How about an international conference about the Pandemic Response
Let me tell you a story:
In late 1976 I wrote to the Chairman ACC (Accident Compensation Commission) saying they needed to do something about the number of sports injuries. ACC summoned me to a meeting where they told me, "If you think you know so much, how about you set up our sports and recreation safety programme". I took up the challenge and shifted to Wellington in 1977. My first task was to write my job description. Landing this role as NZ's top dog in sports and recreation injury prevention was not only a huge honour but an even bigger responsibility. I threw myself into the role with enthusiasm.
ACC discovered very early on that back injuries across all walks of life, including work, home and sport, were a massive drain on precious funds for the fledgling accident compensation scheme. So what were we going to do? I'll tell you what we did: ACC became the principal sponsor of the annual conferences for professional organisations in medicine, physiotherapy, occupational health, sports medicine and sports. The overriding theme for these conferences was back injury and back pain and preventing, treating, and rehabilitating them. ACC went a step further, organising an international conference on back pain with the leading surgeons in the world attending. Through its Financial Grants scheme, ACC funded research into back pain and assisted surgeons with travelling overseas to learn better surgical methods such as arthroscopic surgery. I know all of this because I attended every one of these conferences and was an advisor to the Financial Grants Committee. We also ran a nationwide "Bend your knees, not you back!" campaign over several years. ACC hired weight-lifting champion Precious McKenzie and professional wrestler Len Ring to go into factories and sports clubs to teach how to lift safely. This comprehensive multifactorial approach to the problem proved incredibly effective.
Why hasn't New Zealand hosted an international conference to review and debate every aspect of the Pandemic Response and develop a unified and multifactorial plan? Why isn't there a series of conferences organised with the best scientific and medical minds and open to all health professionals to attend? To date, any meetings have been behind closed doors and of a selected few experts, best described as assemblies of narrow-field sycophants. All we are hearing is the chirping of no more than a dozen cherry-picking experts, all singing from the same songbook.
Many medical and scientific experts hold deep concerns about the wisdom and nature of how we are responding to this pandemic. Of greatest concern is a one-size-fits-all solution to the exclusion of all other options, of which there are many. Good science requires robust and open debate. Instead, digital censorship and public shaming stifle any discussion, fuel conspiracy theories and drive opponents underground. This censorship and shaming are reminiscent of the book-burnings of the past and the dehumanising of groups of society, which led to oppressive dictatorships and genocide. History is littered with many examples. Do not be so naïve to believe that kind of thing will never happen in God's Zone.
New Zealanders are not stupid people, although manipulative fear does inhibit rational thought. We can make up our minds about what is best for ourselves and our families. We do not need spoon-feeding of sanitised information by Nanny State. We are capable of making up our minds, thank you very much!
Censorship and intimidation cause lousy science and are anti-democracy.
So, how about we all start demanding these conferences and keep on about it until we get them? Hey, while we are at it, how about a weekly one-hour prime-time programme during which opposing experts present their cases?