It’s very important to remember that conforming with group norms in a modern complex world is often a sub-optimal strategy even though we’re hardwired by evolution to do so. It’s often better to look at reliable data and consider all relevant facts rather than succumb to media-driven mass hysteria and do things merely because doing something, anything, feels better than not doing anything at all. When we look at the data and contrast it to the proclamations of politicians whose primary interest is the avoidance of vote-loss, it’s not at all clear that backing the world into a totally non-sustainable strategy is a suitable response to a virus that despite all the sensationalist media coverage has still, four months in, killed far fewer people than die over the same period from automobile accidents or obesity-related diseases or smoking-related diseases. Astonishingly, it remains true that fewer people have died from covid-19 than from the regular flu over the same period of time. So it’s unclear why we’ve chosen to cripple our economies, create enormous new debt, break essential supply chains, and throw half a billion of the world’s most vulnerable people into absolute poverty. Furthermore, recommendations for items like facemasks can’t but remind us of equally fatuous policies such as “duck and cover” as a way to survive nuclear war. In realty, facemasks quickly become warm and moist as we exhale water-laden vapor into them. This makes them an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, which is why medical staff change their facemasks every 20 minutes. Ordinary people, however, are being told to wear them for hours on end, which will surely result in many unnecessary cases of bronchial infection, which is the very last thing one wants when dealing with a pandemic that impacts the respiratory system.

So in short, one does not have to be “in denial” to see the many inconsistencies and follies of contemporary policy. One merely has to be able to step back from media-induced mass hysteria and a mindless compliance with whatever purported authority figures proclaim as “the answer.” It is, in fact, abundantly clear that the right course of action would have been to spend billions moving quickly to protect those most at risk while permitting everyone else (remember, 99% of people don’t need to fear the virus in any way) to carry on moving the goods and services essential to keeping our medical systems up and running, and avoiding the massive debt our children and grandchildren will be paying decades from now. But instead we broke everything, created trillions of dollars of debt, and backed ourselves into a corner. Politicians will now pretend that “we flattened the curve” as they scramble for ways out of the mess they created, but we ought to be rightly skeptical of their proclamations. The damage has been done, and it was almost entirely unnecessary. Context-free statistics in the mass media are no adequate basis for global policy-making.

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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