An excellent and much-needed article, Steve. Thanks for writing it. Unfortunately most people are intellectually indolent and just want headlines, soundbites, and other simple-minded nonsense that requires no effort to consume. Things become even worse when magically real-world phenomena are transfigured into the realm of politics. In the USA one must either be (i) a confused Trumpie who thinks that SARS-CoV2 is simultaneously a hoax AND a clever Chinese plot to harm the USA, or (ii) a terrified hysterical liberal who imagines that everyone on Earth is going to die unless we all wear facemasks and remain separated by 2, or 1.5, or 1 meter/yard/football pitch/whatever. The mass media, of course, plays to the crowd and makes everything infinitely worse than it otherwise would be. "Scientist cures cancer" is so much more attention-grabbing than "minor study on one type of mouse liver cell shows 1.7% reduction in tumorigenesis after 30 days of treatment with compound XYZ."

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