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Brownstone Institute

The Deception Is Getting More Brazen


21 minute read

One of the most disappointing aspects of the COVID pandemic has been the willingness of adults to impose untested restrictions and policies on young children, while ignoring any potential negative impacts to their mandates.

Without pushback from the media, supposed “experts” have recommended school closures, remote learning, forced masking and now, universal vaccination for children ages 6 months-<5 years.

The lack of data or evidence suggesting a benefit to these policies has seemingly never been a hindrance to their recommendations. In fact, it often feels as if they dare others to point out that their policy mandates are not based on any high quality research.

Instead of engaging with the mountains of substantive criticism of their methodology or the discrediting flaws of the “studies” they reference, they simply revert back to appeals to authority.

They’re right, because they say so.

This phenomenon has often been applied to “interventions” forced on children, but it’s also easily applicable to the debate over the origins of COVID.

For much of the first year of the pandemic, “experts” and the “fact checking” media colluded to ensure that discussion of the lab leak theory would be censored and users banned for suggesting it as a possibility.

Only after the approved political sources deemed it acceptable to discuss did social media companies relent.

Except one of the world’s supposed leading “experts,” the head of the World Health Organization, has apparently been telling people privately that he believes the lab leak is the most likely explanation for the origin of the virus.

Of course, none involved in the expert approved censorship will apologize or demand changes as a result.

Because whatever they say is right. No matter how many times they’re wrong first.

You’d think that being caught lying, misrepresenting evidence or flouting their own rules would be enough to instill a level of shame in politicians and their ideological allies, but the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade shows there truly is no limit to the hypocrisy they’re capable of.

It’s important to shine a light on these three issues — the lying, the hypocrisy and the purposeful misrepresentations. Holding the “experts” and politicians accountable is the only chance to stop the madness of COVID policy from becoming permanent.

More Embarrassments for the FDA & CDC

Possibly the most important thing to know about the FDA authorizing vaccinations for young children is that there is virtually no evidence to support their decision.

When you review the FDA documents, it’s shocking to see how little data they used to make their decision and how ineffective the trials proved to be.

Unsurprisingly, the CDC joined in by misrepresenting the risks of COVID to children.

The CDC has deservedly been at the forefront of the erosion of “expertise,” beginning with their early flip flop on masks. In spring 2020, the CDC recommended against mask wearing by the general public, in line with pre-COVID evidence. By summer 2020, the director of the organization was claiming that masks would provide better protection than vaccines.

They continued to mislead the public on the effectiveness of masks, collaborated with teacher’s unions to keep schools closed and claimed that vaccinated people did not “carry the virus.” Repeatedly, the CDC has shown that they are willing to mislead in order to achieve their policy goals.

But this latest misstep might be their worst yet.

Seemingly out of a desire to justify authorizing vaccinations for young children, the CDC presented misleading data on the risks of COVID.

At a recent meeting of the Advisory on Immunization Practices group, as chronicled in a post by writer Kelley K, the CDC presented a graphic claiming that COVID was a leading cause of death among kids 0-4.

false CDC data

Except this graphic is completely false.

It came from a preprint posted by researchers in the UK, who reviewed mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. That dataset includes deaths where COVID was the main contributor as well as those where it was present, but not the underlying cause.

This discrepancy creates a significant issue with accuracy, since the preprint claimed to “only consider Covid-19 as an underlying (and not contributing) cause of death”.

As Kelley points out, there is a noticeable difference between the NCHS statistics and the CDC’s own “WONDER” database, which delineates between contributing and underlying causes.

NCHS, which includes incidental COVID deaths, shows that 1,433 children died with COVID, but the WONDER database shows 1,088 deaths from COVID. That’s a 24% difference and would dramatically alter the graphic.

They used COVID data that included deaths with COVID and compared it to data that includes deaths from an illness.

It’s completely discrediting.

Even worse, the misleading graphic represents COVID deaths cumulatively and compares it to annualized data. Simply, they took two years of COVID related mortality and compared it to one year of data for all other causes.

Kelley re-ran the data using the correct comparisons, which significantly altered the outcome.

While the CDC rankings claimed that COVID was the 4th leading cause of death for children under the age of 1, the corrected annualized ranking was 9th, after using exclusively underlying cause data.

Similarly, the NCHS data used in the preprint and by the CDC claimed 124 deaths in that age group, but COVID was the underlying cause in only 79 deaths.

Rankings for childhood mortality are also overly simplistic, since even the “leading” causes of death pale in comparison to accidents, which caused ~25x more annualized deaths than COVID.

But the worst part about this is that the CDC likely knew that the data they were presenting was wrong and dangerously misleading. And they used it anyway.

They were so desperate to justify their desire to vaccinate young children that they were willing to use inaccurate information and comparisons to do so.

They knew that the media and influential “experts” around the internet would pick up on the graphic, creating unnecessary fear amongst parents and higher demand for the vaccines. And of course, they were right; CNN’s Leana Wen immediately shared the slides:

Instead of accurately informing the public and allowing parents to make a risk-benefit calculation, the CDC is essentially trying to coerce behavior through fear.

Even better, the lead researcher posted on Twitter that they were aware of the issues and would be making corrections.

But of course, it’s too late. The data has now been spread far and wide; the CDC and their allies did their damage. The vaccines were authorized regardless and many parents will make the decision to vaccinate their children based on misrepresented information.

It’s yet another episode in the depressing saga of experts disgracing themselves to achieve their goals and undercutting the public’s trust in the process.

The Lab Leak

A new story from the Daily Mail reports that World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus privately admits that he believes that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in a Wuhan laboratory.

Tedros apparently made the remarks to a prominent European politician that a “catastrophic accident” was the “most likely explanation” for the beginning of the pandemic.

The WHO in early 2021 started an investigation into the origins of the pandemic, which concluded that the lab leak hypothesis was “extremely unlikely.” However, the researcher who led that investigation claimed that China “pressured” the team to “dismiss” the lab leak theory.

Scientific journal The Lancet attempted an investigation, which was disbanded over conflicts of interest. Eco Health Alliance head Peter Daszak failed to disclose his close ties to the Wuhan lab, resulting in criticism of the committee’s objectivity.

While privately Tedros is now seemingly admitting that the lab leak is the most likely origin, the official position of the WHO is that “all hypothesis” are still possible.

It’s extremely unlikely that they will ever change their official, public statements given China’s importance to the organization.

In early 2020, for example, China contributed an additional $30 million to the WHOin what was described as a “political power move” to “boost its superficial credentials.”

The true origins of the pandemic are obviously an extremely important issue not just for China and the WHO, but the global political landscape. Beyond officially determining where the virus came from, if it is conclusively determined to have resulted from a lab leak, it would be a crushing blow to “experts” like Dr. Anthony Fauci who tried repeatedly to shut down the theory.

“The science” has been repeatedly referenced by media outlets, public health authorities and politicians as an immutable set of beliefs that are unassailable and infallible.

If a deadly global pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of millions of people, destroyed economies, increased poverty and furthered educational deterioration started in a research lab, it could mark a devastating shift in the public’s view of “science.”

What’s most infuriating about Tedros finally (and privately) giving credence to the lab leak is that for much of 2020, proponents of the hypothesis were decried as “conspiracy theorists.”

The Washington Post famously published an article calling it a “debunked” conspiracy theory and were forced to issue a humiliating correction afterwards.

Media outlets like the Post never had any justification to call the lab leak a “debunked” conspiracy, but it’s obvious they felt safe in describing at as such because it was promoted by the wrong people. Tom Cotton, a Republican Senator, had advanced the hypothesis, therefore it must be “debunked” because Cotton belongs to the wrong ideology.

That myopic, politically motivated thinking has been a common function of most major media outlets who are often desperate to declare their allegiance to the correct set of approved liberal opinions.

Social media companies like Facebook used the media and WHO as authoritative sources of information and as a result, banned users from even discussing the lab leak.

Only in mid-2021 did Facebook reverse course after admitting it was not “debunked.”

This story contains all the infuriating elements of COVID discussion – “experts” lying to the public and bowing to political pressure from China, a fake consensus of opinion created by the media, and social media outlets protecting “science” by censoring opposing viewpoints.

While China’s opposition to an actual investigation will likely prevent any conclusive findings, it’s notable that the head of the WHO admits privately that the “conspiracy theorists” were probably right all along.

Vaccine Mandate Hypocrisy

The Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe v. Wade has dominated the news cycle since the opinion was released Friday.

Reactions from the pro-abortion side have been ranged from deliberately misleading to woefully inaccurate to offensive, with one comedian labeling half the country as “terrorists.”

But yet another type of hypocrisy has emerged from supposed public health “experts” and politicians.

Best exemplified by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it’s yet another indicator of how the response to Roe v. Wade is about nothing more than maintaining allegiance to the correct political ideology, intellectual consistency be damned.

In 2021, President Joe Biden attempted to mandate COVID vaccination for millions of workers throughout the United States by appealing to OSHA authority. Any employee who worked for a company with more than 100 employees would have had their freedom of choice removed by being forced to take a vaccine that does nothing to protect the safety of others.

The mandate was ultimately deemed to be illegal, but the attempt was celebrated by public health “experts” and many politicians as the correct decision, regardless of its impact on bodily autonomy.

Back in November of 2021, Murthy defended the government mandating a private health decision by saying: “It’s a necessary step to accelerate our pathway out of the pandemic.” He also referred to it as entirely “appropriate:”

“The president and the administration wouldn’t have put these requirements in place if they didn’t think they were appropriate and necessary,” Murthy told host Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.” “And the administration is certainly prepared to defend them.”

Murthy believes that when it comes to COVID vaccination, the “essential principle of maintaining an individual’s autonomy and control over their health decisions” is null and void.

Unsurprisingly, he had the exact opposite reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision:

It’s amazing how flexible the “essential principle” of “individual autonomy and control over their health decisions” apparently is.

When it suits Murthy’s political needs, he’s a staunch defender of individual choice. When he wants to mandate control over other’s bodies and personal health decisions, choice is a meaningless, easily dismissed concept.

Justin Trudeau exemplifies the same remarkable lack of shame.

shame Trudeau

Less than a year ago, Trudeau mandated vaccines for anyone attempting to travel by plane or train across Canada, as well as for all “federally-regulated” workers.

This decision, of course, removed bodily autonomy and choice for millions who need to travel or didn’t want to lose their government jobs.

Undeterred by the abject hypocrisy, Trudeau on Friday declared that “no government, politician, or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body.”

It’s hard to imagine a more blatant example of political posturing and virtue signaling.

Trudeau, who is a man, politician, and a representative of the government, told many women in Canada exactly what they had to do with their body.

Get vaccinated or lose your job and stay home.

He had no problem removing the “right to choose” when it suited his needs. Only now when he has an opportunity to signal his ideological virtue is he a champion of individual liberty.

It’s nothing new for politicians and public health authorities to be hypocritical. But their ability to blatantly disregard the principles of bodily autonomy and personal control over health decisions just a few months ago means it’s impossible to take them seriously now.

It’s almost assuredly too much to ask “experts” and politicians to be intellectually consistent, but it’s yet another example of why trust in institutions and those that run them continues to deteriorate.

It’s all part of the same depressing pattern. Experts and politicians are willing to lie or purposefully withhold information to achieve their goals.

They mislead and contradict their previous statements, knowing that the media will protect the hypocrisy and misrepresentations.

The FDA buries the data behind the authorization in documents they know no one will read.

The head of the most powerful international health body hides his true feelings to protect China and his financial partners.

It’s hard to see how this gets fixed without these individuals and the organizations they lead coming to terms with their mistakes, apologizing and changing course.

I wouldn’t hold your breath.

After all, Joe Biden already wants to give them more money for the next pandemic.

Reposted from the author’s Substack


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Brownstone Institute

Vaccines Will Not and Cannot Make this Virus Endemic

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President Joe Biden’s repeated COVID-19 diagnosis is the latest data point showing our government’s “vaccine only” approach needs an immediate course correction. If four doses of a vaccine cannot protect the leader of the free world from infection, it is time to consider other tactics.

These measures should include generic medicines that have been dismissed by the mainstream medical community and media.

While Americans across the ideological spectrum wish the president recovery, we must take this moment to acknowledge that a strategy blindly focused on vaccinations is not getting the job done.

Don’t take my word for it. Use Biden’s own standard for success. Exactly one year before testing positive, the President declared, “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.” Back then, the seven-day average of new cases in the United States was around 50,000. Today, that number is estimated to be between 300,000-500,000 when considering ubiquitous and uncounted home testing, despite two-thirds of the population considered “fully vaccinated” by the CDC.

Yet the push for vaccines from the administration has continued unabated. Following Biden’s diagnosis, the White House tried to take a political victory lap. In their first press briefing following news of the diagnosis, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed the president’s vaccination status as, “what’s most important here.”

As a lifelong Democrat and medical doctor who has helped more than 700 patients recover from COVID-19 and its complications, I have seen the effectiveness of other treatment options with my own eyes. Take for instance, fluvoxamine, an inexpensive generic medicine typically associated with depression treatment. It costs $4 per pill, is readily available at pharmacies, and has demonstrated an effectiveness combating COVID-19 in large, randomized, controlled trials published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Lancet.

Yet two years after this data appeared, fluvoxamine is still getting the cold shoulder from the medical gatekeepers. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institutes of Health do not recommend its use against COVID-19.

Furthermore, medical professionals who deviate from the party line are callously dismissed by mainstream media outlets such as NPR, as “fringe medical doctors, natural healers and internet personalities ready to push unproven cures for COVID.”

Science and medicine are always changing for the better. Consider the incredible shifts in the landscape that occurred between the current president contracting the novel coronavirus and his predecessor. In October 2020, there were limited options available for President Donald Trump. Less than two years later, a nearly 80-year-old president was presumed to be on a path toward recovery on the day of his diagnosis.

Progress is a wonderful thing, but it’s only possible with an attitude of open-mindedness that challenges the status quo. Doctors and innovators should be incentivized to pursue and explore new and different approaches. Instead, we are being forced to adopt a group think or risk suffering the wrath of the establishment, or worse, loss of livelihood.

The powerful American Board of Internal Medicine, a sprawling organization with certification authority, has been issuing threatening letters to board-certified physicians with exemplary careers, accusing them of “misinformation” when their public assessments of the efficacy of generic, repurposed therapies contradict those of federal health agencies.

To be sure, demonstrably false “misinformation” can be dangerous, and a topic worthy of discussion. But with overwhelming evidence to support the statements in question, advocating different courses of action toward COVID-19 is far from misinformation. In fact, the suggestion from the White House that the vaccine lessened Biden’s symptoms more closely meets the standard for misinformation since it is an impossible standard to prove.

Of all people, Biden should be open to new ideas. He was elected with a clear mandate to implement a fresh approach toward the pandemic. Two summers ago, he castigated his predecessor, saying, “the president still does not have a plan.” He went on to say, “More than 170,000 Americans have died — by far the worst performance of any nation on Earth.”

Today, that number has — sadly — topped 1 million. Many more lives have been lost on this president’s watch than the last one. These are sobering statistics. Biden has fallen short of promise to “shut down” the virus.

It’s clear COVID-19 is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. How we address it is up to us. Now is the time for a change in approach. Let’s hope our elected leaders and medical professionals take heed.


Pierre Kory is a Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialist, Teacher/Researcher. He is also the President and Chief Medical Officer of the non-profit organization Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance whose mission is to develop the most effective, evidence/expertise-based COVID-19 treatment protocols.

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Brownstone Institute

Musk Declines to Save Twitter from Itself

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From the Brownstone Institute

The question is finally settled: Elon Musk has declined to buy Twitter. His initial offer of $44 billion was contingent on truth and transparency of the company’s corporate filings.

It’s no different from the contract you put on a house: the inspections still remain. If the foundation is cracked – or, worse, if the owners block the inspectors from even looking into the question – the deal is off.

The letter from Musk’s attorney makes it absolutely and painfully clear that Twitter did not cooperate.

“Twitter has not provided information that Mr. Musk has requested for nearly two months notwithstanding his repeated, detailed clarifications intended to simplify Twitter’s identification, collection, and disclosure of the most relevant information sought in Mr. Musk’s original requests.”

There are many issues here but the central one concerns the mDAU or monetizable daily active users. They claim 217 million, nearly half of whom log on daily, and only 5% of whom are bots. To manage them, Twitter has 7,500 employees who earn an average salary of $121,000 per year.

Honestly, if you claim to have a magic machine that displays random thoughts from anyone that somehow converts people’s passing attention into profit – and employ that many people at such high salaries who make it all happen – you had better be sure that you can generate credible numbers to prove it.

Twitter never did.

Maybe the foundation is cracked or maybe it is not. But when the owners don’t let you verify, there is a reason to walk away.

It would be nice to know Musk’s real thoughts. I suspect that Elon looked more closely at this vaunted ruling-class time waster and found vast puffery, low profitability, wildly inflated numbers concerning usage, and a vicious and expensive staff that hates his guts, while opposing free speech and the values of most regular American people.

Why would he bother?

It’s all strange timing for the company suddenly to announce massive cuts in its payroll, starting with the team dedicated to job recruitment. That would appear to mean the HR staff, which is undoubtedly huge, but a net drain on any company seeking profitability. Maybe this move was made in response to Musk — let’s clean house before the new owner takes over — or maybe it was made necessary by poor financials.

In either case, Musk might have come to believe that the entire company is a dog he doesn’t want to adopt.

Meanwhile, Twitter seems to have settled a lawsuit with Alex Berenson, an early Covid-policy critic who was later banned for posting…facts. The terms of the settlement are secret but they did result in his reinstatement. The same day, however, Twitter went on an aggressive purge of other accounts that dared to post basic facts particularly about covid and vaccine effectiveness.

Again, why would Musk even bother? There are plenty of other projects out there that merit his attention that could actually make money. Plus, he will be spared the ultimate annoyance of dealing with thousands of entitled and overpaid staffers who have drunk deeply from the woke ideological wells of poststructuralist Ivy-League theorizing.

He might dream of firing 90 percent of them — I dream the same — but what does that achieve?

What is the future of this company and others like them that have lived off enthusiasm, cheap credit, and their influencer status, while obscuring the underlying data that matters most? We know that Facebook, YouTube, and many others have already been caught making wild exaggerations about their mDAUs. It makes sense that Twitter is guilty of the same.

What does this mean for the company? We are seeing the unfolding of a very strange inflationary recession that combines low unemployment, declining purchasing power, falling demand for goods and services, low investor confidence, plus a growing financial squeeze that is raising serious questions about whether the basic economic model of high-profile companies like Twitter is sustainable.

George Gilder has foreseen the end of Google, one company the name of which he deploys as a stand-in for a slew of high fliers that dominate Big Tech today. Precisely how they would bite the dust has always been a question. It would be the height of irony to see them all die the death from the very forces that gave them such high profitability in 2020 and 2021: the pandemic response that conscripted their user base from the real world into the laptop life.

And with that comes a more fundamental question: just how vulnerable is this overclass to being euthanized by economic fundamentals?

For example, with the managerial class trying to get everyone back at the office, the overclass of lazy and overpaid staffers is resisting with all the ferocity one would expect from such an entitled proletariat. They simply won’t come back. They prefer the pajama life. It’s more comfortable. It’s also safer because by not showing up to the office, one can more easily hide from managerial oversight.

Right now office occupancy in major cities is at a mere 45% of what it was before the pandemic response. To be sure, many of these people have tried coming back. They fight the traffic. They ride the dangerous subways. They pay a high price for gas. Then they pay to park. Then eat bad food for lunch. And what do they do at the office? The same exact thing they would otherwise be doing at home. They Slack back and forth to other employees.

Doesn’t matter if the interlocutor is 5 feet away or 500 miles away. It’s all the same anyway.

The main reason for coming back to the office is to socialize with fellow employees. But that’s not actually doing work, is it? So that’s a problem. The great myth that having everyone hang out together in fishbowl rooms is going to lead to some kind of synergistic brainstorming has been exposed as another lie promoted by bogus management books one picks up in the airport.

Therefore, employees are coming up with any excuse to stay away. The best one — “I’ve been exposed to Covid so I’m in quarantine” — is getting stale. The high price of gasoline might be next on the list. Regardless, getting people back to the office seems ill-fated, which raises serious questions about what happens to these skyscrapers designed for a pre-2020 world?

We talk these days a lot about the labor shortage and the low unemployment rate. Can we get a bit of honesty here? The shortages are for jobs that many people don’t want. They are in the service industries, hospitality, the physical world, the work that actually requires work and real skills. When you are waving a fancy degree and believe that six figures is your birthright, you won’t take these jobs. That’s why there’s a shortage of workers.

In other words, we need people to fix cars, deliver goods from ports to stores, flip the rooms in hotels, make the omelets, and put up drywall in new houses. Those require skills and actually moving one’s body, which is anathema to the under-40 demographic that studied anthropology and the history of social oppression of everyone during the four-year, debt-financed vacation we call college.

Where there is a surplus is in the puffed-up sector of bullcorn jobs that require about 20 total minutes of engaged time per day. Those are the jobs that everyone wants, but how sustainable are they really during an inflationary recession?

Elon seems to get this. His companies do real things, not fake things. He probably intuits that most of these companies need massive restructuring, both in personnel and in world outlook.

A prediction: there are hard times ahead for the corporate laptoppers as these companies are forced either to become profitable or go bankrupt. And this will lead to a massive crisis and demoralization of an entire generation that has been taught that anyone with the right credentials and connections can get rich forever without doing a lick of real work.

Decades of debt financing have created a spoiled overclass in America that has been taught to hate capitalism and also believe they and their friends can forever earn a high-income stream off the fruits of that system. There could be a rude awakening and it could come sooner rather than later. They wanted a great reset and they are going to get it good and hard.

Now Twitter faces a serious problem. Who is the next buyer and why would this party be any less scrupulous? Also maybe investors should also be a bit more critically minded too.


  • Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown. He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics at The Epoch Times, and speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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