Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

The benefits that vaccinations provide to humanity far outweigh the potential harms from the exceedingly rare side effects. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

Okay, as this is a topic that will be discussed ad nauseum this year, I thought I would apply some basic critical thinking. This is, of course, part of a series, the first being The Initial Response and the Virus and second being Context, Masks and Stats.

I thought I would also clarify (if it wasn’t already clear) why I write about topics that often many people think have nothing to do with self-defence. I believe that Krav Maga is truly about learning to walk in peace (as originally intended). This approach, should be clear in my series Self Defense is not just physical. This means that when I hear students, friends, collogues or family making grossly incorrect comments, on either side of the political isle, or others simply expressing confusion about some basic reality that is affecting their mental health (among other things), I feel it is my duty to do or say something. Either to quell there fears, or to educate them with more correct information (most up to date).

To those who believe that everyone should “stay in their lane”, I respectfully disagree.

One thing is for sure, COVID has applied immense pressure to society, and the confusion and non-nonsense, FROM ALL SIDES, conspiracy theorists to experts to politicians, is a big part of the problem.

So, if my writings help you, then wonderful, if they just make you hate me then, by all means. And, like many, while I may be extremely annoyed at how many governments have handled the situation and decisions they are making, it does not mean that I am also anti-science or anti-Vax. In fact, the importance of vaccines cannot be stressed enough, but that does not mean there are no issues with them.

Vaccines in General

I am just going to go ahead and say it: If you are outright against vaccines or fall into the “anti-vaxer” category, then you are not applying critical thinking at all. This is not actually a political thing. In case you have forgotten, much of the anti-vax movement started relatively recently in California from very Left-wing people. It just happens that now many of the anti-vaxers reacting to this specific event tend to be on the Right. This means it is an apolitical issue, so please stop accusing “the other side” of being stupid.

No, vaccines are not going to give your kid autism (that whole rumour started with one fraudulent paper). Historically vaccines are responsible for ridding most of the world of many previously horrible ailments, for example small pox, measles, polio, etc.. In fact, they have been so effective at snuffing out of many of these diseases which plagued humanity, that in many Western countries they do not even give the vaccines at all anymore. I’m actually kind of upset that I never received vaccines for some of these illnesses, because, you know, what if shit hits the fan and I’m not vaccinated against these something that suddenly becomes a problem? GIVE ME MY VACCINES DAMMIT!

With that being said, to sit here and pretend that vaccines are not without drawbacks is also foolish. There have been, and will continue to be, lawsuits, periodically, not just for vaccines, as in the US alone they have paid out over $4 billion in compensation. In fact I recently listened to the podcast Kill Tony, a comedy podcast, in which one of the participants suffered nerve damage due to vaccination, so it does happen.

The general attitude is that the benefits outweigh the potential harm… by a long shot.

For the COVID-19 vaccine however, even if there are some risks (which may include death) many governments are not allowing financial recourse for any damages, which is morally wrong. So, before you call someone names or insult them because they have concerns about vaccines recognize that these concerns are not entirely baseless.

Additionally, pretending like pharmaceutical companies are not morally corrupt corporations, with a very questionable history, is also silly. It can easily be seen in the recent $8 Billion lawsuit against Purdue Pharma related to Oxycontin’s role in the opioid crisis in the US. (To be fair, the responsibility also lies on the shoulders of any corrupt doctor whom prescribes something when they know better.)

With regard to the current vaccine for COVID-19, it has been said if you suffer severe allergic reactions then perhaps it may not be advisable for you.

Vaccines and other medications are very expensive to produce and as a general rule companies won’t even bother unless they think they can recover their expenses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Which makes sense financially, but for the betterment of humanity’s health makes little sense. But it is what it is, and the concern from the producers is a legitimate concern, this doesn’t mean someone is a conspiracy theorist.

Again, as a general rule, MOST of the time vaccines have done more good than harm, BUT, don’t pretend there are not potential negatives for some people.

How Do Traditional Vaccines Work?

I thought I would do a short section on the science behind vaccines, as many people really do not understand how these things work. They hear or read something online that sound ominous, or they don’t understand, and that’s why they decide they don’t like vaccines. First things first; TRADITIONAL vaccines have been used for a long time now and have a long track record of success overall. However, in the early days I bet lots of things didn’t go as planned, because we just didn’t understand enough. So if you dig, you will always find some negative examples. But, again, we don’t have polio, measles, and other horrible viruses/diseases (for the rest of the article I am just going to say “viruses,” but some afflictions that vaccines have helped with may be from other sources) on mass, in general anymore because of them. So overall, fairly good.

Vaccines introduced the virus an Active form, Passive form and other types into your body in a controlled fashion. This is intended to train your immune system to fight off the actual virus should you encounter it in the future. Yes, that means they do inject a small bit of the offending organism, along with other “science stuff,” into your body. If it is Active, it’s a reduced viral/bacterial load (ie. not enough to take hold and give you the illness). If it’s Passive, they use an inactive (dead) form. Other methods employ a part of the virus, etc.. (click on the link for better description)

All to teach your immune system how to deal with it if you were to ever get it.

If you were to encounter something like Smallpox, you may have immunity after having it because your body has now learned how to fight it off. But that’s assuming you are still alive, and most likely you are now severely disfigured. This is why vaccines teach your body how to deal with it before it is encountered. Your body is like, “Hey, I know this! Go away!” and either you are mildly sick or don’t notice it at all. With some illnesses you can only catch it once before you are messed up with disfigurements or dead. Hence you can’t just “get it” in order to develop immunity. Thus many illnesses that require vaccines are those with which the consequences are simply too dire.

Yes, you can get slightly sick after getting a vaccine, exhibiting mild symptoms of the illness or experiencing some minor side effects. This is largely due to the fact that genetics, and humans, are complicated and there is no way of knowing who will react to what. Some people’s immune systems will react more severely than others. I can remember receiving one vaccine as a child that was so painful I could barley move my arm for several days. This does not mean, however, that you are dying or that they injected a microchip into you! It does mean however that our medicine and science is not at the point where we can be so precise that we can have custom doses for each person and we probably wont have for a long time.

Stop expecting perfection, it does not exist.

The COVID-19 Vaccine

Enter the Covid-19 vaccine, which is NOT a traditional vaccine but rather a mRNA-based vaccine.

Just so you know, DNA and RNA are different structures life on this planet is based on. Coronaviruses, like the common cold, are RNA-based, which essentially means they can evolve and change at a pace our medical science has yet to keep up with. This means that, so far, we have never completely eradicated a RNA-based virus and vaccines for them require regular updates (eg. an annual flu shot).

Unlike traditional vaccines they essentially use a “key,” a protein or RNA-type thingy (yes, very scientific word), that teaches your immune system to fight off the virus.

Something to remember about the mRNA vaccines is that they are a relatively NEW technology and there is no longitudinal data, on mass, from which to assess how this will affect us in the long run. Which is a legitimate concern, as, historically, there have occasionally been issues with new technologies when they have not been tested on a wide enough population over a long enough period.

With that being said, numerous studies (one such study) have been carried out globally, on exceptionally large test groups (in the tens of thousands), which is really good, considering traditional test groups are considerably smaller.

However, a legitimate concern from many is, what was the make up of these test groups? Was it a diverse group of people, with thousands of people from White, to Black, to Asian? Or was it, as many studies are, limited to a particular group of people? It’s a legitimate question, as the medical field often ignores the genetic differences in groups when developing things because that would make research more expensive, or the politics of race and culture complicate the matter. But nevertheless, it is a concern and something worth considering. I would hope, as this is a global endeavor and studies have been done all over the place, that this is something that was taken into consideration, but without reading the data from the studies, indicating the makeup of these groups, it will be hard to ascertain.

Another issue is some people actually have been advised not to take the vaccine, that is, individuals with severe allergies. This group essentially has immune issues, for a variety of reasons, which means no vaccine, no normalcy. This was specifically for the Pfizer vaccine, but who knows, it could apply to the other vaccines from the variety of companies producing it, but, as always, without further investigation we may not know until much, much later.

What concerns me most about the vaccine is how numerous governments (Link 1, Link 2, Link 3) have limited or blocked the ability to seek proper compensation should things go wrong, especially if it is made mandatory. If I was a citizen in such a country this would be very concerning to me, as it goes against historic precedence and is extremely immoral and unethical. For many the fact that the companies producing the vaccine are protected from liability is a concern, though a moral argument can be made, on both sides, as to why or why not this should be allowed.

So let’s assume that the vaccine, in its various forms, does what it says it is going to do, which is to provide a 94-95% barrier to stop you getting, or spreading COVID-19 after both shots (less so if you only get one dose). Then within reason lockdowns and mask mandates should disappear. If they do not I would be very, very concerned.

If it does work as they say, preventing the spread of COVID, then the idea that EVERYONE MUST get immunized against COVID to help promote some kind of herd immunity is actually quite silly. This is because, as has been made clear, MOST people under 60, who are reasonably healthy, will not have significant issues should they contract the disease. Which means those who are vulnerable or at risk probably should get vaccinated, and everyone else should if they want. However, to claim everyone MUST take it and that it’s MANDATORY, actually seems very un-scientific to me. Whether asymptomatic people can transmit the virus and how many people are asymptomatic seems to be up for debate, as numbers range between 20%-80% of those who test positive. One thing is for sure, the vast majority of people under 60 who encounter this virus are not at risk of severe complications or death. Thus the idea that if you don’t get vaccinated you will die or the world will end makes no sense to me.

If, for whatever reason, the vaccines are not as effective as they claim, then our options are really to learn to live with this and learn to be healthier in general. We will not know, however, until this thing is rolled out and the next year is upon us. So buckle up and hold on.

While the speculation around COVID herd immunity numbers are up in the air, it should be evident by now that this may be irrelevant at this point, with most people being relatively fine; especially if COVID becomes another annual virus (being RNA-based). Normal herd immunity, by the way, for something like measles requires something like 95% of people to be immune to prevent mass outbreaks. So really, protecting the vulnerable and accepting that most people who get COVID will be just fine is probably the way to go.

Either way, I really want the fear mongering to stop.

No matter the virus what we really need is to see a greater push toward healthier living and better dietary choices, as well as more preventative medicine options in the Western medicine world.

Something I have yet to see from most major world leaders…

Testing

I’ll keep this short, but testing throughout the entire pandemic has been a source of confusion. Most governments did not do widespread testing early enough, particularly where it mattered, at points of entry. Some countries did not even do widespread testing at all, favouring instead targeted testing, and had great success (like Japan). But how testing is used, and it’s results measured, can greatly affect the perception of how bad the pandemic actually is. So it’s worth noting.

In Canada, we are using 3 types of testing: PCR, Point of Care, and Antibody tests. PCR is the most widespread, but also the most problematic and the source of many of the issues, whereas antibody tests are hardly being used at all.

The PCR test, to keep it simple, checks to see if you “have something,” as in are you sick, did you have the virus, is there any virus in there at all? Even the creator of the PCR test said it’s not a good test to get accurate numbers (he did not say it cannot test for the virus, it can). This means this test can produce false positives, meaning you may have the cold and you might test positive. Or you could have had COVID weeks ago, didn’t even know it, are fine now, not contagious, but you would still test positive. This means that it is likely, as most of the world is using PCR, that the positive rate is being presented as higher than they actually are. This is why as soon as you saw mass testing, the positive rates SPIKED dramatically in the second wave, yet the hospitalization rates, while they rose to, didn’t spike through the roof at the same rate.

Scientists and governments may prefer an artifactually high number, to make people take the situation more seriously, but, as I mentioned earlier, I prefer honesty over fear mongering. While COVID is a serious problem it should be obvious now that, either because of the widespread use of the PCR testing or politics of COVID, we will never know the real number of active COVID cases. Just like we will never know truly accurate numbers for the flu and common cold.

But, since it is a global issue, I really think they need more accurate numbers so that better policy decisions can be made. Just my two cents.

Conclusion

While I, like many people in the Krav Maga world, am very against the way governments are reacting and behaving I still support genuine science, that is to say actual reality, not what is being portrayed. NO, I do not believe COVID is as bad as it’s being presented to us; many of the problems are to do with failed policy, reactions, overreactions, etc. As I have made clear in this series, numerous governments got it right, unfortunately most did not.

But when it comes to vaccines, while there are obvious concerns even from a scientific perspective (it was produced rapidly and mistakes could have been made, it’s a new technology, it has no long term data, etc.) vaccines, on the whole, have been positive for humanity.

Personally I never get the yearly flu shot; because I am young and healthy and it’s not a big deal if I get the flu, when I am older, however, I would re-consider this stance. This is because flu and cold vaccines are very different than, say, those for measles, because of that tricky RNA thing.

So on this same logic, when it comes to the COVID vaccine, I am in no rush to get it. HOWEVER, if you are over 60 or an at risk individual, I would definitely consider getting it as soon as you can (from a little poking around I would prefer the Moderna one over the Pfizer) as you are the ones who need it. IF the vulnerable are protected the the death rate from COVID should be negligible, even if only half the population gets it. ESPECIALLY if it turns out that it is going to be an annual shot, then, logically, it will be just like the cold and flu shot; those who are at risk get it, and everyone else do what they feel is best for them. So, no, I am not for mandatory vaccination for this particular virus, it doesn’t make sense to me. If we were facing aerosolized Ebola however, I would be Kraving my way to the front of that line!…JK.

The point of this series was to give some perspective from the eyes of critical thinking. Experts, politicians and those on either side can sometimes get tunnel vision and stop thinking clearly in a broader perspective. On some issues I fall on one side of the isle, and on others the other side of the isle; this is how it should be if you are practicing proper critical thinking. To entrench yourself in the camp of LOCK DOWN, LOCKDOWN, or in the camp of HOAX, then you are not operating with any critical thinking at all.

COVID is not a hoax, it’s just really, really, really, poorly managed by our “dear leaders.” BUT given that many countries that have done well barley lockdown, like Sweden (though they admit they should have been a little more cautious), or countries like Japan didn’t do mass testing, means that perhaps the camp of LOCKDOWN also isn’t applying critical thinking.

So, I hope this series has been of help to you, either to open your eyes to one side or the other, teach you something you didn’t know, or clarify something you thought you knew, then I am glad.

Just remember, self-defence is not just physical, it is everything that comes together so that you can learn to walk in peace, be it physical, social, financial, mental, or spiritual. In these crazy times, sane voices and rational discussion with critical thinking must be our priority, lest we all go mad and fail to learn to walk in peace.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

A variety of masks are available, some are better than others. (source)
Critical thinking and COVID-19 – Context, Masks and Stats Audio by Jonathan Fader

First of all, happy new year! Though given what’s going on I am not sure it will be too much different from 2020, at least during the first few months. Rather than doing some new years resolution post which is, let’s be honest, cliché, I am simply going to continue with my series on Critical Thinking and COVID-19. The first being initial response and the virus.

I would like to first start with the fact I believe Western governments have been lying and gaslighting the public since the beginning. Not for the health and safety of the general public, for what is best for the “System”; medical and political. I believe it’s actually quite easy to prove.

In my previous post I discussed the fact that there is NO WAY Western governments did not have pandemic plans in place after SARS hit in 2003. In fact, in Canada even mainstream media has picked up on this, as can be seen in this Globe and Mail article from April of 2020 (which itself is being far to kind to the government). In it, the author reminds the public that CPHO Dr. Theresa Tam (Canada’s version of Dr. Anthony Fauci) co-wrote a paper in 2006, discussing pandemics with regard to Canada specifically. In a 2010 documentary “Outbreak: Anatomy of a Plague,” Dr. Tam can be seen in recordings discussing very Orwellian methods for controlling the public in the event in pandemics. Which, again, shows there were plans, which basically every Western government failed to implement even at a basic level. Which, as previously mentioned, should have started with closing the boarders to anyone who tests positive, or some variation of border restrictions at the very least.

So why do I say governments globally are gaslighting? They are constantly blaming the spread of the virus on the public failing to do what they are told. For all the Karens, unhealthy people, or those with anxiety, this has been the talking point: “Just do as you are told.” Yet it is morally wrong on all levels, because had governments actually implemented their plans back in Jan/Feb 2020 we would have not needed lockdowns at all; which don’t even seem to work, as many places with extreme lockdowns, like NY, LA, and England, are still seeing massive spikes.

So, did any one in the world get it right? Yes, for sure. The best examples are Taiwan and South Korea. There are many reasons for their overall success, one of which is, it seems, their medical systems are not overly corrupt like ours are (but I won’t get into that). For the purpose of this article I am going to talk about Taiwan. First I would like to acknowledge that Taiwan is an island, which, like other island nations (like Australia), makes it far easier to control who’s coming into the country. Countries like Canada and the US never actually closed the land boarders, allowing more than 7,000,000 border crossings, not knowing if people are positive or negative. So, YES, islands had a much easier time restricting travel, although it’s also policy related.

So what else did Taiwan do? The first thing is… they implemented their pandemic plans that they had developed post-SARS; they were hit hard in 2003 (like TORONTO, in Canada) and they learned their lessons then. They immediately closed there borders, implemented testing when it was reasonable and possible, and told the public to wear masks. In fact, they even worked with private companies to ensure that masks were available for everyone. (More about this can be heard on the NPR Planet Money episode from Dec. 23d, “Fork The Government“)

Yes, that’s right, masks.

If you remember, at this time you were being told by Fauci, Tam, and the World Health Organization that, “No, you should not wear masks because you don’t need them.” All of whom later changed there minds, with Fauci even going on record to admit that he had lied.

Seems Taiwan did the right thing early by shutting down travel and telling people to wear masks. So why did global experts lie? In Fauci’s admission he rationalizes that it was a decision to protect the medical community plain and simple. This was due to fears surrounding supply chain issues, which, again, were common knowledge as I have previously discussed. Like all COVID decisions it seems they were solely based on a “protect the medical system first and the public next” mentality (something that is open for debate). This is an approach that, as we have seen, has created poorly thought out, garbage policy. The same methodology can be found in the overuse of ventilators early on, which, allegedly, was done to protect medical staff from the chance of the virus aerosolizing. While ventilators certainly are needed for those who cannot breath on their own, those with severe symptoms in the hospitals were put in medically-induced comas and put on ventilators, which later was found to cause a higher death rate and not actually have the desired affect. Yes, that’s right, early in the virus the high death rate, even for younger people, was due to… a lack of actual understanding. (But they will never be recorded as such, of course.)

This means that they lied, for their own benefit, and while you can make an ethical case for their methods it really seems this “system first” protection failed to achieve any reasonable results and just caused chaos. But, you know, “it’s the publics fault for not doing what you were told.” They screwed up, but its your fault! Gaslighting at its finest. Add to that the constant shifting goal posts and changing information, and they wonder why large groups of the public have lost faith in the experts. (Side note: if experts wonder why people don’t want to listen to them a lot of the time it’s because of this kind of garbage.)

Masks

Ok enough ranting, let’s actually talk masks. If you recall I briefly addressed masks in a post way back in the beginning of 2020. (Assuming you won’t read it, a reminder: Way back in 2008 I completed a two year program in Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S), within which there was a lot of discussion of masks for the workplace, how to use them properly, and what the different ratings are for.)

So let’s start with this. The best argument for wearing masks is a simple one: In general, they can’t hurt.

Yes, there are some people who can’t wear them for whatever reason, but for the most part they won’t hurt. (In most of those cases, we have several variations of non-contact face shields that are still better than nothing) I also agree they are a pain to wear all the time, as personally I find it difficult when I have to wear them for more than an hour or so. Let’s not pretend it’s, not as they are very unnatural feeling. The other thing is, I am against outright blanket mask mandates (for COVID at least), as I never like top-down control to this level of daily life. Arresting one person in a store because they don’t wear a mask is an absurdity. If it bothers you, don’t go near that person.

Whenever I see a person outdoors, by themselves, walking with a mask on, it drives me nuts as these people don’t really get how masks work. However, if you are in a confined space for longer than 15 min with people, such as a small room, especially those whom you do not know and will be close to, then masks probably are a good idea. Where social distancing is possible then I’m not a fan of mandatory requirements.

So how do you know they do work as a general concept? Well, countries that implemented masks early are doing much better, by a long shot. They didn’t even need to do massive lockdowns. Yes, I am aware that countries like Taiwan have a far more complaint populous, but that makes it all the more important that politicians and experts must stop lying; as this is what degrades our trust.

You can also anecdotally assert that masks work, seeing as hospitals have been using medical masks for years for a reason. For viruses like COVID, which are spread via particulates (spit, breath moisture, etc.), medical masks will work just fine when you are close to people.

As mentioned previously though, N95 masks are better, and respirators even better still.

So when don’t masks work? Well, if in fact COVID-19 was aerosolized than the first two options wouldn’t really be effective. Which is probably why despite clean procedures in hospitals germs still spread through the building. If COVID was in fact as bad as they were claiming you would need a half face respirator or better.

When it comes to respirators you have two general types; open systems and closed systems. A closed system is more like hazmat suit with a built in oxygen tank (the kind you see in movies), which is what you would want to wear when dealing with, say, Ebola or other deadly things. An open system one is a respirator which still allow you to breath freely with the air around you; a filter doing the work when you breathe in or out. The reason why medical masks and N-95 mask don’t work 100% is because they are not perfect seals. Which means you could still come into contact with the virus under the right circumstances, especially if it was aerosolized.

One of the things experts were saying at the beginning to justify not wearing masks was that the average person won’t wear them properly anyway. Which, while true, is an arrogantly silly stance.

Why?

In OH&S you have something called “fit testing”. It is a training method to ensure individuals know what their mask feels like if they are wearing it properly with the correct filters. They make sure you put your respirator on with the right fit, and then crack a banana oil ampule which smells HORRIBLE. So bad you can’t fake the response unless you have no sense of smell. Why is this important? Well, if you are on a worksite that has, say, H2S gas, and there is a leak, and you don’t have a proper seal on your mask, you can drop dead.

The fact you don’t need a respirator or better for COVID means it’s not as bad as they have making it out to be, as it should be obvious by now you will not drop dead on the spot for getting COVID. But masks will, as a general rule, reduce transmission. To what degree? Who knows? But I would definitely wear them if I am close to vulnerable people; aged 60+, obese, and those with diabetes or similar issues. Even if they were only 10-20% effective, then they would still worth wearing when appropriate.

But screaming about masks after lying about them, then saying “I am sorry, you are just being a Karen,” especially if you don’t even understand how they work, that is unacceptable!

Imagine a world in which they had followed their plans and got masks to the public early, where those who wanted to wear one did and those who didn’t didn’t, you most likely would have seen a different world today.

Stats

Okay, since this post is fairly long I am going to keep things fairly short here. I will expand further on this information in the next post.

I am going to start with this great (mobile only) presentation from CBC (similar info here):

https://ici.radio-canada.ca/info/2020/06/deces-morts-covid-19-coronavirus-provinces-repartition-visualisation-3d/index-en.html

One thing they did was be honest. They presented the information, which included breaking down by age, in an easy to understand graphical comparison; something governments seemingly refuse to do. This was compiled after the first wave in Canada, as of June 8th 2020, and I find it highly likely that you would find similar ratios globally, as an indication of who the vulnerable groups are. But let’s look at the numbers as they were at that time.

  • As of June 7 at 3:30 p.m., 95,699 Canadians have been diagnosed with the Novel Coronavirus, but only 35% are still considered sick. 57% have recovered and 8% have died.
  • With 7,848 deaths, COVID-19 is on track to be the sixth-highest cause of death this year in Canada. In only five months, the disease killed as many as the flu, pneumonia and bronchitis do combined in an average year.
  • The elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are most at risk of dying from COVID-19. The deaths are grouped by age: 80 and older60 to 7940 to 59 and 39 and younger.
  • Those who are 80 and older account for 72% of deaths in Canada. But only 18% of cases are in this age group.
  • Those 40 to 59 and 39 and younger only make up three per cent of deaths — despite accounting for 65% of cases.

There is more for anyone willing to read it, and, of course, this is older data, however, it is clear who the vulnerable groups are. It is not the general public, yet you are still being told it is. If you are under 60 and healthy (ie. not obese, not diabetic, etc.) you are probably more likely to die by car than anything else. If you are under 40 and die you probably are just as likely to win the lottery (I didn’t do the actual math, but you get the idea).

Now, I cannot seem to easily find numbers on the Canadian CDC website, which is shocking. But on the BC CDC website (which is up to date) they do not discuss age. Weird huh? They say “listen to the experts, look at the data!” then completely ignore that data.

Let’s do a comparison. If I simply google “BC COVID Data,” I actually get the Canadian data (again very hard to compare accurate data when the data is presented differently everywhere); I get a chart that basically shows the positive test rate for Canada. It doesn’t show the data by age, doesn’t show the hospitalization rate, doesn’t show the death rate. (Did I mention there was a higher death rate for people under 80 in the first wave due to the overuse of ventilators…)

Accesses January 4th 2020.

Now you see much higher rates of infection, which make it look bad even though the death rate has more or less stayed flat (“flatten the curve”). The reason the rate is so much higher due to the second wave, is because…. more testing… but the overall death rate is actually down. But it looks scary right?

In the case of British Columbia, though deaths spiked, almost all of them were in Long term Care homes or among the elderly… but, you know, everyone is still dying of this thing right? It’s actually something like 80% of people who died were in the older population. It is unfortunate, but it is what it is. Yet government policies don’t address this, they just shut down everything, or most things, because it’s easier.

So why do they focus on the infection rate not other factors? One, it’s easier. Two, it creates more fear in the public by inflating the overall risk; which then gets people to comply and enrages the Karen army.

But science and data right? When policy isn’t being made based on the data but more to protect the medical personnel and the system this indicates they are not actually being scientific. After all, look at Taiwan, they implemented simple plans early and they can continue doing what they want, including martial arts.

Before I wrap up this post I would just like to point out in the second wave there was a MASSIVE drop in COVID rates on Dec 25th and Jan1st. Not because COVID disappeared, but because (I assume) testing stopped for the most part. This shows the effect testing has on the numbers. If they had testing early that first spike probably would have been epically massive. But since governments really screwed up they didn’t have testing ready, which resulted in the accusations that the numbers were too high or too low. The infection rates were most definitely too low in the first wave, as measured by the numbers, but the death rate was probably way too high due to how they were recorded. Again, the medical community is not likely to admit that the overuse of ventilators (medical error) was the cause of death for many of the early patients. It was totally on COVID.

But, again, it’s all the publics fault…

Conclusion

I know these posts are long, but the constant attempt to oversimplify these things in a tweet or photo, without exploring the facts properly is a reason why the situation is so screwed up in this world. Not just because of COVID, but because no one wants to actually educate themselves anymore: You just re-tweet, re-post, and don’t follow up.

Teaching Critical Thinking is my thing, as it is a principles first approach. I know it’s hard, but if you want to navigate this confusing world and topic you must think for yourself sometimes. That requires knowledge, critical thinking, and, well, honesty.

To sum up this post: You have been lied to and Gaslighted. Governments in the West have failed to do their ONE JOB! (well, one of many). Masks do work as a general tactic. Manipulating data is BAD. Of course, if you only read this part you failed the critical thinking.

The next post will be on vaccines, testing, and probably more data.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

When it comes to teaching Krav Maga, I do not think of techniques as the starting point of self-defence, but rather critical thinking. This is because critical thinking is a skill which translates into more situations, allowing a person to better walk in peace. This skill, however, can be a very difficult one to teach, as some people have developed ways of thinking and processing information that are totally devoid of critical thinking (which is a hard habit to break), while others may have never been taught to think critically, and, of course, there are those who do not even care to think at all. This is all part of the complex concept that we call the human condition.

Enter COVID-19 and 2020. This year has clearly been a trying one, for many reasons, especially when you are attempting to apply critical thinking and rationality to everything that is going on, while many of those around you simply cannot be bothered. But I remain undeterred, and I will apply some critical thinking skills to analyze the goings-on of this most interesting year as we approach the beginning of 2021. Though to what end, I am really not sure. (You can take it or leave it but it’s really up to you to apply your knowledge, skills, experience, and even trust, to make up your own mind one way or another.)

I am separating this analysis into a three part series, employing my “non-expert” knowledge and experience to break it all down a little bit. This post will be on the initial response to the pandemic, next week’s will be on masks and testing, and the following week will look at vaccines. So, love me or hate me, these posts are coming.

Preparedness (or Lack Thereof)

In case you live in a cave somewhere, COVID-19 popped up in late December of 2019 and was identified and announced in early January of 2020. (Though there are claims that the highest level of government knew earlier, I am not going down the conspiracy rabbit hole.) By March we started to see governments panicking and moving toward full closures of borders or communities in order to “flatten the curve.” Remember that “only 2 weeks, to flatten the curve” lockdown pitch? So much for that!

But let’s take a step back and talk about pandemic procedures. We should start with this; when I studied Occupational Health and Safety I learned about the field of “Emergency Preparedness.” Said field is a subfield of OHS that was so complex it grew into its own specialty, “Emergency Management Planning,” and requires extensive comprehensive training (way beyond the basics) to be proficient in it. I came across this back in 2006, and I expect it was known outside of my training experiences, so, while planning for a pandemic is a monumental task, the requirements of such a plan were on Public Health’s radar for quite some time now.

Thus I find it highly unlikely that Western governments, the UN, NATO, and other such organizations, did not have pandemic plans on paper prior to 2020. In fact, if they did not I would say this is unforgivable negligence. FYI, my understanding is they all did…

Now, with my non-expert knowledge of pandemics, and emergency preparedness planning, let me just take a stab at a basic plan:

I’ll begin by defining a pandemic:

Pandemicadjective – (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.

Now, a potential plan, made my a layman:

  1. Identify a potential virus or outbreak that has the potential to become a pandemic.
  2. Start the process of doing science stuff to learn how to defeat said virus.
  3. Isolate the region in which the initial infection is located, limit travel as needed.
  4. If and when it spreads, limit travel to the region and test anyone entering or leaving the country (where realistically possible).
  5. Surrounding countries should start preparing emergency plans for hospitals.
  6. If and when it jumps to another country stop travel to said newly infected country while science is done and solutions are planned.
  7. If and when it jumps to further countries, close boarders, implement testing, and post updates on how to identify the infection. Prepare hospitals for potential influx and prep for the possibility of needing field hospitals to offer increased capacity. Start preparing emergency caches of supplies and increasing strength of the supply chain. Re-direct government finances to bolster hospitals, first responders, and infection response teams.
  8. If needed due to high death counts or EXTREME negative symptoms, limit travel inside countries/regions and make widespread, ACCURATE, testing easily available. Implement health procedures needed to decrease exposure risk in various industries. Restrict activities as needed (within reason).
  9. If outbreak worsens and death count increases, implement lockdown procedures until a better solution is sorted.
  10. When governments fail due to chaos, get your guns… (learn how to use them before you need them.)

This, of course, is just a basic idea of what might be a good strategy. If I, with limited knowledge, can come up with something (implementation is obviously more difficult and an expensive logistical nightmare) why did governments get things so wrong in the initial stages?

Well, they resisted shutting things down because at the time, the claim was limiting travel to China would be a racist action. Wait, racist? What does this have to do with a pandemic? Nothing. It’s purely political. A virus like COVID-19 doesn’t care much about race, though differences in genetics and socio-economic status do affect how a given virus will impact certain groups, but racist? Nope. (Practical? Yep.)

What would have the world looked like if governments across the globe had actually implemented the plans they had on paper, and immediately limited travel restrictions and testing rather than screaming about the appearance racism? Probably a more functional 2020. (A few nations have managed to avoid COVID)

With that being said, from what I have seen many experts assert that this virus would have spread regardless. See Alanna Shaikh‘s “TEDx” talk from 2019 (and pay attention to what else she says). Some were convinced of this virus’s inevitability to the point of basically saying “don’t bother closing boarders because it won’t make a difference.” This attitude seems very morbid and not very forward thinking, because of, and we all know this, the people factor. But, hey, an expert in pandemics is an expert in everything else; like economics, or psychology, right? Clearly coming from the perspective that the virus will spread anyway so what’s the point? The point would have been simple: Governments are slow and inefficient. Thus the more time they have to prepare the less likely they are to be overwhelmed, and the less the general public would have been punished for their incompetence.

Why do I say incompetence? Well, let’s take the widely accepted claim, from many leaders, that “no one could have seen this coming.” This is simply a giant pile of crap and a failure of our leaders and governments to take responsibility for their actions, or lack of actions in many cases. How can I make such a claim? Consider that experts they are now using to shove restrictions down our throats are the very same experts who were telling politicians, for years, that due to “climate change, massive urbanization, the proximity of humans to farm or forest animals that serve as viral reservoirs” pandemics are coming and we need to prepare.

Epidemiologist (ie. pandemic expert) Michael T. Osterholm, who was the guest The Joe Rogan Experience, episode 1439, wrote a book called the Deadliest Enemy in 2017. This was a response to the SARS and MERS outbreaks, in 2003 and 2012 respectively, the fifth and sixth coronaviruses humanity has encountered. (here is another piece talking about what we learned from that outbreak and how to prepare.) There were many other experts telling our leaders to prepare, so what happened to “listening to the experts” back then?

In this book he talks about the seriousness of pandemics and the general lack of preparedness, even going into specific details such as identifying the issue with modern medical supply chains. Yes, that’s right. The whole “don’t wear masks” at the beginning was actually a lie to ensure the medical system had priority access to PPE, rather than sound medical advice. But I will get into that in the mask post. To keep it short here, it basically means governments didn’t properly prepare. Period.

A local example: After the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto, governments in Canada and Provinces spent loads of cash on PPE, etc. for first responders. Awesome right? Well, medical gear expires. So guess what happened? It expired. Unfortunately, governments generally did not replace equipment because of ignorance, cost-saving measures, and the attitude of “that’s a future government’s problem.” Enter COVID-19, and, hey, with the crappy supply chain (based in China) first responders were left for weeks or months without proper equipment (this was confirmed by sources close to me).

So, while this was a short analysis it is actually very easy to prove that the assertion “Nobody could have seen this coming” and “we couldn’t have possibly prepared for this,” is simply a lie to coverup government incompetence.

The Virus, the Politics, and the Data

Wait, Jon, did you say there was more than one coronavirus!? Yes, there are many members of the Coronaviridae family, which includes “the common cold” and several flu strains. Some are worse than others, SARS (SARS-CoV) and MERS (MERS-CoV), for example, tend to have a higher death rate, around 20-40%, but spread much slower than COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). An initial comparison of COVID-19, SARS, and influenza can be found here.

You may recall there were many at the beginning saying it was “flu like” or closely comparable to the flu. Well, it is in the same family of virus, so saying someone who repeats that is an idiot isn’t completely fair. Though COVID-19 does spread at a far more rapid pace than the common cold or flu, with significantly higher morbidity rates in elderly populations and those with co-morbidity factors, the vast majority of people, probably 80-90%, will experience mild to medium symptoms (much like a cold or flu.) It is, after all, a virus with a 95-99% survival rate, depending on age and other factors. Considering the amount of elderly who are hospitalized for the cold or flu, who then develop pneumonia and die, comparing COVID-19 to the flu, albeit a bastard cousin with a reliable, easily available vaccine, was somewhat reasonable. (Notwithstanding the fact that, in Canada at least, COVID-19 has, at the 10 month mark, taken out almost four times as many people than the seasonal flu does in 12 months [13,779 vs 3,500])

Yes, as it should be common knowledge by now, age groups 60+ are generally at a MUCH higher risk from having issues, short and long term, due to COVID-19. This isn’t really debatable, but they are still trying probably to instill fear in young people by bringing those numbers up every single time a young person dies. Yes, it can happen but that is true for most viruses or diseases. Some people, no matter their age or good health, are just screwed. Your own immune system may overreact to cause more problems than the virus itself due to a “cytokine storm.” It’s like winning the unlucky lottery that you played simply by being born. It is unfortunate, but it is what it is. Statistically, however, you are not likely to die of COVID-19 by a long shot if you are under 40, and less so between 40-60 than if you were older.

So why did they demonize this comparison? Well, again, politics. Because the system had failed they wanted to use fear to make people take it more seriously so that people would “listen to them” (ie. the government). While some politicians are legitimately trying to save lives, others may simply be incompetent; but instead of being honest and open with the science, both would rather lie, manipulate, and talk down to you.

I have read articles reporting on young people who had a terrible experience with COVID and it is often presented as “you see, young people have problems too.” But buried further down in the information is a note that “oh, they had diabetes,” “oh, they were overweight,” or “hey, they had a health issue they didn’t even know about.” Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and call that manipulative; they are encouraging fear to encourage obedience.

By the way, obesity, old age, and general poor health are some of the main factors that will lead to death if you get COVID-19. So, you know, staying healthy is a good way to keep yourself farther from death… in general… all the time. Oh, and also, vitamin D deficiency can cause complications, which many, many, many doctors have confirmed, but, you know, vitamin D is cheap, easily accessible, and does not need governments or pharmaceutical companies to be involved in a solution. I want to be clear: Vitamin D is NOT a cure, but rather can help your immune system do it’s thing so that if you do get COVID-19 you are considerably less likely to experience severe symptoms (unless you have health problems.) The link above was from Ben Greenfield’s podcast, but there have been many others talking about COVID-19 and other issues. For example on another episode with Dr.Zach Bush he discusses how those on statins or comparable drugs (for heart problems and obesity) are more likely to experience complications with COVID-19 than the average cancer patient (different meds). Weird huh?

Despite the INSANE amount of evidence about how being healthy and strengthening your immune system helps vs COVID (again, not a cure, but a solid preventative medicine against general ailments and the slowing of the inevitability of death), governments have largely only focused on the expertise of ER doctors and epidemiologists. Individuals whom are, in fact, not experts on preventative medicine. In general, Western medicine barely focuses on preventative medicine at all, aside from the generic advice of “maintain a good diet and exercise.” Considering this virus was supposed to be the death of us all… shouldn’t they want to give all reasonable, scientific advice to help people survive? I guess promoting good health and wellbeing isn’t good advice? Or, at least, not good advice with regard to money for the medical system, because, you know, people are healthier… but I digress.

Let’s go back and talk about the concept of flattening the curve. Initially, in Canada, this meant a two-week, partial lockdown, in order to slow infections and space out those that required hospitalization, to avoid being overwhelmed, and also to allow the overall system, medical and government, to make preparations. This is reasonable (although, had they prepared properly it might not have even been needed). I accepted this premise, as, if the hospitals are overwhelmed then, yes, many more would likely die. Except that many hospitals, for the most part, were never overwhelmed in the first wave (in the case of Toronto, the hospitals were filled to bursting prior to the pandemic!). Some ERs had very busy nights as can be seen in numerous articles or ER personnel venting their emotions to the media. Something I consider professionally inappropriate; these doctors should be mad at governments for failing to do their job in maintaining appropriate staffing of doctors and nurses, and providing adequate funding overall. (But, hey, it’s the public’s fault apparently.) I sympathize with frontline workers, this has sucked, but their emotional distress due to being overworked should not translate into bankrupting thousands of businesses.

So, based on frontline doctors panicking, despite the fact that most hospitals were not overwhelmed, the government’s knee-jerk reaction of two weeks turned into months. Goodbye, many other peoples livelihoods and lives! Hello, increased suicides, increased abuse, etc…the list goes on. Lockdowns were not a good idea for this virus, one with a high survival rate for the majority of the population, and yet they still justify it. Anyone saying it was a bad idea was called a “conspiracy theorist,’ yet now, months later, the data is in and it appears that more damage was done, physically, financially, and emotionally by lockdowns than the potential deaths that would have occurred had we stayed open with some restrictions. But hey, now some places are still doing lockdowns. So much for data and science driven decisions.

Infection rate vs hospitalization rate vs death rate. The confusion between these points when presenting data, and manipulation of its presentation, is how they keep you down. But Since I have already gone on enough, I ll expand on this in another post, probably the mask one..

Appeal to Authority

Since “experts” aren’t avoidable let’s talk about them.

“Trust me, I am an expert” is a statement you should always be very skeptical of. Unless those words are combined with the specialized knowledge, valid credentials, or sufficient experience that make someone an expert, quite often they are not as expert as they think. Assuming someone is an expert in everything just because they have some letters after there name isn’t as safe as one would think. It is also important to understand that some of those letters may have been “earned” doing research that is not repeatable, yet they get a pat on the back for it. This is not to say that there are not legitimate experts to be found in every field, because there are. Unfortunately in our society people who want attention get it, leaving those who may be far more qualified to speak on a topic toiling in some poorly funded lab somewhere, all because they won’t step into the spotlight or refuse to play the game of politics.

Another consideration it that experts and scientists are STILL HUMAN! Period. Meaning they are fallible and prone to error, ego, and chasing the funding. Some may even have their intentions corrupted by attention seeking. They are not the god-like, invaluable individuals the media (or they themselves) would have you believe. Also, whose experts? Because I can find an expert in anything to say anything on anything, because, you know, hoomons.

So, who should you trust? The experts saying “keep locking things down” or the experts saying “lockdowns serve no purpose.” Many politicians will listen to whoever they think makes them popular, rather than the actual science and data. This often includes politicians who say the words “science” and “data” repeatedly without actually understanding anything they are talking about. Don’t accuse others of being populist when you are doing the same thing. Anyway.

I do listen to experts who make valid, well-thought-out arguments, based on research and data that has been thoroughly worked through. We should listen when a reasonable argument is made. However, you must always apply critical thinking to what you hear, watch, and read, and know when you are being misled.

Sometimes experts, intentionally or unintentionally, assume you are too stupid to understand so they leave details out. One such example is another “hot mic” incident where the truth comes out when “top Ontario doctors” got caught saying (perhaps jokingly) “I just say whatever they write down for me.” Regardless of intent, this is not a great approach, especially when they go on to express anger at the average person being very scientifically illiterate (which I agree with). They just treat you as such rather than attempting to properly educate you with simple, well-thought-out arguments that are actually backed by clean, unbiased data; the so-called “democratizing of science” (ie. making it accessible and considerate of common people.)

I like experts who don’t like to give black & white answers because answers with nuance are more likely to be true. A working theory isn’t 100% fact yet, so saying things definitively is not always correct. However, they are advising politicians and politicians need to make decisions that are usually based on minimal evidence, because they need to know now. Sorry, science doesn’t work like that, and cherry picking experts to make you look good is unscientific and unethical.

Here’s the other thing with experts; they may in fact be an expert in their field, but when it comes to decisions that affect everyone you should also consult experts in other fields. For example, seek out information from those who know about economics, psychology, etc., in order to get a fuller picture of consequences and knock-on effects. Essentially, experts in other fields were ignored with regard to lockdown policies… because it probably made the decisions too hard.

You should listen to experts when their arguments are well-made, have significant evidence to back them up, are informed by more than just their own study, and include consideration for other areas that may be affected by their advice or decisions. Being too specialized means are very good at what you do, but you sacrifice the ability to give sound advice beyond a specific scope of knowledge.

In defence of scientific experts on COVID-19, I would say that many of the “spokespeople” are acting more like politicians than they are scientists, which is not the appropriate way to deal with major issues. I am sure more of the behind-the-scenes types would be better choices if they stood up and voiced their knowledge and concerns more publicly.

So before you listen to the government appointed person because they are an “expert” or have Dr. in front of their name, ask yourself “am I actually being given the entire, factually accurate truth, or am I being selectively told things to get a desired result?” (A very, VERY, unscientific methodology by the way.)

Conclusion

This is, of course, a only a small portion of the things I could say regarding COVID-19 and critical thinking in general, but I am not writing a book here. My goal is to encourage you to think for yourself and ask “are the things I am being told based in reality or just because it’s easier for those making the decisions at the top?”

While it is easy to say “it’s all about saving lives,” which is an emotional appeal (appeals to emotion should make your Spidey-sense tingle), the reality is that, while some may believe their own intentions are genuine, it has clearly been spun into a complicated web of politics and control.

I despise when people believe what they are told outright, because this shows a complete lack of critical thinking. It also saddens me to see how powerful “groupthink” can be when people perceive their own safety to be at risk.

I do plan on addressing the issues of masks and vaccines as a layman, and, as an outright statement, I am not against either of these things. I will, however, as always, apply critical thinking on these two topics.

I hope I have given you something to think about, so that you can learn to critically think and live your life freely while also considering others.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

Police selection should be at least as rigorous as the demands in the line of duty. (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

This is the fifth in a series that started with “It’s Not So Black and White“, which was expanded upon in “Understanding Use of Force”. Specifics regarding techniques were discussed in “Understanding Use of Force: Knee-on-Neck”, and then we looked at overall police training standards in last week’s post, “Police Training Should be Better.” Over the course of this series I have frequently mentioned the need for better training and standards for policing.

This will be the last entry in this series on policing and use of force. It is my hope these posts have given you time and information to consider another perspective about police and the job, as well as use of force misconceptions. If your only source of information about the world is the mainstream media, it is likely you are getting heavily biased misrepresentation (often with the goal of gaining viewer attention rather than informing us). Or if you are only getting information from social media, a place where you may only follow people with similar beliefs and experiences to yours, then you could be living in a bubble, leading you to jump on poorly thought out causes (even if your intentions were good). No matter where you are in the world and what bubble you live in, seeking out other opinions and sources of information is key to forming well thought out ideas and policies. So, I hope this series has opened your mind to a perspective you might not have considered.

Which brings us to the next important topic: How do we select for policing? If you have followed this series you will have guessed that there is no single standard method of selection. Some require post-secondary, some do not. Some have age and fitness restrictions, be they high or low. It is likely we will never get it exactly right, but, as stated, it can be better. Some ideas in this article will be speculative, others are simply thoughts to further the conversation.

Let’s start with age. Personally, I think that the minimum age for policing should be 25, with no specific high-end limit so long as individuals can pass all required tests. Why? Simple, the idea that people are adults at 18/21 is an arbitrary number. A long time ago at puberty or around 16, you were generally considered an adult, because you could move to the next stage of life. The modern conception of 18 or 21 as the “age of majority,” other than it being after high-school or university, was based on our social/economic system’s needs. However, recent studies have suggested that the human brain does not finish developing until around age 25, at which point our brain chemistry and function is stable enough (scientifically) to be considered in the “adult” phase of human development. But I don’t think I need science to tell me that people over 25 are usually more stable and better at rational decision making. Which is why it makes sense that 25 should be the minimum age for a career in which decisions and reactions could have lethal consequences. Why do I think no maximum age? Well, as long as candidates are physically and mentally capable, why limit the selection? You will also be able to draw upon the expertise and experience from individuals who have lived and done more.

Why is it then that police organizations prefer younger candidates? The forces that do are likely seeking younger minds that can be molded to fit the existing police culture they want them to adhere to. Even Google does this, by hiring people right out of high school. Except, when it comes to policing I really don’t want someone who is young and has been conditioned to uphold the “old boys club,” or favouring your fellow officers over the law. Hiring older candidates will allow the institution to ensure that integrity is more likely to be enshrined in the force, both legally and morally.

Next, let’s talk about the obvious; physical requirements. Sometimes physical requirements are expected, with tests like the Peace Officers Physical Abilities Test (POPAT), while others have few or no requirements. First off, under no circumstances do I think it is acceptable to allow out-of-shape police officers to serve on the force, let alone as active street officers. Like shooting and tactics, fitness requirements should be maintained and assessed annually. While I cannot speak for other places, I can say that, from what I have heard in Canada, physical standards are often slowly being lowered. This is something I am very much against; the job doesn’t change but the standards do? That makes no sense, and is potentially dangerous. You may need to chase someone for a 100m sprint or a 2km run, with your gear on. Or you may need to grapple with an opponent to control them during an arrest; which is exhausting enough when you are in shape, let alone out of shape. Additionally, testing should be more realistic than it currently is, as the tests, like the POPAT, don’t really prepare you or assess you for fieldwork, rather it’s just generic fitness. There should be tiered levels of fitness tests required, each aimed at ensuring officers can operate for all aspects of their job. This can be done before, during, and regularly after initial training. The job doesn’t change, so the standards shouldn’t change, even if lower standards would allow more people in.

I personally don’t have an issue with shorter officers or smaller officers, but I do believe anyone with a “non-average build” MUST score higher on the physical combatives areas, as they are going to have to make up for their size with skill. It’s just physics. So, again, lowering physical standards for smaller officers is actually more likely to put their lives, or the lives of civilians, at risk.

Regarding combative skills; either through police prep schools or generic martial arts schools, candidates should probably start to have BJJ, wrestling, or Judo experience prior to hitting the academy. If, of course, out of high-school you want to be a police officer you could do 4 years of education related to the job, which is also plenty of time to get considerable martial arts experience. It also shows that candidates are serious about the job and are ready to get their egos smashed on the mats, rather than pursuing the job so they can impose their egos on others. This will further help screen people, as there is no better stress test than having a higher ranked, larger individual sit on you (even in a fun match).

Next is the question of education.

I like the German model that has POLICE SPECIFIC degrees. Such degrees, in my opinion, should have hand-to-hand combat and physical training aspects to it as well as theory. This would pre-screen candidates as well as provide them with all the training they need, well in advance of the actual job (which would also save tax payer money). Even if individuals do not end up becoming police they would walk away with practical, lifelong skills (martial arts, awareness, etc.). While Criminology degrees are good, like many degrees they are not specific to the job itself and will depend on who is teaching what, with regards to how practical the education is. Having a degree is also a screening method to ensure than individuals grow and develop, and show that they can work hard, prior to acting in the line of duty.

These are just a few items that should be in place, but there are other selection practices currently used that I strongly dislike.

First, is the fact that forces often want puritan candidates, with no “bad behavior” in their history at all. This I am very much against. How can you possibly understand how a drunk person thinks or feels if you have never been drunk? How are you going to understand the people you need to help if your life has never exposed you to anything negative. The no drugs ever, policies that many agencies enforce for pre-selection is insane and probably limit good candidates dramatically. Of course, you don’t want individuals with a severe history of addiction, but with the amount of alcohol police often drink, I see no difference between that and many categories of drugs. And, clearly, they MUST be sober on the job, if that wasn’t already obvious.

Another notion of selection is the common bias (even if subconsciously) to only select individuals who not only “fit in,” but also those who “won’t rock the boat.” This kind of selection bias is the reason why we have so many shitty cops out there (like many jobs), because you select for people who will not be honest about the problems they see in the behaviour of other officers, or the system, even though this is what the public demands (and is a self-scrutiny that will improve the force overall). I understand the concept of “brotherhood,” as I was in the military, however, while it may feel like, as an officer, you are going to war every day. It is not. Therefore, this idea of “protective brotherhood” I feel is less important in policing than in the military during wartime. While, yes, you want someone who you can trust with your life as a partner, for the sake of the job and your overall safety you cannot keep protecting bad behavior in the name of brotherhood. It is wrong, Full Stop!

What do you think?

These are just a few ideas about how to better select for policing. Many of these changes would require you communicating regularly with your politicians, mayor’s offices, and others, as the budget and changes are usually green lit by them and not the people who should actually be making the decisions. Everyone knows we need change and yet it often gets stopped somewhere in the blurry, inefficient mess that is bureaucracy.

So, if you had your way how would you select for police?

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com, or if you are in the metro Vancouver area come learn from me in person www.urbantacticskm.com

This is the third part in a series, starting with “Its Not So Black and White,” on the topic of police brutality, training, and various misconceptions thereof.

Audio by: Jonathan Fader – There is some additional commentary in the Audio
Regular training allows forceful restraint to be applied with caution and control. (source)

In last weeks post, “Understanding Use of Force,” I discussed the difficult nature of applying “use of force” concepts and making the correct decision, in the smallest amount of time, while under duress. While, yes, there are malicious police, I would say 10-20% (these are the ones that need to go), the rest are simply good people with an extremely difficult job. A job where everything you do and say is scrutinized to a level that would drive even the most stable person a little nuts. This is why even good officers will often side with their fellow members, even the bad ones, because of the “Us vs Them” principle.

In the media we once again see calls for removing more justifications for the use of force from police, rather than demanding better training and member selection. Slogans like “defund the police,” though popular on social media, are very misguided and misleading to the point that many top politicians who support the general movement are distancing themselves from them. What people need to understand is that the very LOUD minority on social media tends to disproportionately drive the conversation, causing “groupthink” to lead the masses into piling-on with out any real idea of what to do or how to make a meaningful change. “Defund the police” is no different than saying take away their tools.

Once upon a time the police were armed with batons and guns, and many times the smallest altercations meant extreme violence. Then they added non-lethal tools like bean bag guns, rubber bullets, mace, and tasers. Now we even see a trend toward a desire to take these tools away; this is akin to taking away a cat’s teeth. Then telling them they can’t even employ use of force concepts, because it isn’t nice, is like declawing that same cat. This idea that “no force is needed in many altercations” is, quite frankly, delusional. As, while there are certainly cases of police overstepping their bounds, most of the altercations resulting in violence are occurring due to extreme resistance. But before I move on, watch this video about why, with proper training (something I will discuss in another post), appropriate, controlled force (including Knee on the neck) is a necessary tool.

UTKM Lead Instructor Jonathan Fader – Shows appropriate use of Force with the Knee on the Neck

Please understand that, even if you don’t like this technique, if you read our previous post you may start to understand how difficult it is to control another person. As mentioned in this video, he is not resisting too much, mainly because he doesn’t want to; this is why controlled pain compliance is super important. Unless someone is on drugs or has a massive adrenaline spike most people will cease resisting and comply when you apply the appropriate pressure and give the appropriate verbal commands.

NO, two or three officers should NOT all be dog-piling or putting their knee on the neck. One trained individual should apply the technique, with others supporting by controlling the arms or legs.

I sincerely believe that most people who say police should not have any use of force options have no idea how dangerous the job is. Just because you will not be violent towards police doesn’t mean others won’t.

While there are definitely racial issues at play (on a global scale, stop pretending it’s just the US), when it comes to policing we should not assume every altercation is about race. If you believe it’s systemic then attempt to understand the issues within the system that make it appear that way to you. Remember, in a world with conflicting voices the middle ground is often where you need to be.

This means, better training and standards for policing BUT still allowing them to do the job while staying safe, which includes techniques like the knee-on-neck.

I have recently seen suggestions that there be unarmed, trained individuals available to deal with calls that require a lighter touch, such as social workers for calls related to non-violent mental illness. But, if you think for a second that their training should not include the use of force, then you are not being realistic about possible escalations. Talk to any ER Psych nurse or social worker and ask if they have ever been in a near violent or violent situation. These are hard jobs where getting attacked is a reality. Some people, for whatever reason, do not care about consequences and will be unpredictably violent; this includes towards the police and towards civilian role which require direct interaction. By removing use of force training and tools you are actually putting more people in unnecessary danger.

And to those of you who have multiple, negative police encounters (outside of racial contexts), you need to ask yourself “why are having so many bad encounters?” If you don’t take personal responsibility for your actions you are not being honest. Because, lets be reasonable, most encounters with the police are, by their very nature, negative experiences, as you only usually deal with the police in situations that are not ideal; from paying fines, to violent incidents. I have had both positive and negative encounters with the police, but for me the most frustrating issue, for both me and the police, is that often the responding officers cannot get involved because it’s “not an imminent threat.” Even if they agree that something should be done about a person, they don’t, because the system doesn’t always allow it. Which means they slowly become jaded and any time there is any “action” even the best of police can get caught up in the moment.

This is exactly why we must insist on better training for the police, and an understanding that the solution isn’t always going to be a move to “defang the police.”

Now that you have watched the above video and you have read these articles, it is my hope that you understand why techniques like knee-on-neck are important tools; they are, on average, less dangerous than other tools such as rubber bullets and tasers. So, before you jump on the Internet bandwagon, ask yourself, “Do I really understand use of force concepts?” and “Where does my hate for the police actually come from?”

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com, or if you are in the metro Vancouver area come learn from me in person www.urbantacticskm.com

Judging when to use force, and to what degree, is complex and time sensitive (Tony Webster)
Audio by: Jonathan Fader

The other week I wrote about the recent police incident resulting in the death of George Floyd, in the post titled, It’s not so Black and White

As this has become such a large and complicated topic, with factors such as dissidents, political activists, misinformation, and the media all blurring the facts, I thought I would expand on a few aspects of policing and its complex, often intricate, nature. Perhaps you have never heard of these concepts, or perhaps you don’t care, but if you have an open mind you will at least attempt to understand both sides of any argument.

For most of the world’s population, fighting may be a daily reality, or even a way of life; though for many others it is the stuff of nightmares. Now imagine being in a job where at any point you may have to literally fight for your life. This is, for often the case for people in law enforcement. Now imagine being under a constant microscope, whether right or wrong, and having to deal with one of the most complicated situations an officer may ever have to deal with: The appropriate application of force in a given situation.

To clarify (again), in the George Floyd case the use of force was NOT appropriate.

Before I move forward take a look at this:

This is an old “Use of Force” chart I made. One of the regular comments I receive from viewers is, “This is too complicated!”

My response is always, “Correct!”

It is complicated, and that demonstrates the complexity of the decisions and processes that need to go through a person’s brain when making a use of force decision. Add to that the pressure from the awareness that if you screw up you could loose your job, or worse, your life. Then add the pressure of onlookers criticizing you, screaming at you, and filming you. Then add to that the fact that you may not have received the training you felt you needed, or not enough of it.

There could also be further considerations that are not immediately obvious: Is the person on drugs? Are they having a massive adrenaline boost? Are they bigger, stronger, and faster than you?

Forget being in a fist fight, have you ever been in a wrestling match with someone? Do you remember how difficult it was to think and act with someone’s entire body weight against you?

Believe it or not, trying to move another human being who does not want to be moved (or comply at all), is very difficult. It doesn’t really matter what your belief system is, because this is simply a fact. In one example, this anti-police activist found out how difficult it can be. It doesn’t matter the source of the simulation, as, done properly, the results would be the same; it will always be harder than you thought.

It is the hope of every officer, be they police, security, or military, that when an arrest is required verbal commands are enough to elicit compliance. Unfortunately, as you know, this does not always happen.

Even with training it can still be difficult (police generally do not get enough, a topic I will discuss in another post). One thing Krav Maga realized is that when it comes to violent people, you MUST use violence to prevent harm to yourself or others. You can use your words all you want, but if someone is coming after you, then you are going to have to apply force appropriate to the situation. Words do not always work, and whether you want to or not, you will find yourself in a complicated situation where even the slightest mistake can get you fired, suspended, or dead.

What about those who didn’t resist violently? Well, you are correct, in those cases extreme use of force would not be warranted. A lighter touch is certainly needed when the situation allows for it. But, let’s say someone is just being difficult when putting the handcuffs on, and despite multiple verbal commands to comply they chose not to? Then a slightly higher use of force is needed.

Prior to the recent protests many people believe (usually on the left) that the only people who should have the permission for use of force is the government and its agencies (the police, FBI, etc.). If this is the case, if you believe this, then you must admit you know very well that you should comply with the police when necessary. Yes, there are bad apples out there, as the internet has shown, and these should all be removed from duty completely and immediately. But, for the rest of them, they will never know if any given person is going to comply or not. If the answer is “not,” then given the authority granted to the police by you, the citizen, then you must understand use of force is warranted to elicit compliance.

Enter, the complicated decision tree above. The situation will go well, or not, depending on your experience, skill, and training. On a good day, the officer involved possesses all three. On a bad day, maybe only one.

Let’s add in one more complicating factor: Exhaustion. Police often work long shifts that may be physically and mentally demanding. Catch even a well-trained officer with good morals on a day they are at their limit, and even they are capable of making a mistake.

The point is, if you have never stepped in a ring, on a mat, or into and octagon (or just done some backyard wrestling), your ability to judge what is appropriate and effective use of force is severely limited.

It is HARD to wrestle, or tackle and control another person. It takes lots of consistent training. It takes a clear mind and consistent application. At the end of the day, all things considered, it is not so black and white. From moment to moment the appropriate use of force may change, and decisions need to be made in that moment, whether it was right or wrong in hindsight. Failure to choose and act could be catastrophic.

So, if you feel it’s appropriate to get educated on the facts, like trying to understand what it might be like for a Black person in American. Then I urge you to do the same and get educated on all the facts, including trying to understand how hard policing is and how hard it is to be good at appropriate use of force.

Fight the good fight, get educated, expand your horizons, and get out of that echo chamber.

(The next in the series will discuss police training.)

Written by: Jonathan Fader

The divisions and reasons behind conflict are not always a clear as they seem (source)
Audio by: Jonathan Fader

Once again, another major event has occurred that has caused global issues, albeit more centered in North America. Yes, I’m referring to the death of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin, which has sparked mass protests, both violent and peaceful. (These protests, by the way, are clearly in violation of Covid restrictions; something that, it seems, some people have already forgotten.) A month ago protests were seen as disgraceful and disrespectful but now such gatherings are justifiable, because the cause is just. Because, of course, this is a black vs white issue right?

Wrong.

The attitude that allowed former officer Chauvin to stay on the force is the attitude that is going on now. The fact that laws, standards, and morals are almost never applied equally, and justifications for one thing over another will always shift to suit your beliefs, or that of the general narrative that you support. The real problem is that, consistently and with out fail, standards and rules are never applied equally; not just in the government but also in your own world views.

Example: You took the stance that anyone violating lock-down was selfish and foolish. But you now believe that it is okay to gather en mass to protest the death of George Floyd. This indicates that you are okay with mass gatherings only if you agree with the cause. This is a failure to apply a belief equally. It was NOT okay for governments to destroy businesses via lock-down and it was NOT okay that George Floyd died in such a manner. In both cases injustice was done, but your stance changed because of your belief system.

Let me take a step back for a second and talk about the event in question.

First of all, let me be clear, what happened to George Floyd was a disgrace and unacceptable. The officer had numerous complaints related to similar behaviour over the years, and should never have been allowed to continue on the force. The failure of law enforcement agencies to apply the law equally to themselves is the problem here! (Just like when politicians break the law and are not held accountable.) This is the underlying problem and has less to do with Black and White than it does with flawed systems. Why do I say that? Well, it is simple: There were other officers present who were not white, yet they did nothing.

This is probably because of what psychology calls “in-group favouritism” (or “in-group–out-group bias”). Meaning that, though the other officers may see something wrong, most will not do or say anything because they want to protect their group (the police) and not the outsider (the suspect).

Additionally, there are cases in which black police officers abuse their power, yet you don’t hear much about it. A recent example can be found here (a little research turns up many more), albeit this example did not end nearly as badly. But in our modern culture, if you don’t hear about it, it doesn’t exist right?

SIDE NOTE: As someone who teaches use of force the knee on the neck is a perfectly legitimate and necessary technique to control those who are resisting. George Floyd was NOT resisting, so it was not the appropriate technique. If you do use it, it should only be for a short period to elicit compliance. It must be used appropriately and requires appropriate training! It is, in my opinion, a very necessary technique. Unfortunately, due to lack of training and a general dislike of the technique (due to misconceptions) it is often not allowed even where it may be appropriate. With training, this technique can be applied with control, in fact, I had to use it at a party once, after several drinks, to subdue someone for a lengthy period of time. Of course, I controlled my pressure appropriately, and even after 20 minutes the would-be aggressor was fine. If I am able to safely employ that technique for a long duration, while intoxicated, how is it that so many police officers fail to? That is the question you should ask yourself.

So let’s address the issue of the “bad apples.” In the police or military there are always individuals who met the entry requirements but who should not be there; yet they are often allowed to stay. In-group favouritism is certainly one aspect, but it might actually be something more simple.

To explain, I will tell another one of my stories! YAY!

When I was in the military, my infantry unit was tasked with arresting a high profile target known for weapons smuggling. He was notorious for running to evade capture. The target was so high profile that special forces were suppose to pick him up, yet we were the only unit available. After briefing and prepping we ended up waiting hours and hours and hours to get the command to go. We ended up going at 2am or 3am the morning after our day of prepping. This means we were all exhausted. We did arrest the target, without resistance, and he was placed in our armored car. As per IDF prisoner transport procedures he was handcuffed and blindfolded. At some point a fellow soldier, whom I had great distaste for, began to strike our helpless captive. I told him to stop, and it got quite heated; this individual saw no problem with his actions, but I did. Most other soldiers were passed out from exhaustion, including the commanders in the front. The commotion of our argument lead to the commanding officer telling this individual he must stop, as his actions were unacceptable. The solider in question was kicked out of combat. Three months later, I heard that he was being let back in. I went to the Battalion Commander and protested his reinstatement. I was told that he was being let back in because they were “short staffed and needed more soldiers.” This is the crux of the problem in the military and police: There are never enough people or resources to keep the good ones in.

So who’s fault is this? Why, the public of course! In North America first-responders are often the first to have their funding cut (this includes paramedics and firefighters), as a result they are often under-trained and poorly paid. We all know it, yet no one does anything about it. Politicians continue to cut training, over work them, and allow SHIT HEADS to stay simply because they need the bodies.

While I am not an expert on US policing, I can say that, without a doubt, the standards of US policing in many counties and cities is not great. One of the reasons could be because they don’t want capable people in the police, as suggested by a court ruling saying you can actually be too smart to be a police officer. This is common, as they want people who don’t rock the boat. In addition, it is common to see out-of-shape or fat officers, something which I think should not be allowed whatsoever.

In Canada, while our standards are much better, the standard of training is also quite shameful. I have talked to many officers who say they do not feel they are properly trained in use-of-force or even in shooting tactics. They are often required to train in their free time and pay out-of-pocket to do so. Furthermore, many feel that learning something not approved by the force will get them into trouble, even if they recognize that techniques and tactics being taught on the force are out of date.

So, how do we fix this problem? Simple. Demand from our politicians that they stop overworking first-responders, stop underpaying them, and train them properly. BUT, with the condition that they maintain high standards in order to attract only the best applicants.

With that being said, most officers are good people, as can be seen in many cases in the US where the police choose to kneel or peacefully interact with protesters. Which shows that perhaps the belief that “all police are bad” is wrong, and rather the system they operate in is deeply flawed as it is being run by those who are more “politician” than “expert on good policing.”

As this is one of the biggest problems with policing, I find it difficult to say it’s simply a matter of Black vs White. Why do I say that? In general there are more non-Black deaths by police then Black, and often this involves Black, White, Asian, or Hispanic officers. An example can be shown in these stats breaking down police shootings by race for the last few years. This, of course, does not include deaths as a result of the use of unarmed force, but it is likely those numbers would show something similar.

Would it not stand to reason, then, that the biggest issue is not race, but poor training, poor support, and the continued allowance, by politicians and justices, to keep shit head police on the force? (Recognizing that the officer involved in the death of George Floyd was likely a racist, as indicated by his history of complaints, to then assert that all death-by-cops is due to racism is a stretch.)

Additionally, if you would like to pretend like the majority of violent crimes are not committed by the same groups of people in any given country, then you are not being truthful. Unfortunately, in America a large percentage of violent crimes are committed in/by the Black community, just as in Canada they are committed in/by the Native communities. These of course are very unfortunate realities, often resultant from to lower socioeconomic status and poor education, which as fellow humans we should seek to rectify (these are complex issues!) If you think addressing problem at all is itself racist, then I am not sure you are someone who actually wants to solve the problems; rather you want to virtue signal to make yourself look good to the Internet mobs.

If you are not sure what I mean by addressing the issues meaningfully, I suggest you listen to the recent Joe Rogan podcast with Kevin Hart (Kevin Hart being one of America’s most successful Black entertainers today and someone worthy of great admiration and respect). To paraphrase Kevin, in an attempt to help the Black community he partnered with J.P. Morgan Chase to help educate Black communities in financial literacy. (Which is a FANTASTIC idea is actually a step toward solving a systemic problem.) Rather than pretending that it’s “all the white man’s fault”, Kevin Hart is offering up a meaningful and realistic solution.

So, let’s talk about the violent protests. I am sorry, but this kind of violence and destruction is unacceptable, no matter your stance. The reasons is simple: Destroying your own communities, your neighbours’ businesses, and generally upending everything around you, is not a healthy use of the anger and will only harm you and your community in the process. I do fully acknowledge that there are many “bad actors” at play, from ANTIFA to gangs to, yes, actual racists looking to insight violence. These groups should face the full wrath of the law, just as the four police officers involved in George Floyd’s death should. It’s disgraceful when people who are looking to cause mayhem and destruction detract from a just cause!

If you are sitting here, as a white person, saying “it’s justifiable” then why are so many Black leaders, or successful people who are not being political, in general calling out for peaceful resolutions:

(twitter.com)

Another issue I would like to addess is this idea of “white guilt.” Personally, I don’t understand it. If you did nothing wrong, why are you feeling guilty? I mean, as per my above statements, the only thing you did wrong is to allow politicians to run subpar police forces. Yelling about it without solutions is not a solution to that problem! How about another story: A while ago I took a “Psychology of Genocide” course as part of my degree. We had several Holocaust survivors come in to speak with the class. A question was asked about forgiveness of the Germans of today. For me, as a Jew, the answer given was one I had heard before: “There is nothing to forgive.” What the speaker actually means by this is that the grandchildren of the Nazis did not do anything wrong, so why should anyone forgive someone for something they didn’t do? The class seemed to interpret this as “Wow, these people are so empathetic and forgiving.” The truth is, in most cases they definitely would not be forgiving the individuals who were the Nazis who tortured them. Contrast this with the Rwandan Genocide survivor who also spoke, who was “less forgiving” because many of the people who committed that atrocity were still alive. Do you see the difference?

This idea that you need forgiveness for something you did not do is a waste of your emotional energy. Instead, why not put that same energy into making the police better, and increasing education in these communities like Kevin Hart is. Because, I am sorry, feeling guilty and saying it’s okay for entire communities to destroy themselves is shameful and not a real answer.

Okay, so, if I have not offended you to the point that you stopped reading long ago, I hope that I have given you several ideas to consider. The simple fact, is that things are never Black and White. Yes, there are racists out there. And, no, White people are not the only racists, so stop with that nonsense. But here’s the deal; whether you are Liberal or Conservative (Canada), Democrat or Republican (US) the fact is, whether you realize it or not, everyone agrees one way or another that the status quo system isn’t working! Rather than stoking violence and hate, why not educate yourself on how things actually work, or what actually happened, before jumping on the social media mobs. Actually attempt to make a difference through a vote that results in a policy shift.

Police need better training. The standards of officers MUST be higher so that these types of incidents never happen. And some communities need help with education and poverty, allowing them to lift up their people so that problems are solved at their source. If we make it about race these issues will not be addressed and problems will not be solved, because hate and frustration will drive the conversation instead of a desire for change.

So I ask, are you going to do something meaningful or are you just going to rage tweet, post, rage smash, and hate?

PS. Can you see now that the main stream media is only interested in spreading hate and violence? They are no longer here to bring you news, but to entice you to click and comment; paying their bills so they can continue this vicious cycle. (See Killer Mike, above, telling CNN that “Karma’s a ‘mother’.”)

Written by: Jonathan Fader