Dr. Briggs’ post today is a must-read, one of his most important, and I urge you all to read it. But today’s post is not about that. Instead, I’m going to respond to one of the comments. From JR Ewing:
1.) How can people still credulously believe these predictions after the past two months? Models can – and should – work both ways. When the model verifies, that means you got some input correct, but when they don’t verify, that logically MUST mean *you got some input some input WRONG.”
The reason that these model predictions keep busting is because this is obviously not as dangerous as we initially ASSUMED it was. PERIOD. END OF STORY. We now have DATA that shows that it’s not as dangerous to the general population. Antibody tests that show a preponderance of asymptomatic and minor cases. Hospital data. The fact that South Dakota and Georgia and Texas and Florida and Sweden haven’t plunged into the fiery abyss. All kinds of data that is being ignored and not plugged into the models.
2.) The other thing I don’t understand is why there haven’t been riots among the nonbelievers in these states where the politicians refuse to acknowledge reality? I know Minnesotans are “nice” (It’s true, I have experience with them), but they’re still humans and they should have a breaking point. Michigan too. At some point, you’re obligated to push back. Hard. Ask Thomas Jefferson. And I’m not talking about waving a bunch of handmade posters out on the lawn.
These are great questions, and I’m going to answer it with personal experience, so take it as you will. I’m not going to link to stats again, you all know the score – look it up if you disagree with me and dispute in the comments. If I genuinely got it wrong or didn’t address it elsewhere I’ll cop to it.
The short answer to both questions is this: Fear. People are TERRIFIED of this virus, and I mean utterly petrified.
Let me give you an anecdote.
So this is a real conversation with a sane person – seriously, I will vouch for this human being with my life – who is absolutely ironclad that we should be acting as if this virus is the black death. He refuses to eat any food outside of a grocery store setting, he social distances from his family inside of his house, he only eats food with gloves and a fork and knife, and he has the grocery store food sit in another room for a day before he’ll consider eating it, and has the boxes or packages sprayed down with disinfectant. He eats with gloves on or with a fork and knife, and his family does the same. He won’t drive or let anyone in his family drive, because that means eventually you’d have to deal with a gas station attendant (NJ, everyone!). He also thinks any attempts at all to lift any restrictions are insane.
I disputed his interpretation of things more than once. This is how the conversation went. Get ready, this dialogue will be long:
Me: The models have been wrong. Why are you listening to them?”
Him: Why do you think you know better? The models are the best things we have to go on in terms of predicting the future.
Me: Oh, come on. Did you see the models? They’re obviously ridiculous. Kung flu broke out big in like five total, incredibly localized areas. Fauci’s model said we’d quadruple the world death count in a month without complete lockdown. How does that make any sense?
Him [Keep in mind that at this point, it looks like we WILL hit 100,000 dead with the juiced number count]: But he was right! Not only are we going to hit 100,000 dead, cases still aren’t dropping and outbreaks are happening in areas that are opening!
Me: We live in NJ, and it STILL hasn’t hit big outside the metro area. In the biggest hit area of PA, the Lehigh Valley, 62% of cases are from the city of Allentown, a filthy, sardine-packed disaster zone.
Him: Yeah, but again, cases aren’t dropping despite all of this time passing.
Me: The case count isn’t dropping because they’re ramping up testing. I mean, of course the case count isn’t dropping. The whole point of the “flatten the curve” nonsense was to try and prolong things as long as possible. That was the stated goal! And the death count IS dropping, and juiced.
Him: The deaths aren’t dropping quickly, and every time it looks like it’s getting better it just keeps going.
Me: And it STILL HASN’T LEFT HE METRO AREA. For Pete’s sake, it targets nursing homes, you’ll be fine. Plus, the numbers are totally bogus on the death counts. Want me to show you?
Him: Okay, and I’ll find articles saying we’re undercounting.
Me: So read everything and COME TO YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS [this is the point, as you can see, both of us are starting to get more and more frustrated with the other]. Don’t just listen to the models and the media just because the people telling you this stuff call themselves experts!
Him: But they ARE experts and we’re NOT, so who’s more likely to be wrong?
Me: Likely? What do you mean LIKELY? The data is ALL THERE. Just look through the conflicting information, read the alternate opinions, and come to a conclusion yourself!
Him: But how do either of US know? We’re not scientists and the numbers haven’t been getting better! Between two options, one of which kills thousands or millions more people and one doesn’t, why are we taking the chance that the one that DOESN’T say it’ll kill people is right? Look how infectious it is! [At this point we’re both really emotional.]
Me: Because lockdowns kill people too! Because actions have consequences and we have skin in the game too! Because all of the information is out there any you don’t need to be an expert to use common sense! Why are we letting fear of a virus that kills people in dirty and tightly packed cities and nursing homes stop us from even CONSIDERING that a total country lockdown for months might be an overreaction? The models AREN’T RIGHT. WE’RE NOT GOING TO HIT FAUCI’S LOW NUMBER. THE DEATHS ARE JUICED.
Him: SOME articles say that, and SOME say we’re undercounting, why risk it?
Me: DON’T risk it! Read the articles! Make a judgment using your own brain! We’re adults who make decisions with major consequences every day, but suddenly we need to delegate a major worldwide lockdown to men with suits?
Him: Easy for you to say, you’re young. I’m older and not as healthy, I’m more at risk.
Me: Sure. MORE. But considering where we live, and considering that I assume you and your family would be washing your hands either way, it’s not a lot of risk. Even people your age are almost definitely going to be fine even if you DO get it.
Him: Maybe. Probably. It’s the CHANCE you won’t be.
Me: There’s always a chance! At what point is it okay to say “Hey, maybe it’s okay to go out and get coffee.”
Him: When cases start dropping and there’s a vaccine.
Me: There won’t BE a vaccine and they’re ramping up testing, so it won’t drop. Look, things are not as bad as you’re saying. Come on. Just look into alternate perspectives, I’m not saying agree. Draw your own conclusions.
Him: Sorry, but when there are alternate perspectives, and the one being touted by experts is the one saying thousands or millions will die with no lockdown – that’s what we should be listening to.
Okay. Do you get the key point there?
Let me summarize it:
This person is so utterly terrified of this virus, so petrified of it, that a man who absolutely positively will not trust the media on ANY subject whatsoever will take what they report on the virus as absolute gospel…because it’s a non-zero possibility.
He won’t consider other perspectives and judge for himself which is more likely…because EXPERTS disagree and viruses are so terrifying that if an expert says to be scared, we HAVE TO be scared, and doggoneit, by law if necessary.
He will say the same on masks. I will say masks are dumb, I will explain why, I will point to articles explaining why, and instead of considering them he will simply say that other articles disagree and they MIGHT be right so we should listen to them.
Because of the virus, people have literally – not figuratively – suspended their ability to critically think. They CAN do it; they do it for other subjects. But viruses are scary, so they won’t, because the possibility of their thinking being wrong terrifies them. Better to put the onus on the experts.
It’s a handing off of responsibility. If the experts say so, listen to them. At least whatever happens, we know we listened to the EXPERTS. Meanwhile the effects of their decisions weigh down heavily on all of us.
And it’s all of our fault. As many people agree on these lockdowns as on apple pie. Because people refuse – refuse – to think.
Fear isn’t fun, but making scary decisions is a national part of life. The Americans of 1957 knew that. They knew a pandemic was coming. And they chose to do nothing. And it worked! The economy was fine and it was a footnote in history.
What will our legacy be? “Well, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad but honestly it MIGHT have been so nobody wanted to take the chance.”
What a legacy. What a generation. We should all be ashamed.