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Is the Orchard Really Sentient and Is the Sky Really Filled with Flying Monkeys?

Summary:
Recently I came upon – I forget where and in what context – a reference to the talking trees and flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. And I still quite vividly recall the terror that these movie scenes injected into me as a young child watching that film. The world to me today – or, rather, my sense of it – is usefully explained with reference to those scary scenes. Specifically, one or the other of the following realities is true, but both cannot be so. (1) Covid-19 truly does threaten humanity with evil of the sort that young children sense when first watching those scenes in The Wizard of Oz. I see most people – many of them very smart and rational and learned – reacting to covid as young children react to those scenes. But because these people aren’t children, we humans must now

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Recently I came upon – I forget where and in what context – a reference to the talking trees and flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. And I still quite vividly recall the terror that these movie scenes injected into me as a young child watching that film.

The world to me today – or, rather, my sense of it – is usefully explained with reference to those scary scenes. Specifically, one or the other of the following realities is true, but both cannot be so.

(1) Covid-19 truly does threaten humanity with evil of the sort that young children sense when first watching those scenes in The Wizard of Oz. I see most people – many of them very smart and rational and learned – reacting to covid as young children react to those scenes. But because these people aren’t children, we humans must now truly be confronted with a real-world terror that is the equivalent of orchards filled with sentient, hostile trees, and skies swarming with winged monkeys. Yet I and a very few friends and colleagues see in the orchard only a few unusual bear tracks, and see in the skies nothing but a handful more raptors and vultures. Extra care is called for, of course, but no fundamental change of plans.

I and my fellow blind or oblivious friends – I’ll not name them here out of a desire to protect their reputation – must have been slipped some powerful hallucinogen that displays to us a “reality” that is very far from the grisly truth.

OR

(2) The orchard really has in it nothing more unusual than a few out-of-the-ordinary bear tracks, and the skies truly feature only a handful more raptors and vultures. I and my friends, however, wonder, in amazement, at what must be seen – and at what is reported – by the many other people around us. These people react as if the orchard is really one filled with evil, sentient trees, and as if the skies are dark with monkeys whose mighty wing strength is rivaled only by the length of these creatures’ blood-stained fangs.

The people – apparently, a majority – who see the orchard as sentient and the monkeys as flying must be the ones who have been slipped a powerful hallucinogen.

…..

The above few paragraphs capture how I now feel. I am disoriented. Perhaps I’m the one hallucinating. (How can I prove even to myself that I’m not?) Humanity’s reaction to covid – or, at the very least, humanity’s continuing reaction to covid as more information about the disease has been made available – strikes me, truly, as one of utter derangement without a shred of justification.

But I am one person, and those who see current reality more or less as I see it seem to be a tiny minority. So perhaps the deranged ones are us. Whatever the truth, some people are deranged – hopefully only temporarily. And I sincerely concede that I might be in the deranged group.

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Don Boudreaux
He is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

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