find any earlier major vaccines that DID NOT have at least a handful of deaths attributed to it. Even when the risk is very, very low, when you give a vaccine to a billion people, you are going to see very, very low risks turn into actual harm to specific individuals. The "aleatory" nature of where the risk lands in the concrete is EXACTLY part of the prudential (rather than "in principle") analysis. The "sacrificing" some to protect people is exactly what happens in the case of ALL vaccine regimens, everywhere.

When you say "those not vulnerable to a disease" you are setting what is actually a probability outside of the prudential arena. IN FACT, I know of 3 people in my own circle of acquaintances = all below age 50 - who were NOT significantly more vulnerable than the masses of us, who died of COVID: the risk of death (or other severe result) is low but NON-ZERO, and therefore it is necessarily subject to a probabilistic analysis. People are in fact "vulnerable" on a probabilistic basis, even if the risk is very low for some subsets.

When you say "amenable to partial mitigation" you again refer to something that is clearly subject to a prudential kind of analysis: HOW MUCH mitigation, available IN WHAT DEGREE, and to HOW MANY people, taking up HOW MUCH other resources, all compared to HOW MUCH risk from taking the vaccine (and how available etc the vaccine would be).

When you say "which includes the utter failure of the vaccines in Israel and the UK," you speak to as yet unsettled "science". There are other results that conflict with these conclusions, including (a) the Israeli study DOES NOT conclude that the vaccine had no positive effect on severe infection, hospitalization or death rates, and (b) there is other Israeli data that shows clearly positive effects of vaccine on these outcomes, (e.g.
here). Not to mention this statement:

Among adults hospitalized with COVID-19–like illness (14,636; median patient age = 65 years, interquartile range [IQR] = 48–77 years), laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections were identified among 18.9% (1,316 of 6,960) of unvaccinated and 3.1% (235 of 7,676) of fully vaccinated patients. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7037e2.htm?s_cid=mm7037e2_w

which, because it is cited by CDC, I admit has to be looked at with doubt and concern. My point isn't that "I trust CDC" because I don't, my point is that the totality of the information REMAINS CLOUDED as to just how effective the vaccine is, and saying it is "not effective" cannot be said without qualification regarding still-unsettled science. Some studies, and on some measures, show little positive value, whereas other studies and with regard to other measures show clear positive value. The Isreali study for the Delta Variant (as far I as I read) is in pre-print and not peer-reviewed, which (as I understand it) is almost textbook for the meaning of "not settled science."

(Personally, I am also worried about the methodology of the Israeli study that found 13 times greater Delta infection rates in vaccinated persons as in those previously infected and recovered: for one thing, that study DID NOT take into account the people who died in their first round of involvement with the disease. For another, they culled the data sets to theoretically "match up" two groups of about 16,000 patients each to have the same demographics, but the gross sizes of the two underlying groups were about 470K of the vaccinated and about 42K of the previously infected. In order to cull them into two matched groups of about 16K individuals, there MUST have been a culling algorithm that impacted the first group differently than the second: it is impossible to be certain the algorithm was non-biased. Finally, while the number of persons studied is significant, the number of infection cases was so small (238 breakthrough and 19 re-infection cases) that the results can hardly be considered robust - so even a SMALL error on demographically matching the two groups could have a noticeable effect.)

This is just a sample of exactly the sort of "reliability" analysis that must go into a prudential consideration of what "the science" says so far. And is why I said earlier that I welcome finding more reliable information on just these points.

I have NO PROBLEM with saying "the science isn't there" for a vaccine mandate. I agree with that fully. I have NO PROBLEM with saying that (a large portion of) our current crop of officials have not only demonstrated poor judgment on the elements of that prudential analysis, they have demonstrated fundamental unreliability on the KIND of thinking that must underlie a reasonable judgment on the vaccine issues - so that even when adequate science might (in some implausible future) be available, those officials will be unreliable as to using the information appropriately. But I do not agree that in some future case a prudential judgment that a vaccine regimen is mandatory is "evil" because it has risks for the recipient and therefore "sacrifices" some for the benefit of others. Or that it is "evil" because the nature of the adverse outcomes (both from the exposure to infection as well as from exposure to the vaccine) is "aleatory". These are not wholly dispositive factors for a conclusion that a vaccine regimen mandate is "evil", they can ONLY be elements of a larger analysis which weighs all the effects.

If you mean, instead, that THIS mandate is evil, in these current conditions (because the balance of advantages from a universal mandate do not outweigh the disadvantages): I agree with you. I am already taking steps to fight it, within my capabilities.

Tony, I am beyond skeptical of "science", most of which might as well be "soyence" in parlance of certain sectors of the interwebs. There is a replication crisis; the peer review process is easily gamed, and often corrupt; the major journals have extensive ties to, or are even financed by, players with massive financial stakes in the outcomes of trials; and many of the key directors have ties to numerous cororate boards and foundations. There is, overall, a massive systemic bias in favor of anything the major pharma and foundation players want, and it takes the coincidence of catastrophe and sheer dumb luck to ever get something reversed down the line. Vioxx was pulled when 50-60k dropped dead, but opioids killed, probably, an order of magnitude more, and.... nothing.

So, given the corruption of the scientific enterprise, heuristics are necessary to select among studies. One of mine is simply that, if the vaccines were as effective as claimed, the massive surge in cases in Israel should not be occurring. A point in favor of my heuristic is that establishment folks like FraudXi did not anticipate it. Dissident scientists predicted it as a possibility, based on a) vaccinating into a pandemic, b) the narrow targeting of the spike protein, which actively, evolutionarily, selects for evasive variants (viral evolution is not, contrary to what all of the fAcT cHeCkErS say, purely a function of the number of reservoirs, such that, if everyone were vaxxed, there would be no reservoirs, not mutations, and no virus, but even more so a function of selective pressures). In Israel, as well, they are finding a precipitous and unexpected, by the establishment, falloff in vaccine efficacy, hence the whole boosters discourse. And then, the NYT today had a headline about the third jab in Israel, to the effect that, in the vulnerable over 60s, or 65s, the evidence was not promising: maybe 12 days of efficacy.

The events on the ground, in peoples' bodies, and in morgues, is outpacing the supposedly settled science - and much of that owes to the fact that the people settling the science and policy are batting .000 in the pandemic.

Beyond this, I get the feeling in reading your responses, which may not be justified, that the difference between us lies not in in what either considers the prudential, the probabilistic, or the balance between them, but in what we believe ought to be, or ought not to be, on the table within the prudential calculations. I simply do not believe, and there is no philosophical argument, let alone a mere empirical one, that will ever convince me that, where the probability of one of my children having a fatal case of covid is 1 in several million, and the probability of a vaccine AR is 1 in 4-10k, let's say, that the (incalculable) possibility of them transmitting the virus to someone with a higher probability of a serious case of covid then makes it licit, in a prudential calculus/judgment for the state to force-vaccinate my children. They are not obligated, ever, to say, "Hail Pfizer! We who are about to die salute you!" for the benefit of anyone else. Not ever if there aren't any therapeutics, which there are, however many cynical and wicked games the authorities are playing with them.

The vaccine ARs are essentially off the charts, exceeding the combined ARs for all of the previous vaccines since the beginning of VAERS. The authorities manipulate definitions - another indication of the fundamental cynicism of the enterprise, as this is an example of the belief - occult in nature - that the manipulation of language changes reality. So, a patient presents 3 days post-vax with myocarditis, but is counted as unvaxxed because fully-vaxxed means a minimum of two weeks post-second dose (in the case of the mRNA jabs). But anyone sentient, knowing the risk profile of the vaccine, about what the spike proteins do when they travel - because they don't stay localized in your delts as they claimed - would know *exactly* what that presentation is, and it is sheer mysterianism at best when it is claimed otherwise.

I don't think that my approach to risk for the recipient rules out all vaccine mandates; I presume, as my children have received all but the flu and HPV vaccines, that if the risk of meningitis is 1 in whatever, and the risk of an AR to that vaccine is 1 in slightly less that whatever, it's justified - and that's one I was moderately skeptical about. My criterion is that no treatment for a patient is justified for that patient if the risk of the treatment for that patient exceeds the risk of the null option. Do I have a singular reason? No. Partly, it is reverence for Nuremberg. Partly it is revulsion at eugenics, and the need for an insuperable barrier to any sort of eugenic meddling - at which I pause to note that Jacobson begat Buck and Japanese internment. And that Jacobson was wrong the moment the justices were composing their rulings, in that the Jacobson had already had a near fatal reaction to an earlier version of the vaccine in question. It beggars reason and morality to imagine that a man should be presented with the option of taking a medicine that could kill him, which he knows, or paying a fine. Suppose someone today were in an analogous position - and some surely are at this moment - and required to either take this vaccine, which, arguendo, they know will harm or kill them, or face deprivation of employment or housing. We agree that this mandate is unjustified. I'm just going further. We know the risks to different demographics. We don't know upon whom, individually, within those demographics they will actually fall. We don't need to know the latter, is my claim, because some things should be off the table, as anything at all will be justified, by the most tortured reasoning imaginable, once we concede that some people may be compelled to sacrifice themselves for others. Moreover, I am fundamentally skeptical that any sort of human flourishing is compatible with the proliferation of such mandates. It is certain that the death toll of covid in the US would be dramatically lower if our diets were prescribed by, well, some authority other than the corruptsiarchs who created the food pyramid, given that obesity is the single most significant risk factor.

But it wouldn't be a free society, and wouldn't be flourishing even if healthier, if the state dictated our meals plans.

>> The events on the ground, in peoples' bodies, and in morgues, is outpacing the supposedly settled science - and much of that owes to the fact that the people settling the science and policy are batting .000 in the pandemic.

>> the difference between us lies not in in what either considers the prudential, the probabilistic, or the balance between them, but in what we believe ought to be, or ought not to be, on the table within the prudential calculations.

All this talk of prudential judgment, and presumption of relative empirical accuracy. Am I the only one who never thought it was even possible to measure the state of play of a virus across a nation of 330 million citizens? Probably not even a state? That is one reason– the bottom line reason outside of politics– why I don't think the state has any business dictating mandate. And that's assuming no bad faith, though there's a whole lot of that.

People's faith in man's ability to collect and interpret relevant data quickly is staggering to me. I have no such faith whatever. Going to background beliefs like God's providence or fatalism for nonbelievers ... If the continuance of mankind required this kind of empirical accuracy and interpretation of data then there's no hope for humanity to survive.

Mark asks:

All this talk of prudential judgment, and presumption of relative empirical accuracy. Am I the only one who never thought it was even possible to measure the state of play of a virus across a nation of 330 million citizens? Probably not even a state?

No, Mark, you are not the only one. As someone who has to make use of large-scale collected statistics at work, I know that such collections are difficult and capable of being screwed up. It's one of the reasons I have been beating the drum since March 2020 to for governments to slow the hell down on drawing conclusions and making determinations of what will "work".

On the other hand, because I actually use such large-scale collections of data for work, I know that in some cases they are, in fact, possible. In the current environment...not so much. But just to give you an example, life insurance companies successfully use such data to measure risk on a daily basis. Life insurance companies almost never fail on account of mis-measuring risk from deaths, accidents, etc. (in the rare cases they go under, it's because of mismanagement of investments.) For one thing, it just plain TAKES TIME to collect data in a reliable way. Here, they are rushing.

Jeff comments:

I simply do not believe, and there is no philosophical argument, let alone a mere empirical one, that will ever convince me that, where the probability of one of my children having a fatal case of covid is 1 in several million, and the probability of a vaccine AR is 1 in 4-10k, let's say,...
I presume, as my children have received all but the flu and HPV vaccines, that if the risk of meningitis is 1 in whatever, and the risk of an AR to that vaccine is 1 in slightly less that whatever, it's justified - and that's one I was moderately skeptical about.

(As an aside: Interestingly, those are exactly the ones I chose not to submit my kids to.)

Jeff, you seem to have skipped over the complicating factor of how significant/severe are the ARs to one of the vaccines, along with how significant/severe are the effects of getting the disease. If a vaccine to a disease has an AR rate of 40%, you might say that's TERRIBLE, but if the reaction is a stuffy nose for a day, and the disease is the bubonic plague, then big deal, get the vaccine. On the other hand, if the ARs range over a WHOLE FIELD of various reactions, from 80% getting a sore arn and chills, to 3 in 200M dying, and everything in between (at varying incidence rates), while the effects of getting the disease range from 90% missing from 1 to 3 weeks work, and >3% having organ damage, and ...a whole slew of other problems minor and major,

Over an average follow-up of 140 days, nearly a third of individuals who were discharged from hospital after acute covid-19 were readmitted (14,060 of 47,780) and more than 1 in 10 (5,875) died after discharge.

These events occurred at rates of 766 readmissions and 320 deaths per 1,000 person years, which were four and eight times greater, respectively, than those in matched controls.

Rates of respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes were also significantly raised in patients with covid-19, with 539, 66, and 29 new onset diagnoses per 1,000 person years, respectively (equivalent to 27, three, and 1.5 times greater than in matched controls).

then, you have to weight and balance THIS small risk of great harm and THOSE modest risks of significant harms against THESE OTHER relatively strong risks of significant harms... etc., in order to even decide the personal risk/benefit determination, much less consider the effects on others. The full expectation of harm (for any proposed action) involves the probability-weighted values of the various harms and their several rates. As is the expectation of benefit from any proposed action.

>> For one thing, it just plain TAKES TIME to collect data in a reliable way. Here, they are rushing.

Exactly. It could take years. I think in time valid conclusions might be able to be drawn, but not on an emergency basis. For example, in the H1N1 I think it was from a few years ago the number of infections was adjust up dramatically a few years after the fact.

And of course when politics is involved so heavily, you have to wonder if we'll ever have a valid consensus on data. Many I think rightly think that some egregious errors were made in following protocols in early days straight from China. The use of ventilators for example that didn't follow known protocols for when they should be used. People were put on ventilators not for their own benefit but because for other reasons, and it probably killed a good many people. I won't hold my breath waiting for this to be acknowledged.

Mark, I do not think there is just one secularization thesis. For me the jury is still out on which one, if any, makes the most sense, so I'd be happy to read Berger on the subject.

I find it interesting that Korean-born German philosopher Byung-Chul Han has had two books appear almost simultaneously in English translation: Capitalism and the Death Drive and The Palliative Society. I have ordered both but neither has arrived yet. I'll be very interested to see where he goes with this, as some of his previous writing on such things as Big Tech and neo-liberalism have been very thought-provoking.

Speaking for myself, I've always questioned the draft. So, if someone is going to push on, "If you think the draft is a licit use of govt. power, you should agree that *in principle* the government's mandating a vaccine is a licit use of govt. power," I can tell you pretty definitely which way the cat is going to jump in my political positions.

Tony, I'm not skipping over the severity of either of adverse reactions to the vaccines or the possible sequelae to covid. I'm only arguing that factoring the low risk of covid to certain demographics, the risk of severe sequelae to covid, the much higher risk of adverse vaccine reactions to those demographics, and the risk of transmission to someone more vulnerable, is not going to yield the conclusion that force-vaccinating those former demographics will be prudentially counseled, let alone morally licit. The data are clear: more children have died of flu - prior to covid - in one flu season, than have died of covid since the arrival of that virus. Their risks are lower than that of being struck by lightning twice. Therefore, their risks of both contracting covid and suffering severe sequelae are lower still, given that not all children who have hard bouts of covid will suffer such lingering effects. Whereas, the risks of myocarditis are between 1 in 4-6k and 1 in 10k, depending upon the sources I've seen. The only grounds on which the public health Angels of Death have attempted to defend vaccinating this group are a) exaggerations of (lies about) their risks, and b) the hoary old chestnut that this is necessary to prevent community spread, eg., that they must assume this risk upon themselves for the expected benefit of others.

I regard (a) as hysterical, and (b) as morally reprobate. (B) is just a trolley problem. It is utilitarian (and I am certain that, somewhere in my archives on this site, there are places where I refer to utilitarians as Satanists, and I stand by that) sacrificial logic advanced by ethically deformed and badly educated people (trained by ethicists, of course) who yearn to do triage as a matter of course, because they long to exercise the power of life and death, not because they must, but because they must feel themselves to be gods. They are about the lusts of their father. They are the same people who, like Ezekiel Emmanuel, state that people who no longer contribute to society will have their medical care withdrawn, and that no one should live past the age of 75. Any non-elite person is merely a matter of accounting, a digit in a system of societal human capital to be administered for the benefit of the collective, meaning, the elite. They are willing to kill children, and others who don't need the vaccine, or for whom it is counterindicated, because they are soulless golems combining the banal evil of an Eichmann with the malevolence of Soviet ideological commissars. They view people the way the Grand Inquisitor views people: as bugs worthy of bread so long as they produce, but as fundamentally incapable of anything higher, whose existence refers solely to the totality and ceases once they cease to have value for the totality.

And I would say the same thing about a draft for most wars. This is, in my mind, analogous to the torture debate during the Cheney Regency: it was not licit to torture, even if it could be demonstrated that it might stop a plot, and it is not licit to give a teenager myocarditis because it might prevent him transmitting covid to someone more vulnerable than himself.

We all know the famous John Kerry quote about the mistake of the Vietnam War (and we also know that Kerry is a putz): How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? Vaccine apologists have the same problem: they have to be able to tell me, and to tell teenagers and other young people, and other people who cannot take the vaccine: you have to die, or take a significant risk of dying, in order to slow (because the vaccines will not, at this point, stop the virus) the pandemic. They have to say to those injured, to the women and girls constantly convulsing: you had to suffer to end this. They have to say to those bereaved: your loved one had to die to end this. And that the injured and bereaved must accept this as morally legitimate. If they don't have to accept it as legitimate, than they are not obligated, and might even by duty bound, to resist it. I'm not buying that. They don't. I don't. No one does. We don't, on my account, because life is more than bare life, and if life is more than bare life, the many conditions and goods that make for a flourishing life, one of which is freedom, should not be sacrificed to the maintenance or preservation of bare biological existence, and a life that can be taken away whenever the state deems it necessary and expedient for someone else, or for the collective, is much closer to bare life than to flourishing.

Amen. I often put this as: No one is cannon fodder. So no one should be treated as cannon fodder.

This is where I really deny even the in-principle argument from, "This is good for the common good, therefore the govt. has a right to mandate it." That is a gigantic non sequitur. It's also good for the common good for people not to be obese and to get exercise. It does not at all follow that the government ought to mandate exercise and healthy diet.

This, too, is where subsidiarity comes in in full force. Take some relatively trivial regulation like not being allowed to have broken-down furniture on your front porch or dead cars in your driveway. There is a reason why these somewhat busy-body-ish ordinances are left at the city level. It's not that there is zero rationale for them. It's that the rationale for them is sufficiently weak that people ought to be able quite easily to move out from under them.

One may say that a virus that kills people is a much more serious matter than the reduction in property values from keeping junkers in the driveway. Granted. But by the same token, taking away from the individual (or in the case of those not legally competent, taking away from those close to them who are responsible for them) a complex risk-benefit analysis and requiring the individual to undergo an invasive medical treatment that can *never* be totally risk-free (in the nature of the case) is waaaaay over-the-top as a use of coercive force. I believe that we should draw the line there, even in principle. Yep, even in principle. And even at the city level. But ipso facto at the state level (our states are the size of many countries elsewhere anyway) and so much, much the more at the federal level, where our wise founders strictly limited the power of government for a very good reason.

Tony, I'm not skipping over the severity of either of adverse reactions to the vaccines or the possible sequelae to covid. I'm only arguing that factoring the low risk of covid to certain demographics, the risk of severe sequelae to covid, the much higher risk of adverse vaccine reactions to those demographics, and the risk of transmission to someone more vulnerable, is not going to yield the conclusion that force-vaccinating those former demographics will be prudentially counseled, let alone morally licit.

That's what I have been saying. The data isn't there for supporting a massive, intensive, mandatory push of vaccines on the kids. Or on adults. I have been agreeing with your point on this. I don't know why you think otherwise, Jeff.

And I would say the same thing about a draft for most wars.

Sure: drafting to fight an unjust war is wrong, because a government leader choosing unjustly to fight an unjust war is wrong. All wars are unjust at least on ONE side (the immoral side pushing an immoral basis for war), and often is unjust on BOTH sides. Hence, speaking in general, drafting men for war is more often immoral than moral, because fighting those wars is more often immoral than moral. But assuming that a Chief Executive has properly decided that just cause for war is present, and has then properly decided that going to war is the morally upright thing in the given circumstances, drafting men for war is not immoral. On that basis, I completely agree with your use of "most". And this highlights the importance of the prudential judgment. Once we have a finding that just cause exists, the determinations like whether we have reasonable prospects of achieving just objectives are part of the prudential judgment, not a consideration of principle.

However, it doesn't help clarity to smash together the fact that many wars can be understood as immoral as a matter of principle because the CAUSE is wrong at the level of principle, with the fact that some times the decision to go to war was wrong as a matter of prudence because, in spite of just cause, no reasonable prospect of successful outcome was available. The Chief Executive deciding to go to war in the latter condition is still WRONG, i.e. immoral, but it isn't wrong in the same way as going to war on the basis of an intrinsically unjust cause.

But by the same token, taking away from the individual (or in the case of those not legally competent, taking away from those close to them who are responsible for them) a complex risk-benefit analysis and requiring the individual to undergo an invasive medical treatment that can *never* be totally risk-free (in the nature of the case) is waaaaay over-the-top as a use of coercive force. I believe that we should draw the line there, even in principle. Yep, even in principle.

Lydia, I am not saying that I flatly disagree, but I am willing to say that I feel that claiming "we should draw the line there, even in principle" might be going too far. I am not asserting it, I am raising doubts. The primary reason I have doubts is that what are effectively vaccine "mandates" of a sort have been in force for quite some time, and we as a nation have been accepting them as pretty much normal. Few have raised an outcry over them. School kids were getting vaccines at school in the 1950s and 60s. You can't get into college without proof of vaccines. If you are part of the military, you have to take vaccines. (And when most of the military was drafted, there was a primary level of coercion there, too). Sure, notionally speaking you could opt out of college, but it is still a COERCIVE RULE. And as for opting your kids out of vaccines administered at grade schools: we are now way more sensitive about informing parents about what WILL be happening at schools, than we were 60 years ago, and I have my doubts that parents were sufficiently advised to be ABLE to keep their kid home on the pertinent day(s). Which makes those events coercive.

All of those vaccines had adverse effects on occasion, there isn't any vaccine that doesn't. More to the point, all of those vaccines had some (low) rate of serious adverse effects, including (a very few) deaths. But we cannot be certain of the exact numbers, because reporting was more ad hoc then. (VAERS started in 1990.)

Because of this, I suggest that what's different here is primarily the relative risk rates of the disease and the vaccines, and that's primarily a question of degree, not principle. If you want to elevate it to a matter of principle by saying "it is in principle wrong to do something you know is imprudent", well, I will agree that is a true statement, but I don't think it sheds light on the debate. You can't apply the principle here without reference to the relative risks involved, and for neither side are the risks zero.

It's not like we should just ACCEPT our government's wrong decisions when they are clearly wrong by reason of clear imprudence, any more than we should accept them when they are wrong as a matter of principle. We should be fighting back against these wrong decisions either way: THEY'RE WRONG. And they have been made wrongly, not by "honest mistakes" but by damaged kinds of thinking. And in this case, they are wrong in a way that causes a lot of damage, which makes fighting back important. Which is why I am fighting back.

Their risks are lower than that of being struck by lightning twice.

Jeff, I have to admit, I laughed at that, it's a great use of hyperbole. Just delightful.

Hi Lydia,

Have been following your writings for awhile - I'm so sorry to hear this! Although brought about in a different situation not vaccine-related, I have a brother-in-law that suffers from chronic pain. He has found tackling chronic pain via a mind-body approach has been extremely helpful for him. Please take a look at this book particularly: https://www.amazon.com/Way-Out-Revolutionary-Scientifically-Approach/dp/059308683X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=alan+gordon+pain&qid=1631506127&sr=8-1,

Happy to share more information if interested more.

But Tony, I don't see a problem with Lydia's saying basically that we should draw a line differently than it's been drawn in the past. Lines can change. Our working principles can change. They're not immutable.

I do think the war analogies people are making are deeply flawed. We can have a level of cynicism with our leaders–I certainly do–but the fact is that we as citizens aren't a picnic either. When things don't go as we wanted we change the goalposts and claim they lied to us, when most of the time we knew the reasons given weren't the real ones to begin with and we were happy to do the dance because we couldn't admit the real reasons we approved of the actions. We don't understand ourselves–since such things are no longer acceptable topics of discourse–and prefer not to. The truth is we enjoy being lied to because we can no longer handle the truth of who we are and what we're about. The old questions don't go away, though we pretend so. Therefore we need to be lied to, and we like it until we don't and look for scapegoats.

Tony's analysis of the situation persuades me. Before us arise an array of challenging risk-benefit questions, none of which admit of easy resolution (not least because of the poor quality of our data, deriving from many causes, perhaps most of all the novelty of the virus). That statement alone enjoins strongly against mandates.

Leaving aside mandates, the individual-level risk-benefit analysis of the vaccine cannot neglect the substantial evidence of very serious adverse reactions to even mild cases of Covid. For instance, data out of Israel, comprising a huge sample-size, strongly suggests that, while the Pfizer mRNA vaccine does indeed elevate one's risk for myocarditis, contracting the virus elevates that risk by over three times as much. Over time, similar comparisons will become clearer in the data. So far, all of it is preliminary.

One presupposition lying behind this really ought to be dragged out into the open. Will it be possible, over time, for anyone to avoid contracting Covid-19? Among those without natural or vaccine immunity, my read of the situation is that it will be impossible. You either actively seek out the latter, or you'll end up with the former. However, given our real if uneven improvements in treatment, there may well be value in delaying that eventuality. Meanwhile, it sure looks like the capacity of the vaccines to prevent infection, while hardly negligible, was oversold; and there is an expanding body of evidence suggesting that natural immunity is stronger and longer-lasting that vaccine immunity.

My point is that considerations like this abound. Combined with the enormous temptation to form definitive conclusions based on fragmentary, incomplete, or compromised evidence, it becomes a constant challenge to maintain the requisite epistemological humility.

The primary reason I have doubts is that what are effectively vaccine "mandates" of a sort have been in force for quite some time, and we as a nation have been accepting them as pretty much normal. Few have raised an outcry over them. School kids were getting vaccines at school in the 1950s and 60s. You can't get into college without proof of vaccines. [. . .] All of those vaccines had adverse effects on occasion, there isn't any vaccine that doesn't. More to the point, all of those vaccines had some (low) rate of serious adverse effects, including (a very few) deaths. But we cannot be certain of the exact numbers, because reporting was more ad hoc then. (VAERS started in 1990.)

The change in attitude, it seems to me, is a function of the collapse in trust in institutions. (Also a much closer and more extensive experience with debilitating and lethal contagious diseases.) In the 1950s, Americans trusted their government and they trusted medical authorities. That's not true anymore, and hasn't been for some time. This is a huge and complicated topic, but it does occur to me that perhaps the trustworthiness of mid-20th century American institutions is exaggerated. Did they really warrant the trust that Americans vouchsafed them?

>> Before us arise an array of challenging risk-benefit questions, none of which admit of easy resolution (not least because of the poor quality of our data, deriving from many causes, perhaps most of all the novelty of the virus). That statement alone enjoins strongly against mandates.

The novelty of the virus is also why it's been dangerous. When it's no longer novel, it'll no longer be dangerous.

https://cspicenter.org/blog/waronscience/why-covid-19-is-here-to-stay-and-why-you-shouldnt-worry-about-it/


>> Leaving aside mandates, the individual-level risk-benefit analysis of the vaccine cannot neglect the substantial evidence of very serious adverse reactions to even mild cases of Covid. For instance, data out of Israel, comprising a huge sample-size, strongly suggests that, while the Pfizer mRNA vaccine does indeed elevate one's risk for myocarditis, contracting the virus elevates that risk by over three times as much. Over time, similar comparisons will become clearer in the data. So far, all of it is preliminary.

Again, covid is dangerous because it's a "novel coronavirus". Over time all the data–including the effects–are going to change. We shouldn't assume the effects in the future will be the same as the effects now. That's a mistake. That's a part of my risk benefit calculation, and of many I'd suppose. That's why I'm non-plussed by the panic porn.

>> One presupposition lying behind this really ought to be dragged out into the open. Will it be possible, over time, for anyone to avoid contracting Covid-19?

No, it isn't possible for anyone to avoid contracting Covid. And it doesn't matter.

>> In the 1950s, Americans trusted their government and they trusted medical authorities. That's not true anymore, and hasn't been for some time. This is a huge and complicated topic, but it does occur to me that perhaps the trustworthiness of mid-20th century American institutions is exaggerated. Did they really warrant the trust that Americans vouchsafed them?

I dunno, eugenics and experiments on humans. In the 30's the Midwest–now red states–was a hotbed of radical socialist politics such was the discontent. I don't think it all vanished by the 50's, but in memory everything not conforming to a certain story was all washed away by a WWII that has dominated our perception of the 50's ever since. I think what we think about the 50's is about as accurate as the movie Grease. Of course, the writers and producers of Grease were in on the joke. I think we'd be wise to be also.

But Tony, I don't see a problem with Lydia's saying basically that we should draw a line differently than it's been drawn in the past. Lines can change. Our working principles can change. They're not immutable.

Mark, (and implicily, Lydia) it is indeed possible for us to change our minds societally, and decide now that the principle we accepted back in 1960 was wrong. But I would want to see a developed argument about it, with (ideally) an explanation as to why we DID accept it back then, and where we went wrong in coming to that acceptance.

One thing I want to state clearly that I think has been implicit in this discussion is that I think there has been not only a lack of clarity about the actual levels of risk, (which is aggravated by the speed of claims-making, the politicization, and the desire (mistaken as a "need") for there to be certainty available right now), there has been rather a divergent set of views about the risks. Many of those who are refusing to take the vaccines and are against the vaccine mandates believe (A) that "for an average 20-year old, taking this vaccine carries more risk than getting COVID". Most of those who are in favor of the vaccine mandates believe (B) that "for a person aged 20, taking this vaccine carries LESS risk than getting COVID." (Or than not taking the vaccine.)

Whether (A) or (B) is warranted (or more warranted) by the actual information now available is immaterial to my point. My point is that the people who think (B) (at least most of them) are NOT saying "you should accept a higher risk of harm for the good of others". They are saying "you should accept a LOWER risk of harm in place of a HIGHER risk of harm, which also benefits others." They may be wrong in thinking the vaccine represents lower risk for everyone, but that's a different kind of problem thinking than the kind of thinking that demands some to accept harm for the sake of others. As Paul points out with the myocarditis risk, there are risks on both sides, both in taking the vaccine and in not. The risk of death from COVID for teens seems roughly to be a low but non-trivial 5 in 100,000. (And yes, there remains lots of room for doubt about these numbers. ON BOTH SIDES) While there may indeed be a few people who are saying that "even those for whom the vaccine increases risk should still get it for the sake of others", most who favor the vaccine are NOT saying that.

>> My point is that the people who think (B) (at least most of them) are NOT saying "you should accept a higher risk of harm for the good of others". They are saying "you should accept a LOWER risk of harm in place of a HIGHER risk of harm, which also benefits others."

I'm not sure how relevant this judgment is, for two reasons.

First, your scope is "most people" and we know that often what most people think doesn't matter when a minority dominates either formally or in terms of loudness of one form or another. Bottom line is that often it's what a few think that gets acted upon.

My second point would be that people often or even usually don't say very clearly what they think. Talk is cheap. It's better to look at actions. I think its quite clear, and it was always clear to the wiser people the extreme consequences of lockdowns. Trump extremely early on spoke of his fear that suicides would spike. This is basic common sense. And the consequences for children may not be much less dire, and for many it'll be worse. Suffice it to say the effects have been at least as bad for chidden as adults, and probably worse. Has there been any recognition of this fact by lockdown proponents? Not that I can see. If we can't point to any evidence that these fools blinded by idealism–hygiene theater–actually care if children are harmed and even commit suicide at a higher rate because of their lockdown agitation, why would anyone think these same people would care if kids get heart issues?

We can have honest debates among ourselves about meta ethics, but the public debate isn't that and the sooner people realize it's a naked attempt at domination and subversion better.

Humans aren't wired–by God's own design–to calculate long complex chains of responsibility to decide on proper action. There are things within our control and it's a matter of basic recognition. And no, neither Locke nor Descartes has subverted people's moral judgment no matter what your local philosophy professor said. We don't have to see a good outcome of right behavior, and in fact must not expect it since very often the right thing has a bad proximate outcome for oneself or *others*. If you have to trust an expert to tell you the right thing to do then something is wrong. If he can't explain it in terms we accept, then we've no reason to think he has a better moral compass than we do.

People long ago had to convince doctors to wash their hands between seeing patients to keep them from dying. Unfortunately that took a long time. But this isn't about washing hands, and what's going on now is a rush to get us to do something with unknown consequences long before we have the sort of evidence that would justify it. Moreover, the evidence we have suggests it's foolish and unwise. I know nothing about medicine and I knew that viruses mutate and get more contagious–and weaker–as time goes on. This is very simple and basic stuff, that has in effect been denied by the pushers of panic porn over variants for ... what a year now?

The primary reason I have doubts is that what are effectively vaccine "mandates" of a sort have been in force for quite some time, and we as a nation have been accepting them as pretty much normal. Few have raised an outcry over them. School kids were getting vaccines at school in the 1950s and 60s.

Ah, actually, I have been quite glad for twenty-five years or so that my state has an extremely broad exception to these "mandates." For one thing, they apply only to bricks and mortar schools, so those of us home schooling get the right to make the decision which, IMO, belongs properly to parents to make. For another, Michigan has a "religious" exception so broad that it applies to any firmly held belief. I have, in fact, vaccinated my kids against most of the things in "the list" for the public schools, but sometimes at different ages, and a couple I considered to be quite dubious (though IIRC I went ahead with them to keep the doctors off my back). The Hep. B. vaccine for infants is particularly egregious, but stating why would get us off into the specific empirical weeds. Be that as it may, the point is that I considered this to be properly my decision as a parent, not the decision of the state, and I've always thought this.

Sure, notionally speaking you could opt out of college, but it is still a COERCIVE RULE.

I agree in a sense, but it's also a far cry from a governmental mandate. And I would be willing to bet there are itsy bitsy Bible colleges out there or something that don't require it.

As for the military, did I mention I've always been dubious about the morality of the draft? Not to mention adding *more* vaccines once a person has already voluntarily enlisted. I don't think enlisting shoudl mean writing a blank check on these matters.

As far as what has changed since, say, 1960, well you do know that home schooling was mostly illegal throughout the country then, right? (I suppose the *very* rich might have been able to hire a state-accredited personal tutor, though I'm not even certain about that.) As far as I'm concerned, it's by no means clear that the state level of government was at some kind of Goldilocks Zone in the 1960s! Those of us in the home schooling movement have actually looked back on some of those decades as the "bad old days." We've admired the people who stood up to it, even if it meant breaking the law and hiding their kids behind drawn blinds during the day so nobody knew that they were wickedly teaching their children at home. People did indeed have more faith in "the institutions" then, and IMO it was to some degree misplaced. Ipso facto it is far more misplaced now, and if we're going to start talking about the federal government mandating that 80 million free, legally innocent adults working in the private workforce receive a vaccine, any vaccine, on pain of unemployment, you better bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to deny that that is a legitimate use of government power. And frankly, I think it would have been a bridge too far even in 1960.

Maybe that one point is worth restating. If I can't depend on the fact that doing the right thing will benefit me directly in terms of proximate outcomes –as I cannot– then why does there seem to be this implicit assumption that doing the right thing will have a good proximate effect on others?

Or is that just theater too? Should we be doing things for the approval it gains us –flattery basically– from those in thrall to communitarian ideas among our neighbors and society rather than any actual neighbor or societal benefit that we can see? And where are those championing virtue ethics and shouting "consequentialism!" when you really need them?

This is why our own individual judgment must be respected in these things. This is why "individualism"–properly understood it should be updated a la Durkheim to "moral individualism"– is the basis for Western society.

Very well said Lydia. I'm not as sure as many that Americans had more trust in government in the past, but if they did I'd say it was misplaced. Moreover, I don't see why we should long for more trust in them as many do on the Left and Right, those the differing reasons why are perfectly obvious.

And on the whataboutism on mandates by many, it seems to me many people are assuming that the affects of private requirements for and general acceptance of more common vaccines that makes them seem standard means something near 100% compliance. But this is far from the truth. I think for most of them it's 90% at best. There's no reason whatever to think Covid vaccines could anywhere close to that anytime within a decade.

That's why the mandates are actually counterproductive for getting more compliance. Even if I were ok with mandates–and I'm not– it's a draconian method to try to get from 65-70% or wherever we are now to just a little bit higher. It's dumb. More people would have gotten vaccinated if the government hadn't tried to impose mandates and Biden didn't act like he was our dad and "running out of patience". But again, it's possible that this foolish administration miscalculated the effects, but I think it's more likely they know or at least don't care. They'd rather divide us and distract us than pursue their stated goals, which aren't even their real goals anyway. Tyranny 101.

Btw, a little googling seems to indicate that vaccination requirements for college attendance were *not* widespread in the 1960s much less near-universal. Looks like more of a 90s thing, and even then only in some states. And I would bet dollars to donuts in those states it didn't cover entirely private or religious colleges. And let's remember too how many fewer people even wanted to go to college in the 1960s.

I think we need to be careful about picking up "talking points." Like the people who tried to make it sound like there were statewide mask mandates for umpty-ump months during the Spanish Flu and then it turned out only a few cities had them, for only a much shorter time, and *even there* there was opposition.

"Oh, we've always done it this way" claims need to be carefully checked.

Not to mention the fact that, y'know, the past can also be on its way to Nanny state-ism. If people will keep on talking about seatbelt laws they're going to tempt me to point out that I'm old enough to remember playing around in the back seat of a station wagon, climbing back and forth across from the back section, or sleeping in the back, or fighting with other kids, and it's by no means clear to me that this was such a terrible thing that micromanaging laws were needed to Put A Stop To It. Yes, even if some people died.

Just a couple of years ago my city started extremely Nanny-ish "Click it or ticket" checkpoints in the city. The police would sit there and peer at the cars coming down the street. I don't know if they used a pair of binoculars or what, but by golly, if it looked to them like someone in the car didn't have a seatbelt, that satisfied the 4th amendment, and they'd pull you over and ticket you.

If you don't find that creepy, you should.

It's creepy. Requiring seatbelts in cars seems reasonable. I watched my dad install a seatbelt kit in our old truck made before that when I was little. Having authorities watch to make sure we're using them was a worrying development, even though I think it's foolish not to wear them. And I think most people do wear them who value their safety and of their occupants. But those that don't I don't think think we can do more than try to persuade them with information.

BTW, regarding automobiles and safety, since the 90's I've thought there were troubling aspects of some safety features. Air bags do harm people, and they've no ability to disable them and it's illegal to try. And the government isn't even trying to establish how many they harm. Tellingly, the stats aren't collected in a way that would show us. Which just shows you how government bureaucracies work and why indidivual choice is needed. In the early days some children were decapitated by them, and it wasn't the auto companies that pushed for early adoption but Congress over the warnings of the auto companies that more testing needed to be done. An explosion right in your face. What could go wrong?

I don't actually know whether they do more good than harm. They may, but I don't know. It bothers me that no one is trying to find out. There were defective Takata airbags that could blind you, and if you're holding something in front of your face when it goes off maybe all of them could. In any case, in the case of defects the safety nannies who assume the government has our best health interests in mind say "Oh yeah, that was a defect; been fixed; all good now you're safe again." To that I say bunk. I don't think all those Takata airbags that spit goo congealed into pellets at you will ever be replaced, and what about future defects that may occur? There's really no way to know whether a 5 or 10+ year old car's airbags work or work properly. I think the fact that the government takes no interest in any such details like this shows why even mandating safety equipment in cars–though reasonable for seatbelts–isn't always reasonable at all.

Oh one more detail on air bags. I think they Congress was initially sold on the idea because of the fact that some people wouldn't wear seatbelts. Airbags were the solution. Now again, I can't say for sure there's no significant additional protection from airbags. Maybe there is, or maybe there isn't. But I don't think anyone cares, and I find that very disturbing since they do harm people sometimes, and they add a lot of cost to vehicles which increases the cost of ownership, which makes life more difficult. I'm skeptical there's ever been a cost benefit analysis done, and I'm also skeptical the government would ever admit they made a mistake if an honest assessment showed it didn't make sense. I suspect the only analysis done was "If it saves one life."

Yes, at 4' 9 1/2" and 90 lbs. soaking wet, I would almost certainly be more injured by the airbag than by the accident in any minor accident and have often been a bit concerned about this. But the powers that be have already decided for me.

I just learned by googling that you can apply to the NHSTA for a waiver so you could have a shop install a cut-off switch for the driver side. The creep goes on.

https://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/18/us/cutoff-switches-for-car-airbags-will-be-allowed.html

Of course, it goes without saying I don't know that you're not better off with an air bag. I just struggle philosophically with safety devices that can harm us without good data to make a judgment one way or the other. It's just so wrong.

It seems they say 4' 6" is the cutoff or if one has to sit less than 10" of the steering wheel. I could be wrong and haven't even googled it, but I wouldn't be surprised if the studies the experts relied on to arrive at these figures are private.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/seeing-the-biomedical-security-state/

Interesting piece today at TAC on the "Biomedical Security State." Jeff mentioned Agamben on the other thread.

No need for me to post as Nice Marmot anymore, btw. Whatever unpleasantness caused me to leave for a while, then come back as NM has largely faded into the mists of time, LOL.

I want to go way back up to something Tony said upthread.


But this does not inherently preclude cases like the one where I outlined above, e.g. a very safe, very effective vaccine against the plague, it COULD BECOME a moral imperative for nearly all individuals to receive the vaccine and thus could be a situation suitable for a government mandate.

The final "and thus" is something that I categorically reject.I don't know what I could say to convince someone who thinks that that "and thus," which I regard as a complete non sequitur, really does follow. Perhaps I could say that I can think of things that are a moral imperative for nearly all individuals (at least morally responsible adults)that are *absolutely not* suitable for a government mandate. Like, I dunno, doing one's due diligence to try to find out whether or not to believe in God. Failing to do that, at least in a culture where the concept of God is available, is morally wrong. But absolutely not a situation suitable for a government mandate. For parents, putting in "enough" time and effort to try hard "enough" to feed one's children a balanced diet. Being verbally polite to one's neighbors. Not flipping the bird to other people on the road when driving. The list goes on and on. Many of these are even relevant to the "common good."

The Israeli study on the safety profile of the Pfizer vaccine, relative to covid infection, is interesting, but something still smells a little off. We're *not* seeing a consistent signal, across countries, and age demographics, that covid infection causes a risk of myocarditis 3x that of the vaccine, corresponding to vast numbers of people suffering cardiac inflammation. Given seroprevalence studies - see anything by Ioannidis - it stands to reason that we should be be seeing many more such cases than we are, in fact, seeing.

What we are seeing, however, is a clearer signal of younger people, particularly males, suffering substantially higher rates of myocarditis, far beyond the background rate (and there are issues with the notion of background rate, but leave that to the side), and correlated, not with covid infection, but with covid vaccination. The official record-keeping makes the signal somewhat more difficult to tease out than it ought to be, but it is there. The issue is that many of these incidents occur within days of vaccination, while the official criteria count as vaccinated only those who are at least 14 days post-second dose. There is no need to belabor me with the argument in favor of this criterion; I know the rationale. Just as valid as that rationale, however, is the reality that it functions, whether by design or inadvertence, to occlude adverse reactions to the vaccine: a teenager or college student suffers myocarditis five days post-vaccination, and the medical personnel refuse to report the event to VAERS, and instead categorize it absurdly, as "spontaneous" myocarditis, or as a case of covid. An established principle of medical diagnosis, from time immemorial, and the reason the ill-fated swine flu vaccination campaign of 1976 was halted after a few dozen deaths a couple thousand cases of Guillain-Barre, is that any novel - either technologically or to the patient herself - intervention should be considered causative until and unless definitive proof to the contrary emerges. In the case of the covid vaccine, we already know how this happens: neither the synthetic spike proteins nor the lipid nanoparticles (though these are apparently not at issue in cases of myocarditis) stay localized to the injection site, but can migrate (though not in every patient), especially if even a tiny blood vessel is pierced; the spike has an affinity for certain cells in blood vessels and certain bodily tissues, binds to them, causing inflammation and/or clotting. In other words, the mechanism of action is known, and so there is no reason to posit ghosts or space aliens, such as "spontaneous myocarditis" to explain the origins of a case of a myocarditis in a health 16 year old five days post-vaccination.

And yet, both the official diagnostic criteria and the ideology of the medical establishment war against the obvious. And there are reasons for that that go beyond a monomaniacal focus on the need for 14 days for immunity to develop after vaccination. Let's not be naive.

My position on mandates is firm. I *know*, with the certainty of both diagnoses and long observation, even apart from the fact that everyone in my family has had the coof, that the vaccine poses greater risks to us than the coof ever did. If the state is going to impose a mandate that thereby falls disproportionately upon us, for reason of our medical history, the state is decreeing that we are dispensable pursuant to the achievement of some collective goal. And I demur. I do not believe in sacrifice, nor in tacit eugenics, not where I might be the victim, and not where anyone else might be the victim. There are more things in this world than the elimination of every risk, of every non-maximized risk mitigation. I wish that the car I was driving on the day of my terrible accident had been equipped with side airbags. But I'm 6'2". People small enough, under the median, whether by height or weight, are placed at risk in various ways by such uniform mandates, and while I realize that few want to hear it these days, a free society not only permits people to make these decisions, it is provisioned in such a way that they are able to make these decisions without thereby being ruined for having chosen contrary to the ukases of some eXpErTs. One can make a libertarian argument for this set of propositions; a conservative argument; even a leftist argument. What one cannot do is make an argument in favor of these propositions that results in employment for legions of officious busybody bureaucrats, dwellers of the administrative swamp, imposing rules that are, at best, 14 degrees of separation away from a semblance of democratic accountability.

And in that last observation, I've made the late David Graeber shake hands with the Claremont folks in mutual contempt for bullsh*t jobs. I have tried, over the course of this crisis, to be generous, and to approach both sides with equanimity, but I'm losing the will to defend any mandates whatsoever, because what I see, increasingly, is that there is no limiting principle for most defenders of mandates: anything that can get spat out by the right algorithm can be the legitimate object of a mandate, come what may for many of those subject to it. It's part of the paint-by-numbers standardization of medical care that results in hundreds of thousands of iatrogenic deaths annually, has nearly killed me a couple times, and nearly killed more than a few people I know. Why not mandate annual physicals for everyone, and statins for everyone who tests above some threshold for cholesterol, even though a substantial minority of patients are placed on the fast track to dementia once they start taking them? After all, obesity and diabetes are health crisis dwarfing even covid.

Nah. I'd like a world in which the state and the systems propped up by the state simply cannot, ever, under any circumstances, do certain things to me. Hard rules, not infinite flexibility.

I didn't know that about not counting myocarditis as an effect of the shot unless it occurs after the second shot. That's absurd to the point of being infuriating. My own reaction was to the *first* shot, and thank God I didn't get the second.

Here's a study that comes to the opposite conclusion--for teen boys, the vaccine is more risky, these researchers say.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/10/boys-more-at-risk-from-pfizer-jab-side-effect-than-covid-suggests-study

A Harvard study of VAERS found that the true incidence of adverse reactions was 10-100x greater than what was actually reported. That's a wide variance of estimates, so suffice it to say that there was a problem prior to the deployment of the covid vaccines, which, even apart from the underreporting problem, are causing significantly more adverse reactions than, really, all other vaccines, ever, combined.

As I've indicated, I am not "antivax", a term that I find to be increasingly meaningless. I've had my children receive all of them except flu and HPV, and these clowns want to come after me with a slander, a term of derision, because I reject their latest miracle elixir? Hard pass on both the vax and the ideology. It's a cult, a cult of scientism and fear, based on a non sequitur: vaccines were used to eradicate smallpox and control other diseases that once exacted a heavy toll in human lives and misery; therefore, all vaccines henceforth are awesome and flawless and if you reject even one, or one booster in the infinite series, you want Middle Ages mortality and suffering and believe that smallpox should again be unleashed on the world.

And it's hilarious, too: Pharma and the FDA/CDC are the quintessential example of crony/state capitalist corruption, making it wholly rational to suspect anything coming out of them. Vioxx? Opioids? The Revolving Door?

Yes - two weeks after the second dose qualifies one as vaccinated. Get myocarditis after shot 1? Unvaxxed and random. Get it two days after shot 2? Unvaxxed? This is the sort of statistical legerdemain that has created the replication crisis. But it's even worse than that, which itself is a mortal danger to real science. They're trying to eliminate even the necessity of control groups, so that every scientific conclusion can be sourced from a model, a computer sim, or a black-box "paper". The whole pandemic has been like this.

Was that the definition used in the Israeli study? That makes it worse than meaningless. If anything, symptoms arising *closer to* the vaccination event are more clearly tied to it.

That Israeli study focused on events occurring during the 42 days following vaccination. That could be read literally, or with some Jesuitical wiggle room. I simply cannot tell which reading is more accurate. In the Anglo countries at least, the two weeks after second dose seems to be the rule.

>> The final "and thus" is something that I categorically reject.

Same here. I'm sure I haven't communicated it well, but that's what I've been trying to get across by talking about background assumptions for Christians about God's Providence. Of course, nonbelievers have philosophies of life too that may be identical though they don't believe in a personal God. It may be fate for them, or just basic moral judgment. Either way these form a philosophy of life.

I know in the past there've been heated discussions over trolley problems and responsibility for others. Whether or not a person could decide questions about who lives or dies. I think empirically we see that few if anyone faced with this choice have ever just thrown up their hands, implying that common sense says a decision –however agonizing– is necessary. But right or wrong on that, I've also said that at some point of enormity or complexity of situation –of which there are few and perhaps no historical examples to draw upon– it surely leads to a point where background beliefs will and must take over. Because as that point of situational complexity or magnitude of outcome I think most people would rightly just check out. At a certain point I think I'd declare that those telling me I have to do thus and such or I'll be responsible for killing millions are simply projecting their own God complex onto me.

Individuals can't handle that sort of pressure for a reason. Systems and situations at a certain level of complexity defy rational calculation, and pretending otherwise is to have a God complex IMO.

There is also the God complex of imagining oneself responsible for what are essentially aleatory events, and then projecting that false responsibility upon an entire population, individually and collectively. Madness. The maxim underlying this notion that we are responsible for the aleatory event of respiratory disease transmission would legitimate interference with anything and everything, because even habits, thoughts, ideas, etc. are imitative, mimetic.

And, of course, the people pushing this are extending it, and will extend it still further. The panic over so-called misinformation, fake news, Russian bots, internet memes, etc. is already, essentially, being brought under the medical rubrics, treated as a matter of contagion and public health. Everything must be surveilled and regulated because everything is a threat. To whom?

The people for whom everything must change (for us) so that everything can remain the same (for them).

I said, above:

But this does not inherently preclude cases like the one where I outlined above, e.g. a very safe, very effective vaccine against the plague, it COULD BECOME a moral imperative for nearly all individuals to receive the vaccine and thus could be a situation suitable for a government mandate.

Lydia responds:

The final "and thus" is something that I categorically reject.I don't know what I could say to convince someone who thinks that that "and thus," which I regard as a complete non sequitur, really does follow. Perhaps I could say that I can think of things that are a moral imperative for nearly all individuals (at least morally responsible adults)that are *absolutely not* suitable for a government mandate.

Let me clarify: I did not intend to imply that the conditions hypothesized, (very safe, very effective vaccine against plague) constituted the sufficient basis for a conclusion that a government mandate would be appropriate. It would constitute, rather pre-conditions in which a government mandate could be appropriate. OTHER conditions might also be needed. The critical difference was in "COULD BE" a situation in which a mandate was suitable. You might, for example, find (in a particularly pliable populace) that as soon as you posted the findings that the vaccine was very safe and very effective, 98% were lining up for the vaccine. In that case, no mandate would be reasonable or useful.

On the other hand, you might have a different social setting in which most of the populace would not line up for those safe, effective vaccines UNLESS the government said "you have to." There, at least, mandates would be useful even if they remained unreasonable on other grounds.

As the late Zippy Catholic was fond of pointing out, government JUST IS a vehicle for "legislating morality". Most "universal" cases of legislated morality are ones that are valid always and everywhere: no murder, no theft, etc. Most have to do with relations between two individuals, or between and individual and the state, or between an individual and some collective (e.g. a corporation). But some have to do with an individual in his own person: laws against suicide, for example. Here at W4 we have had firmly expressed sentiments in favor of laws against suicide, even though the act "harms nobody but yourself", and many Christian societies have had such laws. We have laws against taking opioids and other drugs, even though such things first harm yourself, and most of the rest of harm comes from there being LAWS against it - even though (obviously) the people who take them judge that for them the cost/benefit ratio is in favor of taking those drugs.

That there are huge, vast swathes of life that should not have laws about them (which I heartily agree with) does not tell us, by itself, where the LIMITS of government rules lie. Yes, some things are and SHOULD be off-limits to government mandates. I am totally in agreement that there are some areas off limits. The problem is stating where those limits are. Maybe, in given the current political environment, our government should not be trusted with that kind of judgment about vaccines. That does not mean that in principle governments cannot be trusted with that kind of judgment - that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a people to reasonably trust a government with that kind of judgment. Just for example: In the US today, when universal education is and has been a solid fact of life for our entire lives, the differential between a government official's education and judgment on such matters, and that of the average citizen, is relatively modest. That's not even remotely valid for many third-world countries, where the difference in education (and therefore capacity to judge the information available) is almost immeasurably larger - and it was even more so in the 1950's through 1970's, when worldwide vaccine programs were kicking in. In the latter case, asking or expecting the average parent to decide the issue for their family would have been equivalent to handing a 40 lb manual on advanced nuclear physics to a high-school freshman and telling him to run a nuclear plant. I agree that this difference in education DOESN'T speak to the degree to which government officials are morally or intellectually trustworthy on such issues. Those are different yardsticks, for different parts of the question. But the fact that OUR government officials are such that we usually cannot trust their moral or intellectual integrity doesn't mean that is a universal feature of government.

I know that people keep reacting negatively to even an attempt to analogize to war, and while they have not yet made a good reason for rejecting this, I will not bother with that analogy. Instead, I will employ other types that also fit: natural disaster types, such as floods, avalanches, forest fires, famines, and droughts. In any of these, in the past, states have been right to commandeer private property, force people out of their homes, bulldoze homes and crops, required people to maintain "defenses" (e.g. dykes, walls, levees), give up claims to water, and not permit people to stockpile (i.e. "hoard") food for themselves - even going so far as the state doling out food by X calories per person per day. (Joseph in Egypt was an early example of state mandates on food, for famine conditions.) That is to say, states have intruded on vast areas of what are otherwise arenas of private judgment, for some critical common good. And any one of these mandates might have put some number of individuals at greater risk than, under normal circumstances, they would have been under when not having to abide by such mandates. While individuals - and not the state - have eternal destinies, and this implies that in the ultimate sense individuals are NOT wholly "for the sake of the state" (as individual cells are for the sake of the whole body), nevertheless the state licitly expects some people some of the time to permit or suffer personal detriment for the sake of the common good - and to do so at the state's judgment.

I am as strong an advocate of subsidiarity as anyone around, but subsidiarity and solidarity are BOTH fundamental principles of social organization, in tension with each other, without either being supreme simply speaking, for we are meant to live for each other in addition to living for ourselves: our happiness is in part constituted in making choices for another's good as acts of love. Sometimes we make those judgments ourselves, and sometimes we defer them to authorities.

Maybe, in given the current political environment, our government should not be trusted with that kind of judgment about vaccines. That does not mean that in principle governments cannot be trusted with that kind of judgment - that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a people to reasonably trust a government with that kind of judgment. Just for example: In the US today, when universal education is and has been a solid fact of life for our entire lives, the differential between a government official's education and judgment on such matters, and that of the average citizen, is relatively modest. That's not even remotely valid for many third-world countries, where the difference in education (and therefore capacity to judge the information available) is almost immeasurably larger - and it was even more so in the 1950's through 1970's, when worldwide vaccine programs were kicking in. In the latter case, asking or expecting the average parent to decide the issue for their family would have been equivalent to handing a 40 lb manual on advanced nuclear physics to a high-school freshman and telling him to run a nuclear plant.

To be blunt: I don't care. I don't care if a parent objects to vaccinating the child because the parent ignorantly believes that it's black magic that will introduce evil spirits into the child's body.

We're talking here about, let us say, a healthy child whose immediate, visible needs the parent is caring for. We're talking about putting a needle in his arm with the intent of protecting him against a future potential danger to his health.

Even in a case of nutritional neglect, I would require quite a high standard of evidence for forcible intervention against parental wishes. The child, let's say, is found to be *right now* seriously malnourished and there is clear and convincing evidence that this is due to wilful neglect on the part of the parent.

But saying, "Your educational level is way lower than that of us government officials, so it would be asking way too much of you to expect *or even allow* you to make an informed decision about whether or not to give your presently healthy child a shot, so we're going to do it to your kid even if it's against your wishes" just screams for the question, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

Those oh-so-much-more enlightened public officials and NGO apparatchiks have presided over third-world vaccination campaigns that resulted in polio outbreaks, mass sterilizations, and so forth, precisely because the authorities are not always so benevolent or competent. It is increasingly obvious - not that it needed to be more obvious after the crimes and enormities of 2020 - that our own authorities are neither competent nor benevolent, and sadly that indictment extends from FraudXi and Collins on down to many doctors and nurses at local hospitals.

"I'm a doctor (or a "medical philanthropist") and I'm here to help you."

*Makes sign of the cross* *Grabs shotgun*.

I think, Tony, that a big part of the difference between us lies in the fact that you will probably read Jeff's latest comment and say, "Yes, yes, but just suppose in theory that they *were* beneficent and knowledgeable and were *not* corrupt..." Etc.

You postulate the idea that if we really had a beneficent, non-corrupt, knowledgeable human ruler, that would make everything different. I don't grant that. I don't want to speak for Jeff, but I suspect he wouldn't either.

Why not? Because the principle is that it's too dangerous *in general* to trust *anybody* who is not directly, divinely guided (and can prove it) with such power over such intimate, dangerous matters of people's lives in areas of this kind--e.g., forcing healthy people to get a medical treatment or giving it to their children, against their wishes. The *epistemological* issues are too vast.

I call your approach the longing for the Kingdom of Frank the Just. Frank the Just is like Big Brother, only his yoke is easy and his burthen is light and does not gall because, though a mere man, he really is just and nearly omniscient, he really does know much much better than you, and hence (hence?) it really is just to give him vast power over the intimate lives of his subject.

Nope.

There is no King Frank the Just. And it's an exercise in setting ourselves and many innocent others up to be screwed over royally to sit around having conversations about what would be not only permissible but correct if only we lived under his hypothetical rule.

One of the most depressing and disillusioning realizations of the past 18 months has been that almost no one, apart from a tiny number of commies I know, and the dissident Right, was ever really sincere in advancing all of those critiques of the revolving door, crony capitalism, and regulatory capture. If they had been sincere, they would acknowledge that *all* of the same material predicates for those critiques are present in every aspect of the covid response, and especially in the matter of the vaccines. Even the libertarians (!) have, apart from the Mises folks, temporized themselves to the precipice of apostasy.

I don't - to repeat myself - believe that acceptance of the centrality of prudential judgment to the art of governance requires that anything and everything be on the table. And I don't believe this for the same reason that I am not a libertarian, believing that the Unseen Hand will deliver perfect beneficence if only the meddling arm of the State be withdrawn from the Market, which is simultaneously pre- and supra-political in nature. And I don't believe this because I am not a communist, believing that if only the state, an irreducibly capitalist institution, be supplanted and eventually abolished by the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, thence to wither away, then all contradictions will be resolved and mankind will regain the primitive harmony and unity of Eden. In other words, I don't believe in political constructions which presuppose the attainment of some impossible state of perfection, if they are to 'work'. Prudential judgment concerns a great many things, from tax rates to regulatory policy to the construction of health care systems. It stops at the abrogation of parental rights over children. It stops at the use of the trolley problem construction to formulate public policy (and no, this isn't like 'allowing there to be cars', because mandating a medical procedure is doing something 'positive', willing something concrete, not allowing there to be some X, in the knowledge that, unavoidably but accidentally, some bad things will happen pursuant to X). The state doesn't get to plug some assumptions and data into a model that spits out the conclusion that X number of people will die from a disease, but if a treatment is mandated, that number will be X-Y, with the cost of Z deaths from the 'treatment'. It doesn't get to do this because it doesn't get to kill some people to save other people. And it doesn't get to do this because, even if it didn't kill anyone, it establishes a principle, a precedent, that metasticizes throughout a culture and legal system. This sort of mandate is not so far away from the abrogation of parental rights over gender-confused children. They're doing to reduce harm. Will someone please think about the transgenderqueer suicides!

Freedom is having a health care system that not only allows for the exercise of freedom, but is operated in such a way that you can utilize that freedom. You don't have to eat the bugs and go vegan apart from the bugs. You don't have the mandatory fitbit, the mandatory biodata collection, the compulsory medicine.

I think when people talked about crony capitalism before, it wasn't vivid to me. Or, to put it propositionally, I didn't think it was as widespread as it really is. Plus, I always assumed that the person bringing it up had a particular solution in mind--more government. And I was usually (or always) sure that was not a good solution.

Now the people who see the crony capitalism here can just agree with me that we're screwed and can only resist as men of honor, in honorable ways, to the best of our ability. It's too late for political solutions, so we don't have to argue over them.

I felt the same way about crony capitalism as you did, Lydia, until I started reading about the revolving door between the USDA and Big Agra. And the more I looked at it, the more I saw that the same thing was occurring in other government departments. My conclusion eventually was that the bigger Capital gets, the more cronyist it tends to become, and that at high levels there is a symbiosis that exists between big business and big government. Weaver warned of this, by the way, in his chapter on economics in Ideas Have Consequences, and he was certainly no lefty or advocate of more government.

This is, of course, no news to a great many observers, but I guess I didn't believe the reports of it until I started looking and seeing it myself.

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