Archives for category: Semiotics

Universal and mandatory “vaccination” with an experimental set of gene-therapy-based concoctions that sport very limited utility in the cause of developing immunity strikes me as crazy. I mean, not even worth considering beyond the first brush with the notion. Yet most of the cultural elite and masses of their dutiful sheep have fallen for it, and now push it with alarming force.

And some of my favorite libertarian writers and leaders are so “pro-vaxx” that they spend most of their time ridiculing those of us who are beyond skeptical of the whole government-business alliance. This makes them, I hazard, instruments of totalitarianism. They have assumed the position of useful (pseudo-)opposition and thereby help the cause of statism, as academic libertarians tend to, and have done so for decades.

Be that as it may, the terminological question remains: what do we call this push? The struggle to find the right words continues. But Dr. Bryam W. Bridle, of the University of Guelph, has offered one useful term: herd vaccination. That is the goal. “Herd immunity” is not the goal, for it cannot be achieved by the method chosen. Yet it is strenuously and tyrannically pushed.

They push herd vaccination. A great term. And they push herd vaccination for reasons other than what they state.

This includes the “pro-vaxx libertarians.” But I will leave the dissection of their motives for another occasion.

But, for the record, I have a term to offer, too:

But “daft” is a gross understatement.

twv

Remember that much-shared “meme” about how a certain hospital was being flooded with people overdosing on the “horse de-wormer” Ivermectin? Rolling Stone even published an article running with it.

I saw friends share the story on social media. And curse Fox News, Alex Jones, etc. ZeroHedge explains:

The report, sourced to local Oaklahoma outlet KFOR’s Katelyn Ogle, cites Oklahoma ER doctor Dr. Jason McElyea — who claimed that people overdosing on ivermectin horse dewormer are causing emergency rooms to be “so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting” access to health facilities.

“Rolling Stone ‘Horse Dewormer’ Hit-Piece Debunked After Hospital Says No Ivermectin Overdoses,” ZeroHedge, September 4, 2021.

That story has been revealed as completely false. The hospital denies it. ZeroHedge cites the hospital in question:

Although Dr. Jason McElyea is not an employee of NHS Sequoyah, he is affiliated with a medical staffing group that provides coverage for our emergency room.

With that said, Dr. McElyea has not worked at our Sallisaw location in over 2 months.

NHS Sequoyah has not treated any patients due to complications related to taking ivermectin. This includes not treating any patients for ivermectin overdose.

All patients who have visited our emergency room have received medical attention as appropriate. Our hospital has not had to turn away any patients seeking emergency care.

Rolling Stone did not fact check the article before publication. It was completely fake news — likely perpetrated to induce you to take Big Pharma’s experimental pseudo-vaccine.

The story stank as propaganda from the beginning. But until I saw the debunking, I wasn’t going to say anything. Maybe I should have said something. But you are an adult, right?

And as an adult, you know that the whole “horse de-wormer” meme is b.s., right? (Or, as one Twitterer put it, “horse shit.”) Ivermectin has been a prescription drug for the human animal for a long time. It has known and previous uses. Repeating the “horse de-wormer” meme amounts to a lie. It was obvious from its first social media deployment. But because the left is now thoroughly servile to the Therapeutic State, leftists now eagerly defend Big Pharma medicine.

Ivermectin is far safer than the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA treatments. Of course, it is always dangerous to use drugs, and going off established protocols is risky. Take your own risks. Don’t blame others for your anxieties. Be rational.

But remember: ideologues are happy to lie to you, and if you have any political opinion, you will find folks on your side of that issue lying.

twv

Tweet, which I grabbed from the ZeroHedge article, superimposed on story.

N.B. A not-irrelevant meme of my own devising might be worth looking at: Mind+Virus.

Photo: Ralf, Flickr, some rights reserved

Is Socialism the cousin of Communism?

. . . as answered on Quora. . . .

Economist Yves Guyot was puzzled by this, too. So he consulted the literature and the politicians who promoted one or the other or both. Here is what he wrote in Socialistic Fallacies (1910), about Marx and Engels’ infamous word choice:

They chose “communism” because the word “socialism” had been too much discredited at the time, but they subsequently resumed it, for the logical conclusion of all socialism is communism. The word “collectivism,” says Paul Lafargue, was only invented in order to spare the susceptibilities of some of the more timorous. It is synonymous with the word “communism.” Every socialistic program, be it the program of St. Mandé, published in 1896 by Mr. Millerand, which lays down that “collectivism is the secretion of the capitalist régime,” or that of the Havre Congress, drawn up by Karl Marx, and carried on the motion of Jules Guesde, concludes with “the political and economic expropriation of the capitalist class and the return to collective ownership of all the means of production.

These are terms of art, and some of the art is subterfuge. The general tenor of all socialistic thought is the replacement of private property and free exchange with public property and a command economy.

What we call it is less important than identifying its dangers.

twv

Calling others commies? It’s problematic; sure.

But there may be a rationale.

One way to designate someone as a communist despite their protests could be to define any leftist as a communist if he or she supports the psy-op subversion planks as explained by Yuri Bezmenov.

You may say you are, for example, a mere social democrat. But you also are obsessed with the issues that the Soviets materially and operationally advanced explicitly within their ranks as a means to export to the West to destroy your own country. So, despite any protest on your part, I’ll call you a commie.

Unless “Soviet” is accepted as fascistic and not commie.

But I think we should cede to extremists their own preferred terms, at least sometimes. Bear with me.

For example: I cede to anarchists of the anti-authoritarian violent-revolt variety — those who breed chaos and civil unrest, murder and mayhem and propaganda by the deed — with the term “anarchism,” and do not accept it as a term of peace. So, no matter how fascistic socialism and communism tend to become, I think we should give them their term, but with the pejorative twist: commie.

Commie is better than “communist,” actually, since communism has something to do with communes and communities, while “commie” is explicitly associated with the advance of subversion of liberal order.

I am a liberal, politically, above all else, I guess. And commies hate liberals. And liberals should hate commies.

twv

Increasing numbers of people look upon our world as dominated by “curated reality” — not reality itself. So much of what we think of as true is determined not by our stable appraisals, but by our acceptance of frameworks established by others, by factoids paraded as facts, fantasies doing all the heavy lifting, and narratives told by the gifted storytellers, and perhaps also by conspiracies among some or all of these players.

There is something to this perspective, and the big questions regarding it would seem to be

  1. how much of reality curation is individuals “competing in the marketplace for memes”;
  2. how much is orchestrated meme production and distribution out in the open and
  3. in secret; and
  4. how much is “rational” or “irrational”?

The scare quotes because rationality is a contested concept.

Ray Scott Percival’s essay in Scott Adams and Philosophy: A Hole in the Fabric of Reality (Open Court, 2018), along with several essays by David Ramsay Steele, addresses some of these issues. Scott Adams is one of the most important current advocates of the curated-reality concept, promoting the notion that hypnotism defines much of our human experience, where “the facts don’t matter” (just like on Whose Line Is It, Anyway?). Though I have only just begun reading it, Percival’s essay “Biases Are Rational!” provokes thought — and reminds me of notions I mulled over years ago. A trouble with the Daniel Kahneman/Amos Tversky approach to biases is that by focusing on neoclassical economics’ rather narrow definition of rationality, it suggests that people are error-prone at a very fundamental level, and thus scuttles a more “invisible hand” (emergentist) understanding of human action. Percival takes this on directly:

“Biases,” Percival writes, “can be adaptive to our circumstances.” This view of the cognitive biases Gerd Gigerenzer calls “ecological rationality.” It strikes me as familiar. Did not Armen Alchian advance similar ideas? In any case, Percival argues that we are rational in how we manage our biases — adapt them in light of experience. Here I am reminded of Herbert Spencer’s version of praxeology, human choice and action being defined as “actions adjusted to ends.” But we have to extend the adjustment process to “ends adjusted to means” by trial and error, and standards and routines adjusted in due course.

One of the things I encountered years ago reading F.A. Hayek is the notion that rationality in the French sense, constructivist and very clean and sterile — “Spockian,” you might say, referencing Mr. Green-blooded Pointy Ears — is not a very useful guide to actual human acts and interactions. One of Hayek’s distinctions in this regard was to distinguish teleocratic from nomocratic behavior — that is, purposive from rule-following. While to many theorists teleocratic explanations tend to boil down to a simple ends-means matrix, capable of simple mathematical formulation and calculable in Thorstein Veblen’s parody as “lightning-swift,” actual human action has competing goals as well as scarce means, often radically insufficient information to make any sure calculation, and an almost kaleidic shifting of all these elements (divergent ends, competing scarce means, uncertain knowledge and even a vast scope of nescience); pretending otherwise is foolish. Hayek believed that people use rules of thumb to make manageable the complexity of our actions. No matter how goal-oriented we are, we use rule-following habits to navigate the sheer booming, buzzing confusion of life.

My rap, back then, was that every purposive being did not just ration scarce means towards his ends, but also had to ration rationality itself. That is, the technical proficiency of ends-means calculations is always circumscribed by habits of thought and action that are learned behavior, and pertain to a tacit dimension of our reality. (I confess, I got this view from Julian Jaynes, whom I read long before Herbert Spencer, whose view of the human mind was also a matter of modularity and learning over vast spans of time, by natural selection, or “survival of the fittest”; you may note a tip of the hat to Michael Polanyi as well.)

What does all this have to do with a possibly curated reality? Well, we cannot conceive of reality without curation, or at least mediation by more than just pristine symbols. We are not robotic inquirers proceeding to adjust our mental maps of the world in a one-to-one, crisp-and-nifty rationalism. We human beings use a number of tools that are not just thinking with a limited set of concepts and fact/non-fact propositions, tested and perfected. Among those tools include myth and metaphor. These are crucial to our ecological rationality.

And because our complex of routines is so complex, it is quite possible to manipulate ourselves and others to scuttle the best use of those routines. Indeed, one way to curate another person’s sense of reality is to use rhetoric and mythic thinking but not acknowledge it, keeping the methods sub rosa. Thus we witness, in our time, people who pretend that they are Just The Facts, Ma’am thinkers, while they are almost wholly controlled by ideologies that gain their power from fantasy and myth more than from any careful calculation.

The notion of curated reality undermines simple appeals to “the facts.” Nietzsche’s challenge is pertinent here: There are no facts, only interpretations. But even more basic than that is the idea that we act and judge actions by conjectures often so outlandish that they might as well be called fantasy, and that our understanding of choice depends upon hypothesized counter-factuals, the “roads not taken” with every choice we make. Those are the costs of our actions. And they are necessarily “metaphysical” and not simply factual.

The complexity of the phenomenology of human choice lands us in a realm that simple accounts of rationality — especially low-brow materialist accounts, the kind you tend to encounter among engineers and science-fiction readers and stand-up comedians — simply cannot comprehend. Because of this, the very model of rationality as a Spock-like discipline leaves its proponents open to manipulation by people who understand that this model is necessarily insufficient. As James Randi was fond of saying, the easiest people to fool by stage magic are scientists. There is a reason for that.

Thus the curated reality of our time finds its biggest marks amongst those I call “the moderate brights,” who — unknowingly committed to grave error — repeat stock memes and thereby reinforce our present irreality.

twv

N.B. I hope to report back on these issues after I finish Ray Scott Percival’s contribution to Scott Adams and Philosophy, and perhaps the great David Ramsay Steele’s several essays as well. This post is merely my rehearsal of old ideas dimly recalled from back when I read economics and choice theory in a near-scholarly manner. Oh, and also: facts do matter. They just do not amount to “all that is the case.”

Caution: wearing a black mask is like putting on devil’s horns and scrawling “666” on your forehead. Don’t do it, my friends.

Getting out of the coming crisis with your soul (conscience, if you will; your humanity, if you must) intact will be difficult. I do not know how deep into the warp and woof of our personhoods symbology runs, but my guess is that if you frequent the wearing of a black mask, and pretend that in doing this you are being both dignified and “moral,” you will end up complicit in genocide and glorying in horrors that will make Nazis look like pikers.

If you must mask, don’t replace your face with a representation of The Nothing, with a nihilistic Abyss, a black hole into Death.

Burn your black masks.

twv

Chanting “follow the science” is such a coward’s move, and so unscientific. In science, leadership and oppositionalism count. Followers are insignificant.

Not true of scientism, though. There, the science groupies really do provide extra oomph — the extra oomph needed to send people to involuntary vaccination lines, re-education centers, concentration camps, and gas chambers.

Technocracy is the political expression of scientism, and perhaps its raison d’être.

It pretends to be a logocentric endeavor, “logical” and “scientific” and all very Spockish, but that is belied by its required extremes of coercion and the always-present love of coercion.

But that violent streak needs its halo, some mythic power. In a word, “science.”

Repeat the word for its special magic, acolytes.

twv

States without lockdown orders, or mask mandates, are not doing spectacularly worse than those with them. Indeed, it ranges from “better” to a wash.

Which makes the policies inexcusable.

So why are these edicts being promoted and followed?

For the same reason politicians send us to war and we go. For the same reason there is war fervor and excitement. For the same reason crowds shout in triumph upon the death of millions elsewhere.

The State with its claim of sovereign authority tempts everyone, and it encourages us to be reckless, bloodthirsty, moralistic, self-righteous, and worse . . . out of fear, first, and some imagined advantage, second.

This similarity between war and the lockdown orders is fairly clear, is it not?

The “moral equivalent of war” is immoral, and we, like sheep, almost always go astray to the bad shepherd that is the State.

The State’s a mind-trap. It messes with your heads. It takes your fear and makes you do crazy things, like think prohibiting people from engaging in commerce and normal human interaction because some even peaceful interactions play against what is said to be the general welfare. But obviously, in the case of the threats that start most wars and the menace that is this pandemic, the “cures” are worse than the disease — in part because our benighted species has been infected by a far worse virus than SARS-CoV-2: that worse infection is statism. Political messianism, in other words.

Thinking that salvation comes from authoritarian force.

It is amusing how rarely anyone brings up the First Amendment; the freedom to peaceably assemble, one of would have thought, was something to be protected, not squelched. But oh, how politicians lust to squelch freedom in any form! It’s in their memes and maybe their genes.

And give them an excuse . . . well, don’t.

The proper response to a pandemic is caution, courage, curiosity and conscientiousness — all within the field of persuasion and property rights. Not state edict.

And by the way, “edicts” are not laws, in some jurisprudential theory, and the distinction is understandable. I won’t go to one local store that put up a sign mandating masks because of “Inslee Law.” Inslee’s our idiot governor. He cannot make law. Ascribing law to him is a kind of heresy to republicanism. I’d rather play anarch than subservient swine to Inslee’s edicts.

But maybe we can avoid accelerating our grimace. When I hear a person chide Trump and Trumpians for breaching the “rule of law” but in the next breath insist upon the need for lockdowns, I do indeed laugh.

Yet, should jackbooted thugs with badges come to take me off to the gulags my leftist friends seem itching to create in their drooled-about “Truth and Reconciliation” re-education camps, from my mouth may come bitter, not mirthful, laughter.

But of course the peace-lovers will no doubt gun me down instead. You know, “for the public good.”

Which they cannot explain on rational grounds. For this epidemic does not justify tyrannical proclamations and a general totalitarian response. Not even plausibly.

But add in fear and subtract sound judgment, and of course: anything goes.

As long as it is statist. That parasite meme is firmly running people’s brains now.

twv

You’re on, Costanza!

It seems like a nifty analogy to me. But the big differences between the two situations are several:

  1. if bombed, survival was, shall we say, not likely, but most people who catch the coronavirus weather through just fine;
  2. the more people who survive the virus, the less of an epidemic it is, since we reach the herd immunity threshold — but the more people bombed and survived had no similar salutary effect for the non-bombed;
  3. what if masks are more like venetian blinds at full open, and they would only diminish the risk by a little, thus giving people false confidence so they would be less likely to go into a shelter when the sirens skirl?
  4. while lights-out was good for manned bombing runs, it made no difference with V-2s — so what if SARS-CoV-2 is more like a V-2 than a bomber run?

There are probably many more, but I think this meets Mr. Alexander’s request for debate.

twv

It is not “privilege” to possess “justice.” If some people are treated justly and others aren’t, calling the former “privileged” corrupts the meaning of the terms.

And when the language becomes corrupt, the corrupt triumph while the innocent are abused — or are themselves corrupted.

Master Kung was right. Words matter. Whether through slovenliness or guile, when the meanings change of key words, we are endangered.

Semantic drift is like inflation: meaning shifts are like newly created money, the new meanings benefit early adopters at the expense of those late to the change.

If some are not treated justly, the proper response is not to attack the just as “privileged.” The proper response is to extend the reach of justice.

Word of caution, though: justice in society depends upon reciprocity.

Now, those who are indeed privileged at the expense of innocent victims, the abused, they should be subject to criticism, and their privileges taken away. Just do not pretend that privileges are justice. That is an excuse for injustice.

twv