QUACK, says a Voice.
I bark, frantically. I do not like Ducks. They float away gracelessly when pursued. To have one following us home from the pharmacy would be an Outrage beyond all decency.
What are you barking at? Asks the Owner.
Ducks, I say.
Hergest, says the Owner. That was me. Ducks quack, but they do not SAY quack. I am using the expression in anger and despair, to refer to people masquerading as Doctors and Scientists on Fox news, and a US President who believes them.
I thought you had decided that despair was pointless, I say. You said that despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt, and we do not. Which you also stole from Gandalf, by the way.
I have a little despair left for Mr Trump, says the Owner. One has to keep some handy.
What did he do now? I ask.
He has been promoting claims that drugs used for malaria and lupus are effective against Covid, says the Owner, and has now claimed that two particular drugs cure the virus and should be used immediately, without further testing.
But that is wonderful news, I say. Everyone will be cured.
No, says the Owner, stop your Triumphant Jumping or I will Fedex you to the White House and leave you there. It is nonsense built around a Grain of Incomplete Truth by the wish for it to be True. The study that suggested it was too small and faulty to tell us anything. One of the patients given the drugs in the study died. None of those who did not take them died.
Does that really matter? I ask. The drugs may cure Covid. These drugs are already safe. What is there to lose?
Everything, says the Owner. We need to know whether they do any real good and whether they do more harm than good. They may be highly dangerous in those who have Covid. We do not know. Testing is essential because the drugs concerned can have serious side effects at the best of times. Doctors do not want to make things worse. That is one of the basic principles of Medical Ethics. You are still Bouncing.
Rather less, now that you are oppressing me with your Negativity, I say. Do you not want it to be true?
Of course I do, says the Owner, but beliefs can be false, unwarranted by evidence or reasoned consideration. Such belief in the circumstances we now face is a menace.
The President surely has a right to believe what he likes, I say, and I say this because I still want it to be true. Does not the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which hangs on our wall, say just that? Surely, I say, if we allow some people to believe in Gods and some people to not believe in Gods, a Man can believe what he likes about a couple of Drugs, I say.
Whilst a Right to some kinds of Religious Belief establishes a climate of tolerance, says the Owner, such Rights have limits, and all Rights carry Responsibilities. But Religious belief is a special exception, and there is a definition of Religions. You cannot just make Up your Own.
That is a shame, I say. Caspar and I were thinking of starting one involving Dog worship.
I believe that has already been done, says the Owner, or at least it has for Cats, but there is nevertheless no Right to Believe False Facts. Wilful ignorance and false knowledge do not meet the requirements for a Right to Believe. They are not about Faith. They claim a negative right to believe which is a right NOT to know truth, a right claimed with the intention of foreclosing dialogue, denying challenges and preventing reason from interfering with what one wants to believe.
When you put it like that I can see it is a problem, I say. I am still disappointed that we do not have a cure but I can see that the Owner is disappointed too. Still, I say, if doctors do not agree with the President then their Medical Ethics will make them Ignore him. So he cannot do any harm. And if it makes him happy perhaps he will not sack anyone else fo disagreeing with him.
On the Contrary, says the Owner, a man in Arizona just died taking the chloroquine tablets that were for cleaning an aquarium, and his wife is now in Intensive Care, having done the same thing. US pharmacies report widespread shortages of these drugs because health professionals have been prescribing them. People are tweeting about trying to get their doctors to prescribe anti-malaria drugs. And I have just left a London pharmacy in which a man with a private prescription and was buying antimalarial tablets. I cannot believe it. Do you see any Anophelene mosquitoes?
There may be an innocent explanation, I say.
Like what? Asks the Owner.
Perhaps he is going on Safari, I say.
Oh really? Asks the Owner.
I see her point. You can say QUACK again if you like, I say, as we head home. I will not bark.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.