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Expert Failure to Know

Phil Magness reports on a new paper co-authored by Anthony Fauci, M.D. In this paper, Dr. Fauci and his co-author (Dr. David Morens) write:

It is a useful ‘‘thought experiment’’ to note that until recent decades and centuries, many deadly pandemic diseases either did not exist or were not significant problems. Cholera, for example, was not known in the West until the late 1700s and became pandemic only because of human crowding and international travel, which allowed new access of the bacteria in regional Asian ecosystems to the unsanitary water and sewer systems that characterized cities throughout the Western world. This realization leads us to suspect that some, and probably very many, of the living improvements achieved over recent centuries come at a high cost that we pay in deadly disease emergences. Since we cannot return to ancient times, can we at least use lessons from those times to bend modernity in a safer direction? These are questions to be answered by all societies and their leaders, philosophers, builders, and thinkers and those involved in appreciating and influencing the environmental determinants of human health.

Is Dr. Fauci unaware of the enormous increase, over the past 250 or so years, in life expectancy? Is he unaware that a disproportionate share of this improvement was reaped by poor people? (Dr. Fauci should spend some time on this site.)

Imagine a time traveler from the mid-18th century or earlier spending a few months trekking forward in time to 2020 (or well, to 2019, before humanity went collectively insane). This time traveler is seeking knowledge about how to improve the health of the masses.

On her journey, this time traveler studies what’s going on at different times along the way – in 1800, in 1810, in 1820, and up to the present day. Surely by the time this time traveler reaches 2020, she is happily stunned by humanity’s long life expectancy, by the cleanliness and safety of modern society, and by the vigor of people many of whom in her day would have been long decayed in their graves. (I have in mind here people around my age – 62 – and older.)

What would this time traveler think were she to stumble upon and read this paper by Dr. Fauci? I cannot believe that she’d think anything other than that this man is appallingly ignorant of history.

So, my friends, keep in mind the above claim made by Dr. Fauci if and when you’re tempted to trust government officials to lock us down as they have done. Their restrictions, mandates, orders, commands, prohibitions, and proscriptions will almost certainly be conceived of, and ‘justified,’ by officials with all the historical knowledge and appreciation for context as is evidenced above by Dr. Fauci.

I do not question Dr. Fauci’s knowledge of medicine and of the biology and physics of infectious diseases. For all I know he’s the Einstein of his speciality. Nor do I doubt that the knowledge that such specialists as he offer humanity is very useful. And I don’t question Dr. Fauci’s intentions. But neither he nor anyone else should be trusted with the power to do what he advised governments to do to humanity.

Dr. Fauci and his co-author look past the astonishing improvements in the human condition – including human health – and focus on the “high cost that we pay [today] in deadly disease emergences.” Where’s the perspective? Where’s the context? Nowhere to be seen. This lack of context and perspective – along with ignorance of economics and naiveté about government – prompt them to wish to “bend modernity in a safer direction.”

Trusting the likes of Dr. Fauci with the power to obstruct human interaction is to trust a person who not only is ignorant of what he ought not be ignorant, but who has no qualms about proposing that modernity – meaning: people – be ‘bent,’ presumably by strong governments obediently following advice offered by people such as himself.


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