We are often told that sometimes we must act as if the worst could happen, even if the worst is unlikely, because the worst is so bad.

This is the precautionary principle.

I am dubious about the usual applications of the principle, in part because of framing.

That is, the prophet of doom who delivers the extremist message of disaster has framed the imagined situation in such a way as to preclude other, equally valid scenarios in which the same principle works against his dire warning.

Take the current situation with the coronavirus.

We are being corralled like cattle with little or no respect for our rights. We are being told the government must do these things to stave off the worst outcomes.

There is a lot going on here. But consider another use of the same extremist imagining:


We were introduced to the contagion immediately along with the possibility that it was the product of human engineering leaked from a medical lab, perhaps by accident, perhaps by sabotage or worse.

Quickly the major news sources and political players and the usual academic upholders of Respectable Opinion worked to squelch such notions. Almost certainly, we were told, it was the inadvertent if predictable outcome of the Chinese practice of raising and selling cultivated wild animal meat in “wet markets.” The caging of farmed wild animals brought them too close together, allowing for a new virus to spring up and infect the world.

Plausible story. Likely story. But it is by no means certain.

As I argued with Emile Phaneuf on the last episode of the LocoFoco Netcast, if you were Doctor Evil and sought to engage in an international power play using a major contagion as a weapon, but wanted to hide your activity, you would release it in Wuhan.

That would be cover.

And, as David Icke notes, if you take note of the infection patterns in America’s Public Enemy No. 1, Iran, and do not at least suspect a weaponization, how stupid are you? Just how much of a mark, a sap, a willing victim do you have to be?

I say: you would be a stooge. The useful idiot of malign forces.

You don’t have to believe in the conspiracy conjecture. You don’t have the evidence.

But if you resist thinking about the possibility, you make yourself an easy mark for the worst of our species.

And we know that the worst of our species can be very bad indeed.

Belief is not the issue: it is suspicion and caution that the precautionary principle requires.

We do not KNOW if the coronavirus was deployed as an instrument of social control. But we do know it IS being used to rob us of freedoms and create a nation, indeed, a world, of servile sheep to be corralled and shorn and perhaps slaughtered for the benefit of an elite who likes being in charge.

That being the case, it would be a form of the precautionary principle to act as if the coronavirus had been deployed as a weapon, and therefore resist tyrannical paternalism and instead promote distributed responsibility as the way to increase the safety of the population.

Note what I’m saying here: if the precautionary principle seems to require a fixation on an extremely bad outcome of a contagion, just so it requires us to consider that it is being used as a means of suppressing freedom. That is, the bad outcome of a plot to take away our freedoms.

Belief in the face of the unknown is not relevant. Probability comes into play in cultivating wisdom, and so do other principles of prudence.

So, to those of you who reject “conspiracy theories” out of hand? I say: don’t be a stooge, either to a possible malign organization or to the tricky nature of a system spinning out of control, and into a new form of dangerous control.

Free people aren’t stooges.