When the Covid scare first became a reality my first focus was on the possibility that it was a product of a Chinese bioweapon research program. That was natural, given that the last 12 years of my career had been spent working PRC CI matters. This focus was also a factor in leading me to accept--with less than the amount of knowledge and skepticism than I should have had--the official narratives. I spent a bit--but just a bit--of time this morning trying to figure out when I got away from official narrative. As nearly as I can figure, nothing really rigorous, it must have been in the late Spring or early Summer, because in Informed Opinion On Covid? (dated June 27, 2020) I began the post with these two paragraphs:
My wife and I were lamenting yesterday the glaring lack of transparency regarding SARS CoV-2 (i.e., Covid). I've long since come to the view that this lack of transparency on the part of most of our State and local governments and the public health authorities can only be explained by political motives. There's no health related reason why, at this point, we should not have access to the data that they have. Not to put too fine a point on it, Lib Prog fear mongering must be behind the lack of transparency. The fact of the matter is, you know and I know that--after months of the pandemic--there is no lack of relevant data out there, collected by government health officials. Yet somehow that relevant data is, for the most part, not being pushed out to the people (you and me) who need it to respond rationally. It's as if there are people or 'folks' who don't want us to know, who don't want us to be part of the decision making process.
Amid the talk of a new surge of "cases", I want to know what a "case" is, how that relates to hospitalizations and deaths, and who these people who have become "cases" actually are. More, I'd like to know how they became "cases."
For the past several weeks, at least, there's been a steady stream of information coming out, all of which tends to confirm what was apparent at an early date--that the outbreak of the new version of the SARS virus that we refer to (in shorthand) as "Covid" originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Today Just The News has a piece that repeats this conclusion but adds some authority to the report by quoting a prominent investigator in the field of detecting weapons programs:
"The Wuhan Institute of Virology is not the National Institute of Health," said David Asher
Since the piece at JOM is mostly a string of quotes from open sources, I'll cite it at some length here:
The former lead investigator at the State Department who oversaw the Task Force into the origin of the COVID-19 virus told Fox News that he believes the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, and that it may have been the result of research that the Chinese military was doing on a bioweapon.
"The Wuhan Institute of Virology is not the National Institute of Health," said David Asher, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. "It was operating a secret, classified program. In my view, and I'm just one person, my view is it was a biological weapons program."
Asher previously led the team that uncovered Pakistan's nuclear program, headed up by AQ Khan. He told Fox that he believes the Chinese Communist Party has engaged in a massive cover-up during the past 14 months.
"And if you believe, as I do, that this might have been a weapons vector gone awry, not deliberately released, but in development and then somehow leaked, this has turned out to be the greatest weapon in history," Asher said at a Hudson Institute event called "The Origins of the COVID-10: Policy Implications and Lessons for the Future."
"You've taken out 15 to 20 percent of global GDP. You've killed millions of people. The Chinese population has been barely affected. Their economies roared back to being number one in the entire G20."
"Motive, cover-up, conspiracy, all the hallmarks of guilt are associated with this. And the fact that the initial cluster of victims surrounded the very institute that was doing the highly dangerous, if not dubious research is significant," said Asher.
Asher dealt with the Chinese government as the State Department's lead representative during the 2003 SARS outbreak.
The first point to be made is that Asher is referring to what's known as Gain Of Function (GOF) research on viruses. This type of research involves endowing a virus with extra or enhanced functionality, which could result in the virus becoming more virulent (contagious) or more deadly. The use of GOF research for the design and production of bioweapons is obvious. However, some scientists have claimed that GOF research may have benefits for vaccine research. This last has been a highly controversial issue. Anthony Fauci has been a major proponent of GOF research, which was conducted in the US--with the participation of Chinese scientists who have also been associated with the WIV--until it was banned during the second Obama term. Shortly after Trump took office, however, Fauci approved funding of GOF research at the WIV.
The problem here is the usual one: lack of transparency and control. There was simply no way that we could be sure that the GOF research we were funding was not being used in the secret programs at the WIV. That problem was compounded by the known woeful safety record of the Chinese bio labs--there have been numerous viral outbreaks from their labs over the years, including outbreaks of SARS viruses. The evidence that this is what led to the Covid "pandemic" is overwhelming, in my opinion.
Now, Asher leaves open the issue of whether this outbreak could have been deliberate--an act of the Chinese government that was intended to create a health crisis around the world. There's no possible way for me to offer an informed opinion on that issue, so I won't. However, there's a related issue that is worth considering.
In my earlier post--quoted above--I referred to the politically motivated fear mongering surrounding the Covid outbreak. This fear mongering, as I noted at that time, was greatly enhanced by several factors:
1. The propagation of exaggerated claims regarding the supposed deadliness of Covid;
2. The deliberate lack of transparency--the withholding of vital information that was available and could have led to informed public debate on appropriate public health measures; one must assume that informed public debate was and remains the last thing that government as a whole wants on this topic--thus the wild swings of disinformation regarding masking, distancing, surface contagion, vulnerable demographic groups, and so much else;
3. Particularly disturbing was the deliberate and scientifically unfounded inflation of "case" and mortality figures.
What is most significant for the health of our body politic, however, is the willingness of vast swaths of the population to conform unquestioningly for over a year to measures of social control that are patently unreasonable from any scientifically based standard of public health. Christopher Lasch, in his books of socio-political analysis, places considerable emphasis on what he terms the narcissistic character that American life has taken on. He repeatedly draws attention to the obsession with health, the search for the perfect diet, the perfect exercise regime, the lifestyle that will lead to the longest life. All of that is reasonable--within the limits of scientific knowledge and practicality. But those limits are, in fact, very real and have been manipulated by politicians repeatedly. The Low Fat craze--fueled by the vast federal bureaucracy--is probably the most obvious example, but there are many others.
All that would be understandable within limits. There have been great advances in medicine and science, and it would be foolish to fail to incorporate those advances into our public health policies--as has been done and as has led to great improvements in human life both individually and in society generally. What Lasch is pointing at, however, is the cultic quality that this obsession has taken on in popular American life. You can see this in the wholehearted embrace of utterly unscientific and widely debunked "safety" measures by so much of the general public, and the snarling reaction to anyone who would violate these cultic safeguards even in passing. There's far more going on here than any reasonable concern for public health, and it undoubtedly explains the elevation of "vaccines" to a sort of Holy Grail for all human ills and the widespread acceptance of this scientifically unfounded view. Coupled with that is the hyperbolic labeling by the MSM of skeptics as virtual enemies of the human race.
Lasch attempts to explain this phenomenon in psychological terms, as "narcissism," as a phenomenon that arises from the conditions of modern life. At the same time, however, he does acknowledge the importance of Western society's loss of contact with its past, including the loss of what could be termed a connection to "traditional" religious experience that emphasizes objective human nature and objective knowledge of reality. Certainly we see the Leftist denigration of objective knowledge even in areas such as mathematics. A specialist doctor of mine, back in November, was reduced to shaking his head sadly over the state of American during the pandemic panic: "Centuries of medical progress--out the window! What will future generations think of us?"
My belief is that this loss of faith has led to society wide susceptibility to Neo-gnostic cults and ideologies that promise deliverance from the normal vicissitudes of our necessarily imperfect human lives--both on the physical and moral levels. We see that type of transference in the "social justice" movement, and the PC demands that all "hurt" and apprehension ("safe spaces") be banished from human life, that all disagreement be "canceled." Beyond that, the widespread resort to obvious hoaxes in our public life as well as the shaping of political narratives that are clearly divorced from any realistic appraisal of human nature and a willingness to trash our constitutional order on the spur of the moment also testifies to deeper problems than mere psychological glitches. All that seems to me to be symptomatic of a real crisis. Only a widespread loss of true religious faith (i.e., founded in reasonable belief) can explain what Eric Voegelin terms the "pneumopathological" state into which so much of the modern West has descended. Or, in the words of Jack McDermott says in The Dream Team, "It's a sickness of the soul."
This is why I repeatedly argue for our own personal conversion and reeducation the principles of the perennial philosophy. Call it "reality therapy".