COVID-19 — Facemasks and Psychologists

During the course of the current COVID-19 pandemic, facemask wearing has become a point of massive contention with many authorities insisting on their use by people in public places and even issuing fines for people caught not doing so. In some cases this has led to ugly and often unnecessarily violent confrontations between members of the public and sometimes with police.

Meanwhile, the science on the issue has seemed to shift so that at one time people in positions of authority were saying they were unnecessary and even inappropriate for general public to use and then the same authorities shifting to recommending them and even making them mandatory by all.

In this connection, a section of recent ABC News article dated 9 September entitled “Majority of Australians support mandatory face masks in public places, survey reveals” caught my eye: 

Masks ‘not yet ingrained’

Dominika Kwasnicka, a behavioural psychologist at the University of Melbourne, said mask-wearing is not yet a “social norm” in Australia.

“It’s definitely not yet ingrained in our culture,” she said.

“It’s very difficult to break [social norms], but we are very successful with changing and breaking them.”

But with time, she added, a change in attitudes may come.

“We can see in our history, for instance when we started encouraging people to wear seatbelts,” Dr Kwasnicka said.

“People didn’t consider them necessary, didn’t consider them as something that would save their lives. But with time we made them compulsory.

“I’m very confident that we can also change social norms when it comes to wearing a mask, but it’s going to take time.”

This raises some concerns about the role of a psychology professional in the support of facemask wearing practices being promoted by many authorities as the “new normal”. In particular, the apparently enthusiastic and uncritical acceptance of the very doubtful proposition that facemasks are an effective and appropriate infection control measure for an airborne influenza like virus (such as we are currently informed is the case with the COVID-19 pandemic). This is compounded by the implication of use of the interviewee’s professional and academic capabilities to support population behaviour modification activities that promote what many critics of the measure perceive to be a scientifically unsupported and physiologically and psychologically damaging practice i.e. the normalised and habitual facemask wearing by the healthy general public.

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Notes on the COVID-19 Pandemic

PCR Tests

It is beyond question that the PCR research tool was never intended to be used as a diagnostic test. Indeed, Kary Mullis, the developer of the method is on record as explicitly warning that PCR should not be used in this fashion. PCR was developed as a method for amplifying small samples of DNA and RNA so that they can be detected, period. The issue Mullis pointed out with PCR being used for diagnosis is that the number of amplification cycles the researcher uses is purely arbitrary and after around 35 cycles the test is extremely prone to false positives. Mullis went on to assert that after 60 cycles 100% of tests for any section of DNA would likely prove positive given that so much genomic code is shared across all living organisms. In the case of the current situation, we understand that the number of cycles used varies between laboratories and across regions (i.e. this implies that it has not even been standardised). While the number of cycles used is commonly not advertised in the press, it is understood from a number of sources that between 35 and 45 cycles is commonplace. That means the PCR test results must be assumed to be inherently prone to significant error rates. A second issue with PCR is that the method does not actually test for the presence of a virus, but rather for sections of DNA (or in this case RNA) that have somehow been identified as being uniquely associated with the genome of a target organism.

As such, a positive PCR result cannot actually be used to ascertain whether there was a live target virus was present or that the host from which the sample was obtained was in fact currently infected given that the test could just be picking up detritus remaining after an infected cell had been eliminated by the host’s immune system. This brings into focus the third issue with the PCR test and that is how the reference sections of DNA (or RNA) have been established. In this case, it seems that lung fluids from a supposedly infected person was obtained and somehow the researchers identified some supposedly unique sections of RNA that they assumed were from a new virus. Note that this was based on a diagnosis of the person as being infected by the SARS-COV2 based on the person having the symptoms; however, as we know, this disease has no unique symptoms —every one of the primary symptoms identified has major commonalities with those of seasonal influenza, pneumonia infections and even the common cold.

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Australia and New Zealand — losing an empire, who will protect us now? Part 5. US decline and collapse

5. US decline and collapse — The end of empire

One of the great lessons of history is that all empires eventually collapse. Exceptional though many believe it to be, the US empire will be no different and there are many signs that having achieved a couple of decades of apparently unchallenged global domination following the fall of the USSR in 1991, the Anglo-US empire has hit its peak and the way forward lies in its decline. Although empires at their peak can look formidable and unassailable, their collapse can happen quite quickly and while there may be a final military denouement, this often happens in the context of a pre-existing collapse from within. In the end, it is the accumulation of a series of political, social, economic and military collapses combined with the inability of a delusional self-focused elite to face reality that leads to an overall collapse of empire.

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Australia and New Zealand — losing an empire, who will protect us now? Part 4. Australia: Managing a dilemma

4. Australia: Managing a dilemma

The economic, geographic and geopolitical considerations for Australia are quite different to New Zealand’s. Where New Zealand is a remote, moderately small island nation with a relatively small population, Australia is a wealthy if massive sparsely occupied country with its main population centres concentrated on the eastern and southern coasts, it is rich in resources and poised on the southern periphery of Asia. With a GDP of USD1,432.2 billion its economy is nearly five times that of New Zealand’s and its population of 25.1 million is more than five times as large.

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Australia and New Zealand — losing an empire, who will protect us now? Part 3. New Zealand: Pragmatic trader

3. New Zealand: Pragmatic trader

With an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of some 4 million km2 (and continental shelf rights that cover another 1.7 million km2 beyond), much of New Zealand’s air and sea defence resources are dedicated to monitoring and securing the fisheries and resources in its surrounding seas and also to providing civil defence and other support to its Pacific island neighbours. Significantly, of New Zealand’s top five trading partners, China accounts for 24.9% of New Zealand’s total exports (USD9.6 billion) with Australia coming in behind at 14.8% (USD5.7 billion), the USA at 9.6% (USD3.7 billion), Japan at 6.3% (USD2.4 billion) and South Korea at 3.1% (USD1.2 billion).

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Australia and New Zealand — losing an empire, who will protect us now? Part 2. US saviour and defender

2. US saviour and defender — From one empire to another

After World War II, Britain was so depleted that these relatively young and militarily weak nations needed a new alliance that could protect them from possible invaders in the radically altered geopolitical landscape that came out of the war. The obvious candidate for this role was the USA which, in economic and geopolitical terms, was the only real winner of the two world wars. So, in 1951 Australia and New Zealand signed the Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty (ANZUS Treaty) with the USA “to protect the security of the Pacific”.

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Australia and New Zealand — losing an empire, who will protect us now? Part 1. Early Days

It is readily apparent that the balance of power and geopolitical landscape is undergoing a period of rapid change where the uni-polar empire headed by the USA and its elites is being challenged by a combination of a resurgent and reinvigorated Russia and the rising economic and industrial might of China. Caught in this dynamic, Australia and New Zealand need to find a way to individually and perhaps collectively navigate their way from the past certainty of being a part of an apparently unchallenged dominant Anglo-US empire to a new multi-polar world.

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ABC Watch: July 2019 China Blitz

Media critics Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky detailed in their Propaganda Model how propaganda and systemic biases function in corporate mass media. This work has been extended by David Edwards and David Cromwell of medialens.org in their critique of the UK media— particularly of supposedly liberal outlets, such as the BBC and The Guardian. It is therefore not unexpected that the Australian government owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) might fill a similar position in the media landscape. This article is based on a search of all ABC articles and news items during the month of July that related to the search terms China, Chinese, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Uyghur.

Analysis of this listing shows that ABC reporting on China in July 2019 saw a significant ramp up in tone and stridency of the anti-China reporting—firstly in relation to the protests in Hong Kong and then the focus turned to Xinjiang—the centre-point of which was an ABC 4 Corners documentary “Tell The World” that screened on 15 July. Other key themes in the reporting during the month centred on Chinese influence in Australian universities; Chinese militarism (South China Sea and spying on the Talisman Sabre war games); repression, censorship and corrupt legal system; the economic effects on Australia of the Trump administration’s trade war; and Chinese drug cheats and gamblers.

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The Problem of Mass-migration, Liberalism and Multi-culturalism

The idea that liberalism is dead has recently received a boost from Russian President Vladimir Putin who has been quoted as saying:

“The liberal idea… has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population,” … Putin said in an interview with the Financial Times Friday that the “liberal idea has become obsolete,” and referred to Germany’s decision to welcome more than one million refugees — many fleeing savage urban warfare in Syria — as a “cardinal mistake.”

Russia’s Vladimir Putin: Liberalism in Europe is ‘obsolete’ By Patrick Smith, NBC News, 29 June 2019
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Review: The Lost Hegemon – Whom the Gods Would Destroy by F. William Engdahl

I have stated before my view that Islam and Muslims are not the problem but rather that religion is used as a tool by those in power as a way of manipulating ordinary people to act in their interests. My article Thoughts on the Nature of the God Construct expands on this idea in terms of how the image and nature of the god that the elites present to us for our worship reveals something of their agendas and efforts to shape society for their own benefit.

Lost hegemon

F. William Engdahl’s book, The Lost Hegemon: Whom the Gods Would Destroy goes much further in examining how radical Islam has been deliberately shaped and promoted as a tool by Western elites as a way of establishing and maintaining control over the Middle East and then as a weapon against the USSR. Since the end of the Cold War, this tool has been resurrected and used to break up Yugoslavia, destabilise Chechnya and then deployed against a succession of Arab and African states with the ultimate aim of conquering and harnessing the rising powers of Russia and China.

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