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June 2020

"We have a serious problem. It's not about mice. It's not about virology. It's a general, systemic failure of reason."



"We have a serious problem. It's not about mice. It's not about virology. It's a general, systemic failure of reason." So says biologist and evolutionary theorist Bret Weinstein, in a discussion with Joe Rogan.

The upshot:

"The only way to be protected from the downstream consequences of this error is to just not take pharmaceuticals."

Lab mice have much longer telemeres than wild mice, meaning that they are artificially predisposed to live much longer than they normally would. When drugs are tested for long-term safety on these mice, those tests are distorted by this - harm from drugs that would show up in "normal" mice, may not show up in these mice, or may show up to a much lesser extent.

Also - and this is more a commentary on the non-holistic worldview of pharma-driven medicine: Something that shows up as producing "heart damage" for example, may simply be producing "tissue damage" generally, but because the heart is more sensitive to some kinds of harm, that is where it first shows up.

Also: He ran into complete resistance from the scientific community when he tried to bring this to people's attention. Which I'm sure was an anomaly because that's never ever ever happened before.

"It's a really huge problem, and the response of the system generally, to shut down the lone individual trying to point out a serious problem is... just breathtaking."




WTMWD #20: Jeff Tucker on Censorship of the Covid-19 Conversation





I speak with Jeff Tucker, Editorial Director of the American Institute of Economic Research, about censorship of AIER's content on Amazon and Facebook, the dysfunctional nature of that censorship, and what it took for him to stop taking mainstream media seriously.

The American Institute of Economic Research

"Woodstock Occurred in the Middle of a Pandemic" - the article that was "fact checked".

Coronavirus and Economic Crisis - AIER's book that was suppressed by Amazon.

My article from last fall, on censorship of the vaccine conversation.

My article on germ theory vs terrain theory.



The Most Important Lesson from the Lockdowns



Image: Public domain.


I am going to say this over and over and over again:
The reason the lockdowns were/are a terrible idea is NOT that Covid-19 is "not a very serious threat."
Yes, for the vast majority of the population, it is true that it's not a very serious threat.
Even if Covid-19 were airborne ebola, or something even more horrifying, centralized decisions, imposed from the top down, by people who will never have to pay for the harm they do, would STILL BE A TERRIBLE SOLUTION!!!
Because centralized, coercive, decisionmaking is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS THE WORST POSSIBLE WAY TO MAKE DECISIONS.
Because Knowledge Problem (no central authority can possibly have the same knowledge that thousands or millions of individuals do about what their wants and needs and risk tolerances are);
Because Calculation Problem (without private ownership and decision-making, and the signals that come from that, the people making things can't know how much of what is needed or wanted);
But mostly:
Because no accountability (coercive authorities are never held accountable for their actions - that is the whole foundation of government);
We are seeing the results of authoritarian, centralized decision-making in a crisis unfold around us in real time: From an inability to test for Covid-19 because of the CDC's monopoly on testing; to shortages of basic items due to anti-price-gouging laws (and foolish policies by some private vendors); to a massive, unprecedented shutdown of a huge portion of the economy, with no rational justification, and that will yield untold costs in livelihoods, psychological wellbeing, and even lives... to NY Governor Cuomo's murderous order forcing nursing homes to become death-traps for the elderly.
It is troubling that I even have to point this out. I feel like I'm living in a massive dysfunctional family where everyone else wants to put the blame anywhere but where it actually belongs: On the abusive "parent" figure of the state.
But I'm going to keep on saying it until the rest of you see what's right in front of you.
And I promise not to make fun of you when you finally do.
Because this doesn't end with Covid-19. One day, there will be an even more terrifying threat. And because they've established the precedent of shutting down and controlling our entire lives over this relatively mild one, they will then say:
"Well! Whatever you thought of Covid-19, you have to admit that THIS TIME we are facing an extremely dangerous threat indeed! THIS TIME, you cannot deny that we need the government to step in and save us all!"
We have seen, over and over and over again, that government "stepping in" only ever makes things much much worse. Humanity cannot afford another lesson in this.
Which is why it is so critical for people to understand this:
The lockdowns were not a terrible idea because Covid-19 is not a serious illness. They were a terrible idea because centralized, coercive decision-making is ALWAYS a terrible idea. We have a whole century of experience to show us this, and now we have this living example right in front of us.
Please don't let your emotional attachment to the state blind you to this lesson. We really might not survive having to go through it one more time.

WTMWD #19: JJ Pavoni, From F-15 Pilot to AnCap Conscientious Objector




I speak with JJ Pavoni, former US Air Force pilot turned conscientious objector, about his philosophical transformation, the role of the Federal Reserve in war and peace, the importance for a free society of building community and communities, and what he would say to individuals serving in the military or police today.

JJ and his wife were on the Tom Woods Show in 2015. You can listen to that here.



Inside the Mind of an Authoritarian: Kerry McDonald Debates Harvard Professor who Called for "Presumptive Ban" on Homeschooling



This past Monday, unschooling mom and homeschooling advocate Kerry McDonald took on the Harvard professor, Elizabeth Bartholet, who recently called for a "presumptive ban" on homeschooling. Their debate was sponsored by the Cato Institute, and you can watch it here.

I give Professor Bartholet credit for engaging in the debate. It is rare that those of the–let's just call it "authoritarian"–persuasion are willing to engage in open debate with those who do not share their worldview. But to be frank, Kerry (very politely and very professionally) stomped her into the pavement and then ran back and forth over her with a steamroller.

As Kerry points out in her follow-up commentary, this debate is not only about homeschooling. It is fundamentally about the relationship of all of us to the state:

While this event was framed as a discussion about homeschooling, including whether and how to regulate the practice, it is clear that homeschooling is just a strawman. The real issue focuses on the role of government in people’s lives, and in particular in the lives of families and children. In her 80-page Arizona Law Review article that sparked this controversy, Professor Bartholet makes it clear that she is seeking a reinterpretation of the US Constitution, which she calls “outdated and inadequate,” to move from its existing focus on negative rights, or individuals being free from state intervention, to positive rights where the state takes a much more active role in citizens’ lives.


To get a peek into the mindset of those who believe wholeheartedly in both the rightness and the capability of the state to direct every aspect of our lives–and also to see the feebleness of that position exposed–it is worth watching the whole thing.

Kerry was a guest on my podcast earlier this month, talking about how we can give our kids "old normal" lives, and she will be back on next week talking about this debate and its significance not only for homeschooling families but for anyone concerned about freedom.



Thoughts on Masks: 2



Image: Public domain.


Here's the dilemma:
Civilized society requires that people either a) all behave in very similar ways and hold similar beliefs about most things (even beyond basic values) or b) have a very high degree of tolerance for those who do things differently than they do.
The fearmongering around Covid-19 has divided society into two distinct camps. Let's call them the "Maskers" and the "Anti-Maskers."
The "Maskers" are the ones who buy into the fear wholeheartedly, and also, for the most part, buy into everything that the authority figures tell them about the virus, about treatments, about masks... at the root of the "Masker" ideology is a wholehearted belief in germ theory - the idea that, as individuals, we are helpless against the germs around us and need to either put up all kinds of barriers against them, have powerful drugs we can use to defeat them, or vaccines that we can believe will protect us against them.
The "Anti-Maskers" believe that this is nonsense, that there is plenty that we can do to protect ourselves from the pathogens around us, without erecting barriers between ourselves and a) humanity and b) nature. They understand that our immune systems have developed over millennia to deal with things like pathogens, and further, that those who are genuinely vulnerable to them (or who believe they are) can take steps to further protect and isolate themselves - without demanding that all of society so the same.
The problem though, is that the "Masker" ideology seems to be incompatible with the "Anti-Masker" ideology. In the "Masker" worldview, other people are an existential threat. One's own health - and perhaps even survival - depends not on the actions one takes oneself, but on the actions of everyone else too.
It is, at its heart, a collectivist worldview.
So the question is: Can the "Maskers" and the "Anti-Maskers" find a way to live peacefully together? Or do we need to partition our society into "Masking" and "Non-Masking" communities?
Because that would be fucking insane.



Thoughts on Masks: 1



Image: Public domain.


One more thought on the masks:

This is really such a brilliant tool (whether intentionally or not) for both controlling, and dividing people.

Because whatever your view of masks - useful, useless, symbol of obedience and oppression, or symbol of caring about others - you display that view every time you step outside of your home. You're either wearing a mask or you're not. And the people around you will judge you, based on THEIR views of what masks mean, just as you will judge them based on your views.

And that judgement starts to heat up - even more so if mandates are put in place, because then the people who don't believe masks are necessary blame those who DO for the mandates; and those who do believe the masks are necessary think that they must be EVEN MORE necessary if the government has gone so far as to mandate them...

And it just escalates. And both sides, the Maskers and the Anti-Maskers, start to revile each other. Those on each "side" start to have very strong opinions about those on the other "side": They are stupid, "sheeple", "Karens", or they are "heartless" and "selfish".

Which is just the way the people who are benefitting from all of this want it.

As long as we are all divided, as long as we have some big, contentious - and in this case, highly visible - thing about which we disagree, and feel threatened by, then our attention is on each other, and not on them.

It can be really hard to not have disdain, and even hatred, for the people you perceive to be a threat: Either to your freedom, or to your health. But fighting with each other is exactly what the people who want COMPLETE CONTROL over our lives (and that IS what they want) want us to do. It helps them SO MUCH.

Please don't help them.



The Life Force




I don't get out much. I joke that my husband and I have been "sheltering in place" for the past thirteen years, ever since our son was born. So it had been a while since I'd been out to a grocery store. Since the beginning of "all this", in fact. But this morning our daughter had a bad seizure,  we used our last Diastat on her, and I had to go to the pharmacy to get more. 

I was prepared for what I would see, but not for what I felt. Everyone was wearing masks–not like on the streets in our neighborhood–even in the parking lot, even in the afternoon heat. And when I walked inside, with mine around my neck, the woman stationed at the door called out to me and told me to put it up. I had already decided I wasn't going to argue with anyone or try to explain why it was stupid to wear one in this situation, so I just put it up and went in.

I'm not sure I can describe how being there made me feel. Isolated, maybe? Everyone walking around in these masks and staying apart from each other, and nobody having a clue how all the others feel about it, whether they are genuinely afraid of the virus and believe the mask will help protect them from it, or whether they think the whole thing is stupid but just needed some hamburger buns. Because of the masks, we can't read each others' expressions, but the overall impression is one of universal compliance, unquestioning obedience. Of course it is–you can't get in the store without a mask, so everyone inside is wearing a mask. I did it too.

Even knowing that, I found it hard not to judge the people around me–the ones who were doing exactly what I was doing. And I had to marvel at the almost brilliant efficacy of this scheme in creating yet another division to rip through society. Yet another way to divide people into "usses" and "thems". The Maskers, and the Anti-Maskers, and how we're all being pushed into taking sides.

Here we all are, just trying to go about our lives, and we suddenly have this new world thrust upon us: A world where a whole lot of people are scared to death of a virus, and if you're not also scared to death, then you are the enemy. You are as dangerous as the virus and are to be opposed. There are the state-imposed orders about social distancing, but there is also the genuine fear among a great many people. And it's hard to argue with fear.

I left the store feeling very heavy and very sad. Sad for what my society is becoming, sad for the people in the store, sad for me, and for my inability to do anything to change it. I guess this is why fear is such a very powerful tool, why it is over and over again the tool of choice for those who wish to wield power over others. Because when people are afraid enough, reason ceases to matter.

I can rattle off a long list of reasons, with sources to back them up, for why most people do not need to fear Covid-19; reasons (again with sources) why cloth masks aren't going to do much if anything to protect most people in most situations from becoming infected; and most importantly, reasons (with mountains of sources) why EVEN IF THIS WAS A TRULY DEADLY THREAT TO ALL OF US, government-dictated solutions are the absolute WORST response possible. We've seen this last part in bold, flashing, neon living color this time around, yet I doubt that very many have even grasped it, and I am certain that when a much worse virus appears, they will clamor for more of what has proved so completely disastrous this time.

They're afraid. And when people are afraid, they're not so good at thinking rationally. All they want is for Mommy and Daddy to save them, and for far too many people, Mommy and Daddy means the state.

So I'm not sure how to describe what I felt as I left the grocery store. I felt almost as if I was gasping in disbelief, as if I had witnessed something historic and significant, but like a time traveller who isn't allowed to change the course of history, all I could do was stand open-mouthed and watch in horror. No, not horror. Just sadness.

"You have to go down in order to go up." It's something an old ballet teacher of mine used to say. What she meant was that you can't jump very high from straight legs. You need to first bend your knees and plie down low, giving you the force to spring upwards. 

We are down very low now. We should be thinking very carefully about where we want this deep grand plie to take us.

The grocery store happened to be around the corner from the rehab facility where my father spent the last few months of his life. I used to drive down there nearly every day, and now even setting off on that path brings back those memories, so I try to avoid it. But today, sitting in my car, I felt an overwhelming urge to go there. Just to go sit in the parking lot for a few minutes. I felt that there would be some comfort there. And a very tiny piece of me still believes that if I were to go inside, I would find him there. Sitting up in his bed, watching an old movie or maybe talking with my sister or my mom.

So I drove there. And I parked in the lot, and I cried. I remembered my dad's last weeks and days there. There was one elderly lady in a wheelchair, who was always clutching a life-sized baby doll to her whenever I saw her. I wonder now if she is still there. And I wonder how many of the residents there don't understand why their people aren't coming to visit them anymore.

The costs of the crime that is being perpetrated on us are incalculable.

I started up the car again to go home, and found that that made me cry even harder. I was sobbing now, and driving, and I realized I had to go to my mom's house. So I drove there. I went up and knocked on the door, still sobbing. She opened the door and I told her where I had been. She hugged me and we stood there holding each other and my tears fell on her white hair.  We went inside–neither of us wearing masks–and talked about my dad. I could see the pain in her face, and for the first time ever her eyes reminded me of my grandmother's.

One of the last things my dad said to my youngest sister–but I think he meant it for all of us–was: "Whatever you do, do it for the life force."

Don't worry Daddy, we will.




WTMWD #18: Chris Calton on Defunding the police, and what institutionalized racism really means






I speak with history student Chris Calton about everything from the difference between private police and "policing" as we know it, to what "institutionalized racism" really looks like.

Did you know that not only are African Americans disproportionately represented in the prison population, but that the proportion of African Americans in prison has RISEN over time, and is continuing to rise???

Chris offers some powerful insights into why that is, and a vivid picture of how "policing" is a very different thing from one neighborhood to another, how our prison/law/policing system creates a distinct group of second-class citizens, and what the Stanford Prison Experiment has to do with all of this.

If you're wondering why so many people are calling to defund the police, please listen to this one.

Chris's article, "What if We Didn't Have Police at All?" is here, his article "the Tragedy of the Commons in the Courtroom" is here, and you can see more of his writing here.

You can find his (former) podcast, "historical controversies", here.

His video "Do We Need the Police?" is here, and his YouTube channel is here.

Some of the books he mentions:

On the Run, by Alice Goffman

Texas Tough, by Robert Perkinson

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander




A Young Girl Learns the Value of Questioning Authority


Cover-annabel small


Back in March, Kirkus Reviews had a profile of me, in which I discuss my writing, my life, and especially Annabel. You can check it out here.

From the profile:

In Annabel Pickering and the Sky Pirates: The Fantastical Contraption, 13-year-old Annabel, a latter-day Pippi Longstocking, gets ensnared in a battle between authoritarians and freedom fighters after her parents are kidnapped by the police, who turn out to be the bad guys. She finds herself assisted in her own escape by rebel pirates, who turn out to be the good guys.

Bretigne Shaffer, a journalist who has turned to full-time fiction writing, considers themes of betrayal in Annabel Pickering. The middle-grade adventure book follows Annabel’s steam-powered adventures, which transport her from an elite girls’ school to the rule-breaking world of buccaneers. Set in an alternate 19th-century England—illustrated via Florian Garbay’s black-and-white images—Shaffer explores Annabel’s psychological changes as she sees loved ones’ darker sides. Shaffer explains that she wanted to show children the “nature of empire and war, freedom of speech and thought, [and] how prohibition affects society.” She also, she admits, is interested in pirates, having briefly written about piracy in the South China Sea in her past life as a journalist.

In Shaffer’s novel, which Kirkus calls “an engaging introduction to a world of wonder and intrigue,” children are brought up to respect the queen and the near-autocratic rule she enforces over her kingdom. When Annabel’s parents are abducted, she manages to evade capture and takes refuge with eccentric spinster Miss Doubtweather. Eventually Annabel, Miss Doubtweather, and her niece escape with the band of ill-mannered, law-breaking, fabulously brave pirates. 

As Annabel’s understanding of the complexities of intellectual and social freedom evolve and she learns that her kidnapped parents were part of a secret society of freethinkers, she begins to view them as moral heroes. This is heady stuff for middle graders, but Shaffer makes it accessible and age-appropriate. It’s also, she believes, essential for younger readers, particularly American ones, to think about the price individuals and societies pay when respect for authority turns into reverence.



WTMWD #16: Kerry McDonald on Homeschooling and the "New Normal"




I speak with Kerry McDonald, unschooling mom and vocal advocate of homeschooling, about how governments may have inadvertantly sparked a homeschooling revolution, and about what homeschooling families can do to continue giving their children "old normal" lives.

Kerry McDonald is a Senior Education Fellow at FEE and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). She is also an adjunct scholar at The Cato Institute and a regular Forbes contributor.

Kerry's research interests include homeschooling and alternatives to school, self-directed learning, education entrepreneurship, parent empowerment, school choice, and family and child policy. Her articles have appeared at The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, NPR, Education Next, Reason Magazine, City Journal, and Entrepreneur, among others. She has a master’s degree in education policy from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Bowdoin College.

Kerry lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and four children.

You can sign up for her weekly newsletter on parenting and education here.



WTMWD #15: Jim Bovard on holding the state accountable for its crimes



I speak with the great Jim Bovard, about his recent article "Will the Political Class Be Held Liable for What They've Done?" the question of holding the state accountable for its crimes against the rest of us.

Jim has been chronicling the abuses of the US state for decades, and has written for numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, the New Republic and USA Today. His books include:

The Farm Fiasco (1989)

Lost Rights (1994)

Freedom in Chains (1999)

Terrorism and Tyranny (2003)

Attention Deficit Democracy (2006)




Why the Lockdowns Need to Continue Forever - JP Sears


Every time I say JP Sears has outdone himself, he goes and does it again. Here he is on why the lockdowns must continue indefinitely:


"Authorities have extended the lockdown until we can find a vaccine to bring people back to life after traffic fatalities. Until then, you are free to walk instead of driving."

"Surprisingly, death continues to be a part of life... this proves the lockdown needs to continue."



WTMWD #14: Rosemary Frei on what to expect next on the path to totalitarianism





I speak with Rosemary Frei, MSc, molecular biology; medical journalist for 22 years and now an investigative journalist, about her article from back in March, "Where's the Evidence Supporting the Drastic Measures Against COVID-19?"

We talk about the extent to which what we're living through today was simulated last October with Event 201, what's coming next, and what we can do to stop it. 

Rosemary has also written "The Seven-Step Path from Pandemic to Totalitarianism", and you can find her on Twitter, here.