*Gone Viral* with Justin Hart
With the pandemic over, we can see the mistakes of policymakers more clearly.
Like most Americans, Justin Hart was minding his own business — a successful data visualization business — when the pandemic snuck up on us in early 2020. Seeing that something was amiss in the reported figures, he felt compelled to start the Rational Ground organization as an “answer to the flood of chaotic COVID-19 misinformation.”
Nearly three years after lockdowns first went into effect, the early days of COVID hysteria are starting to recede into the collective memory for many of us. Some of us have stopped highlighting the government’s insanity and deprivations of our essential liberties (I haven’t done a show on COVID in almost a year). Justin, however, has continued the fight — leveraging his skills as a data guy to continue to expose the bureaucrats and COVID “Karens” for their hysterical overreactions.
Justin’s new book, Gone Viral: How Covid Drove the World Insane, has persuaded me to do whatever I can to help his message “go viral,” so that a majority of Americans will look back on this period with the appropriate level of cynicism about our health authorities. We must never let them persuade us to abandon our freedoms so readily for the sake of a false measure of security. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Bob Zadek: Is the pandemic over? President Biden says it is. Except insofar as student loan forgiveness is concerned, he says, it’s not.
During the pandemic, did we follow the science?
Dr. Fauci says we did. Except, according to Fauci, the science changes.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky says we did. Except when the scientists were wrong, which they were, according to Dr. Walensky.
Does all of this make you crazy?
Today’s guest, Justin Hart has just written Gone Viral: How COVID Drove the World Insane. Unlike Biden, Fauci, Walensky, and sycophants, Justin knows what he’s talking about. In addition to writing his book, Justin is an executive consultant with over 25 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies and presidential campaigns as a data analyst.
He has recently founded rationalground.com to provide us all accurate, data-driven observations about the issues that matter. Justin, welcome to the show.
Justin Hart: Bob, thank you so much for having me.
How Rational Ground was Founded
Bob Zadek: Now, Justin, you are writing a book that the COVID experience drove the world insane. I didn’t notice in your bio that you’re a shrink. So, we’ll assume you can defend your decision to offer psychoanalytical opinions about nothing less than the world.
You watched the performance of government at all levels: state, federal, and local. Many of us scratched our heads and said, “This is the government’s darkest moment.”
But I just got angry and I just wrote checks to organizations that I felt could help turn the tide. You did something far more productive. You published this book, Gone Viral, dealing with the world going insane. Why didn’t you just sit around like the rest of us?
Justin Hart: Well, like you, I was pretty miffed, especially when all of my clients got canceled.
in 2018, I was here in San Diego. I was vacationing on Carlsbad beach with my family. We had those trailers and it was a great week. By the end of the week, I was super sick and I didn’t know what happened. Next thing you know, I’m in the hospital for two weeks suffering from a near fatal dose of a staph infection. Staph is that natural flora that you have on your skin. But if it gets into your bloodstream, it wreaks some pretty good havoc. And so, I went into shock and my body started shutting down. And it became a side hobby for me to try to understand how did this little thing just completely almost destroy my body?
So, I got into it. I wanted to know the numbers, I wanted to know the research on it. Then, it came time for COVID and I started looking, “Well, I know the numbers on influenza, I know the numbers on these things. Something is off.”
Dr. Fauci was getting in front of Congress and saying, “1 out of 100 people are going to die from this.”
And I thought I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.
I’m not a health official. I’m not an expert in any way there. But I’m a darn good data guy. Normally, Bob, I wouldn’t insert myself into someone else’s domain, but they seem to have no problem inserting themselves into my domain — my business, my kids’ education, my church, my gym, you name it. They were there.
When we did the math, we found out what was wrong. We formed a ragtag bunch of analysts, activists, experts, doctors, and just moms and dads — it was called Rational Ground. We coordinated on Twitter, we coordinated over social media, we went on TV shows, and we put out infographics. We put out a lot of information trying to basically counter the usual narrative that the answer to this was to lock everyone down.
Here’s a perfect example, Bob. We all know now that the key comorbidities — that is the ailments that make you most at risk for COVID — are obesity and lack of vitamin D. Whose idea was it to stick us inside, out of the sun, eating takeout, getting fat — everyone putting on their “COVID 19,” if you know what I mean — and then going out to face the disease? This was a terrible decision. Then when you come to realize that the average age of death [from COVID] was 80 years old. That’s a much different pandemic than the one that happened in 1918, where the average age of death was under 30.
When you do the math, you realize that our young kids — who are still the last ones masked up in preschools — risk of dying of COVID compared to an 80-year-old is 100,000 times lower. And yet, we decided one size fits all. You get exposed to i t any which way, you have to lock down. No one looked at the other side of the coin. We looked at the other side of the coin and what we found frightened us.
Getting Above the Noise
Bob Zadek: Now, I presume you had some very rough, brief outline at the beginning and then you flesh it out as you went along.
When you started the project, did you have in mind a conclusion? For example, and I’m not prompting you, because it is in the book, but your conclusion could have been, “Government’s horrible. We can’t have government. Government is part of the problem, not the solution.”
Or, it could have been, “It’s not about government. It’s about a few individuals who were terribly wrong and had too much power.” Or, was it a criticism of federalism? Or was it a paean to pure science and how pure science was ignored, or was it some combination of those?
Because you couldn’t just be writing a book to say, “Some mistakes were made.” There’s more to a book than that.
Justin Hart: Well, what’s crazy is building up to the book, which I started to write at the end of last year, I had already written hundreds of articles for my Substack and thousands and tens of thousands of tweets with my colleagues. In fact, our main domain was Twitter. We were in the throes of things and then it would get picked up in the press. We’d put together a meme, we’d put together a chart. For example, one of my most popular ones was trying to “get above the noise,” as I like to call it in marketing, Bob.
I had a picture of one of the skater boys in Venice Beach. And they have that famous skateboard arena right there on the beach, all carved into the ground. They were so scared of these kids getting COVID that they decided to fill that with sand early on, like late March 2020. And it was ridiculous. I saw this picture of this one skater kid, and he was standing in front of a bulldozer, and put it right next to the famous scene from China, where the man is standing in front of all those tanks.
Bob Zadek: The tanks in Tiananmen Square.
Justin Hart: I never intended to write a book. I was approached by Regnery Publishing — the same folks do Mark Stein, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter — all the great conservative authors right over there, And they said, “We want you to write a book.”
I said, “Well, that sounds easy. I’ve got all these great writings.” And we outlined it. And by the first draft, I felt like, “I don’t think this is going to work,” because I started translating Twitter into that book — that was a bunch of memes. I thought, “No, this isn’t going to fly.” And I said, “Wow, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
My wife sacrificed greatly as I put myself up at a hotel for four or five days at a time to finish this thing off.
But I made it very accessible. The approach I finally landed on with the help of my editors was to say, “Let’s talk about the myths.” So, basically, the entire book goes chapter by chapter — myth by myth — and busting them left and right.
The first one we talk about is the myth that started the whole cascade: asymptomatic spread of the disease. We learned all these vocabulary words over the course of the pandemic that increased our knowledge. The word ‘asymptomatic’ meant someone who has COVID, they don’t know it, and we think they’re spreading it. That was the main theory that Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci put out there. That one assumption led to mask mandates, and quarantines, it led to the six-foot distancing, it led to plexiglass. All of the nonsense rests on that assumption.
We now know from multiple studies, Bob, that asymptomatic spread accounted for less than 1% of all of the cases.
The book is really written for someone who says, “Okay, I know something went awry. I don’t know how to articulate it. My neighbor’s still masking up in their car alone. My principal keeps threatening to shut down the school for a quarantine another time in the fall. What are we going to do?”
Now, you have the tools at your hand — the information, the quick stats, the rebuttals. And I hope it’s a good read, where people can say, “I know how to address that.”
Bob Zadek: During COVID, when I was going out of my mind, I took a vacation. We went to Hawaii. I went for a walk one morning and this hotel in Hawaii had a golf course. There, in the middle of the golf course early in the morning, was a gardener picking weeds by himself in the middle of a golf course wearing a mask. And I said, “Wow, he’s making sure the dandelions don’t get COVID.” There was nobody on the horizon and yet, there he was wearing a mask.
Justin Hart: Yeah. That’s exactly the grounds of the title the book. It drove the world insane. I have two older stepdaughters and they went to a private, classical Christian school here in San Diego. I won’t mention the name, but this is a school that’s built on the pillars of rhetoric, logic, and reason. And yet, my 14-year-old daughter comes home and she says, “You won’t believe what happened at lunch today. I’m sitting there and the lunch attendant comes to me, she says, ‘You’re going to need to sit perpendicular to the bench.’
‘Because we don’t want you facing your fellow students while you eat lunch.’
Because COVID only spreads in one direction?
You think about this one picture. It’s always seared into my mind, Bob. It’s a Catholic priest and he’s performing his duties for baptizing an infant. The mother is 6 feet away holding the infant in the air. Between them is the font. But the baby’s not going to make it to the font, because the priest is using a squirt gun to baptize the baby, I kid you not. It’s right there at the top my Twitter feed. You’ll be able to see it.
Bob Zadek: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness.
Justin Hart: Yeah. We all had those moments. We go, “This person is insane because of these policies.”
The Separation of Science and Policy
Bob Zadek: I don’t want to put a label on the book. It’s not a political book. It’s a book appealing to the rational side of the reader. It’s a book in favor of rational decision-making, just like your website, Rational Ground. Clearly, it is appealing to an audience that has rationality as its goal.
Is the that Dr. Fauci didn’t know what he was talking about or was motivated by politics rather than by pure science? Or, could another doctor in the same position have done the same thing? Is your complaint about the person doing the job or is it a broader complaint about how the government is organized? What is the issue- having identified a clear mistake, what do you hope the reader concludes from that mistake? That Fauci was an idiot or something broader?
Justin Hart: Well, that’s the right question to ask, Bob, because the next thing after the pandemic is, “How do we make sure this doesn’t happen again?” What transpired and how did it happen? I believe my kindest interpretation is that Dr. Fauci got taken by what was happening in China and thought he could play God to basically curb a respiratory viral aerosolized pathogen. And so, he thought to himself, “I can do this. I can actually turn it.” And then, he didn’t change course, because he couldn’t save face. My worst interpretation is that Dr. Fauci made these intentional choices, and didn’t care what the results were. He basically just had set his course and it was going to be the case. This man has enriched himself over this thing. He’s also demonstrated the huge issues that we have with the pandemic.
Even now, just the other day, Dr. Fauci said, “I never recommended lockdowns to anyone. I didn’t shut down anything.” And then, we rolled the tape and there’s lots and lots of tape, Bob, of him saying, “We have to shut down. This has to shut down. If you want to take care of this, you’ve got to shut down.”
If you look at something like California, where I am and you are, we know the craziness that we endured here. And then, you go to somewhere like Florida that was open since June, or May even, of 2020 and you realize that the age-adjusted fatality rate, the number of deaths per million, is exactly the same between the two states, exactly the same. Meaning that there is no evidence anywhere from multiple studies now, no evidence that these what we call nonpharmaceutical interventions, the 6 feet, the Plexiglas, the masking, the quarantines did anything to stop or sway the cases.
There’s even a good deal of evidence to show that the vaccines certainly didn’t do what they promised they would do and actually, may have made things worse.
I don’t know the intent of Dr. Fauci. I know what broke it is that he had unbridled control. They unleashed that unbridled control to every county health supervisor and 13,000 school districts across the country. You and I don’t elect Wilma Wooten here in San Diego, who is our county health director. There’s really little way or redress that we have to hold her accountable. In fact, I have it on good authority. President Trump tried very hard to figure out how he could fire Dr. Fauci, but he couldn’t. He is the highest-paid federal employee in the history of the United States. He has the largest pension in the history of the United States. He has made a disastrous error, but he built up so much political rapport. And there are things that need to change.
So, here’s a great example, Bob. Dr. Fauci and former director of the NIH who’s supposedly his boss, Dr. Collins, sit on the committee and basically make the decision as to where all those billions of dollars of grant money go. But they also make the policy. If you come and you say, “Hey, I have this really interesting study that’s going to look at the effectiveness of masks and show that all your different interventions really didn’t work.” And they’re going to go, “Well, we’re not going to give you the money for that.”
There has to be a separation of science and public policy.
Collateral Damage: Abused Kids & Undiagnosed Cancers
Bob Zadek: Now, you understand, because you have been a participant in both the public sector and the private sector. And we all of us know, or strongly suspect if we don’t know, that you have somebody at the top who is in front of the camera, in front of the microphone, at the head of the table at the conference room, is the moderator in the Zoom call, that person is at the top. But we know Dr. Fauci as a representative of the person kind of at the top. If you were to visit him in his office, he’s not wearing a lab coat and he hasn’t got a stethoscope around his neck. And he’s not sitting around looking through a microscope or whatever they use these days.
My point is he is not doing the work to reach the conclusion. He doesn’t stay up at night, I would imagine, reading detailed scholarly papers in order to make an independent, intellectual conclusion. He has a large staff of specialists, of scientists, who are doing the work. And Drs. Fauci or Rochelle Walensky, or any other head of any other department or company merely is given the information, and therefore decides what the answer is, how the problem gets solved, and goes in front of the camera wherever they go, and reports the result.
To say, “Fauci was wrong” — I don’t understand how he could be wrong. He didn’t do the work. Other people did the work. So, was the whole CDC wrong and he was fed wrong information? Did they tell him the right information and for whatever motives, selfish or charitable, he didn’t follow what they told them? Do you happen to know with a bit more precision, how a mistake that serious was- or mistakes, plural, came about?
Justin Hart: Yeah. It rots from the head down. We know that Dr. Fauci, like you said, had never really seen a patient in decades. He had his whole debacle in 1980s with the AIDS epidemic and then went on to make these horrific terrible decisions around lockdown. A quick note on that.
Here’s one example of something he never even considered or looked at that’s undeniable, factual, everyone understands it, and it’s devastating. We believe that we missed 250,000 cases nationwide of child abuse during the spring of 2020. Why? Because it’s typically wide-eyed teachers, and administrators who catch those things. A bruise on mom’s cheek, something roughing up junior’s arm. And they call it out and that person is caught. We missed those because the kids weren’t in school. Millions of kids weren’t in school. But he ignored all of that. That was just one side of it.
Another example. Oncologists were the first ones to ring the bells for us, Bob. They came to us, they said, “Either COVID has cured cancer or something else is happening altogether.” Because in April and May of 2020, they diagnosed half as many cancers as they would the previous year. The reduction in colon cancer diagnoses went down by 78%. And so, where do they show up? Well, the people still have the cancers. They just were scared to go to the hospital because of the fear that Dr. Fauci induced in them. I know this, because we were in daily contact with Scott Atlas, who arrived there in late July 2020. He was brought in to say, “I think we’re doing the wrong thing. We need to right the ship.” And he would counter Dr. Fauci with some of these facts and Dr. Birx, and they had no idea. Like you said, they’re just fed the information.
But what’s crazy is down to the CDC, they weren’t interested in this information at all. They would hide it. We have direct evidence that the CDC was hiding death numbers. They were skewing numbers in their direction when it came to population numbers. You’ve heard, for example, the number that came out at the end of December that if you were unvaccinated, you were a hundred times more likely to die than someone who was vaccinated. We said, “That’s off.” And we went back, we looked at the numbers, we realized they were using, first, old population numbers. They were using the worst of worst-case scenarios at the peak of the pandemic, which had nothing to do with vaccination. It was crazy. And we called them out on it and they had to correct it multiple times.
Another example from the CDC. Note that when the CDC puts out their weekly, what they call their mortality report, where they highlight some type of interesting factoid or any type of study, these aren’t peer-reviewed. Once they call back and they say, “Oh, masks work,” they found two hairdressers in New Jersey who had COVID and wore face shields and were able to get a hold of 30% of their patients and found out that no one of those 30 patients had COVID, and they used that as evidence that masks work. There was no science behind it. It was completely anecdotal. They would have been thrown out of a freshman biology class for a random control trial. Nothing like that ever existed.
The entire outfit is corrupt. They have no idea what they’re doing, and they take direction, and they build a narrative. And if you don’t toe the line of the narrative, you’re gone. We saw that again and again at the peak of when they were going to approve the next wave of vaccines, at the FDA, the two people that were in charge of that panel resigned quickly and suddenly. They were not going to be part of that sham. And so, we have to clean house. That’s the only way that’s- There’s so much trust loss for health experts, Bob. We’re going to have to clean house.
Bob Zadek: Now, you also, of course, discuss in the book and this has starting to become widely reported in what passes for mainstream media. And that is the hidden, but now not hidden, long-term effects upon children. Psychologically, you mentioned child abuse. We don’t have to go back and revisit that. And I presume, by the way, when you said- I’m going to digress for a moment. You said 250,000, it is estimated, incidences-
Justin Hart: Alleged. Alleged. Yeah.
Bob Zadek: Oh, alleged of child abuse have gone unreported or uninvestigated. I presume you reach that conclusion by looking at the number of reports one would expect as a baseline of-
Bob Zadek: -the normal circumstances. You compare that to what the effect or the same number during COVID. And therefore, you concluded clearly, the number of instances didn’t go down. Therefore, all that went down is the regulatory system learning about it.
Justin Hart: That’s right.
Bob Zadek: It is an estimate, but it’s a data-driven estimate.
Bob Zadek: It’s not just making up a number. And I wanted to be sure the audience understood that.
Justin Hart: [crosstalk] of that. Yes.
Bob Zadek: It wasn’t just a rant.
Bob Zadek: It was just, “Here’s the conclusion. But if you want to see our workpapers, here they are.”
Justin Hart: Yeah, exactly.
Bob Zadek: And Justin, it’s similar to when I either in social conversation to the extent that I have social conversations, or with guests, or with friends, I always observe having somebody tell me what they think or their conclusion is invariably boring. Even when I tell me my conclusion, it’s boring. What is fascinating and sometimes, deeply fascinating is why you think it.
That is to say, how you reach that conclusion? Did you make it up or was your source material in reaching the conclusion something reliable? I wanted to make the point that I made to show that this wasn’t just the political trick of a politician in front of a microphone spewing out numbers, because nobody in the audience has -
Justin Hart: So, that was great.
Bob Zadek: -google it fast enough to find out he’s making- [crosstalk]
Justin Hart: You’re an excellent footnoter and that’s exactly right. Actually, we back up everything with footnotes and sources for any of the assertions that we made. And then, we had some really interesting interviews, Bob. All of us experience, for example, let’s go to a completely different topic, the TP shortage. Remember the march run on TP, on toilet paper? And the subsequent ones we had as well, when you’d go to the store and realize, “Oh, my gosh, those shelves are empty. They’re usually full of toilet paper”?
Well, I didn’t quite understand why that was. I went searching through the research and comes to find out the world does half of its business, if you’ll excuse the expression, in their business, at work, in their office buildings, at campuses. And when you shut down the world, all of a sudden, the paper supply industry had to scramble, because the supply chain, and the type, and quality of the TP that they deliver to, let’s say, a baseball stadium, one of those big round mounts that you put in there, that goes for a month, so they don’t have to keep coming back, is much different than the Charmin Fresh stuff that last year a week here with five girls my house.
And so, one of the things you come to realize is that it impacted the entire industry and even it impacted the personal protection equipment, because paper was needed so quickly to catch up to delivering all that Charmin goodness. The funny thing is they’re still playing catchup. If your audience goes and google this phrase, “Charmin forever,” you’ll find this very intriguing. It’s a pole-mounted roll of toilet paper that will last you a month that Charmin will sell you, because they have a lot of leftover stuff from all of the stuff that didn’t get delivered on pallets to these businesses into Las Vegas airstrips. It is just crazy the type of impact it had on every single industry and no one stopped for a second to consider what downline impact that would have.
The Politics of COVID Response
Bob Zadek: You said also earlier in the broadcast, you imagined or spoke about Donald Trump’s- I think you were active in the Trump presidency, if I’m not mistaken. Trump was frustrated, you said, because he couldn’t fire Fauci. But yet, Fauci per se didn’t have political power. He couldn’t sign executive orders. Only the president can. I’m asking this to lead into a more important question, but I’m going to build it up by asking just if you could explain a little bit that concept which you said, “Trump couldn’t fire Fauci.” Well, of course, he could. He could fire the attorney general. So, Fauci was probably somewhat below in political power, the attorney general.
Help us understand that, because I’m leading up to really what do we learn about government and about how our government is structured and how power is allocated, what do we learn from the COVID experience? We’re going to be talking about that in a moment but help us understand as we build up to it, why it sounded like an opinion, but maybe it was a fact that Trump could not fire Fauci, if he believed Fauci was bad at his job.
Justin Hart: Yeah, it was interesting. They looked through it. Because the National Institute of Infectious Disease, which he oversaw was under the NIH, there wasn’t a direct executive connection, because he wasn’t a political appointee, he had to be fired for other reasons. I think in the end, they probably could have done it. But the pushback and the lawsuits that would have foisted from this were not worth it or whatever else. I’m not sure. Now, I have to say, I was a huge booster of President Trump. I predicted that he was going to win the election in 2016. My friends, my former Romney cohorts, were very miffed at me for predicting that. I just knew he was on the right line.
But also, on that fateful day on March 29th 2020, when the president got up there with Fauci, Birx, and Pence and said, “We are extending the two-week lockdown,” I tweeted out, “Trump just lost the election.” I knew he lost it then. I knew exactly, because I’m a study of demographics. I knew that if even 1% or 2% of that older demographic decided they were too scared to go to the polls, or even just take part of this, or blamed him for it that it was over, that he was never going to win the election.
Now, there were lots of shenanigans. And after the election, actually, my team was one of the few data analysts, we actually produced a chart, which Trump held over the podium at one point. I was excited about that. During the heyday of all things, I don’t think there was enough fraud to overturn the election, but there was definitely not a free and fair election in many instances. But that’s another story. But I really felt that you’re right, the buck does stop with President Trump.
I’ll tell you also, one of the- I won’t call him fiend, because I feel that strongly about it. But I will say that one of the perpetrators of this was Vice President Pence. He was the one who took Dr. Birx on her rainbow tour across the country early in March to visit every single governor, Republican and Democrat, and she would win them over with her praise. And that’s why you had people that were seeming conservatives like Ohio governor, DeWine, who was terrible on COVID. Awful. Shutdowns galore. And DeWine, basically, Birx got under his skin compared to DeSantis, who took the time to get to know the data himself. And Mike Pence sheltered.
I’ll give you a quick story: When we lost the election and Dr. Atlas was on his way back to California on the plane, Mike Pence called a makeshift presser with Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci, who hadn’t been seen for weeks or months at the White House, and put them back into play. It was their plan, it was their instigation. Pence shepherded it and unfortunately, President Trump signed off on it.
The Plexiglass Folly
Bob Zadek: You mentioned in the book something which I didn’t really think about that much until I saw your Chapter 10 in the book about something I wouldn’t have imagined. You commented on the use of plexiglass. And I smiled a bit and I nodded my head saying, “The guy’s right.”
Bob Zadek: Tell us about just- It’s not the major point, but I highlight it, because I hadn’t thought about it before. And therefore, it’s possible my audience hasn’t thought about it that much. So, just tell us about COVID and plexiglass.
Justin Hart: It’s a great microcosm of the entire insanity, Bob. Plexiglass, as we know, became a very strong recommendation for retail, for schools, for any place you go, they had the 6-foot distancing and then the plexiglass started getting installed. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent installing these things, because it was predominantly thought, Bob, that the main transfer of this disease was you spitting on someone else when you were sick and didn’t know it. That’s what they thought. They thought there’s no way- But we come to find, realize that it’s actually aerosolized, that is you’re walking to a bathroom or a small study and there’s a layer of dust that the sun shining through the windows just articulates, they go, “Wow, I had no idea there was so much dust in the room.”
Now, imagine that particle 10 to a hundred times smaller. That’s what the COVID particle is. No amount of plexiglass is ever going to stop that. It’ll go right around it. And in fact, in March 2021, the CDC- Here’s another example of how just ridiculous and stupid they were. They quietly just removed the bullet point that recommended for schools and retail that they install plexiglass. They didn’t mention anything about it. But a study came out shortly afterwards that said it probably made things worse, because it gave more surface area for things to stick to, to bounce off of, to clean or otherwise. Just absolute disaster. Think of the hundreds of millions of dollars. I still go to Home Depot and Home Depot decided they were going to go full DIY kit on it. They have these big metal mounts with these 6-foot plexiglass panes in front of every cashier still and they’re all masked still here in San Diego. I don’t understand it. And so, it’s a disaster in the making. It’s just one more pinpoint of absolute ineptitude that our government agencies showed and that was implemented by our politicians and our unelected officials, the health officials.
Bob Zadek: Just, I’ll ask you for a comment or two about another bit of early incorrect hysteria. And I’m mentioning that because everybody who’s listening to our conversation will have forgotten about it. But everybody will instantly recall it. Remember when it was told to us that you could catch COVID by touching a surface that somebody else has touched? And all of a sudden, everybody had spray bottles all over the place and on the sides of trees were dispensers of wipes of when you walk down the street, they were on stop signs. So, tell us about that fear. It was almost like the Salem Witch Trials or some Middle Ages superstition, if you touch the surface that somebody two years ago touched, you are going to get whatever they got. Discuss that and what you have concluded from the data, what they concluded ultimately about that bit of superstition.
Justin Hart: Yeah. And to this day, Bob, you still have people who will get the DoorDash groceries brought to them from Instacart or whatever else. And they will spray the food before they bring it in the house. It broke those people. It broke the world that way. But you’re right. What’s interesting is, there is an actual White House presser in early April, I believe, where the special arm of the Department of Homeland Security, who deals with these infectious diseases came out, and they actually are some of the few people who actually found particles were able to isolate particles of SARS-CoV-2, the thing that causes COVID, the virus. And they said that as soon as it hit sunlight, it evaporated. As soon as it touched a surface, it was gone. And so, we knew early on that that was not the case, but people went crazy. And then, the downline of that and I mentioned this in the footnotes of the book, I think, may in be the book itself. But we talked about for example, the people that run sanitation and these water reclamation plants, they can tell you that the loads of clogs they saw during that time required massive manpower to fix. They saw 70% more clogs than they would see and the impact was just drastic and dramatic.
And here’s another one that’s peripherally involved. We talked to a few people who are engineers, they’re on the Las Vegas Strip, for example. And when that shut down, there are no guests in any of the hotels. And so, the engineering staff would literally spend the next two months walking up and down every hall, every week going into every room, flushing every toilet, running every sink, putting on every shower, because otherwise that water would stagnate and you’d get even worse diseases. And so, literally like in The Shining, they’re walking the halls in this empty, abandoned hotel just taking care to make sure that things are there. Because these cities were designed for a certain amount of people flushing and they weren’t, and when they were flushing, they were pouring Clorox wipes down the drain and that was clogging up entire sewer systems. Crazy downline stuff that no one realizes.
Bob Zadek: While as we are on this rationality roll that you and I are enjoying during our conversation, what are the conclusions a rational reader of your book would reach, for example? And I’m going to coach you, but not asking you to nod your head that I’m right, the type of answer I’m looking for is, is your rational conclusion, a conclusion that would proudly be carried on rationalgrounds.com website? Is it your rational conclusion that government sucks and government is stupid? And we’re not going to get into it. We’re not going to digress. Maybe we will if we have time into public choice theory and James Buchanan. We may get there, but that’s not what I’m driving at right now.
Is it your conclusion that this was the mistake of a few scientists or a lot of scientists who weren’t good at their job? Is it the case that they may have been good at their job but they put aside the science for political motives? Is it the case that this is not a commentary on the competence of anybody, but on the structure in which we all live? Is that a comment on federalism? What are the conclusions, the rational conclusions, the most rational conclusions you would hope the audience would get from your book?
Justin Hart: Well, I hope they would get a couple things. The first one would be the- I asked that same question of Dr. Atlas when he was at the White House. I said, “What is the problem? Are they just trying to save face?” And he said, “No, Justin, these people are dumb. They are dumb.” And that was unfortunate. And I think you can come along with a lot of those conclusions. But I will say that one conclusion I hope that people come away with is that a good portion of our populace decided to fold their table. They decided that their rights weren’t worth fighting for, that their rights to religious assembly, to assembly itself, freedom of speech as they censored us, our kids’ education, the pursuit of happiness.
I would say about 20% of people were in my camp really sticking their neck out. And it could have gone a very extreme way and we would have lost our heads. Another 20% were full in on what we call Team Apocalypse. They were like, “The sky is falling.” And if you even dare say it’s not, you should be silenced. There were about 60% of the population, I’ll tell you, Bob, who didn’t stand up and did not take the risk to say, “We need to do something else.” And I hope that people come away from the book reading us and say, “You know what? I hope I take a stand next time. I hope that I’m brave enough to do so, because it’s going to come back again.” I hope people will look inwardly on it.
Bob Zadek: The lesson I would hope that readers would get from your book is to undo this assumption that a human being who happens to get a paycheck from a governmental entity is for that reason and that reason alone, more honest, smarter, more selfless. It’s a human being. The biology is identical. And if you start with the same skepticism when a government official speaks as when a huckster promoting a product on late night television speaks, you listen, and you are skeptical, and maybe you’re persuaded in the margins, but you’re skeptical. But that skepticism seems to be infinitely weaker, if not nonexistent, when the spokesperson is a governmental official. And if we just allow ourselves to remove that mantle from somebody who happens to get a paycheck from government and accept the fact, who you perceive to be the most venal private sector player, if you apply only that skepticism to the government official that you do to a private sector official, if you do, that will be a lesson that gets reinforced in your book.
It really just invites people to not be sheep and blindly follow somebody who happens to get a governmental paycheck versus somebody who gets a private sector paycheck. The book is called Gone Viral: How Covid Drove the World Insane. The author is Justin Hart. Justin is one of the founders- Yes, Justin, the founder of rationalground.com. And in the few seconds we’ll have, Justin, tell us about rationalground.com, what the website hopes to accomplish, and how people can benefit from the work you’ve put into the website. We have about a minute left to share with us about Rational Ground.
Justin Hart: Rational Ground, like I said, it’s just a ragtag bunch of really interesting people that were countering the regular narrative of the pandemic. You can find a bunch of resources on there. Everything from lockdowns to kid masking, we have all the infographics there, things you can share around, and just remind yourself why you fought the good fight against the government narrative there.
Bob Zadek: Justin, thank you so much for sharing what you have learned and shared with us in your book and what you continue to share with us at the website, rationalground.com. Once again, Justin’s book has just come out, Gone Viral: How Covid Drove the World Insane. Justin is in the driver’s seat now and hopes to drive us back from the insanity back to Rational Ground. Thank you so much, Justin.
And please, to my friends out there, I hope you have enjoyed this hour of your valuable time that you’ve given to Justin and to myself. And I hope you continue to follow my show and Justin’s writings as well. Thank you so much and enjoy the rest of the weekend and the rest of your time.
Originally published at https://bobzadek.substack.com on October 13, 2022.