Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Home COVID-19 The real enemy? Infectious disease ‘experts’

The real enemy? Infectious disease ‘experts’

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IS mandatory social distancing a modern-day form of Lysenkoism? Dr Trofim Lysenko, a geneticist, was director of the Soviet Union’s All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences during the 1930s. Lysenko was the leading proponent of a discredited theory which holds that characteristics acquired during the lifetime of a plant can be passed down to later generations. His pseudo-scientific methods were reflected in agricultural practice, which led to mass starvation and millions of deaths in the Soviet Union and China.

For political reasons, Lysenko was adored by the dictator Joseph Stalin. Lysenko’s theory of plant evolution was consistent with the Marxist doctrine that humans living under socialism can pass down their newly acquired characteristics of selflessness to subsequent generations. In the Soviet Union, science became the servant of political ideology and Lysenkoism was transformed into a state-sponsored religion.

Current mandatory social distancing measures promoted by infectious disease experts throughout the West are highly reminiscent of the Soviet and Chinese experience with Lysenkoism. This type of policy response to the pandemic has many pseudo-scientific elements and has led to the establishment of a new, destructive, and even deviant state-sponsored religion. 

There are three dangerous, unprecedented and destructive aspects of this religion, which is being practised and enforced in democratic societies worldwide. The first is extreme social distancing, which was originally proposed by infectious disease experts to ‘flatten the curve’, but has now become more of an article of faith.

In a form of mission creep, social distancing is now being promoted as a permanent, long-term tactic against ‘an invisible enemy’, which cannot be abandoned. The long-term deleterious effects of this tactic on business revenue, productivity and employment will likely be devastating. Social distancing mandates significantly raise production costs and alter how products and services are delivered in a manner that will ultimately lead to the demise of many firms and even entire industries.

The second deviant aspect of the state-run religion is quarantining the entire population, rather than encouraging self-isolation only amongst those who have contracted the disease and those who are most susceptible to it. This too has caused immense damage to our economy and to public health. Public health suffers because indiscriminate quarantining can lead to more suicides, child abuse, neglect of other diseases, domestic violence, addiction, obesity and degradation of mental health. 

The fear that quarantining has generated, with the aid of the mass media, will also have persistent, long-term effects. It may take an extended period of time before consumers feel safe enough to revert to previous methods of consumption and spending habits (the ‘old’ normal). Many mass media outlets may not be willing partners in helping to reverse the public panic which they profitably fostered.

The third aspect of the new religion is the conscious shutdown of entire industries based on an authoritarian taxonomy of industries and workers that are deemed either as ‘essential’ or ‘non-essential’. From an economic standpoint, forced shutdowns of firms and industries can only be described as an unprecedented, monumental act of economic masochism, as well as constituting a form of theft of private property (of business owners) and services (e.g. education). 

Note also that any lifting of lockdowns is subject to the approval of the architects of the state-run religion, i.e. infectious disease experts. They have quickly become more powerful than democratically elected leaders. Infectious disease experts seem to have fully captured government in a clever coup d’état, armed with faulty epidemiological models that have repeatedly shown themselves to be wildly inaccurate.

A disturbing outgrowth of the state-run religion is talk about a ‘new normal’, which not only involves implementing extreme social distancing in every industry but also aims to change western culture permanently. An example is the Lysenko-like recommendation that people should never shake hands again. Such behavioural prescriptions threaten our humanity and identity as social beings. We also need to acknowledge that our children have been victims of social isolation imposed by the state-run religion, receiving poor education during the shutdowns. Reopening schools with mandatory social distancing policies will prolong their abuse.

It is clear that this religion and this modern, politically expedient form of Lysenkoism have been enthusiastically embraced by many in the media and virtue-signalling politicians, who instituted and now staunchly defend shutdowns. Masters of social media, such as Mark Zuckerberg, have interviewed and embraced infectious disease experts who toe the line, while censoring videos of physicians in the field who present an alternative viewpoint with scientific evidence or otherwise dare to defy the new orthodoxy.

The end result is that infectious disease experts have succeeded in doing more damage to the economy and society, and yes, even to public health, than all the recent enemies of Western civilisation combined. If we do not immediately reverse this modern and frightening resurgence of Lysenkoism, through legal challenges and peaceful but vociferous social protests, we will continue to pay a steep price and remain on a road to ruin for many years to come.

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Donald S Siegel and Robert M Sauer
Donald S Siegel is Foundation Professor of Public Policy and Management and Director of the School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University. Robert M Sauer is Professor of Economics, Royal Holloway, University of London; Editor-in-Chief, European Economic Review; Editor-in-Chief, European Economic Review Plus, and Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Economics, Management and Religion. He tweets at @SauerRobertM

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