“If you can’t see the truth about COVID19” and similar circular arguments

I signed the Great Barrington Declaration
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I had an exchange on Twitter (yes I know…Twitter) about the anti-corona protests on Germany this week. I will not put up screenshots or name of the people involved because it is unnecessary for the argument and I usually find such behavior quite distasteful.

Here is what I said about the protests in Berlin on the 18th of November 2020.

It is just so sad that these protests are often organized and attended by far right extremists and conspiracy nuts. It totally discredits the normal people who think the gov goes too far and who want a rational public discussion about corona 🙁

Here is one exemplary answer I received:

That is a tortuously absurd argument, because it is exactly.. quote ‘the normal people who just want a rational discussion about coronavirus’ who are described as either ‘Conspiracy loons’ and ‘far right extremists’ by the very same government they are protesting to.

You want to be taken serious, then don’t ally yourself with people who are beyond reason.

The people who answered me with this tweet and similar ones all call themselves scientifically minded and they profess to base their protest against the anti-corona measures on science.

If you look at footage from the protests you can see a lot of normal people. You can also see many right wing activists, anti-vaxxers and assorted conspiracy theorists. Many people were peaceful but some tried to break through the barriers to get closer to the parliament building. Scores of people were injured but so were some of the police officers.

I personally received several calls for action in the days before to attend this protest. Some invoked threats of a dictatorship, they came from anti-vaccination groups or people who even deny the legitimacy of the government. Some even compared the current situation with the rise of Hitler and the persecution of Jews (now people who refuse vaccines are the new Jews). Others calls were mostly reasonable but all those groups came together that day.

But by protesting together with these conspiracy theorists and not clearly distancing yourself from these people, the public only ever sees the groups proclaiming their views most loudly…and those tend to be the extreme groups. Politicians look at this and they see people captured by dangerous ideologies that question the legitimacy of our democratic system. Of course they will publicly dismiss these people. And worst of all normal people might want to abstain from those protests in the future thereby denying the public their voice.

Science is also valid for conspiracy theories

Another point I want to make is about messages telling me that if I do not see the truth I must be blind from the same scientific minded people. If they are going protest against lock downs and masks using science, hypotheses, evidence, studies, data and so on why don’t they apply science to their “truth” as well?

Scientist do not just see truth, they work hard to discover it. So what is the hypothesis here? Someone (the government, big companies, big pharma) is trying to take away our freedoms and for what exactly? Who is doing this? Why do “they” want a dictatorship? What is “their” goal? You won’t get an answer to this question.

And where is the evidence? Just because lock downs infringe upon our rights is not a proof that there is a big secret plan in motion or a hidden agenda. Maybe politicians are just incompetent, unable to admit they made an error, captured by groupthink or they truly (erroneous or not) believe that those measures help people. I personally think the latter three are a most likely explanation.

After the first wave many restrictions where taken back. The German parliament is perfectly capable of abolishing the new laws. In no way does the new infection protection act take away any rights of our elected representatives. Courts are still able to strike down any unconstitutional law (and they did grant injunctions against some restrictions already). People can still gather to protest and courts have uphold this right. There are hundreds of petitions, court cases and constitutional complaints ongoing.

Many people are overwhelmed by what is happening around them. They are overwhelmed by the amount of information and it is difficult to decide what is true and false. Because of this many people follow a simple narrative about conspiracies and it sure feels good if you now have friends and allies who support you.

My suggestion is to take a step back from social media, look for calm voices discussing the issue from both sides and form a balanced and calm opinion. The whole truth is on neither side. Have a look at my suggestions for a more rational debate here.

How did this exchange end?

Do you believe that the true powers behind this haven’t realised the affects of lockdowns? You think they are good people but somehow misguided. I think they are evil, manipulative and highly effective at controlling the narrative by making the masses support their censorship.

This was the last answer I received. I won’t shame anyone for their typos or misspelling, I sure have enough of my own, but it does indicate how Twitter is a medium where people react emotionally without taking the time to think before writing. And it perfectly makes my point…now if you can not see this truth then….. 🙂

Maybe one last important point. I personally have very broad interests ranging from psychology, politics, philosophy to economics and technology. One thing I have learned is that complex societies have a strong tendency to develop dynamics that are hard to control by individuals or small groups. Once something gets going there is a strong inertia to keep it going.

Those dynamics are seldom rational, they are often based on psychological factors and economic or political incentives. But there are no “true powers” trying to manipulate the masses for some end. There are complex, sometimes hard to understand and for an individual seemingly overwhelming dynamics and it is much easier to make them into a story of malice and intention.

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