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Experts in epidemiology are starting to remind me of Gen. George McClellan—he could promise you a brilliant battle plan but only if he had perfect data about the numbers, location and intentions of the enemy. So in the meantime, you wait, hunkered down, stripped of the initiative.
Like with climate scientists, the virus modelers offer either mild, easily handled transient changes or large-scale disaster depending on the assumptions (offerings) we feed the models.
The economists who told us to ignore borders, the ever-changing expert guidance on human sexuality, an absurdly ideological professoriate, grossly unprofessional professional journalists … our faith in expertise is dying. Now after a decade of scandals in fraudulent research publications, the virus is attacking another species of our faith in experts. Epidemiologists are people who look into microscopes, do lab stuff, and are really good at math — so how can they be so ineffectual in this crisis? The Marcus Welby, MD, paradigm may be gone but we really want to have faith in all parts of the medical professions.
The model of society beloved by the likes of Woodrow Wilson, Benito Mussolini, and Barack Obama, in which the masses are relieved of the burden of judgment and decision-making through mandatory reliance on enlightened technocrats, is fading fast. It is not clear what will replace it.Published in