Confirmation Bias is strangling discourse in the nation at this time, and leading to the destruction of our freedoms and economy.
There, I said it. Now let’s get to what it means.
From my perspective as a conservative/almost libertarian, it means that the ever shifting goalposts of the Wuhan flu edicts coming from government are deepening the panic for some, causing others to give the finger to authority, and destroying the economy. Remember the original goal? Yes! Extra points for those who said “flatten the curve.” The whole point was to make sure we could medically handle people getting sick with Wuhan flu and not have them all hit the medical system at one time. We built tens of thousands of ventilators, extra hospitals, deployed hospital ships, and emptied out the medical system of anyone else needing anything else just so we’d be ready.
Well, it must have worked, because the ventilators are unused, the ships have gone home, and the hospitals have been put back in storage. But we haven’t cancelled all the rest of the madness, including the fallacy of social distancing. The entire world, all of human society, has been set up based on the need to congregate. Doesn’t matter if it’s in a bar, a church, or a tattoo parlor. (Yes, I’ve been to, and been tattooed in, a tattoo parlor that had more than 10 people in it while I was there, and it was a slow day.) It is not profitable, or practical, to do most of what we do as a society with a six foot balloon surrounding each of us. It will not happen.
It’s all yippee-skippee to sit at home and wait for your life to be delivered if you have major health problems. I have no problem with that in the least. If you’re sick, or very likely to become sick, stay home until you feel comfortable.
But the rest of us have to make a decision about what we’ve been told, heard from friends, seen ourselves, or thought about in our darkest hours.
Are you ready to wear a mask for eternity? Because if your goal is to never get the Wuhan flu that’s your only option. That and obsessive hand washing. (Just for the record, I’m heavily in favor of washing your hands after you use the bathroom, change diapers, and prior to making food.) You see, Wuhan flu is never going away. It will always be there to some degree. That’s the reason virus illness is so nasty: there are no totally effective vaccines. Yes, the annual flu shot can help. But only if it’s made to combat the strains you encounter. Run across a stray mutation and you might as well have had an injection of saline solution.
Will we all be vaccinated? No. See, that was simple. Many people will not take the shot. Will you authorize them being dragged from their home by the vaccine police and being injected against their will? Gotta tell you, few things will cause quiet, law-abiding citizens to pick up a rifle and confront the government faster than that kind of thing. Best not chance it, or the modern Jeffersons and Washingtons will be out and about. In case you forgot, our founders killed tyrants for lesser offenses.
Back to confirmation bias. Let me say that I’m sympathetic to the victims of this bias. If you, as a cop, deal with the worst scum on the planet every day (as some special units do) then every single person you deal with is probably scum and you start to treat them that way. As a chef, if every egg you crack for a week is full of half-formed chicken, you rather quickly avoid using eggs and assume they’re all like that now.
The same applies to my friends in the health care world. If the majority of what you encounter, and the talk about the break table is all about death and Wuhan flu, then pretty soon you forget that the patients who need minor surgery, checkups, cancer screenings, new hearing aids, and a pair of glasses exist – and they are not sick with Wuhan flu. Your focus is on the crisis of the moment, not the empty beds in the regular wards, or the staff being laid off because they have no work “until we beat the virus.”
Consequently you become angry about people not wearing masks in public. You rage against people sitting at a table enjoying a beer together. You quail when someone violates your six-foot ring of health. But you don’t remember that the vast majority of people get Wuhan flu and don’t get very sick. And of those who do get it, the death rate under age 60, and outside of nursing facilities, is very small. Nor do you consider the fact that the numbers of Wuhan flu related deaths are insanely skewed by the deaths in nursing homes, and the fact that the CDC counted everyone who died, and had been ill to any degree with Wuhan flu, as a death attributed TO the virus for a long time.
Finally, and most sadly, these voices are given great weight because “they know.” Yes, they know what their daily experience is in treating, or being associated with those that treat, Wuhan flu. It is not a good way to go. I hope to avoid it myself.
But we cannot live forever wearing a mask. Humans are not meant to cower in the dark and avoid risk. The most beautiful, the most magnificent achievements and art of the species has come from people who risked death on top of a scaffold painting ceilings, welding beams on to skyscrapers, or storming a beach.
You cannot give up your liberties and expect to live the same life. We are approaching a point now where the confirmation bias of a few is hampering the liberty, and enjoyment of life, for the rest of the herd. Will some additional people die from Wuhan flu as we open up and return to normal (not “new normal” for that is utter crap) once again? Yes. I have elected to reject hiding and have resumed living my life.
Because without risk we are no more than prisoners in our homes.
I reject that as a way to live my life. I hope you do as well.