Background anti-knowledge

Regular readers will know how interested I’ve become over the years in the way that our society gets to adopt general assumptions that are plain wrong, and how these are inculcated by propaganda of one sort or another.

My first interest in this was during my involvement in science-faith issues, when I marveled at the survival ability of scientific myths such as the mediaeval flat-earth and, par excellence, the idea that Galileo was persecuted by a hide-bound church for his empirical science. Both myths have been comprehensively dismantled by science historians over 50 years or more, and the Galileo story was dealt with in great detail by Ted Davis in a series at BioLogos.

Yet somehow, anyone not actively researching the subject treats these tales as gospel truth. Over the COVID period, good guys (for example Bret Weinstein) lamenting the unprecedented silencing and censorship of scientists and doctors questioning the mainstream narrative invariably compare it to the Galileo-persecution myth.

I guess this enables them to point out the superstitious reliance on authority being demonstrated in our times, even within the science community. But it blinds them to the fact that even the Roman Catholic Church, let alone the scientific enterprise the church sponsored, was never so censorious as society is now. What we are seeing now is an interference in individual thought about the physical world unprecedented in western civilization, apart from within odd totalitarian regimes under Hitler or the Bolsheviks. It would be churlish to point this out, though, when these people’s basic argument is true.

Before COVID, I had realised that this moulding of public truth was occurring at an ever increasing scale in the question of morality (gay marriage, compulsory transgenderism and so on) and in the climate change apocalyptic. I pulled this all together, and correctly predicted it would get worse, in my e-book Seeing through Smoke.

One thing I’ve noticed along the way is how my own assumptions, based on keeping more-or-less abreast of stuff in the news, have been repeatedly proven wrong despite my caution about being fooled. The reason for this is basically simple: things that make a big splash in the media for long enough to become taken for granted never make the same splash when the true experts in the field, or rigorous investigation, prove them to be nonsense. Unless one is following a specific topic in the specialist (or dissident!) literature, one builds ones worldview on facts that are simply untrue.

This, I’m sure, explains much of the support amongst professionals for the climate armageddon narrative, for example. It’s not just a question of constant propaganda, but that old propaganda, insufficiently refuted in public, becomes our own private propaganda forever. We see the starving polar bears in the National Geographic (maybe because it became headline news rather than because we subscribe) but we never got to see the retraction they had to print. Galileo faced the rack in our school project, and did its work on our mind as a science-foundation myth, and we never had time to question it. The polar bear example is more crucial, because it affects the whole world’s economic agenda.

“General truths” I’ve used to make points even in my books have turned out to be long-disproved falsehoods. For example, in God’s Good Earth I describe how the world population crisis was not natural, but actually a humanly-caused result of artificially boosting population by the invention of nitrate fertilizers by the Haber-Bosch process. At the time I had not learned how it is actually the population crisis itself that is the myth: I had absorbed the message of Ehrlich’s Population Bomb unconsciously decades before, and never had reason to discover that he had been soundly refuted until 2019.

Well, now there’s another example. I’ve written stuff denying that we are in the middle of a mass extinction, and questioning the modelling suggesting that 40% of our insects, in particular, are under imminent threat. I concluded that the observed decline in insect populations across Europe, and especially the collapse in bee populations, was unlikely to be severe enough to cause the predicted plant-kingdom extinction and was likely, in time, to reverse itself.

You see my error? I believed without checking the “facts” I’d osmoted over the years that insect numbers are, indeed, in significant decline. But this overview in Quillette examines how the original doomsday claims were from the first based on biased and poor-quality science. Local US problems with Colony Collapse Disorder in honey bees (themselves seen even in the nineteenth century from time to time) were extrapolated to the world, then to all wild bees, then to the whole insect population. Before long almost half the world’s insect species had gone, but invisibly and far away (as usual) so that we had to take it on trust.

In fact, the article suggests that since the year 2000 the honey-bee population worldwide has increased by 30%. I’m pretty sure I only heard about its imminent collapse after that year. Other insect species decline or prosper and more or less balance out to stability (despite climate change!). This is normal in nature, which is a dynamic system, as even my observations from year to year in my wild-flower meadow show.

But you can bet your life that for years to come your friends will be remarking how there are far fewer insects squashed on the car windscreen than there used to be (though it’s scarcely an accurate survey method and, let’s face it, who ever counted them before it became a thing in the news?).

Some of the imbibed myths, like Columbus defying the church to prove the world round, are relatively harmless – though how much of the ingrained hostility to the truth of the Gospel is based on such stories failing to die however many sword blows they receive? Just think, though, how many of the lies surrounding COVID will remain in the public psyche however much scientific work overturns them. When people say “Lessons will be learned from COVID” they never mention that the teacher is incompetent. Who knows what folk-responses to the next big flu outbreak in a decade or so will remain ingrained, once the propaganda machine is focusing all its attention on a climate tipping-point approaching by 2040?

Vaccine passports, lockdowns and endless power outages so we can’t cook our insect-burgers. Now there’s a pretty combination to look forward to in 2030 … oh, I forgot, it’s coming next year as The Great Reset!

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
This entry was posted in History, Politics and sociology, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Background anti-knowledge

  1. Elizabeth B. says:


    Great post. One of the reasons I continue to be drawn back to your writing is that you do ask questions. As this post demonstrates, you have humility. If only people would have humility to question narratives, but to also question themselves, what. a different world we would be living in now. Arrogance has become a virtue. Except when it is the guy on the other side of one’s ideological stance.

    • Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

      Thanks Elizabeth. I’m particularly proud of my humility :-)!

      Well, I don’t consider myself particularly humble, but the more questions you ask, the less you find you know. What I do find, though, is that to cast doubt on the received wisdom of the crowd usually attracts the accusation of arrogance.

      “It is more blessed to be average than right.”

  2. Elizabeth B. says:


    Well, you at least question narratives, so there is a humility in that.

    Speaking of accepting narratives, I found myself just accepting the claim that Robert Malone is the inventor of mRNA technology. After all, his supporters produce a long list of papers to back up the claim. It does appear that he did work at the development level, but quite likely with other people.

    I am wondering what to make of the claim that Malone was removed from the Wikipedia article for RNA vaccine. Well, he was removed, on June 15th.

    He was only added to the article on June 9th.

    As of the linked revision, Malone’s name was not attributed in the Wikipedia article.

    In just randomly selecting entries going back at least to December 5, 2020, his name never occurs in the article. (December 5 is as far back as I can go. Haven’t searched to find out if the revisions prior to this can be accessed. Maybe on Wayback Machine.)

    His name only turns up in a revision on June 9th. Out of seemingly nowhere. The same user had logged in and made some revision on June 8th, without adding his name.

    Forward to June 15th, his name was removed in one of several revisions occurring on that day.

    After this, many on the anti Covid Vaccine side were pointing to the fact of his removal.

    Anyway, I just find all of this interesting, to say the least. Did someone add his name, just to be able to have someone else remove it?

    Maybe this is not the place to air this. I have been wondering over this for a couple of weeks now. I watched much of the Weinstein interview with Malone. Then, I went digging into the story, wanting to know more about this person and his role in the mRNA technology. I really do want truth.

    Question everything, everyone, every narrative. We can not know motivations of anyone on any side without digging a little. Even then, it is still hard to know.

    What does this bit of information tell me about Malone? Not much. It adds to my questions and causes me to take his statements with caution.

    I qualify all this with the statement that I do not trust the lockdown /forced vaccine side either.

    Just truth, no tricks, would be nice.

    • Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

      Can’t go wrong if you question everything – though you can get sad!

      I chased Malone up a bit when I first saw the Dark Horse video, and found his story of being (as I remember) patented out of the development process by the company he was working for. My immediate thoughts were that, perhaps, he was playing sour grapes for not getting a share of the profits/glory he thought he deserved. Then I remembered Le Carre’s Perfect Gardener and how the inventor of a new molecule who had become critical of its safety profile was vilified and the story put about that she was merely a lab technician. That was before Wikipedia, but their editors are great at losing PhDs and even Nobel nominations for people they dislike – maybe it’s harder to fake the editorial history, though.

      It was Le Carre who rang a bell for me, too, when the two fraudulent articles on Hydroxychloroquine were rapidly accepted by the Lancet and the NEJM, before they were forced to retract both, but only quietly, after the drug became a watchword for quackery. That too was a Big Pharma trick in Perfect Gardener. Both tactics were probably those Le Carre discovered during his research for the book, which he said was entirely fictional, bit not nearly as bad as the reality of the industry.

      Regarding Malone, even if it’s established he was only a minor member of the team, that might reduce his “clout” as a witness, but not his knowledge of the technique and his reflection on its pitfalls. Even a lab technician could have important insights there.

      • Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

        The biggest risk of mRNA vaccines – which stopped previous development at the animal stage omitted for COVID vaccines – has long been known to be ADE (antibody-dependent enhancement). Basically, this means the vaccine damages the response to subsequent virus exposure and leads to bad outcomes. It’s why I will refuse any booster doses (and keep my fingers crossed…)

        Anyway, whatever Malone’s creds, he’s posted a useful warning on Twitter:
        ‘Regarding ADE and SARS-CoV-2 IMO;
        1) ADE is historically a major risk for coronavirus vax development
        2) Clear ADE signal has not been previously detected with the genetic SARS-CoV-2 vax to date
        3) highest risk for ADE occurs during waning phase of vax immune responses
        4) The reports of equivalent (or perhaps higher in vax recip?) levels of virus in vaccinated and unvaccinated is odd.
        5) Viral infection/replication is necessary but not sufficient for disease – disease is the patient hyperinflamm response
        6) The clinical trials were not designed to detect ADE, despite it being a major risk for corona vax development
        7) FDA specifically acknowledged that ADE was a risk, and suggested focused trials were warranted – but did not require them.
        I find no trials to rule in/out ADE

        Incidentally, the UK seems to have joined the game of offering free ice-creams and other trivia to young people to get them vaccinated. This is not informed consent, and is alone enough to be corrupt and even criminal.

  3. Elizabeth B. says:

    Here is the link to the history page for RNA vaccine.

  4. Robert Byers says:

    Great idea on this. Great to hear it from the Brits. Over here it seems the old country are more like europe and never question authority. however you did overthrow socialism with Maggie and are today richer.
    In all these things it confirms to us that conclusions made by everybody actually come from tiny circles of trusted authority. We trust the airplane people when we fly and the medicine people for our eyedrops. Yet its very few people. in many matters this is revealed when there are contentions. the covid humbug came from very few people. the rest just trusted. So if those few are right or wrong it still is just trust.
    Yes great conclusions in human history did not come from the common people in studied reflection but trust in a few bosses of truth. right or wrong.
    What is to be done? just claims for greater common sense?

    • Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

      Hi Robert
      I’ve said for many years that our freedom is the freedom to choose our boss. We were created to be under authority, but it only really works when the source of authority is God and his word (“…whose service is perfect freedom”).

      In practice, the model the gospels give us is obedience to worldly authority whilst being very canny as to its limitations and errors. In other words, the Christian is always questioning what “the world” is telling him/her, and comparing it to what the word says.

      That takes courage when everybody around is trusting the authority figure, even (very often) fellow-Christians. I came across a passage by A. W. Tozer the other day on the loneliness of the person living the “inner life” as he called it. The prophet Jeremiah is a classic biblical example – utterly defeated, apparently, in changing his national situation, but utterly vindicated by events and still relevant two and a half thousand years later, unlike the “consensus” he opposed.

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