Updated: May 2, 2020
When I was in Moscow in 1978, Russian friends spoke of "two sociologists," the ones in the Kremlin and their own colleagues at МГУ, Moscow State University.
They didn't use the same data.
When you begin with a curve and select data to fit, you leave things out. On purpose. For the ones looking at the data in order to find the suggestion of a curve, the other guys reversing the procedure are doing pseudoscience.
But if the perpetuators of the fraud are in charge, they get to turn the tables on you: what you are doing, by looking first at the data, by questioning your variables, by gauging whether or not a curve is revealed—in other words, recognizing your humble status vis-à-vis the external world—you are now labeled the liar. A dangerous liar, one with an agenda, a human Hong Kong that must be subdued at all costs.
If you are Galileo and see the mind of God in the numbers that bring objects to your feet, in the paths of the planets flowing through space, and the Church does not want this to be so, you will be punished. Heresy.
If you are Dr. Li Wenliang and see patients dying of an infectious disease in Wuhan, and the State does not want this to be so, you will be punished. In Dr. Li's case, with death.
Last night Rachel Maddow said her conservative counterparts are no longer using the same data. Whereas a decade ago they were interpreting the same data differently on Fox News and radio talk shows, something changed. These journalists are no longer her rivals. They now refer to a world so different, it may as well be called "Earth 2."
Earth 2 is where infectious diseases do not suffocate your lungs. Where glaciers do not melt. Where mothers impregnate themselves. Where the poor destroy their own homes and livelihoods. Where slaves elect to be beasts of burden. Where children choose to be trafficked.
In this Kremlin science, the tail wags the dog.
The stable genius of Stalin said: "Lysenko's fantasy genetics rule!" And therefore he prospered...temporarily. There's always a grain of truth out there in the collective farm that grows your cotton-picked data, some kernel of truth later seized by brain scientists for a new theory on acquired traits. But by itself, construed to match party numbers and Klan quotas? The experimental purpose is evil, the result a dead end. Like Nevada's Area 51, whatever's out there in that nuclear wasteland is not going to save you.
In courtrooms, ideally the prosecutor and defense work off the same data and guilt is determined by the overwhelming weight of slant in one direction.
We know this is not what happens when your poverty or genital anatomy or the color of your skin precludes judgment. You will pay disproportionately for the crime, your little pebble of crack dysmorphed into a giant haul of cocaine in the minds of the supremacist jury.
The collective discomfort we feel over OJ and the composition of the Supreme Court? We know something is off. Someone bought that result. Putin had that oligarch put down like a dog, the one missing a tail.
We know the logic is faulty. Going after the lockdown instead of the virus, the mothers instead of the impregnating fathers, punishing the slaves instead of the masters, the addicts instead of the drug dealers, the prostitutes instead of the johns, the broken pipes instead of the bad plumbers—we know the problem will not be fixed this way. It will only be exacerbated. But if you are in charge and make money off this converse lie, you don't care. In fact, you're invested in this failure. It's temporary, thankfully, but still you do not care. Your great grandchildren may suffer, but who cares, you do not see them. Your indolent children benefit, the ones in your face and in your bank accounts, the ones hunting the wounded and smacking their vampire lips.
I heard in a Buddhist meditation that compassion requires shared reality.
True. Socrates knew that. Ethics depends on it.
You can't help me if you're working off a different set of facts, off an irrelevant interpretation. Take that document over there, you say? If I'm disabled and your idea involves walking, if I'm mute and your solution involves talking, then nothing gets fixed. You get to hate me for not following your rules, even if I don't qualify for the game. You—one, me—zero. Lucky you.
Jumping to conclusions on minimal data is annoying at best, fatal at worst. To have let this madness into the henhouse, into the White House, into governments from Brasilia to Budapest, from Managua to Minsk, is to have acquiesced in a deadly pact with ideological devils. I hear a menuetto on the sinking Titanic.
Overreaction, my ass. And yours, by the way.
For my loved ones who think they live on Earth 2, I pray that you will trust the inner voice you were born with before it is too late. Forget me. Forget your glee in comparing yourself to me.
The blue marble planet we live on?
There's only one.
21 APRIL 2020