Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Brain God Gave You

 

Previously: The Book of Abraham Controversy Finally Laid to Rest

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” -Galileo Galilei

One of the more encouraging signs I see lately is the growing number of members of the church who are refusing to blindly follow church leaders who are teaching contrary to the will of God. 


I particularly have in mind here apostle Dale Renlund's announcement in December that "wearing a face covering is a sign of Christlike love for our brothers and sisters."

You'll pardon me for wondering how he thinks that's supposed to work.  Before he was selected to be an apostle, Renlund's day job was as a cardiologist. I assume he used to perform heart surgery in that capacity, and I expect he has probably worn face masks during those operations. Is he extrapolating the wearing of a protective mask while performing an operation as somehow comparable to preventing the spread of infection to random people outside the operating room?  Or is he simply suggesting that when we are seen wearing face masks, our brothers and sisters will somehow get the message that we care about them? 

It makes more sense if we're wearing them as mere symbols, because there are no scientific studies that show face masks are effective in preventing the spread of infection. Studies have shown that, outside healthcare facilities, face masks are are essentially useless in stopping the spread of infections. And they do very little good inside those facilities as well.  Since Renlund is a cardiologist, one would expect him to be up to speed on the science in this area.  So, what would make Renlund decide to put on the dumb guy hat and demonstrate to the whole world that he doesn't understand how science works?

To the scientists who have actually run studies on this stuff, Renlund's pronouncement borders on the ridiculous.  Here is what the New England Journal of Medicine had to say:

"We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection." -Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era, New England Journal of Medicine May 21, 2020

That study was compiled by five medical professionals who hold multiple degrees, and it contains 92 supporting citations which will direct the reader to actual research and scientific studies to support their thesis. Dale Renlund would be aware that the New England Journal of Medicine is one of the world's most prestigious medical journals.  Still, since he is now retired from medicine I suppose he can be excused for not keeping up with the latest science. But I don't think the Lord will look favorably on him for invoking His name to promote superstition in the name of religion. 

And that's what the science concludes: that the wearing of face masks to ward off disease represents the triumph of superstition over science. There's is no other way to look at it.

That NEJM report was written out of concerns for hospital personnel -notably nurses and support staff- who were concerned about contracting COVID-19, given the hysteria promoted in the early weeks last year by the news media, which, you'll recall, greatly exaggerated the dangers of the virus. (It was going to spread and multiply until it killed pretty much everyone, in case you've forgotten.)

While it's true the virus poses some risk to hospital personnel, it's not likely to be fatal as previously believed.  And it won't be a problem to everyone on staff even if directly exposed, and there's almost no risk of healthy persons who do not work in a medical facility being exposed and winding up on an intubator (remember those?)  As the report clarifies, significant exposure to COVID-19 is defined as "face to face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (some say 10 to 30 minutes.) [Emphasis mine.]

Here's the key takeaway for those who do not spend time inside a medical facility:

"The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic."

Remember how this report laid out the truth in its second paragraph? "We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection." The scientific evidence on this topic has never changed, regardless of what you have been told by politicians, news media, or religious leaders.  You should especially question the bureacrats who walk around with near-meaningless titles like "Public Health Official" because they are bought-and-paid-for shills of the political class and they never cite the science they pretend to rely on when telling you what you have to do.

When did you see Dr. Tony Fauci cite a research study when doling out more of his unsupported opinions on why you can't have a life but he can do whatever he wants?   Well, it did happen once that I know of.  The one and only time I ever saw Fauci's name on a bona fide research paper was in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine itself, where he was one of three MDs who correctly predicted that the expected pandemic would turn out to be little different than a severe flu the likes of which  Americans experienced once per decade back in the nineteen fifties and sixties:

"If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively." Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., H. Clifford Lane, M.D., and Robert R. Redfield, M.D.-Covid-19: Navigating the Uncharted; New England Journal of Medicine February 28. 2020. (Emphasis added.)

It's looking like the early prediction of Fauci and his colleagues may end up being closer to the truth by the time all this pans out, as the actual number of people who died "from" Covid (as opposed to the many thousands deceptively counted as having died "with" Covid) is a tiny, tiny percentage. The great majority of the larger number died from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, pneumonia, and obesity, as well as various other illnesses it's not uncommon for people to die from. Those massive numbers of fatalities were only counted as Covid deaths because there was money to be made by inflating the numbers.

Fauci was much more conservative in his estimates that time he published in the NEJM than he is whenever he gets a TV camera pointed at him today.  He knew that in the Journal his conclusions would be peer reviewed. So if Fauci were to actually publish, in a peer-reviewed journal, some hyperbolic nonsense about how "it's likely" that if one mask is effective, then two or more "might be" even better when his peers are well aware of the studies that show masks are not effectve at all - I expect he would have been laughed out of the fraternity.  Fauci knows full well that when he was writing for his peers he had to carefully stick to the science, but when spouting off in front of the cameras (where no reporter ever seems to ask him what sources he's citing) he can get away with the most egregious exaggerations as long as he prefaces his comments with qualifiers such as "I think," or "maybe," or "it's likely," or "I guess it's possible."

You should know there are quite a number of medical professionals who have been critical of Fauci for engaging in self-promotion when he could have been making a difference.  But you never hear of them because Fauci has star power and all they have is years of experience treating patients.  Why should Fauci care when others less well-known than he is are critical of him? He's the highest paid employee in the entire U.S. government. That makes him too rich and too famous to care. 


Very Superstitious, Writing's On The Wall
Let's get back to that paper from the New England Journal of Medicine that tells us masks offer very little if no protection against an infection  If this is true, why do people buy into the fraud?  More to the point, why are hospital workers, who one would think would know better, so intent on wearing them even in situations when wearing them isn't even remotely necessary?

Well, the short answer is they've been scared by the non-stop media propaganda telling them how deadly and contagious this virus is.  When people are bombarded with a lie long enough and often enough, they not only come to believe the lie, but to embrace it as the truth. When people allow fear to overtake them they lose the capacity for critical thinking. They become more willing to go along with whatever they're told to do in order to "get back to normal."  In a word, they move from being scientific in their approach to becoming supersitious:

"First and foremost, a mask is a core component of the personal protective equipment (PPE) clinicians need when caring for symptomatic patients with respiratory viral infections, in conjunction with gown, gloves, and eye protection. Masking in this context is already part of routine operations for most hospitals. What is less clear is whether a mask offers any further protection in health care settings in which the wearer has no direct interactions with symptomatic patients..."

From the familiar tools of their profession, the authors eventually show the gradual slide from the scientific method into something decidedly less rational: 

"...It is also clear that masks serve symbolic roles. Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans that may help increase health care workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals. Although such reactions may not be strictly logical, we are all subject to fear and anxiety, especially during times of crisis. One might argue that fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask...but it is difficult to get clinicians to hear this message in the heat of the current crisis." (New England Journal of Medicine, ibid)

Do you see how easy it is for otherwise rational beings to go from a scientific mindset to one ruled by the superstitious need for a talisman in order to feel safe?  A "talisman," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is an object supposed to have occult or magic powers, something "worn as an amulet to avert evil...a thing that acts as a charm or achieves remarkable results." 

I can think of few things falsely assumed to "achieve remarkable results" than a silly piece of cloth worn across the face that is somehow thought to have sufficient magical powers that microscopic viruses will find it impossible to make their way between the comparatively large spaces between the threads.  "Talisman" is the right word to describe this insane superstition.  In an earlier age, a talisman would have been something the local witch doctor would advise you to wear around your neck in order to protect you from bad juju. You've heard the analogy: expecting viruses to be stopped by a cloth or paper mask is like putting up a chain link fence and hoping to keep out a swarm of mosquitoes. 

Face masks are not only useless, they are worse than useless, because the side pressing against your nose and mouth can't help but get more and more moist with bacteria and redirect more and more carbon dioxide back into your lungs at a time when what your lungs need more than anything is pure oxygen.  The only thing I can think of more dangerous than a grown person wearing a mask is when a grown person forces a child to wear a mask.  That does not just border on child abuse, that is child abuse.  If you're looking forward to having a child with some serious health issues down the road, just keep it up.

In order for you to catch the virus in the grocery store or anywhere else, you would have to come in close contact for at least 10 to 30 minutes with someone who was visibly exhibiting flu-like symptoms, and that person would have to cough or sneeze directly into your face, in which case even if you were wearing a mask around your nose and mouth, those juicy little droplets would spray directly into your eyes anyway.  So tell me again what good you thought wearing that mask around your mouth was gonna do if you aren't also wearing a scuba mask? 

I don't know about you, but in my entire lifetime not once has any person over the age of two ever coughed or sneezed directly in my face.  I now live in Northern Idaho, so things may be different in these parts from where you live, but ever since the "pandemic" became a thing, I have not seen any rampant outbreak of sneezing and coughing among the populace at any time when I was interacting out among the locals.  I did once sees a congressman on TV lower his mask like a four-year-old so he could sneeze directly into his hand, but that just demonstrates that he was too dumb to realize the entire purpose of wearing a mask in the first place is if you're going to sneeze, the mask is there to catch all that snot, you slobbering moron. 

But that's a politician.  We expect them to be stupid.  At any rate, there was never any danger of my contracting a virus from that guy because I keep myself more than six feet away from politicians at all times just as a matter of principle. 


But I digress. 

We were talking about Dale Renland, Weren't We?
Assuming Renland is sold on wearing face masks on account of he's used to wearing them when performing surgery, you may find this of interest: It turns out there is some debate among medical experts as to whether some members of a surgical team even need to wear masks at all, given that the only kind of mask that actually provides a modicum of protection, the N95, sometimes has the nasty side effect of making the surgeon less competent due to the restricted ability to breathe through those damn things.  This means the surgeon experiences restricted oxygen to the brain at the very time he needs to have all his wits and faculties at the ready. This is no time for the doctor to start feeling woozy.

So there is now a debate in some quarters over whether masks should be abandoned, or at least made optional by some team members during some operations. It remains to be seen whether surgeons themselves will ever decide to give them up, but already some anasthesiologists were the first to opt out:

"When introduced a century ago, the purpose of the surgical facemask was to provide protection for the patient from surgical wound infections. But is there evidence that face masks prevent wound infections? A recent review concluded that it is not clear whether face masks prevent surgical wound infections, and the scientific evidence for this practice is weak and insufficient.  Questioning the efficacy of surgical face masks, an established routine in operating rooms worldwide, is clearly controversial given the tradition of the practice. Recognizing the lack of sound scientific evidence, we have changed facemask routines in several units at the Karolinska University Hospital." (Is Routine Use of a Face Mask Necessary in the Operating Room?  Anesthesiology December 2010, Vol. 113, 1447.)

Of course that was a decade ago, before rationality was displaced by fear of the unknown.  It wouldn't surprise me to learn that these sensible polcies have now been reversed, not because the science has suddenly discovered that masks block tiny viruses, but because there has been a sudden change in the zeitgeist.

I think we can all agree that whether or not face masks should be required on members of surgical teams, at the very least protective screens should be mandatory in all hospital galleries after the tragic Junior Mint incident of 1993:


Does God Want You Following The Leaders?

I suppose some dyed-in-the wool Brethrenites in the church will point out that all this talk of "evidence" and the "scientific method" is moot because Brother Renlund made it clear that when he came up with that odd idea about a face covering demonstrating Christ-like love, he was careful to note he was not speaking as a cardiologist, but as an apostle.  Well, unfortunately that doesn't make it any better. A "clarification" like that only raises more difficult questions, such as why in the world would a guy with a position of authority blurt out such an absurd opinion? Didn't it occur to him to first seek the guidance of the Lord before invoking Christ's name in such a flippant manner?

Certainly Brother Renlund must be aware that many latter-day saints will immediately assume that because of his title and station in the Church, he must certainly be speaking on behalf of the Lord.  And sure enough, that's exactly what has happened. 

Although a growing number of members have, like me, read the science and concluded that they would prefer to follow the science rather than blindly follow politicians and media personalities, a separate faction is accusing these sincere believers of sinning against the Church.  And what, you may ask, is that sin? Refusing to follow the leaders.

I think these pro-mask zealots would be hard-pressed to find anything in scripture that would indicate God has declared that anyone should follow any church leader.  That's one of those false tradtions that keeps tripping Mormons up and eventually results in the Church having to frantically backpedal away from it.  The only instance I can find in scripture that one could possibly interpret as a suggestion that members should be  "following" a particular prophet is in D&C 21:4 where the Lord tells His congregation that they should "heed" the words Joseph speaks.  But look closer.  We are not to give heed to Josephs's words simply because Joseph holds the title of a prophet;  we are to heed the words Joseph speaks exactly as he receives them from the Lord. 

So it isn't Joseph's words we are to heed; it is the exact words he receives from the Lord. That is what we should be giving heed to.  We certainly are not to "follow" Joseph, but instead to heed the words he speaks which he received from the mouth of God Himself.  To "heed" means to "give consideration to."  It does not mean you are to blindly follow the speaker simply because the speaker has a title in front of his name.  Joseph himself, who we know was ordained of God because we have the documents to prove it, warned the saints to stop depending on him because that was causing them to be darkened in their minds. The last thing he wanted was followers.

Do you think it's possible for the members today to become darkened in their minds if they blindly comply with the words of a random church leader who did not even pretend to be speaking the words God put in his mouth?  I don't think Jesus would take kindly to that. To promote the wearing of face masks as some peculiar token of your devotion to Christ contradicts all reason, logic, and common sense.

It was this tradition of blindly following church leaders that has gotten us into so much trouble.  The Church is still trying to dig itself out of the mess promulgated by Brigham Young and every president who came after him that had us all promoting the idea that God had declared the African people to be grossly inferior to the rest of us.  It was just assumed by all of us -including me as a missionary in the mid-seventies- that God had given Brigham Young a revelation to that effect.  This tradition we have of "following the leaders" no matter what they say has forced the Church to rapidly backpedal away from statements such as this:

"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind . . . Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290).
We now know Brigham had received no revelation on this, that Brigham Young was a product of his time who carried with him the same unwarranted prejudices of a good many misguided Christians of his day.  Why haven't the members learned from that mistake? 

Yes, I am aware that the current president of the Church has made a show of taking the vaccine, and he did so as an example to all the members, obviously hoping they would do the same.  But I suppose it doesn't occur to some of these Brethrenites that those who have chosen not to take the vaccine have come to that decision after weighing the overwhelming evidence that is now coming forth exposing these experimental "vaccines" to have been untested and in many cases quite dangerous.  They have prayed for guidance as to whether they should take that jab. Why would they want to follow the president of the Church if the Lord tells them otherwise?

One of the strangest things I've seen lately is the comments under the Salt Lake Tribune stories where those who favor masks, lockdowns, and vaccines are convinced these think-for-themselves members have only taken their contrary stands because they chose to follow Donald Trump as their prophet.  But this shows a mountain of ignorance on the part of the pro-vaxxers.  The reality is most of those who have decided to forgo the needle have not made that choice because of any political leanings.  The guy you think these people worship is the same guy who irresponsibly fast-tracked those untested vaccines, and he has quite recently encouraged everyone to take the shot in spite of the overwhelming evidence that accepting that shot would be akin to playing Russian Roulette with one's health.

The people you criticize for "not following the prophet" are most decidedly not following Donald Trump in this matter.  If anything, they are angry at him. They are vigorously rejecting Trump's counsel, just as they are rejecting the counsel of men who put forth their own unsupportable opinions without consulting the science and without having importuned for a single revelation from the Lord in order to make certain they're not in the wrong. 

I'll have more to say about the so-called "vaccines" at a later date.  For now I wanted to focus on what the science says about the wearing of face masks in public, and why the Lord does not bless those who blindly obey politicians merely because there has been a concerted push by the those same politicians to get everyone on board. God gave you a brain because he expects you to use it, to seek the truth and not simply do what those in power tell you you must do. 

I follow the Lord and I follow science.  What I don't follow is people pushing pseudo-science and people pretending to speak for the Lord who have not been privy to His counsel.  The former is unscientific and the latter is blasphemy.


When you believe in things
That you don't understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain't the way.
-Stevie Wonder

                                                                   *****

Related Posts:

How Not Wearing a Mask Will Eternally Damn You is a recent post written by my friend and fellow blogger over at Latter-Day Truth.  LD has an annoying habit of writing pieces I wish I had written, so don't miss this.

Not Quite The Same
Some people reading this might object to my position that the general authorities are not authorized to simply speak and have their words accepted as doctrine every time. This explains how the Lord works through revelations spoken in HIS words and His alone.

Muh Muh Muh My Corona Part One: Science Is Your friend
This is the first part of my classic study on the virus, the first of which was published on March 22nd of last year. The facts recorded then still hold up.  You can follow this post to get to all four.

I'll be talking about the dangers of the covid "vaccines" next time, along with a ranting screed about the dangers of The Brethren talking out of their butts and trying to pass their opinions off as the will of God.  In the meantime, if you have the stomach and the stamina for it, I'll leave you with this collection of horror stories that have accumulated in just the past few weeks.

UPDATE:
As it happens, no sooner had I posted today's issue than Denver Snuffer also weighed in on the the odd way in which the covid vaccine is being promoted.  In this short piece Denver, who is an attorney,  reminds you that because the vaccine has been neither tested nor approved, if you take it and experience death or disability, the onus is on you. You cannot sue the manufacturer, the pharmacy, your doctor, or the government, even if they all assured you the vaccine was perfectly safe, because the law assumes you knew the dangers and took the risk anyway.  Read it HERE.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Book of Abraham Controversy Finally Laid To Rest


In recent years there have been a handful of (what purported to be) scholarly dissertations on the Book of Abraham that strongly suggested that document was a fraud. 

According to that received narrative, given what is now known regarding Egyptology, Joseph's translation from the papyrus could not possibly have been accurate.  The conclusion is that the Book of Abraham was a fake; Joseph Smith most certainly made it all up in his head.

I believe I've read most of these arguments and even watched the documentary that has been floating around, and I must say those arguments have been compelling.  Yet when I would actually go back and read the Book of Abraham, the contents of that book rang true to me. Although the naysayers seemed -at least on the surface- to have an almost airtight case against Joseph's work, I remained skeptical of their conclusions. There must be something missing, I decided, some element of the story I wasn't aware of.  Turns out I was right. 

Two weeks ago some 600 people pitched their tents at Aravada Springs, Nevada for a gathering put on by some of the local members of the loosely defined "Remnant" movement.  Denver Snuffer was invited to speak at this informal conference, and his topic centered around the provenance of the Book of Abraham. That talk lasted almost four hours, with a break halfway through for dinner.   Trust me when I say the evidence presented was eye-opening.  

I'm not going to try to summarize Denver's presentation here; instead I'll simply post the video below.  If  you have ever had questions about the validity of the Book of Abraham, the answer to those questions is simple. But the explanation takes some time to lay out, so it's best if you sit back and allow Denver to the time to walk you through it.  Denver has also provided a complete transcript which contains copious footnotes and citations.  I'm posting a link to document below as well.  

In point of fact, if there is anything fraudulent about the Book of Abraham, it's that the translation in the "authorized" set of scriptures Mormons have been given starts off with an introduction that was not written by Joseph Smith, but later added by Willard Richards under the direction of his cousin, Brigham Young, neither of whom knew what the hell they were talking about.  (I've included a scan of that introduction in the upper left-hand corner of this page.) Willard implies something about the translation not found anywhere in the text of the Book of Abraham itself, as you'll see when you read or listen to Denver's explication. That misleading introduction, which Mormons tend to accept as an integral part of the scripture, has been responsible for sending both anti-Mormon scholars and Mormon apologists off in the wrong direction every time. Watch the video and you'll see.




 You can download the transcript (in Word format) by clicking HERE

Extra Bonus Material
If four hours on the Book of Abraham is not enough for you, also presented at that conference was a fascinating exposition by Vaughn Hughes titled The Electric Book of Abraham and Book of Mormon. That one lasts over two hours.  Although I have not yet watched Vaughn's presentation in full (I'm still going over Denver's footnotes), I am quite familiar with the subject matter, and I count Vaughn Hughes one of my closest friends and a brilliant teacher.  Find the time to watch this one. It will give you a whole new way of looking at the universe -a universe Abraham understood far better than most do today.

 

The Electric Book of Abraham and Book of Mormon



In closing, don't forget to buy my T-shirts!

Just kidding. I don't sell T-shirts. But I do have another blog that's entirely different from this one. Check  it out sometime.