Unlike my colleagues in the Philosophy Department here at the University of Lethbridge, who are clearly experts in climatology, epidemiology, the pre-contact history of the indigenous peoples of this continent, the list goes on and on … I know nothing about these things. So I’ve been following Abe Lincoln’s advice. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!” 

Being thought a fool has been bad enough, but it’s more recently been decided that “Silence is violence!” So by not having an opinion, qualified or otherwise, about anthropogenic global warming, how to eradicate Covid 19, the quality of the pre-contact life of the indigenous peoples of this continent … I’ve revealed myself as an AGW denier, an anti-vaxxer, and a defender of the residential school program. And because, not unlike my colleagues, I have a PhD, I’ve regularly been invited to defend these views in public fora and the media. 

I don’t accept these invitations, because I don’t want to “remove all doubt”. What gives me pause, however, is that beaking off about that of which I know nothing could be quite lucrative, if someone with the initials JP can be taken as a template.

I don’t know how one gets those gigs, and I’m not sure I’m willing to try. I think it comes down to dignity. I’m not sure what dignity is, but I know what isn’t when I see it.

Categories: Angst

Tags: , ,

7 replies

  1. I always read your blog for a refreshing antidote to the current regrettably pervasive cult-like
    SJW – politically correct blathering – that afflicts our MainStreamMedia, intuitions of so-called higher learning etc.( list too long for my meagre typing skills) .

    Kudos and keep on post’n.


    Duncan J MacCrimmon, BSc, MDCM, FRCP(C)
    Associate Clinical Professor(Retired)
    Department of Psychiatry
    McMaster University


  2. Do you have anything to say about the U of L administration putting faculty on unpaid leave/fired because they choose not to be vaccinated, for various reasons, with the Covid 19 mRNA vaccine?


    • Actually, I have a LOT to say about the administration at the U of Lethbridge, but on this particular issue I’d prefer to know a little bit more about it than I currently do, and to have thought a little bit more about it than I currently have. But in the interim I’d be in your debt if you shared YOUR thoughts with us.


      • This is the from the “Mandatory Vaccination Principles” on the U of L website, effective October 2: “University employees who do not comply with the requirement to be Fully Vaccinated, and who have not been granted an accommodation based on a protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act, will be placed on leave without pay effective November 1, 2021.” https://www.ulethbridge.ca/sites/default/files/2021/10/covid-19_vaccination_prinicples_oct_1-21_final.pdf.

        I think it is unjust. To be cut from your means of livelihood for not getting a shot, when the survival rate from Covid is 99.93% in Alberta? And for a shot which, according to many qualified health professionals, can cause severe side affects? 4048 health care professionals (including 97 doctors and 1292 nurses) signed an open letter to AHS in which they stated, “As front-line health care workers, we have witnessed serious adverse events, including deaths, that were temporally, closely associated from the administration of these vaccines.” https://healthprofessionalsunited.ca/open-letter-one/

        No one should be subjected to the kind of coercion that the U of L is imposing.


      • I want to thank Mairin for weighing in here, and I hope others will too. But I want to defend my own silence on this issue. I’d be happy, and perhaps even compelled, to take a side in this battle of the experts, were I myself one. But I’m not. As I said in my “Counting the Cost” entry, better to remain silent and be thought a fool … That said, people like Mairin who DO take the trouble to know whereof they speak have my admiration and gratitude.


      • FYI: The following, from the Society for Academic Freedom and Scolarship, which you may already have read:

        Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship
        Special Issue on COVID Policies and Universities—Editor’s Note

        October 2021
        Janice Fiamengo
        Janice Finamengo, quote:

        “At the end of August, I published an article “The Silence of the Professors” to express my dismay at what seemed the overwhelming quiescence of the professoriate. Where were the objections on the grounds of freedom of conscience, human rights, religious liberty, and scientific rationality? Weren’t universities places, above all else, that valued evidence-informed debate and the consideration of different points of view? Didn’t academics pride themselves, furthermore, on their obligation to stand up for the marginalized, the dissident, and the demonized, particularly against the coercive power of governments and large corporations? Where were they now? Was there nothing to be said about the medical, philosophical, legal, and ethical problems in coercing thousands of students and staff to assent to a novel medical treatment?”

        Re: the University of Lethbridge professoriate? Where are they? Silent. And the U of L admin is completely and utterly authoritarion, Maoist, in its vaccine mandate. 93% of the “community” (because it really isn’t a community in the true sense of the word) fully vaxxd, but oh no, that’s not enough, coerce all in to getting vaxxed, and put faculty/staff on unpaid leave/terminate who question the group think. And when a prof is put on unpaid leave, bring in a scab, the lowest of the low, who he or she and the university admin thinks nothing of taking away the livlihood of that particular person. All this. you say? But why don’t the professors speak up? Are they afraid? Most likely. Do they not care? That too.

        BUT….please remember, the Maoist slogan of the University of Lethbridge one sees all over Lethbridge and exemplified today (October 30 2021) through the Frost and the Snow “SHINE.”


  3. Any content expertise I might have had is going stale rapidly in retirement. Reading is fine, but doing is what you must do to be an expert. And my retirement income would not dry up if I were not vaccinated.
    Trying to stay with the spirit of Paul’s blog, I am going to wander into the realm of critical thinking.

    Mairin asserts that the University’s vaccination policy is unjust. But does he mean in fact, “unjustified” — that the policy is disproportionate to the facts as believed?. Or is he arguing that the policy is “unjustifiable” — that he would sustain his opposition even in the counterfactual? I’m going to stick to the first fork in the argument here. (I think the second gets into employment law, in which I have zero content expertise.) He does cite two premises presented as facts:

    1) The benign course of Covid in Alberta. He doesn’t say whether his 99.93% figure is based on all-comers since the beginning of the pandemic, or some subset of, say, younger people — deaths in old people can of course be ignored, as I was guilty of doing myself at the beginning — or just the current cohort which is substantially vaccinated. Or whether the number was just pulled out of the air. But let’s assume it is true as far as it goes, and those patients thronging Alberta’s ICUs are either just made up, or are presenting a crisis merely because Alberta’s hospitals, like all of Canada, are so close to crisis all the time it only takes a few extra to collapse them. Some in the ICUs will pull through eventually and be counted among the 99.93%, but it will be many weeks before we will know who. (I am glad to see that the tide seems to be turning, by the way, as it always does.)

    Mairin cites a letter/petition
    arguing against mandatory vaccination signed electronically by some 4000 “health professionals” in Alberta. Again without attempting to rebut the specific claims made in the letter — that’s content expertise, remember — let me show why a body given the legal authority to make public health policy would reject the argument.
    Alberta Health is presumably aware of the published studies cited in the letter, and its own infection statistics. After agreeing that the authorities must be forthright about the existence and importance of breakthrough infections in the vaccinated, I will jump to:

    -“Historically, scientific consensus has been that natural immunity is superior to vaccine immunity.” What is historical consensus? What probative value does it have? If one exists, does it apply to this novel virus? Superior in what way — preventing serious illness or preventing transmission or both? And even if it does, it is useful only to the survivors of the natural infection. It is cold comfort to tell the relatives, “Well, you know, if he hadn’t died, he wouldn’t have ever got it again.” You have to hope that the 99.93% survival holds up which, if it includes the vaccination era, must include cases in vaccinated people. (I note the letter says 99.7%, which doesn’t sound much different from 99.93% but a fatality rate of 0.3% is much worse than 0.07% — four times as many people die in the former than in the latter, for the same number of infections.)

    Now, let’s restrict our discussion to people who have in fact survived natural Covid, as determined by antibodies, presumably. The authors appear to acknowledge that it is unknown if Covid survivors are more or less susceptible than vaccinated individuals, i.e., they have no evidence that the “historical consensus” applies to Covid. They try to put the onus on Alberta Health to prove it doesn’t. Alberta Health would reply that the precautionary principle that governs public health requires and empowers them to put the onus on the opponents to prove it does: that the presence of antibodies is so clearly equal or superior to vaccination that vaccination is not necessary.. (Note that the authors have no idea how many health workers have, in fact, been infected with Covid already. Even if a substantial number have, the fraction is likely lower among employees of a university and may therefore be moot for the sake of opposing U Leth’s policy.)

    2) The hazards of the vaccines.
    The letter claims eye-witness accounts of severe and fatal side effects of Covid vaccines. This is anecdotal and unrebuttable as presented and could, for all we know, be made up. The VAERS database is notorious for being manipulated by vaccination opponents: anything bad that happens after a vaccination can get reported there. Mere presence in the database does not mean that the event has been determined to be vaccine-related, or even that it happened at all. It is disingenuous to cite VAERS reports uncritically as evidence that a vaccine is dangerous. Again, Alberta Health will be aware of published and unpublished vaccine safety data and would have made their decision in full knowledge of VAERS. I am citing it merely to reassure lay readers that no one is promoting a vaccine that has supposedly killed 14,000 people at a minimum and maybe 10-100 times as many, as the letter claims.

    Of 11,928 physicians licensed in Alberta in 2020, only 97 signed this letter. Busy physicians who are not specialized in this field are not qualified to opine on the scientific merits of vaccination. They know what they don’t know and follow public health guidelines, tailoring the advice as always to the individual patient. They are expected to understand the vaccine science but policy is not their remit. While trying not to be gratuitously condescending, I would offer that Alberta Health would conclude that all 4080 signatories are unqualified — yes, the nurses and the 97 doctors too — to offer scientific advice about vaccination and in opening their mouths removed all doubt.

    So back to Mairin: If it could be shown that the premises were false on which you stake your claim that mandatory vaccination is unjust, would you change your mind? Or would you still argue its unjustness on the basis of some other framework? I think I’m asking, Is your opposition utilitarian — “the harms and benefits don’t justify the action” — or is it principled in some other way? Do remember that especially in control of contagious disease public health is fundamentally a utilitarian discipline. It gets its power from the state to serve those utilitarian ends. If your argument against them is utilitarian, be prepared for a fight. On rights and justice for the individual it has less to say. “Not our department.”


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