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Anthony Fauci’s dangerous narcissism Science can't be above questioning

He is a scientist, but he is not 'the science'. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

He is a scientist, but he is not 'the science'. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


December 3, 2021   5 mins

For nearly two years now, Anthony Fauci has been an object of fascination, adoration, even worship in an America both frightened and polarised by the coronavirus. From the beginning, the Left identified him as the public health expert to trust: the one member of Donald Trump’s Covid response team who was willing to contradict him in public, our own personal mole in the White House, a voice for science and sanity in the face of the president’s bluster and incompetence.

He was the one who undermined Trump’s “just the flu” narrative; he was the one who told us that the virus wasn’t going to disappear in the spring. When Trump was touting the unproven benefits of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid, Fauci stepped in with a reality check — and yet always, somehow, stayed just enough in the President’s good graces to keep his job.

And so, after last year’s election, we greeted Fauci as a hero who’d emerged safely, against all odds, from behind enemy lines. Journalists sat with him for breathless interviews, asking how he “survived” his time as Trump’s advisor. Time magazine wrote, jubilantly: “Anthony Fauci Is Finally Getting to Do His Job”. The New Yorker declared him “America’s Doctor”.

The fact that he was still standing, preaching the gospel of science while Donald Trump slunk away with his tail between his legs, took on its own significance. Fauci was more than the sum of his parts; he was a figurehead. And while he did decry the tragic and unnecessary politicisation of the Covid pandemic from his new perch as Biden’s Chief Medical Advisor, it was a winking sort of neutrality: when the man wishes out loud that “we had a country where people realized the importance of a communal effort,” it’s not like we don’t know which people he’s talking about.

Given that half the nation wants to canonise him as the Patron Saint of Public Health, it was probably inevitable that Fauci would be ultimately unable to resist buying into his own hype — but it was still remarkable to witness. In a recent interview with Face the Nation, Fauci explained why the criticism he’s weathered from politicians like Senator Ted Cruz, who accused him of lying under oath about what kind of viral research the NIH was funding, is not just distasteful but dangerous.

“They’re really criticizing science because I represent science,” he said. “That’s dangerous. To me, that’s more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me. I’m not going to be around here forever, but science is going to be here forever.”

For some, this statement was nothing more or less than a terrifying profession of absolute power: La science, c’est moi. But let’s be charitable and imagine that what Fauci was trying to say — inelegantly — is not that he believes himself to be synonymous with science, but that other people treat him as such, attacking him as a proxy for the ideas they find offensive.

The thing is, that’s not really any better. These comments reveal a monumental hubris no matter how you slice it, a conviction that no criticism — whether it’s of him or his ideas — could ever be valid. If he’s not accusing his detractors of heresy for questioning capital-S Science, he’s still accusing them of anti-science bigotry and bad faith — and excusing himself from ever considering the possibility that at least a few of them might have a point.

For those old enough to remember it, this rhetorical style was last used to great effect in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when our leaders waved away any notion of examining how the United States might have come to be seen as an avatar for imperialism, oppression, and Western decadence by declaring that the terrorists simply “hate us for our freedoms.” Fauci invokes the same immunity from self-reflection when he declares of criticism that “anybody who’s looking at this carefully realizes that there’s a distinct anti-science flavor to this.”

Never mind the documented inconsistencies in Fauci’s statements on masking, vaccine mandates, or boosters; never mind his lobbying for continued school closures until Biden’s stimulus bill had passed, which would have negative implications for hundreds of thousands of children; never mind the frustrating and opaque debate surrounding gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab. The real question is: why do you hate science?!

It’s not hard to see the appeal of framing one’s critics as motivated by bigotry, which not only shuts down discussion completely but also has a way of rallying defenders to the cause. Suddenly, science is not about ideas but identity, an ideology with a tribe all its own. It’s a neat trick, this sleight-of-hand. And it is infectious.

The wheels of this social change were already turning before the pandemic. It was mid-2019 when I first encountered one of those rainbow-coloured “in this house we believe” signs, hung on the wall of a local yoga studio like a bible sampler for the Lululemon class. The “beliefs” in question are liberal platitudes, just this side of a thought-terminating clichĂ©:

BLACK LIVES MATTER

WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS

NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL

SCIENCE IS REAL

LOVE IS LOVE

KINDNESS IS EVERYTHING

At first, these signs were just a form of political expression, a way for members of the educated liberal class to recognise other members of their tribe. But the isolation and uncertainty of Covid has kicked this mindset into another gear. SCIENCE IS REAL isn’t a statement expressing the literal existence of science; it’s yard-sign catechism, the shriek of a true believer.

And in this world, science isn’t something we do, a method of systematic structure and study that separates fiction from fact and hypothesis from conclusion; it’s something you believe in, like Santa Claus or alien abduction or the ability of your struggling but spirited football team to come through against all odds and win the championship. Secular people have put their faith in science the way the devout put their faith in a God — right down to anointing the most pious among us as institutional figureheads.

But the result is not just oddly religious, but perverse. Unlike actual science, which is one of the most vital truth-seeking mechanisms we have, this “science” is utterly incurious, hostile to questions, incapable of admitting fault. And while this would be an alarming development at any time, it’s especially bad amid a global catastrophe in which it’s never been more important to stay humble and ask questions, even if they’re politically inconvenient, even if they make powerful people bristle at your insubordination.

We can try to blame Anthony Fauci for this: for accepting the accolades, for licensing his bobblehead likeness, for letting us call the vaccine the “Fauci ouchie,” for buying wholesale into the myth of his own infallibility. But while Fauci may be at fault for getting a bit too high on his own supply, he didn’t appoint himself to this position; we did, when we decided to make him the Science Daddy without whose say-so we can never live normal lives again.

For two years, a frightened populace has looked to Fauci for the answers to impossible questions, for a sense of control amid the uncertainty, for assurance that we’re on the right side of history — even though nobody can tell us exactly what went wrong. We made science a civic religion, and we told Fauci he was the Pope. Unfortunately, he believed us.


Kat Rosenfield is an UnHerd columnist and co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. Her latest novel is You Must Remember This.

katrosenfield

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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Thanks for a fine article. Fauci should be relentlessly pushed to explain his and the US’s involvement in virology research at the Wuhan labs.
Read Fauci’s biography on Wikipedia. He has been director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for almost forty years. His boss, Francis Collins, has headed the parent organization, the National Institutes of Health, for 12 years and before that he ran the US government agency responsible for the Human Genome Project for about 15 years. These agencies were, in effect, the fiefdoms of two men. If and when the Republicans regain the presidency one of their first legislative priorities should be to ensure no person can run a federal agency for more than five years.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Francis Collins resigned as Director of NIH 2 months ago.

Agency heads are political Appointees (Tony Fauci was appointed as Director of NIAID by Reagan). They are required to tender their resignations upon a Presidential election, unless specifically asked to stay on. Both of the above have been asked by both Republican and Democratic Presidents to stay on. Other Agency heads are not so lucky: Director of NIST, for example is much more of a political football.

Your last sentence is just nonsense on a number of levels, vis-a-vis the American political system.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

The appointment system has to change. No individual should lead a federal agency for decades either through political favor or default.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A lot of things have to change: the lobbying system; the campaign finance system; serving as a Supreme Court Judge in perpetuity; the politicized gerrymandering of electoral districts. I would put the service of a Federal Agency head *who has to be re-appointed by the incoming President every time* below those egregious matters.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

This is complete and utter tosh. Fauci and many other agencies are all part of the Deep State–a real thing. They need to go.
The article references Trump’s supposed incompetence, but his perhaps inaptly titled OPERATION WARP SPEED was absolutely the key to developing, commercializing and releasing the vaccines to the public.
Trump handed Sleepy Joe a huge head start and Biden blew it completely.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I completely agree with you and respectfully disagree with the doctor. The American system at every level is broken, this is just a great example of one person, usually below the radar (but who absolutely loves, loves, loves the cameras) has held far too much power for far too long. Your suggestion is a reasonable start.
Perhaps Fauci could use his free time to study “gain of function” research; he doesn’t seem to have a good definition of it and doesn’t seem to know why he funded it (Yes, he did!) in China!

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You make excellent points, though I don’t think the article is so great.
Fauci is science!
Jacinda Ardern is truth! (I only recently learned that JA said something like: “Your government is the only source of truth; look to us, don’t believe anything else.”)
JA was ostensibly speaking to Kiwis (wait, is that racist? Do Kiwis include Maori?), but you get the idea.
These are dangerous and wrong concept. And both Fauci and JA are vile, evil people who must be stopped.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I cannot understand how anyone could stay 40 year as an agency’s head
..IT makes me think of Edgar Hoover and this is not a happy thought.
Plus, anyone that age is managing this pandemic with the bias that come with old age

.Fauci admitted in an interview last year leaving his Mail rest on a table for 2 days and then put on gloves to open it.
This guy is fit for a senior home
..he is totally Gaga.

Richard Doehring
Richard Doehring
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

JA’s words verbatim:šWe will continue to be your single source of Truth.š

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Scary almost beyond words. Is she still on the BBC’s website as “NZ’s beloved Jacinda….” or some such tosh? I never saw it myself.
Hard to believe for a fair and balanced news source like The BBC.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I was waiting for this piece to get to the point where there should be acknowledgement that both sides of the debate believe in science and that there is no ‘one science’. It kind of got there in the third last paragraph, but I believe more should have been made of this.
Oh…. and there are many millions of people who never saw Fauci as anything other than he is. Overpaid, hypocritical, flip flopping, dripping hubris and condescension, economical with the truth and obstructive.

Shawn Smith
Shawn Smith
2 years ago

Yep, point well taken.

Philip LeBoit
Philip LeBoit
2 years ago
Reply to  Shawn Smith

Can you explain your reasoning for “overpaid”?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Philip LeBoit

Pity there is no ‘laugh’ button.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Philip LeBoit

He makes more money than the president of the US. Overpaid.

Mark Sambells
Mark Sambells
2 years ago

Unbelievably poor journalism. E.g. “opaque debate surrounding gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab”. Doesn’t the evidence, that is available right now, show that Fauci has perjured himself on this issue? There is no debate about this any more, except over the question why he is not being prosecuted for the same…

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Sambells

It is puzzling as to why, with such damning evidence, Sen. Rand Paul hasn’t pressed for charges to be made. What is preventing him from doing so. Even if, at this stage, it was just for purjory, and the truly horrific criminal charges can come later.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Good questions.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I think he has. I believe he made a criminal referral to the Justice Department. I wouldn’t hold my breath, Attorney General Merrick Garland is personally investigating Hunter Biden and the Biden family corruption, so this may take some time.
The US Justice Department is also devoting huge resources to terrorism investigations. Well, I mean parents who object to racial indoctrination….they’re the real terrorists!

Jim W
Jim W
2 years ago

Thanks for this fine piece. Have you peeked at RFK jr’s new book yet? I just read the Introduction at https://www.unz.com/article/introduction-to-the-real-anthony-fauci/ and was rather impressed. It might go a bit beyond dangerous narcissism. You may have already seen this sharp bit of mockery:comment image

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim W

Excellent

Philip L
Philip L
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim W

Some are eager for upticks, some for downticks.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago
Reply to  Philip L

Hey my uptick had to do with the article. I am really not excited about the possibility of memes being posted all over UnHerd.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago

Excellent piece and spot-on analysis. Of course Louis XIV didn’t fare so badly when he said “L’etat ces mois” although his successor Louis XVI ended up on the chopping block. No doubt Fauci believes in “The Devine Right of Kings” but we know how that ended for Charles I.
What worries me most about Fauci is that he not only believes his pronouncements but that he continues to double down on stupid. The latest policies emanating from him and the White House regarding COVID testing for US citizens coming in on International Flights together with a week of quarantine upon their return, travel bans from countries in the African South, and even requirements for proof of vaccination on crossing state lines, as well as a rush to boost everybody with zero evidence of utility and no account of risks, is just extraordinary. And that’s for a man who not only decried the original Trump travel ban from China when almost nothing was known but who refused to advocate for quarantines for doctors and nurses coming back from treating Ebola patients in the African outback, a disease that is many many orders of magnitude more frightening and lethal than COVID-19.
Yet now Fauci has succeeded in implementing demented policies because of the so-called new Omicron variant despite the fact that, in the experience of South Africa, Omicron only causes mild muscle aches and fatigue for 2 days. Surely we should be pleased about the advent of the Omicron variant as this variant may indeed be the solution to the current pandemic: replace delta and the more lethal variants by a very mild variant that produces nothing more than a nasty common cold.
But quite clearly, Fauci, the democrats and Biden (who barely knows what time of day it is or where he is or what he’s reading from his teleprompter) want to impose a medical authoritarian state (or should I say a medical theocracy) upon us. This will lead to a medical dystopia and will not end well. Eventually (and hopefully) the backlash will be absolutely massive. When Fauci and Biden have lost both Kat Rosenfeld and Paul Kingsnorth one really has to wonder.

Last edited 2 years ago by Johann Strauss
Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

You are right but they are not alone 

.have a look at Germany. Here is a country that’s going totally topsy turvy wallowing in anxiety.
Good that Merkel is gone, she would have locked the entire country if the systùme wasn’t federal.
As long as crazy scientists like Fauci in the US or Drosten in Germany will have a voice, no politician will have the corones to say
.that’s enough.
These guys really get under my skin, scare the wit out of people and making it therefore impossible for politicians to make a decision that does not fuel these fears

and on on the merry go around.
How many variants is it going to take to stop panicking each time one of them shows up ?
Again
..look at the swedes
..according to Tegnell

no changes in sight 
..albeit
.minor ones but nothing like their norwegian neighbours who, again, are running like headless chickens.

James Watson
James Watson
2 years ago

Sorry, but excusing Fauci because he bought in to some sort of undefined need for someone to canonize doesn’t fly. The man is evil incarnate. I will on this platform repeat my previous offer – he can have my two beagles, the only catch is he has to pick them up in person

David Simpson
David Simpson
2 years ago
Reply to  James Watson

Never mind beagles. He’s directly responsible for killing 85 orphans in the USA under his experimental AIDS treatment testing programme. The orphans had no guardians and were unable to refuse the treatments. If they did they were strapped to their beds and given the drugs intravenously. Fauci was protected by GW Bush and the programme was transferred to Nigeria where many more mothers and children with AIDS died while receiving the “treatment”. See Robert Kennedy’s interview with James Corbett for this and more – https://www.corbettreport.com/fauci/

Last edited 2 years ago by David Simpson
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

He must go straight to hell.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Thanks for the view over the pond. I don’t think we’ve canonised anyone over here but the same failed ‘prophets’ do keep giving us sermons. It is fascinating to watch secular humanism creating its own religion, creed and denominations! Even atheistic communism couldn’t destroy the human religious instinct.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Yes, the article made me thankful that the British seem less inclined to worship their celebrities. I’ve always distrusted Fauci; ‘the’ science has taken a battering during Covid, and is equally suspect in relation to ‘the climate emergency’. No wonder conspiracy theories abound, we have no confidence that anyone is playing with a straight bat.

sunekbas
sunekbas
2 years ago

Cannot help but recall the propaganda lines from the timeless 1984:
“War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength…”

James Stangl
James Stangl
2 years ago

Saw a young person back in October wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with “FAUCI.”

As an MD, and one who takes scientific method and the notion that science is purely a process of inquiry very seriously, I am disgusted by the ongoing deification of “THE SCIENCE” and canonizing of Anthony Fauci by the MSM and a lot of my countrymen. Leaving aside the real questions around his and NIAID’s funding of gain-of-function in the Wuhan lab, the notion that one cannot question St. Anthony and The Science is profoundly
unscientific. Particularly in biology and medicine, which are littered with disproven dogmas (spontaneous generation and humoral theory, anyone?).

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  James Stangl

You are so spot on. Well said.

David Yetter
David Yetter
2 years ago
Reply to  James Stangl

I think we should all adopt the rhetorical device I first saw used by Glenn Greenwald in this context of referring to The Scienceℱ. (Though I had used the same device myself, drawn from a fit of whimsy, writing about Ibrahim X. Kendi’s Antiracismℱ in I forget which forum.)

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago

I will stick with Kary Mullis’s view of Fauci – he doesn’t know anything about anything.

Laura Cattell
Laura Cattell
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

And to what extent is your knowledge base? I would bet you and Kary Mullis – whoever she/he is — know nothing about viruses, vaccines or epidemiology. Stick to what you know which is clearly not very much.

jim peden
jim peden
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

Kary Mullis is the man who invented the PCR process – of which you may have heard – and for which he received a Nobel Prize in 1993. I suspect he may have known something about biochemistry. May I respectfully advise you to read a little before rushing into print – you may lose fewer bets that way.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

Ignorance is bliss isn’t it. Given that PCR is at the centre of all the SARS-CoV2 tests, you might have bothered to find out who actually invented PCR.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

 “I would bet you and Kary Mullis – whoever she/he is — know nothing about viruses, vaccines or epidemiology.”
Oops, your ignorance is showing.

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
2 years ago

Interesting article with an unconvincing conclusion. I do not buy into the notion that “we” appointed Fauci to this exalted position. I know I am not part of his “we”. Those who are can feel free to raise their hands.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

“And so, after last year’s election, we greeted Fauci as a hero who’d emerged safely, against all odds, from behind enemy lines.”

‘ We’?

He and his ilk destroyed the world – we just do not know it yet, but these lockdowns coupled with the insane money printing, QE and Zero interest….

Ever watch economic youtubes? They are fun, and vital for understanding, and this one gives the debt in context to past debt cycles…. The BUFFETT INDICATOR, the indication of how out of whack stock values are…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKzGtI6Rljc ‘Wealthion’ is always a good show, some guests a bit OTT, but the friendly, calm, and intelligent episodes are great – but this will put the covid spending in context – Fauci has been a super enabler, telling everyone that the response is worth it, Because the ‘Science’…..

Try watching one on Pensions if this one does not scare you enough…

Harry Child
Harry Child
2 years ago

Science must be able to face stringent examination both to its content and the areas it gets into e.g the Wuhan Lab experiments.
An excellent starter book is Science Fictions by Stuart Ritchie which exposes ‘Fraud, Bias, Negligence and Hype in Science’.

Shawn Smith
Shawn Smith
2 years ago

This article, as nicely done as it is, still as all the rest, is under girded by the belief that there is something called science that can be extracted or abstracted from the people doing it… as if there is the “pure objective” form and then the policy/human-foible driven form. This is demonstrably simply not the case, and it starts with the very questions we ask and extends through the methods and tools we use, arriving at theory-laden conclusions that are far more shaped by values than most can admit (values very broadly speaking, not just behavioraly defined). One does not need to throw out objective otherness and a narrowing (usually) distance of model to modeled, but still the over reaching myth of absolute overlap, achieved only by some scientific method (not even consistent amongst current scientists) has to be broken to move humanity forward, rather than something other than humanity.

Lena Bloch
Lena Bloch
2 years ago

It was not Trump who said that the covid is same as flu. It was Fauci and the Democratic Party media. “Not something that American citizens should be worried about” – January 21, 2020: https://twitter.com/gregkellyusa/status/1246060637748330496
February 29, 2020 Fauci said: “there is no need to change anything you are doing on a day-to-day basis, right now the risk is still low, but that can change”. He deliberately did nothing until it was too late and the risk was too high.
https://youtu.be/rh6ByuObVzc
Media:
“Get a Grippe, America: The flu is a much bigger threat than coronavirus, for now”: Washington Post February 1, 2020: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/time-for-a-reality-check-america-the-flu-is-a-much-bigger-threat-than-coronavirus-for-now/2020/01/31/46a15166-4444-11ea-b5fc-eefa848cde99_story.html
The situation was deliberately downplayed until it was too late. If it were contained in January and February, it would be over very soon. But these people did not need it to be over. They needed the chaos, deaths and panic. Fear. They needed all that to offer a “vaccine” as the only salvation, actually a DARPA Pentagon technology that was invented in 2014.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago

What ever the 9/11 terrorists reasons for attacking, they were wrong.
Ivermectin and hydroxy could have saved almost all of the people that died from COVID-19. Thank you, the so called educated elites of the West

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

As a scientist myself, this statement by you is important: “And in this world, science isn’t something we do, a method of systematic structure and study that separates fiction from fact and hypothesis from conclusion; it’s something you believe in, like Santa Claus or alien abduction”
We have repeatedly been told by politicians that they are ‘following the science‘ as if science could give us clear-cut answers with a new virus, probabilities, percentages, estimates, assumptions, lack of data etc.
Science is the process by which we can arrive at something which is as reliable as is possible, is constantly under review etc.
Sometimes we can act as though the scientists are ‘correct’, but only in physical systems where we can control variables etc. In this case, science can offer ‘facts’.
Unfortunately our science education curriculum does not introduce most students to ‘doing science under uncertainty’; of the methods and limitations of control-trials; of the need for large data-sets, of probability, of error-bars etc. So the chances that the average journalist or politician would know how to proceed in uncertainty are slim.
Given that situation, no wonder, under uncertainty, most politicians and journalists have hidden behind the ‘follow the science‘ banner.
Don’t blame the scientists.

George Knight
George Knight
2 years ago

Is not Fauci the devil in disguise?

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
2 years ago

Fauci is not a narcissist. Fauci is a corrupt scumbag with his fingers all over the gain of function research who sold the bodies of Americans and their children to Pfizer and Moderna, and he is virtually untouchable with all the money of big pharma behind him.

Will Cummings
Will Cummings
2 years ago

Perhaps it is true that the good Doctor Fauci does indeed represent science. If so, then he represents the meaningless purpose of science when it is divorced from philosophy. He represents science that has become an obsession with all that is measurable to the exclusion of all that is meaningful. He represents a misplaced and perverse science which would prolong life at the risk of destroying that which makes life worth living.

Last edited 2 years ago by Will Cummings
Julie Kemp
Julie Kemp
2 years ago

Good piece! Thank you. To me that leader photo shows some one with ‘dead eyes’; like a shark.

David Yetter
David Yetter
2 years ago

I have been trying to work out a similar yard sign for a counter-narrative (the ones in my town also have the line “Water is Life”). The best I have so far is:
Black Lives Matter
Because All Lives Matter
Even Unborn Lives
Nations May Regulate Immigration
Science Requires Skepticism
Eros Is Not Agape
Water Is A Commodity
Kindness in Everything
Give them credit for the two sentiments which, at least read at face value, are sound. Suggestions for improvements are welcomed.

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Thomas Bartlett
2 years ago

This article is explicitly labeled an “Opinion” piece and is written by the host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. That classification tells us, and the author’s other project evidently reaffirms, that the author knows little if anything about science, which is all about finding order from chaos.
However, for her present rhetorical purpose (after all, a girl has to make a living, right?), she claims that her professedly “charitable” interpretation of Fauci’s “representative” comment is just as damning as the uncharitable one that has circulated so widely. Not so, at all: the actual difference is real and large, as I have previously stated in a Facebook post. Fauci might have said “proxy” instead of “representative,” meaning that, to some people seeking a scapegoat for their understandable discontent after many frustrating months of the inevitable fears and uncertainty brought by a plague, he has been targeted. Masses of people ignorant of even the most basic precepts and processes of scientific activity and addicted to incessant turnover of public celebrities have now tired of him. But plagues don’t go away just because the public gets tired of them. Black Death killed 1/3 of Europe’s population in 14th century; it broke out in dirty, overcrowded London in the 1660s when most of the city’s late medieval wooden structures burned down, and was not finally defeated until the rise of modern immunological science in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In fact, we were very fortunate that Fauci was there when the storm hit in 2020 and when the boss didn’t want to hear anything about it. Fauci is a “narcissist” but Trump is not? Please.
People who expect that science should be Science — and there are many such people — want the easily repeated bumper sticker dictates of a Divine Truth in place of the imperfect, conditional, empirically investigated conclusions, inevitably subject to revision in the light of new knowledge, that are provided by scientific process, but cannot be gained intuitively. That’s hard to keep focused on for people taught, as we all are, to live by the quick fix.
Yes, it appears possible that US agencies, or their so-called “non-governmental,” legally “private” proxies were more or less surreptitiously funding research that is often called “gain of function.” And evidently they did this in cooperation with one or more properly trained Chinese virologists who had experience in USA research labs and also worked in Wuhan. If this outrages you, please strain your memory to think back only a few years to the time when the consensus view of PRC was much more optimistic than it has become. (And it’s a very good thing that the earlier, over-optimistic consensus has been reversed,) Given that SARS and other serious infective diseases originated in China and wreaked havoc there before spreading abroad, US cooperation was rightly judged a well considered policy. Before 2016 USG had people attached to the Embassy in Beijing who kept an eye on public health issues in China. Shortly after coming to office, Trump removed those people in a poorly considered move to “save costs.”
The purpose of “gain of function” research, which was banned in USA until recently, is to find treatments that will defeat infections before they can become lethal epidemics. The danger of such research is lab leak, and there is very good evidence that the Wuhan lab was not well-enough equipped to isolate the very lethal covid virus that we know it was working on, evidently with some degree of US input. That is, PRC government was not funding the lab well enough, because their administrators simply didn’t understand the danger. One Chinese researcher told American observers about this and it was reported back to DC, but nothing was done.

David Zersen
David Zersen
2 years ago

Cleverly written, but hyperbolic. Educated people are not supportive of Fauci just because he’s the science daddy. Generally, scientists and medical experts all support him. There are people, mostly the under-educated and some physicians who appreciate homeopathy, who question whether the directions/remedies encouraged by reputable scientists are correct. And anyone can rightly question whether wearing masks in every setting is helpful. Only a minority (like my cousin who just announced that he has hydroxycloroquine in his medicine cabinet) think that Fauci has been made an unnecessary idol. If there are no reputable voices, people inevitably fashion a golden calf. For many of us, Fauci and the scientific community as a whole are a clear voice from the mountaintop.

Liz DeLiso
Liz DeLiso
2 years ago

Never mind the documented inconsistencies in Fauci’s statements on masking, vaccine mandates, or boosters; ” As I remember, Fauci never claimed to be infallible on these issues. In the early months of the pandemic he was constantly reminding those who would listen that the science wasn’t in yet, that there were far more unknowns than knowns about the virus, and that messaging would never be consistent because we, he, just did not have enough information. I’m no scientist, but I believe this is what honest scientists do: adapt their hypotheses to the evidence as it comes in. Fauci may have some personal issues, but it’s unfair and polemical to blame him for the way that he has been treated.
““They’re really criticizing science because I represent science,” he said. “That’s dangerous. To me, that’s more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me. I’m not going to be around here forever, but science is going to be here forever.”” I don’t know how many Unherd readers, writers and commentators are in the USA, but I am. I remember the context in which Fauci said this, and I think he was absolutely justified. He did ‘represent science’ in the face of unbelievable political bulls**t from his employers. Anti-science is a real thing, and has been weaponised to death, literally.
The origins of the virus and the involvement of the NIH in the Wuhan lab is a separate issue and should be thoroughly investigated. China will not cooperate however, so it won’t be.

Laura Cattell
Laura Cattell
2 years ago
Reply to  Liz DeLiso

This is far too much of a sensible viewpoint for these commenters. Sadly, I can’t be as tolerant. You should be upvoted 100 times.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

Laura, sadly you’ve lost your reputation over the Kary Mullis point. Opinion is one thing, gratuitous comments are another.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Liz DeLiso

You have seen far different Fauci news to me. Once ‘his science’ was in, he doubled down and made an even greater plonker of himself. Pity for him records show him flip flopping – and the emails… just embarrassing.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  Liz DeLiso

How refreshing – a bit of balanced common sense.
Also upvoted 100 times.

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago
Reply to  Liz DeLiso

China will not cooperate? That’s not necessary since most of the answers need to come from the NIH and other interested parties in the US. The thorough investigation will probably never happen since it might open a Pandora’s box.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Liz DeLiso

Actually I would argue that Fauci is the very personification of anti-science. And I also live and work in the US, and I suspect in a lot closer proximity to Fauci than you do.

Laura Cattell
Laura Cattell
2 years ago

All the usual ridiculousness from the swivel-eyed tin foil hat wearers. As Dr Fauci said the other day to Ted Cruz; “I’ll carry on saving lives and you can continue lying”. Sums it up perfectly.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

Thanks for that…. laugh out loud!

Laura Cattell
Laura Cattell
2 years ago

Do you dispute that?

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

So far nothing Fauci has done has saved a single life. If anything he has caused unnecessary suffering in the young, and unnecessary death in the elderly by not concentrating on focussed protection, especially in nursing homes. So deify Fauci all you like, but he has proven to be completely incompetent in terms of overall management of the pandemic.

Laura Cattell
Laura Cattell
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

‘Focused’ only has one ‘s’.

James Stangl
James Stangl
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

That tone perfectly conveys your obeisance to St. Anthony of the Covid.