We were not convinced of the desirability of mask mandates, social distancing and lockdowns on the basis of science. We were convinced of the plausibility of a few conjectures. Then our manipulators (in media, politics, and social networks) took our sense of plausibility and got us to commit to the policies.

This amounted to the leveraging of a cognitive bias. And salesmen will recognize a sales technique right there. Add in fear, and voilà!

This carrot (plausibility) / stick (fear) scenario was then coupled with a few memes not scientific in nature but deliberately anti-scientific, in that they discouraged criticism.

And the extremity of the solutions — in effect ruining many people’s lives, blighting many more who are not technically ruined, leading to starvationin some parts (conveniently far away) — then makes for an anxiety that we assuage with self-righteousness. The “Karen” problem becomes a solution, at this point, for people, being sold a pogrom out of fear, then get to lash out at dissenters. This gives us a social mania that can easily spread by social mechanisms familiar to us all.

The pandemic panic was, in a word, a psy-op — a psychological operation more sophisticated than (but not entirely distinct from) your average advertising campaign — conducted precisely as leaders construct cults and whoop for war.

How psy-ops work is a fascinating thing. Note that one of my joke self-descriptors is “memetic engineer.” My interest in constructing what amounts to con jobs has been, largely, self-defense. Indeed, the tools of defense against such manipulations come in several flavors. Philosophy and science are two of those toolkits.

Most people know almost nothing about either. I wish I knew more. For maybe, had I seen the current psy-op forming in front of my eyes a few weeks earlier, I could have saved (who knows?) millions of lives.

In my own defense, a number of my academic heroes in philosophy and economics saw none of this, and, apparently, still don’t.

Humans are astoundingly easy to trick.