A Tale of Two Precautions

Watching our wretchedly confused and unscientific regulatory officials willingly destroy public trust in vaccines with their “abundance of precaution” line as they suspend yet another vaccine due to very rare cases of correlation with a handful of blood clots, I was reminded of an article I had written some six years ago. The decision to suspend certain vaccinations is based on the wrong interpretation of precaution: that a vaccine can only be used if it can be proven (with certainty) to be 100% safe.

In the last decade, this interpretation of precaution has risen to the fore given the obvious opportunities for activists. But it is not a scientific use of precaution and provides no means to allow any technology, under any circumstances, to be allowed to go forward. In times of a pandemic, it is time to stop tolerating these affluent activists as they play their political game and apply a more scientific-oriented approach.

The following is an article I had written in May, 2015 on my old BlogActiv site. Given the nature of the confusion with what acting with an “abundance of precaution” means, and the risks of its misuse on an already petrified public, I thought it was a good opportunity to put this little idea back into play. In a postscript at the end of the article, I will revisit the two precautions in light of the present applications of suspending the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines. In short, an abundance of the wrong precaution is leading to an abundance of fear and vaccine hesitancy.

Here is the original article:

 
There are many interpretations of precaution used in policy debates today. But how is it that environmentalists can switch from one incantation to another without realising that they are contradicting other issues that they themselves are campaigning on? The Risk-Monger has never hidden his views that the precautionary principle is a tool used to manipulate policy – one that can be twisted to fit whatever an activist campaign requires. This blog will consider how precaution, as a “principle” has been perverted during the two great activist campaigns of the social media information era: climate change and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It is intriguing how precaution can allow for contradictions, incongruities and complete absence of logic and rationality.

Precaution as the “triple negative” or as “reversing the burden of proof“?

In 1992, the precautionary principle was articulated in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development as a triple negative – roughly (when applied to climate change): Because we are not certain whether the world is warming or not, this is not a reason to not act (given that the consequences would be so great). The onus was on the sceptics to prove climate change was not a risk (something hard to do even after the IPCC had got their forecasts so badly wrong over the last decade).

Precaution on GMOs has not been framed in the triple negative context, but rather defined by the European Environment Agency’s reversal of the burden of proofUntil proponents of GMOs could prove that this biotechnology is safe (with certainty … something hard to do as safety is a relative concept), precaution must be taken. The onus is on the scientists to prove to the sceptics that the technology is safe, and, it should come as no surprise, the GMO sceptics can make that a burden.

So while precaution is merely an uncertainty management tool (note this is not a risk management tool since it only deals with hazards and does not give a toss about potentially lost benefits), its uncertainty focus shifts. The triple negative climate change precaution says that being uncertain is not a reason to forego precautionary actions while the reversal of the burden of proof precaution used to reject GMOs demands certainty before precautionary action is lifted.

Just for fun, let us reverse the application of these two precautions.

If we were to apply the triple negative perception of precaution to GMOs, it would sound like this: The desperate situation of agriculture needing to feed a growing global population while protecting valuable natural habitats from getting ploughed under (and further diminishing biodiversity) demands that we act to develop agricultural technologies. So even if we were not certain of the science on biotechnology (after two decades, not a serious risk anymore), this is not a reason to not act in developing GMOs (given that the consequences of food insecurity would be so great). The onus would be on the sceptics or critics of GMOs to prove that they could feed the growing global population with organic agriculture. On the basis of this version of the precautionary principle, we would have to act immediately to adopt GMOs.

If we reverse the burden of proof on climate change, we would be demanding the IPCC to prove with certainty that climate change is happening due to human interaction on the environment and at a level that it would be worth making the demanded sacrifices to human development. Clearly their past models have not done a very good job at that, and until they can, we must remain sceptical.

So from this exercise, perhaps we can conclude that the reversal of the burden of proof perception of precaution (forced on Brussels by the activist civil servant, David Gee) is corrupt and must be discarded. It should come as no surprise then that this version is widely used by the European Commission (and sits at the foundation of REACH and the Pesticides Directive) … mystifying.

Do environmental campaigners and their activist scientists realise the contradictions when they bounce from one perception of the precautionary principle to another or are they just blasting out of both ends in order to win an argument and raise funds? If that were all, we could just write them off as hypocrites and ignore them. But as their precautionary bipolarity goes undiagnosed, their refusal to listen to dissenting voices in each case further poisons the well.

Precaution and the refusal to listen

In climate debates, the mainstream scientists refuse to listen to the sceptics. They are pushing for a consensus and immediate action while moving the issue away from debate and further research. This is not a role for scientists – who should continually challenge their paradigms – and yet the pro-climate change scientists are pushed (pushing) forward to recommend policy conclusions.

On GMOs, the sceptics refuse to listen to the mainstream science. In the EU, we are told that the general public (ie, those the activists claim they represent) does not want biotechnology. Even if a vast majority of scientists are correct and GMOs are not at all a risk, the activists are adamant that the scientists belong in the lab and must not be involved in the policy debate. If anyone wonders why the European Commission no longer has a chief scientific adviser, well … Professor Glover spoke up in favour of GMOs.

Precaution as a principle (as used in Brussels) implies that you do not need to listen to views you do not like.

Furthermore, the grey literature (the large volume of unpublished scientific papers that did not prove an intended objective) on climate change is largely ignored – in fact the number of unsuccessful research projects is considered too large to even consider. However, on GMOs, the grey literature is scoured for any whiff of uncertainty or potentially inconclusive sentiment.

Blame it on the man

The only way, I can understand how activists can live with these contradictions is that their hatred of humanity acts as the irrational glue that keeps their idealism free from logical gravity.

It is man who has caused climate change (even though only 2% of greenhouse gas emissions are anthropogenic and climate has been changing for millennia), and for this reason we must intervene to correct it and “restore nature to its pristine dignity”. Imagine for a moment, if we had conclusive evidence that climate change was, gulp, a natural phenomenon. Would we even be having this debate or seeking to strangle the developing world with cuts in CO2 emissions? The eco-theological eschatology implies the good man (the environmentalist) rising up against the evil man (the industrialist).

Those who hate human intervention on nature have an inherent mistrust of any human innovation. “Leave nature alone” is core to the virtue of sustainability (allowing activists to overlook all of the advances of science since Francis Bacon). In eco-theological terms, any scientific development of GMOs, of man acting on nature and the food chain, can be considered as a mortal sin. So they can reject Golden Rice or increased yields (and the millions of lives they could save) and still feel certain of their moral superiority.

This hatred of human action on nature allows the two precautions to coexist despite their incongruity. The triple negative works on climate change issues because it addresses the evil man had unleashed on nature. The reversal of the burden of proof works on biotech issues because it allows us to resist any destruction man may be intending on Mother Nature. Precaution is selectively applied (in its most effective form) to what man has done that we (the collective, environmentally enlightened) choose not to accept.

Postscript: The Two Precautions on Vaccines and Blood Clots

Fast-forward to the COVID-19 pandemic and man is now a victim (if we exclude the lunatic fringe’s claim’s that the coronavirus was caused by lost biodiversity, climate change, 5G, livestock industry, glyphosate and, of course, Bill Gates). In the docilian demand for certainty and 100% safety (precaution as the reversal of the burden of proof), it is becoming clearer how the precautionary lockdowns have wreaked untold hardship on humanity.

But regulators are still applying this unscientific version of precaution, with the most recent case being the suspension or restrictions on the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines. This “abundance of precaution” position uses the European Environment Agency’s reversal of the burden of proof: Until you are certain that these two vaccines do not (potentially) cause any blood clotting, we are going to pause their implementation. What the public perceives from this declaration is that vaccines are not safe and the entire endeavour will be put at risk due to vaccine hesitancy. The mistrust of human innovations is on display here: We would much rather let more people die from a natural virus than a few (possibly) from the use of a man-made vaccine.

But what if the public were presented with the triple negative approach on the risk of blood clotting? There is indeed a small uncertainty on vaccines, but just because they cannot deliver 100% safety (Negative 1), given how serious the coronavirus risks are (including a far higher risk of blood clotting from the virus), this is not a reason (Negative 2) to not continue using these two vaccines (Negative 3). Under this version of precaution, the uncertainty of the possible link to blood clotting would not be enough reason to fall under the “abundance of precaution” spell and suspend the vaccines. What the public perceives from this declaration is that vaccines are safer than the consequences of COVID-19 and they should be able to make a more rational decision to vaccinate. The mistrust of human innovations is not on display here: We would be much better off with a small potential risk from this man-made vaccine than leaving us exposed to the ravages of nature.

So why are we using the perverted precautionary principle that imposes such hardship on humanity?

Our regulators are doing it wrong (again). In trying to deliver a hopelessly unscientific dream of safe and certain on an expectant docilian public, they are providing anything but that. The lack of risk management capacity in most Western countries, with the added poison of precaution, has created horrific consequences for humanity. With vaccines being the only remaining hope authorities have of protecting their populations, a further misuse of (the wrong) precaution has increased vaccine hesitancy and, sadly, imposed far greater human suffering and loss of life. This is all the more tragic for developing countries where the J&J vaccine was seen as the best solution in regions where vaccine hesitancy is even higher.

When will people wake up and stop listening to these opportunistic precautionistas?

7 Comments Add yours

  1. I was flabbergasted this AM when I read that the J&J vaccination program has been “paused” because of 6 (!) instances of blood clots out of 6.8 million doses delivered. A sentence or two later in the same story “very rare … five per million per year.”

    Yeah, I guess we’ve got to pull the vaccine – only 20% the incidence in the general population. WTF!?!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sunface says:

    I disagree for the simple fact that why do you need a vaccine to “protect” or make is “safer” for the people where the risk of infection and death is extremely low to them in any event. The latest survey by Professor John P. A. Ioannidis indicates an IFR as low as 0.15%.
    Ask the question, Why would I take a potentially dangerous experimental injection for a non-fatal illness?
    The mere fact that the industry is being protected by Government is already a concern and that they have been allowed to bypass all the other safety testing requirements is already a concern for something that is no real threat to our survival?
    Vaccine Injury Compensation Programmes (VICP’s) operating around the world are indicative of a racket to increase profit at the expense of the consumer and tax-payer. Expressed another way . The excitement in Government to introduce these many different vaccinations and experimental untested drugs in their countries is indicative of huge worldwide corruption that is taking place. This is coordinated by the UN WHO/WEF. It funded by the elite who are in the shadows and use the UN as their proxy.
    Then there is the issue concerning punitive measures being introduced to those that choose not to vaccinate!!. Is it not the right of people to decide their own fate and risk?
    The next issue is the amount of censorship regarding the adverse effects is astounding. That is a huge red flag.
    More people have died with this experiment and Government response than from the so-called covid19?

    The whole experiment should be stopped in my opinion.

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    1. RiskMonger says:

      I suspect the US government intervened with the VICP because it was easier to underwrite the pharmaceutical industry than to change the tort law process. What happened since, including the marketing of many unnecessary vaccines, from a risk communication perspective, has been regrettable.
      What is interesting to see here is how the Western “reversal of burden of proof” approach to vaccines has made vaccination mandatory – it won’t keep us safe if we aren’t all vaccinated. This is because there is no risk management capacity – there is no alternative. In countries in East Asia where the other, triple negative risk management approach was applied, and the virus was contained, vaccines were helpful to protect the most vulnerable, but not a key strategy. Sadly, as the virus spread and mutated in the West, more viral strains came back to hit less vaccinated countries like Malaysia and Thailand, who had done a good job managing the pandemic before.

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      1. Sunface says:

        Thank you for your comments.
        The VICP is not only in America. It has now been proposed in South Africa too. That is where I am.
        The issue regarding the mutations and strains and variants is simply scaremongering. There are different variations of influenza type viruses we are told that have been plaguing humans since we were put on the planet. We experience these illnesses annually during our winters in both hemispheres.

        SARS COV-1 was never shown to exist.
        A team called Virus mania put questions to RKI.
        This goes back to the early 2005 where question was asked of Robert Kock Institute in Germany on the SARS 1 issue.
        Question 1. Please name the studies that indisputably show that the SARS virus …. has been proven to exist (complete purification), isolation and definition and characterisation of biochemical properties plus electron micrographs).
        Question 2. Please name studies that indisputably show that the virus named above causes disease (and also other factors like malnutrition, toxins, etc do not at least co-determine the course of disease). Complete aetiology.
        To date despite repeated questioning the team at virus mania has not had a single study referenced. I am sure you have heard of the investigative reporter Torsten Engelbrecht who is a member of the team.

        If there is no proof of Isolation of SARS-COV1 so how can there be a claim that SARS-COV2 is closely related? If that is the case there is no evidence that anything called Covid19 actually exists. It was a virus by proclamation by the UN WHO.
        Well known qualified virologists and biologists have challenged the claims.
        What we do know is that a “genome sequence was created from a concoction of different assumed aa viral segments and this was used and manipulated using computer programs. With the help of computer programs, virologists “conceptually” construct a longer RNA or DNA strand out of the many isolated shorter genetic sequences. These constructed RNA or DNA strands are then claimed to be real viral strands.

        This fictitious digital sequence is used by the mainstay of the hoax using the Non-Diagnostic tool called RT-PCR. This tool that cannot distinguish between live viruses and non-infectious viral particles or different corona viruses, yet it is being used for that purpose? So how can they make any claim that Covid19 exists? It a lie and the term is an umbrella term to lump different illnesses together to make a mountain out of a hill to perpetuate fear and hysteria. The misdiagnosis that has resulted has led to the wrong protocols being used. Thankfully there are some medical professional that that honoured their oaths. Many will be left wit their reputations damaged forever because they followed instructions instead of their oaths. This is one of the reasons for the time it is taking to expose the hoax.

        No certified uncontaminated samples of the purported pathogen (SARS-CoV-2) were or are available for scientific study and biotech development. The genetic sequence was concocted in the absence of a purified sample of the presumed pathogen, using indirect methods.
        The RT-PCR test that was devised for COVID-19 has no clinical or epidemiological value whatsoever. It is one of the greatest scandals in public health history. – Prof Denis Rancourt

        I quote from an Article by SOVI
        Statement On Virus Isolation (SOVI) Tom Cowan
        “From now on, when anyone gives you a paper that suggests the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been isolated, please check the methods sections. If the researchers used Vero cells or any other culture method, you know that their process was not isolation. You will hear the following excuses for why actual isolation isn’t done:
        1. There were not enough virus particles found in samples from patients to analyze.
        2. Viruses are intracellular parasites; they can’t be found outside the cell in this manner.

        If No. 1 is correct, and we can’t find the virus in the sputum of sick people, then on what evidence do we think the virus is dangerous or even lethal?
        If No. 2 is correct, then how is the virus spread from person to person?
        We are told it emerges from the cell to infect others. Then why isn’t it possible to find it?”

        It is clear that there is a massive scam/hoax of huge proportion that is unfolding. There will be blood on the streets if Governments persist with the lie that they are supporting because they have become so intertwined with the pharmaceutical giants and the WHO that acting on behalf of the WEF. These governments have been captured and all they are left with is lies in their attempts to save face.

        What is astounding the the media too are part of the lie and manipulation and deception. There are unfortunately no honest journalists left in MSM.

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      2. RiskMonger says:

        No one is going to argue that the last 18 months was managed in any competent manner. I have been screaming for the need for even the smallest bit of risk management competence in our authorities.
        But I am wondering how much of this is semantics. Whatever you want to call it, I was diagnosed with a some type of virus back in October 2020 (along with everyone else in our house) and although I have heart disease and a chronic organ infection, I am also a mountain ultra trail runner. When I got sick, at the age of 57, I battled through the symptoms fairly well, but three weeks later got knocked on my back with severe inflammation and surging blood pressure, and for the next six months was cursed with a brain fog that made me struggle to finish my sentences, remember names or get out of my chair. Semantics aside, if you have ever seen me perform in public, you would know this is not a hoax. Did we mess up how we managed the spread? Hell yeah! Did we overreact and do more harm than good? Of course. Is it a hoax? No.

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      3. Sunface says:

        Well I am glad you recovered from whatever it was that you got infected.

        Please understand, I am not knocking you. I am well north of your age and also very much at risk with underlying conditions too. I still consider the risk of vaccination without the required rigorous previously stipulated safety trials and no evidence of a virus far more danger than and IFR of 0.15%.
        Every year there are various influenza like illnesses some worse than the other and if you have some underlying condition to which you have stated, it is quite possible that you could have suffered additional symptoms which have been exacerbated because of these conditions. That is exactly what has been confirmed by many doctors and specialists. Those with underlying conditions are at risk. This is par for the course.

        You appear to be convinced there is Covid19 because you suffered from an influenza like illness and that is understandable, I would think you have been influenced by propaganda that there is something called covid19. That is all we hear form the MSM?

        The fact remains it has not been isolated or identified or been reproduced. I could reference a number of FOIA requests that all show ZERO evidence.it is therefor conjecture.

        Do you not question why there are no autopsies or lack of? Would it not be of worldwide public interest to do so to prove there is such an virus and attributed illness called Covid19. Ye there is massive censorship of anyone questioning the narrative?.

        There are a number of highly qualified pathologists like Dr Roger Hodkinson who has also called it a Hoax BTW.

        The UN is a proxy for those who control the organisation. It is from there where most of the Worldwide Governments take their positions being committed to their policies. The few that do not agree or follow have been harassed, threatened, insulted and even murdered, or so it appears to be.

        This is too well organised and orchestrated not to be a clear attempt by the WEF/Davos club to achieve their desired dream of world control.

        Like

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