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article imageOp-Ed: Idiots and pandemics — How ignorance has made it much worse

By Paul Wallis     May 20, 2020 in World
Sydney - 320,000 plus dead people are a testimony to the sheer ineptitude of some governments and the morons who run them. This pandemic is in the process of trashing the world’s economy, too, and what do we get? Disinformation by the metric ton.
The ongoing effects of the pandemic are easy enough to see. Staggering economies, massive job losses, and staggering levels of Federal Reserve intervention in the United States economy. An imbecilic war of words between China and the US about ancient history, pre-pandemic. Blame is passed on to the people doing the critical health work, not those obstructing them.
The stupidity goes much deeper, though. When any scientific subject is raised, the degree of difficulty is exploited. Most people aren’t microbiologists. The public aren’t experts on epidemiology or virology. So the gaps in knowledge create the arena for disinformation on a colossal scale. Add politics, and you instantly polarize the people looking at the information.
(Check out the latest on the types of vaccine being trialed. This is the basic vaccination theory, with multiple applications. It’s good but demanding science. Can you really think that politicians are experts on things like this? They aren’t. The virus is also mutating into multiple strains. More tough science. Again, you need to know the basics, not just sing from the FOX hymn sheet when the topics come up )
It’s a recipe for disaster, and that’s exactly what it’s delivered. Nations like New Zealand and Australia shut down ASAP. We’re now in the process of reopening, next month. There was no political element involved in both cases, no crusades against epidemiology and experts, no attempt to massage the numbers. Disinformation was stomped on, severely with public approval. Public figures and leaders got on the same page and stayed there.
Compare this approach to, say, Trump’s response. Trump is not a virologist. He’s not a doctor. He’s not an epidemiologist. He’s accused everyone of incompetence but himself. Ridiculous suggestions like ingesting disinfectant, etc., unproven drugs like HCQ, and practically any other urban myth have been used largely to take up space in media for re-election. Meanwhile, people are dying at a rate of around 1000 per day. The death toll is already close to two Vietnam wars. How is this endless babble a responsible way of managing anything? (To be fair, the wannabe “mob boss” aka the Clodfather, isn’t the only world leader feeling persecuted by the virus. Others, notably Boris Johnson and similar glove puppets have reacted the same way. Maybe the stupidity is contagious, too?)
The media, meanwhile, has been adding to the ignorance, One of the most grotesque things I’ve ever seen in any news medium was reported by The New York Times, giving the red and blue views of the pandemic. The red view was something along the lines of “It doesn’t kill a lot of people”, “it’s mainly old and sick people who die”, and so on. The point here is that this is the urban mythology which is spreading the disinformation.
OK, let’s take a stroll down the basics of this view:
• Hundreds of thousands of people have died, of all ages. There’s now a very serious threat of a pediatric inflammatory condition, too, not at all good.
• Millions of people have been hospitalized. I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but you don’t get hospital space, or hospital care, unless you really need it.
• Yes, older and sick people are more vulnerable, but they’re vulnerable to everything else, too. They, like everyone else, have a right to any care they need. End of discussion.
• “Only a few people die” doesn’t work if one of those people is you or a loved one. It’s a ridiculous statement. What, the world is supposed to ignore its own safety on this basis?
• Epidemiology is ultra-complex by definition. With viruses, it’s even tougher. There’s a mad scramble for information, which drips in over time. This particular virus is all over the shop in its effects on patients, which hardly makes it simpler to manage.
• Basic pathology for the virus had to be developed on the run. Testing took time. One of the more pathetic bits of disinformation I saw said you can be tested and OK, and get the virus later. So what’s new? You either have the condition or not, you’re either contagious or not. Do you have the right to infect people? No, you do not.
If this had been an Ebola outbreak, there would literally be panic around the world. Nobody would have been spraying the world with the sort of utter drivel and pseudoscientific babble this pandemic has generated.
Economic effects and the “Reopen” myth
If the health situation is bad, the economic situation is if anything worse. The Federal Reserve has put America on a financial ventilator, paying big money just to keep the wheels turning. (Remember how the Fed was the villain a few years ago? This is what the Fed does, and why it’s a critical part of government.)
The “reopen” story is yet to be told. The risks, however, are clear enough. If the US and the world reopen too soon, it could cause a second wave. That means another, longer, and more expensive lockdown. It could also trash the financial markets, cause a debt cascade as people try to collect money, etc. Talk about fun.
If the US is hit with a double whammy, economic effects will be exponential. It could well be meltdown time, “too big to fail” or not. How do you restart an economy which is barely able to function? Will people go out and work for a few bucks an hour when it’s so risky? You’re more likely to get a crime wave than an economic restart.
Now – How many of these issues are news items? That’s another type of disinformation. Just say nothing, however important the subject. You won’t see anything on the economic black holes. The possible downsides for the US economy and the world are literally bottomless.
OK, maybe you don’t want a panic, but if you keep spreading disinformation and promoting utterly stupid responses to the pandemic you’ll get one. The world will get a taste of the economic and practical business realities over the next 6 months.
The takeaway from this pandemic couldn’t be simpler:
1. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, shut up.
2. If you do know what you’re talking about, be as clear and unambiguous as possible.
Tough call? It shouldn’t be, should it?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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