50. Precautionary principle & mass hysteria
We compare the precautionary principle approach of obsessing over avoiding one negative outcome to the economic way of thinking, which entails examining the seen and unseen consequences of each action, and is a much more sane, safe, and intelligent way of approaching complex issues. We examine two contemporary episodes of global mass hysteria to see how dangerously reckless and counterproductive using the precautionary principle is.
April 19th Seminar – The Precautionary principle and mass hysteria
Saifedean Ammous: Hello, and welcome to another seminar. Thank you guys for joining today. How’s everybody doing? Very good. Good. All right. So one topic that has come up in our discussions recently, which I thought we’d be discussing today is an old pet peeve of mine, which is called the precautionary principle.
[00:03:57] It’s something that has become quite popular in these insane times of mass hysteria around the world. And I think it’s one of these ideas that sounds intelligent if you don’t think about it. It feels intelligent. And if you’re the kind of person who lets their feelings control them, rather than try and think about things in terms of their implications, which is what economists like to do, then you’re going to be attracted to this profoundly dangerous and reckless idea.
[00:04:22]The basic nutshell is that the precautionary principle says that you should not take part in activities or do things or carry out decisions that can involve the risk of a complete ruin. You just want to completely dismiss and take away the possibility of doing things that could involve complete ruin.
[00:04:39]And it seems like it’s a decent idea, you know. Don’t drink glue, for instance, that is a very bad thing. Glue could kill you and don’t drink a lot of glue. Who could argue with that? And so of course when applied to these insane ideas like drinking glue or doing very reckless things, then that makes sense.
[00:04:58] It’s common sense that you don’t want to do things that contain ruin. But the really dangerous and insane thing about this idea is how it essentially can be deployed as a trump card, almost that can settle any discussion in the favor of the person who’s deploying it by simply focusing on the damage and negative impact of the decision that they don’t want and simply ignoring the damage and the negative impact of the decision that they want.
[00:05:29]And that’s really why I think this is a question that economists need to address. I think it’s a good topic for this economics focused seminar because the old French economist, Frederick Bastiat used to say: “The difference between a good economist and a bad economist is that the good economist looks at the things that are seen and the unseen, he looks at the seen and the unseen impacts of decisions and the actions, whereas the bad economist only concerns themselves with the seen impact. And this really is the entirety of the difference between actual economists and bad economists.
[00:06:04]Bastiat said this, I think it was about 150 or 200 years ago or something like that, that’s when he was alive. And it’s absolutely spot on and it still holds on today. So you think about any kind of horrible government policy, the key toward accepting it and thinking of the government policy as being a good thing is to simply ignore the negative impacts of it and to focus on the positive impacts only. One of the best examples is the minimum wage. The bad economist, which is 90% of economists today will tell you that a minimum wage will cause an increase in the wages of the poorest people. It might cost the businesses a little bit of money.
[00:06:42] So it’s gonna take a little bit of money away from the capitalists, evil, fat cat capitalists, and give them to the honest, hardworking, do good, workers who are going to make a little bit more money. And if you listen to the debate on policies around this question, you see that the question is portrayed as if there’s a group of people who want to give the workers more money.
[00:07:01] And then there’s a group of people who want the workers to be poor. And particularly if you watch media or if you go to universities, this is the kind of framing of the question. Do we want the workers to remain poor or do we want them to be rich? If you want them be rich, then you want a higher minimum wage.
[00:07:16] If you want them to be poor, then you oppose the minimum wage. And so politics is the struggle of the poor and the decent people against the evil capitalist, who just want to see poor people remain poor so that they can hire them for low wages and then make bigger profits. That’s the seen. That’s how it happens when you ignore the unseen.
[00:07:37]You say, we pass a law and it says the minimum wage goes up from $10 to $20. And now all of the people earning anywhere between $10 and $20, they’ll all start earning $20. They’ll all be richer. And in fact if you want to take it up to another, if you want to up the level of stupidity in the analysis, what Keynesian aggregate analysis will show you is that, well, now all of these workers are earning so much more money, then they’re going to start spending that money and then that’s going to cause more spending.
[00:08:05] And of course, we know that in an economy, in the Keynesian view more spending is the fuel that drives the economy. So when these workers start spending more, that’s going to result in more jobs being created, more workers being paid more money. And then the economy shifts to a better equilibrium at a higher wages and better income.
[00:08:25]The obvious question here is; well, if that’s the case, why do we stop at $20? Like why not just go up to a hundred dollars minimum wage? Why not a thousand? Why not $1 million an hour? Really. Think about it. If you don’t want workers to have a million dollars for an hour of labor, the only possible explanation is that you hate the workers, right?
[00:08:43]Thinking about the implication, taking it to the absurd is a good way to start to try and get people to snap out of this kind of bad economic thinking because the more you ramp up the minimum wage, the more you forced them to start questioning, where does this thing break?
[00:08:57] Where does this thing stop working? Why can’t we just legislate wealth for everybody and make everybody very, very rich? And the answer of course, is that you need to think about the unseen cost. So the unseen cost is that okay, maybe there will be a few workers that are going to get a raise, but for the majority of workers, they’re going to lose their jobs.
[00:09:16] Well, maybe not a majority, but a lot of workers who are earning below the new minimum wage are going to be out of a job. If your jobs marginal productivity is less than $20 an hour, then you’re going to be out of a job. If your contribution to your business is… you turn up to the business and let’s say you deliver food for a restaurant or you wash dishes or you help the cleanup or something in a restaurant.
[00:09:39]The decision to hire you is a decision based on the idea whether the wage that is paid for you, is it lower than the marginal productivity that you add to the business. And we’ve discussed this in Economics 11 when we were discussing labor. You decide if you’re going to hire somebody, if they’re marginal productivity, if the marginal revenue that they bring in is larger than the wage that you paid.
[00:10:01] So I’ll hire you and I’ll pay you $20 if adding you to the business will contribute more than $20 of revenue. If having you in the business means that we can sell $25 more food every day, because we have you helping out then paying you $20 is worth it. But if your contribution to the business, adding you to the business is going to give us $15 extra, then paying you the $20 is not going to be worth it.
[00:10:24]This is when you start pointing people who don’t think properly in terms of economics toward an idea. And this is when you start triggering their cognitive dissonance and they start hating you and calling you cruel. They’ll respond with something along the lines of, well, you know, these businesses shouldn’t be laying them off.
[00:10:42] They should keep those workers and they’re evil capitalists if they do it. Which, you know, for argument’s sake, you can agree with them that, yeah, only evil people are going to lay off their workers, but only good people will continue to hire their workers and pay them a salary that is higher than their productivity.
[00:10:59] But then you realize, well, what’s going to happen to a business that loses money with every marginal worker that it hires. Every extra worker that we hire gives us $15 of value, but we pay them 20. What’s going to happen in that business? It’s bleeding $5 an hour per worker, basically. And of course the people who believe in these ideas will have never run a business, but because they, they would think that this is something that the business should be able to handle because we are a society and we’re all together and we’re all in this together.
[00:11:29] And we should all be nice to each other. And poor people deserve money too. So the business should just keep paying them and suck it up. But of course that’s just going to put the business out of business. It’s going to go out of business if you’re losing money and you’re going to miss out to competitors who don’t lose money.
[00:11:45] So if you’re running a business that cares about hiring workers and pays them more than their marginal productivity, you’re going to get out competed by the business that only pays workers their marginal productivity or less than the marginal productivity, because that business continues to take a profit.
[00:12:01]It continues to accumulate capital. It can invest more, it can increase its productivity and it can have a much better return. So this notion that we could just pass a law and make poor people get rich is just ridiculous. Even if you pass the law businesses, can’t operate non economically. They cannot suspend the rules of economics.
[00:12:23] And if they do, they stop being businesses, they go out of business and they become bankrupt. That’s just the reality of it. So the result of having a minimum wage is a) an increase in unemployment as all the low wage, low productivity workers get kicked out of their jobs because they can’t match it.
[00:12:40] And of course the long-term effect then is that you end up with, and of course, who are the people that have the lowest productivity generally? It’s usually young workers, it’s high school dropouts, fresh graduates from high school, fresh graduates from college. These people don’t have high productivity.
[00:12:56] They don’t have skills and they are not adding value to their jobs. At least in the first few months, they’re not adding significant value. And of course, by the way, this is not just true for menial poor workers. This is actually true for even the most qualified workers. So even as a doctor or as an engineer or as a lawyer, if you were in banking or in finance, in all of those jobs, your first job is going to pay you very, very little. As a doctor, when you work as a resident, you get paid less than the cleaning staff at the hospital. When you count the hours, you’ll find that some of these residents, most of them I’d say get paid less than the cleaning stuff, and they have to work insane hours.
[00:13:35] And yet doctors take that job. And not only do they take it, they apply in order to try and get it and work really hard to try and get the residences that they want that pay them very little money. Why? Because the reward for the first job that you have is not the salary of the job.
[00:13:50] That award for the first job is the experience that you gained. So when you knock that out, because of the minimum wage law, you’ve prevented the least qualified workers from gaining the skills. And notice that the kind of people who call for minimum wage law don’t want to impose something like this on doctors and engineers and lawyers, even though, their first jobs are usually an internship that pays them nothing.
[00:14:14] It’s accepted that this is normal because these people are qualified and they’re going to start earning more. But it’s the same for everybody. Every job begins like that. Nobody wants to pay you money when they haven’t even tried to see if you were able to be productive or not.
[00:14:27] So they don’t pay you money until they’ve tried it for a few months. When you make it illegal for them to pay you a low salary, it makes it illegal for you to start picking up the skills when you need them the most. And so the result is, this creates a new class of people who are unemployable. That don’t get employed because they’ve never learned the skills.
[00:14:46]At 18, you didn’t have any skills and nobody could hire you. And then at 25 you still don’t have any skills and nobody could hire you, but you have seven years of experience in unemployment, which is going to make it far more likely for you to continue down the career path of unemployment.
[00:15:00]You wake up and you just get paid a welfare, and then you can spend all of your day doing any job you want, as long as it’s illegal. And that’s basically what unemployment is. It’s a subsidy for people to go on ahead and take on illegal jobs. So if you work a legal job, you stop taking welfare.
[00:15:16] But if you work in illegal job, you can make a lot of welfare money, and then you can make a profits on the side. So these are the kinds of impacts that you get from these minimum wage laws. And of course the next impact is price raises. So some businesses won’t be able to fire workers. They still need to keep their workers in order to operate.
[00:15:33] But the only way that they can continue to operate is to raise their prices. So. Minimum wage laws end up, from the perspective of the seen, the minimum wage law ends up raising the salary of poor workers.
[00:15:46] That’s what bad economists think minimum wage laws do, but good economists understand that minimum wage laws increase unemployment, increase prices and create an underclass of unemployable people who can’t get employed because they spend a lot of years not working and not gaining experience and not developing the work ethic.
[00:16:06] This is the really important thing. Like the most important thing about your first job is just being able to wake up on time and turn up and listen to instructions and follow instructions and do those things. This is enormously important and if you make it so that people can only get that experience after they’ve increased their productivity.
[00:16:24] You’ve essentially kicked away the ladder that allows them to climb up. You can’t get up to the top floor unless you climb the ladder, but you can’t climb the ladder unless you’re on the top floor. That’s the recipe for keeping people on the bottom. Anyways. So. That’s the digression when it comes to minimum wage laws.
[00:16:38] But going back to the topic that we’re dealing with, this is really the problem with the precautionary principle. If you just think about the bad thing that you want to avoid, and if you fixate on it, if you’re fixated on the fact that, oh no, this thing is bad, then you know, let’s do everything possible to stop this thing.
[00:16:54] But if you actually try and think about the implications of both the course of action that you’re recommending and not following that course of action, and then you compare the seen and the unseen in both cases, that’s when it becomes a much more tricky question. And that’s when you realize that the precautionary principle is truly useless bit of information, it means nothing.
[00:17:18] The economic way of thinking is the way that you want to use in order to apply. There is no such thing as outside of the obvious examples of, don’t shoot yourself in the face and don’t drink glue and don’t jump from the top of a building. There are very, very, very few places in life where you could pull out this kind of Trump card of an argument it’ll actually make any sense to deploy it and use it.
[00:17:41]It really makes no sense in this regard, if you think about it, because with every question where this thing comes up, and that is any tiny, little bit more contentious than drinking glue and shooting herself in the face, there is an unseen cost to the action that you’ve proposed. And there’s no escaping comparing those two things.
[00:17:59] There’s no escaping comparing them, because if you remember, the fundamental concept of economics is opportunity costs. And so there is no such a thing as a free precaution, you know, we’re just shutting something down and then we’re being able to take a precaution out of it. And then, we’ve protected ourselves from this downside without having incurred any costs. Nothing is free.
[00:18:17]In the real world of trade-offs outside of the very simple and stupid decisions, like shooting yourself in the face, there are no simple answers. You need to need to run the numbers on the cost and the benefits of each course of action and compare them. And so the precautionary principle is invoked by a lot of people in the context of this year we saw it in the context of the coronavirus crisis. And it’s usually also invoked in the context of climate change. And these, I think are excellent examples to illustrate just what an absolutely insane and useless idea of the precautionary principle really is. If you think about it in the case of coronavirus, as the World Health Organization and the Chinese communist party started telling the world about the emergence of this virus, there was an enormous amount of fear all over the world based on, the modeling and the statistical studies that were done about how this … a lot of the people that are hysterical about the coronavirus right now are forgetting just how much more hysterical they were back in March or April last year, about a year ago, when this thing was happening.
[00:19:23] I mean, there were people who were seriously angry, aggressively angry at others because they refuse to believe that we were going to be getting mass death in the street, that we were going to have millions of people die. That we’re going to have the population decimated, that we’re going to be getting tens of millions of deaths, and we’re going to be witnessing an apocalypse basically.
[00:19:44] And all that was based on a couple of stupid papers released by a bunch of Fiat scientists, which, their entire methodology rested on. And this was obvious for me in March. And you could see my tweets about it, which is you look and they’re saying, Oh, well, the fatality, the case fatality rate is 3% or something like that.
[00:20:04] And the, R0 is very high, it’s over one. So this is highly infectious and highly lethal. And then, you just run the simulations. And you consider that human beings are just helpless cattle that are just going to be infected by deadly agents that are going to kill them.
[00:20:21] And so you get a very large number of deaths and a very large number of people suffering from illnesses. And then you get all these scary models about hospitals being overrun and people dying in the streets and people were extremely, extremely scared. Now, once you’ve portrayed the fear from this as being so vivid, that’s when it’s very, very, very dangerous to have ever heard of ideas as stupid as the precautionary principle, because now you’re dealing with people who are not saying, you know, fear makes you insane. Fear makes you incapable of thinking. Fear drives you to do very, very stupid things. You should never take decisions when you’re afraid.
[00:21:00] If you can. Try and snap out of it, try and control yourself and try and thinkrationally. This is really one of the most important skills you learn as an adult, like something bad is happening. Yes. You can sit and wallow in your misery about the fact that something bad is happening or you could internalize it, understand it, understand the consequences of it.
[00:21:21] And immediately start thinking about: what is the course of action that I can do that will minimize this thing? What is the worst thing that can happen? And this can really be the difference between life and death. If you’re driving and you’re having problem with your car, it is a scary thing to have. You’re on the highway and you’re driving fast and then your brakes aren’t working very well.
[00:21:39]It’s a scary thing to do. So how do you react? Well, you can stay scared, focus on your fear, let the panic seep through you. And then you’re going to crash the car without the problem in the car, having to create the accident, you’re going to make an accident out of your own fear, or you could take a deep breath.
[00:21:57] Calm down, figure out what to do and drive the car to the best of your ability. And all you need to do is just figure out how to stop the car without making an accident. Once you stop the car, then you’re safe and you can fix the car. You can get another car or call a cab, whatever. It can be a disaster if you let the fear control you.
[00:22:16] And this is of course, what has happened in the last, in the world over the last year, which is the people just panicked because of these stupid models that were released by a bunch of criminals who works in Fiat science. As somebody who studied Austrian economics, I immediately knew that these models were complete garbage.
[00:22:32] There was absolutely no chance that the world will follow these models. And it’s amazing that the same idiots who were prancing about with these models, they use them and they talked about them when they were afraid, but now it’s over. And now they’ve moved on to obsess about all other kinds of different things.
[00:22:48] Now they’re obsessed about case numbers, and now they’re obsessed about long COVID. Whether people who can get COVID, maybe one day, if you recover from COVID, maybe one day you’ll die and that’ll be long COVID. As if COVID is the reason we don’t have any mortality anymore.
[00:23:04]So these things are extremely emotionally charged. And of course there’s an enormous amount of bureaucracy that has a vested interest in scaring people. The World Health Organization is essentially a terrorist organization. They’ve spent the last decades magnifying every single health threat imaginable and scaring the hell out of people from every scare before. If you read the history of the swine flu and the history of the MERS virus and the history of the SARS virus, these were all also massive panics that scared people.
[00:23:38]And in all of those cases, we had the World Health Organization and their pharmaceutical sponsors promoting hysterical fear among media. And of course media is also a terrorist organization. Media’s business model is to scare people. And so we’ve seen this before. We know that these institutions have a vested interest in magnifying crises for two reasons.
[00:24:01] First of all, if it does turn out that this as the worst pandemic in history, you don’t want to be the guy who, said that, oh wait, hang on, this isn’t going to be the worst thing in history. And then it turns out to be the worst thing in history. So you always have an incentive as a bureaucrat who faces no market test and no cost for your decisions.
[00:24:18] You always have an incentive to go ahead with the most reckless precaution possible, because you want to cover your ass. You want to say, you know, I said, let’s shut down the planet entirely and everybody should stay in home. I told them for three years. And so now once you do something like this, once you propose something completely insane and unworkable, you have your ass covered because no matter what happens in the world, you’ll always say, well, you know, that’s because they didn’t listen to me.
[00:24:43] If only everybody has stayed home for three years, then none of this would have been a problem. Of course, nobody’s going to be able to stay home for three years. But what matters is that your incentive as somebody who works in these fake jobs and these fake criminal organizations, you don’t have any cost of that.
[00:24:58]You’ll still be leaving your home because, you’re an important public health official. But for everybody else, the cost is born by them. They’re the ones whose businesses and livelihoods are going to be destroyed, but you’ve covered your ass. So there’s that aspect of it, the negative aspect of not wanting to be in trouble.
[00:25:12] And then there’s the other aspect of downright grift. Basically these people want to make money and there’s a lot more money for your bureaucracy if there are problems that your bureaucracy is supposed to handle. So I don’t need to look at the numbers, but I know for a fact, the World Health Organization’s budget this year is going to be many, many times larger than the budget that they had three years ago, because of all of the insane hysteria and because thanks to the World Health Organization is doing its best to magnify this risk to tell people to be scared.
[00:25:44] So this attracts a lot more money. It gets you more funding, gets you more important, puts you on TV. And these kinds of people live for this stuff. If these people were actually productive people they’d have real jobs in the real public sector, serving other human beings by producing things that are useful.
[00:25:58]But, if you work in one of these international bureaucracies, you don’t have a real job. And your job is to continuously find excuses for the people who finance you to give you more financing and there’s no market test that you face that can measure the effectiveness of your work. So you’re constantly, constantly incentivized to push in the direction of panic.
[00:26:18] And that’s what has driven these organizations to oversell every single flu season that we’ve ever had. It’s always the end of the world. It’s always going to be an apocalypse. It’s always going to cost so many deaths. And here, my favorite or one of the least favorite humans in the world today is a con artist by the name of Neil Ferguson, who works as an epidemiologist. He’s a failed physicist. Like most macro economists epidemiology is made up of failed, mathematicians and failed physicists. People who couldn’t cut the quantitative fields. And so they bring their stupid models and limited mathematical abilities to pseudosciences like macro economics and epidemiology.
[00:26:57] And then they use these in order to basically pay their bills by giving their paymasters, whatever they want. So this guy has been employed by some institution at the Imperial college, which is financed by the Gates foundation. And so like all of these organizations in the international public health crime syndicates, they have an enormous incentive to overstate the risks.
[00:27:19] And so everybody in these fake bullshit jobs has the incentive to continue to scare you because that’s how their job works. And so of course that leads to this mass hysteria. And at that point, once people get really scared, once people think that the death is staring them at the door, that’s when the precautionary principle becomes such a dangerous idea.
[00:27:42]Because you’re talking to people that think that they have a gun to their head. If you watch TV and if you think that these organizations are made up of respectable human beings rather than just scoundrels looking to maximize their profit at the expense of the people they’re supposed to serve, you will be scared.
[00:27:58] And then there is no limit to what you will do. There’s no limit to how reckless you will be when you’re dealing with an idea as profoundly wrong-headed and counterproductive and dangerous as the precautionary principle. And so when the death from the exponential curves is staring you in the face, you are willing to… I put a gun to your head and then I’d tell you, I’ll take that gun away if you give me your money, you’re going to give away your money. And so once you get into that frame of mind where you’re scared the downside of, anything other than the gun, please, you know, and it doesn’t matter.
[00:28:36] You can get anything from somebody if you have a gun to their head, because they’re scared and they don’t want to die. And so you tell them, you know, give me your money, give me anything and they’ll give it. Then they won’t think about the cost because for them, there’s this doom of the gun next to our head.
[00:28:51] And so, yeah, that’s another situation where the precautionary principle is useful. Like if somebody has a gun to your head, maybe you should take the precaution and do anything possible not to get them to pull the plug. But, in the vast majority of our life, we don’t have the decisions this complex, we have decisions far more complex.
[00:29:09] You can’t avoid thinking about the unseen about the other side. And so in this case, first of all, it became quite clear that we don’t have a gun to our head. We are not all staring death in the face. This virus is not going to be enormous amount of indiscriminate death that is just hitting anybody everywhere.
[00:29:29] A year later we’ve seen that that’s not the case. I personally got this virus and I got sick and I wasn’t feeling well for two, three days. My productivity went down a little bit. I slept a little bit more. But three, four, five days later, I was fine. And in retrospect, because I didn’t panic, I didn’t think that this was a gun to my head.
[00:29:49] I was able to think and understand the things that actually work to combat this. This is a very important point. When you’re being scared you’re easy to manipulate into all kinds of crazy, dangerous things. Whereas when you’re being sober, you can weigh the evidence and you can figure out what’s the best course of action.
[00:30:07] Similarly, if you’re driving a car and you’re losing control of the car, if you panic, you’re done. If you don’t panic, if you look at the cars around you, and if you look at the road and you figure out how best to navigate yourself into the safety, you have a much better chance of doing it and pulling it off rather than crashing.
[00:30:26] And it turns out that, if you’ve just paid attention to what’s been going on with coronavirus by not listening to the international health organization crime syndicates. And if you just listen to actual doctors and try to get the expertise of people who dealt with this, it became quite clear very quickly that there are a few things that you can do that will massively reduce your risk from this. The first and most obvious one is to be healthy and in shape. So if you eat well and if you exercise, and if you get sunshine, these three things are more effective than all of the idiotic voodoo that has been marketed by far.
[00:31:06]You look at the chances of hospitalization, they increase massively if you’re obese, the chances of death from COVID increased massively if you’re obese. The chances of serious complications increase massively when you’re obese. It’s amazing to think how many people spent the entirety of the last year, obsessing over COVID and yet putting on weight rather than losing weight, which is they’ve obsessed over the statistics.
[00:31:32] They’ve obsessed over World Health Organization press conferences. They’ve obsessed over what their favorite public health authority said. They’ve obsessed over what other people are wearing on their mouth. You know, you should wear a mask. You should stay home. They’re obsessed about all kinds of stupid totalitarian bullshit.
[00:31:50] And yet they cannot think about maintaining the one thing that matters more than anything, which is just your own health. And this is really far more significant because the same virus will hit somebody who’s has a strong immune system and the person will shrug it off. The person who has a weak immune system will suffer badly from it.
[00:32:11] So all of that goes out the window when you’re scared and thinking in terms of the precautionary principle. All of that reasonable, rational way of thinking, let’s get my health in order, that goes out the window. The second thing that seems to have been enormously important is Hydroxychloroquine and another drug Ivermectin. These drugs, there is an enormous amount of evidence that shows they are massively effective.
[00:32:37] So first of all, we’ve done study. We have studies that show the differences in the rates of infection and in death rates across countries where these drugs are widely available and widely used for treatment for malaria. Well hydroxychloroquine is used for malaria. So places where hydroxychloroquine is very widespread and highly used, these places witnessed very low level of damage from COVID. Places that use that drug for early treatment also did excellent.
[00:33:05]Relatively did much better than places that don’t. So I think with those two factors, taking hydroxychloroquine as precaution and having a strong immune system, those two things would have done much better for you than anything else. You could have done anything you could have forced on others, better than lockdowns, better than social distancing, better than mass, better than all the stupid pseudo-scientific voodoo that all these pseudo-scientific organizations have published and foisted upon the world in the last year. It’s completely ridiculous. So you’re not going to be thinking of that because, you’re thinking, oh, I have a gun to my head and I need to just give up everything.
[00:33:43] And of course, you’re also not going to be thinking of what are the costs of all of these precautions. So these organizations, of course, their incentive is to get you to do the thing that appears to be the most drastic because then that covers their ass.
[00:33:59] They don’t have an incentive to get you to do the thing that is actually effective because these people are owned by their sponsors. These are commercial enterprises effectively that control them. And in one hand, there’s the junk food industry and the junk food industry is a massive sponsor of the World Health Organization and all public health agencies all over the world.
[00:34:19]They are constantly moving the messaging of these organizations away from telling people to eat human food and into focusing on everything else. So basically if you want to get a career in the World Health Organization, if you want to be successful, if you want to rise in the ranks and become one of these self-important idiots that gets on TV and tells the world what to do, you’re not going to do that if you’re a role in the organizations to tell everyone to eat well, because eating well means not eating the poisonous junk of World Health Organization’s largest sponsors. So they’re not going to be promoting people who do this. And that’s why you look at the World Health Organization, they have not told people about the importance of being in good shape and losing weight and not eating poison.
[00:35:09]This is a pure afterthought. And if you look at their dietary recommendations, it’s absolutely amazing. They recommend that you stop eating, animal fats and that you replace them with the hydrogenated oils, which is poison. It’s literally poison. It’s something that no human being should ever ingest or probably even touch.
[00:35:29] All these industrial oils are just pure poison. And yet the World Health Organization recommends you eat these instead of animal fat they tell you to reduce your consumption of animal fat. They tell you to reduce your consumption of meat. They are some of the biggest sources of anti meat propaganda.
[00:35:44]And of course we know how ridiculously idiotic that is. The best thing you can do for your health is eat meat. It’s the only complete and essential food that human beings need, and we can’t thrive without it. And they don’t tell you about that. They tell you to eat industrial sludge because their sponsors make the industrial sludge.
[00:36:01]So on the one hand, they have no incentive to tell you to eat properly. On the other hand, they have no incentive to tell you about things like hydroxychloroquine, because things like hydroxychloroquine, they’re cheap and they’re effective. And if you had a cheap and effective drug for COVID emerge last year, then that would simply mean that you wouldn’t be able to make expensive treatments from it.
[00:36:21] You cannot patent all drugs. Hydroxychloroquine is older than 70 years old, so it can’t be patented. So it’s dirt cheap to buy it. You’re buying it for very, very, very little money anywhere in the world. It’s very easily available and very cheap. There’s not a lot of money to be made from that. On the other hand, if you can make a patented drug or a patented vaccine that is designed specifically to target this virus, that can get a patent, well then you can make billions, if not even trillions of dollars from marketing this. So you see how the World Health Organization has a very strong incentive because of its sponsors. And because it is essentially a front for industrial food producers and pharmaceutical companies, they have the incentive that the World Health Organization not to tell you about cheap drugs that work, and they have the incentive not to tell you about food that can make you healthy.
[00:37:12]So of course, if you’re panicking and if you’re in a state of mind where we need to just avoid this horror at any cost, you’re not going to be thinking about all of that stuff. You’re just going to be very, very, very easy to manipulate. Fear is the easiest way to manipulate people.
[00:37:26] And so, at that point, once people were scared, it just became a matter of all these ulterior agendas and special interest, try and take advantage of this. And so you see governments all over the world started implementing stricter surveillance mechanisms that are not going to be removed. Governments all over the world are mandating all kinds of surveillance online and all kinds of restrictions on individual activity and on free speech. It has allowed all the world’s totalitarians to basically have a lot of fun practicing their preferred totalitarianism and the cost is enormous. And this is the crazy thing, is that when you think of it this way, you stop thinking of the real cost.
[00:38:07] And when you stop thinking of the real cost, you ignore all the enormous, enormous, enormous damage that these things can do. All of this is leading up to just how dumb the precautionary principle is, how reckless it really is. Because if I’ve scared you from something, then I’ve gotten you to not think about the downsides of anything done to move this away.
[00:38:29] You know? So if I tell you there’s a monster coming, if you’re scared of the monster, if I managed to get your so scared of the monster, then I can take money from you. And I’ll tell you, no, I’ll take all your money and then the monster won’t come. If you’re sufficiently scared of the monster, you won’t care about the money.
[00:38:42] If you’re sufficiently scared of the monster, you won’t care about anything else. So this situation, we had a global mass hysteria, and I think the mass hysteria, it was driven by these institutional aspects that I mentioned. There’s an incentive for people to hype up the fear and there’s a lot of money to be made from the fear.
[00:38:55]But, with this fear, people just lose their ability to think critically and then they just want to go ahead and do whatever is possible to prevent the thing that they don’t want to see. And so then, once you have that it’s possible to do whatever you want because people are not thinking of the unseen costs.
[00:39:12]They’re not thinking of the other side. I think also another big part, if it does that people are just gullible and weak today because really, this might sound wrong, but research shows very clearly that men’s testosterone levels have declined enormously over the last decades.
[00:39:31] So even in the last 20 years, you think of the year 2000 and it doesn’t strike you as a year of, life was very different than now, but in the year, 2000, a 60 year old man in America in the year 2000 had the testosterone levels of a 20 year old man today, which is incredible.
[00:39:50] So in 20 years we’ve gone toward a world in which, you would think that men would be the people who would keep their mind in their head and figure out, how to act in the most effective way. But I think malnutrition has affected people so much that it’s really causing hormonal dysregulation and causing people to just become for lack of a better term, pathetic pussies in that people will just not question anything that is offered to them. They have this kind of submissive quality, which is what happens when you eat destructive food and you see it, historically grains are the food of slaves and they’re good food for slaves because they make people docile and sleepy and obedient and, meat on the other hand, meat gets a bad rap because it makes people aggressive and angry, but really aggressive and angry is really just, people not putting up with being slaves.
[00:40:41] So slave masters don’t like it when their slaves eat meat because they become, aggressive and unruly. They much prefer it when they eat grains. And we live in a world in which people eat a shit ton of grains. And as a result, we see how this leads to in my mind, just brain damage and physical damage and, just this character of submissiveness and gullibility and going along with whatever people will manipulate you into. So you add all of these things together and you end up with this dangerous cocktail where people were completely unaware of the negative impacts of what might happen as we try to avert this crazy ruthless monster that is attacking us. People start becoming really, really, really scared from this. And then they ignore the consequences of what might happen. And the consequences, here we are a year later now, I think it’s about time that we start passing judgment on some of these ideas.
[00:41:34]My favorite or least favorite idea of all of these of course is the lockdown, which I from the first moment I thought this must be the absolute dumbest thing I have seen happen in my life. Like without question, the dumbest idea I have seen in my life was the idea that we should just lock seven and a half billion people at home in order to protect them from a disease.
[00:41:59] Well, we had one year onto it and this idea was marketed based on the premise of the precautionary principle. On the one hand, we have this crazy virus that’s going to kill everyone because the World Health Organization’s, epidemiologist models said it would. So if we just stay home, then the virus can’t get into our homes and then the virus will just disappear and go away.
[00:42:20] And then we’ll all get to live happily ever after. That was the idea. Now, fortunately, my favorite hobby horse in this entire thing was Belarus. Belarus is a country run by an old school communist dictator, Lukashenko and Lukashenko happened to be… We got lucky that one country just completely snuffed its nose at all of this nonsense and just didn’t buy into it because everybody else went along.
[00:42:48] But I don’t know what it is that they have in the water in Belarus. Something about Lukashenko and of course, I’m not a fan of Lukashenko. He’s just another crazy socialist leader, but he said something which in my mind was basic common sense.
[00:43:01] And I think if we lived in a normal world where people weren’t so malnourished and so mentally fragile, this would be what the majority of people would say. And it’s basic common sense. We can’t kill ourselves as a precaution. We can’t destroy our economy. We can’t destroy people’s lives as a precaution.
[00:43:18] And so life in Belarus continued largely as normal. And I’ve had a Twitter thread when I’ve been following Belarus for about a year now. The first thing that happened was that Lukashenko said here in Belarus, we’re not going to shut down. What works best for us is, we recommend that people go to the sauna and drink vodka and that was their strategy.
[00:43:37] So, we have a perfect natural experiment. This is what economists call a natural experiment, where we have hundreds of countries that went insane and followed the directives of the World Health Organization and shut down their country and impoverished and destroyed the livelihoods of their people.
[00:43:52]And then we had one country which decided no, you know what, vodka and sauna. So here we are now, one year later, we have enough data to be able to assess how did vodka and sauna compare to lockdowns. And it wasn’t just vodka and sauna. I followed Belarus very closely throughout this year.
[00:44:12]We saw, first of all, the football league continued. So they had football players turn up and playing football, and you had fans turn up at the stadium and I follow football closely. I know how football works. And I have my football app where I was following the Belarusan league.
[00:44:28] And there were maybe two or three matches that were suspended during the season. But other than that, because some players tested positive, but other than that, the matches went on as normal. The crowds were in the stadium, granted the crowds weren’t as large as they usually are. And Belarusan football isn’t exactly the biggest league in the world.
[00:44:46]But still you had thousands of people turn up into stadia and watch football together and go home. And church service continued. So we have service. And then in May they had the national military parade for the day where they celebrate the end of world war two, I forget the exact name for that day, but yeah, it had tens of thousands of Belarusian line the streets for a military parade.
[00:45:08] And then after that you had the election, so they had ran an election. And then of course, Lukashenko won the election. And then of course the opposition was angry. And you had many weeks of mass protests in the street. And we saw the pictures. We saw tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, possibly even a million people in Minsk gather in the street and marching in the street against the rule of Lukashenko. And life continued.
[00:45:33] And we saw on New Year’s Eve, the government organized a ball to celebrate youth where you see the videos from amazing pre communist palace in Belarus. Of course it’s nice architecture. It can’t be from the communist era. Where dozens or hundreds of young people gathered indoors, danced together, ballroom dancing.
[00:45:54] So they were very close to one another. And we’ve had this entire year with all of this things happening where this one country did not choose to commit suicide by taking the precaution. And here we are, one year later and I tweeted this. I said, one year from now, we’re going to compare Belarus to the average of its five neighboring nations.
[00:46:13] And we’re going to see what effect of lockdowns is. And of course, all of the hysterical people who have been so eager to promote lockdowns, you can tell that all of these people are despicable trash and not people who are serious and not people who have a shred of dignity and honesty in them.
[00:46:31] Because if this was honest, if they were intelligent, if they were really thinking reasonably, they would be extremely curious about the case of Belarus. And yet nobody ever brings up Belarus. They would be extremely curious about trying to find out what is it Belarus is going to do, because that would give us an excellent way to estimate the impact of lockdowns. But of course, nobody’s interested in that and nobody’s talking about it. Nobody’s mentioning it. And life in Belarus continues as normal, more or less. And yet here we are, it’s a country of $9.5 million. And as you see in this chart that I made, we see, and this is data from COVID tracker, Worldometers, which is basically the more reliable source of COVID information. It contains data on deaths and here we see 2,423 deaths so far in Belarus in a population of 9.5. So that’s 255 deaths per million.
[00:47:23] That’s it? 255 deaths per million in Belarus. Russia has had 712 deaths per million. Latvia has had 1069 deaths per million. Lithuania has had 1,342 deaths per million. Ukraine has had 988 and Poland has had 1,476. So Poland’s deaths were more than five times larger, almost six times larger than Belarus.
[00:47:47] So Poland had almost six times as much deaths per capita as Belarus has had. Russia has had almost triple. Latvia has had four times as many. Lithuania has had five times as many and Ukraine has had almost four times as many. So it’s not even close. What you would expect if lockdowns had any kind of positive effect you would expect the Belarus would have much higher death rate than those countries.
[00:48:13] If all of the economic suicide that was made by all these countries was to be worth anything you would expect that Belarus would have a much higher death rate. But it doesn’t. And of course nobody’s asking about this and nobody wants to talk about this. And all of the people who promoted lockdowns are still… nobody has come out and said, I’ve not heard of a single person who promoted lockdowns, who said, maybe I was wrong.
[00:48:35] We shouldn’t have shut down the world. And in many places in the world, they’re still doing lockdowns. They’re still locking people up. But here we are, we have a very, very, very clear example of the evidence is just overwhelming. It’s triple as high in Belarus. Of course, here, the crazy conspiracy theorists among the corona hysterics will respond to this and tell you, well, you know, Belarus is a dictatorship.
[00:48:59]And so, as a dictatorship, clearly they’re going to be hiding the bodies. And this is just absurd. Belarus may be a dictatorship, but smartphones exist everywhere in the world. And again, during the summer when there was the political problems going on in Belarus, I remember very well, there were headlines about, student leaders getting arrested and abducted from their dorms.
[00:49:21] So if the government can’t stop the opposition from organizing millions of marches and it can’t stop the opposition from telling world media, every single update about who’s gotten arrested and who’s being tortured in jail and all of that stuff. How exactly do you want to convince me that they’ve managed to cover up an epidemic where people were dying in the kind of numbers that we were told would happen if we didn’t employ any of these idiotic precautions. Like how could you cover it up? According to what the modelers said, country of 10 million people should have had about half a million deaths or something like that, depending on whose stupid model you look at, but it does not a number of deaths that can just be ignored.
[00:50:04]Belarus has 10 million people. You can’t just hide a hundred thousand bodies. You can’t just casually brush under the carpet a hundred thousand bodies. That doesn’t happen. You can’t do it in a country where the arrest of a student leader is reported and where millions of people were protesting the president out in the street, maybe not millions, but hundreds of thousands for sure were out in the streets, protesting the president.
[00:50:25] Didn’t the opposition managed to sneak one video from one hospital where they were hiding or burning or burying the bodies.? Why didn’t we see a single story of Belarusan hospitals being overrun and destroyed. We don’t see any of that because you have to be completely insane to imagine that it is actually going on and that they’re successfully covering it up.
[00:50:51]It’s the most amazing and astonishing conspiracy theory to think that a country can just cover up hundreds of thousands of deaths. And really, if they were to have the same rate as what Ukraine has had, or the same rate as what Poland has had, you would expect that they’d have something like at least 10 to 15,000 bodies.
[00:51:11] And that’s just, if they’d had Ukraine and Poland, which is not little. If the lockdown voodoo made any sense, then Ukraine and Poland only getting these numbers of deaths was a function of their lockdown. And so Belarus should have had much higher numbers. In order to make the case for lockdown, what we needed to see was not just Belarus scoring a slightly higher number than Ukraine and Poland.
[00:51:34] We needed to see Belarus achieving a number that was something like 10 times higher than what Ukraine and Poland achieved, because otherwise it would make sense that, yeah, we’ll see, you know, we have a few examples of places that didn’t have lockdowns and we see how they’re being devastated by these lockdowns.
[00:51:51] But we see this with Belarus and then of course, we start seeing it with Americans States. First, South Dakota buck the trend. And of course everybody, all the hysterics chose to ignore that South Dakota exists because you know, South Dakota it doesn’t really exist in people’s mind. You ignore that.
[00:52:08]And then you see Florida, Florida has been going for months now, and life is back to normal in Florida. And the numbers in Florida are no different from the rest of the U S that’s bang average in the middle of the U S and then now we have Texas, which has been open for about a month and a half now and again, a month and a half later, full baseball stadia.
[00:52:29]No social distancing regulations, everything life is back to normal. And still, we don’t see Texas doing worse than other places. In fact, we see something similar to what’s happening with Belarus. We see that the numbers went down in Texas and they refuse to go back up and we see that the numbers are continuing to rise in other places and are still much higher than Texas.
[00:52:51] It seems, and I think it’s becoming more and more convincing that not only are lockdowns ineffective in fighting the disease. It seems to me that there’s a very strong case to be made that they’re actually counter productive. I don’t know the exact mechanism, but not only do we not witness the spikes when lockdowns are removed, we also witnessed the opposite.
[00:53:14] We witnessed it going in the opposite direction. So it’s worse than placebo. It seems to be actually actively harming. And I’m not sure what the mechanism is, but I think It would definitely be something that as an economist you would expect. Just like with the minimum wage, you think the minimum wage is going to give you better wages, but really what the minimum wage ends up doing is giving you more unemployment.
[00:53:35] So there must be some mechanism somewhere along the way that is causing this to happen. And I think I’ve identified a few. I can’t really be sure if these are accurate, but I think they are a few causal mechanisms that could bring this about. I think the most important might just be that the best way to avoid infection is to get a lot of fresh air, to be outside, to get sunshine and move around.
[00:53:57] And when you stay home, you are breathing recycled air. You’re not getting fresh air and you’re not getting a lot of sunshine. And so that’s weakening your immunity and making you more susceptible. Of course, in the mind of the central planning idiots who think you can just click a button and put everybody at home and kill the disease, in their mind, they think humans are just chess pieces that we can move around.
[00:54:19] They don’t understand that humans have their own lives and their own will and their own decisions. And so I think, you know, everybody stays home and then the disease dies. Well, people can’t just stay home. People have to eat, they have to live, they have to go out. And of course, despicable people that are haranguing you about staying home, of course, they had all of their food and all of their Uber eats being delivered by poor people who couldn’t stay home. The Zoom class was working on Zoom and doing all of their jobs on Zoom all the people who have fake office jobs in government agencies and fake government supported corporations, all of the people whose jobs are just basically to write the reports that nobody reads, they continue to do and attend meetings that nobody pays attention to.
[00:54:58] They continue to perform the non job from Zoom, and they assume that we could just get through this simply and easily by just having Uber eats handle our food for us, but what Uber eats did has been absolutely catastrophic for the people who work there. They are the ones who are having to interact with everybody.
[00:55:17] It seems like a small amount of interaction is enough to get a virus. And then if you’re stuck at home, it seems like you’re just breathing, stale air all day and you’re not getting sunshine. And then your body’s not being able to fight that.
[00:55:29] Then, then that’s making things worse. That may well be the case. What do you guys think?
[00:55:35]Nathan Reed: There are some many Belaruses within the U S like the Sturgis event. Everybody was ready to pounce on that, make it a big spreader and it kind of fizzled. The news on that died quickly within a week because it didn’t spread.
[00:55:53]Saifedean Ammous: Absolutely. And there was that spring break last year, I think, or was it sometime in the summer when in the Lake of the Ozarks, there was a huge group of people swimming in these lakes. And then the media went crazy on these people and then nothing happened.
[00:56:06]And of course we had all of these black lives matter protests that happened during the last summer where we had tens of thousands of people take to the street and interact with each other. And we didn’t see the spikes in the cases that happened after that.
[00:56:18] It’s amazing. What’s really, really amazing about the mind of the kind of hysterics who have been glued to their TV about this is it’s truly astonishing to watch them. It’s it’s it’s really, I mean, honestly, it’s almost like you’re not dealing with human beings because of their inability to have a an attention span, right now they’re angry at Florida because Florida has removed the mask mandates or whatever.
[00:56:48] And so for a week, and they’re just livid at anybody in there that they’re aggressive and they’re fighting it. And then you know that they’re killing people in the Florida. People in Florida are just criminals and they’re killing people. And then, wait two weeks, wait, two weeks, wait, two weeks.
[00:57:03] Florida’s going to be overrun with dead people in the streets. And then two weeks come along. Florida’s not overrun. You do not see any of these people. Stop and think, hang on a second, Florida’s been open. Belarus has been open. Texas is open. Maybe we should be open.
[00:57:24]You don’t see that they’ve moved on to the next outrage. And the next outrage is whatever CNN tells them to be outraged about whatever the World Health Organization, CNN, governments, public health agencies, and large corporations that benefit from all of these things. They will switch the narrative from Florida to something else.
[00:57:42] And then the whole world is just fixated on Florida. It’s absolutely amazing to watch how this unfolds and just how little critical thinking people are. And of course, to bring us back to the original topic of the seminar, the precautionary principle. This is definitely an outcome of this kind of dangerous and extremely reckless and extremely stupid reasoning once you’ve made it so that we don’t think about the costs.
[00:58:09] And we don’t think about the opportunity costs once we make it so that we are only there because we’re only thinking about just avoiding one thing, you know, we would just want to optimize for reducing COVID and we have absolutely no consideration for economics, for people’s livelihoods, for people’s businesses, for other diseases, for people who wanted to get cancer screenings for people who need this and that.
[00:58:30] And the other thing you’re destroying so much, so many aspects of people’s lives and you’re just making people’s lives much, much, much, much, much worse. And all of it becomes acceptable. All of it appears to be normal. All of it appears to be a price well worth paying. And it’s amazing. It’s amazing.
[00:58:49] Like a lot of these people are still thinking of themselves. I just saw one idiot out talking about, you know, uh, just today, somebody on Twitter was saying something along the lines of, you know, America, you should be proud. You’ve succeeded. You should be really proud of how tough you are for dealing with this deadly pandemic.
[00:59:08] It’s amazing. Those people think, they sat at home and they had Uber delivered for them, and they think of themselves as being heroes who made sacrifice. And it’s mainly of course, the losers who have no life and whose economic situation is not effected by staying home, who are the courageous heroes who are willing to make the sacrifice where they sacrifice other people’s lives.
[00:59:27] In reality, of course, you’re sacrificing others and you’re not being a hero. You’re being a criminal. You’ve made it a lot of cancer patients miss their screenings and their goals to detect their cancer very late, and they’re going to be dead from that. You’ve made a lot of people’s livelihoods get destroyed.
[00:59:45] A lot of them are going to become homeless because of this. And that’s going to reduce their life expectancy drastically. A lot of illnesses exist in the world, other than this: tuberculosis, malaria. Tuberculosis is a horrible disease that kills a lot of people all over the world.
[01:00:00] And enormous amount of progress has been made in fighting it over the past few years and decades. And that progress has been completely reversed. You don’t think about that. Why? Because the precautionary principle means that we just need to prevent the horror of COVID because we’re scared of COVID. It’s an incredible, incredibly dangerous and reckless way of thinking.
[01:00:21] When you just let your monomania and obsession with one aspect of danger, completely cloud your judgment as to the real risks involved with the others. And that’s ultimately what the precautionary principle is. And of course the same thing applies when it is applied to the hysteria around carbon dioxide.
[01:00:39] A lot of people, as we discussed in the last seminar, a lot of people are extremely hysterical about the fact that carbon dioxide is going to destroy the planet. Carbon dioxide is a trace gas as that exists at a concentration of 400 particulates per million. So out of every 1 million atoms in the atmosphere, 400 of them are going to be carbon dioxide.
[01:00:59] Carbon dioxide is essential in every living being. If you’re alive, there’s carbon dioxide inside you. And somehow we believe that this tiny little particles are responsible for basically everything bad that happens in the world. There are weird cults of people that really think everything bad happening in terms of weather and storms and anything is ultimately caused by carbon dioxide. And in those people’s minds, many of them will tell you that, the answer is that we need to stop emitting carbon dioxide. And again, this is another example of the precautionary principle and gullible, scared, stupid people falling for their fear and letting their fear control them.
[01:01:39] I don’t hate to be so blunt, but I don’t mind it, but there’s really no alternative to putting it that way. When you really, think about it, because think about carbon dioxide. If you apply the precautionary principle, as many people say, and Nassim Taleb has course pounded the precautionary principle in both of those cases. In the Corona hysteria, he was one of the world’s loudest, freakiest, most deranged hysterics about this.
[01:02:06] And it’s the same thing, of course, with climate where he genuinely says, things along the lines, we need to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions, which is just an unbelievably ignorant and idiotic thing to say. I mean, it’s insane because first of all, the only way that you can stop emitting carbon dioxide is by killing yourself because every second of your life in which you’re breathing, carbon dioxide is leaving your body and going into the atmosphere.
[01:02:30] That’s what your body does. Your body takes in oxygen and it releases carbon dioxide. So the notion that we can eliminate carbon dioxide, it can only be done by killing the entire human race. So if you killing the entire human race as part of your precaution, maybe you need to sit back and think again about what needs to be done.
[01:02:49] Maybe, maybe, maybe the medicine is worse than the disease. Maybe the cure is worse than the illness itself in this case. Some of these hysterics will then respond with something along the lines of, oh no, well, we don’t want people to stop breathing obviously, but we need to reduce our emissions.
[01:03:04] Well, okay. Reduce what emissions? Reduce emissions for what? Reduce emissions from cars or from washing machines or from computers or from Bitcoin? What is it that we should reduce? Who gets to decide what should get to emit? I personally happen to like my computers and I like my washing machine and I like my Bitcoin.
[01:03:25]I’m not crazy about baseball to be perfectly honest. I don’t think baseball is an interesting thing. And I don’t like hockey. I’ve never played hockey and I’ve never watched it and it means nothing to me. So in my mind, I think, we need to keep Bitcoin, keep laptops and keep washing machines, but we need to get rid of hockey and baseball. Hockey in particular, It’s just an enormous waste of resources because you need to keep these ice rinks cold a year round and that’s just insanely expensive.
[01:03:51] So maybe we should just do away with hockey. But other people will really like hockey and they really hate Bitcoin. So they want to get rid of my Bitcoin and they want to ban Bitcoin. Every day we get a new idiot on Twitter who wants to ban Bitcoin. And the latest idiot is somebody whose hobby is a sports car racing.
[01:04:09] He’ll fly all over the world to go and race is extremely expensive, extremely powerful cars that emit a lot of carbon dioxide. This is his hobby, and yet he thinks Bitcoin needs to be shut down. So the notion that we can arrive at some kind of reduction of collective CO2 emissions when CO2 is so essential to all of our living processes is completely f**** idiotic.
[01:04:32] We can’t just go and say, all right, let’s just reduce all of the emissions. It is a critical part of all of our economic activity of all of our lives and saying we want to reduce it is just a cover for the totalitarianism, just like most of these COVID insanity measures ended up just being captured by totalitarians, using them to exploit people’s fears in order to strengthen their grip on power.
[01:04:58] The same thing has being happening with carbon dioxide. People are hysterically scared of the fact that this trace gas is going to, I don’t know, boil the oceans or raise temperature. There’s zero evidence just than any of these things is actually happening. We just have normal variation in all of these metrics that we’ve always had throughout human history, and we’ve always had them varying and nothing really is changing in this case.
[01:05:21] Yet people are scared because they’ve watched a bunch of stupid movies by Al Gore and Hollywood actors are constantly talking about how scary this thing is. The people who want to prevent pollution are willing to accept these kinds of crazy ideas.
[01:05:34] Like, let’s put a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, or let’s have government ban things that emit a lot of carbon dioxide. Well, let’s have governments ban or subsidize things that we think emit less carbon dioxide, but in reality, they’re just things whose producers have managed to make decent marketing material about them being low emissions.
[01:05:55] So for instance the electric cars, the example we discussed last time. All that you end up with is all of these grifts essentially. All of these grifters, all of these, scoundrels and con artists and Fiat people gathering around the truffle Fiat that is available to anybody who can address the fear. People are scared and therefore, if we just exploit that by telling them, Oh yeah, well, you know, my electric car will save the planet or my new form of energy that comes from windmills is going to save the planet.
[01:06:24] And solar is going to save the planet. There have been enormous, enormous amounts of money wasted on these failed technologies that don’t survive the test of the market and can’t survive the test of the market, because they are extremely, extremely convoluted and bad engineering mechanisms for achieving whatever it is that you want to achieve.
[01:06:42] And yet people continue to believe in this thing because they’re scared for the fact that there’s basically complete and total ruin is going to hit us if we just continue to increase carbon dioxide. So you see just how dangerous it is to have people believe in such a crazy, crazy, crazy reckless idea as the precautionary principle. You end up out of the fear and caution… People end up being so, so, so, so petrified, and willing to go along with whatever stupid ideas are being factored, because they’re told that this is the only way that we can take away this monster and this bogeyman.
[01:07:22]Daniel Prince: Saifedean! Hey Daniel, how are you doing? Yeah, good enough. Um, I don’t know when it ends, you know, and this… is it going to be another two or three years of these guys just pounding the panic button whenever they, they want, at what point do we, what’s the tipping point on the other side? When people decide to wake up and start thinking about this in a more critical manner, rather than just taking what’s ever thrown at them on mainstream media, on like the 10 o’clock news, whatever it is that they seem to be living their lives by?
[01:07:58] Saifedean Ammous: It’s amazing. I really, I really, really am shocked. Like, I mean, up until 2020, in my mind, you know, all of these stupid media outlets were dying and they were gone and they were just… they were all going to be completely eradicated from people’s minds. As people go on the internet and start communicating on the internet and getting their information from various sources and using their brains.
[01:08:20] And then 2020 came and just completely pissed at that stupid idea that I had. I have to say, I think like I’m always making fun of mainstream media and saying TV and the people that are watching TV are driving this, but I think… the uncomfortable thing that I need to admit and come to terms with is the fact that actually, yeah, mainstream media is definitely playing a big role in it, but I think the real disaster now is that it’s Twitter and Facebook and YouTube, the alternative media that we thought was going to be what frees people from this, cattlehood existence of just watching CNN and doing, as they’re told, well, Twitter is now CNN, Twitter, and Facebook are out there censoring people.
[01:09:05] I think I I’ll never forget just the amount of information warfare that we were subjected to one year from now, I remember, that somebody would make a tweet and they’d film the number of retweets being reduced for it. And it was clear that they were damping down the messages that were contrary and damping down the people that were being skeptical or offering any message that contradicted the World Health Organization.
[01:09:31] And pharmaceutical company align on this. These people were just constantly being drowned out. They were getting suspended, their reach, their tweets were being suppressed. And on the other hand, the morons who were repeating, the hysteria and the scare tactics, clearly their tweets were being massively amplified.
[01:09:49] Like there was so many examples you’ll see of what appears to be clearly fake accounts. Somebody would like who’s only been on Twitter for three days. And then they tweet a sob story about how, you know, Oh, in our hospital, things are bad and stay home and do what you’re told.
[01:10:06] And then that gets amplified it and gets 50,000 retweets in a couple of days. And it, there was clearly something very fishy going on. And then you had all of these warnings that they put under the tweets where they’ll tell you these tweets are misleading, and then you click on it and then you just get basically like three lines from the World Health Organization saying, Oh yeah it’s all good.
[01:10:25] And you got to stay home. And the science says you should stay home. Um, I don’t know, man, I think the last year has been just an enormous, enormous, enormous setback in humans ability to think and reason and be free. So I don’t know it just keeps getting worse. You’d think it would get better, but it’s just… I thought, when the vaccines come, that’s going to be the, you know, it’s going to lead to this going away, but you look at the cult that has developed around this thing.
[01:10:57] They are getting double vaccinated, double masks and they’re staying home and they’re still posting their selfies online and they’re still haranguing their healthy neighbors because they’re healthy neighbors want to live their lives. So there’s an insane cult. And I think they… there’s an insanely high number of people that have probably been mentally damaged by this for life.
[01:11:19] Like they’re scarred by this they’re really, really scarred. They’ll never be able to get over this chapter of their life. And I think a big part of it is that they’ve invested so much of their identity and personality in being the Cassandra and being the responsible person in being the, you know, the good person who’s out there saving lives, that they cannot snap out of this stupid narrative that if you are not wearing masks and staying home, then you’re killing grandma.
[01:11:52] And that’s the only thing that matters. And it’s just become a part of so many people’s identities. It’s absurd. It’s sorry. I don’t know. I don’t know how this resolves. I think. You know, it was great that places like Florida and Texas are opening up and succeeding and it’s just making it harder for the hysterics to continue to deny it, but they’re still denying it.
[01:12:11] They don’t give a shit. I mean, there are stories about, there are crazy conspiracy theories about Florida hiding bodies and messing with the numbers. If you’ve invested your identity in believing something really stupid, you’re going to manage to find ways of continuing to believe in it.
[01:12:29] So I don’t know, man, I don’t know. It’s depressing, it’s depressing. I don’t know how it ends and when it ends.
[01:12:34]KeepItSimpleBitcoin: Can I make a little comment on all that so I can speak to it because I do live in Florida and it’s interesting to see the difference between people who are, I guess, tuned in to the mainstream narrative versus people who are not, and maybe whether they are focusing on more alternate, what you call it, alternative media. But like on the ground where I live a life is normal. You know, people are at restaurants we go out. I don’t wear a mask anywhere. I give a little pushback when someone asks me to.
[01:13:11] And usually what I find is when people see other people not wearing a mask, well guess what they do, they take their mask off. And so the impact, I think that we can all have, obviously it depends where you live because they, the reaction seems to be very concentrated, in different geographical regions based on, I guess, how much propaganda they’re being hit with and what they see in their environment.
[01:13:37]If I travel 40 miles North, it’s like going to New York city. They wouldn’t serve me at an outdoor restaurant if I wasn’t wearing a mask. That’s crazy. Which makes no sense. Everything’s outdoors, Florida. Yeah. So the madness in St. Petersburg, Florida… it seems to be very top-down, I can understand someone wants to run their business. If they’re being mandated by the city to do X, Y, and Z, they just want to run their business. And at the same time I can choose to not give you business if you’re going to be crazy. So I guess that’s more of a free market approach, although, how much of a free market there is in regards to this stuff.
[01:14:21] But my point really is that the propaganda is being pushed through the mainstream media, but when people are just like living and going out and experiencing real life, it’s a very different thing. Now. I haven’t traveled that much. But where I am, most people aren’t down with the agenda.
[01:14:44] They’re just living their lives. Maybe an argument can be made that well, they’re the extreme other side, right? Like, Oh, they’re being responsible, they’re being this and Reality is very different then what’s getting pushed through the big channels.
[01:14:57]Whether it’s through the TV, whether it’s through the social networks like you were talking about, and then tying this back into Bitcoin, which is the last year I’ve been seeing everything that’s been going on, everything you’ve been talking about. And I think this is a good kind of warmup for Bitcoiners to see what may come down the pipe as Bitcoin grows.
[01:15:15] And as the quote unquote state needs to kind of fight back against it when that really begins, because the same propaganda narratives that you’re talking about can be applied to Bitcoin. And we see a lot of people being susceptible to propaganda, because critical thinking seems to be something of the past.
[01:15:37] And I think as Bitcoin’s price goes up, we’re going to be seeing more of that. And the response to the pandemic has been the people that can vote with their feet leave. That’s why you see so many people going to Texas, Florida and the tax bases of the places that are, draconian, are shrinking and that’s going to cause a feedback loop and it’s gonna make things even worse there.
[01:16:02] And then more people will leave. And I think the analogy is this is the same thing applies to Bitcoin because you’re going to see the people that are involved in Bitcoin and as their wealth grows and as measures get more draconian through the Fiat system, the same things are going to be occurring.
[01:16:21] The same propaganda is going to be, we already have propaganda, but I don’t think it’s anything close to what it will become. And so I think for Bitcoiners to be aware of this and vigilant because this hasn’t been directed toward Bitcoin yet. And I think that we will see that.
[01:16:40] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I can imagine that, um, I can imagine that. I mean, I think, Bitcoin has got something else going for it, which is the financial incentive, which is, I guess it might just be the only working antidote to hysteria and the precautionary principle and all this insanity. Because if your precaution starts meaning that, hey, you need to start getting poor immediately.
[01:17:06] I think you’d start thinking about it more critically. I think the more hysterical people were not so negatively affected by the lockdowns. The majority of the people that were pro lock down are people who work stupid, fake jobs like journalists and government jobs.
[01:17:23] And so on. These were the people that were the most vocal and the most virtue signaling. Intellectuals and university professors and journalists and other essentially expendable, useless, parasites in society that live off of Fiat subsidies mostly and not produce anything of value. People who had actual jobs, people who own businesses, would have had very, very different and simpler reactions, or even if they were scared, they were far less likely to be intimidated into a complete hysteria.
[01:17:51] So maybe I’m just being delusional optimistic here, but hopefully Bitcoins unique and proprietary Number Go Up Technology helps us brace some of that. And I think we already see it happening to some extent with the carbon hysteria. Like a lot of people are beginning to really question, the entire premise that we need to centrally plan who gets to emit how much carbon, when they’re starting to see it come to their Bitcoins.
[01:18:16] A lot of people have, unquestioningly gone along with this narrative that humanity is destroying the earth and the only way to fix it is for me to impoverish myself by using stupid technologies that don’t work and they’re too expensive and a subsidized by the government. This is been something that’s been gaining steam for the last 20 years.
[01:18:34] And people have sort of been conditioned to accept it. But I think a lot of people in Bitcoin have snapped out of this once they saw it come to begin to get applied to their Bitcoin. Well, Bitcoin is clearly an infinitely superior form of money to government shitcoins. And, it consumes more electricity because it’s worth it for the same reason that your washing machine consumes more electricity than your hand and your car consumes more than a house.
[01:18:59] And your airplane consumes more than a little kayak and building a house with steel foundations consumes a lot more energy than building a little tent. Everything that we want that’s worthwhile. That is good. That does this job consumes more energy. And I think Bitcoin is no different. Hopefully this will start to percolate.
[01:19:18] And it really helps that when all the people that are attacking Bitcoiners they cannot live their lives without being online and without attacking Bitcoin online, which requires electricity. So the charge of Bitcoin is burning the planet is harder to substantiate when you play hockey or anywhere that’s cold and you’re in jacuzzis or when you’re car racing, it’s very hard to make the case for Bitcoiners that some people should get to race their cars and others should get to have jaccuzi’s in the winter. But you don’t get to have an escape from inflation.
[01:19:52] Daniel Prince: Kind of worried about Saif is there’s not enough us making noise about this yet. So do we need another full cycle? Because what I think is going to happen is come November across Europe, we’re just gonna have this hysteria, like the new flu season is going to come back at us and they’re going to, stop pushing this narrative again, lockdown, lockdown, hard.
[01:20:16] This time we’ve learned from the past, everybody endures November and they’ll just drag it out again to March, that they know they can do it. They can just push this easy button wherever they want, and everybody goes scrambling back into their homes. I want to be optimistic. I really do. I just fear that come Christmas, we’re going to have this all over again and it’s just, um, yeah, it’s very concerning.
[01:20:41] Nathan Reed: Yeah, I wish I could. Are you familiar with a giant Bandari? He’s a, he’s an investment advisor slash commentator. I saw him this week with Doug Casey and he’s strongly making the claim that the United States in particular is importing with immigration. We’re basically weakening our cultural backbone. And at the beginning, the United States didn’t allow any fuddy duddy to vote.
[01:21:20] Now that may sound discriminatory or anti female, so on and so forth. But his point is the more cultural immigration we allow and the greater that voting force becomes well, the more they execute the precautionary principle. It’s self-fulfilling the more you do it, the more you get. He really makes a very bleak argument to respond to Daniel.
[01:21:49] It was pretty depressing to listen to an hour of that.
[01:21:54] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. Yeah. There’s a lot of good reasons to, uh, to be depressed.
[01:22:02]KeepItSimpleBitcoin: If anyone sought conspiratorially of the creature from Jekyll Island after everything we’ve experienced, it kind of maybe for some people might take on new meaning and new life with all the different quote unquote conspiracy theories that he wrote about in that book. Specifically the coordinated agenda through time.
[01:22:24] And I mean, we see the coordinated response to the pandemic with all that build back better and the WEF, and to think that reactionary coordination can be done. I mean, so why not proactive coordination? Right. Just in light of everything, you’ve been talking about this, this whole podcast episode.
[01:22:45] It just makes me think of that. Especially with the comments regarding weakening immigration. Free money for immigrants, no ID to vote all this wacky stuff.
[01:22:57] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah.
[01:23:00] Nathan Reed: Saifedean, is your thought process that Bitcoin just can’t be co-opted? There’s just no way to put your arms around it and bend it to your advantage?
[01:23:13] Anything you do to make Bitcoin benefit your life benefits everybody else. There’s just no way around that. And is that not the first time this has happened and given that, is it not hopeful or is it not possible to think that it’s slowly going to choke some of this off or maybe even rapidly.
[01:23:36] It’s real hard to stand and preach something that isn’t paying you any benefit. In other words, for Al Gore to just constantly hammer away his little nonsense about New York’s going to be flooded. If he can’t control the money behind it, it becomes a pointless exercise. Does that lend us some hope?
[01:23:58]Is that kind of what you’re arguing or wishing more?
[01:24:03]Saifedean Ammous: Basically it’s why get out of bed in the morning. It’s the hope. That is the hope. Yeah. I mean, ultimately I think really the reason Bitcoin is so interesting is because of this fact that it’s not easy to co-opt that it’s not easy to take it over.
[01:24:20] And so that just makes it… I mean, it’s interesting. It’s interesting to see how this is going to play out over the coming years. In my mind. I think if I were to draw an optimistic case, I would say that politics and these global bureaucracies and the hysterical TV viewers who believe them are just going to continue to live in terror.
[01:24:42] There was a great article that I shared yesterday by Robert Higgs on governments and fear and why governments thrive on fear. And basically the moral of the story is… and a lot of people have this idea that, I’m a libertarian, or I believe in freedom, but when there is an emergency or a war or something bad happening, then we need government intervention. If you believe that, then don’t be surprised to find your government constantly telling you about all these massive catastrophes and calamities that can only be fixed by having the government intervene. So we’re going to be seeing more of that. This is just endless crisis, endless need for sacrifice, endless need for control.
[01:25:20]Because it’s a highly, highly successful and highly profitable. But I think places like Florida, like Texas are going to stand in the opposite. And then the people who don’t fall for this are more likely to be the people who buy Bitcoin. And I think Bitcoin keeps doing what it keeps doing over time.
[01:25:35] It kind of creates the alternative for us. It creates the ability for people to exit that system and to thrive without it. At least I hope so. All right. Well, I think this has been a great discussion, but I have to get going for now. Thank you very much guys, for joining and I will see you on Thursday for our next seminar.
[01:25:55] Take care.