Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone, and welcome to the 146th episode of the Atlas Society. Asks, my name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. My friends call me Jag. I'm the c e o of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit organization, introducing young people to the ideas of Iran in fun, creative ways, animated videos, graphic novels, also leveraging cutting edge technology like artificial and televisions. Today we are joined by Gabrielle Bauer. Before I even begin to introduce our guest, I want to remind all of you who are watching us on Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. Go ahead, get started. Use that comment section to type in your questions, and we will get to as many of them as we can. Gabrielle Bauer is author of Blind Site, is 2020, reflections on Covid policies from dissident scientists, philosophers, artists, and more. Uh, as you can see, mine is already well worn with all of these bookmarks. It is a new publication from our friends at the Brownstone Institute. It profiles dozens of thinkers bringing fresh and diverse perspectives, uh, on the ethical breaches and social upheaval, resulting from Covid 19 policies. Bowers Health Journalism has also won several national awards. Gabrielle, thank you for joining us.
Speaker 1 00:01:35 No, you're welcome. It's a pleasure to be here.
Speaker 0 00:01:37 So, in your book, you share stories from people, various walks of life, scientists, filmmakers, executives, quote, who shared the conviction that the world had lost its mind and quote, but you also share your story. So perhaps you'll share a bit of that with us. What is the path that took you from nearly getting trapped in Brazil's lockdowns to writing this book?
Speaker 1 00:02:06 Well, you got three hours. No <laugh> I'll, I'll, uh, I'll try to make it short. Um, I was in Brazil when this all started. I was visiting friends. That's a whole story in itself. I, I had lived in Brazil for five months, two years earlier, and made some wonderful friends, and I was down visiting them. And then the city where I was locked down and, um, the prime Minister of Canada where I live, said, you know, all Canadians need to come home. I resisted it for a while because I had just got there and really wanted to see my friends, but it soon became clear that I wasn't gonna be able to see anyone because everything was locked down. And, uh, some of my friends were afraid. And so I went to Sao Paolo and waited, you know, 48 hours for the first plane that I could get on, and then finally made it back to Toronto. And when I got got home, my, my husband literally greeted me with his hand outstretched, like, stop, stay six feet away, <laugh>. And, um, and so I quarantined for 14 days
Speaker 0 00:03:12 In the basement
Speaker 1 00:03:13 When, in the basement when I had a lot of time, you know, I had my computer so I could really think about what was going on. And from the very, very first day this all happened, it did not sit right with me. Um, I am 66 years old. I was 63 when it happened. So presumably in an age bracket that would want the protection from all these measures, but it didn't sit right with me in a very, you know, profound way. And, um, I, I needed to explore that. I mean, I tried. I gave it a good college try. You know, I, I describe in the book how I, um, put a banner under my Facebook, uh, picture, you know, stay home, save lives. But it did not feel authentic. And a few hours later it came down. And, um, you know, I reflected deeply on all this.
Speaker 1 00:04:06 It, it took me a while to really acquire the vocabulary, to understand what was troubling me about all this, and about this whole new covid culture that was springing up, um, characterized, you know, by shaming and snitching and, um, fear, fear, fear. It, it all seemed disproportionate and, and wrong. And, and somehow that it was missing something vital. And, you know, one thing led to another. Um, I ended up forming a group in Toronto of people who shared my sentiments. Uh, we called ourselves Qit, questioning Lockdowns in Toronto. And we became very, very active on, uh, WhatsApp. Our, our WhatsApp chat never slept. We organized meetups as well. And we were a great support to each other, um, at a time when the whole world seemed just collectively to have taken a single, you know, path. And when any objections would get shut down and shamed.
Speaker 0 00:05:16 I remember that time Well, um, and I, you also found your, your tribe, um, and in speaking with these other voices, seemed to also help to find your own. And so, at the beginning of your book, you, uh, have a chapter called A Tale of Two Stories. Um, and there was one dominant story that you said, you know, you tried to buy into, but it didn't quite, uh, feel right for you. But tell us about those two stories. What are they, what are the differences between how they traveled, uh, how, who they appealed to and what the implications were of the very disparate way that those two stories were treated?
Speaker 1 00:06:10 Um, so I've heard these stories, uh, described as the thesis and the antithesis. So the thesis was the dominant story, and it was a bit of a war story. Um, the thesis postulated that, um, COVID was this extinction level enemy, an enemy of the people. And we had to marshal all our forces and resources to defeat this enemy. Um, whatever it took, whatever sacrifices it took, uh, whatever privations it took, we just had to do it. There's no other way. Um, everything else could wait, you know, or, you know, living cultural activities, um, any kind of social activities, communion, religion, whatever. Um, it could all wait. We just had to do this.
Speaker 1 00:07:02 And, and then under that story, this counter narrative started to build up, uh, you know, slowly at first. And we weren't allowed to talk about it. And, you know, we had to kind of feel around to find like-minded people. And this, this counter narrative was more of what I call an ecological story. You know, there's this virus that has entered our ecosystem, uh, you know, seems to be uncommonly contagious, uh, from what we can see so far. It doesn't look like eradicating it is a realistic or worthwhile endeavor because it carries too high a cost. So we somehow have to find a way to coexist with it, um, you know, without ruining everything that makes, that gives our lives texture and meaning and brilliance and, and all those things. Um, so that's how I describe the two, uh, stories.
Speaker 0 00:08:01 And you also described two groups that gravitated towards one story or the other. Uh, a team A and a team B. Um, yes. Team b i is sometimes described as as team reality. Of course, I'm sure Team A thinks that they were team reality, but
Speaker 1 00:08:21 Yeah,
Speaker 0 00:08:21 I know. Describe them.
Speaker 1 00:08:23 Justin Hart, who you may know, describes team A as team apocalypse mm-hmm. <affirmative> and Team B as team reality. Um, but as you say, you know, each team thinks that they're on the, on the reality side. Um, so which kind of people did it? Did it, did, you know, join each team? Um, I was actually very surprised initially at all the people who joined team A kind of reflexively. Uh, I had not believed that my own ideas about life and freedom and, and, you know, the balance between safety and freedom and all these things. I had not believed that my ideas were extraordinary in the slightest. I thought I was just average in that regard. And so it was a real shock to me to see just, just about everyone I knew, just leap to team A and that was it. So I really thought a lot in a long time, deeply about all this.
Speaker 1 00:09:22 And it's, it's hard to come up with, um, you know, a list of characteristics. But I think that there is something in modern society that I call the biomedical view of living that is very dominant, and that that is, you know, that we are entitled to a certain level of, of physical health and protection. And it's the government's job to do that. And it's the government's job to prioritize that over all other considerations. So I think a lot of people subscribe to that ideology because it is, it has become dominant in today's society cuz we have the technological tools or more of them, uh, to make it somewhat possible. And so there's this focus on what I call, um, metabolic health. You know, keeping metabolic health going, um, has become very prevalent. And those are the, you know, the people who subscribe to that model, you know, uh, went to tme. And then there's this initially rag tag and then more organized group of dissidents who have perhaps a more, what I call a more holistic view of life and living, um, who recoiled against the team a model and, and found another team.
Speaker 0 00:10:51 So I'm gonna pause. I'm gonna remind all of you that are watching us on different platforms to just go ahead and dive in. I also wanna encourage you to check out, uh, Gabrielle's book. Blindside is 2020. It was real fun for me because a lot of the people that you profiled are people that I've been following, or people that I've interviewed myself. And to dive in a little bit more to their backstory was, uh, was a real treat. So, uh, in looking at those people that you profiled, uh, including many with insights into psychology, um, you talked about them having a kind of a more holistic view, uh, less myopic view, taking into account trade offs mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But were there other factors, um, that determined, you know, how the, these people ended up, you know, taking that skeptical view and ending up in this book? Uh, were there factors of temperament, ideology? You know, a lot of times this was just cast in terms of ideology. And I think that there was an aspect of that for sure. Um, actual risk profile people that were, uh, at higher risk tended to be the ones who were, um, more apocalyptical about. It was,
Speaker 1 00:12:14 Although many, many young people were too, which
Speaker 0 00:12:17 That surprised
Speaker 1 00:12:17 You. That's true. You know, we,
Speaker 0 00:12:18 We've, I mean, in, in fact, when I see a lot of the people that are still walking around, um, with masks, they are, uh, negligible, uh, risk and probably harming themselves with, um, keeping their immune system so naive and, uh, not interacting with, with the kind of normal bugs and germs that you, um, encounter in real life. So
Speaker 1 00:12:46 Yeah, it, it reflects a certain worldview. So going back to your question, you know, how did these people make their way into the book? Um, there's various factors. Um, I wanted to have a balance of disciplines for one thing. Um, because again, part of the dominant narrative has been we have to listen to the scientists as though only scientists have worthwhile things to say about how to manage a pandemic. That is one of the, the chief, um, themes in the book that, no, this is absolutely not true. The scientists
Speaker 1 00:13:21 Know more than others about, you know, virology or patterns of transmission, but they do not know more or have more authority than anyone else in s steering humans through a pandemic, because there are many aspects that go beyond the science of a virus. You know, there are aspects of mental health, uh, spiritual health, um, you know, how to balance economic health, economic health, how to balance costs and benefits. I mean, and scientists act. In fact, scientists may be at a disadvantage in evaluating these other facets because they are trained to look for one male and they have their one hammer. So I felt it was very important to really go beyond featuring just scientists. So I definitely do feature some scientists and doctors because, you know, they did have some of the dissident scientists, um, accomplished important things. But I also feature novelists and, um, other artists, philosophers, ethicists, very, very important. Um, and even a comedian and a priest, you know,
Speaker 0 00:14:28 <laugh>.
Speaker 1 00:14:29 So, and then the other thing is I featured people who really held my hand in, in a way, throughout this journey, people that I discovered along the way online or in person and, and who really helped sustain me. So I, you know, I know a couple of people have said, well, how come I'm not in the book? And, you know, it's a fair criticism, but you can't include everyone because there are so many bright lights in the in c, b, and there's no way I can include them all. And I make no claim to including the most important one. I just wanted to, I wanted to balance, as I said, disciplines and also p political perspectives to help, you know, counter that perception that it's just alt-right, whatever. Yeah. Um, supporters who, who would oppose any of this stuff. And it's not at all the case. So I, that, that was part of my objective
Speaker 0 00:15:24 Object, the selection process. So some of the people you profile are relatively well known. Jay Bachar, Vene Prad, Glenn Greenwald, Jennifer Se, uh, Andrews Tek. He was the chief epidemiologist, um, chief health officer in Sweden. Uh, but others were fairly new to me, which was surprising because I thought I followed this space pretty obsessively. Uh, if you were to choose one of those two lesser known names, tell us who they were and what their stories have to offer in terms of a better understanding of the past three years.
Speaker 1 00:16:04 Um, well, there's a couple of writers that come to mind. I, I find that of all the people, um, all the covid commentators that I know, I find the writers have arguably been the most insightful. Well, and they also know how to express those insights because they are writers. Um, one of them is, um, Lionel Shriver Li who's actually a woman. She's the author of, um, the very well known We need to talk about Kevin. And, and she was a very salty, acerbic skeptic from the start. And I really identified with the way she just recoiled against this wholesale assault on personal freedom and completely unquestioned, you know, and the minu she that we entrusted to governments, to, um, you know, to handle, you know, how far we could stay from people, how many people we could have in our bubble, you know, where we could stand, where we could sit, where we could breathe.
Speaker 1 00:17:03 Um, you know, the most weather, weather and how we could have sex. I mean, there was no end to it. And it's astonishing when you think about that, that a large swath of society just accepted that. Um, and so, and, and she, and then a another writer who is in the same chapter as the one in which I feature her, um, Matthew Crawford, he's a very interesting fellow cuz he's a, a writer, he's a philosopher and also a mechanic. So, um, and he, he loves the open road, comes alive on the open road. Um, so he has a visceral understanding of, of what freedom means. Um, and he talks about how pro-social inclinations, you know, humans sort of naturally wanting to help each other don't come about in a, a climate of coercion. You know, they just don't. Um, so this idea of top-down collectivism just doesn't work, or it may work for a time and then it stops working because everyone's different. And, you know, to expect everyone to be all in it together when you're dictating their every move, which is kind of the model that the government's used, um, doesn't really bring out the best in people. And, you know, we've seen it happen. People, it just divided people, um, and ultimately was not sustainable.
Speaker 1 00:18:37 Interesting. Because not, not everyone's the same, and not everyone wants the same things and has the same priorities. So you, you have to, um, inject some individuality into your, uh, recommendations.
Speaker 0 00:18:48 So you talked about wanting to bring, uh, political balance to encounter this narrative that, um, anybody who questioned lockdowns or looked at the science of actual gradations of risk according to age, maybe we shouldn't treat five year olds like 95 year olds, uh, that they were all lumped toge together. They're qan on conspiracy, they're racist. That one still strikes me is how that, you know, yeah.
Speaker 1 00:19:20 Not wearing a mask is racist. I know. I'm still trying to figure that one out.
Speaker 0 00:19:25 Um, but so they, so they were, so many of those that you profiled were in fact fairly liberal, uh, Democrats as we'd say here in the United States. And they questioned, uh, the party line on things like lockdowns masks, and they found themselves on the receiving end of critical, uh, ridicule, ostracism even, uh, death wishes. Were there any commonalities among lockdown and mask mandates, skeptics on the left, whether a concern with free speech or the disproportionate negative impact of these policies on the poor, or just an intolerance of hypocrisy?
Speaker 1 00:20:07 Um, I would say all of the above. And, and in fact, the, uh, the, the parameters that you describe, you know, different people focused more on one or the other. Like Matt Taby, for instance, the journalist. Um, he came out as a, an ardent dis defender of free speech. Um, and so that was his, his focus, uh, Glen Greenwald, that the hypocrisy is what really ranked him. Um, he had already written a book about hypocrisy in US politics, um, a dozen years before the pandemic. And what was the third thing you mentioned? Um,
Speaker 0 00:20:46 Uh, and the disparate impact on, uh, the poor. On
Speaker 1 00:20:49 The poor. Oh, yeah, yeah, that's right. Well, there's, there's a minority, very left, left-leaning doctor, Canadian doctor, uh, in Toronto called Stefan Baral. And, um, he ministers to the poor, you know, he helps them and, uh, and treats them. And so that was, that was his primary area of concern. Um, another one, a British, uh, psychiatrist, um, who is also in the book, he treats people with serious mental health problems, and they simply do not have the resources to behave in the ways that the governments wanted them to behave. Um, so that was his, you know, soapbox. Um, but again, it comes down to the idea that we cannot treat all people as though they were the same, with the same, the, you know, they don't have the same circumstances, resources, capabilities, um, or needs. And treating them all in an identical or ex, having the same expectations of everyone is, is cruel and not sustainable.
Speaker 0 00:21:58 All right. I'm gonna dip into some of the questions that are coming across the transom Facebook, Alex Marinna, good to see you again, my friend. Uh, he says, Gabrielle, you mentioned you almost couldn't get back into Canada. Did you know anyone who did get stranded overseas from their homes?
Speaker 1 00:22:18 No. I mean, I read about some people, but I, I didn't, um, actually know about them. Um, but it was certainly a harrowing 48 hours at the airport. We were all waiting for the next flight, and the airport was just a, a complete zoo. And it was interesting because part of me just wanted to go right back. I had a friend in Flo Opolis, the Brazilian city where I was, who's very alternative, and she offered to put me up for a month, you know, with all her cats and dogs and geese and rabbits and whatever. It was very tempting, um, just to escape the whole thing and, and stay there. But, you know, I did have my husband, I didn't wanna leave him on his own. And, um, so
Speaker 0 00:22:58 I can, speaking of which, yeah, was there any tension? I mean, you describe how, you know, when you first came home and he said to the, to the, to the basement. Uh, I mean, cuz I think that has been very difficult for families and for some couples when they had a, you know, different view of what was going on and, and the, the policies.
Speaker 1 00:23:20 Um, well, to my husband's great credit, he is the last person ever to shame anyone. He just doesn't do that. So, although he was initially a much more cautious and much more afraid than I was, I was never afraid. As I say, despite my age, I was, I was never afraid. I don't think I was in denial. On the contrary, I was quite obsessed with the whole thing and read the data and the studies and the stats, but I was not afraid. Um, he was, and he would wipe down his groceries, but he never shamed me. And, and then the interesting thing is, you know, I guess maybe some of my attitude rubbed off on him because now he's, he's really sick of masks. He belongs, he's retired and he, um, uh, is active in, uh, community theater, and he is royally fed up with the mask requirements within community theater because he thinks it really interferes with rehearsals, you know, with connection. Um, that happens with the whole magic of live theater.
Speaker 0 00:24:16 Interesting. So,
Speaker 1 00:24:17 Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:24:17 All right. Here's a different kind of question from George. Alex Olos on Twitter. He's asking, Gabrielle, looking back at your study of the medical field, your work as a medical journalist, uh, would you agree that the medical complex focuses more on disease mitigation rather than prevention?
Speaker 1 00:24:39 Absolutely. Absolutely. Now, and I would go even further, I would, that it focuses on the physiological aspects of health. So, um, you know, the W H O has defined health as a, as a total state of being that encompasses mental and social and spiritual health. But the medical profession has forgotten that, and they completely forgot it or ignored it during covid, and if you dared bring it up, yeah. You were accused of being a, a granny killer.
Speaker 0 00:25:13 All right. My modern gal, our friend on Instagram asks, uh, he's saying in some states here in the United States, at least, things have basically reverted back to pre covid. No masks, no social distancing, uh, but this is not true for all states. He wants to know what the situation is like in Canada.
Speaker 1 00:25:33 Um, I think it's fairly similar now in Canada. Um, you know, finally it took a lot longer, certainly in the province of Ontario, uh, for things to normalize. Um, but I would say we're in pretty good shape now. You know, the, the only place where you still encounter a lot of resistance, I find, is online. If you step into certain communities, um, you will find the people in them advocating for masks forever. And, and, and really for a new social paradigm, um, in which the world is treated like an infection control zone, um, with all these checkpoints, you know, and that's what some people wanted. And I think that's what led to a lot of despair in me and in a lot of people, um, you know, with my concerns that there was a certain group of people that just wanted to revolutionize society in this way. You know, not in what I consider a good way, uh, but really just to make the whole world into a hospital.
Speaker 0 00:26:36 All right. Uh, Candace Marina on Facebook, out of all the pushback made against your writing or anti-lock or e efforts in general, what do you think was the most surprising?
Speaker 1 00:26:53 Well, I guess the, the intensity of the reaction I got online initially in the first few weeks, um, when I, nobody in my, um, real world circle was on the same wavelength as me. I tried to find connections online and
Speaker 0 00:27:08 Pretty lonely.
Speaker 1 00:27:10 Yeah. And, and the things that I was called, I mean, I had lived 63 years, no one had ever called me, you know, it was sociopath or, you know, retard or negative iq or a mouth breathing Trump tart and all these things. It was, it was just shocking. Um, I could not believe the degree of vitriol. Um, you know, there was definitely a social phenomenon going on beyond the pandemic. And, and in one of the chapters I talk about that, you know, there's this, uh, a Mathias Desmond, um, a psychology professor in Belgium who has called this whole phenomenon mass formation, which is really a, a fancy word for just group, group think, and group psychology. And, and that was so strong in the beginning, and we really saw it in action.
Speaker 0 00:27:59 Yeah. And I, I wanna get, uh, a little bit more into that as well. Um, I'm gonna ask our friends online to pause for a second, cuz I have a few more questions that I wanted to, to get to. I guess I would say, uh, to Candace that the thing that surprised me the most in the United States was just, well, certainly was pretty surprising and shocking to, to me and, um, our friend Jeffrey Tucker. Uh, to see groups that are, were supposedly committed to individualism and constitutional government, uh, and freedom, uh, and to critical thinking about trade-offs, to see so many libertarian groups that just, uh, just like you, they, they put up that safe, safe to stay home, and they kept it up a lot longer than, than you did. And really, um, I think there hasn't been an accounting for that. And also the surprise of just, you know, I, I think we all have our stereotypes.
Speaker 0 00:29:02 I mean, we certainly have stereotype, we have stereotypes of Canadians and Canadian mic, and we have stereotypes of, uh, Australians, you know, being kind of rugged, uh, individualists and so surprising, and maybe it was probably more of the, of the stereotype that got wrong. Um, but here in the United States, yeah, we, we do tended to value our, our freedom more. And so to see just how readily without a peak, without, uh, with very few exceptions, people, um, bought into this, went along. Um, and, uh, that, that to me was, was the biggest surprise of all and the biggest disappointment. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:29:46 I guess as they say, fear is a powerful drug, right? So,
Speaker 0 00:29:50 Yeah. Um, I, I guess, or the desire to, to, to conform, but, you know, and, and to give people the benefit of the doubt. I mean, if you're getting a steady drumbeat of fear, fear, fear from the media, you know, from, um, public health officials, uh, it's, you know, perhaps understandable that that many people just completely bought into that, uh, unquestionably. So, and along those lines, in the past couple of years, we've repeatedly heard the phrase quote out of an abundance of caution to justify school closures or travel bans. What is wrong with the using the proc precautionary principle as a guide to public health policy?
Speaker 1 00:30:41 Um, that is a great question, you know, in the subject of one, one chapter as well, um, I mean, the pre precautionary principle is really acting on the basis of a worst case scenario. So that makes sense on a very short-term basis when you really, you know, when the consequences of ignoring that worst case scenario are very grave. And so I'm talking, you know, weeks, uh, but it's just not a life-affirming way to behave. Because if you act on the basis of a worst case scenario for a long period of time, you're essentially restricting yourself from any activity that that poses a risk. And so you're really curtailing, um, your life and, you know, the enjoyment, uh, the happiness, the meaning of your life. So it doesn't make sense to have long-term policies that use an unlikely worst case scenario as a basis, um, because you're completely hamstring, you can't do anything. So, as I say, it makes sense for a very, I mean, it's supposed to be invoked as a very limited time limited principle, and then you move on to something else, then you move on to a proportionality principle where you weigh costs and benefits, um, where you listen to experts from various disciplines.
Speaker 0 00:32:08 Well, I'm glad you brought, broke that down for us, because it sounds so innocuous and, and so reasonable. And so, you know, why, of course, we should act,
Speaker 1 00:32:19 It became a trigger phrase for me whenever I saw it in newspaper. I just had this Pavlovian response like, no, please.
Speaker 0 00:32:27 Uh, well, and another phrase, of course, that we kept hearing throughout the pandemic is, follow the science. What do you and the people that you featured in your book, think about that phrase and how it was used?
Speaker 1 00:32:43 Well, this was something that I had a, a problem with from literally day one, because I remember the day that the lockdowns were discussed in Canada, and it was literally the first day I thought, wait a minute. Um, you know, on the news, everyone was saying, we have to listen to the, the scientists, the experts. I thought, wait a minute, this is not just a scientific problem. It's a social problem, a psychological problem, you know, an ethical problem, a human problem. It makes no sense just to listen to scientists. It makes absolutely no sense. Um, it's as though you were designing a curriculum for a school and you only listened to the geography teachers, it makes absolutely no sense. You know, we needed to have at the discussion table, you know, the economists, the history professors, the mental health experts, um, and of course the ethicists, uh, the psychologists, and where were they? Yeah. They were nowhere to be found. Um, and, and again, this was that team, a mentality that all these things can wait. We just have to focus on this virus and Right. Doesn't work for humans. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:33:53 It, it doesn't, um, in fact, one of, uh, our senior scholars at the Atlas Society on our faculty, professor Richard Salzman and Professor of Political Economy at Duke, wrote an article that I thought was, was really important called Yes, follow the Science in Every Field, right?
Speaker 1 00:34:12 Yes, exactly. If you're gonna follow the science. That's right. That's right. That's exactly
Speaker 0 00:34:16 It. Because we know a few things about economic science and social science and political science. Um, we, we have to take all of those into account.
Speaker 1 00:34:28 Yeah. Some people get very, very, some people get very offended at the idea of cost benefits. You know, they just immediately go, their minds immediately go to, well, no, when it comes to lives, we cannot talk about cost benefit. Um, yeah. But I know in a, in a kind of critical article, I remember reading by Daniel Henan, uh, um, in the Telegraph, I think, or maybe the spectator in the UK saying, the only thing worse than not, no, the only thing worse than putting a value on human life is not doing so, um, that you have to look costs and benefits in the eye if you're an adult. You know, saying things like, if it saves one life, it's all worth it. That's, that's a child's rationale. Of course, we wanna protect people, we wanna save lives, we wanna save our loved ones and ourselves, but we have to look at costs and benefits in the eye as adults. And I think that's some of the, uh, some of what we objected to those on Team B, right. That this sort of childish refusal, um, to, to manage this as adults.
Speaker 0 00:35:37 Well, and you talked about people that get triggered and offended by any notion of a cost be benefit analysis, I get triggered by them because <laugh>, if you, my myopically just focus on, uh, we're going to eliminate any covid, uh, deaths or covid infections without looking at as well at what other deaths are you causing? Uh, not just the deaths of despair, deaths of addiction, deaths of delayed medical care, but, uh, the fact that, um, reducing people's economic opportunities has, again, in economic science and political science been showed to reduce their lifespan, uh, it should have been pretty clear that if we locked down India and Pakistan and all of these other countries, that, uh, you were going to have mass starvation and, uh, you were gonna have a return of a lot of really horrible, uh, things that you were gonna see a return of, uh, a lot of diseases which had previously been wiped out, and that was going to result in, in deaths as well. So, yeah. So, which is why, you know, when I hear these calls for pandemic amnesty, uh, I'm sure you've seen them as well, that call in the Atlantic. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, my take has always been that there needs to be an acknowledgement of mistakes and accountability. First. Have you seen any signs of either, whether from institutions or individuals who most vociferously pressed for things like lockdowns and mandates?
Speaker 1 00:37:29 I would say from some individuals, yes, but not really from mainstream institutions. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I think that they kind of give lip service to the idea that, oh, yes, we did a few things wrong. You know, we should have, you know, maybe communicated, I don't know, the science of masks or something earlier, but it, it, it's never really in favor of really questioning the paradigm that that, um, gave rise to everything. So, no, I
Speaker 0 00:37:57 Haven't really, that's probably the most troubling, right? Because
Speaker 1 00:37:59 I haven't, I don't know about you, but I haven't seen too much evidence at the institutional level of, you know, of self-reflection and, and really, um, questioning that, that model, you know, maybe certain features, yeah, we can tweak this, we can tweak that. But actually, um, reflecting on, on the model, putting a critical gaze on it, I haven't seen much of No.
Speaker 0 00:38:22 Yeah. And I think that, you know, even when institutions or individuals, um, kind of stop with the, uh, first story and, you know, begin moderating their views, um, when there isn't sort of a acknowledgement of, you know, I, I was wrong. I learned something, I made some mistakes. Um, I mean, if I hear that from people, I have so much more respect from them, I feel like I can trust them. Um, whether it's in an issue like this where we're talking about public policy or in our own personal relationships, um, if there isn't an acknowledgement of, yeah, this happened, I have this view I was wrong on.
Speaker 1 00:39:13 But, you know, I I, I don't consider it entirely a matter of right and wrong. I know a lot of people in, in Team B do, you know, they, they say, well, we were right and they were wrong. I, I don't see it quite in that way. I think that there are some, um, some aspects of this that depend on the data, and then some aspects that do not depend on the data that are, um, you know, data independent. There, there are more question of worldview. I think if you want one kind of world, you're going to support a certain kind of policy. And if you want another kind of world, you're going to support a different kind of policy. And, you know, I don't know if I can honestly say that, you know, my worldview is better. It certainly feels better
Speaker 0 00:39:55 For me, <laugh>, I can, I I don't have any, uh, hesitation about saying that. I, I mean, I'm, I'm thinking, you know, not so much in terms of, well, I prefer a more totalitarian society with, um, you know, social credit scores and Right. Um, keeping track of people and you prefer, uh, laissez fair society. And so tho those are value questions. I'm just basically talking about, I think we all agree that we want to protect children, and that they should, uh, should prioritize their, you know, ha ha having, avoiding loss of learning. Uh, we should prioritize, uh, uh, minimizing child abuse. We should, um, prioritize minimizing, uh, youth suicide. Um, we should prioritize having, uh, you know, avoiding needless economic destruction. So, I mean, from that point of view, I, I would say, yeah, we could probably at this point say there was a right and a wrong way to go about pursuing those priorities.
Speaker 1 00:41:09 Yeah. You know, I'm, I'm mostly, mostly agree with that, but I know I've talked to people on the other side who say, well, you know, by protecting the children's parents, we are protecting the children because then they're less likely to, to lose their parents or whatever. Um, those, those arguments are a little murkier. And, um, you know, some of them depend on the, the assessment of the lethality of this, this virus and the, um, the high risk groups. And, and that was a sort of a whole can of worms in itself, because I think,
Speaker 0 00:41:41 But this, this should be pretty settled now, don't you think?
Speaker 1 00:41:43 Yeah, yeah. No, the messaging was, was very skewed on that. And I do certainly allude to that in the book, um, how the messaging really, you know, conveyed well, everyone is at risk. Um, and that was misleading. And, you know, they did surveys on people's perceptions of risk, and they were extremely skewed. There was a lot of, you know, orders of magnitude of overestimation of the risk.
Speaker 0 00:42:07 And that was interesting. You break that down in the book in terms of how that differed by country, how that differed by, you know, political,
Speaker 1 00:42:15 Political affiliation. Yeah,
Speaker 0 00:42:17 Yeah. Too, I know Bill Maher has called that out as well, so Yeah. Good on him. Yeah, he
Speaker 1 00:42:22 Was, he was, he is one of the people I feature, and he was a, just this voice, such a sensible voice in
Speaker 0 00:42:28 Another voice from the left. But it should be said,
Speaker 1 00:42:30 Yes. Yeah, he's another, I mean, I think if I actually catalog, you know, the political affiliations with people in the book, there's as many who come from the left as from the right.
Speaker 0 00:42:39 Um, and I, I think that's, that's very, very important. Particularly I can think of a few friends and family members on the left, and if maybe they would be able to reevaluate some of their physicians, um, hearing the, the, the stories of those that are their ideological compatriots.
Speaker 1 00:43:03 So that, that was part of my objective in writing the book. You know, I, I wanted to, I wasn't just writing it for people who believed what I believe, you know, to preach to the choir. I really do hope to reach some people and at least show them, you know, this is, you know, these are the issues that some of us really struggled with.
Speaker 0 00:43:21 Um, mom, dad, are you listening? <laugh>,
Speaker 1 00:43:25 Actually, or, um, cousin. I was recently in New York to celebrate the 95th birthday of one of my uncles. And, um, I have a lot of family in the States around New New York and New Jersey, and, and a lot of them, especially the younger generation, but even my generation, very, very far left, very far left. And, um, so I sort of brought up, you know, that I had written this book about Covid. I hadn't really talked to anyone in my family except my immediate family about it. Um, but because the book was, I think it had just been published at that point, you know, like the day before. So I said, oh, yeah, I've got this book out and all that. And I, you know, sort of gingerly expressed that, yeah, you know, despite being Vaxxed myself and so forth, I've had serious concerns about the lockdowns and mandates and all that stuff. And, and then one of my cousins piped up. Um, but surely he didn't support the convoy as though, you know, of course he didn't. And so then I just decided to be honest, and I said, yeah, as a matter of fact, I did, I did support the convoy, and in fact, my son attended the, uh, protests in Ottawa with his, uh, friends. So, you know, sometimes you just have to, uh, I find
Speaker 0 00:44:41 I, you know,
Speaker 1 00:44:42 Take
Speaker 0 00:44:43 That chance. You have to kind of, I, I think, uh, out of all of fear is contagious, but, but courage is contagious as well. And, um, I I think it's you, you'll actually sometimes get some respect when you say, yeah, actually
Speaker 1 00:44:59 That's, that's right. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:45:01 And that's what I support. So,
Speaker 1 00:45:02 And this is how I feel. I think in this case, I think he was just so, um, baffled. Like it just was not within his sphere of experience that, that anyone could, you know, he didn't know anyone who could possibly support the corn board, so he wasn't rude or anything. It was just, okay, let's change the subject now. But, but I think
Speaker 0 00:45:20 It, I think it is good because, you know, as in Objectivism and Ayn Rand always, uh, you know, said, if, uh, you, you need to check your premises, right? So if your premises are that anyone who supported the, uh, convoy or what have you, that the convoy supporters are stupid, or they're heartless or they're, you know, crazy or whatever, and then they're like, huh, but my aunt isn't, I think any of those things. So there
Speaker 1 00:45:52 You go. Yeah, that's right. That's right.
Speaker 0 00:45:54 Yes. It's maybe my aunt really is stupid, crazy and
Speaker 1 00:45:57 <laugh>, you know,
Speaker 0 00:45:57 Sadistic, or maybe I have a wrong preconception about the, the kinds of people that we're supporting those protests. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:46:07 So, no, and it's true. And, and, you know, you do have to sometimes just take the chance, and I find the older I get, the easier it is. You know, there's less,
Speaker 0 00:46:15 Well, didn't we send you your Ayn Rand, uh, refresher package? Uh, oh, yeah. I'm, you're gonna be totally liberate. Yeah, no, that's great.
Speaker 1 00:46:25 I look forward to spreading the word, but, you know, I just, I did, um, I did the same thing with some of my clients. You know, I'm a freelance medical writer, and I have a lot of clients and some of my longstanding clients, I did, uh, come clean to them about how I was feeling about all this. And, you know, including that I was writing the book. And I have been pleasantly surprised some of them have even bought the book. Uh, some who, you know, have very different views about, uh, the pandemic than I do, and I haven't lost any of them. So,
Speaker 0 00:46:52 Um, wow. That is wonderful. All right. Um, in the less than 15 minutes, 12 minutes we have left, I'm gonna dive into a few of these wonderful questions that have been waiting from Instagram. Ellen Roth, she recalls that the Canadian government shutdown places of worship during the lockdowns and arrested people who tried to minister or practice. Were those people ever given justice any idea of their status now?
Speaker 1 00:47:22 Yeah, I think some of those cases are still, um, going through the courts. Um, that was a very interesting area because again, here we get into just the murkier ethical, philosophical dimensions of all this, you know, I'm not religious myself, but I think that the pandemic helped me understand the religious perspective better than ever before in my life. Uh, because again, reading about what religious communion meant to some people just made me realize, you know, you can't just arbitrarily decide this is non-essential and, and shut it down. Whereas, you know, perusing the aisles of Walmart and search of, you know, some kind of cleaner that's essential. Um,
Speaker 0 00:48:07 Or the liquor store, right. Or the liquor store. Pot dispensary.
Speaker 1 00:48:11 Yeah. Yeah. And, and those are certainly plentiful here in, in Toronto. I don't know if you've been to Toronto lately, but there's a, you know, a, a weed store at every street corner, um, you know, which I,
Speaker 0 00:48:23 I, not a film
Speaker 1 00:48:24 I don't have a problem with, but, you know, it's, um, yeah, I read, I read about also the, um, Orthodox Jewish, uh, communities in, in New York and in Israel who protested all this. And, you know, I have some, um, Orthodox Judaism in my background, but I never really, you know, identified with that group. But I, I, I understood them better than ever before, which was a very interesting, um, development.
Speaker 0 00:48:54 Well, it is also very apropo given. This is the, the first, uh, night of Passover and mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, I myself experienced some change. I'm not particularly re religious, but I do enjoy certain aspects of, uh, religious tradition and community. And I had belonged to the Malibu Jewish, uh, community synagogue here. And, um, I actually left them and join the Habad because as really? Wow. Yes. Because it, not because I'm gonna, you know, start <laugh>, um, changing, you know, my dress or covering my hair or anything like that, but just because they were not like, show us your papers. Mm. Yeah. Um, and, uh, it's just, they were just, again, I, you know, I think if your commitment as, um, a member of, of the Habad community is that you're getting married to, uh, have children to repopulate all of the lives lost in the Holocaust, and you, you, you know, you have 12 kids, you probably have a different, um, attitude towards infections and germs and, and life. Yeah. You know, and
Speaker 1 00:50:11 Yeah. And in fact, one person who
Speaker 0 00:50:13 The same place on the, on the children, on the young people that, uh, less willing to put so much of the burden of these policies on that age group.
Speaker 1 00:50:25 Yeah, yeah. For sure. And I, I remember one person that I quoted, I think, um, um, who was quoted in a, an article, an Israeli religious, uh, person, said that in our community, we believe that the Torah protects children and school protects children, so we want them to keep going to school. And, you know, that was a very fresh perspective. Um, yeah. You know, which I, which I respected.
Speaker 0 00:50:51 All right. Uh, let's see. Gene Gersh on Twitter. Hey, gene. He says, many doctors in the US were silenced for daring to propose alternative methods of treatment for their patients. Uh, I know we've had who, man, Hammadi on, uh, this show, and he's been a crusader against medical censorship mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So gene's asking, was the same true for Canada? And what does this have to say for a patient's right, to choose?
Speaker 1 00:51:23 Yeah, I think it was the same across the board. Um, the early treatments, I don't get into that too much into the book because I consider that sort of a separate line of inquiry that really is, um, you know, is, is more about the data than my book is, um, which is more about the sociology of the whole thing. But yes, having said that, I think this suppression of alternative treatments was part of a larger pattern of suppression of any, um, position that ran counter to the dominant paradigm. Paradigm. We, we locked down, we have the restrictions, and then we get the vaccines and we can gradually loosen up. And so yes, it was, it was, it was very counterproductive and harmful.
Speaker 0 00:52:11 Yeah. And I think it also, uh, it also harms just the trust that, that doctors and, and patients need for, for effective treatment. Um, so there was, you know, as we're running towards the top of the hour now, uh, you, we talked before about accountability, about a reckoning, um, and you had this really interesting passage in, in the book you talked about imagining such a reckoning with politicians and public health officials, fielding questions from plaintiffs who were traumatized by their policies. You know, the Vietnamese nail salon owner who lost her business, or the, uh, parent whose, uh, children what fell behind or worse. So tell us a little bit about what that scenario, uh, looked like. What might some of those questions b and how would it resolve itself?
Speaker 1 00:53:20 Yeah, it's, it's my fantasy scenario. Um, you know, we're all a side B people are in a courtroom, and we're, we're able to, to bear witness to what it was like and to explain, um, why these policies are so traumatizing. Uh, I think I might start by asking them, why did you choose to, to stoke fear rather than allay it? Because really the, you know, it's, it's right there in all pandemic policy manuals. The function of, of government leaders is to keep the population calm. Why did you choose the exact opposite route in this case? And then I would also ask what we just talked about earlier, why did you suppress dissent? Why did you have no tolerance for different approaches? Um, and why were, were you not receptive or interested in any kind of public debate, um, about all this?
Speaker 1 00:54:24 You know, this is not how a liberal democracy is supposed to function. Um, again, you know, for a couple of weeks maybe. Okay, invoke the precautionary principle. You know, I'm kind of viscerally against the whole idea of lockdowns, but I will allow, okay, when there is a really extreme situation, or you think it's extreme, you know, for a very time lit limited period, you can, um, exert some kind of authority. But after that, if you are a liberal democracy, you have to pull back and, um, and, and consider the bigger picture. So why did you not do that? And why did people who tried to do that, um, get silenced and shamed and snitched on, and the whole thing?
Speaker 1 00:55:08 And then I'd also ask them why they were so obsessed, you know, with these minute details of people's lives that they just lost sight of the big picture. You know, what's the whole point of saving lives if we're not gonna save living, if we're going to lose living in the process? Um, you know, why did they not be, why did they behave so cruelly and inhumanely toward children, making them kneel in one school in, you know, Anchorage, I believe it was, so they wouldn't touch their desks or touch each other, you know, sending people who they thought were exposed to covid outside in the cold in some cold cities. Um, there were some deaths of young people that resulted from them not receiving care in the hospital because they had been exposed to Covid. I mean, these completely disproportionate and insane, um, this attachment to the narrative that extinguished just their basic humane impulses. So I would ask them that. And, and then of course there's the, you know, the one that really troubles a lot of people is why did they let people die alone? You know? Um, a lot of survivors find it very traumatizing that they were not able to say goodbye to their loved ones. There are ways to increase safety while letting people, um, say goodbye to dying people. Again, it was so much, you know, the letter of the law instead of the spirit. They just lost sight of their humanity.
Speaker 0 00:56:44 All right. Quick answer to this, cuz we have just about two minutes left. What is your response to people who say enough already, sure. Mistakes were made? Can't we just stop talking about this and move on?
Speaker 1 00:57:00 Oh my God, no, no, no. <laugh> we cannot, no, we can't. I think there's enough material for many, many, you know, more pandemic books and articles of different kinds. No, I think it's so important that we keep talking about it so it doesn't happen again. You know, that is, because right now, I don't think many of us have any kind of assurance that it's not gonna happen again. Um, because, you know, lockdown has now entered the toolbox of pandemic strategies, lockdown, and all the associated measures, you know, the mandates and, and, and, and that whole paradigm. So if we don't talk about it and tease it apart and find out what, and, and discuss what was wrong with it, we're completely vulnerable to having the exact same thing happen again.
Speaker 0 00:57:47 Agree. And I, I think that is why we can't sweep it under the rug. Why we do need to press for, uh, reconciliation and for accountability and for, um, a, a new or maybe an old consensus of, of what to do.
Speaker 1 00:58:06 Yeah, exactly. And that, that's one thing the Brownstone Institute has, is very good at. I think that's part of their vision, um, just to get that accountability.
Speaker 0 00:58:15 And we'll put the link in there to our friends at the Brownstone Institute. Um, amazing, amazing work. Thank you, Gabrielle, thank you for this wonderful book. Encourage everyone to, to go out and, and get a copy, hopefully coming to Audible Audio soon. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, were you working on an audible version?
Speaker 1 00:58:35 Yes, I believe, uh, the brownstone is,
Speaker 0 00:58:37 Yeah. Good, good. Uh, and I wanna thank all of you who, uh, joined us today. Thank you for your wonderful questions. If you enjoyed this video, please um, consider making a tax deductible [email protected]
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Speaker 1 00:59:27 Thank you very much.