Virtual Facepalm

Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the search for extraterrestrial life soon here at the machine. But first, to quote Inigo Montoya, “lemme splain… no, there’s no time, lemme sum up…”

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard someone say about this little coronavirus situation, “there’s just so many different stories out there, I don’t know who to believe.” First, lemme translate: “I don’t want to believe that this is as bad as everyone is saying, so I’m going to eat it up from people that are telling me what I want to hear.”

Second: all of us are guilty from time to time and to varying extents of listening to something from one media outlet or another, and drawing our own conclusions without checking anywhere else. And if we go to the effort of hearing a competing outlet’s story, it’s likely to be quite different, to say the least. So let’s just say there really are people out there that are confused about who to trust. If I wanted to get reliable information about diseases and how best to control their spread, where would I want to go? If only there were a national center devoted to such a thing, employing people who have spent years learning about diseases and how they spread. If I were President, I would establish such a center for times just like these, and I’d call it… let’s see… maybe something like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oh wait…

The notion that people who have devoted their lives to a certain trade will tend to become better at it than people who haven’t devoted their lives to that same trade is not exactly mind-stretching. If you want your hair cut, do you go to someone who’s trained for that, or do you ask a dentist to do it? When people on TV talk about the economic impacts of COVID-19, don’t their opinions usually hold more water with you when they are economists or successful business leaders? If you were going to have open heart surgery, would you want a trained surgeon who’d done it before, or some random person who posts “nobody knows what the hell is going on” on Facebook? So why do we not trust an agency dedicated to the control and prevention of diseases to have some of the better ideas about the control and prevention of COVID-19 than, say, a talking head? Yeah – funny how we trust the experts *sometimes* but not *all* the time.

Last year, when the President took a Sharpie to our weather enterprise, I recommended he might be better off delegating that responsibility to folks who, I don’t know, studied atmospheric physics at some point in life. This is no different. When I want to know what’s real and what’s not regarding our latest understanding of the COVID-19 crisis, I’m not going to listen to a press briefing – or frankly any politician or news outlet. I’m going to visit the CDC website and read it from people who’ve forgotten more about disease control since breakfast than I’ve learned my entire life. The only reason not to is to think they are part of some conspiracy.

And therein lies the embarkation point for far too many of us. I don’t like what I’m hearing, so not only am I going to put it on equal ground with arguments that don’t hold anywhere near as much water, I’m going to drown it out with a blanket dismissal, along with everything else that doesn’t match my expectations or my world view. Such a view of the world is sufficiently encased in stone that I will not be able to sway its subscribers, no matter what I say. So in lieu of advancing the conversation in any way, all I can ask is that we all show some semblance of respect for people everywhere doing what they do best, and focus our individual efforts on whatever best applies our individual talents. Mine is ending blog posts with pictures that someone else drew or took.


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