We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

What comes next?

To reiterate. The mRNA shots don’t stop infection or transmission, we don’t know whether they interfere with the development of durable immunity post-infection, and whether the next variant is deadlier than Omicron is “mostly a matter of luck.”

Politically, none of this matters at the moment. The people who pushed the shots – in other words every Western government and the entire public health establishment and media – have zero incentive to admit that the roulette wheel is still spinning.

Alex Berenson

And not unrelated…

The events of the past two years have been a wake-up call to those of us who naïvely believed our liberties were more or less secure under Western democracy. We discovered that a viral epidemic with an estimated Infection Fatality Rate somewhere in the range of 0.15-0.3% was sufficient for governments to claim the power to lock citizens up in their homes, prohibit citizens from taking walks in the park, tell citizens how many visitors they could have in their homes, shut down religious worship indefinitely, and order mass closures of businesses, all “for our own good.”

If all of this can happen once, it can surely happen again, especially if we are hit by another global crisis, be it global warming, terrorism, a global recession, an energy crisis, or a food shortage.

And if the crisis is not quite severe enough to convince citizens to renounce their liberties, governments can apparently count on the support of an uncritical media to stoke up people’s anxieties and fears, priming them for more “emergency” interventions and ever more illiberal restrictions on their property, life, and mobility.

Governments have restricted a wide range of civil liberties during the pandemic on the basis of unsubstantiated doomsday predictions, highly unorthodox methods of disease control, and hardly any serious consideration of the likely harms such restrictions would inflict on citizens and on our way of life. Future governments could exploit this dangerous precedent in a future crisis, whether real or manufactured, especially if the media jump on board to drum up some public hysteria.

David Thunder

Samizdata quote of the Vaccine Mandate Exemption

As the restrictive form of a poem sometimes forces a clearer expression of a thought than less demanding prose, so the need to present his belief in the scientific process as a request for religious exemption to the vaccine mandate forced physician Joseph Fraiman to create what Sarah Hoyt called “one of the more interesting pieces of writing i’ve seen in a while.”

Given my faith in the scientific process, I do not claim that this observational data is a good representative of reality; however I also cannot claim with certainty that it is false. Without randomized controlled trial data comparing the rare risk of hospitalization in young healthy participants, there is no way of estimating if the vaccine is more likely to prevent hospitalizations than to cause a serious adverse event. …

The entire concept of the mandate is based on the idea that it is safer for patients and staff to be near vaccinated individuals. This is not based on any experimental evidence; this is classical anti-science ideology. It is offensive to believers in the scientific process that one can claim to be certain regarding the truth of an objective reality, without experimental data to support that view. … those who have faith in the scientific process are concerned that this hubristic certainty of benefit, without experimentation, can easily harm more than benefit. … Now if our hospital system was attempting a cluster randomized trial across its many hospitals, in which hospitals are randomized to mandate or no mandate, I would gladly be a participant in this study and be randomized to a hospital with a vaccine mandate or not. …

… followers of the scientific process believe that experts do not dictate what is true about our objective reality. … To a follower of science who has reached a different conclusion than experts on the potential benefits and harms of the vaccine; in this situation for an employer to mandate the vaccine in question would be the equivalent of forcing an individual of Judeo-Christian faith to pray to a pagan idol to keep their employment.

Would being vaccinated interfere with your sincerely held religious belief or your ability to practice or observe your religion? If so, please describe.

Yes, being vaccinated would interfere with my sincerely held beliefs which is the reason I am requesting the exemption. I believe I should be allowed to finish my scientific evaluation of the meta-analysis of the vaccines, which is still ongoing. If my evaluation determines the harm benefit profile in an individual of my demographics is favorable I will gladly take the vaccine, but not until that point.

The longish text is worth reading in full here (h/t instapundit).

That Fraiman did not get a mere arrogant refusal owes as much, I suspect, to his presentation (both skilled and restrained) as to his factual details – a bureaucrat would have to be fanatical indeed not to realise that, if they just said ‘no’, the writer might prove a persistent and difficult opponent, not so easy to denounce and silence. But of course, like a Judeo-Christian in a Mohammedan country, this believer in the scientific process had to pay the Jizya to those who believe science is a result, proclaimed by ‘experts’ who are not to be doubted, still less mocked.

Your religious exemption has been reviewed and approved. Because of the direct threat posed by individuals who are infected with Covid-19, our accommodation requirement for your needs [my bolding] is to wear a N-95/KN-95 mask (which we will provide) and undergo weekly testing.

Samizdata quote of the day

If you go back to the Arab Spring and the Green Revolution there was generally a sense of triumphalism. Back then, the CEO of Twitter said that we are the free speech wing of the free speech party. That’s how Silicon Valley saw itself. Ten years later, you have the widespread view that Silicon Valley needs to restrict and regulate disinformation and prevent free speech on its platform. You’d have to say that the turning point was 2016, when Trump got elected against the wishes of pretty much everyone in Silicon Valley. That was a little too much populism for them. And they saw social media as being complicit in Trump’s election.

David Sacks

Samizdata quote of the pandemic

“I’m Not ‘Brave’; You’re Just a P—y !!” (Dr Naomi Wolf here, h/t instapundit, on which it has been linked repeatedly)

This is a companion post to Natalie’s one on ivermectin below. There is the pandemic science and the pandemic ‘science’ (the pandemic nonscience) – and then there is the issue of courage in science. I invite readers to put their comments about the science and the nonscience under Natalie’s post, and their comments about courage under mine – insofar, that is, as they can separate the two. The more our society indulges its desire to be safe, the more dangerous it seems to become.

(BTW, I don’t think Dr Wolf abbreviated her last word from the least cowardice to say it – she is rather clear in the essay that follows it – but only so the very people who most need to hear her say it were not protected from seeing her write it by their web-search engines. I refrained from the strong temptation to expand it again mainly from the desire to quote honestly but also for that reason.)

Courage is not just a virtue. It is the form of every virtue under test. Pontius Pilate was merciful – till it became risky. (C.S.Lewis)

Weakness and lies beget horrors of every kind

Anyone who cares about our liberty and security (the two are deeply entwined) needs to work tirelessly to ensure the future does not belong to tyrants, be they tyrants in Russia, China, or much closer to home. Even the smallest of daily acts of defiance can add to a countervailing pressure; every little decision you make, what you say, who you spend your money with, needs to be done thoughtfully and above all bravely.

At a time when it would be nice to have at least a measure of trust in our own institutions, the last two years have made that completely impossible. Putin and his ilk are predators who sense weakness, and culturally we have been greatly weakened by enemies within our own institutions public and private.

Some proposed amendments to the programme of public events when the revolution comes

So who is to be first against the wall? The traditional view is that it should be the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. While anyone who could call a robot “Your plastic pal who’s fun to be with” deserves their fate, bear in mind that Douglas Adams died before the triumph of the chatbot.

“For God’s sake, chatbots, let me talk to a human being”, cries Jessie Hewitson in the Times. She had a rotten time when both her bank cards stopped working.

Cross though the bus driver looked, he took pity on me and waved me to a seat. When I got off at the Tube station I tried again with the card readers at the gates. Same problem. My cards weren’t working, so there I stood, stranded, unable to get to work.

I called Barclays. After ten minutes of extreme faffery, an automated voice told me that I had to use the chat function because I had downloaded the phone app. So, thumbs frozen outside the tube, I typed my problem into the “chat”.

It was more like an endurance test, where the bank pushes you to the limit of your resolve. To see how long you will hang on to speak to a real person, if indeed you can figure out when you finally are.

In comparison to that “your plastic pal” doesn’t seem so bad. At least you can hit it. Let us spare the Sirius Cybernetics Corp. for a little while and execute the entire British banking establishment instead. But even they, citoyens, do not go first. So far, Ms Hewitson’s article is a pretty standard moan about the way the telephone number of your local bank now sits alongside the nuclear codes as a closely-guarded secret. Things are indeed grim. They, the chatbots, have taken to giving themselves names. Happy female names, mostly amusingly mis-spelled variants of human ones. We may also have to kill everyone who has ever used the term “customer engagement”. But bad as our current plight is, there are very few bad situations that government “help” cannot make worse:

Why are financial companies doing this? The obvious reason is money, but there’s another one: banks, broadband providers et al are keenly aware of the complaints figures that are given to the Financial Conduct Authority and other regulators.

If they manage to reduce these, customers view them as more trustworthy. The harder they make it for you to speak to a person, the fewer complaints that will be logged. And so you have a warped situation where the good banks that encourage people to raise problems look worse than the bad ones that don’t.

I present my revised schedule for the public entertainments on Day One:

3. The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation
2. BarcWestLloydHSBCrap
1. The Financial Conduct Authority

This is not going to work

UK online safety laws to be strengthened:

The new communications offences will strengthen protections from harmful online behaviours such as … deliberately sharing dangerous disinformation about hoax Covid-19 treatments.

Social media bosses face jail if they do not do as they are told.

Meanwhile, attempting to be the sole arbiter of truth turns out to be not quite so easy:

Facebook’s actions won’t stop The BMJ doing what is right, but the real question is: why is Facebook acting in this way?

Why, indeed?

The worst of both worlds in surveillance

Andy Wells reporting for Yahoo News writes, “‘Poisonous’ woman created 30 fake profiles to get innocent ex-boyfriend arrested”.

Not just arrested, but arrested six times.

A “poisonous” woman who sent herself threats from fake Instagram accounts she created to get her ex-boyfriend arrested has been jailed.

Courtney Ireland-Ainsworth, 20, created up to 30 false profiles, then told police her ex Louis Jolly was behind “vile” messages.

“Cunning” Ireland-Ainsworth reported him for supposedly threatening to stab her and warning: “She is getting a f***ing blade in her chest.”

She made 10 police statements claiming Mr Jolly was harassing and stalking her, leading to him being arrested six times and spending 81 hours in custody, including being remanded overnight.

He was charged with assault and stalking, hit with a stalking protection order, bailed on a home curfew with an electronic tag, and lost his job.

At Liverpool Crown Court, recorder Ian Harris told Ireland-Ainsworth: “You created an entirely fictional but superficially credible web of poisonous deceit for over five months.”

The report of the case in the Times says,

Her web of lies was uncovered after detectives requested user data from Facebook, which owns Instagram. When the information eventually came back, it showed that at least 17 accounts had been created using two of Ireland-Ainsworth’s email addresses, as well as IP addresses connected to her home and mobile telephone.

I know almost nothing about Instagram. Is there some factor I am failing to understand about the legal or practical ability of law enforcers to uncover who wrote a given Instagram post? Because the big selling point of the subservience of social media companies to the authorities is meant to be that the police can use their power to snoop to catch criminals, yet it took the police five whole months to uncover that Ireland-Ainsworth sent these messages herself. If Instagram does allow the authorities to check who wrote a message, why did the police not do so as soon as Louis Jolly denied having written them, rather than after arresting him six times? If Instagram does not allow the authorities to check who wrote a message, good for them, but in that case the existence of an Instagram message purporting to come from a person cannot incriminate them.

I would normally say that there is nothing worse than a surveillance state. Maybe I was wrong. A state that is #weseeyou for people displaying wrongthink but #believeallwomen for cases like that of Courtney Ireland-Ainsworth might be worse.

Battleground Melbourne Documentary ‘FRIENDS & FAMILY’ Pre-Release

Terrifying.

“Only 27%”

– Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democratic voters would favor a government policy requiring that citizens remain confined to their homes at all times, except for emergencies, if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Such a proposal is opposed by 61% of all likely voters, including 79% of Republicans and 71% of unaffiliated voters.

– Nearly half (48%) of Democratic voters think federal and state governments should be able to fine or imprison individuals who publicly question the efficacy of the existing COVID-19 vaccines on social media, television, radio, or in online or digital publications. Only 27% of all voters – including just 14% of Republicans and 18% of unaffiliated voters – favor criminal punishment of vaccine critics.

Rasmussen Reports citing a poll of 1,016 U.S. Likely Voters taken on 5th January 2022. Poll data here.

I would enjoy mocking the turn to naked authoritarianism taken by the Democrats if that 27% were 2.7%.

Samizdata quote of the day

The vaccine doesn’t protect you from the virus, the vaccine protects you from the government.

Roué le Jour

The Tories are not the solution to anything

“If you don’t vote Tory, then Labour might get in” is the main argument I hear from people when I tell them I live in a very marginal Tory constituency and have no intention of voting Tory again. But frankly the Tories are just Labour with a better wine list, as is made clear in this ghastly article in CrapX by Damian Collins, the ‘Conservative’ MP for Folkestone and Hythe.

Proper regulation won’t suppress freedom of speech online – it will protect it […] Making sure the Online Safety Bill is not a ‘Censor’s Charter’ was also our priority.

Because nothing says “the state will not censor the internet” quite like a bill that enables the state to censor what you can say on online. I seem to be developing a Pavlovian condition that every time Damian Collins opens his mouth, I send a thousand pounds or so to Reform UK.