Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Irrational and Driven by Fear

 

Once upon a time on Ricochet, I argued, repeatedly, in the words of Heinlein, “Man is not a rational animal. Man is a rationalizing animal.” I have pointed out countless times that people are governed more by their fears and insecurities than by their hopes and ambitions. Every time, I ran into staunch opposition, especially from self-described rational people.

This post is just to jump and down and scream, “See! I Wuz Right!” I think the events of the past few months have illustrated both of these primary points better than a thousand articles could have done. There are now countless posts and comments on this site (and everywhere, really), arguing that while precaution X, Y and Z may not make sense, we have to accept that the terrifying unknown trumps all logical argument.

“We do not know!” or “What about all the long term uncertainty?” or “There is no immunity!” is the same technique that the left has done for years. It is the same sleight of hand as proclaiming, “I am offended” to shut others down. Almost nobody is offering Expected Value computations or comparisons between all the upsides and downsides. Lacking that kind of matrix clarity, it is no wonder that everyone who wants to be afraid feels fully justified in spreading the joy.

At this point, WuFlu argumentation makes debates about SSM and Donald Trump seem fresh and interesting.

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  1. MarciN Member

    The ibuprofen chapter is such a good example. Some newspaper somewhere reported on some random “research” that said that ibuprofen made the virus worse in people who became symptomatic. Overnight people stopped taking it. At the time, I thought, “That’s weird. Ibuprofen is the best and fastest way to calm an inflammation we know of. This virus is causing the lungs to be inflamed. Hence, ibuprofen would be an effective treatment.”

    Somewhere along the way in March, I was at the ER with my husband, and the doctors told him to take ibuprofen. I asked, “I thought people weren’t supposed to take that right now because of the virus.” “Oh, that study has been completely rejected. There’s no problem with ibuprofen.” The story on the research that reversed the first study somehow didn’t make it to the front page the way first one did.

    The press has been hanging on every word whispered by the government agencies since this started and competing for clicks to be the reporter or website that issued the day’s story that got readers’ attention on their website. When there is money to be made from generating fear, fear will follow.

    I read a great book in the late nineties called The New Corporate Activism. [This is good news: It was originally published in the late nineties. I really loved this book. The author has reissued it through Amazon Publishing Services. I’m really glad to see that it will have a new life. It’s a great book. :-) ] The authors started out talking about the Tylenol scare–the impact it had on the Tylenol manufacturer. They also told a story about a case of listeria being linked to a cantelope. An entire year’s crop of cantelope had to be turned into compost because of the public’s reaction to the initial story. The financial losses were terrible.

    Although the advice in the book for companies to stay engaged with their customers is certainly solid advice–King Arthur Flour withstood two flour recalls a year ago by doing just that–most companies end up like Boeing, in deep trouble and trying to withstand a month in the spotlight of the angry public.

    I think there is responsibility on all sides with the mishandling of this virus. Everyone is to blame, but most importantly the schools because they have failed to teach our citizens how to evaluate evidence. The ignorance shows up everywhere now–even in jury deliberations. We seem to take gossip and innuendo at face value these days.

    • #1
    • July 12, 2020, at 7:20 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  2. Bob Thompson Member

    So you want to be right? How about if we can just come to understand the position we are taking, whether it is right or not. @johnh has an active post

    How’d I Miss This?

    that delves into the history of ZPG. And we don’t seem to worry at all about how many unborn are aborted or even what race they may be. But we are going insane worrying about some dying from the Covid-19 virus, so much so that we are in the process of a complete disruption of everyones’ lives.

    Yeah. Rational becomes very doubtful.

    • #2
    • July 12, 2020, at 8:09 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
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  3. Al French of Damascus Moderator

    I agree totally. I’m currently vacationing with my extended family. My daughter in law, who is very bright, has irrational fear of the virus. I am biting my tongue, because facts won’t matter.

    • #3
    • July 12, 2020, at 8:12 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  4. Songwriter Member
    Songwriter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    @iwe – Good post. And I (mostly?) agree. Fear is a far more powerful force in most of our lives than we would care to admit. And it often causes us to act in irrational ways. That said – cannot fear also be rational? Certainly there are times and situations* where fear is reasonable and understandable. I’m not saying it’s admirable. But in those circumstances, it would seem rational.

    * Face-to-face with a grizzly bear in the forest. In the immediate path of tornado. Being robbed at gunpoint. etc. 

    • #4
    • July 12, 2020, at 9:06 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Songwriter (View Comment):
    Certainly there are times and situations* where fear is reasonable and understandable. I’m not saying it’s admirable. But in those circumstances, it would seem rational.

    Oh, certainly. The examples you cite would make someone panic, and quite rightly (not that panicking necessarily yields the best results).

    We are not facing a grizzly in the woods, unless that grizzly is our own rank stupidity.

    • #5
    • July 12, 2020, at 10:19 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Bob Thompson Member

    iWe (View Comment):
    We are not facing a grizzly in the woods, unless that grizzly is our own rank stupidity.

    I agree with the fact that we are not facing a danger comparable to a grizzly in the woods, but perhaps a confluence of forces have caused our mass persona to morph in ways that respond more to superficial effects and that is what we are now judging to be irrational. What if we have adulterated our food supply, medical treatments, the air we breathe and the water we drink in addition to how we have raised our standard of living and social interaction, in ways that have changed our physical and mental makeup to be essentially different from what they were a century ago. Many of those who have suffered ill effects from we many attribute to the above noted environmental changes are the whiners and self-declared victims of our current social and political construct who we think have been acting stupid.

    • #6
    • July 12, 2020, at 10:40 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Boss Mongo Member

    C’mon, man. Don’t act like it’s your first time in the end zone.

    • #7
    • July 12, 2020, at 11:03 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  8. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    How about people who were completely, totally wrong about just how bad this infection was going to get in the US?

    Or are you sticking with ” it’s just the Flu Bro”.

    • #8
    • July 12, 2020, at 1:30 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Flicker Coolidge

    Kozak (View Comment):

    How about people who were completely, totally wrong about just how bad this infection was going to get in the US?

    Or are you sticking with ” it’s just the Flu Bro”.

    You of course mean 2.4 million dead. They certainly messed that up alright.

    Also, the initial ‘alarm’ graph that Birx showed and explained on March 13th(?), the one that got Trump so up in alarm and calling for a national lock-down, projected, what, 120,000 to 240,000 dead; and she explained that this was “if we follow the guidelines (masks, distancing and lock-down) perfectly“. But when, within the timeframe of the graph, there were, what 25,000 or so dead, she crowed that these numbers of, what, 10% of projected were because the American people complied so well, and she used this to justify the guidelines.

    But what she said completely put the falsehood to her earlier perfect-compliance estimates.

    This shows one more example how the government medical regulators speak in contradiction to the facts, and have no credibility.

    • #9
    • July 12, 2020, at 2:53 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    How about people who were completely, totally wrong about just how bad this infection was going to get in the US?

    Or are you sticking with ” it’s just the Flu Bro”.

    It is several times worse than a yearly flu. I lost this bet, and said so. 

    But it is still not anything like the doom-mongering forecasts. And it seems entirely clear to me that the reaction has and will kill FAR more people, including people who deferred needed medical care, starvation and disease in the third world, etc.

    • #10
    • July 12, 2020, at 3:50 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Saint Augustine Member

    iWe (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    How about people who were completely, totally wrong about just how bad this infection was going to get in the US?

    Or are you sticking with ” it’s just the Flu Bro”.

    It is several times worse than a yearly flu. I lost this bet, and said so. But it is still not anything like the doom-mongering forecasts.

    And it seems entirely clear to me that the reaction has and will kill FAR more people, including people who deferred needed medical care, starvation and disease in the third world, etc.

    Anyone need a link to the good doctor’s interview with Peter Robinson?

    • #11
    • July 12, 2020, at 3:55 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. Goldgeller Member

    I think it makes a bit of sense to weight potentially unbounded irreversible events more than events than ordinary events. 

    Some people are afraid so they stay in doors and wear their masks. The costs to them for doing so when compared to potentially getting sick are probably lower than outside observers suspected. So it may seem silly to miss a vacation or not go to a restaurant but that person is actually saying that they really don’t value those behaviors that much (relatively speaking). 

    The downside of fear is that some people become resistant to information about the costs of their actions; or actually let that fear turn into bad stress and start to lash out and yell at people who don’t wear masks. To me, it seems there are multiple dimensions of fear, and it isn’t clear that it strictly irrational.

     

     

    • #12
    • July 12, 2020, at 5:45 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Saint Augustine Member

    iWe (View Comment):

    It is several times worse than a yearly flu. I lost this bet, and said so. 

    But it is still not anything like the doom-mongering forecasts.

    Those are two things that can be true at the same time.

    Another two things:

    Masks usefully reduce the odds of spreading the disease in crowded indoor settings.

    Masks are useless in non-crowded, open-air areas lit by blazing sunlight.

    • #13
    • July 12, 2020, at 5:50 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Saint Augustine Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    And it seems entirely clear to me that the reaction has and will kill FAR more people, including people who deferred needed medical care, starvation and disease in the third world, etc.

    Anyone need a link to the good doctor’s interview with Peter Robinson?

    Now that I’m on a desktop, I’ll post the YouTube link. (There is also a podcast option, and there may be something or other on Ricochet somewhere.)

    • #14
    • July 12, 2020, at 5:52 PM PDT
    • 1 like