We’re more divided than ever it seems. How can we reconcile a COVID thesis and antithesis into an Alt-Middle synthesis? A deep dive.
– [Zubin] ♪ We getting fancy like Applebee’s on a date night ♪ ♪ with the Bourbon Street steak and the Oreo shake. ♪ What’s up, guys? I want to talk about division today. The things that are tearing us apart as society during COVID. This division into Covidiots, who just deny that this is a thing and are doing everything opposite to what the authorities are saying. And Covidians, who are brainwashed into thinking, we have an eternal pandemic and we should hide in a bubble for the rest of our lives.
I mean, and these basically I’m parodying this, I’m making it extreme, but this is actually how the two sides on the extremes see each other. So what I wanna talk about is this idea that Peter Limberg of the Stoa, and I’m going to link to his piece, talks about, which is this idea that COVID has been split into a thesis side, which is the kind of mainstream, you know, government industry argument and an antithesis side. Anti thesis, if you’re nasty, which is saying, no, I don’t think that thesis is right, and actually I think this is right. And which side you sort of lean towards is really very, very much influenced by what your particular moral palate is.
The kind of things that you value. Some of that is political, ideological. Some of it may even be religious, but it really gets down to what Jonathan Haidt, in his book, The Righteous Mind, described as our moral matrix, the sort of six flavors of morality that all of us are born with, but we value in different degrees. So I want to talk about all this because the goal of this is to help us understand why, okay, first of all, why are we so divided? Second of all, to be able to introspect and go, Hey, what’s going on in my own mind system about this? Why do I get so angry when I read something like this or that? Or why am I so apt to share this kind of information?
And so it can actually turn a lens back onto our own biases, right? Which we all have. I definitely have them. And I’ll probably talk about some of my biases as we talk about this. And then it helps us to actually push as a society to understand other people’s ideas based on their own moral matrix, their own moral palate, taste buds, and understand COVID to bring us from instead of just a thesis and an antithesis to a synthesis as Peter calls it, where we actually have some nuanced, I call it Alt-Middle, understanding of everything that is true, but partial about both arguments. And then we can make more educated decisions for ourselves, policy decisions, we can vote people in and out of office that are doing the synthesis instead of dividing into thesis and antithesis. All right. So, first of all, let’s talk about this. What is the COVID thesis position?
All right. This is the extreme thesis position. That COVID is a deadly dangerous disease. We’re in the middle of a pandemic that can kill tons and tons and tons of people and has. The way to fight this pandemic is the science, and the science says masks for pretty much everybody, school closures, lockdowns, mandates of these things. So in other words, government has to do this. Vaccines for pretty much everybody, as a preventative, and vaccine mandates as a policy, and on top of that vaccine passports as a policy. So this is the kind of distillation of the thesis position. It’s the extreme position here on this side, which is saying we have to do all these things. We have to do them and they have to be done this way through mandate, et cetera. The flavor of the thesis position is one of fear.
So fear of COVID, fear of not doing all these things and having people die, fear for yourself, fear for your loved ones, and fear of the antithesis position causing harm to them. Okay. So that’s the thesis position. So let’s look at the antithesis position, and I’m simplifying this. The antithesis position says, Hey, wait a minute. COVID is a disease that is bad for elderly people, people with comorbidities like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, immune compromise. But for the average, Joe, it’s a 99.7 plus survivable thing. So let’s put it in perspective. The second thing the antithesis side says is, masks don’t work. Show me the science that says masks work.
“The science” is degrading of science in general because there is no, “the science.” Science is a process, and it turns out that lockdowns are not scientifically backed. Closing schools is not scientifically backed. Masks for say, children are not scientifically backed. And in fact, the antithesis position says masks at all are not scientifically backed for the public. They feel that lockdowns, school closures, mask mandates, actually cause more harm to the population than good. And that the vaccine thing has been oversold in terms of safety and efficacy. And that vaccine mandates are unethical, inflict on freedoms and cause harm net.
So this is the antithesis position. And that the antithesis position says, why are we ignoring therapeutic drugs that don’t make pharma a lot of money, like say Ivermectin or earlier Hydroxychloroquine. The fear basis on the antithesis side, because remember fear is driving all of this. On the antithesis side is fear of loss of liberty, fear of increasing authoritarian control, fear of loss of autonomy and decision-making, and erosion of civil liberties and fear of economic damage from the response to the COVID pandemic. So that’s more or less, and there’s more in this, the thesis and the antithesis position. Now what’s interesting is thesis and antithesis positions have also further divided based on political lines. So, on a political basis, the thesis position has aligned with left leaning people. Now, why is this? Because, and we’re going to talk about moral matrix of the left and the right, but typically the left is very suspicious of industry like big pharma.
And they actually do not like the loss of autonomy that comes with industry telling you what to do. Like you got to get a booster. Now you got to get another booster. You gotta get this and that. So what happened here? Well, what happened here is, Donald Trump actually aligned early in the pandemic with the antithesis position early on, which meant if you were a good liberal or left leaning person, you pretty much automatically align with the thesis position. And I think that’s what happened. Now again, you can come at me if you think that’s not right, this is a discussion, right?
But I think that’s what it is, because people, especially in vaccines, like anti-vaccine sentiment has often been a function of rather leftist kind of positions. Like, a government can’t tell me mandates, what to put in my body, and the sanctity of my body and so on. This aligned with the left was one of the early political polarizations. And right-leaning people tended to align with the antithesis position, not always, but that’s what seemed to happen. Now, as this entrenched, you had a further polarization that was potentiated by social media, which rewards polarization. And probably by, if we’re being honest, by some state actors who weaponize social media to sow discord, like say Russia, or even China, actually create, I mean, there are bots, right, that create division, that take each side synthesis and antithesis. And so this began to further polarize, further instill this sort of separation between thesis and antithesis. No one looking for a synthesis of the positions, right? Very few, alt-middle people.
So what ends up happening then is you have this terminology that arises. The thesis folks start referring to hardcore antithesis people… Well, by the way, the antithesis politics here para political sort of flavor is one of conspiracy theory. So, you know, this is some kind of conspiracy. Now, and as Peter talks about it in his piece, in the Stoa, there’s two flavors of that thinking. One is that this is just the standard emergent conspiracy that happens when you have bungling incompetent governments and industry with its incentives, doing what they do.
And this emerges a kind of a culture of, hey, we gotta vaccinate everyone cause it’s going to make us money. And government always wants to grow and always wants to have more power. So during a pandemic is a perfect time for it to overreach and do that. And this is this kind of soft conspiracy idea that this just emerged from the idiocy, that is our system. But then there’s the hard conspiracy people who feel that there’s a power elite, like the Bill Gates people, these kinds of people that are actually pulling the strings here to institute a more authoritarian control of the population. Right? So there’s two kind of flavors of that conspiracy thinking in the hardcore antithesis side.
So the thesis side looks at antithesis side, I’m having a stroke. You know, ♪ we gettin fancy like Applebee’s, ♪ like you got to have a stroke to love that song. And honestly, I love that song. Kesha’s in it too, which makes it that much better. The thesis guys call the antithesis people Covidiots. The anti-mask, anti-vax, antilock down, open everything up, don’t close the schools, COVID is a hoax. You’re a Covidiot. That’s the pejorative term applied to antithesis. The antithesis side calls the thesis side Covidians.
So the Covidians are a brainwashed group of people that have been brainwashed by mainstream media, like CNN, et cetera, that continues to perpetuate the false narrative that this pandemic is first of all, never going to end. And that perpetuates a culture of safety-ism that says you gotta do anything it takes to keep everybody safe without regard to the harm that it’s causing, actually in the bigger picture. And so you’re just a brainwashed Covidian. You’re just swallowing Fauci’s narrative, et cetera. And so this is where we are. And so families have been divided along these lines. It’s crazy, and I get these emails and people will tell me, I don’t know how to talk to my spouse anymore, because they’re a Covidiot. And you’re just like, what the health? So, all right. Why, first of all, why would we even tend to one group or another?
And by the way, I know there’s a lot of you out there that are right, like, nah, I see aspects of both. We’re going to talk about that. Cause that’s the synthesis Alt-Middle position that we’re striving for. That’s the moral of the story is like, this is where we need to be to save our race, the human race from destruction. Let’s be honest. We’ve gotten so polarized that this is an existential risk, now. We can’t make sense of anything because we actually continue to cherry pick data to confirm our biases. So we can’t even make sense.
Like simple facts are no longer true because it’s just however we spin it through our matrix. All right. So why would we lean one way or another? Well, this has to do with Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Matrix kind of theory, this moral foundations theory, that we have these six moral taste buds and how we apply them to the world is how we see the world. We’re all trying to be good. Most of us, almost all of us with the exception of psychopaths and really, you know, bad actors, but those are rare, relatively. What are these moral taste buds? Well, there’s the care versus harm, moral flavor, like the sense & intuition, and by the way, these evolved over millions of years to keep us safe. These moral intuitions as tribal creatures. So care versus harm. I really worry about my family, other people’s families. I don’t want to see people get hurt.
So this idea of compassion in the face of suffering, That’s a moral intuition. So let’s apply that to the pandemic. On the thesis side. Well, I don’t want people to die of COVID. So I want to do everything I can to keep them safe, even if it means locking down, and closing schools, and masking two year olds, and vaccinating everyone by force, because it’ll keep them safe. And that’s a good thing, we want to eliminate suffering. On the antithesis side, care versus harm manifests as, Hey, you’re harming businesses that have been built over decades, and they’re going out of business. You’re harming our liberties, which we’ll talk about that’s different moral taste, bud, actually. And I don’t trust the science that you’re saying justifies this. All right. So what’s the next moral taste bud? Well, the next one is fairness versus cheating. So in tribal humans, it evolved very quickly that if you cheated and didn’t pull your weight in the community, that needed to be figured out really quickly. So we have this moral intuition against cheating, against doing no work and getting the benefit that the rest of the tribe gets. Well on the thesis side, this makes sense in the sense that they look at the Covidiots and go, Hey, you don’t wear a mask. You’re putting me at risk. You’re not pulling your weight. You won’t get vaccinated to lower the general rate of transmission in the community. What’s wrong with you? Like fairness versus cheating.
Now, on the antithesis side, fairness versus cheating is a kind of, it’s looked at as, the elite get to sit around on zoom and tell everybody to lock down. What is this preferentially hurting? Poor people. That’s not very fair. When you close a school, who are you hurting? Poor people, minorities. That’s not very fair. You see? So both sides feel very much in the right, from the same moral taste bud with different interpretations of it, and different sort of valuation of the other taste buds, which we’re going to talk about. So what’s the third one. Well, the third one is autonomy. Or sorry. It’s authority versus subversion, authority versus subversion. So we evolve to actually value authority, value expertise, because the tribe had to divide certain expertise. They were good hunters. They were good leaders. You value that authority, the tribes survives, right? But there’s also a subversive aspect of our personality, where we do try to overthrow authority that becomes abusive.
So the authority versus subversion, you know, we really value authority. While on the thesis side, Fauci, the CDC, the government, pharmaceutical industry. These are our authorities, they are our experts, they are our scientists, we should listen to them. The antithesis side, Hey, these authorities have been derelict in their duties. They’re actually biased. They’re actually corrupt. So, you know, whether it’s Fauci funded, gain of function research, or whatever it is the antithesis side says, that’s not an authority they trust, right? So they don’t want to be listening to that authority. They want that authority changed. So authority versus subversion. Now another moral taste bud is loyalty versus betrayal. Now, this one’s interesting because this is in-group versus out-group. This is like being true to your tribe or betraying them by believing or saying something that violates. How much have we seen this manifest? If you say, if you deviate from what thesis or antithesis says, and you’re in that tribe, you are screwed. Hi guys, that’s me. Everybody hates me because I can’t fit in the pure science thesis tribe, because I’ve said things like, Hey, I think closing schools is a dumb idea and masking babies is probably dumb or whatever it is. You know, based on whatever I’m saying that week, you know, young kids, vaccinating, giving boosters to everybody as no data behind it. I don’t think we should do that. Okay. Now I’ve pissed off the thesis side.
Oh, but you know what? These conspiracy theories are really loony and anything on Rumble probably should just be deleted. And you know what? Vaccines actually work, especially if you’re vulnerable. So we should ought to be doing that. And certain mitigation measures are probably a decent idea. Well, now I’ve pissed off the antithesis side. Anytime I basically opened my mouth, I piss off both these sides. So that’s a loyalty versus betrayal piece. If you’re loyal to one or the other tribe, or you identify with that tribe, and I say the wrong thing, you’re not going to like me. In fact, you’re going to brand me as evil. That’s what we see on social media, on Twitter. It’s good versus bad, good versus evil. And some of that is the loyalty versus betrayal piece, right? That’s why people like, you know, say Vinay Prasad, Marty Makary. They don’t fit cleanly into one tribe or another. And they’re hated by their own self-professed tribe. It’s really interesting. So that’s loyalty versus betrayal.
Now, a really interesting one is sanctity versus degradation. So the sacred versus defilement. So if you’re a religious Christian, somebody like, you know, burning a cross or something is probably a defilement. If you’re a patriotic American burning the flag as a defilement, if you’re a health nut, somebody’s injecting you with a vaccine against your will, is a defilement. You see, this evolved, this kind of disgust and sacredness evolved to keep us safe from toxins and poisonous foods and things like that. So we had this kind of thing happen. And now it’s part of our matrix it’s part of who we are. We’re moral, intuitive creatures. So how do we think about that in terms of the thesis, antithesis? Well, the thesis side sees sanctity versus degradation as, Hey, my body needs to be safe from COVID. COVID is gross. I don’t want it. I’m going to do anything I can to avoid it. And it’s disgusting, you walking around without a mask and not getting vaccinated and coughing everywhere. Okay.
Antithesis side, my body is sacred. You want me to inject this mRNA that is new and so on and so forth, and that’s a violation of my the body is temple and that’s not okay. Right. And I also hold other things sacred that you’re violating with this thing, like the right not to wear a mask, et cetera. That moral tastes bud plays out in different ways on each side of this. Now the last one is liberty versus oppression. And this is a good one. This is a real powerful one during COVID. So liberty versus oppression means, hey, autonomy versus somebody telling me I can’t do something, inhibiting freedom. I really have this one strong. This is one that I, care versus harm, and liberty versus oppression are my big, my own ones that I, that if morality is a graphic equalizer of different levels of these moral taste buds, my liberty versus oppression is through the roof. My care versus harm is very high as well. I also have a very high fairness versus cheating. I don’t like people who cheat. So, and the other stuff, you know, it’s there, but I don’t care that much, loyalty versus I don’t care, and sanctity versus degradation. There’s certain things that I do hold quite sacred. Loyalty versus betrayal, you know, I think you should just be true to yourself, and if that means betraying people around you, because they’re not true to you, then, you know, so be it. So that’s my own matrix. So liberty versus oppression during the pandemic, this is clear, right?
The antithesis side owns this very heavily, which is, Hey, you cannot impinge on my rights unless there’s due cause, and this pandemic is not a due cause. It affects the old and the sick, and that is not me. Why are you telling me what to do? And you’re messing with the economy. You’re telling you have to put up a mask on my face and a mask on my kid. You’re telling me I have to vaccinate myself. And soon, I have to vaccinate my kid. This is abhorrent to the liberty versus oppression piece. And actually that probably is why when I do lean towards antithesis side, it’s that liberty versus oppression piece. It’s like, you better show me a really good care versus harm reason that I should do this, that’s science backed, before I’m going to violate my liberty versus oppression thing, right? Now on the thesis side, liberty versus oppression says, Hey, we want to open up and we want to be free, we need to take these, like your freedom ends, where it impacts me directly, right? So you can kind of skin that different ways. So now we have the moral palate, so we can look at other people who disagree with us and go, oh, they have a different moral palate.
They’re seeing the world through that lens, but they’re still trying to be good. And can I put myself in their position? Can I understand their moral matrix and why they’re doing what they do? And if I can, then I can probably have a dialogue with them, right? So this is the requisite for coming to a synthesis position, an Alt-Middle. Everything is true, but partial let’s pull the truth out and try to come up with something that vibrates with a degree of reality and truth, right? And in order to do that, first of all, we have to recognize the problem. And the problem is this, this division into Covidiots and Covidians. The fact that social media polarizes and weaponizes that. There are probably state actors who really love to see this division, and then we need to understand this as an existential threat to sense-making and irrationality. And I will tell you if you don’t feel this today, like if you are not feeling this energy in the world right now of division, I don’t think you’re awake. Honestly. Like there are some people who are more sensitive to this. I consider myself one of them.
Like, I feel it. And it causes me pain, because it’s clear after a lot of, you know, work. And, you know, like I said, I have my own biases, but it’s clear that this is not a productive way to have a civilization continue to be divided so much into tribes. These little memetic tribes that we can’t even agree on what is good anymore. And facts are no longer, like authority is completely meaningless unless it’s your authority, right? And these tribes that have split, whether they’re, you know, whatever you can call it, there’s a billion different sub-tribes, and Peter Limberg and the STOA have another great piece on Culture Wars 2.0, on the different memetic, meme coming from idea, tribes that have coalesced since, you know, the end of the cold war and social media really accentuates them, that you can form these little groups.
And the conspiracy stuff is what happens when, you want to back up what you believe based on your morality with data, you want to get the validation. So you’ll find it somewhere because now that we have an internet, you can find data to support any, any angle you want to take. Oh, Ivermectin, you want to support that? Look at Uttar Pradesh. Then the thesis side goes, yeah, Ivermectin it’s garbage. Look at Uttar Pradesh. And the antithesis side is gonna say, oh, you gave ivermectin and the cases went away in Uttar Pradesh. Thesis side will say, yeah, the cases were going away because natural immunity happened and Delta ripped through the population, and that’s the normal dynamics of Delta. By the way, natural immunity is something I didn’t mention. Thesis side, natural immunity, meh! You need to be vaccinated. Natural immunity is not strong enough. Antithesis aside, natural immunity’s real bro. And it’s maybe stronger. It’s def… No that’s an antithesis side is it’s definitely stronger than vaccine immunity. So why are you making me vaccinate when I’ve been naturally exposed? How do we come to a thesis? How do we come to, not a thesis, a synthesis of all this?
This is the prime challenge of our era. This is now the prime challenge. First of all, you cannot villainize or demonize each side. You have to understand there’s going to be extremes that are crazy on both sides, but that the vast majority of people are trying to be good based on their moral matrix. So we have to, first of all, open dialogue between the sides that doesn’t involve, shaming and name calling and ad hominems and logical fallacies. We need to introspect and see our own moral matrix and bias so that we can go, okay, so when am I just feeding my own confirmation bias? I know when I see an article come through and it just immediately gives me a little shot of dopamine. I’m like, oh, there’s my confirmation bias. Let me look at this article carefully and try to poke holes in it, because it’s saying what I believe, which means I better be really skeptical because the easiest people to fool are ourselves, right? Then we need to have dialogue across these lines respectfully, right? This is very, very important.
And that’s what I call Alt-Middle. It has a lot of different names. Some people just call it rational discourse, civil society. Some people call it integral thinking, if you’re a Ken Wilber fan. There’s a million ways to call it, but we need to do it. We need to live it. We need to respect it. We need to elevate it. We need to teach our kids it. We need to teach it in school. We need to teach critical thinking, looking at our own biases, understanding moral foundations theory. And we need more people like Peter writing pieces that try. I mean, he was quite heartfelt in this piece. He says, people who are very sensitive now are feeling this schism in the collective consciousness. And if we’re going to wake up as a society and solve the biggest problems of our time, there are a lot of them. I don’t need to list them. If we can’t even make sense and talk to each other, we’re doomed. That’s the end of the species, right? I’m not being hyperbolic, you guys. I’m really not. I wish I was. So, my own mission and I fail a lot.
I know I’m going to, I see the comments already, ZDogg, you’re the first to throw ad hominems at this group and that group, and you’ve said this and that. Yes. I’m not perfect. I’m trying. I’m just putting my mission out there and you guys can hold me accountable to it. All right. Which is to bring an Alt-Middle synthesis position on COVID and on as many things as we can to keep criticizing things that are not working. Cause naming the problem is like 90% of the way to solving it. Really understanding the problem. All right. Now, what can you do? Share this video, read the article that I sent. You may have things that you quibble with in it. That’s fine. But start this dialogue. Approach people that you disagree with respectfully using this as an intuition. stop living online and actually have real conversations, real in-person conversations or on the phone. That is vastly different than dehumanizing somebody across a social media chasm where there’s zeros and ones. They’re a non playable character, basically an NPC.
Don’t don’t do that. These are human beings. And once you feel that the moral matrix of care versus harm and all these things come online, we wake up, we become alive, we become connected. Our right brain comes online and says, you know what? Holistically, we’re all one thing. So helping you helps me, in the grandest sense. Understanding you means I’ve been understood. That’s just how it is. All right. So much love for you guys. ♪ It’s like Applebee’s on a date night. ♪ ♪ Get the bourbon street steak and the OREO shake ♪ ♪ and the Wendy’s. ♪ I don’t know the rest of lyrics, but it’s good. Oh, ♪ the Natty in the styrofoam ♪ ♪ squeaking in the back of the truck. ♪ I have to look that up. That’s apparently Natural Light beer. All right. I love you guys, and we are out. Peace.
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