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January 25, 2021

Bystander at the Switch: The Moral Case Against COVID Lockdowns

Do you remember the moral riddle taught in grade school called the "Bystander at the Switch" (also known as the Trolley Problem)? It was a story about a runaway train hurtling towards a cluster of people stuck on the tracks ahead. But you have the option to pull the switch and send the train down another track with a smaller number of people on it. You have the option of saving some lives by sacrificing a smaller number of others. Do you pull the switch?

In grade school the riddle was posed as a moral dilemma. But it's not. There was only ever one correct choice. We invented universal human rights to make it clear that no person or government has the right to pull the switch to send the train down another track towards a sacrificial group of victims. 

The Trolley Problem (The immoral dilemma of the bystander at the switch)
In December of 1948, in the aftermath of the human rights violations committed during the Second World War, the member states of the United Nations formally adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It explicitly forbids government from treating some people as worth less than others. It forbids government from sacrificing some people for the benefit of others. It forbids government from knowingly imposing harm on some individuals in order to serve an alleged greater good. And it forbids government from imposing a hierarchy of rights on their citizens.

Lockdowns during COVID pose the exact same question as the Bystander at the Switch. But it's not a game; once again there are real lives at stake. Yet in direct violation of the principles of universal human rights, governments around the world are choosing to pull the switch by imposing lockdowns "for our safety." In doing so they have given themselves the authority to play God with our lives.

Are you essential or non-essential? Each category now has different rights and freedoms and different levels of individual autonomy. Some have the right to earn a living. Others do not. Some have the right to choose how to balance the risks and priorities in their lives. Others do not. How can any job that feeds a family not be essential? 

What about the collateral damage caused by lockdowns? Mandatory lockdowns are leading to the deaths of countless individuals through cancelled/delayed medical operations, suicides, drug overdoses, loneliness and isolation in nursing homes, and more. None of these deaths would happen without lockdowns. Government is throwing one group of people onto the tracks with the goal of saving another.

How much misery and suffering is government allowed to impose on other people "for your safety"? How many jobs is the government allowed to destroy "for your safety"? How many people will lose their homes "for your safety"? How many people will lose their life savings, have their marriages broken, suffer bankruptcy, lose their careers, have their children's education irreparably damaged, or have their mental health destroyed because of actions taken by the government "for your safety"? 


And how many people is the government allowed to force into poverty and starvation "for your safety"? Visitors to food banks are not just soaring here at home. We live in an interconnected world. What we do in one part of the world sets precedents and causes economic ripples that reach the farthest corners of the globe. Do those lives matter? 

The head of the World Food Program WFP has warned that the "equivalent of 400 million full-time jobs have been destroyed" by government mandated COVID lockdowns and that there are now "270 million people marching towards the brink of starvation" (full article here). 

Here are a few excerpts that I hope make you very uncomfortable:

On jobs lost during COVID:

Increased child deaths in Africa due to missed routine vaccinations:

Starvation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Starvation in Nigeria:

Starvation in South Sudan:

Starvation in Yemen:

Starvation in Latin America:

Starvation in Burkina Faso:

Let's be clear, this unfolding horror is not because of COVID, it is because of the government's response to COVID. By crossing the line from making recommendations to imposing laws that take away the people's right to decide for themselves how to balance their risks and priorities, economies are grinding to a halt and millions are being forced into starvation. And the carnage doesn't miraculously end when the virus fades away. The slow-moving forces set in motion will be with us for a long time and in the meantime the bodies will just keep piling up. Should they be asked to pay this price "for your safety"? Or perhaps they don't matter since the media isn't counting them and can't leverage them into click-bait to exploit your feeling of vulnerability to the virus?

The first principle in medicine is the Hippocratic Oath, which says, "First do no harm." One consequence of this rule is that you're not allowed to protect one group of people by harming another. Empathy for one group doesn't give you the right to trample another. In the Trolly Problem, it's completely unethical (medical malpractice) for any doctor to pull the switch.

Yet health authorities imposing lockdowns are nevertheless inflicting horrific harms on those least at risk from the virus (the young and healthy) with the excuse that this is justified to protect those most at risk (the very old, especially those with pre-existing health conditions). This is a direct violation of the Hippocratic Oath. And it's completely nonsensical. If you're unwilling to risk exposure to the virus, stay home. Your risk as you shelter at home is exactly the same whether I'm at home in lockdown or whether I'm at work to feed my family or visiting my loved ones to protect my (or their) mental health. 

The right to individual autonomy was specifically invented to allow free people to weigh their risks and priorities. For most of us there are many risks in our daily lives (like being unable to feed our families) that are far more dangerous than a virus that even the US CDC says has an infection survival rate of 99.997% for those under 20 years of age, 99.98% for 20 to 49 year olds, 99.5% for 50 to 69 year olds and 94.6% for anyone over the age of 70. To put that in perspective, Dr. John Ioannidis, professor of epidemiology and biomedical statistics at the University of Stanford, has calculated that for people under the age of 65, the COVID death risk is "equivalent to the death risk of driving from between 9 miles per day (in Germany) and 415 miles per day (in New York City)."

And are government lockdowns actually protecting those at risk? A very large proportion of COVID deaths worldwide are occurring in long-term care homes (in Canada 72% of COVID deaths have been in long-term care facilities!) 

Percentage of COVID deaths in long-term care facilities (Source WSJ December 2020)

Lockdowns don't help those most at risk if they are already segregated from society in nursing homes. But isolation does accelerate deteriorating health conditions among nursing home patients who are denied the ability to spend the last few months of their lives surrounded by loved ones. 

Why don't nursing home residents get to decide for themselves if they want to be isolated?

By trying to "flatten the curve", lockdowns only extend the amount of time it takes for the rest of the population to acquire herd immunity, which increases the amount of time that the most vulnerable are at risk of being exposed to others carrying the virus. Instead of self-isolating for a month while the virus runs its course among the rest of the population (like influenza does every winter) they have now been at risk of catching COVID from the rest of us for almost 10 months - 10 months during which many have been forcibly stuck in isolation, separated from their loved ones! 

In other words, if you don't pull the switch, the vulnerable are at risk. But if you do pull the switch, the risk increases to the most vulnerable while also putting everyone else in harm's way. 

Another excuse given for lockdowns is that the health care system is at risk of getting overwhelmed. It's another bizarre and immoral argument. Since when does access to health care override our right to freedom, individual autonomy, and the ability to try to feed our families? If that were an acceptable excuse for lockdowns, the government would pull the switch and lock down society every winter. Hallway medicine and overworked hospital staff have long been the norm of our poorly managed health care systems every flu season. Here is a small sample of news articles illustrating the problem. Check the dates - all are from before COVID!

This CBC article from January of 2020 shows that from January to June 2019 (180 days) some of the most overcrowded hospitals in Ontario spent between 148 and 179 of the 180-day study period operating above 100% capacity. In other words, they were essentially operating above capacity every single day

This CBC article from February 2018 shows hospitals in Quebec running at up to 245% capacity. 

This CBC article from May 2019 discusses how common it has become for patients to be housed not just in hallways, but even in bathrooms!

And this CTV article from January 2019 demonstrates that in Ontario about 1000 patients were being treated in hospital hallways every single day long before COVID hit. For context, as I write this today, January 21st, 2021, Ontario (a province of over 14 million) has a grand total of 1,533 COVID hospitalizations in the entire province. None are currently being treated in hallways; some hospitals are nearing capacity, but as I've just finished showing you, that means they are below the typical occupancy levels seen at this time of year prior to COVID.

I've posted even more examples of the pre-COVID hospital crisis on a Twitter thread here.  

The government's failure to provide adequate health care capacity is not an exemption that allows government to suspend the constitutional rights and freedoms of its citizens. But I encourage you to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to check for yourself.

And that brings up the other problem with lockdowns. Quite apart from the crime of sacrificing innocent people for the benefit of others, there is also the hubris of government assuming they have all the information to predict all the unintended consequences and collateral damage caused by their actions. They never do. It's impossible. Government claims to be able to predict the number of lives that will be saved when it pulls the switch, but in reality, there are always countless more lives destroyed that nobody foresaw just around the bend. Poverty, hunger, children orphaned by a bankrupted parent's suicide, educational opportunities destroyed with lifelong consequences, and the list of unintended consequences goes on, and on, and on. The collateral damage caused by government hubris is yet another of the many reasons why the concept of universal human rights was invented to deny government having that much authority over our lives. 

Illusion vs Reality

But once the government pulls the switch, politicians and bureaucrats must justify their actions to avoid being held accountable for their mistakes. Poverty, suicide, delayed surgeries, mental health issues, and countless other horrors become irrelevant to these state planners so long as government can show it's fighting to reduce cases "for our safety", all the while blaming its failures on the behaviours of its citizens and becoming increasingly authoritarian in its enforcement. And so, while the motivations may differ, the consequences of abandoning universal human rights once again lead to suffocating and deadly authoritarianism, a Frankenstein resurrection of precisely the thing that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was meant to prevent. "Blood and Soil" has been replaced by "Crush the Curve" and "COVID-Zero", but once again one group of people is being sacrificed for another's "benefit".

There is no moral dilemma for the Bystander at the Switch; there is no riddle to be solved. "For your safety" is never an excuse to extinguish someone else's rights. Not for COVID, nor for anything else. The end never justifies the means. But history shows that there are Nuremburg Trials for those who ignore other people's universal human rights and especially for those who delude themselves into thinking that they can engineer a more compassionate society by pulling the switch. Let's not let it come to that.

Are you prepared to allow the government to throw you in front of the train to save someone else? If not, then demand that the government stop doing it to somebody else!


Please share this article (or the video version) with your friends, neighbors and family members who are still in favor of the lockdown. The government will not stop this until it loses the support of the crowd. Each person whose mind you change brings us one step closer to stopping this horror.


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  1. Living in New Zealand, I quite like our freedoms to go about our lives pretty much as normal, enabled by the two lockdowns we had over the past year, one lasting 6 weeks and the other 3 weeks. It's opinions like yours that have made it difficult for many other countries to do this instead you have the half-arsed "lockdown" going on for months and months and people bitching and moaning along the way, it must be difficult living there and maintaining a positive outlook.

    1. Literal insanity.

      At some point, unless your country is to remain an island isolated from the rest of the world, you will need to open up again... and what's the plan then? Or is it all alright because your life has changed very little?

      The entire western world has based its response on the initial actions of a totalitarian dictatorship, who has since lied about its effectiveness and 'cases'. If you think that's 'normal' then I think we are without hope...

      "I quite like our freedoms to go about our lives pretty much as normal, enabled by the two lockdowns we had over the past year"

      I'm going to hazard a guess that you are preaching from the position of someone who has faced little hardship? Missed a paycheck since this began? No didn't think so...

    2. that's not what I heard about NZ at all, from my neighbor who just moved back there. you have mandatory testing, with punishments of imprisonment in isolation facilities, and have been locked up like prisoners in your own country. if you want to lock yourself in your house, so be it, but let everyone decide for themselves.

    3. Given you've left your comment anonymously, I'm guessing you're a troll. No sane New Zealander thinks that your lockdowns were necessary; nor do they think that your 'freedoms' have returned, because they haven't.

    4. Hilariously low res thinking. NZ is doing well because they locked down at the start while western countries didn't want to appear racist. That's the only time lockdown works. An island country with closed borders. Congratulations. Time has passed for that.

    5. How's that New Zealand vaccine coming along? Oh....ok, the rest of the world will deal with this and be along to bail New Zealand out as soon as we can.

    6. Yes. THIS. I cried when I read this beautiful article. You've put into such eloquent words what I've been trying to express for the past half year. As someone who knows literally one person who's died of covid (in their late 80s, in a retirement home, with advanced dementia) and two who have died from lockdowns (one a suicide, one a drug overdose after saying he couldn't take another lockdown, both in their 40s) I do not understand why more people can't understand this. I wrote letters to my MPP and MP showing data and how there's not a huge increase in the death rate and that it could even be attributed to lockdowns and not covid. I got a boilerplate response about keeping us safe. I am at my wit's end.

    7. Freedom due to lockdown?

      No chance.

      The laws of science are universal and not different in New Zealand.

    8. I am Kiwi/Canadian. I wish I was back in NZ. It is wrong to say that NZ had it easy as it was an island. They solved the problems they faced fast and hard. Other countries failed to do so until it was too late. There biggest threat today are returning citizens who bring covid with them. But they solved that problem too...with effective isolation hotels. I am past in Ontario. Our provincial government seems incapable of solving the problems it faces quickly and effectively. We never had a lockdown, we had a shutdown.

    9. What a shame you can't go back indeed...oh wait, you could but you don't want to be imprisoned upon your return. So taling advantag of the free world in Canada but at the same time whining that NZ is so much better. Maybe you can isolate yourself in an isolation hotel on some uninhabited Canadian island?

  2. Thank christ there exists someone intelligent enough to write such a detailed piece that so perfectly encapsulates the current mindset and circumstances. I've nodded along with every word...

    So far the restrictions imposed by my government have cost me my job, my car, my home... not to mention a marked deterioration in my health as a result.

    I'd like to offer the following quote by C.S. Lewis: -

    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

    Thank-you for writing such a great article and articulating what many of us are feeling. Its nice to know that people exist who still have the capacity to question the propaganda.

    1. Thank you for sharing the C.S. Lewis quote - it's spot on. And I'm glad that you enjoyed the article.

      I'm very sorry to hear how the lockdowns have affected you. My heart goes out to you.

      Best regards,


    2. Great article, except you've bought into the artificial binary 'we're doing it to save granny!" rubbish.

      This was never about "saving lives", whether one over there or fifty over here. It's a lie the govt told people and a deliberate effort to guilt-trip people into compliance.

      No other disease has been handled like this no matter how contagious.

    3. Correct, this article is perfectly written in every aspect. I could have written it myself as we have exactly the same Libertarian disgust here. Well done.

  3. In my heart of hearts, I suspect that the pandemic is not a random happen-stance but in fact a contrived means to an end, in pursuit of post economic collapse, continued / consolidated elite control of society. Somebody is playing, an unsuspecting public, for all the marbles. Moral dilemmas, they are all part of the psyop, another tool in the toolbox, so to speak.

    1. It's possible that there was an initial architect that got the ball rolling, but my gut suggests the opposite. My sense is that we are witnessing a mass social hysteria caused by a toxic brew of panic, opportunism, bad decisions, incompetence, and the need to save face after bad decisions. Even if there were initial hands that got the ball rolling, or at least fanned the flames of panic once the initial viral spark arrived on scene, the hysteria is now reinforcing itself and has long since spiralled beyond anyone’s control. History is full of these manias - check out Charles Mackay’s book from 1841 called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds ( It’s one of my all-time favorites.

      If you’ve ever watched the aerial ballet of tens of thousands of blackbirds, or a herd of hundreds of thousands of migrating caribou, or a stampeding herd of cattle, it’s impossible not to think that there’s some intelligence directing the well-coordinated behaviour of the herd. Yet in those cases the patterns in the chaos are an illusion created by herd instinct, each individual is simply responding to the cues of the others and in reality there’s no-one in the driver’s seat. It’s entirely possible that this is also how the COVID-19 panic began, regardless of what horrific shape it's morphed into since.

      I have no doubt there are many decent people, including doctors, health officials, and politicians, caught up in the panic. Herd instinct is no less powerful among humans than among cows. If you’ve never seen the Asch Conformity Experiments, conducted in the 1950, check out this video on Youtube ( - it explains a lot.

      But I also have no doubt that there are a very large number of opportunists, on many levels, and for many many different reasons, eager to nudge things in their favor. At some point it becomes impossible to distinguish between architects, opportunists, and conformists.

      The other problem is that the search for someone to blame and the thirst for revenge that comes with it winds up backfiring because it backs everyone into a corner, making all the players, good and bad, double down for their own protection. If our primary goal is to get this to stop ASAP, then we must find a way to get those in charge (and those who support them) to take down their guard and start talking with us. This is a battle for hearts and minds. That means extending them the benefit of the doubt and the hand of forgiveness in order to make it safe for health authorities to change course. Revenge won’t help anyone put their lives back together, but getting this to stop will at least end the carnage. If those of us calling for peaceful dialogue get drowned out by those looking for revenge, this will only get much much worse because it keeps those we need to reach on the defensive.

      As for the opportunists and evil-doers taking advantage of this situation, there is a wise saying: “Never corner a rat. If you do, it’ll go for your throat. If you want him out of your house, you need to create an escape route for him that takes him where you want him to go.” As unfair as that seems, even the most horrific dictators in history are generally granted amnesty and left in peace in exchange for getting them to stand down. It’s not fair, but it’s the only bargaining chip we have against those holding all the cards.

      "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." ~ Charles Mackey, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

    2. The problem with this argument is obvious. Unless we stand back and let “fate” decide, every act in medicine is a switch change. Let’s consider disease “A”. 100 people have this problem. 20 will spontaneously resolve without surgery. 80 will go on to die. With surgery 60 will survive but in group of spontaneous survivors, now 5 will die of complications of the surgery that otherwise would have lived.
      You would argue that each of these patients has right to decide and this is correct; but who in practice actually choses a much higher risk of dying without knowing if they are in the spontaneous healing group?
      Now let’s return to the trolley groups. If no one knows which group he/she is in and if it is explained that without knowing this and that choosing to switch to the higher grouping increases their individual risks of surviving, which would be your choice; to switch or to not switch. Each of these individuals themselves could take a vote to switch or not to switch.
      The doctor does not himself choose but respects the individuals decision to vote on their choice and consequently throws the switch after consent is given and alters fate. The democratically elected representative of the people on the other hand by definition of their mandate to govern without continuous need to obtain a referendum vote on every decision, but, therefore, in its social contract having obtained the power of attorney so to speak to act in the best interests of the people, must provide the consent to act in the best interests of its constituents. It therefore has the right to consent to and to ask health authorities to throw the switch.

    3. As to your first point: a doctor is not allowed to force a third person into surgery to remove their kidney against their will to save another patient. That’s the equivalent of what we’re talking about with imposed lockdowns. Helping COVID patients as best we can is definitely a good thing. But helping them by taking away other people’s rights or by hurting other people is totally unacceptable. That’s a violation of human rights and of the Hippocratic Oath. If a donor kidney can’t be found, the patient unfortunately dies. But doctors can’t go to the local jail to forcibly extract a kidney from some “non-essential” prisoner to save his patient.

      As to your second point: yes, each individual could voluntarily put themselves into indefinite self-isolation to reduce their COVID risk, BUT nobody has the right to make that decision for you. It requires consent. Furthermore, choosing not to self-isolate does not automatically increase your overall risk - there are many other risks besides COVID, including the risk of locking yourself in your home. We weigh the risks of starvation and homelessness every day before choosing to accept the risk of driving to work and exposing ourselves to our coworkers' flu germs. Life isn’t risk-free - but universal human rights are meant to give us the right to each individually navigate those risks as best as we can without having someone else take away our free agency.

      As to your third point: Voting for an elected representative to defend your interests in the political arena does not give that person a power of attorney to strip you of your human rights. Human rights are not meant to be subject to political whim - that’s what sets universal human rights apart from other political decisions. Democracy is meant to protect the rights of everyone, not enslave the minority to the will of the majority vote (mob rule) nor enslave some people to the will of their elected leader (elected dictatorship).

      Consider this example: Did Stalin have a power of attorney over Soviet-era Ukranians when he imposed the political decisions that led to the starvation deaths of between 3 and 12 million Ukranians (called the Holodomor)... for the alleged “greater good” of the Soviet motherland? He didn’t pull a trigger, is he guilty? They starved on their own. But they starved because of forces knowingly put in motion by Stalin. The harm was imposed by knowingly stripping these people of their human rights, thus leaving them helpless in the face of devastating risks. The decision to violate universal human rights is why we call what happened during the Holodomor a genocide and not a naturally caused famine.

      Universal rights don’t care about motives. While Stalin’s motives were different than those of our leaders during COVID, the outcome is exactly the same. Lives are being destroyed because of political decisions that knowingly suspend our human rights for someone else’s benefit. These political decisions are depriving millions of their livelihoods, of their physical and mental health, and of the autonomy to make free decisions to keep them safe from all the other risks in their lives. Not unlike the Holodomor, government is leaving many helpless in the face of risks that many will not survive in order to offset a different risk (virus). If the warnings of the World Food Program come true, the death toll globally caused by lockdowns may far exceed that of the Holodomor. And that’s just one among many other horrors caused by lockdowns.

      Regardless of motive, the “unintended consequences” of lockdowns are 100% predictable, no less than Stalin’s Holodomor. This is not a natural famine any more than Stalin’s Holodomor was. It’s actually wrong to call them unintended consequences because they are a 100% foreseeable effect of a gross human rights violation - exactly what human rights are meant to prevent.

      All of which suggests that instead of giving our leaders Emmy awards and book deals for their leadership during COVID, wouldn't a visit to a human rights tribunal be more appropriate?

    4. Here here!

      Eloquently put, and as with the article, absolutely bang on.

      Give people the freedom to decide their own fate. If people want to stay in and cower at this perceived 'threat' let them. They are in no different a circumstances than they are already under the current t restrictions... and let the rest of us get on and live our lives.

    5. Eighteen months ago, we were calling them germaphobes. We thought they were a little paranoid, and we left them alone...

  4. If you investigate Agenda 21, the World Economic Forum and the Great Reset, you will have your answer. This has been planned for many decades. It has been a plan for globalisation and domination of the many by the few. We didn't vote for this but, our "leaders" and behind-the-scenes oligarchs met year after year to work out the details. It is all going according to their detailed plans.

    1. You forestalled me!! Excellent!
      Amazing how many people still don't know about this stuff.

  5. great points. this was my final test question in a year long class on World Ethics: whose needs are more important: the needs of the one, or the needs of the many? I argued that they needs of the one ARE the needs of the many, and didn't get a good mark. but I stand by that. there is no choice to be made

    1. “The needs of the one ARE the needs of the many” - well said, I agree 100%. I’m horrified that your World Ethics teacher could come to the opposite conclusion.

      The Enlightenment idea of placing individual liberty ahead of group interest was what allowed serfdom, slavery, and tribalism to end. Flipping this relationship on its head effectively cancels the social contract of liberal democracy and takes us right back into the philosophical Dark Ages. Utilitarianism is merely medieval thinking in disguise, a fancy way of rationalizing that it’s okay for either elites or the mob (whichever happens to be in control) to steamroll the rights and freedoms of individuals.

      All the human rights horrors of the 20th century were committed by those who reversed the order to try to engineer some alleged utopia “for the greater good”. I’m deeply saddened (and angry) that there are teachers actively rationalizing away those painful philosophical lessons.

    2. Your words are well said and thought out. Thanks for putting pen to paper. Do you have a blog that can be followed?

    3. I'm glad you found the article useful!

      Yes, I do have a blog - thanks for the nudge! I've added a "Blog" link in the navbar where I publish all articles in chronological order (RSS enabled) and I've added a signup form for automatic email notifications (at the top of the page). And I post all new articles to social media (

      Best regards,


  6. I want to thank you for a phenomenal article that should be a must read for all. Very well articulated points and perspectives.

  7. Good article but based on the false proposition that there ever was a new and terrible virus in the first place. This debacle was set up by the elite who have experts in marketing i.e. human manipulation, working for them and know exactly how to get the stampede started. I knew this was bogus from the beginning and the only thing that will change my mind is if the US government admits that they manipulated/engineered a virus and let it loose as part of America's hybrid war against China. The alleged virus has yet be be isolated and actually identified. See this excellent article from the Off-Guardian as a starter.

  8. Great article with some welcome clear thinking. I hope you are right that the great corona crusade is more of a cock-up than a conspiracy, but I fear that you are wrong on this. There was simply too much coordination, and too many dark agendas are advanced, rapidly. Time will tell.

  9. Thank you for opening up such a great and sorely needed discussion!

    Here is another aspect of this Trolley dilemma. Suppose that there is no bystander at the switch, switches have been eliminated by better technology. You still have a runaway trolley, but this time, it's the driver who must choose. He has been scrambling to figure out how to stop the trolley, and is in touch with the dispatcher via radio. He has been informed about the people ahead on the tracks. And he does not have the option to abstain from throwing the switch. He must choose to either veer to the right, or veer to the left. Two evils; maybe he can discern the lesser one, maybe not. Should he try? And which is the lesser evil?

    1. I dont see what this brings to the discussion. There is no other aspect to the trolley dilemma. The trolley delemma is what it is. All you are doing creating a different dilemma. The case we are dealing with is one where we had a status quo. A status quo that has been inexistence since time began. It wasn't a case of I must swerve left or right, which do I choose. It was always a case of keep going straight or flip the switch.

    2. But I suppose to offer an answer. The reaction to the "new dilemma" you pose would be determined by the psychological state of the driver. "Should they try?" well, yes, clearly, if they have any caring in their soul. Thats not to say it's a decision that any normal person would envy. Only a sociopath would not try to cause the bare minimum of damage. The lesser evil will be the one that causes the least damage but this would be dependant on so many variables that without having these spelt out clearly would be impossible to try to determine. As a general rule, treating all individuals equally, you would simply go on a death count. If you knew the ages; say there were 10 children one side and ten octagenarians on the other, you might be able to argue in your conscience that the children have not had the chance of life yet, so you sacrifice the octagenarians. You would just have to make the decision that enables you to live the rest of your life in as much inner peace as possible. At the end of the day, you have to able live with your self and answer to your decisions.

    3. Rob, I appreciate your response. I created a rabbit trail here, my apologies to Julius. I am happy I am not the only one who is interested in the intricacies of ethical mind experiments.

      When I considered the second illustration Julius provided, and reflected on the fatally incomplete information we humans are always working with, it began to seem to me that in this case, there is no lesser evil (viz more potentially dead hiding from view). Yes, there are the usual rationalizing calculations about number and age and so on... but I am no longer convinced that those rationalization (aka utilitarianism) are valid. There are two huge evils ahead, whichever we slice it. Julius makes the claim that it is not ethical to sacrifice one group of people for another. It is not moral to play God and rationally decide who lives and who dies. I am still working through that, but I think this is right. Moral justification of the utilitarian kind tends to lead to more evil.

      To bring up another instance of having to choose between two horrendous evils is of course "Sophie's choice." I cannot help but think that refusing such a choice is the only moral path forward. (Plunging a knife into the Nazi would of course have been better. :-))

    4. There is no "choice" This is a false binary and has no place in this discussion.
      There are vulnerable people threatened by Covid and it is easy enough to protect and treat them as well as anyone else who catches it.

      Presenting this as a 'choice" is a method of emotional blackmail deliberately thrust on the public to paralyse thought.

    5. Thanks Vera, having read my reply back i thought it may have come across as a little confrontational, which was not my intention, so i'm relieved you took in theh spirit of conversation that was intended.

      Carpefraise - I am trying to determine the focus of your response, sorry, it might just be me. I think your are in agreement that the lockdowns are wrong but can't be sure.
      Protecting the vulnerable is indeed completely necessary and possible and without impact to the rest of the population. What did governments do to ensure higher levels of vitamin D in the the elderly and infirm? nothing as it happens. I could actually go on for hours here but i guess if you have made it to this website, its really not necessary. the point is the world has been warned about this for decades , whatever anyones opinion on the severity or isolation of Civid, and they have done very little in regards of an action plan to improve the immune system of the population to mitigate for this.

    6. Carpefriase - My apologies, i have reread your statement and can clearly see that you are not in favour of lockdowns. Not sure how I failed to see that first time round. I completely agree with you. There never was a choice, you look after the interests of everyone equally.

  10. Julius, this commentary of yours is excellent.

    I don't believe there is a conspiracy behind lockdown, I do believe lockdown is ideological and has had the way paved for it by decades of green ideology.

  11. Certainly it seems we have been condemned to repeat our forgotten history, thus the question why and by what means has the lesson of our past been removed from the debate? Moreover how have efficacious and affordable remedies such as vitamin D, hydroxychloroquine and now ivermectin been sidelined permitting only a new generation of hastily concocted jabs to rescue humanity? Whatever the professed aims of lockdowns it is hard not to see a catastrophe of epic proportions in the making. Should we be asking how the train left the station without a brake and where lies responsibility for this oversight, the answer to these questions might lead to a switch in focus from the present horror to a future where checks and balances prevent the sacrifice of so many for the security of a privileged few. All veils rely on a certain degree of mutual deceit but sooner or later we must stare truth in the eye.

  12. First, consider that we're in a once-in-a-century pandemic. Next, consider some of the ramifications if there is no lockdown, and we let the coronavirus rage its way through 70% of the population to achieve herd immunity. (I will be using the US to illustrate). Population = 330M, 70% of US Pop = 231M, covid mortality rate 0.5% (this is conservative). Number of deaths in this scenario = 1,150,000.

    For now, I will not even address additional collateral horrors of this scenario: Decimation of medical professionals, decimation of immuno-compromised individuals (such as cancer patients), death of non-covid patients who are denied health care because hospitals are swamped, decimation of critical workers.

    Leaving all of that aside, we already have (as of end of Jan, 2021) 400k covid-caused deaths. Is it really a good idea to stop the lockdown, inviting 750k additional deaths on the way to 1.15M deaths when herd immunity is achieved?

    Consider the alternative if we stay the course: Vaccinations will continue to roll out, causing vaccine-induced herd immunity by the end of the year. In this approach, we can anticipate 1,000 covid-related deaths per day for 10 month = 300 days * 1,000 = 300,000 deaths. This is 450,000 less deaths, by keeping the current course in the US.

    Remember, we are in a terrible situation either way. But one way is better than the other. Should 450,000 additional deaths occur for your convenience?

    1. Wrong. Scary math does not match reality.

      I invite you to read some of the articles about COVID on my website - none of the claims you make in your comment stand up to the government's own evidence. Or, simply compare the charts for North vs South Dakota - the first with mandatory measures, the other without them. The disease curves are identical... lockdowns made no difference whatsoever. Nothing could be more clear. But South Dakota respected the rights of its citizens and doesn't have a collateral damage disaster on its hands.

      If there are errors in the information that I have presented, I'm happy to discuss. Please provide a quote of the information where you feel I have erred as the basis for a discussion.

    2. I looked recently at the numbers on the CDC website, added things up regarding "total deaths" and though they are not complete, they are mostly complete for year 2020. There are over 400,000 "excess deaths, compared to 2019. Some of these are due to population increase, others are murders and deaths of despair, as well as higher numbers for older folk having died in institutions without family overwight, etc. A large chunk.

      I turned to weekly totals of "natural deaths", and there, I found excess deaths averaging about 3,000 per week. If we take 2/3 of these as covid deaths, we are looking at 106,000 excess deaths for the year. Comparable with Asian flu (1957, c. 116,000) and Hong Kong flu (1969, c. 100,000).

      Official "covid death" statistics are corrupted by category shifting and other factors, and case numbers count vast numbers of healthy people who were (possibly) shown to have some virus particles in them. I have found these numbers not directly related to reality.

      Whichever way you slice it, we do not have 400k covid-caused deaths. We have 400k excess deaths from all causes.

      I have also closely followed South Dakota. South Dakota has remained open throughout. They had almost no excess deaths in the spring. and in the fall, did have a wave of excess deaths for several weeks. Statisticians would know how this wave compares to other strong flu years in South Dakota. Their case numbers have declined precipitously, for what it's worth.

      How are scary scenarios helpful? Please look at actual damage already having happened due to lockdowns, in lives lost, livelihoods ruined, children's lives severely damaged, liberties lost, and tyrannical actions of unaccountable bureaucrats and politicians increasing. This is NOT a scenario. This is reality on the ground.

      Upper respiratory viruses come and go. They are always with us. Are we going to shut down the planet next time a new one shows up? How is that a viable strategy for the future? What right have you got to play God, to rationalize who will live and who will die, who can go out and who must be a shut-in, who will earn and who will starve?

    3. All well and good if you can demonstrate that lockdowns actually work (clue humans are not livestock) and prove an experimental RNA injection will be safe over the long term. The jury remains out on both accounts, while in the context of age stratified risk the interests of the young and healthy are clearly being sacrificed on the alter of the old and infirm. Not so different from WW1 and make no mistake this is a real war but not against a virus.

    4. @Julius You can argue with my arithmetic or you can argue with my assumptions, but calling my analysis "scary math" is just name calling. What part of my anaylyses do you disagree with?

      As far as my figure of 400k deaths, these come from hospitals that report to counties that report to states. Newspapers collect and report these numbers. For every reason to think that covid-related deaths are over reported, there are at least as many reasons to think that covid-related deaths are under-reported, so I'm happy to work with the quoted figures.

      I apologize for siting only US statistics, these are the ones I am most familiar with.

      One thing that is quite clear from nationwide statistics is that covid cases spiked right after thanksgiving, and again after christmas. There are 2 reasonable conclusions that I think we can reach:
      (a) People travelled more, and were exposed to more people. This is why covid cases spiked. No wizardry here. In January, when people returned to their routines, cases dropped.
      (b) To the degree that lockdowns are declared, they are almost completely unenforced. Approximately 0% of airline travellers were blocked from travelling, same for automobile travel.

      As far as vaccines go, the evidence so far shows that the risk/reward ratio is very favorable. Every anti-vaxxer seems to personally know an otherwise healthy old man who fell down the stairs after taking the vaccine. For myself, I accept the happy math, and barring any concerning updates, I will gladly accept the vaccine when my turn comes.

      I have a lot of sympathy for small business people, and I hope that our current president will learn from the mistakes of the last stimulus bill, and do a better job of directing funds to the smallest businesses that aren't big enough to hire lawyers and accountants.

      This situation isn't easy for anyone, except Jeff Bezos perhaps. Be kind to poor people, and take care of your family!

      Also, realize that the government already "plays god" telling us what to do. Peoples' ability to make money by prostitution, gambling, or disregarding the safety of employees is legally curtailed. Your legal right to ride in your car without a seatbelt on is restricted. If lockdown restrictions are not legal, or not constitutional, why doesn't anyone take it to court? I think it's actually an interesting question.

    5. The problem with "covid deaths" are not that they are over or underreported. The problem is that the numbers do not correspond with reality. Looking at actual deaths, and seeing if there are more of them than other times, is the only way to know the truth. I recommend looking deeper than what the newspapers report. CDC, for example.

      The issue is not whether the govt plays God. The issue is whether *you* play God, supporting and promoting policies that arbitralily punish some and reward others, kill some and protect others, starve some while letting others work, and destroy liberties many people died to put into place. In Canada, air travelers are being disappeared into quarantine under arbitrary rules already.

      Maybe cases spiked because people were tested more, or the tests were spun above what they should have been. Maybe upper respiratory illnesses spike seasonally -- who woulda thunk!

      But you don't react to Julius' point about S. Dakota vs N. Dakota. If lockdowns made a difference at this point then N. Dakota would do considerably better, wouldn't you say? Or any other locked state.

      Do you think it's constitutional to silence and persecute doctors who publicly disagree with official covid directives?

    6. Hi vera, I'll address your points:

      If you have a link that compares actual deaths to expected deaths, I would be interested to see it.

      And honestly, saying that I am playing god by posting my opinion in the comments here is a laughable. If the government declared that everyone is free to open every business, travel where ever they want, and never wear a mask again, would you ignore the government, and say "I can't do any of that, I spoke to a random stranger in the comments of a website, and he's playing god, so you all have fun, I have to obey internet comment guy who is playing god?"

      If someone is willing to challenge my "scary math" based on arithmetic or base assumptions, then I will be willing to look at the S. Dakota vs. N. Dakota issue. At first glance it is obvious that they share a long border, and there will be a lot of cross infection between nearby areas.

      If S. Dakota and N. Dakota were each islands, then that would be a legitimate experiment. Please share a link if you think I'm missing something.

      Generally, if a doctor uses their board certification and societal respect to soapbox about scientifically discredited practices, they will likely will be shutdown. Getting an medical doctorate is not a blank check to make stuff up, and take advantage of the hopes of sick people. If the doctor wants to quietly advise people to drink bleach, or whatever, they will probably get away with it, but if they broadcast their discredited ideas, and try to lead a charge of rebels, they are asking to be knocked down. Sorry.

    7. Hi WI: Here are two links you may find useful. I go to CDC and do the arithmetic myself.

      Not all the numbers are in, but it is pretty clear that there are about 450k excess deaths compared to 2019. These are total deaths that include murders, suicides, overdoses, Alzheimer, hearth disease, and so on, including covid deaths. MSM often misrepresents this number as covid deaths. (That is one example of "scary math"... not really, just spin and lies of the official propaganda.)

      Excess death are really properly figured out by comparing to the average of the last 5 or 6 years, adjusted for population increase and possibly other factors I don't know about. I have not seen such a graph yet.

      An interesting site with a lot of graphs has just been pointed out to me. You may find it of interest.

      If you don't find the comparison of two similar states valid in evaluating the efficacy of lockdowns, then the graphs I could show you are moot. How do you yourself tell if the lockdown is working, if not by such comparison?

    8. I forgot to respond to your comments on playing God. I assume that people who support harmful policies are aiding and abetting them, even if they say nothing. The govt could do do the evil it does without complicity of the populace. Do you figure you get off scot free? Nothing to do with you?

    9. @wise individual 'Should 450,000 additional deaths occur for your convenience?' Say what? I didn't realise that being able to earn a living is merely a 'convenience'

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    12. WI, have you followed any of the info we provided? Or are you here just to throw words around and run?

      As for there being more dead people since you last posted... well, you know, people do die. ;-)

  13. Lockdowns R an affront to human dignity. Much like masks, travel restrictions, social distancing etc.

    COVID-19 is a FABLE. It's glaringly FAKE but the people of the world have been utterly dumbed down and R living @ sub-zero levels of cultural awareness. They cannot see what's happening with their own eyes.

    The "vaccines" R genocidal kill-shots and R wiping people out.

    Our political leaders sold us ALL out in 2005 when they all signed up for the UN-sponsored International Health Regulations that committed all 194 signature countries to carry out at least 2 epidemic simulation response exercises during 2020.

    Ergo, we've lost all our God-given human rights and now live under World Government medical martial law with NO CHANCE of escape.

    Forget trying to save the sheeple. A species so brain-dead that it's utterly oblivious to its own imminent extinction - has NO RIGHT TO SURVIVE anyway.

    1. My uncle and aunt contracted Covid and both died. My cousin and her husband contracted Covid. One recovered the other now has chronic health issues as a result. My father contracted Covid and it excaserbated his underlying health conditions and is now receiving palliative care. So Covid is very real for me and my family.

      I am a small business owner whose business has been impacted by the pandemic, and I also have relatives who suffer from anxiety and are having a hard time dealing with restrictions related to gathering. But we're all looking out for each other and finding creative ways to cope ... and we're doing our part to keep each other healthy.

    2. My condolences, Sharon.
      May I ask? How did your relatives care for themselves and each other when they got sick? This would be very helpful to all of us to know, what they tried and what did or did not work.
      And, to the topic of this post: how do you regard the policy of lockdowns? Am I wrong in assuming that it did not help your relatives so many of whom were hard hit?

    3. I wonder if "Sharon" is a covid troll? I have recently received a warning... people are noticing commenters coming in with 1) I know from experience it's a horror out there, and 2) we are "doing our part". In other words, be very afraid, and obey.

    4. @Vera I've also wondered this as I've encountered very similar messages on social media, which turn out to be activists or trolls working to shut down nuanced debates using exactly the tactics you described. But if she's genuine, I hope she comes back to get support. And I think your questions to her were spot on; it would be nice to get her perspective.

      Thanks for being part of the discussion - I'm enjoying your posts!

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    6. Julius, your post has brought back -- I am very happy to say! ;-) -- an old unfinished discussion I had on a blog run by an academic philosopher. He pushed me hard to "choose the lesser evil" and accept it as justified. If was a long discussion that never had a satisfactory conclusion. Mainly, due to everybody's fatigue, :-) but I think also because there was a piece missing. And your Bystander post has supplied that missing piece. I will eventually revisit that discussion. For now, I just want to say, thank you for this. You "made my day" with it.

    7. Vera - I'm really touched that I was able to make your day with my article - thank you. I'm really grateful for all the positive feedback.

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  14. Truly excellent write up.
    A lot of perspectives to think about

    Thank you

  15. I like your use of R, considering the current obsession with the term

  16. I blame the populace for becoming blind to the evils of their fellow people. The ability to think for one's self is becoming extinct. Unless the populace begins to vote in anathema to normal patterns, things will continue to get worse.

  17. Critically important and very well written. I need to find a way to powt this.

  18. I've just been targeted by propaganda at Yahoo forcing its way into my email acct, telling all and sundry that the toll of coronavirus in the US just passed the half million mark. Damn. The Malignant Overlords must be panicking. The numbers are coming down just about everywhere. Look forward to even more dishonest panic-mongering as spring comes and the unwashed masses clamor to be free to enjoy it.


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