Dept of American Idiocy (cont’d)

20b5591b ebda 450c 83e6 68407f3fc2d0The press touts a coronavirus milestone as the global count passes 5 million. Of course, the count bears the same relationship to the realities as Plato’s shadows on the cave wall. Alex Madrigal in The Atlantic covers the evidence that the CDC is making a crucial error in counting cases, underestimating fatality statistics upon which governors have been basing their reopening decisions

Imperfect as the statistics are, The WHO reported (WSJ) the largest single-day increase in infections since the outbreak began, about 40% of them in the U.S. A research team from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which uses cellphone data to track social distancing and forecast pandemic trends, warns that hotspots throughout the South suggest danger of a second wave (Washington Post) over the coming four weeks in, among other places, Dallas, Houston, Florida’s Gold Coast, and throughout Alabama. Cases are also already rising in parts of the Midwest. 

Our cognitive machinery evolved with a risk-averse bias so as not to be miss dangers that threaten survival through false optimism. It is better to prepare for the possibility that that shadow at the mouth of the cave is a marauding predator, even if it is from a leaf blowing by, than to get eaten because you lulled yourself with a false sense of security. Of course, our evolutionary machinery has been challenged by the fact that, in this case, the predator is an abstraction rather than a beast with a face. Abstraction is certainly beyond the cognitively impaired elected (and impeached) president and his anti-intellectual mob of followers.

 

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One might argue, in a social Darwinist way, that people are entitled to make their own risk assessments, either to learn heuristically from the consequences or succumb. At some points since the emergence of CoViD, I speculated that we would see divergent mortality rates between red and blue regions of the U.S., for example. The problem is, of course, that during an epidemic, your idiocy jeopardizes me, my loved ones, many other innocents, as well as yourself, epidemiologically. To paraphrase a great social philosopher, “A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.” 

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