This week a fun piece of news came to light that links the last post of my propaganda school series, which was about statistics, with my coronavirus series. For those who have read some or all of my coronavirus series, you’ll know that the core of my analysis is that the corona narrative is an example of what I call the plague story and that this is how the public discourse around the corona event has been framed. According to that analysis, the vaccine was the thing that would end the story because that is how the plague story gets told in the modern world. When I wrote that analysis, it still wasn’t clear that a vaccine was even possible and therefore it was unclear how the story would end. It has subsequently transpired that several vaccines were given emergency approval and the rollout had already begun.
Nevertheless, the story still seemed politically dangerous to me for the reason that the PCR test, which has driven the whole shebang, would almost certainly continue to return positives. This is because the virus is now endemic and also because nobody knows whether the vaccine would stop transmission. It’s also the case, as has been pointed out by critics from the start, that many of the PCR tests are very likely to be false positives (we still don’t know the exact false positive rate as there is still no gold standard test for corona and, unless I missed the news, the virus has still not been isolated). In short, if governments kept testing, they would keep getting positives and this would lead the public to believe that the vaccines had not ‘worked’. That would be a violation of the plague story. Politicians know they need to deliver the correct ending to the story and Big Pharma would also have to know they will have a public relations crisis on their hands if the vaccine is seen to be a failure. So, all parties have a vested interest in the seeing the plague story ended properly.
How would the powers-that-be solve this problem? I had assumed they would simply stop testing. The vaccine gives them the perfect excuse for that. But the article I linked to above reveals another way to achieve the same result. The WHO just issued new advice part of which involves dropping the number of cycles that the PCR test runs for. This news had a special resonance for me because my whole pathway into being a ‘covid denier’ started with the PCR test. Way back in February last year I started reading about it and instantly realised that there were 99 problems with it and one of the big ones was the cycle times. This was also a fact pointed out in some detail by the late David Crowe in his infectious myth website and subsequently by a number of dissenting experts among them Professor Bhakdi, Wolfgang Wodarg, Denis Rancourt and Dr Yeardon. Yet apparently the WHO has only just realised these problems almost exactly a year after they gave the green light to Christian Drosten’s PCR test and, more importantly, right after the vaccine roll out has begun and Biden has been inaugurated. An extraordinary coincidence isn’t it that they should change the guidelines in just the way that will cause the ‘case’ numbers to drop right when they need to. This will solve the problem of not having test numbers remain high after the vaccine is administered. It is a way to properly end the corona story and ensure that the vaccines appear to have ‘worked’.
This move is a paradigm example of something I covered in part 10 of my propaganda school series: the use and misuse of statistics. Governments do this kind of thing all the time. You make a subtle and seemingly innocuous change to the definition of a statistic and – voila – the numbers go the way you want them to go. But it also raises the concept of a phrase that’s been so overused in the last year in particular that I hesitate to even mention it – the conspiracy theory. Isn’t it just a little too convenient that the WHO should make a change that will drop the numbers just at this time? Isn’t it also convenient that Democrat governors in the US have suddenly realised their economies matter right after Trump has left office (for those who didn’t see the news, New York’s Cuomo is now telling the public they need to open up for the good of the economy). It’s all a little bit convenient isn’t it? Very tempting to think these people are in league. And, in a way, they are. But are they in a conspiracy? The answer is: sort of.
To eludicate the distinction, let’s first look at an example of an overt conspiracy. This is a funny story from the world of corporate IT where I make my living.
My job is to find bugs in software. It’s in the interests of most companies to have as few bugs in their software as possible and that’s why they hire people like me. I once read the story of an enterprising CEO who came up with an innovative new idea: he would offer a reward for each bug found by his software testing team. I think it was about $1 per bug. At first glance, this sounds like a good idea. You incentivise people to find more bugs and in that way you remove them from your software. What happened at this particular company, however, was that one of the testers came up with his own innovative new idea. He hooked up with a few of his programmer friends and they conspired to create and then to find bugs. The system was ingenious. The programmers would build the bugs into the software then tell the tester where to look. He would ‘find’ them and report them to collect the bug bounty which they would then split 50/50.
The CEO looked at the skyrocketing number of bugs being found in his company’s software and thought that his bug bounty program was a raging success. However, one of his subordinates smelled a rat and interrogated the numbers a little closer. They realised only one tester seemed to be finding all the bugs. Still further investigation revealed that the bugs were almost all coming from only three programmers. A review of the work email accounts for parties involved revealed extensive communication from programmers to tester about where to find the bugs this week. The racket was busted and the enterprising individuals were shown the door.
That’s an example of an overt conspiracy. The story is funny because the CEO accidentally created the shared interest that led to his employees conspiring against him. It’s also an example of a very common naivete that can be seen by corporate managers (and politicians and public bureaucrats) who try and govern their organisations by metrics alone. Metrics are easily manipulated to give whatever result management demands and lower level managers will find a way to tweak the numbers; little tricks like changing the number of cycle times on a PCR test.
Which brings us to the decision by the WHO. Now, there is almost certainly no explicit agreement between the WHO and the Biden administration or any of the Big Pharma companies or any of the public health bureaucracies in western nations. There is no explicit deal to make the ‘case’ numbers go down but there is a strong shared interest in that outcome. So, it is technically not a conspiracy when the WHO decides to fiddle with the test parameters to make them go down. Rather, it’s the kind you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours event that happens very often in the world of politics. Don’t ask, don’t tell. In this case, the media is also in on the action. Is there a single journalist in the world looking into the PCR settings used in different countries and how the authorities change them to achieve an outcome? Certainly not in the mainstream media, there isn’t. The media is also in the business of telling stories and knows how this story is supposed to end.
What all this amounts to is: the narrative. Most of modern politics runs on such narratives and it’s notable that the phrase ‘conspiracy theorist’ is now applied to anybody who questions the narrative. Once upon a time, to be a conspiracy theorist meant you had to have a story about how the government was covering up the fact that aliens had landed in a certain spot and the CIA and the FBI were in league with the army to keep the whole thing a secret. Now, you just have to ask basic questions about the narrative. It’s almost as if the powers-that-be are admitting that they are, in fact, in league and that narratives really are a kind of conspiracy.
Here in Victoria, we had a great example of the use of narratives in politics during the corona event. The State government had botched the hotel quarantine program which led to an outbreak that ended up locking the citizens of the state in their homes for four months. The narrative from the government was the nobody made the decision which led to the outbreak. All parties were sticking to that narrative and it wasn’t until the former adviser to a former Prime Minister (Peta Credlin) started asking hard questions that the narrative started to fall apart. Several people ended up resigning including a minister and a couple of senior bureaucrats. The fact that in this case it took somebody who is not a ‘real’ journalist but a party insider to do a proper questioning of the narrative is also quite instructive. It takes somebody who has an interest in the narrative breaking down to ask the hard questions that lead to that outcome. That’s the way journalism used to work. What it meant to be a ‘hard nosed’ journalist was that you were trying to break down the narratives that were a kind of conspiracy against the public interest.
So, narratives are in a grey area. They are not really conspiracies and they are not really not conspiracies. They hold together people and organisations who have common interests and give everybody plausible deniability if things go belly up.
The corona event is one such narrative. Not really a conspiracy but certainly a lot of shared interests. When politicians in western nations opted to lockdown their countries it became in their interests to uphold the narrative at all costs and that is what has been done. What the news from the WHO portends is that the powers-that-be do actually want the corona event to come to an end (for a while there it wasn’t clear that they did). I’d say we are now into the endgame for corona. The narrative has been guided to its proper conclusion and the ‘case’ numbers will be managed away by fiddling with the test definition and/or process. Once all the vaccines have been sold, of course.
All posts in this series:-
The Coronapocalypse Part 0: Why you shouldn’t listen to a word I say (maybe)
The Coronapocalypse Part 1: The Madness of Crowds in the Age of the Internet
The Coronapocalypse Part 2: An Epidemic of Testing
The Coronapocalypse Part 3: The Panic Principle
The Coronapocalypse Part 4: The Denial of Death
The Coronapocalypse Part 5: Cargo Cult Science
The Coronapocalypse Part 6: The Economics of Pandemic
The Coronapocalypse Part 7: There’s Nothing Novel under the Sun
The Coronapocalypse Part 8: Germ Theory and Its Discontents
The Coronapocalypse Part 9: Heroism in the Time of Corona
The Coronapocalypse Part 10: The Story of Pandemic
The Coronapocalypse Part 11: Beyond Heroic Materialism
The Coronapocalypse Part 12: The End of the Story (or is it?)
The Coronapocalypse Part 13: The Book
The Coronapocalypse Part 14: Automation Ideology
The Coronapocalypse Part 15: The True Believers
The Coronapocalypse Part 16: Dude, where’s my economy?
The Coronapocalypse Part 17: Dropping the c-word (conspiracy)
The Coronapocalypse Part 18: Effects and Side Effects
The Coronapocalypse Part 19: Government and Mass Hysteria
The Coronapocalypse Part 20: The Neverending Story
The Coronapocalypse Part 21: Kafkaesque Much?
The Coronapocalypse Part 22: The Trauma of Bullshit Jobs
The Coronapocalypse Part 23: Acts of Nature
The Coronapocalypse Part 24: The Dangers of Prediction
The Coronapocalypse Part 25: It’s just semantics, mate
The Coronapocalypse Part 26: The Devouring Mother
The Coronapocalypse Part 27: Munchausen by Proxy
The Coronapocalypse Part 28: The Archetypal Mask
The Coronapocalypse Part 29: A Philosophical Interlude
The Coronapocalypse Part 30: The Rebellious Children
The Coronapocalypse Part 31: How Dare You!
The Coronapocalypse Part 32: Book Announcement
The Coronapocalypse Part 33: Everything free except freedom
The Coronapocalypse Part 34: Into the Twilight Zone
The Coronapocalypse Part 35: The Land of the Unfree and the Home of the Safe
The Coronapocalypse Part 36: The Devouring Mother Book Now Available
5 thoughts on “The Coronapocalypse Part 17: Dropping the c-word (conspiracy)”
Excellent analysis. The thing that is bothering me about all this is: But why?
What is at the core that underlies this current narrative. And I can’t say that I know, or have heard of, a coherent narrative yet. My gut feeling tells me it has something to do with oil, but I just am guessing and don’t really know.
What if there is no why? That was the reason Kafka was so scary. There was no ‘why’ in his stories just things happening and an indifferent universe. I doubt there are any ulterior motives behind it all but it does set a strong template for the future. If there was an oil shock, for example, governments would step in with hard measures and, if the opinion polls are any indication, those interventions will be popular.
I love the testing story. Can easily see that happening.
Regarding conspiracy theories: the problem here is that there is no definition of the term. As you mentioned, these days it means “someone who says things i disagree with”.
I agree with your excellent analysis, but have a different interpretation. To me what you describe are a lot of small conspiracies. Obviously, people are too dumb to run a conspiracy to rule the whole world, but they are quite capable of organising any number of smaller, opportunistic and occasionally successful conspiraces to further their interests. Which is what we are seeing.
I also agree that the vaccine should provide a face saving way out. Strange enough, this does not seem to happen. What i hear from Europe it looks like nobody is making noises about changing direction. At least not anytime soon. I find this surprising and a bit disturbing.
Here’s a question that you might not have addressed.
What happened to all the intellectuals? They seem have done one of two things:
Either they did a 180 handbrake turn, naomi klein and chomski come to mind, or they just pretend nothing is happening like for instance John Michael Greer.
On the other hand there are people like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt who all of a sudden think against the tide.
This has happened in a number of countries and while there are exceptions, most of the intelligencia is acting rather strange at the moment.
I haven’t been following Europe much but I did see that Boris Johnson is starting to talk about opening up and England has already vaccinated about a third of the population. With the flu season ending it’s hard to see how they could justify not opening up. No doubt there are some Great Reseters who see the opportunity to drag this out indefinitely but I still think they will be overruled. The public has played along on the assumption that hte vaccine ends the story. If it doesn’t, I expect we could see some real resistance.
No idea that’s going on with the intellectuals. Of course, Taleb lost his mind too. There’s possibly a level of stubborness and pride involved. Having not predicted it and then got carried away with the hysteria, who could turn around now and admit they were wrong? Corona has also revealed some real underlying differences in ethics. Turns out there are many true believers in ‘progress’. The Bolts and Joneses are just employing common sense which in this time of madness makes them revolutionary.