David Stockman On The Parallels Between The COVID Hysteria And The Salem Witch Trials
It would not be going too far to say that the eruption of irrationality and hysteria in America during the COVID-19 period of 2020-2021 most resembled not 1954, when Senator McCarthy set the nation looking for communist moles behind every government desk, or 1919, when the notorious raids of Attorney General Mitchell were rounding up purported Reds in their tens of thousands, but the winter of 1691-1692. That’s when two little girls—Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams of Salem, Massachusetts—fell into the demonic activity of fortune-telling, which soon found them getting strangely ill, having fits, spouting gibberish, and contorting their bodies into odd positions.
The rest became history, of course, when a malpracticing local doctor claimed to have found no physical cause for the girls’ problems and diagnosed them as being afflicted by the “Evil Hand,” commonly known as witchcraft. Other ministers were consulted, who agreed that the only cause could be witchcraft and since the sufferers were believed to be the victims of a dastardly crime, the community set out to find the perpetrators.
Within no time, three witches who were famously accused —the Parris’ slave, Sarah Good, an impoverished homeless woman and Sarah Osborne, who had defied conventional Puritan society. Many more followed, and as the hysteria spread, hundreds were tried for witchcraft and two dozen hanged.
But there is a lesson in this classic tale that is embarrassing in its verisimilitude. Namely, one of the best academic explanations for the outbreak of seizures and convulsions which fueled the Salem hysteria was a disease called “convulsive ergotism”, which is brought on by ingesting rye grain infected with a fungus that can invade developing kernels of the grain, especially under warm and damp conditions.
During the rye harvest in Salem in 1691 these conditions existed at a time when one of the Puritans’ main diet staples was cereal and breads made of the harvested rye. Convulsive ergotism causes violent fits, a crawling sensation on the skin, vomiting, choking, and, hallucinations—meaning that it was Mother Nature in the ordinary course working her episodically unwelcome tricks, not the “Evil Hand” of a spiritual pathogen, which imperiled the community.
Similarly, in 2020 there Was no Evil Hand Sci-Fi Pathogen
The truth is, in 2020 it was also Mother Nature—likely abetted by the Fauci-sponsored gain-of-function researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology—who disgorged one of the nastier among ordinary respiratory viruses.
Such viruses, of course, have afflicted humankind over the ages, which, in turn, has evolved marvelous adaptive immune systems to cope with and overcome them. So again, there was no Evil Hand sci-fi pathogen at large that was something new under the sun, nor a disease that was extraordinarily lethal for 90% of the population.
In the grand scheme of things, therefore, the COVID-19 pandemic has already been recorded as an unfortunate bump on the road to longer and more pleasant lives for Americans and much of the rest of the world, too. That truth is strikingly depicted in the chart below.
While the all-cause mortality figure for 2020 did not exist when the CDC published the chart above, the green line would have depicted it as only a tiny upward blip—of which there have been several during the last 120 years shown above.
Was COVID-19 an Analogue of the Spanish Flu?
Indeed, the true analogue is the year 1918 when an estimated 675,000 Americans succumbed to the Spanish Flu from a population (100 million) just 30% of today’s level.
In that case, the green line in the chart above (all cause deaths) pushed up by nearly 400 per 100,000 population compared to the pre-war baseline (1914). By contrast, the excess rate in 2020 over 2019 was just 118 per 100,000.
And, yes, there is the sad fact of senseless dough-boy deaths on the killing fields of France embedded in these 1918 numbers, but it turns out that upwards of 45% of the conventionally reported 117,000 GI (gastrointestinal) deaths were not from German bullets, but the Spanish Flu that ripped through the massive US training camps that were hastily-assembled after Wilson foolishly declared war in April 1917 with no meaningful standing army to fight it.
So on the true measure of pandemic lethality—deaths from all causes—the COVID-19 was not even in the same ballpark as the Spanish Flu. And as the chart also shows, the former occurred way down the green line curve that is actually the ultimate rebuke to today’s on-going COVID-policy disaster.
The US age-adjusted death rate in 2020 (828 per 100,000) was actually 67% lower than it had been in 1918 (2,542 per 100,000) because since then a free capitalist society has gifted the nation with the prosperity and freedom to progress that has ushered in better sanitation, nutrition, shelter, life-styles and medical care.
It is those forces which have pushed the green line relentlessly to the lower-right corner of the chart, not the Federales atop their bureaucratic perches in Washington.
Hope for a New Great Barrington Declaration to Serve as Antidote to the Totalitarian Lockdown
At length, perhaps some future historian will need to find the “convulsive ergot” theory of 2020 to explain the COVID-Hysteria because the explanation will not be found in the “science” embedded in what will be a tiny blip in the green line of the chart above.
The Great Barrington Declaration was penned by three fearless world leading epidemiologists—Dr. Martin Kulldorff of Harvard, Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Sanford—and was a powerful antidote to the Evil Hand theory then raging through the MSM and political class of almost every stripe.
At essence, it said the real science was that America was not being attacked by a Grim Reaper visiting death upon one and all regardless of age, health status or physical circumstances, but, instead, was a highly selective respiratory disease variant that honed-in tightly on the immunity-impaired aged and co-morbid.
Accordingly, the one-size-fits all Lockdown policy was dead wrong, and what was needed was highly targeted help, protections and treatments for the smallish minority of the vulnerable, which policy would presently lead to the attainment of “herd immunity” and the ultimate extinguishment of the pandemic in the normal way.
Colonial America found its way out of the Salem aberration in 1692, and surely 330 years and much science later it can do so again, exposing the 21st century miscreants who brought on this insensible hysteria as it does.
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Mon, 01/02/2023 – 14:50
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