A cure is a cure is a cure

Ask the average person in a western nation what it means to cure a disease and what will they answer? Chances are they think a cure means a solution. You get sick with something, you take a treatment, then you’re no longer sick. Ask the same person how many diseases have been cured in the last century or so and they’ll probably think there were quite a lot. And yet, by the definition of cure just given, there have been very few actual cures developed.

Here’s a good example of the schizophrenic nature of our cultural understanding of what it means to cure. The headline reads “12 Deadly Diseases Cured in the 20th Century”. The average person would interpret this to mean that once upon a time there were 12  deadly diseases in the world and then the 20th century came along and now those diseases don’t exist. But the very first disease listed in the article is chickenpox and the article specifically states that chickenpox is not a deadly disease, is not cured, and is, in fact, a rite of passage for most people.

This kind of disconnect between the headline and the actual content of an article is extremely common these days and, once you get an eye for it, you can start to discover some interesting things about our culture. The pattern is as follows: the headline refers to the deep-seated cultural script while the body shows the “reality”. Many people would call such articles propaganda. But even if it is propaganda, it’s very subtle propaganda that works by reinforcing a cultural script that is perfectly familiar to the average reader. In this case, the cultural script is that we have cured lots of diseases through the wonders of modern medicine. If we dig a little deeper into that script, we find that it revolves around the word cure.

Fittingly, the word cure has its etymology in religion. To cure is to make healthy and healthy is related to holy. In French, curé still means priest or chaplain. In Latin, curare means “to take care of”. In the original meaning, you cured a person and you did that by taking care of them i.e. nursing them back to health (which could also have meant spiritual health).

In the modern meaning, we now cure a disease. But this is a very different meaning. This version of “cure” now means something like eliminate or defeat. We call disease the “invisible enemy” and we declare war on this enemy. In you think this is just semantics, bear in mind that the last two and a half years saw wartime measures implemented in western nations and wartime levels of debt and inflation to go with it. Boris Johnson used a war metaphor early in the development of the vaccine saying the “scientific cavalry” was coming over the hill to rescue us. Words matter as do the cultural scripts they point to.

The lesser known 3rd meaning of cure

Whether you think that medical “cures” are largely about returning a person to wholeness (and holiness) through healing or whether you think a cure is the medical equivalent of carpet bombing the invisible enemy into oblivion will in large part predict your reaction to corona. As a member of the former group, I was horrified. But most people in our society follow the latter cultural script according to which the Dr Faucis of the world are the great generals leading us into scientific battle and we must play the role of obedient soldiers.

Live footage of Biden’s speech

What got me thinking about these matters was a video of US President Biden I came across in my internet travels in the last couple of days. Biden was shouting (is it just me or does Biden always shout during his speeches?) about finding a cure for cancer.

We were, Biden shouted, going to get rid of cancer once and for all. Now if you know the history of diseases we have “got rid of once and for all”, you know that the list starts and ends with smallpox. So, it’s a pretty big claim to say we can do the same for cancer. How did Biden think this incredible feat is going to be achieved? The answer, incredibly, is mRNA vaccines; the same safe and effective treatment that worked so well for covid (I’m not making it up, that’s literally what he said).

How does the leader of the free world say that with a straight face, especially given that he himself is vaccinated up the wazoo and still got covid? Well, that’s between Biden and his curé (his priest) and I hope he’s got a good one. But, in fairness, Biden probably believes what he’s saying and so do a great many people in western nations. What’s going here, despite how absurd it might look to those of us who are apostates from this strange religion, is not actually anything new but a basic element of human psychology.

The phenomenon of disregarding what looks to non-believers as overwhelming evidence permeates even the domain of science. As the saying goes, science progresses one funeral at a time. Even some of the greatest scientists have gone to their graves denying what later became standard theories of how the world works. Gerald Weinberg gave this phenomenon the name The Law of the Conservation of Laws:  

“When the facts contradict the law, reject the facts or change the definitions, but never throw away the law”.

That’s not the way science is supposed to work, but it’s the way science does work because it’s the way humans work. A vaccine is a cure and cures are safe and effective. That is the cultural script or law that must be preserved in our culture and it will be preserved until it can no longer be preserved. If this means disregarding obvious facts and changing the definitions of words, then that’s exactly what will happen and it’s exactly what has happened in the last decade in order to get more “cures” onto the market.

Many dissenters analyse corona as a one-off mass formation psychosis where people were so traumatised that they continue to behave irrationally. This line of thinking puts corona in a box with a nice bow around it and places it in the crazy basket alongside historical episodes like the Dutch tulip craze or the South Sea Bubble.

But that’s not correct. Corona follows the Law of the Conservation of Laws. We acted according to some of our most deep-seated cultural scripts and, though they were a complete failure, we have not thrown away those scripts and we continue to act by them. I would add to Weinberg’s law the qualifier that the more blatant the disregard for the facts, the more fundamental must be the law that is being protected. Right now, so many deep-seated beliefs of western culture are under threat that our entire public discourse is completely dissociated from reality. That’s not a state of affairs that can continue for much longer.

I tried to unpack the main cultural scripts related to corona in my book The Plague Story. It’s because the modern west thinks of itself as undogmatic (part of our ongoing rebellion against religion) that we are unable to see that we are just as dogmatic as any other society, perhaps even more so because we are unaware of our dogma. Because we never hold our dogma up to critical review, it doesn’t change. Thus, when faced with such an obvious failure as the corona vaccines, the modern west not only doesn’t acknowledge the failure but doubles down on it. That’s what Biden’s recent announcement amounts to.

There was one other thing that Biden shouted in his speech that I thought was telling as it relates to another core cultural script of the modern west. He said an mRNA vaccine for cancer “could be used to stop cancer cells when they first arise”. You know what else stops cancer cells when they first arise?: our immune system.

It’s worth remembering that the scientific discipline of immunology is very young. Almost everything we know about the immune system at a technical, analytical level has been learned in the post war years (although we had a tacit understanding of the principles of immune response well before that). We now know that the immune system is constantly on the lookout for cancer cells which it will destroy. This is the normal state of affairs. The abnormal state is when the cancer cells evade the immune system and the chances of this happening increase with age as the immune system begins to degrade along with the other systems of the body.

From a systems thinking point of view, the immune system belongs to the category of medium number systems i.e. those systems which display organised complexity. Biden is calling his cancer-cure push the Cancer Moonshot. But this analogy is a category error. The moonshot, sending a rocket to the moon, belonged to the domain of classical physics and is therefore in the organised simplicity category. A cure for cancer, whatever that means, must come from the domain of organised complexity.

But this implied definition of “science” is just another of our most deep-seated cultural scripts. “Science” means reductionist science. It’s true that reductionist science gave us the moonshot of which we are so proud. But reductionist science does not work in the domains of organised complexity of which medicine and biology are two prime examples. We can see another example of this category error in the executive order Biden released a couple of days ago in relation to the cancer moonshot. Here is an excerpt:

We need to develop genetic engineering technologies and techniques to be able to write circuitry for cells and predictably program biology in the same way in which we write software and program computers; unlock the power of biological data, including through computing tools and artificial intelligence; and advance the science of scale‑up production while reducing the obstacles for commercialization so that innovative technologies and products can reach markets faster.

Huh? Write circuity for cells? Program biology like a computer? As somebody who works in the IT industry, I don’t whether to laugh or cry at this statement. I will say this, I wouldn’t let a computer programmer anywhere near the “circuitry” of my cells. In these metaphors we see the same old category error. Electrical circuits and computer code belong to the domain of organised simplicity. Biology belongs to the domain of organised complexity.

Let me give an alternative metaphor which I think better captures what is going on with “cures” for diseases.

The body is a system and the immune system is a sub-system. Both systems interact with the larger systems that are the “real world”. The domain of study most relevant is ecology, which investigates the relationship between livings beings and their environment.

When we treat somebody with a “cure”, we are bringing a new element into the ecosystem of the body. It is assumed that the ecosystem is out of equilibrium (in a state of disease). We hope that the new element will trigger a process that brings the ecosystem back into equilibrium. mRNA vaccines are a novel element we have now introduced into the ecosystem of individual human bodies as well as the population of human bodies. Unlike programming software or wiring an electrical circuit, such an introduction of a novel element can, in fact almost certainly will, have unforeseen effects.

Here in Australia we have numerous historical examples of introducing new elements into the ecosystem. Due to its nature as an island continent far away from major historical population centres, Australia has developed a unique flora and fauna. When Europeans arrived a couple of hundred years ago, they brought with them a bunch of new flora and fauna. One of the earlier introductions were rabbits whose purpose was to allow the aristocracy to engage in the old British pastime of hunting. The rabbit population got out of control and the rest is history.

The famous rabbit-proof fence constructed in the early 1900s is apparently the longest fence in the world at about 3000 kilometres. It was built to keep out rabbits. Elmer Fudd, eat your heart out.
Jabba the Cane Toad

But perhaps the better of example for our purposes is the cane toad because the cane toad was not introduced for entertainment purposes but in order to solve an ecosystem problem. Specifically, some insects were causing large amounts of damage to the sugar cane crop and the toads were brought in to eat the insects.

Sounds like a good idea. What could go wrong? Well, it turns out cane toads will eat not just insects but pretty much anything (including snakes!). This fact, combined with a lack of any natural predator to keep the population in check, meant that cane toad numbers exploded and are an ongoing problem to this day in the tropical north of Australia.

Now it must be said that there were many other species introduced to Australia that didn’t backfire as spectacularly as rabbits and cane toads. Nevertheless, the lesson holds. The use of any new kind of medication is broadly equivalent to introducing a novel species to an ecosystem. The metaphor breaks down somewhat in that most medications will exit the “ecosystem” by natural excretory processes; although the mRNA concept was always more dangerous in this sense because the process by which it would exit the system was less obvious. Nobody predicted the cane toad population would explode in Australia and cause huge problems because such things are not predicable

This is the main difference between the domains of organised simplicity and organised complexity. The science of organised simplicity eg. classical physics, produces predictable results. That’s the whole point of it. Reductionist science always aims for an “if A, then B” formulation. That works fine in the domain of organised simplicity. It does not work in the domain of organised complexity. In the domain of organised complexity there is always the risk of a cane toad-like phenomenon. In relation to medication, we mitigate that risk by testing extensively before releasing the medication “into the wild”. Well, we used to. Now we rush medication through testing and next thing you know it’s curing cancer. Even Jesus would be like “dude, that’s totally a miracle.”

Immunology and medicine are not like flying to the moon or writing computer code or wiring up electrical circuitry. They are qualitatively different disciplines. But the people running our society do not understand this. Until we acknowledge this fact, we are going to keep repeating the same errors of the last two and a half years. And that’s exactly what we are doing and will continue to do because of the Law of the Conservation of Laws.

If science progresses on funeral at a time, then at the generational level it progresses as the generations pass. The generation running society at the moment will continue making the same errors. As the consequences of those errors mount, they will continue to try and use their political power to silence dissenting voices. But eventually all that will pass. It will be the upcoming generations who are not blind to the abject failures of their leaders who will finally start asking the right questions and finding the right answers. Well, it better be, or we’re in real trouble.

30 thoughts on “A cure is a cure is a cure”

  1. https://kunstler.com/podcast/kunstlercast-347-chatting-with-david-e-martin-about-covid-19-vaccinations-and-other-mass-casualty-events/

    In this JHK podcast with David Martin, he lays out how introducing the great cure-all CRISPR ‘technology’ has always been the goal and these shots have been the foot in the door they wanted.
    Well worth a listen if you haven’t already.
    I listened to it twice at the time, as well as his follow up interview a little while later.

  2. I won’t highly commend your exceptional talent to make obscure obvious and complex a lil’ less so, and brilliant writing style as well—because apophasis aka paralipsis is wrong, and there’s no cure to right it once committed. Not even Biden has shouted about it. Yet.

    A lesser point cries to be made:
    That 3rd lesser known cure listed matter-of-factly is golden! Just one among many; overall, your picture captions rock ?
    I should have known better than consume liquids in front of a screen displaying your blog ?

    ? Corona follows the Law of the *Conversation* of Laws.
    Some insight of Freudian slip kind is buried here ↑ somewhere, no doubt ?

  3. Helen – thanks for that. Yeah, we shouldn’t forget the power of good old-fashioned greed which, as I alluded to a couple of posts ago, is now in its ultra decadent form of megalomania. And, of course, all this is pushed through government where you can just buy out whoever disagrees. The levels of corruption on display are historically bad.

    Daiva – hah! Thanks for picking up that typo. I’ve corrected it now but will ponder its meaning. Do the laws talk to each other?

  4. DRACO (double-stranded RNA activated caspase oligomerizer) is the biotech to keep your vigilant eye on. Huge promise, trickle of funding. One would be compelled to wonder why 😉

  5. Daiva – “Our Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizer (DRACO) approach selectively induces apoptosis (cell suicide)”.

    A technology that selectively induces suicide. What could go wrong? Not to mention that Draco (from which we get the adjective draconian) was known for implementing the death penalty for even minor offences in ancient Athens.

  6. Repercussions from Magick realm aside, surely the chances to reap whirlwinds are aplenty indeed when you release a kaleidoscope of feisty butterflies onto organised complexity. Doesn’t mean we should cease to explore radically novel paths—or does, given the appalling arrogance cum ignorance of the current breed of The Science™? As Jordan Peterson once quipped wrt reckless biomed interferences, how about we don’t go there? 🙂

    A quote from decorated heroine of Covid Wars seems apt here:
    ? I am constantly amazed that anything works in biology. There are so many ways that things can go wrong. Which, is again, why I don’t understand why there are so many exceedingly arrogant humans who think it’s a good idea to mess with biology.
    ~~Jessica Rose, Unacceptable recently gone Unconditional

  7. PS Was tempted to add the pure malevolence of Big Pharma capture, but decided against, riding on misguided(?) hope it’s not to last, somehow ?

  8. Simon – so satisfying to read this. There’s still so much overt Covid craziness around. Yet a few days ago, a 20-something, healthy-enough-looking coworker of my partner’s, here in Sydney, described a recent bout of monkeypox, which lasted a couple of weeks. Her symptoms, while apparently not life-threatening, sounded really gross, but what intrigues me is that the presence of this potentially headline-grabbing virus hasn’t made a bigger splash in the media. We were being terrorised over Covid for weeks before the officials let it in.

  9. Daiva – Kary Mullis said it better than I could and he was an insider – https://www.bitchute.com/video/8dEBlTylW3Df/

    Interestingly, you used to be able to find that video on youtube but not any more. I suspect we get away with so much when it comes to biology because there is enormous redundancy in nature. Any system that has survived has a built-in level of robustness and we get to tinker around and pretend we know stuff when mostly the results are ambiguous and we just read into them whatever we want.

    Shane – that’s interesting to hear. I remember a story a couple of months ago that the WHO wanted to rename monkeypox. Didn’t work for the same reason the bat soup story didn’t go away. But then again, the WHO was recommending against lockdowns in mid-late 2020 and nobody listened to that either. I suspect all this is far more random (uncontrolled) than most people would admit.

  10. Simon — my google beats yours ?

    ↑ Lengthier footage incl aids/hiv stuff with added benefit of cc option, for the late (what a shame, such a bizarre timing!) genius was not exactly master of rhetoric 🙂

    From a link in the latest Toby Roger’s sub (or is it stack?) to check on on its own:
    ? Sometimes we are doing something which is very good, but we have no clue of what we are actually doing.

    Mother nature is incredibly forgiving, but there’re limits I’m afraid. We’d better stop overplaying our cards and get our act together, quickly ?

  11. Daiva – nice work. That’s exactly the one I was looking for. “There are no old wise men up there at the top of science.” Amen to that. In fact, an argument could be made that those at the top are least likely to be the wise ones as a real wise one wouldn’t want the job 😛

  12. Hi Simon,

    During the crazy past two and a half years, I read a book recommended to me by a reader, titled: Straight and Crooked Thinking, first published in 1930 and revised in 1953, by the author Robert H. Thouless. He covers this ground by describing in detail the use of faulty arguments. Obviously, the author probably never considered that in his time that such faulty arguments would be extended to such an extreme as recent experience suggests they have been. It’s kind of as if current policy was being directed by a bunch of jerks who were very good at debating in high school. It might be.

    Your insights kind of alarmed me. You know it is possible that the techy folks are throwing their weight around in areas where their problem solving skills aren’t all that applicable?

    During reading of your essay, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that on an energy and resources front, the policymakers have it very wrong. But you know, I’d be happy if I were wrong in this concern.

    And you know what really bugged me about the past two and a half years? It was the lack of the ability to critique what was going on at the time. A healthy and self evident response, should stand up to a bit of critique, after all, they may have missed something, or stuffed something up – always possible. Science used to be better than what it is nowadays.



  13. Ew/EweTube must be enjoying this wack-a-mole game ?

    Your ‘argument could be made‘ reminded me instantly of Charles Haywood (The Worthy House) who similarly notes that the capable want nothing to do with current power echelons—but will organically emerge at the top should circumstances change. So there‘s hope 🙂

    ? what is claimed to be a rock-solid system, with an “illusion of invincibility,” is in fact extremely fragile […]. The elites are completely disconnected from the internal proletariat, in Toynbee’s term. “Once the crisis hits, the unraveling of the institutional structures of authority can happen with blinding speed, and the former ruling elite is rarely in a position to do anything about it.”

    ? it is always an elite who actually rules. Thus, the key question for a society’s flourishing is whether it is ruled by a virtuous elite, who rules for the common good, or by a rotten elite, as America is ruled by now.

  14. Chris – yeah, none of this stuff stacks up on its own merits and so the repression of critique and discussion is needed to keep the whole charade going. If you look at the history of science, most of the great scientists were not career scientists in the way we would think of it. The real question is whether science as an institution can be reformed. It probably has to fall apart first before we can find out the answer to that question.

    Daiva – let’s hope so. Although the ways things are now, you could throw a stone on the street, put whoever hits in charge and they would almost certainly do a better job than the current inmates at the top.

  15. Simon – oops! Cancel my last comment (not as in ‘cancel culture’): I didn’t mean monkeypox, I meant foot-&-mouth disease, which I’ve since found out is probably hand-foot-&-mouth, different thing despite the similar name, no need to kill its casualties. Lucky I’m not a medical professional! 🙂 But I do find it interesting that so many more people than what I used to think was ‘normal’ seem to be succumbing lately to one viral infection or another, which some medical professionals are quite credibly suggesting points to unforeseen effects of mRNA spike proteins. I’m also interested in the idea that our culture’s obsession w/ defending against infection has generated a psychic vulnerability to ‘invasion’. For decades I’ve thought of viruses as performing a kind of service: like squatters that enter unoccupied terrain & set about overhauling it. On the infrequent occasions I’ve had colds or flu, I’ve always felt healthier afterwards than I felt before. But the new conditioning says we must prevent infection at all costs, because infection could wreak permanent damage (cue/queue for boosters)…

  16. Shane – I agree. The whole framing of viruses as the “invisible enemy” seems to me highly questionable. By killing off a heap of cells, viruses might very well be performing a kind of “pruning” function. As every gardener knows, if you prune a tree properly it usually bounces back with more growth. Maybe the same is true for us. I think this is another bit of evidence which points to the inability to think systematically. What might be “bad” in the short term can very well be good over the longer term and if there’s no catabolism in a system there’s probably also no anabolism either (unless you’re increasing the amount of energy available via eg. fossil fuels).

  17. Simon — The roots of rot reach deep, in time and institutional space alike. It‘s well back in last century that this desperate wish originates, to be governed by the first entries of phone book than Harvard faculty/grads 😉

    Long ago when such studies were still possible, they found out research grants could be distributed by lottery rather than sophisticated bureaucratic procedure, without impact to ensuing work quality however it was measured. In Australia, I think ?

  18. Simon – pruning? Yes! Another crazy thing is that while science keeps finding out more & more about microbes, like how much of our DNA is microbial & just how much our health, both physical & mental, relies on the microbiome etc., it also keeps finding more ‘proof’ of how evil they can conceivably be, & the extent to which they’re endorsed or demonised mostly seems proportional to how successfully their augmentation or ‘cure’ can be monetised. So we have antibiotics to fight the bad microbes, but those knock out the good ones too, so we also need products that restore the good ones. Which I guess is partly why ageing is typically characterised by a growing battery of medications.

  19. Daiva – oh, no. Phone books don’t exist anymore. So, we’re really screwed 😛

    Shane – well, in this war on the invisible enemy Big Pharma are selling the ammunition so they don’t exactly have anything to gain by peace.

  20. Simon — Not to worry, your stone [age] method would do just fine. Only resolve’s lacking, to resort to radical prunin’ ?

  21. Daiva – the more I think about it, the more I like the phone book idea. A new kind of political system. We can call it Bibliocracy: rule by phone book.

  22. I think medical personnel suffer from Physics envy – they want to get away from the spiritual part of their profession to seem like scientists.

    The doctors of the past did not shy away from this side of medicine – Jewish rabbis would practice astrology – which is forbidden in the old testament – because back then it as essential for practicing medicine.

    I also read something interesting about how the Ottoman Empire would treat pandemics – they would take a pandemic as a sign something is wrong spiritually, which would prompt them to start charity projects and other measures to try to correct the spiritual imbalance that lead to the disease to spread in the first place. It’s not that they did not have doctors, they just looked at things more holistically and would take care of social health in addition to physical one.

    Simon, in another note, I just watched the film “Black Swan” last night, if you did not see it I highly recommend it, I think you will like the Jungian themes in there.

  23. Bakbook – I’m wondering whether pandemics are always primarily spiritual events. In any case, even without the spiritual side, we can and should consider the “systemic” side. I like a gardening analogy here. If a new pest shows up in your garden, you can try and kill it directly or you can ask what changed to make the garden attractive to the pest (could be weather, some new plants that are food for the pest etc). You should only use the direct attack approach as a last resort because it always causes collateral damage. We see that with the vaccine injured during corona. But, hey, if you’re in a “war with the invisible enemy”, I guess you think it’s all part of the war.

    Thanks for that reference to Black Swan. Hadn’t heard of that but it sounds interesting. I’ll put it on my to watch list.

  24. Simon – The garden metaphor is the way I also think about it. I gave this resoning for declining to take the vaccine. This argument mainly fell on deaf ears.

    Most people definately think about this like a war. Remember you asked me why do I think Israel bought into this whole thing more than most places? I think a large part of it is that Israelis are used to think in terms of armed conflicts.

  25. Bakbook – I came across a historian here in Australia who also noted that the most similar incident from Australian history was the hysteria of WW1.

    Giri – that link you posted doesn’t work but that makes sense about vit D. Getting lots of sun and fresh air was part of most “cures”, in the sense of nursing back to health.

  26. In an attempt to cure Giri’s link, found this:

    ? most doctors are eager to dismiss the benefits of Vitamin D on, pretty much, anything. However, I think the evidence for benefits on overall, and cardiovascular health are *overwhelming*.
    Of equal importance is the fact that vitamin D is incredibly safe to take.

    Then here’s a science-y further read on D-vit that all doctors should be familiar with but aren’t:

    ? Humanity depends entirely physicians and immunologists getting things right. However, the great majority of them do not understand the *immune system’s complete reliance* on 50ng/ml or more circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
    ? If they did know this, and if they had been able to convince most people to supplement D3 properly to attain such levels, *there would be no COVID-19 pandemic*, since severe disease would be rare, average disease severity and duration would be a fraction of the current averages, and so average viral shedding would be very much reduced – greatly reducing transmission.

  27. Daiva – makes sense. Of course, you can get vitamin D for free by going outside. During corona, the government here decided to crackdown on people congregating at children’s playgrounds (while wearing masks). People were having too much fun apparently. Our state premier even went out of his way to tell people not to watch sunsets. It’s hard to imagine a more idiotic response. People should have been encouraged to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Again, complete lack of systems thinking.

  28. ? you can get vitamin D for free by going outside
    No, Simon, you can’t. Not in doses required, not with our modern lifestyle.

    ? It’s hard to imagine a more idiotic response.
    ‘Hold our beer,’ –German Grinches declared, and cancelled Christmas altogether ?

  29. Daiva – a dermatologist acquaintance of mine once told me that the limiting factor in natural vitamin D production is not lack of sunlight but lack of calcium. All the more reason to eat your greens!

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