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Am I a Guinea Pig in an Evil Scientist’s Experiment?

For many months now I’ve felt as if I am a guinea pig in a scientific experiment. Some unseen scientist, likely evil, is studying what happens to human beings if a relatively small number of us experience reality in a completely different manner from how the majority of humanity experiences the same reality.

This unseen experimenter has put me into the smaller group. Other American guinea pigs include Betsy and Lyle Albaugh, Jim Bovard, Bryan Caplan, Veronique de Rugy, David Henderson, Dan Klein, Jeffrey Tucker, and Todd Zywicki. But we are tiny in number. Most of our fellow human beings perceive reality very differently from how we guinea pigs perceive it.

We guinea pigs look at the data on Covid and see a dangerous disease, but one whose dangers are reserved largely for the very old and the seriously ill. The danger of this disease to most of humanity is somewhat higher to a large number of people than are the dangers of flus and other illnesses that we routinely confront, but not much higher. We guinea pigs see in Covid no disease that differs categorically from other diseases; we guinea pigs see in Covid nothing remotely approaching an existential threat to humanity.

We guinea pigs are therefore dumbfounded by the mass hysteria over Covid. We simply cannot understand the level of other people’s anxieties and fears. To us, these anxieties and fears are utterly out of proportion, by many magnitudes, to the risk that we perceive is presented by the coronavirus pathogen.

Here’s an example. The economist Jason Briggeman shared on his Twitter account my recent acknowledgement that I, without a second thought, dine indoors at restaurants and remove my mask immediately upon being seated. Here’s the entirety of Dr. Briggeman’s initial tweet:

Good tip from Don Boudreaux today on how to cope with wholesale lockdowns of society: Dine indoors at restaurants without a second thought and remove your mask the moment you’re seated.

To Dr. Briggeman and his Twitter followers, it appears that my actions are so obviously outrageous that they are self-indicting. Simply describing my behavior is sufficient to prove my lunacy. (For the record, I wasn’t offering advice to anyone. I was reporting on my own actions.) Yet to me – not least because the restaurants in which I eat conduct their indoor-dining operations legally and allow the removal of masks when seated – nothing about my actions seems unusual or worthy of criticism. And so I am genuinely flabbergasted by the fact that my actions strike Dr. Briggeman as being speaking-for-themselves outrageous.

Note that one of Dr. Briggeman’s followers wonders if my essay, or my account in that essay, is “real.” Like, wow! Surely no actual human being today dines indoors at restaurants and then publicly admits to doing so!

I understand that many people have risk preferences that differ from mine. And I respect these different preferences. But what I do not begin to understand is why people such as Dr. Briggeman treat actions such as my own not as manifestations merely of different risk preferences but, rather, as actions that are so extremely dangerous and self-destructive that no rational person would dare even to think of performing them. Is my comfort at dining indoors at restaurants so unusual, so bizarre, so self-destructive that I deserve to be publicly scorned?

As I explained in the essay to which Dr. Briggeman takes exception, my reading of the data on Covid tells me that it is not much of a danger to me (which is why I treat Covid as being not much of a danger to me). My reading of the data tells me also that Covid is not remotely close to being the grave danger to the general population that most people believe it to be.

And, frankly, I find it impossible to understand why anyone who looks at the data on Covid fails to see that this disease is magnitudes less dangerous than it would have to be to justify the hysteria and the lockdowns.

Thus I worry that some unseen experimenter has injected me and a relatively few other guinea pigs with some hallucinogen that causes us to perceive reality as differing fundamentally from the perception that most other people have of reality.

Is the unseen experimenter testing to see if, as a result of this powerful hallucinogen, I and my fellow guinea pigs will go insane? I don’t know the unseen experimenter’s purpose, but if he, she, or it is real, I earnestly beg him, her, or it to please stop. Awaken us from this nightmare of a deranged world in which one purpose and one purpose only is treated as worthy – namely, avoiding Covid, just as would homo avoidcovidus!