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Christopher Ryan

(Because Andrew asked for a textual analysis, I decided to respond in writing to this one.)

As usual, I find Charles’ writing to be interesting, but long-winded. His argument appears to be that there are ancient fears of contagion that intersect with out-group fears and various historical atrocities. OK.

“It is not my purpose here, however, to present a scientific case. My point is that those in the scientific and medical community who dissent from the demonization of the unvaxxed contend not only with opposing scientific views, but with ancient, powerful psycho-social forces.”

Fine, but I’m interested in scientific cases in this discussion. The fact that there are powerful psycho-social forces at work is interesting, but pretty much always the case. As long as dissenting scientific views are being published in the scientific literature, those forces aren’t powerful enough to block the discussion of whether vaccines are working or not.

“To say that official sources exclude all dissent overstates the case. In fact, peer-reviewed publications and highly credentialed medical doctors and scientists concur with much of what I’ve said. Admittedly, they are in the minority. But if they were right, we would not easily know it.”
So the conversation is happening among experts. That’s important, and basically undermines his argument here. The fact that “we would not easily know it” is irrelevant, in that we don’t “easily know” anything — especially about something as complex as a global pandemic.

“The science on the issue is so clouded by financial incentives and systemic bias that it is impossible to rely on it to light a way through the murk. The system of research and public health suppresses generic medicines and nutritional therapies that have been demonstrated to greatly reduce Covid symptoms and mortality, leaving vaccines as the only choice. It also fails to adequately investigate numerous plausible mechanisms for serious long-term harm. Of course, plausible does not mean certain: at this point no one knows, or indeed can know, what the long-term effects will be. My point, however, is not that the anti-vaxxers are right and being unjustly persecuted. It is that their persecution enacts a pattern that has little to do with whether they are right or wrong, innocent or guilty. The unreliability of the science underscores that point, and suggests that we take a hard look at the deadly social impulses that the science cloaks.”

So his “point is not that anti-vaxxers are right and being unjustly persecuted.” Then why write this overlong essay at all? The overwhelming scientific consensus at the moment is that the vaccines work to reduce transmission, to dramatically reduce severe illness and hospitalization in the vaccinated, and that negative side-effects are extremely rare. Is there a chance that this consensus is wrong? Yes. Certainty is not available. Such is life. We operate with limited information, we often have to choose between bad options. From my perspective, the vaccines are a far less bad option both for myself and for people I may come into contact with. I really don’t want to argue about this. This is my assessment. It could be wrong, but the evidence I see is pretty overwhelming.