IT WAS A COVID-19 BOBBY McFERRIN MOMENT. A “don’t worry, be happy moment.” It came on the local six o’clock news out of Halifax CBC TV on January 5.

The nice lady on TV smiled warmly and told me not to worry about the COVID counts any more. She said all the numbers about new cases of infection, hospitalizations, ICU cases, infections of school kids, where to get rapid testing kits—all the information they’d been shovelling over us since official declaration of the pandemic 23 months ago—none of it really mattered any more.

We didn’t really need to worry our little heads about any of that anymore, she said. We didn’t need to bother with the pesky details anymore. We could all be happy. All we needed to know was that the people in charge had everything well in hand.

I found her message more than a little odd—not to say, well..worrying. For two reasons.

Two reasons to worry

First: the nice lady was one of the inhouse stable of COVID soothsayers, with all the requisite expert credentials, the newscast had regularly wheeled out since February 2020 to dispense and explain all the information we would need to calm our fears of COVID annihilation. Now she was telling us not to bother about any of it anymore.

What the fuck!!??

Second: our information overlords had taken us from information overload to “nothing to see here”—a giant shift in official approach on how to cope—without bothering to explain, and without anyone seeming to notice or care.

It is this silence about—this failure to notice—how we are being manipulated that worries me most. After all, the information manipulation and control has been plain.

First, they couldn’t give us enough information, COVID data headlined and filled every newscast, official briefings were omnipresent; then officials became a little more circumspect, official briefings dwindled from twice a day, to once in a while to none at all; then some numbers, like school kids who were infected were dropped entirely; then the ways of measuring impact were “adjusted”, now the numbers don’t really matter all that much at all.

It has been a perfect exercise in manufacturing and manipulating consent. There is no question of presenting an alternate view. The idea of questioning the new received wisdoms does not even arise. Groupthink takes hold.

Critical thinking evaporates

And so, the capacity for critical thinking is made redundant. Absolutes rule. Some are designated heroes, some villains. Case—and minds—closed.

Surely this is folly. Life is never that certain. Every time some of us decide it is, every time some of us become certain that skin colour, or religion, or nationality, or political belief make others inferior, we cannot save ourselves from disaster.

Without critical thinking we are doomed to be perpetual patsies. Easy marks for any story the powers that be want to spin us. Accomplices in our own misfortunes. Unable to tell shit from sugar without an instruction manual.

Case in point. Pfizer is now one of the great heroes of the hour. Their vaccine helps keep many millions of us COVID free. They get nothing but praise. And we go along. Like the nice smiling lady on TV says we should.

And yet, we know Pfizer is a huge conglomerate. We know they are raking in billions with their current “good works.” We suspect trusting them completely is sketchy. And we’re right. But, the nice smiling lady on TV is never going to tell us.

The truth is Pfizer is a six-time loser: convicted in the USA of bribing managed care companies, doctors and medical journals, of illegally promoting off-label medications, of making illegal foreign bribes and for running an illegal kickback scheme. The corporation agreed to pay $2.3 billion in fines.

Pfizer got a deferred prosecution deal with each offence, always with a promise to never break the law again—and then did.

But, truths like this never worry the nice smiling lady on TV. She is only interested in the information that fits. That’s  the truth that should worry us most of all.

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