Scott Adams is the creator of the famous cartoon strip, Dilbert. It is a strip whose brilliance derives from close observation and understanding of human behaviour. Some time ago, Scott turned those skills to commenting insightfully and with notable intellectual humility on the politics and culture of our country.
Like many other commentators, and based on his own analysis of evidence available to him, he opted to take the Covid vaccine.
Recently, however, he posted a video on the topic that has been circulating on social media. It was a mea culpa in which he declared, “The unvaccinated were the winners,” and, to his great credit, “I want to find out how so many of [my viewers] got the right answer about the vaccine and I didn’t.”
“Winners” was perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek: he seemingly means that the unvaccinated do not have to worry about the long-term consequences of having the vaccine in their bodies since enough data concerning the lack of safety of the vaccines have now appeared to demonstrate that, on the balance of risks, the choice not to be vaccinated has been vindicated for individuals without comorbidities.
What follows is a personal response to Scott, which explains how consideration of the information that was available at the time led one person – me – to decline the ‘vaccine’. It is not meant to imply that all who accepted the vaccine made the wrong decision or, indeed, that everyone who declined it did so for good reasons.
Some people have said that the vaccine was created in a hurry. That may or may not be true. Much of the research for mRNA vaccines had already been done over many years, and coronaviruses as a class are well understood so it was at least feasible that only a small fraction of the vaccine development had been hurried.
The much more important point was that the vaccine was rolled out without long-term testing. Therefore one of two conditions applied. Either no claim could be made with confidence about the long-term safety of the vaccine or there was some amazing scientific argument for a once-in-a-lifetime theoretical certainty concerning the long-term safety of this vaccine. The latter would be so extraordinary that it might (for all I know) even be a first in the history of medicine. If that were the case, it would have been all that was being talked about by the scientists; it was not. Therefore, the more obvious, first state of affairs, obtained: nothing could be claimed with confidence about the long-term safety of the vaccine.
Given, then, that the long-term safety of the vaccine was a theoretical crapshoot, the unquantifiable long-term risk of taking it could only be justified by an extremely high certain risk of not taking it. Accordingly, a moral and scientific argument could only be made for its use by those at high risk of severe illness if exposed to Covid. Even the very earliest data immediately showed that I (and the overwhelming majority of the population) was not in the group.
The continued insistence on rolling out the vaccine to the entire population when the data revealed that those with no comorbidities were at low risk of severe illness or death from Covid was therefore immoral and unscientific on its face. The argument that reduced transmission from the non-vulnerable to the vulnerable as a result of mass vaccination could only stand if the long-term safety of the vaccine had been established, which it had not. Given the lack of proof of long-term safety, the mass-vaccination policy was clearly putting at risk young or healthy lives to save old and unhealthy ones. The policy makers did not even acknowledge this, express any concern about the grave responsibility they were taking on for knowingly putting people at risk, or indicate how they had weighed the risks before reaching their policy positions. Altogether, this was a very strong reason not to trust the policy or the people setting it.
At the very least, if the gamble with people’s health and lives represented by the coercive vaccination policy had been taken following an adequate cost-benefit benefit, that decision would have been a tough judgement call. Any honest presentation of it would have involved the equivocal language of risk-balancing and the public availability of information about how the risks were weighed and the decision was made. In fact, the language of policy-makers was dishonestly unequivocal and the advice they offered suggested no risk whatsoever of taking the vaccine. This advice was simply false (or if you prefer, misleading) on the evidence of the time inasmuch as it was unqualified.
Data that did not support Covid policies were actively and massively suppressed. This raised the bar of sufficient evidence for certainty that the vaccine was safe and efficacious. Per the foregoing, the bar was not met.
Simple analyses of even the early available data showed that the establishment was prepared to do much more harm in terms of human rights and spending public resources to prevent a Covid death than any other kind of death. Why this disproportionality? An explanation of this overreaction was required. The kindest guess as to what was driving it was ‘good-old, honest panic’. But if a policy is being driven by panic, then the bar for going along with it moves up even higher. A less kind guess is that there were undeclared reasons for the policy, in which case, obviously, the vaccine could not be trusted.
Fear had clearly generated a health panic and a moral panic, or mass formation psychosis. That brought into play many very strong cognitive biases and natural human tendencies against rationality and proportionality. Evidence of those biases was everywhere; it included the severing of close kin and kith relationships, the ill-treatment of people by others who used to be perfectly decent, the willingness of parents to cause developmental harm to their children, calls for large-scale rights violations that were made by large numbers of citizens of previously free countries without any apparent concern for the horrific implications of those calls, and the straight-faced, even anxious compliance with policies that should have warranted responses of laughter from psychologically healthy individuals (even if they had been necessary or just helpful). In the grip of such panic or mass formation psychosis the evidential bar for extreme claims (such as the safety and moral necessity of injecting oneself with a form of gene therapy that has not undergone long-term testing) rises yet further.
The companies responsible for manufacturing and ultimately profiting from the vaccination were given legal immunity. Why would a government do that if it really believed that the vaccine was safe and wanted to instil confidence in it? And why would I put something in my body that the Government has decided can harm me without my having any legal redress?
If the vaccine-sceptical were wrong, there would still have been two good reasons not to suppress their data or views. First, we are a liberal democracy that values free speech as a fundamental right and second, their data and arguments could be shown to be fallacious. The fact that the powers-that-be decided to violate our fundamental values and suppress discussion invites the question of ‘Why?’ That was not satisfactorily answered beyond, “It’s easier for them to impose their mandates in a world where people do not dissent.” But that is an argument against compliance, rather than for it. Suppressing information a priori suggests that the information has persuasive force. I distrust anyone who distrusts me to determine which information and arguments are good and which are bad when it is my health that is at stake – especially when the people who are promoting censorship are hypocritically acting against their declared beliefs in informed consent and bodily autonomy.
As time went on, it became very clear that some of the informational claims that had been made to convince people to get ‘vaccinated’, especially by politicians and media commentators, were false. If those policies had been genuinely justified by the previously claimed ‘facts’, then determination of the falsity of those ‘facts’ should have resulted in a change in policy or, at the very least, expressions of clarification and regret by people who had previously made those incorrect but pivotal claims. Basic moral and scientific standards demand that individuals put clearly on the record the requisite corrections and retractions of statements that might influence decisions that affect health. If they don’t, they should not be trusted – especially given the huge potential consequences of their informational errors for an increasingly ‘vaccinated’ population. That, however, never happened. If the vaccine-pushers had acted in good faith, then in the wake of the publication of new data throughout the pandemic, we would have been hearing (and perhaps even accepting) multiple mea culpas. We heard no such thing from political officials, revealing an almost across-the-board lack of integrity, moral seriousness, or concern with accuracy. The consequently necessary discounting of the claims previously made by officials left no trustworthy case on the pro-lockdown, pro-vaccine side at all.
To offer some examples of statements that were proven false by data but not explicitly walked back:
- “You’re not going to get Covid if you get these vaccinations… We are in a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” – Joe Biden;
- “The vaccines are safe. I promise you.” – Joe Biden;
- “The vaccines are safe and effective.” – Anthony Fauci.
- “Our data from the CDC suggest that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, do not get sick – and it’s not just in the clinical trials but it’s also in real world data.” – Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
- “We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in… in serious condition and many on ventilators.” – Justice Sotomayer (during a case to determine legality of federal vaccine mandates).
… and so on and so on.
The last one is particularly interesting because it was made by a judge in a Supreme Court case to determine the legality of the federal mandates. Subsequently, the aforementioned Dr. Walensky, head of the CDC, who had previously made a false statement about the efficacy of the vaccine, confirmed under questioning that the number of children in hospital was only 3,500 – not 100,000.
To make more strongly the point about prior claims and policies being contradicted by subsequent findings but not, as a result, being reversed, the same Dr. Walensky, head of the CDC, said, “the overwhelming number of deaths – over 75% – occurred in people that had at least four comorbidities. So really these were people who were unwell to begin with”. That statement so completely undermined the entire justification for the policies of mass-vaccination and lockdowns that any intellectually honest person who supported them would at that point have to reassess their position. Whereas the average Joe might well have missed that piece of information from the CDC, it was the Government’s own information so the presidential Joe (and his agents) certainly could not have missed it. Where was the sea change in policy to match the sea change in our understanding of the risks associated with Covid, and therefore the cost-benefit balance of the untested (long-term) vaccine vs. the risk associated with being infected with Covid? It never came. Clearly, neither the policy positions nor their supposed factual basis could be trusted.
Whatever the risks associated with a Covid infection on the one hand, and the ‘vaccine’ on the other, the vaccination policy enabled massive human rights violations. Those who were ‘vaccinated’ were happy to see the ‘unvaccinated’ have basic freedoms removed (the freedom to speak freely, work, travel, be with loved ones at important moments such as births, deaths, funerals etc.) because their status as ‘vaccinated’ allowed them to accept back as privileges-for-the-vaccinated the rights that had been removed from everyone else. Indeed, many people grudgingly admitted that they got vaccinated for that very reason, e.g. to keep their job or go out with their friends. For me, that would have been to be complicit in the destruction, by precedent and participation, of the most basic rights on which our peaceful society depends.
People have died to secure those rights for me and my compatriots. As a teenager, my Austrian grandfather fled to England from Vienna and promptly joined Churchill’s army to defeat Hitler. Hitler was the man who murdered his father, my great-grandfather, in Dachau for being a Jew. The camps began as a way to quarantine the Jews who were regarded as vectors of disease that had to have their rights removed for the protection of the wider population. In 2022, all I had to do in defence of such rights was to put up with limited travel and being barred from my favourite restaurants, etc., for a few months.
Even if I were some weird statistical outlier such that Covid might hospitalise me despite my age and good health, then so be it: if it were going to take me, I would not let it take my principles and rights in the meanwhile.
And what if I were wrong? What if the massive abrogation of rights that was the response of governments around the world to a pandemic with a tiny fatality rate among those who were not “unwell to begin with” (to use the expression of the Director of the CDC) was not going to end in a few months?
What if it were going to go on forever? In that case, the risk to my life from Covid would be nothing next to the risk to all of our lives as we take to the streets in the last, desperate hope of wresting back the most basic freedoms of all from a State that has long forgotten that it legitimately exists only to protect them and, instead, sees them now as inconvenient obstacles to be worked around or even destroyed.
This is an edited excerpt from a longer article first published by the Brownstone Institute.
Robin Koerner is a British-born citizen of the USA, who currently serves as Academic Dean of the John Locke Institute. He holds graduate degrees in both Physics and the Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge.