It’s important to note that we’ve rushed into “social distancing” measures without prior consideration of the longer-term viability. Doctors are always going to give advice predicated entirely on one factor; in reality we always need to balance a wide range of factors in order to arrive at coherent policy. Were this not the case, we’d be spending 100% of GDP on health services plus 100% of GDP on defense plus 100% of GDP on education, and so on based on single-focus advice from the relevant experts.

What seems to me to be very important is to look at those nations that haven’t succumbed to mass hysteria and have taken a more reasoned approach to the present pandemic. Noting that it’s almost entirely the very old and the very sick who are at risk, while the rest of the population will either experience zero symptoms or those of a mild cold, Sweden and the Netherlands and Iceland have all moved quickly to protect those most at risk while leaving everyone else to contract the virus and thereby develop immunity. So far at least the statistics seem to indicate that this is a more realistic approach, with far fewer unintended bad consequences, than the rest of the world’s hysterical rush to shutdown.

Precisely because there’s no logical point at which shutdown can end without incurring the consequences that would have occurred without a shutdown, we’ve raced into an untenable position. Sweden, Iceland, and the Netherlands show there is an alternative approach and the data may well prove that we broke the entire world — and threw hundreds of millions of people in the developing nations into starvation — merely because we were driven into panic by sensationalist media reportage. It’s never easy to respond coherently to a crisis, but our modern world with screens in front of our eyes every waking moment combined with a sensation-reliant mass media has put reason on the endangered species list. As a result, we’ve rushed into a position that is untenable and now we’ll have to work out how to get ourselves out of it.

If we were smart, we’d be looking carefully at the three countries listed above, rather than gawping at the latest context-free statistics blazoned across our screens by irresponsible media organizations.

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Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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