I am a longtime fan of Noam Chomsky. I see him as a rather dispassionate intellectual, despite never seeing him admit he was wrong about something. I emailed Noam recently saying:
In 1998 you said "Everyone - Genghis Khan, Himmler, Bill Gates — creates stories of themselves where they interpret their actions as working for the benefit of human beings."
In 2018 you called Gates “a perfectly admirable person.”
Do you think his (at least) $250 million quietly spent rehabbing his reputation may be responsible for your dramatic change in perception? https://www.cjr.org/criticism/gates-foundation-journalism-funding.php
Or do you really think the man who you surely saw as a tyrant - a monopolist who put Rockefeller to shame, a man whose thoughts on the internet you described as being whether he was “going to be able to control access to it” and “make it difficult for people to go where they want” – do you really think that man is suddenly very concerned about others? The philanthropist who goes from $50 billion to $125 billion in wealth during his ‘philanthropy’ just wants to help us out???
With much respect for all that you have done and all that you know, I hope you look closer at covid19 and the effects of lockdown, a tactic which you have defended. I won’t bother laying a bunch of links on you because I am sure you know where to find information (though I would love to provide you with tons of links or a long essay explaining my position, if you want – no sourcing from Alex Jones etc), but I encourage you to listen to both sides – people like John Ioannidis (who was the first to publicize suspicion about the massive fraud Theranos) and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, who are risking their careers to speak out against the mass hysteria, which, in my opinion, parallels post-911 and the war on drugs in terms of its impact and the level of deception used to create the hysteria.
I’m a big believer in debate, so I will just provide you one link. A debate between the leader of the lockdown camp and the anti-lockdown camp – both Ivy League epidemiologists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tsUTAWBJ9M&feature=emb_title&ab_channel=JAMANetwork
Thank you for your precious time.
Noam responded (as he always does - another reason I like him):
Not aware of any change in my position about Gates, or of the context for the sentence you present (if it exists).
You’re quite right that we should carefully consider the debate about lockdown. It’s not Yes or No but rather a matter of when it might be in order. I’ve been following the discussion closely, and the evidence seems very strong that in some circumstances it is.
I was going to send him a long response, full of citations, but decided not to . Part of the reason is this video in which he describes his thoughts on covid19. He makes very little, if any, mention of the lockdowns' negative side-effects, and says that Africa "did quite a good job" in their reaction to covid19. He clearly is just throwing them in because of their low death numbers, with no thought of the blatant absurdity in the idea that an extremely poor continent (outside of South Africa, which did lockdown and messed their economy up in the process while likely not slowing the spread of covid19 because apparently herd immunity is part of the lockdown strategy according to GlobalCitizen.org) could respond to covid19 at the level of one of the richest countries, when the response largely entails the ability to shut down the economy and spend a lot of money on testing/PPE.
Realizing that I would just have my heart broken by his likely blowing off my long email, I just decided to post it here instead:
This is a long response, but I Really hope you will take time out of your busy day to read it. I respect your time Very much, but I couldn’t help making this quite long because I feel it is so important. I spent much time trying to make it as concise and well written as I could, while also touching on much of the complexity of the situation. But if you don’t have time, let me just ask what you think the most fundamental problem in our world is? Unchecked concentration of wealth/power? The exponential nature of technological progress and the anomie it causes, perhaps inevitably, or at least when it is not extremely well checked? Greed being promoted as the ultimate motivator? An imbalance of heart and mind?
(As Chaplin said in The Great Dictator, “More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness” – perhaps the greatest speech of all time, but Chaplin didn’t foresee computers when he said that “so long as men die, liberty will never perish.” Computers, which are becoming our new overlords, can live forever. John Ioannidis said basically the same thing recently, “Are we with medicine or are we with health? With drugs and interventions and public health measures, or are we with humans? Medicine is becoming an enemy of health.”)
And how do we deal with our most fundamental issue(s) beyond “organize, like we always have” – which I know is your typical response. I feel that we don’t have any more time to focus on the peripheral issues. We have to find the main root(s) of our problems and give better answers on How we organize. We have to figure out how to force people in high up places to debate and explain themselves to the few people who still have sharp, critical thinking ability and an idea of what real debate looks like.
All of my quotes of yours in my last email, which you seemed to question the veracity of, are from Chomsky.info, except calling Gates a “perfectly admirable person.”
What exact circumstances make it okay to lock people down like we have, in your estimation? Is it wrong to think that we should not lock down until we know that we are facing a Truly Exceptional threat, have well defined parameters for how the lockdown will happen/unhappen, and largely understand the consequences of locking down, and weigh the costs/benefits of lockdown? Are the lockdowns now not blatantly absurd, given all that we now know?
And what are the benefits really, if saving lives from covid19 means putting them in a little jar – isolated, afraid, Zoomified. Encased in a technological sarcophagus to take us to the next world – the screen world. It seems that tech is greatly backfiring on us, that we can’t handle the complexity. Perhaps we could have if our machines weren’t fully taken over by the elite. Just look at average lifespan in USA since the computer revolution of the 90s, when we should have been making great strides due to increased ability to learn/organize. As Huxley said, “Democracy can hardly be expected to flourish in societies where political and economic power is being progressively concentrated and centralized. But the progress of technology has led and is still leading to just such a concentration and centralization of power.” It seems that anomie is all but inherent in technology, and the quicker tech ‘improves’ the more chaos it causes, which helps the rulers control us.
If we didn’t have screens that most of us were completely addicted to, perhaps there would be a benefit in a time away from the outside world, spent on deep reflection and bonding with those close to us. But alas, the benefits are virtually all going to the people at the top who started and constantly feed this hysteria – the media, big tech, big pharm, and all the other super-rich masters who are sucking up what remains of our freedom/wealth. And the costs are being laid upon us, the non-elite, as they always are.
If covid19 was truly an exceptional threat – like the 1918 flu that covid is often absurdly compared to, would we really even need to mandate a lockdown? Wouldn’t virtually everyone be scared enough to stay inside as much as possible if they saw young and/or healthy people dying (as opposed to elderly people ridded with comorbidities/low levels of vitamin D/etc. – people who would nearly all die soon regardless – according to the largest for-profit funeral company) by catching a disease from asymptomatic people.
I see no big discussions of the cost/benefits of the lockdown measures and it is well beyond clear that the lockdowns were an enormous mistake in my estimation. There’s no talk of life years (YPLL) vs. lives.
(Sidenote: going back to Bill Gates’ media influence: I found the above quote in Anand Giridharadas’ book “Winner Takes All” about the dark side of philanthropy – a book which barely criticizes Bill Gates and whose top blurb is from Bill Gates.
One more sidenote: did you know that the lockdown idea largely started with a “balance of terror” scientist’s daughter’s high school project? The father took their data and ran it “through the supercomputers at Sandia, more typically used to engineer nuclear weapons.” And, in my opinion, that barely ranks in terms of the many incredible facts of the lockdown.)
The mere precedent of being able to imprison us in our homes and destroy small businesses/employment – that alone is quite a cost, no? What benefit can outweigh the cost of showing our masters that the non-elite can be imprisoned if they scare us enough? And in an age where people are more and more connected to increasingly clever screens (and less with their hearts, intuition, and common sense) and therefore more easily scared? And then we show them that we won’t do anything but hiss a little when they reveal their hypocrisy. But the loss of wealth, power, social connection, and unmonitored-communication among the lower classes are just a few of perhaps millions of side-effects of the hysteria/lockdown. Side effects that are being ignored while the media promotes any talk of possible “mysterious, long term side effects” of covid19 that they can find, no matter how rare.
We shouldn’t just be miming China because they locked down and are smarter than us, which is surely what happened. We were mesmerized by videos of China spraying streets with armies of trucks, robots, men in hazmat suits, etc. Videos of people on stretchers in a hallway of a full hospital in Italy…refrigerated cadaver trucks in NYC. You know better than anyone how the media uses repetition, novelty and fear to hijack our brains. And then, as “The Shock Doctrine” discusses, the elite cash in on the chaos and fear. They will likely forever be collecting dividends on the amount of wealth/power being redistributed by this hysteria. Why Naomi “deadly reopenings” Klein can’t see this, I don’t know. She seems to be trying to fight fire with fire, using the hysteria to reshape the world in her own way, instead of trying to show people the truth of the situation. How Johann Hari can’t see it, when his past 2 books were about the mass hysteria known as the War on Drugs, and a book about how social isolation is killing us, boggles my mind. Naomi said of Hari’s latter book Lost Connections, “Hari has produced a book packed with explosive revelations about our epidemic of despair. Yes, it is about depression but it is also about the way we live now – and the havoc perennial isolation is wrecking on our collective mental health and general wellbeing” and yet now she says reopening society is ‘deadly.’ How did we go from it being common knowledge that solitary confinement is torture, to two of the best experts on how elites use chaos to get power, on recent mass hysterias, and on the perils of social isolation becoming cheerleaders for a contrived-chaos/mass hysteria that is giving insane levels of power to the elite and isolating/cog-ifying/Zoomifying everyone else.
And academia sadly isn’t much better than the media. The Lancet (who released/retracted the “monumental fraud” about Hydroxychloriquine danger) released the first paper from China on Covid that showed a 15% CFR, approximately a 2% IFR. It had no mention of average or media age of death, and showed very little difference in presence of comorbidities between those who went to ICU and those who didn’t. No mention of comorbidity/death correlation. This information would have been easy to collect and probably would have done a lot to prevent hysteria.
The Imperial Model, a big part of drumming up the hysteria, said deaths would be much higher than they are, and one of its top figures, Neil Ferguson, had to resign because he broke his own measures to have an affair. And you see this double standard in many other elitists, who are not taking this seriously in their own behaviors (which is quite telling.) And Neil has a long history of fearmongering with every new virus. And I won’t go into his affiliation with Bill Gates.
There’s no big outcry from scientists and the vaccines are rushed into widescale usage before the studies are even released. And the one study that has been released showed better results when lower doses were Accidentally given to test subjects – another study published in The Lancet.
There are still some holdouts in academia, namely John Ioannidis, who was the first to see Theranos was likely a fraud, Jay Bhattacharya, and Michael Levitt – all from Stanford, as well as a few others, but the level of conformity in academia with the ruling class’ agenda is stunning.
China clearly has a fastly growing amount of economic/tech/media control over us. Is it too conspiratorial to say that perhaps our miming their lockdown shows a new type of (political) control? Perhaps they are why people like Nick Christakis are saying absurd things like he realized covid was serious because he could see all of the phone user data in China (i.e. he couldn’t see evidence of nearly a billion people being locked down covered in the media somehow, so we need machines and algorithms watching us all, not clumsy humans/journalists) – a clear push for data collection increase and part of a long line of tech utopianism.
Is it not very notable that we are: very in debt to China, very highly monitored by big-tech, forced to communicate through tech even more due to lockdowns, letting China buy into our data-hoarding social media companies/mind-controlling media companies/etc., miming China’s lockdown, totally dependent on China’s manufacturing (which they cleverly used the profits of to loan us money) and we aren’t showing any sign of making our tech/media companies more transparent/accountable or reducing debt, but are in fact doing the opposite?
Please look at my sources and see that I am not a kooky conspiracy theorist. I barely know anything about George Soros. I do know he said Xi Jinping is the “most dangerous opponent of open societies”, particularly in terms of China’s growing dominance in artificial intelligence. “The instruments of control developed by AI give inherent advantages to authoritarian societies.”
I am truly terrified for the future that we are entering and would love your open minded and open mouthed consideration of all the facts involved in covid, which I am just scraping the surface of in this email. I see little to no discussion in the media of reliability of cause of death reporting, which is not reliable. Of psychoneuroimmunology aka the role of stress on the immune system – there is only 1 result for the 2 keywords psychoneuroimmunology and covid on all of Youtube, and the video has 20 views. Or the effect of social ties on our health. Of how this hysteria mirrors our reaction to 9/11 and the war on drugs. Of the state of our healthcare system in general, corrupted to the core by crony capitalism like every other institution…the rampant fraud and medical error in our healthcare system and their possible roles in covid19 metrics. Of Blackrock’s AI software “Aladdin”, along with the White House, taking control of the federal reserve. How do we even begin to weigh the seemingly infinite costs of lockdown, with their extreme quantity And quality.
I feel strongly that the totality of covid19 deserves an enormous amount of honest attention and debate, but it seems we have a coinciding epidemic of myopia. I think this is partly due to how, instead of “manufacturing consent”, we are experiencing something new - a paradigm shift in the manipulation of the mind via algorithms/increased screentime/higher concentration of media ownership - which I would call Programming Consent.
Has there been any big discussion of covid19 in the context of the mass hysteria that happened with Swine Flu? What big debates over covid19 would you point me to? The anti-debate trend in America is one of the scariest and most fundamental problems I see. Without debate, we don’t have democracy. With scientific ‘experts’ in control, we don’t have democracy. I asked you a year or so ago if you would be interested in debating Mark Bray, the guy who told kids that “violence against fascism works.” You replied “I think Portland may be a rather special case. Antifa hardly has a presence in most places.” But the problem is the media can spread their ‘idea’ of political violence quickly, and to the extent that it isn’t spread, it can Seem to be widely spread via deceptive far-right echo chambers. Perhaps if you had debated Bray, it would have reduced the likelihood of the far-left violence that we saw after George Floyd died, which probably almost helped Trump get re-elected and surely helped create a lot more far-right zealots and give more credence to the “anti-communist” rhetoric which seems to be becoming much more common now. Debate is so important because it not only is the best way to get to truth, it also breaks echo chambers by sharing audiences.
If you can’t find many long, sincere debates about covid, please consider taking part in one and helping to restore democracy before its too late. I would be honored to speak to you in depth about covid19, though I admit I am but a failed journalist who couldn’t resist telling the teachers/bosses that their assignments were idiotic. I think we must start a new culture of very long/deep debates and focusing on the fundamental problems in our society or we will forever be lost in the spectacle of novelty, mesmerized by the screens that are being crammed into our faces.
Thanks for your prompt response. Almost no one of high repute– or even just obscure BlueCheks on Twitter, responds to my emails, and yet the “rebel without a pause” always makes time. Regardless of any of my disagreements with you, your level of devotion and intellectual dispassion/emotional compassion is an inspiration to me.
Thanks again, Professor.
-A concerned citizen.