The wisdom of Scott Atlas. A slice: The coronavirus pandemic has been a great tragedy, there can be no doubt about that. But it has also exposed profound issues in America that now threaten the very principles of freedom and order that we Americans often take for granted. First, I have been shocked at the enormous power of the government, to unilaterally decree, to simply close businesses and schools by edict, restrict personal movement, mandate behavior, and eliminate our most basic freedoms, without any end and little accountability. Second, I remain surprised at the acceptance by the American people of draconian rules, restrictions, and unprecedented mandates, even those that are arbitrary, destructive, and wholly unscientific. This crisis has also exposed what we all have known
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The wisdom of Scott Atlas. A slice:
The coronavirus pandemic has been a great tragedy, there can be no doubt about that. But it has also exposed profound issues in America that now threaten the very principles of freedom and order that we Americans often take for granted.
First, I have been shocked at the enormous power of the government, to unilaterally decree, to simply close businesses and schools by edict, restrict personal movement, mandate behavior, and eliminate our most basic freedoms, without any end and little accountability.
Second, I remain surprised at the acceptance by the American people of draconian rules, restrictions, and unprecedented mandates, even those that are arbitrary, destructive, and wholly unscientific.
This crisis has also exposed what we all have known existed, but we have tolerated for years: the overt bias of the media, the lack of diverse viewpoints on campuses, the absence of neutrality in big tech controlling social media, and now more visibly than ever, the intrusion of politics into science. Ultimately, the freedom to seek and state the truth is at risk here in the United States.
In this regard for example, when experts and academics who speak out by calling for the balanced approach to Covid-19 responding and for the catastrophic harms of the lockdown policies to be factored into the decision-making by government bureaucrats and by adopting an age-risk targeted approach, they are denounced and pilloried by the general media, social media, and alarmingly, by their own academic peers. Yet how is this approach not reasonable and sensible? Protect the vulnerable (that would be the aged) and keep the economy/society open in order to not inflict even more damage and harm on people.
There appears to be this personal vendetta, vindictiveness, and scorn heaped upon alternative viewpoints, regardless of whether the alternative view may actually be more optimal. Tobin explains the intolerance to opposing viewpoints by stating that “All it usually takes is an accusation, a circulated letter, or a demonstration of some sort, and the woke usually get their way […] most university administrators obey the cancel mob and punish whoever has been deemed to have stepped out of line.” There must be absolute conformity and if there is none, then there is rancorous intimidation and one is disparaged with impunity.
And yet more victims of Covid hysteria. A slice:
The ONS mortality report this morning showed that in the week ending February 26th (week 8) deaths registered in England and Wales were 9.2% above the five-year average (1,066 deaths higher).
However, drilling down into the data it becomes clear that perhaps all of those excess deaths this week are deaths caused by the lockdown not by the virus, primarily denial of healthcare.
We all have different tolerances for risk, and the pandemic has thrust these differences to center stage. Because the choices we make based on our personal risk profiles inevitably affect others, shaming and judgement have been prevalent.
I witnessed this firsthand at my weekly bridge game. My bridge partner, in her early forties and fully vaccinated, insisted that we play outside, in cold, damp weather. My opponent, in his sixties and also vaccinated, asked why we should suffer. She explained that the evidence was not yet established that indoor activities with vaccinated people were safe. The discussion got heated, and my friend later asked me if she was being unreasonable. I shrugged and said that we all have to do what makes us comfortable, but the evidence is encouraging that vaccinated people not only can’t transmit the virus but also face essentially no risk of severe illness. She nodded—and said that she’d play bridge inside when there was definitive evidence that it was completely safe. Such evidence may never come. Science is rarely that definitive.
The worst, most consequential failure in risk communication concerns the current vaccine rollout. The media constantly instruct us that, even weeks after receiving the second shot, it’s still not safe to socialize without masks. President Biden and Anthony Fauci have warned that we may not be able to resume “normal” life for another year. Fauci recently counseled against vaccinated people eating in indoor restaurants or playing mahjong together. Public-health officials today gave the green light for vaccinated people to gather together—but only after weeks of confusing and contradictory guidance.
We can’t go on like this forever, much less for another year. At a certain point, we have to learn to live with low-grade Covid risk. Indeed, we should have been doing so the whole time. Research from psychologists such as Gerd Gigerenzer suggests that people are good at weighing risks against rewards; we tend to make mistakes only when the data are presented in a confusing way or when it seems untrustworthy. Unfortunately, the media and public-health authorities have repeatedly failed on both counts.
Daniela Lamas, a critical care doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has written a terrifying article in the Washington Post. It’s about the non-Covid cases of sickness in her hospital. There are older Americans dying of malnutrition, young men drinking themselves to death, others with cancers that could have been treated had they not skipped medical services for a full year, and drug overdoses breaking all records.
The article is a wake-up call for those who have thus far refused to recognize that there is more to public health than the avoidance of the pathogen with the name SARS-CoV-2. Good public health deals with the whole range of threats to human well being. As the epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff has stated, “[p]ublic health is about all health outcomes, not just a single disease like Covid-19. It is important to also consider harms from public health measures.”
Lockdown isn’t up for negotiation. It isn’t a means to avoid a medical disaster. It is quite clear now that lockdown is a deliberate policy, pursued for its own sake.
To get away with what they are doing, we are being demoralised. Gradually. Meaningfully.
Our individual and shared humanity is being crushed through enforced separation. Why do you think they have kept the pubs and gyms closed? We might talk: share those lurking thoughts that the NHS-guilt-rainbows are intended to suppress.
On paper, life’s great. My credit score has never looked so good. I’m learning to play the cello. The balance of read vs unread books in my growing pile is tipping towards the former. I no longer commute.
But I feel a deepening fatigue. An exiling of individual purpose. I need connection. Human connection.
The thriving world of acquaintance is lost. Does anyone talk casually any more? Colleagues in the corridor. Mates on the gym floor. The stranger you shared a joke with about the late bus at the stop. Small insignificant moments that bound us. Now kept at an anxious distance. Sanitised away through masked compliance. Spontaneity has been replaced fear of contact. I’m living a lonely monotony.