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Why it's so important that we focus on the reality that there is no proof of viruses.
I live in a small town in southern Illinois with several chemical plants. These plants are a massive part of the local economy, and everyone knows someone who works at one of the plants. In fact, the local mayor was formerly the CEO of one of the larger plants, and several of the city council members are on the board of these companies. Although these plants have a longstanding history of corruption, they were ultimately so intertwined with the economy, and people were reliant on the products they created, so the people loved them anyway.
Recently, several lawns, family gardens, and farms in the area began wilting and dying. Luckily, a local zoologist and a local botanist— both hired by the mayor— say they’ve solved the problem.
According to these experts, a newly discovered species of rodent is the culprit: An elusive, nocturnal rodent, named “vindrus” by the experts, has infiltrated the town because, according to them, it is attracted to the type of grass that grows in southern Illinois, and also loves feeding on melons, which nearly every garden and farm in the area grows. This rodent has an amazing ability to camouflage itself, it only comes out at night, and after feeding on the lawns and melons, it urinates on them. The urine of this particular squirrel-like rodent happens to be extremely toxic to the lawns and other plant life. So not only are the lawns and gardens being eaten by the vindrus, they’re also being poisoned by the urine of the vindrus. They’ve found hair from this rodent in several of the poisoned lawns— but not all of them— and that indicates that the vindrus and its toxic piss are responsible for the lawns dying.
The local newspapers and TV stations ran several stories on the vindrus, showing grainy doorbell camera images of the squirrel-like animal running through the lawns of several homes and gardens. They also displayed samples of hair from the vindrus, teeth marks on trees, and tracks from the vindrus. They’d even constructed the entire genome of the vindrus, using a computer program, via these various samples that were discovered. Despite the horror of the situation, the town felt relieved to know the experts had discovered the source of the problem. Now the focus turned to solutions: how best can we eliminate the vindrus?
Luckily, several local chemical factories had developed a solution to the problem: a chemical concoction to spray on lawns that hinders the vindrus’s ability to procreate. They called it a “crackscene.” Because the vindrus was extremely hard to locate, they designed the crackscene based on the samples of hair found in lawns and genetic material taken from the bite marks in the trees. The trials for the crackscene, conducted in house by each of the chemical factories were successful. The products were determined to be safe and effective, and everyone in the town believed it to be true because the companies had such close relationships with the town’s leadership, and everyone was desperate to eliminate the vindrus problem.
Everyone began spraying the crackscene on their lawns, and anyone who didn’t spray it on their lawns was chastised by the community, because the experts said their unwillingness to spray it would allow the vindrus to proliferate.
After months, the lawn problem only worsened, and other plants began to die as well. The experts said the vindrus had mutated, citing thicker hair discovered in one of the lawns as evidence. They used this evidence to develop a new crackscene to eliminate this vindrus, and everyone began spraying it on their lawns.
A group of local, skeptical activists— comprised of a few people who had been harmed by previous products created by the chemical companies, as well as some independent zoologists, toxicologists, botanists, and defectors from the chemical companies— began speaking out. Major points of focus for this group were the possibility that the chemicals created at these chemical plants were extremely harmful to lawns and other plant-life, that these chemicals were partly responsible, that there were other concoctions made by these chemical companies that were much more effective and safer at stopping the vindrus, that the vindrus had been created in a lab, and that scientists were likely working on other versions of the vindrus that would be even more threatening to the plant life in the region.
A smaller group of local skeptics—generally comprised of the same sub-segments of the community— had also begun speaking. Their approach was different; They recognized that *all* of the claims were centered on the existence of this so-called vindrus, and that the local community had accepted grainy doorbell images, hair samples, teeth marks, tracks, a computer-derived genome, and the sensationalized, unproven claims of local experts that, of course, were hired by the corrupt chemical companies. They agreed that these same crackscene developing chemical companies had previously developed other products that were actually what was causing the lawns to die. While they greatly appreciated the other group of activists and aligned with them on many issues, they were frustrated with the unwillingness of the other activists to look deeper. I mean, how do we know that the vindrus does what they say it does? Has anyone actually seen one? What if this rodent was simply a squirrel? Where is the proof that the vindrus even exists? Whether or not the larger group of activists believe in the vindrus was not relevant: what was relevant was the lack of proof for the various claims being made, as these claims were the foundation for everything that was happening.
The entire story revolved around the existence of the vindrus. This smaller activist group simply wanted clear proof of the vindrus, and clear proof that the vindrus was actually the cause of the lawns dying. They realized that if the vindrus story continues, the community will be continually swept into new ways to “combat” the vindrus.
Several years passed, and the vindrus-lawn problem only worsened. The largest activist group continued to grow, but so did the problem with the lawns dying. Plant-life all over the area was become sicker and sicker. Several prominent leaders in this group of activists had written books and created documentaries and documentary series highlighting the corruption of the chemical companies— focusing primarily on the idea that the vindrus was created in a lab. Several leaders had also either developed “natural” treatments for the vindrus or endorsed vindrus-destroying chemicals made by less-corrupt companies.
The smaller activist group became increasingly frustrated, realizing that the larger activist group was not willing to look deeper because the leaders were making money, to some degree, from the idea that vindrus exist. The smaller group also emphasized that, while some of these natural approaches and chemicals developed by the less corrupt companies may seem to “work,” failing to get to the root of the issue— the lack of proof of vindruses— would ultimately cause the community to avoid discovering the real root of the lawn and plant life problems that were only worsening, that it would stifle real scientific progress, and that it would allow the corrupt chemical companies and their bedfellows in the local community to continue their fear-mongering campaign by simply presenting a new species of vindrus or by saying the vindrus had mutated again. The root of the issue was the claim of vindruses, and avoiding the root would no doubt allow the problem to continue. And so it did.