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Controlling the Narrative Is Not the Same as Controlling the Virus

February 10, 2020

It's clear that the narrative about the coronavirus is being carefully managed globally to minimize the impact on global sentiment and markets. Authorities are well aware of the global economy's extreme fragility, and so Job One for authorities everywhere is to scrub the news flow of anything that doesn't support the implicit official narrative:


1. The coronavirus is only an issue in China; it's contained outside China.


2. The coronavirus will soon be contained in China, and global business will quickly return to normal.


In pushing this narrative, authorities around the world share the same goal: limit the damage to consumer confidence and markets, as the legitimacy of every regime from Beijing to Washington D.C. to Nairobi is based on maintaining these economic fictions:


1. Global growth will continue in an unbroken trend in the decades ahead.


2. This growth benefits everyone, not just elites.


As I've noted in previous posts, the critical dynamic here is consumer confidence: consumers cannot be allowed to become hesitant or afraid lest they stop borrowing, borrowing, borrowing, buying, buying, buying and speculating, speculating, speculating.


Authorities outside China have no more interest in accurate death totals being released than Chinese authorities, and so official agencies and the corporate media dutifully parrot the implausibly low Chinese statistics as if they reflected reality.


But controlling the narrative is not the same as controlling the virus. The narrative is intangible but the virus is real-world. Authorities are betting that controlling the narrative about the virus is equivalent to controlling the actual virus. If everyone believes only 800 people have died and the number of infected people is plummeting, they will obediently keep borrowing and buying and authorities will retain their legitimacy, power and wealth.


If controlling the narrative fails, elites' legitimacy, power and wealth are at risk.

Thought experiment: cremating human corpses generates a chemical plume with a signature that's measurable from low-orbit sensors. Rather than accept implausibly low Chinese claims about total deaths, why not use low-orbit assets to measure the chemical signatures of plumes above Wuhan and calculate an estimate of the total number of corpses being cremated daily?


Again, no one in authority anywhere on the planet wants the real death totals to become public: managed ignorance is bliss.


One of the key tactics in controlling the narrative is to withhold data. But-- no data doesn't mean no virus. Let's think through the implicit narratives as a series of claims and test the plausibility of each claim.



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