Some years ago, when forums were all the rage on the internet, I used to spend hours online debating atheists. To be honest, debating things on the internet was always a frustrating experience. Firstly, all the participants (including myself) did it not because we really cared about the other person, but because we wanted to be right. We wanted to win an argument! That’s never a healthy position to debate anything meaningful.
The other problem with the Christian-atheist debates I used to participate in was the distinct impression that, whatever I said, it would never be good enough. I could never produce enough evidence, or make a good enough argument. In fact, I often felt that I had been judged as ‘wrong’ before I even opened my mouth. The atheist in question had an ideological commitment to me being wrong which could not be changed with facts or argument.
Of course, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise me, or to anyone who’s read Romans 1:21-23 (in short: mankind substitutes God for a god of his own choosing – unbelief is a spiritual thing. We actively want to find reasons to reject God). Unfortunately, we tend to think most people are rational and can be persuaded if you give better arguments – it’s an easy trap to fall into.
These days I tend not to participate in online debates – too often I think debate on the internet reveals more about someone’s prior ideological commitments than it does about their desire to engage. Whether it comes to religion or politics, or any contentious issue these days, people tend to go with what feels right rather than what the evidence actually says.
There are all sorts of reasons this could be the case – I’m sure it’s always been like this to some extent. But I think it’s very much in evidence with the covid vaccines.
Tweeting about VAERS
The other day I posted up a tweet about VAERS statistics. VAERS is the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System for the USA (Britain has its own system called Yellow Card), and the idea is that if there is a problem with any particular vaccine it should be picked up. For example, if a new vaccine was introduced which caused a nasty (perhaps lethal) side-effect, even for a small number of people, this could be picked up and the vaccine withdrawn.
Anyway, a few days ago I read an interesting blog piece by Prof Norman Fenton, which contained a piece of information I found hardly believable:
When I read this, I just had one of those moments of clarity. I mean, three times as many deaths for covid vaccines in 18 months than in 32 years combined for ALL OTHER vaccines! It might help to see it on a graph – courtesy of someone who replied:
Do you get that impression when you listen to the media? Do they even mention this kind of information?!
What was most interesting to me, however, was the response the tweet got. This is one of the few tweets I’ve ever posted which has gone a little bit ‘viral’ – it’s been retweeted over 100 times at the time of writing. I got some pushback from a couple of people.
A couple of people took me to task for being misleading. The main criticisms were that (1) people are encouraged to report anything to VAERS; (2) it’s easier to report now due to the internet than it used to be; (3) VAERS contains an unspecified number of obviously spurious claims about vaccine deaths – i.e. just because it’s reported doesn’t mean it’s a confirmed vaccine death. (One person in particular provided a number of examples).
Frankly, I found it pretty astonishing that people would argue in this way. I appreciate that just because something is logged on VAERS doesn’t mean that it’s a confirmed vaccine injury. At the same time, the system didn’t massively change in 2020. I don’t think all of a sudden a bunch of “anti-vaxxers” have been staging a co-ordinated campaign to try and game the system! And even if only, let’s say, 10% of the reports of vaccine deaths are legitimate, it would still be far higher than for any previous year. (And many people estimate that VAERS and other systems actually under-report vaccine injuries by up to a factor of 10).
Additionally, we do know that there are many legitimate reports – for example, the HART group recently published reports of child deaths in VAERS. We know that some people have been killed by the vaccines, for example Vikki Spit’s fiance. We also know that there have been many injuries from the vaccine – there are many testimonies of the vaccine injured on the Real Not Rare website. There are also worrying statistics about non-covid excess deaths in the UK, which might coincide with the vaccine rollout.
It just seems completely logical to me that a new vaccine (not just a new vaccine, but a new type of vaccine using technology which hadn’t been deployed like this before), which is licensed only under emergency usage, which hasn’t gone through its full safety trials, could cause problems. This has happened before – vaccines have had to be withdrawn. It’s not unprecedented. Big Pharma get it wrong – in fact the biggest two criminal fines in history have been against vaccine companies.
So, why is it that many people seem so unwilling to even countenance the possibility that the vaccine might be to blame? Every time a sports start drops dead, or a presenter collapses on TV, or an adult suffers “sudden adult death syndrome” – people are falling over themselves to say they don’t know what the problem is, only that it’s definitely NOT the vaccine because they are “safe and effective”. Any time anything negative happens, it’s explained away as a mysterious coincidence. This doesn’t seem to be looking at the data fairly or with an open mind.
What’s the problem here?
A religious commitment
All of this reminds me of my discussions with atheists back in the day. The experience is very similar. I’ve had the same feeling many times over the last couple of years when it comes to covid: people are willing to give anything the government / ‘experts’ say a free pass, but if you try to quote a scientist about covid it is treated with suspicion. It’s like I am disturbing a religious commitment: you’re not allowed to question the lockdowns, because that’s ‘dangerous’. You’re not allowed to question the vaccines, because that’s ‘anti-vaxx’.
The arguments in question, or even the authority of the sources quoted, don’t matter: all that matters is that people who believe in the official line need to find a way of justifying what they already believe – that the official line is correct.
It seems to me the evidence is insurmountable now that covid vaccines are dangerous. At the very least, the government should be urgently investigating. The media should be looking into it – it should be front page news. But that’s not happening – almost all you hear is “safe and effective”.
Why is it like this? Many people, myself included, have observed that the way covid has been dealt with by the government and media has been very religious in nature (I talked about this here and here, for example). When people don’t have a religion, it’s easy to fool people into accepting a secular religion so long as you don’t actually talk about “god”.
It’s complicated. But it seems to me that the reason we can’t have an honest conversation about the covid vaccines is because people believe in them with a kind of religious fervour. In my experience, this is something which can’t be defeated with mere facts and logic. But I do believe and trust in a God who is able to raise the dead, so I am confident that this period of madness will not last forever.
In fact, I think he is our only hope.
6 thoughts on “Why can’t we have an honest conversation about the covid vaccines?6 min read”
Excellent article as usual, Phill. Balanced and calm, which is a stance all those discussing this issue could emulate to good effect.
Thank you Penny!
Excellent article. Looking back over the past couple of years, I think I now have a much better understanding of what the Old Testment prophets and the apostles were struggling against when they condemned idol worship. The evidence that the idols were just painted statues was clear, but many people still orientated their lives around them. In the absence of a direct modern parallel, much Christian preaching over recent decades has compared the seeking of material wealth and pleasure with the idol worship of antiguity, which I think has some truth in it though often ignores (and sometimes indulges in) worship of the state, ‘scientific’ administration and technological progress – in my view far more dangerous idols of our time. It’s self evident that the state can only provide its citizens with that which it takes from them in taxes or plunders from someone else, that scientific progress can only be made when there is freedom to question ‘The Science’ and that technological progress can harm as well as heal, yet none of this perturbs the blind face many have in them.
Thank you Dominic. I think your drawing on idolatry is apposite – in fact it seems to me the worst kind of idols are idols which people do not admit are idols (technology, ‘the science’ etc). They are so much more insidious.
It is not for nothing that we are warned many times against idolatry throughout the Scriptures! But I was encouraged yesterday by reading Isaiah 2, which says:
“The arrogance of man will be brought low
and human pride humbled;
the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
and the idols will totally disappear.”
God has the power to break idols!
“Every time a sports start drops dead, or a presenter collapses on TV, or an adult suffers “sudden adult death syndrome” – people are falling over themselves to say they don’t know what the problem is, only that it’s definitely NOT the vaccine because they are “safe and effective”. Any time anything negative happens, it’s explained away as a mysterious coincidence. This doesn’t seem to be looking at the data fairly or with an open mind.
What’s the problem here?”
The problem here is that you’re not describing the situation accurately. In fact a lot of research is done on Sudden Arrhythmic (or Adult) Death syndrome, and some causes are well-known – so to say “it’s explained away as a mysterious coincidence” is simply not true. A condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is likely responsible for these deaths – due to the walls of the heart growing thicker than they should do – which in turn may be prompted by the rigorous training that eg footballers undergo. This was the likely cause of the tragic death of Scottish footballer Phil O’Donnell in 2007, and the sudden collapse of Fabrice Muamba in 2012.
Many conspiracy theorists tried to blame the vaccine on Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest during the World Cup football last year. However, there is no need to attribute it to “mysterious coincidence” since, according to the Inter Milan director, he had not had the vaccine. Given the pre-Covid precedents of elite athletes suffering from sudden cardiac deaths, it seems to me most plausible that Eriksen’s collapse was due to similar factors. Often these collapses are due to rare genetic mutations that are not lethal in normal people but athletes are susceptible due to the extreme amount of training they have to do.
I know something about this because about the time of the Phil O’Donnell incident I was working on algorithms to detect QT-interval prolongation in the ECG – a condition (which can be drug induced or genetic) which can lead to Sudden Cardiac Death. I don’t think O’Donnell’s death was due to “Long QT syndrome” but obviously working with a team in that area, the news item aroused some interest.
Hi Iain, obviously some adults do die young and have always done for the reasons you mention. The problem is when it seems to start happening quite a lot in a short space of time when a new medical intervention has been introduced on a large scale.
Let me put it this way: if we are seeing an excess of deaths (which we are), if we are seeing unexplained deaths (which we are – another example being Darius, Pop Idol star, who died the other day of unexplained causes at the age of 41) – why is this not being investigated? If the authorities are unwilling to even countenance the possibility that it MIGHT be a new medical intervention, it strikes me that is based on a near-religious commitment to the vaccine rather than science.