Things have played out exactly as Tyler Cowan warned 20 months ago. I have added the emphasis.
“The very first problem the U.S. is likely to face is one of risk communication. Of course the correct message will depend on how the data evolve, but in general there is tension between warnings that get people to take notice, and those that scare them underground or into counterproductive forms of panic.
If you tell people how terrible things are, they feel a loss of control. Many will retreat into conspiracy theories, spread mistrust of health-care institutions, or withdraw altogether from social or professional activity. Those who are sick may be afraid to seek medical attention, for fear of having their movements constrained, driving the disease further underground and distorting the data. Again, trust is of paramount importance.”
I think it is safe to say the every government in every jurisdiction failed to manage the communication well enough and every one of the adverse outcomes from communication failure have appeared.
“Trust is of paramount importance” and many people have none. Will that change?
The moral of the story is the politicians and their agencies have consistently misrepresented the facts they knew. Mask don’t mask. Isolate for two weeks, The vaccines will keep you from getting the disease. No other remedies work. The vaccines are safe for sure.
Good communication would have included what they did not know and it did not. Better communication would have included what they have learned along the way. So far there a few things that seem important, but are not subject to whatever class of study they need to move from from their ideology.
Worst communication is propaganda. That is pretty much all we hear anymore. The next time they offer you a pronouncement ask for the objective evidence that supports their claim. I will be shocked if you get any. Most likely some version of “our experts say.” Reliance on experts is a cognitive flaw. It is meaningless.
It will be hard for them to overcome the mistrust. Perhaps their best move is to say nothing they cannot support.
Why is there so little effort to discover treatment protocols better than, “You test positive. Go home and isolate until you need to go to the hospital.” I doubt there is a competent doctor anywhere would offer that treatment protocol unless they were being told what to say. Doctors should be free to use their best judgement.
Proof is a poor requirement in the early going. Fog of war, is a thing. Balance of probability is as good as you can get and more than you need to get started. You don’t learn anything practical doing nothing while waiting for academic studies.
Politicians like to have a crisis so they can gather new powers to themselves. “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
China has acted irresponsibly in the entire matter. They should be held to account.
I wonder why we have intelligence agencies at all. In May 2020, NBC News reported, “The report — obtained by the London-based NBC News Verification Unit — says there was no cellphone activity in a high-security portion of the Wuhan Institute of Virology from Oct. 7 through Oct. 24, 2019, and that there may have been a “hazardous event” sometime between Oct. 6 and Oct. 11.” I wonder if that was to sterilize the lab after a breach. The intelligence agencies appear to have done nothing, certainly published nothing, because “they could not verify the data” I doubt that is true and I wonder why they chose this course.
Dragging meaning out of the material we have been shown is near impossible. Look for what might work and protect yourself. Perfection is not required.
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