Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins – one of the few prominent American journalists to avoid Covid Derangement Syndrome – writes again wisely on Covid-19, officials’ and media’s misleading statements about it, and the resulting calamitous response. A slice:
Inexplicably, authorities, including the World Health Organization, insisted on promoting a fatality rate they knew was exaggerated because of the failure to account for mild infections. To this day, U.S. officialdom and the media dwell on a nearly meaningless “confirmed” case count, knowing full well that doing so is innumerate and unstatistical. It’s a mystery and my only explanation is that they are afraid to stop because it portrays the disease as more deadly than it is (supporting the case for urgency) and also less prevalent than it is (supporting the case that it can somehow be contained).
Also writing sensibly about Covid – specifically, about the attempt to wrap political values in the cloak of science – is Jonah Goldberg. (HT Steve Conover) Here’s his conclusion:
Scientists are free to make such arguments, but these aren’t scientific arguments. They are political opinions, and they don’t become any more legitimate simply because you wear a lab coat at work. So by all means, listen to the scientists, but listen very carefully, because they might be saying things that aren’t very scientific.
As Trenchard argues, “Even in countries where the highest liberty is allowed,” certain men “mislead the multitude; who are ever abused with words, ever fond of the worst of things recommended by good names, and ever abhor the best things, and the most virtuous actions, disfigured by ill names.”
The good word “science,” for instance, has been abused to recommend the worst of things, from the closure of businesses to the disruption of worship services. “Follow science,” one congressperson insisted when a Catholic archbishop criticized Covid-19 restrictions on services. And so many followed the “science,” resulting in the isolation that has severely undermined the mental health of many citizens, including students.
Conversely, the most virtuous actions have been misrepresented in the popular press. The Great Barrington Declaration, with its scientific, compassionate, and thoughtful approach to Covid-19, was repeatedly misrepresented by newspapers. “Experts,” The New York Times insisted, dismissed it as “unethical” and “utter nonsense.”
And here’s US President Dwight Eisenhower saying much the same thing in his farewell address in 1961: ‘Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.’
The irony of all that has happened this year is that in our apparent attempt to eliminate risk, we have given up our lives. That is, we have placed apparent safety so high up on the list of priorities that it has become a god, governing how we are to live, breathe and have our being, and it so dominates our everyday lives that it makes normal life impossible, sucking out joy, meaning and purpose.
Finally, for those of you still clinging to the ridiculous notion that government officials can be trusted to “follow” the very science that they insist must be followed, Phil Magness has some information that you might wish to consult.