Between October of 2019 and February 2022 I had a monthly column at the influential Catalan daily Vilaweb. During that time, I emerged, for better or worse, as one of the more harsh and constant critics in the Catalan press of the both Catalan and Spanish government approaches to containing the virus.
The essay below is an English translation of a column I published in June of 2021 in that paper. N.B., the editor in the Editor’s note is not the real editor of the paper, but a figment of my literary imagination. The rest of the piece, however, is solidly anchored in reality.
An Interview With a Very Dangerous Man
Editor’s Note: Upon reading the last piece by our columnist TH, in which he again questions key elements of the Covid narrative, a valued member of our subscription community dubbed him a “very dangerous man” and, backed by others, called for his firing from the paper. Concerned about his well-being we sent our crack correspondent Thomas Harrington out to talk with him. The text below is the record of their conversation.
Thomas Harrington: Where are you right now?
Very Dangerous Man: For reasons of operational security, I don’t usually talk publicly about my location. Let’s just say that I am in a safe place from whence I can plan more dangerous essayistic attacks on the well-being of the citizens of Catalonia of the type that have made me a prime object of scorn for Vilaweb’s numerous readers.
TH: What is a typical day in the life of a Very Dangerous Man like you?
VDM: I think Hollywood has given us too glamorous a view of Very Dangerous Men like me. The truth is that my days are pretty boring. I read a lot and sometimes I write. I also work in my capacity as a teacher to corrupt the minds of my students, asking them incisive questions and demanding they bolster their arguments, not on the basis of “people say,” “I have heard” and “everyone knows,” but with documented studies discovered as part of their own research.
TH: Did you always aspire to be a very dangerous man?
VDM: Yes. I realized this for the first time at the age of two when my grandfather asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. And without thinking twice I told him (I remember it like it was yesterday!) I wanted to be “a Very Dangerous Man.” But over the years, I discovered that doing it was much harder than saying it. In those years you usually had to do something very big, like for example sell nuclear secrets to the official enemy of the moment, or like Ellsberg, steal the documents that showed that the US government knew from the early sixties that the war in Vietnam was an exercise in futility and that, because of this, the deaths of millions of Vietnamese, and about 60,000 American soldiers were completely unnecessary. That’s how things were until recently.
But now everything has changed.
Now the barriers to entry for those of us who want to enter the previously small circle of VDMs have been dramatically lowered. Now it’s enough to simply use an incorrect pronoun, or realize that no matter how much you don’t agree, even remotely, with everything that their leaders do, that countries like Russia, Syria or China also have legitimate national and territorial interests.
But the fastest and surest way to achieve ascension to the VDM circle is to cite scientific studies that suggest that “The Science”™ quoted by the press, and the scientists chosen by the ruling class to explain Covid to the masses—leaders, doctors and epidemiologists who, of course, never receive or give in to the pressures of the great centers of international economic power or think to use crises to increase their control over the public—might not be telling us everything we need to know in order to respond in the most democratically responsible way to the challenge of Covid. It works every time.
TH: Are you suggesting that science is based, above all, on the rigorous and constant debate and confrontation of various explanations of reality? And what’s more, that there may be people and entities, that for their own interests, may have a desire to restrict the parameters of the debates on the best way to fight the virus? What you are saying is outrageous!!
Pardon the digression, but I would like to add a little context for our sensitive and impressionable readers out there reminding them of the fact that while everything the press said before November of 2016 was absolutely true, we are now in the perilous new era of fake news and that they should keep this in mind as they listen to the words of this Very Dangerous Man. They should also remember that drug companies are basically charities that think of nothing but improving the human condition 24 hours a day and would never think of, say, encouraging opioid addiction among the US population for years, or promoting drugs of marginal utility but recommended lifelong use to increase their own income. And that neither these or other companies will ever use the enormous amounts of money they earn to influence the media and civic processes of the societies in which they operate.
It’s like suggesting, for example that the prime minister of Spain would change the Spanish constitution on a summer afternoon in 2011 to please the big European banks, or that Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, attentive to the wishes of the Deep State powers in Madrid, has no interest in entering into serious negotiations about the political status of Catalonia within Spain. In other words, we must always be attentive to the fog of misinformation around us.
VDM: I appreciate your digression as it gives me more opportunities to strengthen my credentials as a dangerous man before the public. I would not only like to reaffirm the idea that free debate is absolutely central to all scientific and governmental processes but add that censorship in the so-called democratic countries has reached levels not seen in 70 years if not more, and that the parameters of the debate on policies relating to Covid within the Spanish state are among the narrowest in the so-called Western world.
It is not clear why this is so. But I think we can find some clues in the work of the great scholar of propaganda, Jacques Ellul, who suggested that the bourgeois class is always the prime center of support for the propaganda codes devised by the super-elites to justify their “natural” control of society, imbuing this top-down propaganda with a level of a conviction that the magnates themselves lack.
Spain is a society full of relative newcomers to the bourgeois world. It is thus only understandable that in their desire to demonstrate their bourgeois bona fides these newly elevated citizens might bend over backwards to show their devotion to the prime mythologies of contemporary bourgeois life which, of course, include an absolute faith in modern medicine and its pharmaceutical solutions.
Nor can we discount the long-term effects on a society of the experience—largely unacknowledged—of living for almost four decades under state propaganda that constantly reminds them of the perils, in the form of a possible new Civil War, of going against the general flow of the society. Under such circumstances fear and submission to authority become an almost natural reflex? Of course, suggesting this also makes me dangerous because it challenges the still widespread idea that both Spaniards and Catalans experienced complete cultural makeovers in the years and decades following Franco’s death in 1975.
TH: What else makes you a dangerous man?
VDM: Many things. One of the most dangerous things I do is to suggest that an epidemic is a problem of a deeply interdisciplinary nature and that, therefore, the last people who should be leading an effort to combat it are doctors in general, and virologists in particular. Due to their training under the very narrow Western paradigm of the doctor as “disease hunter,” they are often completely unable to contemplate the cost in other very important social goods of their much-cherished “wars” of eradication against particular diseases. They should obviously be an important part of policy discussions. But just one voice among many others. The final decisions must always be in the hands of others, preferably elected politicians, with a broader vision of the idea of public health. And if these politicians instead choose to hide behind the aforementioned monomaniacal “experts,” we must demand they bring other civic voices to the conversation.
I am also dangerous because I suggest that a well-educated person without a scientific background (especially if he is a professional researcher used to handling large amounts of information) is generally able to read scientific literature and use what he reads to create a critical vision of the Covid problem as a whole. Moreover, I will say that those who have the time and this particular intellectual training and do not do so—thus leaving the task of creating visions of the “reality” of the problem in the hands of journalists and fact-checkers enslaved by the frantic pace of their work and subjected to very strong corporatist pressures—are close to negligent.
At the same time, it is important to emphasize what I am not saying: that the reading of scientific articles by non-specialists can be done with the same acuity and attention to details that the specialist in the discipline could bring to the task. To state something like that would be absurd. But this does not mean that the interpretations of non-specialists are useless, or as some suggest, a kind of desecration of the cult of scientists.
If so, then why are the interpretations of mainstream journalists writing and commenting on the same studies considered licit? Efforts to analyze discrete elements of a disease must always exist in a yin-yang dynamic with efforts to synthesize a view of the social problem as a whole.
And you don’t need a license of any kind to profitably participate in this important intellectual and civic process. All it takes is a mind dedicated to active and rigorous discernment of the complexity of life.
I am also dangerous for saying things like “criticizing the ways to combat Covid is not the same as denying the existence of the virus, nor the serious problems it has caused.” Or that “expressing some uneasiness about the desire of governments to vaccinate all individuals in their societies with experimental vaccines that have not gone through a full cycle of safety tests for a disease that, according to the latest meta-study by John Ioannidis leaves 99.85% of those infected alive,” is not the same as being opposed to all vaccines.” Obviously inflammatory stuff.
My only purpose in saying things like this is, as everyone knows, to provoke good altruistic people, and to give vent to my only slightly hidden desire to see the maximum number of people die, while at the same time giving to succor Vox and all the other fascists and proto-fascists in Spain and around the world.
But the thing that makes me most dangerous is the way I torment the devotees of Our Lady of Masks and Lockdown and other hallowed members of the church of “The Science”™ with—get this—true scientific (that’s lower case) studies, or probing questions based on scientific studies (with a lower case) that call into question essential elements of their faith. It drives them perfectly nuts.
TH: For example?
VDM: If according to the CDC the chance of a person under 50 infected with SARS-CoV-2 (who themselves are a small minority of the total population to begin with) dying from Covid is 0.05%, what reason is there for all these people to urgently take an experimental vaccine that has not undergone the full safety testing? This, when the EUA briefing reports for the three currently available vaccines all say (Moderna (p.49), Pfizer (p.47) and (here too) i Jansson (p.57) there is no evidence to prove that these injections limit the transmission of the virus?
Or asking why this analysis of the probable capabilities and safety profiles of the vaccines, produced by a group of 30 prestigious scientists from around the world, has not yet made its way into the Catalan press?
Or asking what exactly was the new science that led the CDC, WHO and Germany’s RKI to simultaneously share their previous highly skeptical positions on effectiveness of masks as barriers against infection in the general public?
Or, if as this article suggests, there are serious questions about both the origin and reliability of the Corman-Drosten RT-PCR testing protocol, why isn’t this being openly debated in the press?
Or why, if there is an apparent scientific consensus regarding the unreliability (in favor of false positives) of all PCR tests operated beyond 30-33 ct (Cycle thresholds), why is the FDA along with most European regulatory institutions recommending that they be run at 40ct and up?
Or why did the CDC adopt, apparently illegally, an entirely new and completely sui generis protocol for counting “Covid deaths” in the spring of 2020?
And why did the authorities, who as we saw above actively promoted the appearance of “cases” by putting the recommended level of PCR testing at 40ct, suddenly just adjust it to 28ct for the purposes of calculating the number of cases now suddenly appearing in the cohort of the fully vaccinated?
Or I could ask, for example, how it is that the number of deaths per million in that terrible and irresponsible country called Sweden, where there were no generalized lockdowns and no mandatory masking, are less than in Spain with its rather strict confinement regime? Or about the fact that in the US many states without lockdowns and without the mandatory public masking (e.g. Florida, Georgia and now Texas) have the same or better results in cases and deaths than several states (California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts) with much stricter “mitigation” regimes?
You see, silly but apparently quite irritating stuff, with obviously no connection to the important tasks of rigorously measuring the magnitude of the problem we face and generating appropriate ways to respond to it.
Shall I continue?
TH: No. I have already heard more than enough. I now understand why you are considered a Very Dangerous Man. It seems to me that the responsible thing to be done at this point is ban you from all of the world’s media platforms.