Classically speaking, when we describe a situation wherein a politician or leading expert purposefully lies to manipulate public opinion or what people do, we call it a “Noble Lie.”
The term comes from the Greek philosopher Plato: “The Noble Lie is supposed to make the citizens of…care more for their city.”
Further, Plato said, “The Noble Lie is supposed to engender in [citizens] devotion for their city and instill in them the belief that they should ‘invest their best energies into promoting what [leaders] judge to be the city’s best interests.'”
It’s a lie. But it’s told for a “noble” purpose — that is, advancing what political leaders deem are in the best interests of the city.
These lies get released because elites want to mold public behavior, or public belief, into something different. Or the lies can be told in a pandemic, “when authorities believe their own citizens will become dangerous, they begin to focus on controlling the public, rather than on addressing the disaster itself,” as James B. Meigs writes for Commentary.
When elites don’t trust the public, they’ll lie to “control” the situation. This concept is what Meigs describes as “elite panic.”
The coronavirus pandemic has been a nonstop avalanche of shifting narratives and “truths” during every meaningful moment. We’ve had public health experts flexing their medical knowledge into political decisions, and oftentimes being wrong. We’ve gotten conflicting messages from them on masks and other hygienic policies, too.
In the process, these same experts have used public health as the excuse to override constitutional rights, claiming public health demanded it, even though the more courts are examining these declarations, the flimsier the reasoning looks. Any real history of this period has to factor into things the nonstop fear-mongering.
Rather than give the American public the information they needed to make smart decisions, the elites panicked and lied the entire way, destroying public trust. It should be no surprise, then, that there’s mistrust over vaccines.
Some of that distrust is from a segment of the population that would refuse a vaccine no matter what. But other elements have watched the experts lie to them repeatedly, and now question anything they say.
That isn’t stopping the lies, however noble they might be pitched.
The latest has to deal with herd immunity. There’s a question of how many people need to get vaccinated or get the virus to result in “herd immunity” kicking in and dramatically slowing down the spread of the disease. Once a certain percentage of the population has immunity to the virus, the viral spread is much more manageable.
What is that number? As The New York Times notes, “many epidemiologists have offered has been 60 to 70 percent. That range is still cited by the World Health Organization and is often repeated during discussions of the future course of the disease.”
That means between 6 in 10 or 7 in 10 people need to have immunity to slow down the spread. That’s mostly been the standard.
However, since vaccines have become a viable option, the answer has changed. And the person doing the changing is Dr. Anthony Fauci. The Times reports:
In the pandemic’s early days, Dr. Fauci tended to cite the same 60 to 70 percent estimate that most experts did. About a month ago, he began saying “70, 75 percent” in television interviews. And last week, in an interview with CNBC News, he said “75, 80, 85 percent” and “75 to 80-plus percent.”
What’s changed now? The Times continues:
In a telephone interview the next day, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goalposts. He is doing so, he said, partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.
Hard as it may be to hear, he said, he believes that it may take close to 90 percent immunity to bring the virus to a halt — almost as much as is needed to stop a measles outbreak.
Why is Fauci doing this? He doesn’t think Americans will go all-in on vaccines. According to the Times, “Dr. Fauci said that weeks ago, he had hesitated to publicly raise his estimate because many Americans seemed hesitant about vaccines, which they would need to accept almost universally in order for the country to achieve herd immunity.”
After him, the World Health Organization is doing the same thing, changing the discussion terms. In June of 2020, they stated, “Herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection… The threshold for establishing herd immunity for COVID-19 is not yet clear.” That’s an uncontroversial and accurate statement.
Now, however, they claim, “‘Herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity,’ is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached. Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it.”
They’re no longer including people who have already had the virus as part of the group of people creating herd immunity.
They’re not changing the information because one is more accurate than the other. They’re trying to manipulate public policymakers to say you can’t allow herd immunity to occur by getting the virus.
These are, from Fauci and the WHO, “noble lies.” And that’s because, as The New York Times said in their report, “Interviews with epidemiologists regarding the degree of herd immunity needed to defeat the coronavirus produced a range of estimates, some of which were in line with Dr. Fauci’s. They also came with a warning: All answers are merely ‘guesstimates.'”
The experts don’t know the answer to herd immunity. They’re lying to get the desired outcome.
Could it work? Sure. But their noble lies haven’t worked so far in this pandemic. Why should the latest ones work any better? Just tell the truth and let the people make their own decisions.