Here’s something that will blow your mind: human knowledge now doubles every 12 hours. Every 12 hours. In the 1940s, it was doubling every 25 years. Before 1900, it doubled about every century.
So it’s not just that knowledge has increased: it’s that our access to knowledge is accelerating faster than we can comprehend. The words of Daniel 12:4 come to mind: that before the time of the end, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Knowledge is powerful, but it is also dangerous because of its tendency to make us proud. “Knowledge puffs up,” warned the apostle Paul — “but love edifies.” No doubt Paul had in view a certain infamous moment in the garden of Eden.
God had told our first human parents Adam and Eve that they could eat from any tree in the garden, including the Tree of Life. Only one was forbidden: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But the temptation was too great, and they ate.
Ever since, the human race has realised again and again the truth in those eternal words: knowledge puffs up.
Having a command of so much knowledge, especially as we do today, feeds our ego. This in turn makes us ignorant of our own ignorance. It’s true that we have the world’s knowledge at our fingertips — but how many of us could build timber ships and sail the seven seas, as our ancestors did in the 16th century? It’s an illuminating question.
We might ‘know’ more than the people of past ages, in the sense that we now have access to far more knowledge. But we build on the shoulders of giants. We are indebted to those who have added bit by bit to the pool of human knowledge over the long haul. And ironically, in our great accumulation of knowledge, we have unlearned so much.
One thing we have unlearned is the incalculable value of free thought and speech.
The founders of Western democracies placed these Bible-inspired freedoms front and centre. Taking for granted the free will God gave us in the Garden of Eden, the West’s founders believed that the individual’s conscience and lips were sacred. They must be guarded from the control of powerful elites: which is why these ideas were immortalised in the West’s founding documents.
Our founders knew that to be apathetic about these essential human freedoms was to welcome tyranny, and sink the Western project entirely. And yet sadly, here we are today in the midst of widespread censorship as the world battles a pandemic.
Yes, knowledge has increased — so much so that Google Maps can now tell us a faster route to Grandma’s house than the one we’d always taken. Our civilisation has become so cocksure of its accumulated knowledge that we now actively censor “misinformation”, and congratulate ourselves for doing so. Free thought and speech are now heavily curtailed — by Big Tech especially — and few have stopped to count the cost.
Our founders would roll in their graves. So too would George Orwell. Writing in the middle of last century, Orwell could already sense where things were leading, and in his classic novel 1984 he prophetically depicted an all-powerful surveillance state that could curate public opinion.
Ivermectin and the Bret Weinstein Affair
So what is the cost of censorship? In the case of Covid-19 treatments, the cost may turn out to be countless human lives.
As we have previously reported, Ivermectin is a cheap, safe and effective Nobel Prize-winning drug that is being used to treat Covid-19 infections around the world.
Ivermectin has been in use since 1975 to treat various diseases and viruses. A dose of it costs just 12 cents to produce because of its expired patent. Since Ivermectin was approved in India by medical authorities, the nation has seen an 80 percent reduction in daily Covid-19 cases.
Dr. Tess Lawrie, co-author of ‘Ivermectin for the World’, has written:
Recently, we evaluated Ivermectin to protect and treat COVID-19 infections. Our evidence shows that Ivermectin is effective, safe, and very cheap. We should be using it for both prevention and treatment of COVID. However, governments and health organisations are ignoring the evidence — and there’s a mountain of it — and I think this is because they are heavily invested in novel treatments.
In other words, governments around the world have invested tens of billions of dollars in the research, testing and production of these vaccines. As a result, in what amounts to a form of crony capitalism, pharmaceutical companies have been vastly enriched and propped up as the exclusive government-backed solution to the Covid-19 crisis. All of this might be well-intentioned, but it is the status quo nonetheless.
In turn, Big Tech — also perhaps with good intentions — has moved to fortify this status quo by censoring those who question the vaccines and promote Ivermectin.
YouTube just demonetized both DarkHorse channels, wiping out more than half our family income. Their message: Drop the science and stick to the narrative—or else.
— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) June 29, 2021
Bret Weinstein has been on the receiving end of this censorship. Weinstein describes himself as a political progressive and left-libertarian. But he is also a leading advocate of free speech due to his experiences in the 2017 Evergreen State College protests. That event is widely regarded as the defining moment of modern ‘cancel culture’ — and four years later, the cancellations continue.
A few months ago, on his podcast Dark Horse, Weinstein began conducting interviews with medical experts who questioned the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and instead promoted Ivermectin. YouTube swiftly deleted those interviews and has since ‘demonetised’ Weinstein’s channel, depriving him and his family of their largest income stream.
More recently, Weinstein has been interviewed by Lex Fridman, a podcast host with a view count surpassing one billion and who has sat across the table from thought leaders like Tesla’s Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey of Twitter.
Fridman was eager to unpack the Ivermectin censorship saga with Bret Weinstein. The almost 40-minute conversation is worth watching in full, but read on for key excerpts and summaries.
Weinstein explained that “YouTube is part of a consortium” with organisations like Twitter, Facebook, Reuters, AP, Financial Times, and the Washington Post. “This group has appointed itself the arbiter of truth,” he told Fridman. “In effect they have decided to control discussion, ostensibly to prevent the distribution of misinformation.” Weinstein went on:
They have chosen to simply utilise the recommendations of the WHO and the CDC, and apply them as if they are synonymous with scientific truth. Problem: even at their best, the WHO and CDC are not scientific entities, they are entities that are about public health — and public health has this… self-assigned right to lie.
By lie, Weinstein is generous enough to suggest that the Big Tech consortium is promoting what it sees as a ‘noble lie’. Its aim is to spread the risk of taking the vaccines equally among the human population:
If everybody else takes a vaccine and therefore the herd becomes immune through vaccination, and you decide not to take a vaccine, then you benefit from the immunity of the herd without having taken the risk. So the people who do best are the people who opt out. That’s a hazard. And the WHO and CDC as public health entities effectively oversimplify stories in order that that ‘game theory’ does not cause a predictable tragedy of the commons.
But once the consortium has justified their acts of deception, Pandora’s box has been opened. In many jurisdictions, the vaccines have been authorised on the condition that no other safe and effective treatments are available. This, of course, is where Ivermectin comes into the picture. Says Weinstein:
Once that right to lie exists, then it… turns out to serve, for example, pharmaceutical companies, which have emergency use authorisations that require that there not be a safe and effective treatment, and [which] have immunity from liability for harms caused by their product. So that’s a recipe for disaster.
You don’t need to be a sophisticated thinker about complex systems to see the hazard of immunising a company from the harm of its own product — at the same time that that product can only exist in the market if some other product that works better somehow fails to be noticed.
If this ethical dilemma weren’t serious enough, Weinstein goes on to highlight perhaps the biggest irony in the whole affair. In order to censor Weinstein, the Big Tech consortium relied upon “the corrupt wisdom” of the WHO and the CDC.
Weinstein correctly points out that “the WHO and the CDC have been wrong again and again in this pandemic”. They have flip-flopped on everything from the seriousness of the virus, to the efficacy of masks and lockdowns, to the mysterious origins of Covid-19.
For almost a year, driven on by these health bodies, the Big Tech consortium insisted that the ‘lab leak theory’ — the notion that Covid-19 was leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology — was ‘quackery’ and a ‘fringe conspiracy theory’. Then in May of this year they began to admit that the lab in Wuhan quite likely was the origin of the virus.
Meanwhile, Weinstein himself never flinched on this point, leaning towards the lab leak theory from the beginning. So ironically, he is censored by the very authorities that are known to have been wrong time and time again:
My channel has been right where the WHO and CDC have been wrong, consistently, over the whole pandemic. So how is it that YouTube is censoring us because the WHO and CDC disagree with us, when in fact, in past disagreements, we’ve been right and they’ve been wrong?
Fridman couldn’t disagree with Weinstein’s case, so he asked,
If Brett Weinstein was put in charge of YouTube for a month in this most critical of times, where YouTube… [can] give power of knowledge to the populace… what would you do? How would you run YouTube?
This is where Weinstein brought the conversation back to the issue of free speech and the founding ideals of the United States. Though Weinstein was a victim of censorship and had every right to complain about his rights being accosted, he instead gave an answer that was both principled and profound:
This is actually quite simple. The founders — the American founders — settled on a counter-intuitive formulation: that people should be free to say anything. They should be free from the government blocking them from doing so.
They did not imagine that in formulating that right that most of what was said would be of high quality, nor did they imagine that it would be free of harmful things. What they correctly reasoned was that the benefit of leaving everything so it can be said exceeds the cost, which everyone understands to be substantial.
What I would say is that they could not have anticipated the impact, the centrality, of platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If they had, they would not have limited the first amendment as they did. They clearly understood that the power of the federal government was so great that it needed to be limited by granting, explicitly, the right of citizens to say anything.
In fact, YouTube, Twitter [and] Facebook, may be more powerful in this moment than the federal government of their worst nightmares could have been. The power that these entities have to control thought and to shift civilisation is so great that we need to have those same protections. It doesn’t mean that harmful things won’t be said. But it means that nothing has changed about the cost-benefit analysis of building the right to censor.
So if I were running YouTube, the limit of what should be allowed is the limit of the law. If what you are doing is legal, then it should not be YouTube’s place to limit what gets said or who gets to hear it. That is between speakers and audience.
Will harm come from that? Of course it will. But will net harm come from it? No, I don’t believe it will. I believe that allowing everything to be said does allow a process in which better ideas do come to the fore and win out.
What Weinstein argues is that if all dissent is silenced, the very best and yet-unknown ideas that will ultimately be added to the pool of human knowledge will never be discovered.
This is a lesson that the Church of Galileo’s day had to learn the hard way. Knowledge indeed puffs up. The more knowledge we have, the more pride can make us blind to our own blindspots. Weinstein had this in view when he explained:
There’s something very significant in this question of the hubris involved in imagining that you’re going to improve the discussion by censoring. The majority of concepts at the fringe are nonsense. That’s automatic.
But the heterodoxy at the fringe, which is indistinguishable at the beginning from the nonsense ideas, is the key to progress. So if you decide, ‘Hey, the fringe is 99 percent garbage, let’s just get rid of it’… that one percent something-or-other is the key. You’re throwing out the key.
Fridman wanted to know whether Weinstein believed there was a role for Big Tech to bring scientists on board to help adjudicate and curate the content on their platforms. Weinstein’s answer was clear:
It’s going to be pretty hard to [convince] me that these people should be trusted with any sort of curation or comment on matters of evidence, because they have demonstrated that they are incapable of doing it well…
At the moment, what it is doing is quite literally putting not only individual humans in tremendous jeopardy by censoring discussion of useful tools [i.e. Ivermectin] and making tools that are more hazardous than has been acknowledged [i.e. the vaccines] seem safe…
We have seen evidence obscured in order to create a false story about [vaccine] safety, and we saw the inverse with Ivermectin. We saw a campaign to portray the drug as more dangerous and less effective than the evidence clearly suggested it was.
In short, if Ivermectin turns out to be a more safe and effective treatment than the vaccines, then this Big Tech consortium will share guilt in the suffering and death of possibly millions of people who might have otherwise accessed this treatment. All because of hubris. Knowledge puffs up.
From its inception, Google’s unofficial motto was ‘Don’t Be Evil’. Tech site Gizmodo reports that these words were woven into Google’s culture and embedded in the company’s Code of Conduct, which spoke of “providing our users unbiased access to information” and applying “the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct”. But in May of 2018, this motto went missing.
Since then, Google along with its subsidiary YouTube has been implicated in dozens of cases of politically-charged censorship.
In all likelihood, Google’s leadership still sees itself as trying to do the right thing. All the same, the abandonment of its motto is symbolic of the course Big Tech has been charting in recent years — especially on the issue of Ivermectin.
Yes, human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours. But what Big Tech seems to have forgotten is the underside to this: new facts are replacing old ones at a rapid pace. Experts refer to this as ‘Knowledge Half-Life’. And here’s the implication of Knowledge Half-Life: we have to approach knowledge and facts with humility, and the understanding that they are subject to change. This couldn’t be truer in the case of a novel virus that is still being studied.
Once all the data is in, Ivermectin may turn out to have been the cheapest, safest and most effective global solution to the Covid-19 pandemic. Likewise, the vaccines may not ultimately live up to the current praise they are enjoying by the powers that be.
All of this points us back to our desperate need for humility. Our choice in the Garden of Eden to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil — and the pride that came with it — has been haunting us ever since. Those pulling the levers at advanced tech companies in the year 2021 cannot escape these universal truths of the human condition.
Fortunately, we have a God who reversed the curse. In humility, he became one of us and was nailed to a different tree — one on a hilltop outside of Jerusalem. “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to,” Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:6-8:
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
All of this so that we could be set free of our pride in knowledge and our desire to control the thoughts of others. The way of Christ is one of freedom. This is why Western democracies have for so long enjoyed freedom, and it’s why we need to return to Christ to renew that freedom again.