Hello Illusion of Consensus readers,
Today’s podcast episode features independent author Gabrielle Bauer, who wrote the excellent new book Blindsight is 2020 (Amazon link here). Jay and Gabrielle spend the hour discussing fear in the pandemic, religious communities’ response to Covid, and faux scientific consensus.
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GabrielleJBauer
— The Illusion of Consensus team
Jay praises Gabrielle book:
I've been reading the book and it is, first of all, incredibly well written. You are obviously a very talented and experienced writer. And I noticed in the bio that you have written a whole bunch of very good books in the past on a whole diverse set of topics. And I noticed a book that you wrote, you started, like maybe this was the first book you wrote, called Tokyo, My Everest.
Gabrielle describes her background:
I have a fairly, I sometimes say it's a schizophrenic background. I have a degree in science, in biochemistry, and then I went to graduate school in Harvard, and I realized that I wasn't cut out to be a lab scientist. And then I got another degree in music. And then one thing led to another, all kinds of different jobs, including a music job with Yamaha Canada. They ended up sending me to Japan. I fell in love with Japan. left Yamaha and in between marriages, went to live in Japan, learned the language, and had, you know, 10 years of experiences packed into one, which led me to write the book Tokyo My Everest, which is a travel memoir. And that's sort of how I got into writing through the back door. And then eventually I found my way to science writing, so I dusted off my old degree and here I am. I've been doing it. both journalism for the general public and medical writing for health professionals for the past 29 years.
Gabrielle on the misinformation surrounding “misinformation”:
Come of the things that were branded as misinformation or information were actually policy opinions. And this is a huge pet peeve of mine to call something information when it's actually opinion. Because there may be some scientific facts, but what you do with those facts, that's a policy decision. That's not science. That's a policy decision which necessarily brings in subjective values. So you can't call lockdowns a scientific decision. No matter what the science of pandemic spread or virology says, that is necessarily a decision that has a subjective component because it involves weighing different values and depending on how you weight them, you're gonna arrive at a different solution. So that kind of drove me nuts too. And so a lot of what is considered misinformation is not really in the realm of factual information. It's in the realm of decision.
Gabrielle’s shocking realization that her view was outside the Overton window:
It was such a shock to discover at my advanced age. I thought that everyone would agree with me because I thought I was fairly mainstream in the way I viewed life. So it was really a shock to discover that I'm actually not mainstream and to have to find, at this age, as I said, because I hadn't participated in any rallies or protests or anything like that. I just sort of, you know. done my work, enjoyed my life and done a bunch of interesting things, but I hadn't really been an activist. And this was interesting because I did attend a few protests, a few anti-COVID-measure protests in Toronto. And it was an interesting experience because I was looking around, uh-oh, are any of my clients here? Are any of my friends here?
There was a certain discomfort, but I think I also have reached an age and a stage in my career where I thought, you know what? I'm ready for this. If people cancel me or whatever, if I lose a client or two or three, I can deal with it. So I was in a fortunate position because if I had to support young children or whatever, I might have made different choices. So I don't want to position myself as a superior for having the courage to come out, so to speak, because I wasn't a privileged position. But it was still a very interesting experience to do that. Same with the with the Truckers protest. I didn't participate myself, but my son did. He lives in Montreal and he and a bunch of friends went to the protest in Ottawa.
Gabrielle on the deception surrounding masks:
It was, it was. And I've written about that whole mask issue and I always felt, you know, and there's still Twitter wars going on about the whole mask thing. I always felt that it really was never about the data. Yes, of course there's a lot of data. There was a Cochrane review and all this, you know, large scale data showing that it really doesn't make a big enough difference to justify all this craziness. But I... I always felt and continue to believe that behind all the data wars, yes they work, no they don't, here's this study, here's that study, that there's really a difference in a world view, which is my whole thesis about the pandemic to begin with. Again, there's the world view that, the biomedical world view, the most important thing that we can do in life is just to guarantee physical safety. Whatever can... improve the odds of physical safety even if it's by you know a fraction of a percent that should take priority over everything else and then the other world view is that humans are here for many different reasons and preserving safety while important is not the only one and should not automatically supersede all the other considerations and a perma-masked world does not seem it seems like an anti-human world it does not seem like a world that's conducive to to rich, meaningful interactions. And so that's what I really think the argument is about. It's like in that Woody Allen movie, the Annie Hall, I think it was, where they're talking, Alvin and Annie, but then there's the thought bubbles, what they're really thinking. So I always get that impression. They're talking about the data, this, but they're really talking about the kind of world they wanna live in. That's what I feel is happening.