Notes From the Plague Journal – What is Truth?


By Charlie Johnston

I have been struggling to get a handle on this business, writing a long, fairly complex piece. It finally dawned on me this morning that I would do well to divide it into at least three small pieces, covering different aspects. Also, I have been overwhelmed with email traffic and ‘messenger’ requests. I am wading along, but forgive me if I am delayed in responding – and it is nothing personal, but I don’t do messenger. And so, the first installment…

What is Truth?

This Wuhan Virus is a tricky one to get a handle on. It affects different populations in different regions in vastly different ways.

Italy, Iran and Spain are the hardest hit, with it seeming like a true pandemic in Italy and Spain. In Iran, it seems to have targeted the leadership class. Weird. The major things these three countries have in common is that they have socialized medicine and have hosted an unusually large Chinese population by participating heavily in Silk Road initiatives. This is not immediately useful information, though, because there are many countries that have similar commonalities that have not been so harshly affected. In fact, of three countries that have been badly infected and quickly recovered, two also have fully socialized medical systems – Taiwan and South Korea. The third, Japan, has a hybrid socialized system with private elements. It is hard to pinpoint what the difference is between those countries that are genuinely ravaged and those that have little more than a sneeze.

Top medical people are all over the board on this. Some are claiming fear of it is ridiculously overblown, while others treat it as the greatest potential scourge since Genghis Khan. The World Health Organization (WHO) has mainly been running political interference for China, so everything it says is suspect. That has been no great loss to me. Ever since it assured us years ago that at least a million people would die in Africa alone of Ebola I have largely ignored the WHO as a useless – and uselessly alarmist – organization. The actual number who died of Ebola in Africa was 30,000.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is credibly charged with giving officials bad information and assurances that could not be kept. At least in this case, the motive seems to be good, old-fashioned CYA incompetence rather than politically driven. Still, it does not inspire much confidence that the “experts” can give us the information we need to make good decisions.

Meantime, the scientific advisor to Italy’s Minister of Health is bluntly stating that the numbers of death in his country from this coronavirus have been badly overstated – that only 12 percent of the death certificates show a direct correlation to the coronavirus. It seems doctors in Italy are just attributing almost all deaths to coronavirus these days, regardless of the actual cause. Italian hospitals are jammed, but the information being given is not very useful and is probably downright deceptive.

The establishment media has been an utter disgrace. While people are looking for good information, it is busy trying to find ways to “own” Trump when it is not engaged in identity politics “gotcha” moments. It is guided not by any consistent standards or helping people through what has become a crisis, just by being against whatever Trump is for, even if it has to contort itself to attack what it championed just days ago in order to stay consistently anti-Trump. Worst of all, it scarcely bothers to hide how eagerly it hopes for full economic collapse or a deadly pandemic in order to hurt Trump. Some of the conservative media is not exempt from this either, with some sites obsessively trying to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci over his connections to some liberal Democrats. When dealing with hard facts, I always look to see whether the assertions an official makes pan out when I drill down into hard data. Dr. Fauci has been consistently accurate and measured. Yes, the left-wing establishment media has been all political, all the time – but shame on those conservative writers and sites which have tried to make this just another political food-fight, too. When this is over (and it will be) I think the media may be in for a true and extensive blood-letting. Most are completely un-serious people and would have to study for months to rise to the level of half-wits.

When you politicize everything, nobody serious believes anything anymore. It can enhance partisan power for a time – but only at the cost of exponentially rising cynicism which can become prelude to a political collapse.