Pseudo-profound bullshit

Of the many techniques used to minimize the pandemic and endanger those try to limit its harms, I’ve not yet discussed pseudo-profound bullshit. This term was coined several years ago by researchers who defined it as,

Seemingly impressive assertions that are presented as true and meaningful but are actually vacuous.

Such statements consist of ‘…buzzwords randomly organized into statements with syntactic structure but no discernible meaning (e.g., “Wholeness quiets infinite phenomena”)’. According to their study:

Those more receptive to bullshit are less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.

Charlatans who employ pseudo-profound bullshit don’t want anyone to think about what they say. They don’t mean to be taken literally. Rather, their empty words are a form of manipulative poetry, used to lull people into a thoughtless trance, trigger emotions, and convince people they’ve been given unique access to some secret knowledge. Pseudo-profound bullshit is also designed to inspire awe in the pseudo-profound bullshitter, who is desperate to be perceived as more enlightened than everyone else.

“Fauci pushed lock downs to cover up a lab leak for which he was personally responsible.”

With this in mind, let’s meet Mr. Jeffrey Tucker, who may be familiar to readers of SBM as the founder of the Brownstone Institute, the “spiritual child” of the pro-virus Great Barrington Declaration. The Brownstone Institute has evolved into one of the pandemic’s chief spreaders of anti-vaccine conspiracies. It features doctors who are divorced from patient care, and aims to ensure that doctors who have real-world responsibilities never run out of patients. Mr. Tucker, whose past ties to White supremacist organizations made the news recently, reminded me of pseudo-profound bullshit when I read this Tweet.

What to make of this? It’s absurd at every level, and all it takes is two functioning neurons to realize this. Even if one accepts that Dr. Fauci was “personally responsible” for a lab leak and pushed for lockdowns to cover his error, many questions remain.

  • Why did Dr. Fauci issue a dire, and correct warning in March 2020 that “things will get worse”? Wouldn’t the “there’s nothing to see here” approach taken Drs. Jay Bhattacharya and John Ioannidis be the natural response for someone trying to cover a grievous lab leak?
  • Did the entire world lockdown just to protect Dr. Fauci?
  • Why were lockdowns so lax, outside of China?
  • Why did they last only a few weeks or months?
  • Why did they not return when discussions of the lab leak gained widespread media attention in 2021?
  • Why can’t the all-powerful Dr. Fauci take down a mere Tweet that completely exposes his sinister deeds?
  • Most importantly, how exactly were lockdowns supposed to “cover-up” Dr. Fauci’s actions? It’s not 1850 where people need to meet in the town square to exchange ideas. The internet has been unsurprisingly abuzz with conspiracies this pandemic, and telling people to stay home doesn’t exactly seem like the best strategy to squelch such ideas.

I suppose a more generous reading of Mr. Tucker’s Tweet is that Dr. Fauci pushed lockdowns hoping to stop the virus, thus covering up his error. This interpretation implies that either Dr. Fauci controlled lockdowns across the entire world, or he believed he could “cover-up” his error by having the USA alone lockdown, as if no one would notice the virus ravaging the rest of the world. Again, two functioning neurons is all it takes to realize how ludicrous this all is. However, this generous reading also raises an obvious question. The accusation seems to be that Dr. Fauci knew he accidently released a deadly virus on the world and didn’t run away from his error. Isn’t that a good thing? If a future scientist accidentally unleashes a deadly virus, they’d better do everything they can to stop it before over 15 million people die.

The sad truth is this – some people are so stunted they can’t imagine Dr. Fauci pushed for lockdowns because he knew forklifts were needed to dump bodies into giant trucks and he thought lockdowns would save lives.

The more I read Mr. Tucker’s Tweet, the more questions I had, and the more my head started to spin. And then it hit me, this is no accident. Mr. Tucker is spewing pseudo-profound bullshit. His words are “seemingly impressive assertions that are presented as true and meaningful but are actually vacuous”. Obviously, it’s possible to grasp the germ of a point Mr. Tucker is making, Fauci = Bad. However, a moment’s thought exposes his Tweet as blathering balderdash, and like any pseudo-profound bullshitter, Mr. Tucker doesn’t want anyone to think. Logic and reason are his enemies. I was not the only person to notice this.

It’s quite likely Mr. Tucker was caught off guard by this question, “How did (or would) lock downs cover up a lab leak?”. Like all pseudo-profound bullshitters, he did not intend for anyone to actually take him seriously. I doubt he takes himself seriously. Though he routinely claims to have uncovered plots carried out by people of unfathomable evil and competence, he never seems to fear his own safety after revealing their nefarious deeds or wonder why they can’t remove a simple tweet exploding their plot.

Instead, Mr. Tucker is engaged in vengeful performance art, designed to bypass rationality and proceed directly to raw emotions. As with most of the garbled gobbledygook published by the Brownstone Institute, he aims to frighten and infuriate people, while at the same time lulling them into that pseudo-profound bullshit trance where their senses are dulled and they can be fooled into thinking they are receiving deep, forbidden knowledge. Mr. Tucker even embraced the conspiracy that doctors killed patients through excessive intubations. That a meta-analysis of 12 studies found “The synthesized evidence of almost 9,000 patients suggests that timing of intubation may have no effect on mortality and morbidity of critically ill patients with COVID-19” is irrelevant.

Even though it’s utter hogwash, Mr. Tucker is offering his audience something very valuable; one-stop-shopping for all their pandemic scapegoating needs. He desperately wants people to think of themselves as victims and Dr. Fauci and frontline doctors as the instrument of their suffering. The fact that he makes no sense and spouts nonsense in direct contradiction to the evidence, isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Deluging people with illogical incoherence is a purposeful strategy, an effective marketing technique practiced by propagandists around the world. If Mr. Tucker wants to prove me wrong, he can expand on his Tweet and answer the questions I posed with a well-reasoned, factually accurate article. There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.

Like many pseudo-profound bullshitters, Mr. Tucker even opens with a conversion story. “I used to feel enough clarity on issues to know for sure that crazy was not correct” he says. Mr. Tucker feels he’s more enlightened than he was in the past and certainly more enlightened than the blind sheep who have yet to see the truth about Dr. Fauci. Pseudo-profound bullshitters always believe they’ve figured out something secret and important that has eluded everyone else, and they always feel compelled share their seismic self-regard with as many strangers as possible. These people really care about their reputation, and it’s no surprise Mr. Tucker has made a lot of YouTube videos.

You can spot this sort of pseudo-profound bullshit everywhere if you keep an eye out for it. The formula is pretty basic. It’s a simple matter of stringing together spooky pandemic buzzwords in grammatically correct sentences. Pfizer needs vaccine mandates because catastrophic Fauci-lockdowns destroyed freedom. I came up that that in an instant.

However, unlike claims that “we all vibrate with the harmonic resonance of the infinite universe”, Mr. Tucker’s sort of pseudo-profound bullshit is not benign babble. Many people think they know much more about this virus than the doctors and scientists who’ve battled it daily for over two years. Many of these people died because they didn’t get vaccinated. Meanwhile, Dr. Fauci and his children have needed security details because of death threats, and burnt-out healthcare workers want to leave medicine. I previously described the irony of competent professionals quitting not despite “Objectivists” like Mr. Tucker, but precisely because of their misinformation and unsubtle calls for violence. Mr. Tucker, of course, is completely sheltered from the consequences of his words. Beyond clicks, likes, and shares, he has no skin in this game.

“The world is rudderless.”

It’s hard for many people to imagine that an event as impactful as COVID could have originated in a humble market via mundane human actions, even though this what the evidence clearly suggests. This uncertainty has created the perfect opening for conspiracy theorists and their pseudo-profound bullshit. Many people find it comforting to believe that an extremely powerful and malevolent actor is entirely responsible for global maladies. At least then someone is in control, and someone can be blamed. As the writer Alan Moore observed, for those of us who reject such bullshit, the truth can be far more frightening.

Author

  • Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist based in New York City who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19.

Posted by Jonathan Howard

Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist based in New York City who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19.