Freedom of thought and freedom of expression leads to a wide-ranging search for the truth. Suppressing that expression by only allowing ‘experts’ to have controversial opinions is dangerous and weakens our society.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a bewildering and whiplash-inducing set of reversals.
Those reversals all had one thing in common:
A ‘controversial’ opinion that couldn’t be expressed and was deemed a ‘conspiracy theory,’ only to then be widely embraced and become conventional wisdom once the ‘right experts’ talked about it.
First, the danger of the virus itself was ‘controversial.’
While people like Yours Truly were saying it was something serious and that flights from China should have been banned, politicians and ‘public health experts’ were claiming it was ‘low-risk,’ that it wouldn’t spread much in Canada, that it would be contained, and that calls for border closures were ‘bigoted’ and an ‘overreaction.’
Of course, opinion than rapidly shifted, but only once those same politicians and public health officials reversed themselves.
Then, anyone who thought the virus was low-risk was a ‘conspiracy theorist’ who was ‘killing people.’
Likewise, people who raised doubts about the credibility of China and the World Health Organization early on were repeatedly denounced as ‘fearmongers’ who didn’t know what they were talking about.
The WHO, and China’s claims about the virus, were supposed to be accepted without resistance or dissent.
Only later did the WHO itself admit that they were severely hamstrung in their efforts to get data from China.
By then of course, it was far too late, as they had already put out information like this:
Again, they – the supposed ‘experts’ – failed to do the literal one job they had.
Instead, they were fooled by China at a crucial moment, and put out incorrect information.
We saw this over and over again.
Reversals on the border.
Reversals on masks.
Reversals on social distancing requirements.
Reversals (and outright hypocrisy) on what could and couldn’t stay open.
At each moment, the reaction was disturbingly reminiscent of how the government changed information in the novel 1984, while pretending nothing had ever changed:
“The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”
That part of the novel coincides with the government – which had hitherto been ramping up war fever against their ‘long-time’ enemy Eurasia – switching the propaganda to state they had always been at war with Eastasia, a change that people (either out of fear or stupidity), bought into without questioning and transferring their blood lust onto the new ‘long-time’ enemy.
A similar pattern has emerged in the real world, with many people angrily denouncing those who warned about the virus early and wanted border closures, and then switching to equally aggressive denunciation of anyone who questioned draconian government lockdowns.
So, what is the common denominator here?
An unwillingness to think for themselves
Fear often causes a search for a comforting authority.
And with much of our world feeling heightened fear in the last year and a half, that search for authority reached desperate levels.
Truly strong minds and strong personalities will – even amid fear – seek to think critically, to assess events based on their own understanding, rather than outsourcing their minds to others.
However, many people instead look for an authority figure and seek to adopt whatever opinions that authority figure shares.
Thus, when authorities said the virus was low-risk, they believed it.
Then, they believed when authorities said we had to give up many of our basic freedoms to fight that same virus.
They believed when politicians said border controls were harmful and bigoted.
And they also believed when politicians said border controls were ‘saving lives.’
They believed when the experts said we all had to stay home and avoid gathering to save lives.
And they also believed when the experts said we could gather for BLM protests because ‘racism was as big a public health threat as the virus.
They believed that the idea that COVID-19 may have emerged from a Wuhan Lab was nothing but an unhinged baseless conspiracy theory shared by far-right lunatics and Donald Trump.
And they believed that the idea COVID-19 may have emerged from a Wuhan Lab was a very credible idea worth investigating when it was shared by individuals like Anthony Fauci and other ‘credible figures.’
As you can see, the issue here is that people are abandoning the idea of arriving at the truth, and simply assign ‘truth’ to whatever an authority figure says.
Many of history’s worst moments – and the darkest moments of humanity – have come when people abandon their own minds and outsource their thinking to others, either to an authority figure or to a public caught up in some sort of radical emotional moment.
This also fits with the broader immaturity of society, with politicians and a disturbingly large number of citizens embracing a parent-child relationship between government and the people, rather than the original intention of public servants being our peers, and being accountable to us.
A large number of people, especially when afraid, have shown they will easily – and often happily – give up their rights, and give up their own independent thinking to the government and authority figures, and even more, will gleefully cheer for the punishment of those who refuse to do so.
Thus, the newfound embrace of the Wuhan Lab-Leak Theory – which is only now ‘allowed’ to be talked about because ‘credible experts’ are talking about it, demonstrates how dangerous it is to shut down free expression and wait for the ‘right’ people to speak out.
Many people were cancelled for ‘daring’ to say that China couldn’t be trusted, and those people haven’t gotten any sort of an apology from the politicians and establishment media who have since made this total shift on the issue.
We must recover our backbones and our sense of independent thinking, because we don’t want to live in a society where only those in power are allowed to safely have an opinion.
The solution isn’t to expect the experts to always be right, since we are all human and thus all fallible. The solution is to realize that our fallibility is the precise reason free expression and debate is so important, because the more people can share their views, share their data, and test their ideas in the pressure of public challenge, the more we can arrive together at the truth.
Free expression is the foundation of our society, and forgetting that will mean the destruction of everything we’ve built.
Photo – YouTube