Disease X and the Make-believe World of Experts

By Shane Fudge

This week, world leaders met in Davos to discuss the threat of a so-called ‘Disease X’ pandemic and how best to prepare for such an event.  Described as a ‘placeholder name’ – nobody seems to know what the origins, epidemiology, or any other defining characteristics of this disease will be, other than the people promoting this idea suggesting that it is likely cause 20% more fatalities than the Covid-19 pandemic.  In a session titled: ‘Preparing for Disease X’, chair Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus led a panel discussion on ‘novel efforts needed to prepare healthcare systems for the multiple challenges ahead if we are to be prepared for a much more deadly pandemic’.

The current debate on ‘Disease X’ crystalises perhaps the biggest accusation that has been made against orthodox science during these times – the use of ‘scientism’ to promote both government policy and widespread changes to our society and to the ways in which we live.  This is a dangerous combination to be sure, the implications of which have been highlighted by Patrick M. Wood in his own take on scientism:

It is a fatal error to equate scientism with science.  True science explores the natural world using the time-tested scientific method of repeated experimentation and validation.  By comparison, scientism is a speculative, metaphysical, upside-down worldview about the nature of the universe and man’s relation to it.  If left unchecked, scientism – as expressed through technocracy and transhumanism, will end with the abolition of man and the civilization that it has built (Wood, 2022: 3).

Hacker (2014) agrees with this definition, arguing that scientism is ‘the attempt to extend the natural sciences beyond their proper sphere of explanatory competence, and the use of the methods of the natural sciences to explain phenomena that require other forms of explanation’ Scientism: The New Orthodoxy eBook : Williams, Richard N., Robinson, Daniel N.: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store.

In his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn made a radical departure from orthodox views on science by arguing that scientific research is formulated within ‘scientific paradigms’ – means and ways of operating that originate in social conventions and behaviours rather than neutrally uncovering the laws of objective truth.  Challenging the theories of ‘logical positivism’, Kuhn proposed that scientific discourse emerges through the dynamics of the personalities involved in scientific research, where the influence of social conventions, and the interplay of cultural and institutional norms mark out revolutionary science.

These kinds of ideas took on a whole new meaning from the turn of this decade, where the rollout of the pandemic – along with the tagline of ‘follow the science’ – has been characterised by lies, deceit, misinformation, disinformation and propaganda.  All of this has been deployed under the banner of ‘science’, and the role of ‘scientific experts’ has been centre stage.  To those paying close attention, it was clear that the people overseeing this agenda seemed to have more of an understanding of the ways and means by which people could be persuaded, coerced, and manipulated into buying into a narrative rather than presenting them with hard facts and data to corroborate events and to validate accompanying policy. In the UK, for example, the cultural standing of the NHS was used as part of a billion-pound marketing campaign emphasising ‘saving granny’, and ‘doing your bit to protect the NHS from overwhelm’; the ‘hands, face and space’ mantra was repeated on daily government updates and represented and reinforced visually on highstreets, shops, and other gathering places; people were reminded where to stand and where to walk; and people were exhorted and bullied to take an experimental MRNA jab. All of this was done in the name of science.

The sociologist Ulrich Beck has made the point that the role and authority of science has always had its critics, but that a growing awareness of its fallibility informed a cultural shift – ‘the risk society’ – from around the period of the mid-1980s.  Risk Society, argues Beck, is where the grand narratives of modernity – with the role of science the grandest of these – became scrutinised and then undermined by the weight of their own contradictions and false proclamations.  Beck argued that man-made disasters such as Aberfan, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima are examples where the negative impacts of the application of science fed back into wider society, changing everyday perceptions of previously unchallenged scientific claims.  Beck argues that the growing influence of the media and technological innovation were particularly influential in these regards, with science’s ‘Janus Face’ no longer under the protection of experts but much more visible in the real world, placed more firmly into the spotlight, and highlighting the always tenuous balance between scientific ‘goods’ and ‘bads’.

Inspired by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the 1960s counterculture embraced environmentalism on this very premise – that industrialisation and its basis in positivistic science, was not the panacea for a progressive world for all that we had been led to believe.  The movement itself gained huge momentum during this time of crisis for the role of science and its influence on the natural world and led directly to the formation of environmental NGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund and Friends of the Earth.  NGOs themselves then became a huge influence on the unfolding environmental agenda, gaining a place alongside the heads of government at the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Environment and then centre stage at the Rio Earth Summit 20 years later. Interestingly, the role and influence of NGOs on the environmental debate has been questioned by many in recent times, i.e., whether they are simply pushing propaganda as opposed to representing civil society and the population at large, as well as the environmental movement.

Events since 2020 have pushed debates around science, its use and role in society, and the people who are involved in science, profitability, and marketing, to another level.  As an institution and a creditable form of knowledge, science is now arguably the single biggest contributor to the divide that we now see in our society.  Matthias Desmet’s book The Psychology of Totalitarianism has been hugely influential in outlining the role of ‘mass formation psychosis’ in hoodwinking a large section of the global population to accepting the conditions for an authoritarian takeover.  Mass formation theory breaks with more recent psychological and sociological models of human behaviour, instead drawing from 1950s/early 1960s social psychology to highlight the role of conformity in consolidating social norms and ‘groupthink’.  The central hypotheses in these studies were to ascertain the ways and circumstances in which individuals understand and process social cues.  Desmet argues that the free-floating anxiety engendered through the pandemic makes people more susceptible to manipulation and more likely to acquiesce to questionable policies, questionable science, and nefarious political agendas. ‘Following the science’ then offers a solution to those who find themselves in a state of fear, anxiety and/or confusion about what to do in a world that has suddenly been turned on its head and everyday social rules transformed.

In a recent book by Paul Goddard and Angus Dalgleish: The death of science: the retreat from reason in the postmodern world, Clare Craig likened science in the age of covid to ‘a religion’.  She goes on to say:

The decline of the scientific method has become increasingly apparent as various fields have become plagued by manipulation and political interference.  Science is dependent on objectivity, scepticism, and the willingness to change one’s mind based on new evidence.  It is not compatible with a culture which is politicised, or which has faith in certain beliefs regardless of the evidence.  In recent years, politics and religious like beliefs have contributed to the death of science (Craig, 2023: 221)  

The divide between those who choose to still believe in ‘scientific truth’ and those who are now rightly sceptical of these claims has never been starker. Which brings us back to ‘Disease X’.  If possible, discussions and preparations for a disease that only currently exists in the minds of experts would merely seem to signify a continuation of the way in which the credibility of scientific knowledge has been pushed to the very limits of believability over the last four years.  It is almost as if there has been a competition amongst scientists, politicians, and the media to make the most outrageous claim (‘this jab is 97% effective’, ‘you will only need one vaccination’, ‘we only met at Downing Street on official meetings and we were still following the science’, etc.).  Incredibly, many people have continued to believe the narrative being pushed.  Even after the UK Government was found to have openly broken its own rules at the same time as telling people to stay away from dying friends and relatives; even after untold numbers of people have been getting repeatedly sick after taking part in an experimental vaccination programme; even after an excess worldwide death rate that has averaged over 20% higher during the past three years.  As the vaccine rollout has come under scrutiny – highlighted by cameos such as the Pfizer admission that vaccines were never tested for transmission but, more starkly, by sheer number of excess and ‘sudden deaths’ – the level of denial has remained breath taking and inexplicable.

It has been argued that the science currently being rolled out can be more appropriately viewed as ‘the takeover of evolution’, whereby scientific endeavours of the last 30 years, including ‘genetic modification of bacteria, crop, seeds, grasses, insects, fish and animals may look benign, and promised to benefit mankind, but the practitioners goal is to hijack evolution in order to direct and control future life on earth’.

The Evil Twins of Technocracy and Transhumanism

Wood argues that science has never been about the betterment of mankind.  Ultimately, it is an elite establishment that is directed by moneyed elites in their own interests.  Is it coincidental that the rollout of Schwab’s Great Reset just happened to occur right in the middle of a global pandemic? Or has this been an example of the way in which scientism has been used to collapse both the social and the natural worlds into a ‘reductive materialism’, which is, broadly speaking, the conflation of the scientific methods deployed in the natural sciences to solve more complex, metaphysical issues through empirical inquiry? The ways in which these worlds have been collapsed into an overall agenda has been promoted under the banner of ‘science’.

Image: Technocracy News & Trends

Shane Fudge: I enjoyed a twenty-year career in academia in a variety of teaching, research and educational roles after working as a bricklayer on leaving school. After negotiating and overcoming my own challenges in education, I successfully completed a PhD in European Politics in 2006, before embarking on a six-year postdoctoral research post at the University of Surrey and then a five-year teaching post at the University of Exeter. I currently work as a writer and I am training to be a qigong teacher.

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