2021 – Farewell to the Year of Fear

French translation

If 2021 has taught us anything, it is that there is no limit to the power and scope of fear. It can snuff out hope as fast as a European Commission vice president can impose the precautionary principle on an AstraZeneca vaccine; it can reimpose severe lockdown measures on the emergence of a variant with very mild symptoms; it can move Commission officials to force the European agricultural sector to adopt cultist organic farming practises (or propose the removal of all “toxic” chemicals); it has created a disease called “eco-anxiety” – a torment that teenagers shared at the COP-26 in Glasgow (while world leaders took naps). Fear of viruses, fear of chemicals, fear of imminent catastrophic climate change, fear of evil corporations – things haven’t been this rich for the fear industry since the Cold War (and, admittedly, we behaved incredibly stupidly back then).

Fear is also relative. With grandpa snoozing in his white house, we no longer seem to be afraid of geopolitical tensions. Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border, Chinese jets threatening Taiwanese outposts; these events don’t even register a pulse, but if an Alaskan coastal town has a warm afternoon, we become panic-stricken. According to Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest black comedy, we aren’t afraid enough. Cue the scary Swedish teenager to growl at us once again.

Fear removes the capacity for people to think rationally and act in their best interests. Fear pushes people into a herd, more easily managed by opportunists posing as solution-providers. Fear creates a Docilian population yearning for someone else to keep them safe and risk-free. After nearly two years of pandemic-driven fear and stifling lockdowns, most people have lost the capacity to think longer term or take care of themselves. And, regrettably, fear allows for opportunists to get away with some horribly intolerable (dare I say: Goebbelian?) solutions: deplatforming, banning, imposing mandates and behavioural change, wilful destruction of economies and restrictions on individual liberties.

Creation out of Chaos

The Risk-Monger did some of his most creative writing in 2021, coining terms like precautionaria (a fatal disease) or organish (when organic food becomes nothing more than a high-priced label) to try to keep the counter-intuitive spirit alive. He laid in heavily on how two of the European Green Deal platforms made Brussels look ridiculous and excessively alarmist. He spoke out at what he called impositionists – activists who have been attempting to impose behavioural change and on how the citizen assembly approach of the Conference on the Future of Europe was merely an activist ploy to legitimise their campaigns. He attacked his own science communications community for encouraging the suppression of free speech and further fuelling the spread of anti-vaxxers. He even published his own opus seeking a positive alternative to the destructive, fear-based distinction between organic and conventional farming.

But what was the point? The Risk-Monger wrote these articles more for himself and barely bothered to organise or meme them to amplify the engagement. Why? Cancel culture evolutions in social media had hermetically sealed ideological communities so only his choir had access to his ideas (and even there, they were getting more cantankerous by the day). The algorithms and content-moderated ban barriers were restricting free speech, tribes were building walls of ignorance, the main media groups were seduced by slick fear campaigns unleashed by PR-savvy activist groups and few had time to read or make the effort to think beyond the narrative imposed upon them. We have created too many barriers to critical thinking.

The Risk-Monger assumed a role of merely curating the downfall of reason in this fear-driven Age of Stupid. 2021 had hit new lows as the media was captured, EU officials abandoned their responsibilities to govern as risk managers and interest groups took over the leadership role via their “citizen assemblies”. Expert advisers were shown the door, journals embraced click-bait alarmism and Gary Ruskin became acting editor-in-chief at Scientific American. From the Risk-Monger’s perpetually locked-down, dusty basement, it all became quite depressing as he threw his arms up in frustration and scaled back his own efforts.

I mean, seriously, what is the point any more? The Risk-Monger presently has two leads to two serious scandals of research abuse but cannot find the energy to complete the exposés. What will it change? After exposing 30 cases of corruption within IARC, after showing how Western leaders have next to no risk management capacity when faced with a pandemic; and as they are relying on the precautionary principle instead, they show no responsibility for the consequences of their cowardly decisions; after showing the devastating consequences as the organic/agroecology lobby is dictating policy in Brussels and Rome; after seeing how he became a victim of the moronic identity politics infection of the science communications community, he can only conclude that there is little hope left for evidence and fact-based policies in this decline into a new Dark Age. In the coming years, the light of reason will only grow dimmer.

Abandon Ship

Worse, on the personal front, the Risk-Monger has had a challenging year. Battling long COVID and a mild depression, and then in June, after his second COVID-19 vaccine, he was on his back packed in ice for three weeks (thank God for oxycodone). Turns out the vaccine provoked an inflammatory arthritic flare. The immediate response at the hospital was: “Of course not – the vaccine did not cause the flare!” but his rheumatologist, with a sheepish grin, confirmed almost all of her patients with this aggressive form had similar responses. Now in December he is dealing with the risks of a retinal detachment. Having already lost the effective use of four fingers, pieces of the Monger are falling off and he keeps wondering if maybe it is time to just pack it in.

I have decided to slowly pull back from my academic roles (it sickens me to see how my students have suffered from an administration quite content to do nothing more than acquiesce while managing an empty campus). Should I also step back from writing and engaging with a community that is dwindling, bifurcating and belligerent? Algorithms are tightening around media-approved consensus wonks while isolating the counter-intuitive. Twice this year I have had to deal with skittish content moderators who don’t feel that it is their corporation’s responsibility to defend free speech. I don’t do this for money and I didn’t sign on for such nuisances. As the conference scene looks set to remain dormant until perhaps 2023, early retirement seems very attractive to my broken body.

Now I was told to never end a speech or leave an audience in complete despair, so maybe this annus horribilis needs a happy ending. Let me change gears and bring out a deus ex machina.

But then I got a personal message from a follower.

A Flickering Candle

Hey David – did you see what happened at IARC? The Ramazzini cabal has been purged from their monograph programme.

I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was true. Even the Wicked Witch of the West was sent back home to gather dust in a dead-end role in the National Academies. Mind you I am still banned from the IARC Twitter page but after all of those articles, all of that “clear as day” evidence of corruption and lack of scientific integrity, I can’t help but wonder if the message must have finally been driven home – IARC needed to clean itself up. The IARC monograph programme seems to have been side-lined and it looks as if the agency will not have the strength of conviction to push through with their previously planned condemnation of GMOs as carcinogenic. The US tort law machine has lost a valuable tool in their art of deception and many activist scientists can no longer rely on a sure salary supplement as litigation consultants. I weep for their loss.

Then, another message arrives (bless my community, many of them know I don’t have time to keep up with all of the madness going on).

David – did you hear the news? Bayer just won their second straight glyphosate case in the US!

Well, maybe even American jurors can’t be made afraid by baseless claims made by sharks and shadows. Could it be that people are starting to see through that slimy, fraudulent attempt to fleece consumers and destroy sustainable farming? A few more cases like this and I can expect to see that unregulated litigation finance well go dry and several of the nastier Predatorts go belly up (I have a bottle of champagne on ice waiting for the day those dreadful Scientologists at Baum Hedlund get forced back to the strip mall). When the wind changes and the stench emanates, then even useful idiots like Carey Gillam lose their soapboxes (as she quietly left US Right to Know) and can now only get media spots on lunatic anti-vax podcasts.

Hey Mr Monger – it seems like the European Commission has opened a window towards reconsidering regulations on certain new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs).

Now that one may take a little more of a fight since DG Santé in the European Commission still has quite a few precautionistas in the pocket of the environmental-health activist clique. And although it is being offered as a route to lessen the anticipated impact of their destructive Farm2Fork strategy, even a crack in that window may allow for some fresh air to flow into Brussels. And if that 25 year witch-hunt against GMOs can finally be put to rest, there may be hope for farmers as the European Commission could start to flush out the chemophobes and anti-progressives who have hid behind the veil of precaution for far too long.

————–

So maybe fear had reached its zenith in 2021. Maybe my views are no longer so far from the common narrative. Maybe there is place for rational thinking in the West (without us having to give up all of our affluence). Maybe it was not all for nothing. Maybe I had a small role in stopping some of this madness. Maybe I’ll just give it another year and try to kick up a little more dust.

Happy New Year and let’s make 2022 a year to celebrate scientific progress and innovation!

David

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael Dourson says:

    Thank you David. I nearly always enjoy reading your posts for a differing point of view, one on which I often find myself agreeing. Please keep this up as long as you can. Holiday Cheers from the USA! Michael

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My own best words of Wisdom – don’t let the Bastards get you down! A man doesn’t only fight to win, he sometimes fights to fight again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RiskMonger says:

      So true John – I hope sometimes in losing well that others can see the arrogance of ignorance in those well-funded groups.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. But also – if you let arrogant ignorance run amok – you lose the moral high ground from which to attack it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. scotty perey says:

    David, I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this. On so many levels, from the deeply personal to the banally political. With all the time you have put into your research and writing, and to often feel like your efforts are going nowhere, not to mention being assailed by health issues —- all of which I can definitely relate to — I hope it gives you some consolation that there are many of us out here who do not take for granted the HUNDREDS of hours you have volunteered of your time and life in maintaining what to me seems like a solitary beacon of… reality? Seriously man, I applaud you and I thank you from the bottom of my weary heart. I sincerely wish you and yours the best of health and good cheer for 2022. There *are* positive indications on the horizon, and time will tell if they will be enough to finally tip the scales towards an intelligent and *truly* progressive approach to the solutions needed for our planet and all its beautiful creatures. Thanks again, for everything. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RiskMonger says:

      Thank you Scotty – you have also done some amazing work as well to bring your talent to the table (I loved your Star-man interpretation)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fm06 says:

    Don’t give up David, we need your unique writing style and courage! All the best for 2022.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. helieo says:

    Bonjour,
    Merci pour cette lueur d’espoir. Espérons que l’Occident choisira mieux ses combats (Dieu sait que nous en avons pleins les bras) en 2022. Merci pour votre persévérance Risk monger !!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chris Scanlon says:

    Dear Sir, I hope you are able and willing to continue this invaluable work. I subscribe through Patreon to several sites that provide an informed perspective on varying topics not normally available on line or in the media. One example is “Climate”, a site devoted to discussions of and posting links to dozens of research papers addressing climate, meteorology , geology, atmospheric and oceanographic topics. It is hosted by Judith Curry, a recently retired professor of atmospheric physics. Perhaps you could look into that or a similar subscription based service to support (financially) your work. Good luck with your health challenges. Regards Chris Scanlon

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RiskMonger says:

      Thanks – I follow Judith and enjoy the conversations and the debate there. Note I don’t do this for money and am open to anyone who wants to reprint or translate my articles (I refuse offers to split media fees). I am more concerned to promote more ideas being shared. One more frustrating point is how people paid by the organic food industry lobby (like those at CEO, GMWatch and USRTK) spend so much time trying to paint me as a Monsanto shill.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. jpkolk jpkolk@telusplanet.net says:

    Don’t give up. Food and agriculture have always been mixed with politics and culture. Your ability to call out the cultural and political influences (imperatives) on agriculture practices is refreshing. I hope you can keep you eyes healthy and look forward to your posts in 2022 John Kolk alberta Canada

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Giovanni Molteni Tagliabue says:

    Ciao David, I don’t need to add more (well deserved) kind words: go on with the good job – and best regards from Lombardy!

    Liked by 2 people

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