Alex Berenson’s Pandemia: A Review
Alex Berenson, Pandemia: How Coronavirus Hysteria Took Over Our Government, Rights, and Lives (Regnery: Washington D.C., 2021). 464 pp. ISBN 978-1-68451-248-5. $29.99.
For the first months of the pandemic, I was a Corona hysteric. I had the virus very early; for four days I was extremely sick, and as I recovered and Europe began to lock down, I read the panic pornography of Tomas Pueyo and thought we might well be facing a mass casualty event. Everything reinforced this message, from obscure Twitter accounts to colleagues to German state media. There were critics too, but in those early days it was hard to find them. Those who came to my notice turned out to be saying a lot of things that were just wrong, and in this way they played into the hands of the containment regime. It was easy for casual readers to think that sanity and good judgement lay entirely with Team Lockdown.
I found Berenson’s Twitter account in mid-March. I didn’t agree with him most of the time, but it was clear to me that he was more than just another crank. He had a way of pointing out simple facts that nobody in the press wanted to talk about, and – more importantly – that you didn’t realise nobody was talking about. Totalising media discourse has a way of appearing seamless and comprehensive even when it’s not, and it can be very hard to get outside of it. When Neil Ferguson published his panic model on 16 March, for example, I was pretty sure it was propagandist nonsense. (Even in my hystericist days I was never that far gone.) But not until reading Berenson’s tweets did I realise that the press was happy to report on dire Corona forecasts, and happy to report on dire mortality statistics, but very reluctant indeed ever to notice the ongoing failure of the mode
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