Opinion: We must question the white-robed experts and their infallible directives

It seems the most authoritative and powerful scientists have “got religion”, zealously preaching what we should do and demanding their flock follow orders.

(Image: ThisisEngineering RAEng | Unsplash.com)

The great 19th-century British historian of liberty, Lord John Acton, stood tall against the tyrants of yesteryear and his own day. He admonished modern civilization against ceding too much power to unquestioned singular authority. He said no one was exempt from his modicum of moral wisdom: “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” No one, not even the pope.

Lord Acton openly discussed his moral anthropology of corruption in a series of letters he exchanged with Anglican vicar and Cambridge papal history scholar Mandell Creighton, who later became the Bishop of London. Had he not died at 57, Creighton was expected to succeed the Church of England’s powerful primate in Canterbury.

Acton argued it was a lethal combination to increase the worldly power of our leaders, whether religious or political, while making them ever more unanswerable to popular objections of their decrees. He said autocratic rule naturally corrupted ambitious men wrongfully playing overlords, even if legitimately crowned, mitred, and having earned their white cassock and ferula in conclaves. The human tendency to total corruption, Acton believed, was anthropologically certain for absolute rulers of earthly empires, kingdoms and city states.

Dusting off his April 5, 1887 letter to Creighton, composed 17 years after Vatican Council I’s limiting of papal infallibility to ex cathedra pronouncements on faith and morals (while exclusive of matters of science and economics), Acton pled:

I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Acton did not stop here. He qualified his presumptions within a larger epistemological and ethical framework about corruption and power, since he believed Creighton had too generously given free passes to the behavior of certain Renaissance popes (such as the controversial and licentious Alexander VI), in his A History of the Papacy: The Great Schism to the Sack of Rome. Acton writes to Creighton:

Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

Acton’s undaunted pen paved the way in the 20th century for Western society’s loathing of dictatorial regimes, inspiring their overthrow during two global conflicts and a 44-year-long cold war that toppled National Socialism, Fascism, and Communism. Acton, who was famously refused entry into Cambridge for being a faithful Catholic, believed in only one All-Knowing and Absolute Power. This was none other than God, who legitimized from above our governance below which, for Acton, was always limited to protect our individual liberty.

Now only if Acton would have been also famous for his damning conclusion that there was “no worse heresy than the office that sanctifies the holder of it”, another class of white-robed men (not the pope this time) would be kept in check for illegitimate power grabs during the coronavirus pandemic.

These are the scientific and health experts who, vested in the trappings of lab coats, have been granted free rein of influence over sweeping political and economic measures to lockdown the populus. However, the average citizen should not mistake the men in white brandishing sticks of medical prophecy for cassocks and papal staffs.

In effect, Acton would expect everyday people to hold all white-robed men accountable for rushing to dogmatic pronouncements, even more so when based on feeble observations, yet with drastic global political and economic consequences. Acton would accuse us of “canonizing” the holders of chairs in virology and infectious disease, of allowing them to make the same vainglorious errors that once so easily arose from the Chair of Peter in Rome. There is no reason to passively grant absolute power and unquestioned authority to Chief Medical Officers, Surgeon Generals, and WHO Senior Councillors.

Science may be inaccurate, shifting

We have given our white-robed leaders titles of major influence over entire nations and the common good. We do this while fully aware that the even “greats” of science, including Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein, have often advanced widely-accepted erroneous theories that were later rejected and superseded.

Thomas Kuhn, the late American philosopher of science, introduced the notion of paradigm shift. His rationale was that the history of science demonstrates that there have been many progressions and debunking of “scientific certainties” thanks to open and honest debate within research communities. Kuhn was not a relativist. He believed in the positive advancement toward the truths of nature by way of consensus.

This is why earth-centered astronomy was slowly but definitively scrapped by a heliocentric model. This is why we accept “breakthroughs” in science and medicine when substituting “spontaneous generation” for “insemination”; “the expanding earth” for “tectonic plates”; and “blank slate intelligence” with “genetic predisposition.” The list of paradigmatic revolutions goes on and on, all made possible as human wisdom advances in parallel with improved technology that enhances our powers of observation to verify conclusions. With COVID-19, virologists and infectious disease specialists had not even isolated, “seen” or genetically mapped the novel virus’s crown until just a few months ago. Yet they are already rapidly creating models, based on minimal data, to make facile projections on infection and mortality rates.

Fox News Television commentator Tucker Carlson argued on April 22, “We are currently living through the largest and most expensive experiment ever conducted in human history. We have spent trillions of dollars and crushed millions of people purely on the guess that a nationwide lockdown would save us from the coronavirus. Has it worked? Was the guess correct? Let’s look at the data.”

Carlson does not exaggerate when he called the lockdown the biggest, most costly “experiment” ever. It is. Worse, it has cost more than just money, but the freedom of the average citizen to respectfully disagree with the white-robed elite. Carlson says we’d “better not complain” unless we want public health czars label us as plague spreaders and be hunted down. “If anyone complains on-line they are likely to be censored by the tech companies and in public they could be arrested. And a number of them have been… Dissent has been banned.”

Why, then, do we detach ourselves from personal scientific research, evading our independent study of hard data? Why to do we entrust the white-robbed ruling class to do all of this for us and to advise our political bosses based on their findings and not ours, especially when the virus is so novel to the scientific community?

The short answer is that scientific reasoning is very often “above our pay grade.” What do we know? We’re not “the experts”. So we easily concede and delegate responsibility, as Carlson says, because “we have no choice [to do] what they tell us again and again” even if “there is no [deep] scientific record to consult.”

We bet all our money on them in the race to prevent and cure, counting on their evidence as grounded in reality. But if the scientists are wrong and we continue in lockdown mode for months? What is the risk of our wager? It is nothing short of economic depression, the scrapping of natural rights-based constitutions, and “famine of biblical proportions” according to warnings from The Guardian. So there is incentive to read and digest a few of their clinical studies and white papers.

Science or scientism?

It seems the most authoritative and powerful scientists have “got religion”, zealously preaching what we should do and demanding their flock follow orders. Over half of sovereign nations have now joined the shelter-in-place-bandwagon thanks to white-robed dogmatic pronouncements. Because of their religious-like passion, ironically real practicing faithful have been shut out of their temples. Each day the god of Scientific Reason is sends its commandos to raid Christian altars (as most notably in Italy, France, and Spain) in the name of preserving “something higher”: public health.

The obvious danger is that fallible science has succeeded in convincing the masses of its moral agenda: that preserving the body has priority over the spirit. In essence, white-robed men have become priests of the empirical while snubbing the transcendent, while worshipping the secular common good before bowing to a common God. Yet science, in and of itself, cannot justify any moral fervor.

According to Acton Institute research director, Samuel Gregg, the total reduction of all truth and judgment to empirical scientific inquiry can become a quasi-religion called “scientism.” The problem with scientism, according Gregg, is that the empirical sciences cannot tell us “why we should pursue the natural sciences in the first place” because it is a “non-empirical question that requires a non-empirical answer.” As Gregg writes in his 2019 book Faith, Reason and the Struggle for Western Civilization:

Scientism’s Achilles heel is that it is based on what philosophers call a self-refuting premise. The truth of the claim—‘no claims are true unless they can be proven scientifically’—cannot itself be proven scientifically. You need to deploy other forms of reasoning to make such arguments. But these are forms of reasoning that scientism considers unreasonable.

“We don’t, for instance,” said Gregg “engage in medical research simply because we want to know why penicillin kills germs. We want to know why penicillin kills germs so that we can promote and protect human life and health. [We know] human life…is considered good and worthy of protection from disease” outside of scientific inquiry.

The fact remains: science more often wrong that it is right

Scientific history proves that quick conclusions on radical hypotheses are often disastrous. We have seen manned-rockets explode after last-minute tweaks in jet propulsion theory to go higher and faster. We have witnessed entire water systems poisoned because of reengineered micro filters. There are numerous other examples. And now we are attempting to change the spin of the earth with curve-flattening projections and radically enforced social protocols?

The singular fact remains that science is often more wrong that it is right. That is its nature. If science advances uninhibited, as accurate on the first verification of hypotheses, then the incentive to experiment would diminish immensely. It would be as if angels were in our labs.

Let us never forget that last few months began with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci stating on January 21 that COVID-19 “‘is not a major threat to the people of the United States” then re-pivoting his slipshod judgment weeks later ordering President Trump to direct us all to shelter in place for an indefinite period to avoid catastrophic consequences.

As the U.S. plans to reopen its economy, Fauci now projects a fall outbreak but with “different outcomes” because of better preparedness. Will he be right or wrong? How can we make sense of all the muddled anecdotal advice on therapies proposed, denied, re-proposed and re-denied? It’s like a game of ping-pong between the white-robed advisors, whose game is then upended by the CDC quietly changing its protocols. What confidence do we have in all the back-and-forth of therapeutic recommendations on hydroxyl-chloroquine, z-pack, zinc sulphate, high-dose Vitamin C and Vitamin D, and in claims that even nicotine is a valid prophylactic?

Can our white-robed leaders admit they have no scientifically proven idea what they are talking about and consequently commanding us to do? It’s like asking a Roman for directions, who infamously points you down several wrong streets for fear of seeming as ignorant as you, the tourist.

The bottom line is that the so-called indubitable dogmas of science are so few and far between, like those of religion. That is why Acton’s hard-lined approach to absolutism led to sweeping ecclesial reform and political courage. This is not to say, of course, that we never arrive at truths of the material world. But we must admit that science is often a slow and bumbling field of study. We know we can make some reasonable claims about COVID-19, but no doubt we are in our rookie season of observation. The white-robe men should be on their knees entrusting their noble research to the Grace of an Omniscient and Omnipotent God.

Let us heed the wisdom of Lord John Acton. We should not rush to claim reason’s radical and unquestioned power to govern the material world and its free inhabitants. We must acknowledge that power is not justified by weak knowledge, and admit that when our wits are as dull as butter knives they only spread further ignorance and panic.

(Editor’s note: Mandell Creighton was incorrectly identified as “Mendell Creighton” in this essay. Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci was incorrectly identified as head of the Centers for Disease Control; he is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. These errors have been corrected. )


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About Michael Severance 12 Articles
Michael Severance is a former Vatican correspondent and currently manages operations for the Acton Institute’s academic outreach in Rome.

54 Comments

  1. Severance implies that the men in white have replaced the aliens in black. Could be. But he also implies an even larger issue. Not Acton’s abuse of power, per se, but (his contemporary) Burckhardt’s “terrible simplifiers”—the resort SLOGANS.

    Was WWII, in both Europe and the Pacific, prolonged by the SLOGAN “unconditional surrender” (impulsively applied globally from a single Civil War battle)?

    And this—the YELLOW PRESS market-share “Remember the Maine” (triggering the Spanish American War when the sinking in Havana harbor was not hostile)?

    And even this—from President WILSON: “make the world safe for democracy” (when Adolph Hitler’s democratic [!] rise to power might also counsel: “make democracy safe for the world”)?

    In our cross-wired and COMPACT WORLD, how to handle volatile and exponential threats? Militarily, any difference between a “preventive strike” versus a “first strike”? Or, pandemically, any difference between a COVID-19 one-size-fits-all “lockdown” versus federated and calibrated actions, e.g., quarantine only the vulnerable populations?

    In any event, abdicating governance to COMPUTER MODELS alone recalls two more slogans (!): “If the real world behaved the way software is written, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy all of civilization;” and “GIGO: garbage in, garbage out.”

  2. There is nothing more dangerous than a self-proclaimed “expert” ensconced in a University Ivory Tory, out of touch with reality and protected by tenure from living in the real world, who believe they have a right to tell us to live our lives (even though they hold us in utter contempt).

  3. The paragraph starting “This is why earth-centred astronomy . . . ” is confusing.
    The article’s overall thesis is weakened by several careless grammatical errors.

  4. Lord Action hits the nail on the head,and far before our present time.A great example of his wisdom is the current Governor of the State of Michigan.

  5. If I remember correctly, the original projection of US deaths was one to two million if no mitigation was taken. A later projection was 100 to 200 thousand if quarantine measures were observed. And following that, the latest estimate I’ve seen is approx 70 thousand lives will be lost. Assuming we don’t have a 2nd round in the fall, God forbid.

    To me it seems like the mitigation efforts are working as public health experts hoped they would. The question now is how and when do we get back to normal and how can we keep political needs separate from legitimate health needs.
    I do believe there are folks on all sides attempting to hijack this to score points in an election year and that’s a shame.

    • Your last remark – “Folks on all sides attempting to hijack this to score points in an election year and that’s a shame.”

      Not said in criticism – Such a statement so obvious that it is a given – of course people on all sides are attempting to hijack this to score points, which means that is left to us the voters – as always – to figure this out for ourselves.

  6. Ha!! We can already see the followers of your advice demonstrating in the streets with their high powered guns wielded. Hurray to Tucker Carlson and FOX!!

    • Your attempt at ridicule falls flat. Our Founders assured the right to own and bear arms as they had already carefully observed what happens when a Full of Himself/Herself Tyrant meets an unarmed People. When Self-Glorified Tyrants of any class, type and ideology do not listen to TRUE Wisdom connected to REALITY, infinitely superior to self-serving Intellectual Intelligence, there’s a lead (“led”) mineral deficiency that must be corrected.

      Lead when ingested can cause brain damage but when proposed to abusive, self-deluded Tyrants of any kind, it suddenly and greatly illuminates their brains, showing them that they are not our gods, just fallible and puny humans like the rest of us, something very amply demonstrated and verified scientifically by those experts of recycling: maggot worms.

      TRUE Wisdom from God is infinitely superior to the very greatest Intellectual Intelligence, BY FAR! Intellectual Intelligence can be bought, sentimentally corrupted, emotionally manipulated and both politically deceived and self-deceived, but not TRUE Wisdom. That’s why TRUE Wisdom from God is viciously ridiculed and attacked while Intellectual Intelligence is so deliriously and fanatically glorified. After working in prison, I discovered that some of the worst human beings on Earth, in and out of prison or never in prison, are very Intellectually Intelligent but with no TRUE Wisdom.

      Contrary to that Presidential Monumental Failure who mockingly said we cling to our guns, Bibles and God; those are the weapons of TRUE Wisdom (together with a healthy amount of Tyrant-Enlightening ammunition) that we must hold very close, live by and die for. Submission to God is totally abhorred by any Tyrants-absolutely-corrupted-by-power. Submission to God is TRUE FREEDOM and HEARTCORE INTELLIGENCE! Let’s do it!!

  7. “Why, then, do we detach ourselves from personal scientific research, evading our independent study of hard data? Why to do we entrust the white-robbed ruling class to do all of this for us and to advise our political bosses based on their findings and not ours, especially when the virus is so novel to the scientific community?”

    Catch 22 – that ‘white-robed ruling class’ for years has told us what we need to know in our education process, which is of course there is no need to actually learn anything but nobody fails and everybody feels good about themselves. And since the new lazy class never learns anything, they must relinquish authority to the few ‘white-robes’ who ‘know’ the answers to questions the lazy class didn’t know nor care to ask.

    They got us right where they want us. Sadly, our only hope is a generation hooked on the superstitious expertise of social media and Candy Crush.

  8. Is there a rational response that omits serious compliance to the Men [and a woman with great experiential expertise] in White? Citing Lord Acton champion of, What? He argued well against tyrants. Is all command decision in crisis tyrannical? The coronavirus outbreak occurred with little knowledge, mounting deaths, amazing rapidity overwhelming health care systems. And now we learn with China’s insidious complicity. Without draconian measures that, the collapse of med care delivery is inevitable with this virus. And as to the suggestion only the vulnerable over 60 be subject to lockdown “Analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday underlines a message that infectious disease experts have been emphasizing: Millennials are not invincible. The new data show that up to one-fifth of infected people ages 20-44 have been hospitalized, including 2%-4% who required treatment in an intensive care unit” (Sharon Begley STAT). We keep learning of firemen, police, military dying. This during guidance measures stay at home recommendation offered by the President’s Coronavirus med team. What would those stats be without those measures? Now with the same guidance a phased plan offered to governors we’re getting back to restarting the economy. It’s simply headline grabbing, irresponsible sensationalism to call our medical experts The White-robed Experts and their Infallible Directives. “The white-robe men should be on their knees entrusting their noble research to the Grace of an Omniscient and Omnipotent God”. What?

    • Thanks for your measured and intelligent comment, Peter. I’m tempted to unsubscribe from The Catholic World Report after reading Severance’s article. Severenac quoting Tucker Carlson and Fox News and implying that he and Fox can be trusted is too much. We trust experts because they are experts: scientists know science; theologians know theology. In a time of Corona, we practice ignorance not only at our own peril, but, unfortunately, at the peril of all those around us.

      • CWR offers a variety of views which makes it a better forum for debate. For example I don’t disagree with Severance’s premise that we examine and question experts. That is achievable watching the daily briefings questions and answers. And reading other experts varied opinions. Ultimately it’s irrational to reject the medical experts with the presumption one is better informed. Tucker Carlson has made contributions, but he recently demeaned Dr Fauci posting an unbecoming photo while revealing how he’s changed positions. That’s a common unprofessional media tactic. It’s unethical. Insofar as the debatable models the med team have to rely on some measure of expectation to develop guidelines. Michael Severance insists medical professionals in an unexpected crisis ironically need to be infallible. If not their accused of pretending to be infallible. That’s circular reasoning leading to self contradiction. I recommend you continue in these debates Bob.

    • Father Peter
      Thank you also for your comments.
      I live in a part of the country deeply affected by the virus and as you state, younger people have been seriously damaged by Covid and some have died.
      People of color, healthcare workers, those who have diabetes or other chronic health issues, and people living in low income areas are dying at higher rates and from what I’ve observed locally, at younger ages.

      My son’s 39 year old coworker died from the virus just recently leaving behind a wife and children. My son in law’s high school class mate was also a Covid victim at 41 and left behind 6 children. Both were young black men who should have had long lives ahead of them.

      • Mrscracker a discussion forum needs persons who have experienced this crisis firsthand. Furthermore, it’s self evident that the crisis has caused monumental damage in N Italy and NYC. Medical centers overwhelmed. Medical staff priest chaplains dying of the disease some med staff committing suicide in despair. Anyone, and yes I’m angry who writes this pandemic response off as a charade ridiculing our top med scientists does himself as well as others a disservice.

        • Not sure exactly what the reference is to, but I don’t see how the essay views the pandemic or response as a “charade”. Rather, it questions some of the extreme prognostications and recommendations, especially those used by some heavy-handed state officials, who seem intent on keeping states locked down until there are no new cases at all, which is not realistic by any reasonable measure.

          • Carl when I read this, “Can our white-robed leaders admit they have no scientifically proven idea what they are talking about and consequently commanding us to do? It’s like asking a Roman for directions, who infamously points you down several wrong streets for fear of seeming as ignorant as you, the tourist” that was my unfortunate impression. The medical response [the prev paragraph references Fauci’s CDC and ‘ping pong’ policy not the governors] is what’s likened to a charade. How can Severance lampoon medical scientists like Fauci and Birx and not be called out on it? As a priest I’m suffering this policy with the rest of the clergy. Although in lieu of Catholic Church tradition with our hierarchy’s response to the crisis we may have a better case.

  9. Great article, especially in that we learn more about Lord Acton beyond what is generally quoted. Those who abused their power (unfortunately, far too many people all over the board) must be investigated and removed from office permanently and constitutions must be amended to set strict, inviolable limits on executive orders with provisions for immediate removal from office when those limits are violated.

  10. “White robe warears”. have you any respect for the brave front liners who might die for their heroics efforts? How dare you…

    “What confidence do we have in all the back-and-forth of therapeutic recommendations on hydroxyl-chloroquine, z-pack, zinc sulphate, high-dose Vitamin C and Vitamin D, and in claims that even nicotine is a valid prophylactic?”

    Interestingly, you failed to mention our great leader who blew the roof off when he, without a white robe, said while pausing and looking toward Fauci and Birx for their nod of support as he bellowed “And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something injection inside or almost a cleaning because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs”.
    I am astounded by Catholics, and in particular the hierarchy, genuflecting before a conman whose life has been diametrically opposed to any sacred Catholic dogma.

    One of Trump’s most egregious act was a photo of Trump with his arm around mass rapist Jeffery Epstein as they were staring at purportedly a lineup of young women. Trump brazenly says “he can do anything he wants”. This time he wins.

    • “White robe warears”. have you any respect for the brave front liners who might die for their heroics efforts? How dare you…

      An idiotic comment. The essay was clearly not criticizing brave doctors and healthworkers. Are you capable to reading anything without turning into an exercise in Trump Derangement Syndrome?

      • Short of starting a donnybrook, I wasn’t sure how to responded to your railings, but I thought that I would show my humble Catholicism while others abandon theirs. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” “idioc, aren’t you capable…” After rereading parts of this article I admit to having misclassifying the robe wearers incorrectly.

        Actually, I can read, but your scrutiny is welcomed. If you support Trump, whose scientific acumen is highly acclaimed by he political giants. Scientists beware!
        excerpt:
        “classifying the white-robe men should be on their knees entrusting their noble research to the Grace of an Omniscient and Omnipotent God.” That’s my robe wearing deity.

        • You’re talking about the “railings” of other people? My, but you are irony-challenged.

          “how my humble Catholicism”

          Oh, you’re Catholic again? I lose track.

          Regarding Jeffrey Epstein, unless you have proof that the President knew that Epstein was a mass rapist, you can hardly consider that the photograph shows an “egregious act.”

    • Morgan,
      Goodness, everything isn’t about President Trump. What will you write about if he isn’t reelected?
      🙂
      You be safe and have a blessed day.

      • Good point, MRS. Regardless of whom you support, our focus must be on the salvation and future of our society and not falling into the trap of personalizing and polarizing. Beelzebub would be smiling. However, I claim some sound arguments when Trump, in particular, castigates openly anyone he perceives an enemy and in a very unpresidential display using very colorful piercing language! If I stick my head too far above my armor my far-right wing buddies quickly use their personalization saying “what about Joe, “sleepy Joe”. Biden? My only dogmatic retort “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” hoping sanity will prevail.

        • “And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?” Jesus Christ, Luke 12:57

          Put down the rocks that you yourself enjoy throwing, morgan.

        • Yes, let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Please follow your own advice when you are tempted to point fingers at the president.

        • Dear Morgan,
          I hope sanity prevails too and we all stay safe.
          You have a blessed day and be careful out there.
          🙂

  11. Science includes a lot here, and not all can just do this on their own. Off the top of my head:

    1. Understanding what the virus does and how it affects human beings. No consensus on this yet, as far as I can tell.
    2. Establishing a consensus on what the best treatment protocols are. Here I think the MSM may be making it seem like there is more divergence than there actually is, but I don’t know.
    3. What measures prevent or reduce transmission of the virus.
    4. Modelling the transmission of the disease, and risk analysis, which very few have the requisite understanding of math to do, as evidenced by the majority of those who keep arguing against models.

    Often included under “science” is this:
    5. Determining what is the best political response to the pandemic, which involves knowledge of 1-4 but requires more than that.

    I don’t disagree with libertarians that people should evaluate what is out there if they are able to do so, but they should respect those who come to different conclusions as to what is to be done, or otherwise be prepared for a debate in which their ignorance on 1-4 may be revealed.

  12. For a deeper understanding of “How we got here”, one could also read “The Tyranny of Experts” by Easterly, or Intellectuals and Society by Sowell. Or one could also turn to some other sayings I’ve heard over the years, such as “Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see”, in other words, one should seek verification. Tough to do in our currently wired echo chamber, where fact is rare and fiction is ubiquitous. Another saying I keep hearing in my mind every time “statistics” start getting bandied about, “Figures Lie and Liars Figure”. Again the saying is attempting to get an individual to attempt to verify the veracity of what’s being presented with logical examination…and the circle goes on. While I’m certain that there are numerous publications stretching back to antiquity regarding this issue but the aforementioned works of Easterly and Sowell are quite timely.

    • My favorite quotation by Thomas Sowell is: “When an organization has more of its decisions made by committees, that gives more influence to those who have more time available to attend committee meetings and to drag out each meeting longer. In other words, it reduces the influence of those who have work to do, and are doing it, while making those who are less productive more influential.”

  13. Just finished an interesting article. I was born during 1969, during the Hong Kong flu epidemic that claimed 100,000 lives out of a population of some 200 million.

    https://www.aier.org/article/woodstock-occurred-in-the-middle-of-a-pandemic/
    .
    Pull quote “In fact, people have no memory or awareness that the famous Woodstock concert of August 1969 – planned in January during the worse period of death – actually occurred during a deadly American flu pandemic that only peaked globally six months later.”
    .
    If the author of this article is correct in his facts, I must conclude we are out of our minds. Thirty million unemployed in our country? Hospitals shutting down due to lack of “non-essential” hip replacement surgeries? Cancer treatments delayed? Cardiac and stroke patients who are too frightened to go the the ER least they drop dead then and there (so they die at home)? The United Nations is predicting upwards 265 million will be facing acute food insecurity (of course, perhaps the “experts” will be wrong on that).

    • Kathryn
      “Just finished an interesting article. I was born during 1969, during the Hong Kong flu epidemic that claimed 100,000 lives out of a population of some 200 million.”
      *****

      Kathryn,
      Thank you so much for sharing that article link. That was very interesting. I think I remember having the flu around that time.
      Perhaps a difference between 1969 & now might be that they had a vaccine in production for the Hong Kong flu epidemic before the expected US infection peak? With that many deaths though, you wonder how well the vaccine worked. Or perhaps many deaths occurred before it was available?

      From what I’ve read, this corona virus is much more infectious than the influenza & of course we have no vaccines or proven drugs available yet. But praise God we have more than Vicks Vaporub & humidifiers mentioned in the article. Even though those can be beneficial at times. I remember back in the 1960’s my mother, God rest her soul, had both a humidifier & some kind of heat lamp device to dry out the air next to my bed when I was ill. I imagine one canceled the other out but she was trying her best.
      🙂

      • I was surprised to read there was a vaccine, but it was developed only after the peak had passed. As a child, I do not recall getting this vaccine. In fact, I only know for a fact I got small pox vaccine (still have a scar). I am certain I would have had polio. I do not know about the other ones, certainly not chicken pox–it didn’t exist. Actually, I remember when the “first” flu vaccine came out, or at least was generally available, so I wonder about how widely available the Hong Kong Flu vaccine was. Perhaps they stopped production? Back when I was in my twenties, I asked about the flu vaccine at my doctor’s office, and they refused me because I was not in any risk category.
        .
        This bug is still around today and is considered a Seasonal Flu. it is highly contagious.
        .
        “Although the 1968 flu outbreak was associated with comparatively few deaths worldwide, the virus was highly contagious, a factor that facilitated its rapid global dissemination.”
        .
        https://www.britannica.com/event/Hong-Kong-flu-of-1968
        .
        The shutdown and subsequent economic damaged has not saved any lives, only traded them. I looked at a spot closely in the mirror today and it appears to be evolving. (I am at high risk for skin cancer, including Melanoma). I called the dermatologist and was pleasantly surprised to discover they are actually seeing patients! Still, my spot is small. I am acquainted with someone whose cancer surgery was cancelled. Completely unacceptable. It is unacceptable a hospital with low census and no Covid patients should need to beg the governor to open so they can recall staff and perform various surgeries and the like–especially when that hospital is the only one in a relatively rural area and if it closes, will leave cardiac and stroke patients no where to turn in a emergency, except for a hospital over one hour away.

        • Kathryn,
          I hope you get good news back from your check up. My sister’s had melanoma twice but no further reoccurrences, praise God. It’s something I worry about too.

          Yup, I don’t remember flu shots being recommended for young people back in 1969 or that general era either.

  14. I’ll take a slighty different approach. I don’t think it the science per se but what science the media supports. Whether right or wrong the mainstream media supports Dr Fauci and the shut down the economy thesis. This is mainly supported by the horrific data from New York. However if one takes a deeper dive in the fatilities from COVID you find its very predominately of old people, especially in nursing homes and co morbidity issues. Once you subtract this from the equation the death rates for this for those under 50 or 60 with no underlying conditions is quit low. Then it becomes a legitimate question as to why we let ourselves to be talked into a potential catastrophic destruction of the economy, when alternatives, such as better support for nurdsing homes or maybe just keeping old people like me at home.

    Another issue is the silencing of those scentist who have alternate opinions than Dr Fauct and company. It makes you wonder what is going on, when now it is becoming increasing clear that as mentioned above those under 50 have or minimally affected. You can also hype a case or so, but if look at the data by age it paints a totally different story. One almost last point, in March Florida was highly criticised for not doing the massive shut downs. When you look at the data in Florida, the death rate is no where near what the mainstream media predicted. Now my last point, while this article starts with Lord Acton, another guy who in effect advised caution on things like this is Frederick Hayek, Nobel Prize Winner. He predicted in effect that that nationwide emergencies or crisis could be used as a basis to increase government control, like what is going in by a bunch of Dem. Governors.

    • GR Mike-back in early April, the USA TODAY ran a headline on how the pandemic would cause nearly 40% (50%?)of our medical community to shut down (I include eye doctors and dentists in this).
      .
      Many, many articles over the years have noted how Medicare/Medicaid payments will consume Federal and State budgets in the coming years. I do not believe the shutdowns were intended to cause a collapse of our medical system, I would not give our leaders that much credit for their forward-thinking skills, but collapsing they are. Beaumont Wayne has shut down. Hillsdale hospital begs our governor to do elective surgeries (there are almost no Covid19 patients), as the hospital is near empty, staff being laid off.
      .
      Perfect time for a government take over. I predict socialized medicine within five years, less if the Democrats get the Presidency. My college age son routinely celebrates the British medical system as cheaper and better than the US system.

    • Grand Rapids Mike
      “…the fatilities from COVID you find its very predominately of old people, especially in nursing homes and co morbidity issues. Once you subtract this from the equation the death rates for this for those under 50 or 60 with no underlying conditions is quit low.”

      ********

      The problem is that there’s a boatload of folks under that age group who suffer from underlying conditions. Especially in certain ethnic groups & those in lower income areas.
      How many folks under 60 do you know who take diabetes or blood pressure meds? Or who are carrying around some extra weight?

      I have real questions about the mitigation efforts & how to proceed at this point. I think we all do. But I’m troubled by some of the comments I’ve heard, certainly not here on CWR or Christian sites but from the community at large. There’s a disturbing whiff of eugenics & survival of the fittest at times.

  15. The author is correct to locate responsibility for this obvious social disaster, also unlawful and tyrannical in my opinion as a lawyer, in dogmatic scientism. Had I attended any one of the protests flaring up throughout the world, my only sign would be a wooden baseball bat with the word “science” written across it in bold. For the best, most clear-sighted perspective on the “crowned flu,” see the many good articles, links, and observations by Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg (wodarg.com), who was also instrumental in denouncing the corruption at the WHO and its role in creating the fake swine flu pandemic. His website is in German, so you have to use the Google translate plugin. As pertinent to the author’s important criticism, Dr. Wodarg has posted just today a fascinating piece entitled “Der Krieg gegen einen Joker.” See also his essay published May 2, 2020, on the “case for medical detectives.” The English version can be read at https://multipolar-magazin.de/artikel/covid-19-a-case-for-medical-detectives.

    I have also been reproducing some of this word on my own blog (linked), which I created mostly to catalog various alternative news sources and dissenting scientific views: https://ourlady-triumphant.blogspot.com/

    Pax

  16. I think that those who have responded to this article to disagree with Mr. Severance’s position do so on the basis that the only rational approach to a new, contagious and sometimes fatal virus is to follow the “public health experts.” Except, they only want to follow the pubic health experts who apparently believe that if we all stay “locked down” for long enough, a vaccine will be found and enough will be produced to make sure that nobody dies from COVID-19. They don’t want to follow the experts who argue that this is not a responsible policy approach to dealing with a new, infectious and sometimes fatal virus. For my part, I want the second group of experts to be in charge of the decision making. I think that the destruction of economies (national and global) is a very high price to pay to save some human lives, especially when the basis for this approach is extremely limited evidence.
    “Sheltering in place” and “locking down” are certainly prudent when the situation is dire and short-term. The “white-robed experts” and their supporters who favour this approach say that their desire to save lives outweighs my, and many others’, desire to live it. In the age of highly partisan media and cancel culture, they may win that political argument but, ultimately, people will still die and COVID-19 will cost us all in real and long-term suffering, social and economic. Certainly, millions, or rather, billions of people around the world will suffer and die from the economic damage caused by it.

  17. Saddened by this article. We the citizenry allowed this lock-down to happen. Yielded our freedoms all too willingly. Thousands protesting in a nation of 350 million… is of no avail. The technocrats and eugenicists will take this as a good sign for future “mitigations” to push the envelope further. Bill Gates is ecstatic with anticipation (just watch his recent interviews). New vaccines, digital ink tattoos, social credit scores, contact tracing apps on your smartphone… all voluntary of course… if you want to keep your job, or go to a social venue, or buy something online, or register for college…etc. ad nauseam.

    Will we go gently into that good night of de-facto slavery… or will we rage against the dying of the light of liberty?

    Gates and Fauci, Sauron and Saruman… you may laugh at that, but briefly, if you have even a kernel of free spirit left in you.

    • Cherokee Thunder ,
      I don’t think anyone’s laughing at the prospect of govt. overreach, it could become a real worry in any crisis. But don’t you think new vaccines for this virus would be a good thing? Assuming their manufacture doesn’t involve the sacrifice of unborn children.
      I’m definitely looking forward to a vaccine so we can go ahead with our lives.

      • I have no problems with vaccines (ethically produced), but I have a real problem with the government mandating their usage.

  18. Great piece. I have read recently that the modeling used by our leaders to implement the economic crushing “curve flattening” policies originated from the Imperial College of London. The white robed modeler in charge has a reputation for over exaggerating potential outcomes based on dubious models. He has been dubbed “master of disaster” by his peers in the past.

  19. APPEAL FOR THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD
    to Catholics and all people of good will

    Veritas liberabit vos.
    Jn 8:32

    In this time of great crisis, we Pastors of the Catholic Church, by virtue of our mandate, consider it our sacred duty to make an Appeal to our Brothers in the Episcopate, to the Clergy, to Religious, to the holy People of God and to all men and women of good will. This Appeal has also been undersigned by intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, journalists and professionals who agree with its content, and may be undersigned by those who wish to make it their own.

    The facts have shown that, under the pretext of the Covid-19 epidemic, the inalienable rights of citizens have in many cases been violated and their fundamental freedoms, including the exercise of freedom of worship, expression and movement, have been disproportionately and unjustifiably restricted. Public health must not and cannot become an alibi for infringing on the rights of millions of people around the world, let alone for depriving the civil authority of its duty to act wisely for the common good. This is particularly true as growing doubts emerge from several quarters about the actual contagiousness, danger and resistance of the virus. Many authoritative voices in the world of science and medicine confirm that the alarmism about Covid-19 by the media appears to be absolutely unjustified.

    We have reason to believe, on the basis of official data on the incidence of the epidemic as related to the number of deaths, that there are powers interested in creating panic among the world’s population with the sole aim of permanently imposing unacceptable forms of restriction on freedoms, of controlling people and of tracking their movements. The imposition of these illiberal measures is a disturbing prelude to the realization of a World Government beyond all control.

    We also believe that in some situations the containment measures that were adopted, including the closure of shops and businesses, have precipitated a crisis that has brought down entire sectors of the economy. This encourages interference by foreign powers and has serious social and political repercussions. These forms of social engineering must be stopped by those with governmental responsibility, by taking measures to protect their citizens, whom they represent and in whose interests they have a serious obligation to act. Likewise, let them help the family, the cell of society, by not unreasonably penalizing the weak and elderly, forcing them into a painful separation from their loved ones. The criminalization of personal and social relationships must likewise be judged as an unacceptable part of the plan of those who advocate isolating individuals in order to better manipulate and control them.

    We ask the scientific community to be vigilant, so that cures for Covid-19 are offered in honesty for the common good. Every effort must be made to ensure that shady business interests do not influence the choices made by government leaders and international bodies. It is unreasonable to penalize those remedies that have proved to be effective, and are often inexpensive, just because one wishes to give priority to treatments or vaccines that are not as good, but which guarantee pharmaceutical companies far greater profits, and exacerbate public health expenditures. Let us also remember, as Pastors, that for Catholics it is morally unacceptable to develop or use vaccines derived from material from aborted fetuses.

    We also ask government leaders to ensure that forms of control over people, whether through tracking systems or any other form of location-finding, are rigorously avoided. The fight against Covid-19, however serious, must not be the pretext for supporting the hidden intentions of supranational bodies that have very strong commercial and political interests in this plan. In particular, citizens must be given the opportunity to refuse these restrictions on personal freedom, without any penalty whatsoever being imposed on those who do not wish to use vaccines, contact tracking or any other similar tool. Let us also consider the blatant contradiction of those who pursue policies of drastic population control and at the same time present themselves as the savior of humanity, without any political or social legitimacy. Finally, the political responsibility of those who represent the people can in no way be left to “experts” who can indeed claim a kind of immunity from prosecution, which is disturbing to say the least.

    We strongly urge those in the media to commit themselves to providing accurate information and not penalizing dissent by resorting to forms of censorship, as is happening widely on social media, in the press and on television. Providing accurate information requires that room be given to voices that are not aligned with a single way of thinking. This allows citizens to consciously assess the facts, without being heavily influenced by partisan interventions. A democratic and honest debate is the best antidote to the risk of imposing subtle forms of dictatorship, presumably worse than those our society has seen rise and fall in the recent past.

    Finally, as Pastors responsible for the flock of Christ, let us remember that the Church firmly asserts her autonomy to govern, worship, and teach. This autonomy and freedom are an innate right that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given her for the pursuit of her proper ends. For this reason, as Pastors we firmly assert the right to decide autonomously on the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, just as we claim absolute autonomy in matters falling within our immediate jurisdiction, such as liturgical norms and ways of administering Communion and the Sacraments. The State has no right to interfere, for any reason whatsoever, in the sovereignty of the Church. Ecclesiastical authorities have never refused to collaborate with the State, but such collaboration does not authorize civil authorities to impose any sort of ban or restriction on public worship or the exercise of priestly ministry. The rights of God and of the faithful are the supreme law of the Church, which she neither intends to, nor can, abdicate. We ask that restrictions on the celebration of public ceremonies be removed.

    We should like to invite all people of good will not to shirk their duty to cooperate for the common good, each according to his or her own state and possibilities and in a spirit of fraternal charity. The Church desires such cooperation, but it cannot prescind from either a respect for natural law or a guarantee of individual freedoms. The civil duties to which citizens are bound imply the State’s recognition of their rights.

    We are all called to assess the current situation in a way consistent with the teaching of the Gospel. This means taking a stand: either with Christ or against Christ. Let us not be intimidated or frightened by those who would have us believe that we are a minority: Good is much more widespread and powerful than the world would have us believe. We are fighting against an invisible enemy that seeks to divide citizens, to separate children from their parents, grandchildren from their grandparents, the faithful from their pastors, students from teachers, and customers from vendors. Let us not allow centuries of Christian civilization to be erased under the pretext of a virus, and an odious technological tyranny to be established in which nameless and faceless people can decide the fate of the world by confining us to a virtual reality. If this is the plan to which the powers of this earth intend to make us yield, know that Jesus Christ, King and Lord of History, has promised that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail” (Mt 16:18).

    Let us entrust government leaders and all those who rule over the fate of nations to Almighty God, that He may enlighten and guide them in this time of great crisis. May they remember that, just as the Lord will judge us Pastors for the flock which he has entrusted to us, so will He also judge government leaders for the peoples whom they have the duty to defend and govern.

    With faith, let us beseech the Lord to protect the Church and the world. May the Blessed Virgin, Help of Christians, crush the head of the ancient Serpent and defeat the plans of the children of darkness.

    8 May 2020
    Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii

  20. There is certainly no shortage of white-robed ‘experts’ available for advice and counsel in these troubling times – one has but to turn on the TV and go from right to left and back again to find them.

    • I agree with you Terrence.
      There’s no shortage of public health experts on the internet either.
      🙂
      But in situations like this I think it’s prudent to consider what all sides are saying. And perhaps look at what decisions the experts are making for themselves and their own families. Actions can speak louder than words.

      • Well, Neil Furgeson who helped to create the mass panic certainly was not panicking over Covid19.
        .
        That he got caught with his lover, I do not know.
        .
        https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/05/uk/neil-ferguson-imperial-coronavirus-sage-gbr-intl/index.html
        .
        Obama was caught golfing at a private club, while Michele urged DC residents to stay home. Bill de Blaisio has used a gym. Gretchen Whitmer gets her hair done. (So does the Chicago mayor.) Mrs Pritzker of Illinois reportedly ran off to Florida to avoid her husband’s lockdown.

        • Kathryn,
          I was also thinking about Neil Ferguson’s actions that caused him to resign. Even if you believe you have immunity, as Mr. Ferguson did, you’re still supposed to follow the rules. Especially if you were largely responsible in setting up the parameters.
          My brother caught Covid in the UK like Mr Ferguson and also quarantined himself for 7 days but he didn’t sneak guests into his flat. Folks are only allowed one hour of outside exercise daily. Unless they’re blessed to have a garden of their own. It’s been a difficult way to live and really unfortunate that the powers that be appear to think the restrictions only apply to others.

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