Letter to: David Fisher, Senior Writer, New Zealand Herald
In response to: Your criticism of the Daily Telegraph NZ and Dr. Guy Hatchard
7th April 2022
We haven’t met, but a letter from yourself to the editor of the Daily Telegraph has been forwarded to me. In this letter, you say you are writing about “disinformation and misinformation relating to Covid-19”. You mention me as “someone who commonly misrepresents facts”. You also want to know whether the DTNZ Editor feels I am ‘credible’ and whether I take the time to ‘verify my sources’. Specifics and references are largely absent from your letter, but you do take issue with the use of the term “experimental jab”. I searched my computer this morning but couldn’t find any occasion when I have used it. You also present something you refer to as “fact-checked public health advice” as the gold standard that newspapers should follow. Finally you imply articles in the DTNZ, presumably including my own, “have been linked by security services and academics to social disharmony”.
For several months now, I have been sending my press releases to your personal email. I have never heard back from you. You have until now never asked me any questions. Nevertheless thank you for asking your first, albeit to a third party. You describe yourself as “Uncovering stories that matter, asking hard-hitting questions of those in power, ….and providing Premium expert opinion and analysis.” You are a Senior Writer at the Herald, so you do deserve a detailed reply.
Firstly, I try to reference my work to mainstream scientific publications. If you want to make criticisms, to maintain credibility I suggest that as far as possible you do the same and engage with specific content. I believe that open rational discussion, debate, criticism, experiment, analysis, theory, and speculation all play a vital role in the progress of scientific understanding. Seeking to close that down, or limiting who may take part, amounts to censorship, which I am sure as an experienced senior journalist you wish to avoid for the good of society. Transparency and participation are hallmarks of a civil society.
I am a 71 year old retired scientist. Having worked at one time in the genetic testing industry, I am aware that biotechnology has a chequered safety record which I have written and spoken about. I am also aware of the normal testing protocols for vaccines. Due to the pressure of time, these have not been followed during the development of mRNA vaccines. In particular, the investigation of secondary effects has not been completed, a stage of testing vital in the determination of safety. In this context, I do not find the use of the term ‘experimental’ to be inappropriate or disharmonious when describing the various Covid-19 vaccines.
I am aware of arguments advanced in the popular press that the vaccine has already been administered to billions of people in multiple countries and that this is tantamount to proof of an unprecedented level of safety. This argument has been advanced to justify government sponsored advertising describing the Pfizer vaccine as safe and effective. Pfizer itself admits to adverse effects, why shouldn’t our government do so publicly? More importantly from a scientific standpoint, widespread use is insufficient to guarantee safety. As I am sure you are aware, the examples of false safety assumptions, based solely on availability, are too numerous to ignore. Paracetamol is widely used, but few people realise long term or excessive use damages the liver.
Your implied charge that discussion of Covid-19 safety is causing “social disharmony” is hard to fathom. You tie this to the notion of “fact-checked public health advice”. Presumably you are referring to the need for the government to be our sole source of information. In 1990/91 I was invited by the Armenian Ministry of Health to help organise the treatment of PTSD after the massive earthquake in late 1989, in which over 25,000 people perished. This was still during the Soviet era, so I had the opportunity to observe first hand what happens to society when the government is your sole source of information. I remember vividly on some days wandering the streets for hours to find a shop with potatoes and bread to buy.
I also remember visiting the Armenian Theoretical Physics Institute. It was a curious quirk of the prescribed Soviet education system that students were shuffled towards specific narrow professions at an early age based on aptitude tests. The physics institute had some brilliant scientists, but the majority were square pegs in round holes. As the working day finished, misplaced ‘physicists’ surged towards the exit in order to pursue their real interests and earn hard cash from the black market.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some useful benefits of surveillance and control as long as you were on the right side. As I was working for the government, I only had to ask out loud in my hotel room for assistance and the next day it miraculously appeared. Is this the future we aspire to in NZ? We haven’t progressed that far yet and hopefully never will. I have tried asking the blinking red light on my home computer for assistance, but it hasn’t materialised. Then again perhaps the security services you mention think I am on the wrong side. I am not on the wrong side of history though. Asking questions should never be demonised and mocked. As an experienced journalist you should know that. One of the first acts of the Nazi state was to censor Jewish scientists and lock up intellectuals in concetration camps. The unvaccinated can still contribute to science, in fact they provide a needed balance.
Am I angry? No. Anger is the invincible foe. Anger interferes with rational thought. Social conflict destroys the stability on which we all rely. Without the police and security services we could be in for a rocky ride. The Christchurch attacks taught us that. But equally, suppression of freedom of discussion and choice is a well worn path to social dysfunction and tyranny. A couple of days ago I was out shopping and a lady recognised me. She emigrated to NZ from Poland years ago, but the last two years have taken her back to her childhood experiences of Soviet repression. She expressed thanks for the freedom of discussion and expression available at the Hatchard Report and DTNZ. Do I seek regime change? No. I am old enough to know that if the leader is pushed out, they are often replaced by someone less agreeable. I believe in the power of knowledge. In the end, as Shakepeare said the “truth will out”. As an experienced journalist, I am sure you know your role is to seek it, not suppress it, to cite your sources without fear or favour.
For perspective, I watched a Monty Python episode last night about a truly happy kingdom in a valley far far away in the mountains. The most contented kingdom the world has ever known. It was ruled over by a wise old king called Otto. All his subjects flourished and were happy. There were no discontents or grumblers because wise King Otto had them all put to death along with the trade union leaders….