J Robert Smith
- May 9, 2020
- 4 min read
Updated: May 12, 2020
“I knew nothing but shadows and I thought them to be real.”― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
“All knowledge hurts.”― Cassandra Clare, City of Bones
Back in late February, we were told that the Black Death was soon upon us. But in less than two months, nothing of the sort has happened. Americans haven’t had to swab disinfectant over doorways in some public health Passover ritual. The “Great Deadly Contagion 2020” is a bust, of sorts. Yes, there’s a COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s contours more resemble a nasty flu season.
Yet, thanks to experts getting it wrong, and thanks to governors, principally, gladly jettisoning critical thinking and judgment, there have been excessive state shutdowns. The economy has taken a huge hit, to the tune of 30 million plus unemployed, and an untold number of small businesses are hanging by threads. Many won’t recover. Constitutional rights have been trampled, from Maine to California.
What will be a big consequence of faulty-fact public policy and an egregious disregard for liberties?
With hindsight comes perspective. As more and more Americans grasp that they were masked and sequestered for something far less than a viral apocalypse, anger and disillusionment will grow. Anger will pour out toward elected leaders and experts, the latter treated like demigods rather than mere mortals. Despite MDs and PhDs strung behind their names, experts are as fallible and capable of error as anybody. Perhaps more so, since trial and error are intrinsic to research and experiment, which are science’s stock-in-trade.
Spreading lockstep with COVID-19 is a society-wide damaging intellectual virus, which originated with Professor Neil Ferguson, the “head of the department of infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London.”
Ferguson’s dire prediction that 2.2 million Americans would perish from COVID-19 has proven to be quackery. The highly regard Ferguson modeled and projected outlandishly high death tolls for the U.S., Great Britain, and wherever else his snake oil was sprinkled. Years before, Ferguson projected huge death tolls from “mad cow disease, bird flu and swine flu.”
The professor is either a charlatan or a gross incompetent – and a world class phony. As the headline on London’s The Telegraph blared, “Exclusive: Government scientist Neil Ferguson resigns after breaking lockdown rules to meet his married lover.”
Though this mountebank was forced to surrender his government post, he retains his sinecure at the Imperial College of London. What does this say about the dilapidated state of academia?
Modeling and projections are closer to art than science, particularly when subjects are complex. A broad range of variables needed to have been input to come up with anything close to what the death toll would have been with the COVID-19 contagion. It was an impossible task. There are also “X Factors” to consider, defined as elements or developments that can’t possibly be conceived, not even with the most synthetic thinking. Finally, there’s methodologies. They have to be airtight.
With modeling, a cliché goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” But even without the garbage in, as mentioned, incomplete modeling can turn out… garbage. Let’s add that “manmade global warming” suffers the same grievous flaws, yet true believers insist we accept global warming modeling as gospel.
Unquestioning veneration for Neil Ferguson’s acumen and expertise helped misinform the British government and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases head, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Deborah Birx, who is the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
It was Fauci and Birx, among other key players, who brought Ferguson’s death count projection to President Trump. In fairness to Trump, given the historic gloomy prediction of millions of deaths, what was he supposed to do? He acted with dispatch and great competence in sealing off the nation. Ending travel from China and Europe were smart moves. Trump produced resources and results in short order. But “flattening the curve” directives that led to massive state shutdowns are proving ruinous.
Governors – mostly Democrats, though some Republicans – have imposed draconian lockdowns in their states. Outside a handful of hotspots – NYC and vicinity, Boston, Detroit, and Seattle – most of the nation has been minimally impacted by COVID-19. Yet imperious one-size-fits-all policies were imposed, to great detriment. Vast numbers of hospital beds and ICUs are empty. Thousands of ventilators sit idle. Many hospitals are in financial crises.
In blue states mostly, unlocking the lockdowns are slow going. Democratic governors, from Whitmer to Northam to Wolf to Cuomo, et al, appear to revel in controlling lives. They’re treating citizens like subjects.
Most governors acted with fiat, disregarding citizens’ constitutional rights to assemble and peacefully protest, and to practice their faiths. Many legislatures have been supine, rolling over as governors dictated.
That’s for starters. Social media giants – Facebook and YouTube – getting in lockstep with the day’s statist spirit, have diligently banned speech they ominously label “misinformation.” When private concerns, acting even informally in concert with governments, ban free speech, an Orwellian arctic chill wind blows.
A not-so-bold prediction: With hindsight, Americans by the tens of millions, will come to see the pandemic responses as cruelly extreme. The distrust for government and politicians will grow – if possible, given both are held in low esteem, as is. Experts – MDs and scientists – will tumble from their mantles as mantles are kicked out from under them.
Some of this is necessary correctives to long misplaced trust – or trust too generously bestowed. Leaders and experts who have misled, whether mistakenly or due to incompetence-fueled maleficence, are doing great harm to the commonweal. For when crises of genuinely large magnitude finally appear, the people may no longer listen, much less comply.
What do you think? Weigh in!