Sometime in the early 2000s, a young Canadian filmmaker by the name of Brent Leung found himself struck by a number of facts:
- The media and education establishment had instilled an obsessive fear of HIV and AIDS—not just in him—but in his entire generation.
- He didn’t have a clue about the difference between HIV and AIDS or even whether there was one or, for that matter, what either is even precisely supposed to be.
- Neither did virtually anyone else.
It is, of course, very unlikely that Monsieur Leung was the first to recognize this all-too-common gap between the general public’s certainty about some topic and their paucity of any actual knowledge that might warrant it.
Be that as it may, Leung’s proactive response to his befuddlement certainly was unique.
He went to the trouble of contacting all the major experts on HIV and AIDS and somehow got every single one of them to appear on camera as he asked the most basic questions about what those two acronyms represent and the relation between them.
The result of Leung’s dogged determination to get to the bottom of this disease he’d been taught to obsessively fear is about the most fascinating, can’t-stop-watching-even-if-you-want-to, 90-minutes of video that you’re likely to encounter.
That would be so even if the massive worldwide upheaval we experienced in 2020 had been nothing more than an awful bad dream.
But, of course, it was, sadly, all too real.
As such, Brett Lueng’s documentary—though released way back in 2009— winds up inadvertently shining a very different and interesting light on the obsessive fear of COVID-19 that overcame the world in 2020.
Leung titled his film, House of Numbers: Anatomy of an Epidemic. And the scientific and bureaucratic luminaries he somehow managed to get to sit down with him include:
- De facto leader of America’s response to COVID-19 and head of the NIH’s, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci.
- The head of the CDC when this pandemic we seem to be permanently stuck “in the middle of” began, Robert Redfield.
- Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the process used in the standard tests for COVID-19 that all the frightening numbers with which we’ve been terrorized since March entirely depend upon, the late and great, Kary Mullis.
- Other hotshot scientists and enormously big wheels in the medical establishment as well as a number of ordinary citizens who, in one way or another, had their lives destroyed and in some cases surprisingly enriched by a positive AIDS diagnosis.
Leung’s investigation took him all across the world—from the slums of South Africa, to Oxford University, to Washington DC, middle America, and a host of other locales where some relevant set of circumstances or person with an enlightening perspective might help to shed light on what HIV and AIDS really are and what was really behind the worldwide terror-stricken preoccupation the media and medical establishment had created.
I don’t want to spoil the impact of any of the remarkable facts Leung uncovered or cause anyone to go into the film with any preconceived notions. So I’m going to let you discover them on your own as well as form your own judgments.
I’ll merely say that—given the momentous events that made 2020 so uniquely dreadful—many of the surprising but altogether basic facts Leung uncovered about AIDS just might strike an eerily familiar but, I’m sorry to report, not altogether pleasant chord.
Leung spends the first four or five minutes of House of Numbers: Anatomy of an Epidemic doing man-on-the-street interviews to establish the public’s unsettling ignorance about a disease the media and medical establishment, nonetheless, taught us to obsessively fear.
I have to say, however, I found that part a bit slow-going and tedious. So I’ve taken the liberty of starting the video below at around the 4:30 mark—that’s when the real action starts, and it becomes too fascinating to not keep watching. But if you’d prefer to start from the very beginning, of course, you can always just rewind.
Finally, once you’ve watched, if you have the time, please let me know in the comments both (a) what you thought of Leung’s documentary in general and (b) if it caused you to, in any way, reevaluate your take on COVID-19.
I’m genuinely very curious as to what effect if any, watching Fauci, Redfield, Mullis, and the other bigshots explain the genesis of the 1980s worldwide panic over AIDS has on people’s views about the even vastly more severe worldwide panic over COVID-19 we’ve been in for almost a full year now with no sign of any exit coming soon.
I’m also a bit curious as to whether—independently of any facts adduced—anyone notices anything at all interesting about the body language displayed by Fauci and those advocating for his position on the one hand, and Kary Mullis and those taking his side, on the other.
But even if you don’t have time to comment on any of that, please do watch Brent Leung’s amazing documentary.
You won’t just find yourself fascinated.
Take my word for it, your mind is about to be completely blown.
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