“Yet epidemiologists and other public health gurus have been overwhelmingly reluctant to criticize the loosening of public health restrictions on public gatherings to accommodate the current large public protests. Some, including hundreds who signed a public letter to that effect, have explicitly supported them. In doing so, some of the latter group have blatantly contradicted their own prior public statements on the dangers of public gatherings. . . . But here’s the thing: while it’s understandable that people want to take to the streets to protest racism and state violence, there is no epidemiological or other scientific evidence that such protests will have positive public health effects by spurring positive social and political change. Any scientist or public health expert who suggests otherwise is engaging in political and sociological speculation that is not only beyond their expertise, but that really beyond anyone’s expertise. But it’s worse when such speculation purports to be scientific, from experts whose credibility is crucial for containing the current and future pandemics.”
Huh. I wonder what brought that on all of a sudden?
EVEN THE GRAUNIAD IS NOTICING: We often accuse the right of distorting science. But the left changed the coronavirus narrative overnight.
This feels like gaslighting. Less than two weeks ago, the enlightened position in both Europe and America was to exercise nothing less than extreme caution. Many of us went much further, taking to social media to castigate others for insufficient social distancing or neglecting to wear masks or daring to believe they could maintain some semblance of a normal life during coronavirus. At the end of April, when the state of Georgia moved to end its lockdown, the Atlantic ran an article with the headline “Georgia’s Experiment in Human Sacrifice”. Two weeks ago we shamed people for being in the street; today we shame them for not being in the street.
Well, at least the shaming continues. It’s almost like that’s the key bit. Plus:
Public health experts – as well as many mainstream commentators, plenty of whom in the beginning of the pandemic were already incoherent about the importance of face masks and stay-at-home orders – have hemorrhaged credibility and authority. This is not merely a short-term problem; it will constitute a crisis of trust going forward, when it may be all the more urgent to convince skeptical masses to submit to an unproven vaccine or to another round of crushing stay-at-home orders. Will anyone still listen?
Not likely. Trust is the most important asset to public health efforts, but it’s been squandered almost without a thought for the consequences, because our “experts” lack the self-discipline and capacity for reflection to do otherwise.
Finally, are you even allowed to say this? “Risk and safety are relative notions and never strictly objective. However, there is one inconvenient truth that cannot be disputed: more black Americans have been killed by three months of coronavirus than the number who have been killed by cops and vigilantes since the turn of the millennium. We may or may not be willing to accept that brutal calculus, but we are obligated, at the very least, to be honest.”