I’ve mentioned a few times here how interesting it has been to see, mainly via social media, many leading practitioners of science gradually morphing into conspiracy theorists over the course of the COVID affair. Prospectively it was fascinating to see the gradual unraveling of belief in what we were being told in so many individual cases, culminating not only in disillusionment about the state of science and medicine, but the embracing of suspicions about the dark forces behind it. Retrospectively, it is of huge, but under-recognised, significance that an unprecedented number of the most rigorously evidence-orientated professionals have come to wear tin-foil hats.
Well, there’s a wonderfully documented example of this in a video record of the intellectual journey of Dr John Campbell, not compiled by himself. For anyone not familiar with him, he is a retired PhD nurse tutor, whose previous YouTube activity, and indeed his very career, was built on getting his students to read and interpret scientific studies rigorously.
His very excusable failing was to have swallowed science’s own mythology of its self-correcting and ethical nature. That is to say, he assumed that what he read in peer-reviewed scientific literature in leading journals was free of bias and fraud. I watched his slow epiphany unfold in real time, initially disliking his videos because they seemed so uncritical of government, WHO and bureaucratic scientists, but fascinated to see his gradual awakening. I was also impressed with his honesty in admitting and documenting the change in his own thinking.
Watching the material he puts out now, he comes across as a highly sceptical and angry “COVID denier,” carefully guarding his language to avoid YouTube censorship, from which he has suffered despite his rigorous practice of unpacking scientific evidence, and no more. But seeing the changes in him laid out over time, as in the linked video, what is most moving is the sense of sheer disillusion with the foundation on which he had built his whole professional life, and indeed his personal worldview. He has openly apologised for misleading his viewers over COVID by his naivety, but he must also feel he has let down the generations of students he taught, and who are now working in the NHS with a false belief in the integrity of science. I feel much the same, but with the mitigation of a Christian belief in original depravity: I had no reason to expect any human endeavour to be pure.
Apart from directing you to an educational video, my aim here is to point out that it explains the inertia amongst professionals towards overthrowing the nonsense we have been subjected to over the last three years. Indeed we still are thus subjected, as hospitals start insisting on useless and harmful masks again, and Rishi Sunak starts uselessly and harmfully testing Chinese visitors, not to mention all our friends getting multiple COVID infections because they keep getting useless and harmful mRNA shots.
I don’t think John Campbell taught medical students, but I would suggest that coming from a nursing background, he felt some need to prove the credentials of his profession by his PhD. His teaching on evidence based medicine was therefore likely to have been particularly rigorous, if he was to get nurses to think scientifically. That may explain, to an extent, his blind spot – the science he was teaching was that of “real” doctors and scientists, and he had to live up to it for the sake of nursing’s credentials. And despite his care, we may well expect that most of his students, out in the real world, have learned to “trust the Science™” because he did, rather than having time to engage the same critical spirit he employed on a daily basis.
I can say that, in “real” medicine, I never had a teacher who specifically instructed us in critical appraisal of scientific literature, the exception being one professor of therapeutics who spoke at a couple of Christian-based refresher courses I attended in latter years. His dismantling of the major trials on which our NHS cardiac guidelines were based was indeed a wake-up call for scepticism. That may be in part why I was ahead of John Campbell’s suspicion curve at the start of COVID. It wasn’t that I’d read a lot more science, but that I was more aware of the corruption built into the system over decades.
But such sceptical teachers are rare, and clinical doctors (contrary to public impression) are trained less as scientists than as receptacles for a mass of knowledge. Nowadays, though, that mass of knowledge is prescribed and rigidly enforced by a centralised state apparatus. And the state apparatus is controlled by commercial interests. And the commercial interests are corrupt to the point of global genocide (how else can one describe the deliberate suppression of helpful and cheap therapies in favour of patented ones already known to be ineffective and dangerous?).
So doctors, already feeling stressed and threatened, have no time to read behind the guidelines, no skills to assist them if they do, and no interest in doing so when they have been inculcated in that whole mythos of “Science rules OK?”. Nurses, highly skilled but lower down the pecking order and, in some cases I suspect, resenting the emphasis on book-knowledge above hands-on care, have even less chance of being “red-pilled.” The NHS bureaucrats who make the stupid rules are totally science-illiterate, and the higher up the scale they are, the more willingly complicit in the financial shenanigans that are their bread-and-butter. Let’s not even mention the politicians, ignorant, cowardly, and corrupt if not to a man, then as a class.
Then we have to factor in not only the lack of critical assessment of purported science, professionally disguised as “knowledge” but actually involving only reading the guidelines or at best the abstracts, but also a well-organised campaign of active disinformation. That is, any actual criticism of this ersatz science is fed into a well-oiled machinery labelling it as “conspiracy theory” and its authors as mavericks.
The public, when not experiencing the red-pill process that is certainly not confined to professionals like John Campbell, is even more indoctrinated in the mythos of scientific infallibility. It gains all its actual beliefs about the COVID situation from a corrupted press and social media. As I pointed out in Seeing Through Smoke even before COVID, the better informed (and therefore the more influential) members of the public are, the more susceptible to this disinformation they become. It’s easy to believe that the average MP, for example, is not personally corrupted as government leaders are, but believes the latter’s line because it accords with what they read in the Telegraph or Guardian as the case may be.
I’ve heard nothing more depressing recently than a retired academic telling me she only watches the BBC news now to keep up with how the Ukraine war is going. Like John Campbell, she has not caught up with the truth that one has to believe the diametric opposite of what the MSM say, or become increasingly ignorant.
Ironically, for COVID if not for NATO’s war, the gutter press in the form of the Daily Mail maintained some degree of sceptical journalism presenting the truth. But of course this only encouraged the thoroughly indoctrinated broadsheet readers to mock the ignorant masses in their “science denialism.” I say this not merely to mock the latter, because even an honest broker like John Campbell expressed just such supercilious intellectualism in his earlier videos.
Seeing the existential pain on the face of Dr Campbell in that video, we should not be surprised that a majority of people simply cannot face the thought that the whole of what they base their lives on, in the public sphere at least, is false. The sad truth, as a commenter at the Daily Sceptic said, is that the problem is not the need to restore public trust in our institutions, but the need to make them more distrustful as a safeguard against the future. A society where nobody trusts anybody else, though, is actually much like Hell – and so nothing short of radical judgement and the moral reformation of society, rendering trust possible, is required.
In Christian circles we call that “revival,” and we have just the message to promote it, if we’re faithful to what has been passed down to us from Jesus. It would not be the first time he caused scales to fall from blind eyes.