On looking away from the palantír

And then, a little optimism about people asking the fundamental questions

This is a short two part post. Part one: ArchibaldHeath1 and I wrote “get your friends off the holodeck” a while back. Yesterday he alerted me to a related and perhaps even better metaphor and I thought, this is too valuable not to put it also in your head.

ArchibaldHeath1 wrote that,

…this is the mirror image of our holodeck metaphor. Maybe more powerful because, while the user programs the holodeck, one touches other minds when looking through the palantír, and some have the cunning of Sauron.

And from the good professor Cooper.

A good metaphor.

Some optimism about the fundamental questions

Because I am feeling optimistic today, I also wanted share the fact that I am seeing more people ask the “but wait a a minute, what is this all for?” questions… and that’s great. It is probably a sign that things have gotten so broken that people can’t just coast along unthinking anymore, but it is at least a good thing that people are asking the questions.

Example number one I may have mentioned before: Back when requiring women to register for the draft was under discussion, I remember reading comments, “but wait a minute, I thought the point of the military was to protect women and children?”. That is a great question, why do we have a military? Is it to protect women and children, in which case forcing women to serve is an utterly irrational act? If not that, is it to protect our freedoms, perhaps? (If that’s the case and we become a medical tyranny, what does that say about the value of the military now?) Are we just protecting the raw land? Are we trying to spread freedom elsewhere (that didn’t… that didn’t really work in Afghanistan)? Is it really a national jobs and training program now? Why do we have a military?

Example number two: The UK is considering implementing a bunch of restrictions in response to another COVID surge (that’s “the highly vaccinated UK”, by the way), including masking and even work from home and vaccine passports, and it has many people saying “but what is this all for, now?”. Just one example of that from yesterday:

This is good. So (in the UK) we have the NHS to keep people healthy so they can go about their lives, but now we’re going to forbid people going about their lives so the NHS can keep functioning to keep people healthy so they can… wait a minute. That starts to not make sense. And that’s the sort of thing you might accept, dare I say, if it was just “two weeks to flatten the curve” for a new disease, OK we get that. But 1.5 years later, when you’ve vaccinated most of your people and nearly all the at-risk population and done everything you’re supposed to do so we don’t have to do this again, and then to hear1 “and we should do this again now and maybe even some new stuff”, has people reasonably asking “but wait a minute, what is this all for?”

If the health service forbids anyone from seeing mom in the hospital and, let's say it actually "works" and mom lives an extra two months because of it, but alone... was that a success of the health service then? Or is that actually a failure of the health service? You have to ask those questions (and you should speak to those questions Church). More people are asking them, now, and that's good, because it's becoming too obvious that the only thing some others seem to be able to propose is pandemic-control-forever. It is the golden calf of disease control, it really is. Is that what we're supposed to be worshiping? Is that supposed to be at the center of our lives constantly2? Should all else be sacrificed if it might extend a life somewhere?


And in the UK, it seems to be NHS leaders who are promoting the new restrictions. Worth saying again that doctors and public health people should not run a society. Even if they are actually well meaning and well intentioned and not power drunk, they are still liable to be obsessing about physical health to the exception of all else since that is sort of their job, and they should not be permitted to force everyone else to make that their obsession too.