Contributor Post Created with Sketch. An Epidemic of Credulousness

 

Over the weekend, we saw more reporting about the unbelievable stories that some medical professionals on the front lines in red states are telling mainstream news reporters:

This is a theme now: mainstream media are weaponizing COVID against red staters, highlighting their stupidity for getting the virus.

This isn’t the first time a mainstream outlet has done this, and to their credit, WIRED actually went digging to verify the story of one South Dakota nurse who went viral and appeared on CNN talking about dying patients discussing their disbelief of COVID, gasping on their deathbed. It turns out the story was too good for CNN’s narrative to actually be checked, and WIRED cast some serious doubt on its varacity:

I called a number of hospitals in the same part of South Dakota to ask emergency room nurses if they’d noticed the same, disturbing phenomenon. At Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital, about 20 minutes from Doering’s hometown of Woonsocket, an ER nurse told me, “I have not had that experience here.” At my request, Kim Rieger, the VP for communications and marketing at Huron Regional Medical Center, one of the four medical facilities where Doering works, spoke with several nurses at Huron to get their reactions to the CNN interview. None said they’d interacted with Covid patients who denied having the disease. “Most patients are grateful, and thankful for our help,” one told her. “I have not experienced this, nor have I been told of this experience, ever,” another said.

I saw another such story making the rounds on Twitter yesterday:

Relative in our extended family got COVID, as did her husband and other members of her family unit, at a pro-Trump church in PA. No space at the hospital. Died at home. Family members who believe in COVID mourned via Zoom. Others, gathered in person with the body and their virus

I read it and thought “hm, that doesn’t seem right” and so, I did five seconds of digging, and I’m actually glad I did. There was a critical line here about Philadelphia hospitals nowhere near reaching capacity, but the most interesting tidbit came from the Pennsylvania Deptartment Of Health. The narrative we’ve been hearing is that hospitals around the country are deluged, and yet, here is the PA Dept. of Health’s own website telling you that only 1.6% of statewide ER visits are there with COVID symptoms. There’s no county in the entire state where that number is more than 4.5%. In the middle of flu season those numbers would be surprising, and yet, we’re apparently in the middle of a super flu, and the ERs aren’t seeing the flood we’ve been told they are?

What’s perhaps most sad about all of these stories isn’t that people are spinning them, it’s that millions of Americans are lapping them up, because they confirm their priors about dumb rednecks in South Dakota or rural Pennsylvania.

This is an ongoing problem; Americans have become unaccostomed to critical thinking when presented with a literally unbelievable (as in, not believable) news story. What would it take for Americans to engage in just a little bit of analysis with their news?

Anyway, I’ll leave you with this hilarious (and not CoC complaint, hence the link and not the embed) Dave Chappelle routine about yet another unbelievable, and yet, totally believed lie: that of Jussie Smollett.

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  1. DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone Coolidge

    Bethany Mandel:I saw another such story making the rounds on Twitter yesterday:

    Relative in our extended family got COVID, as did her husband and other members of her family unit, at a pro-Trump church in PA. No space at the hospital. Died at home. Family members who believe in COVID mourned via Zoom. Others, gathered in person with the body and their virus

    I read it and thought “hm, that doesn’t seem right”

    The tells are all over the place. Calling it a “pro-Trump” church, the “no space at the hospital” line. The idea that the “COVID believers” were smart and attended a Zoom funeral, and the other gathered with “their virus.”

    These all indicate a story created to fit a particular narrative. I would have rejected it, too, just as that one about the dying patients refusing to “believe” in the virus as they were hooked up to ventilators also red-lined my skept-o-meter. (And yep, that one was false, too.)

    This ceased being about a virus a long time ago. Now it’s about creating a supporting narrative.

    • #1
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:31 AM PST
    • 18 likes
  2. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy WeivodaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I live in Minnesota, less than 4 miles from Fargo, North Dakota, which is where I work. Is COVID-19 here? Yes, it is; I know a few people who have had it and it made them pretty darn sick. It is serious, but the way some national press outlets are covering it is over the top. The way North and South Dakota are portrayed in some news articles you would think this rivals Europe’s Black Death plague.

    As far as people’s reaction to it, it ranges from people who are almost afraid to leave their house to people who believe that COVID-19 is a hoax and is no worse than having a cold.

    • #2
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:52 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “My ex-wive’s third cousin knows a guy who worked with a Trump supporter whose best friend’s sister told him that a nurse in her South Dakota farming community doesn’t believe in Covid and SHE DIED!” Basically, every other post on Twitter.

    • #3
    • November 30, 2020, at 8:55 AM PST
    • 19 likes
  4. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian ClendinenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You need to stop calling them journlist/reporters and mainstream media. Call them what they are historical fantasy writers and tabloids.

    • #4
    • November 30, 2020, at 9:07 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. Old Bathos Moderator

    The increasingly weird fetish-thinking that being a knee-jerk leftists means one must somehow be in tune with #Science is out of hand. It is pathological.

    There is absolutely no reason to close schools according to abundant data and the opinion of the AMA pediatric section yet closing schools must somehow be #Science because issuing mandates from experts feels sciencey. 

    There are about 20 major studies/papers (and the official position of WHO) that lockdowns do not work and have horrific health and economic downsides and yet we keep coming up with new closings and increasingly silly rules about restaurants and public parks because of #Science. 

    I see people driving alone on interstate highways with the windows rolled up and wearing a mask and I know they are among the actual living Biden voters.

    The more ignorant and malevolent the left becomes the more desperately they need to project because if they are that stupid, we red state types must somehow be more stupid.

    • #5
    • November 30, 2020, at 9:07 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  6. DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone Coolidge

    What I find annoying are the people who seek to blame others for the spread of COVID in their communities. “People are dying because you refuse to wear a mask!” 

    Or maybe not.

    Recent surveys showed that Wisconsin residents have a 90% compliance with our mask mandate. I don’t know how you get a 90% compliance with anything! So if that’s the case, why did we spike so badly this fall? (We seem to be over the hump as of a week ago.)

    It’s stuff like this that leads me to believe that masks are barely effective (as some studies in other countries seem to indicate), and that this virus is gonna do its thing no matter what.

    But there’s a tendency to want to blame someone, anyone, for whatever bad things happen. And COVID is perfectly designed to get people pointing their fingers at each other.

    Locally on social media, the usual scapegoats are the maskless people at Wal-Mart. (Always Wal-Mart for some reason, perhaps because we’re supposed to view Wal-Mart shoppers as being ignorant rednecks. Not sure why maskless people at Target or the local grocery stores are exempt.)

    I probably go into the Wal-Mart at least once a week if not more. I admit, there are usually one or two people I spot not wearing masks.

    Just one or two. In a store full of masked people.

    But the blamers need a scapegoat, and it’s easy to hate on those awful Wal-Mart people! They’re not part of our group, you know.

    This is what fear does. And it further divides us.

    • #6
    • November 30, 2020, at 9:19 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone Coolidge

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    The increasingly weird fetish-thinking that being a knee-jerk leftists means one must somehow be in tune with #Science is out of hand. It is pathological.

    This applies to so much more than just COVID, too.

    • #7
    • November 30, 2020, at 9:26 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. Old Bathos Moderator

    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… (View Comment):

    What I find annoying are the people who seek to blame others for the spread of COVID in their communities. “People are dying because you refuse to wear a mask!”

    Or maybe not.

    Recent surveys showed that Wisconsin residents have a 90% compliance with our mask mandate. I don’t know how you get a 90% compliance with anything! So if that’s the case, why did we spike so badly this fall? (We seem to be over the hump as of a week ago.)

    It’s stuff like this that leads me to believe that masks are barely effective (as some studies in other countries seem to indicate), and that this virus is gonna do its thing no matter what.

    But there’s a tendency to want to blame someone, anyone, for whatever bad things happen. And COVID is perfectly designed to get people pointing their fingers at each other.

    Locally on social media, the usual scapegoats are the maskless people at Wal-Mart. (Always Wal-Mart for some reason, perhaps because we’re supposed to view Wal-Mart shoppers as being ignorant rednecks. Not sure why maskless people at Target or the local grocery stores are exempt.)

    I probably go into the Wal-Mart at least once a week if not more. I admit, there are usually one or two people I spot not wearing masks.

    Just one or two. In a store full of masked people.

    But the blamers need a scapegoat, and it’s easy to hate on those awful Wal-Mart people! They’re not part of our group, you know.

    This is what fear does. And it further divides us.

    You could console yourself with the deep wisdom of the buffoon who is the governor of your neighbor Minnesota. When he was confronted with actual data that contradict both the premise and the alleged effectiveness of his spectacularly futile mandates:

    “It’s not about numbers. It’s not about data. It’s about neighborliness.”

    So go out of business but be sure to wear a mask when you board up and leave the shop or restaurant for the last time. It’s the neighborly thing to do even if it accomplishes nothing.

    • #8
    • November 30, 2020, at 9:27 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. Dr. Bastiat Member

    I’ve never seen a political disease before. My job is not political. We all get the same diseases. I treat everyone the same. I don’t have a political job. Or at least I didn’t, until recently.

    This is so different, and so odd. I just don’t understand what happened here…

    • #9
    • November 30, 2020, at 9:32 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  10. DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone Coolidge

    I guess we’re lucky our governor-buffoon is too timid to be too much of a tyrant because he’s afraid the Republican legislature will be mean to him.

    That’s kind of a flipped-script, isn’t it?

    • #10
    • November 30, 2020, at 9:34 AM PST
    • 1 like
  11. Old Bathos Moderator

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve never seen a political disease before. My job is not political. We all get the same diseases. I treat everyone the same. I don’t have a political job. Or at least I didn’t, until recently.

    This is so different, and so odd. I just don’t understand what happened here…

    You are not supposed to understand. Just know that Big Brother loves you.

    • #11
    • November 30, 2020, at 9:38 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve never seen a political disease before. My job is not political. We all get the same diseases. I treat everyone the same. I don’t have a political job. Or at least I didn’t, until recently.

    This is so different, and so odd. I just don’t understand what happened here…

    There was AIDS, but that was probably before you became a doc.

    • #12
    • November 30, 2020, at 10:10 AM PST
    • 1 like
  13. Dr. Bastiat Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve never seen a political disease before. My job is not political. We all get the same diseases. I treat everyone the same. I don’t have a political job. Or at least I didn’t, until recently.

    This is so different, and so odd. I just don’t understand what happened here…

    There was AIDS, but that was probably before you became a doc.

    That’s a fair comparison, but that was more cultural than political, I think. That’s the closest parallel that I can come up with as well, however. I was in medical school when that was big, and I don’t remember such a political split. But everything wasn’t this politicized then, either.

    • #13
    • November 30, 2020, at 10:58 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. Buckpasser Member
    BuckpasserJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m just glad that Covid has eliminated the flu. Didn’t people use to die of the flu? Didn’t people die last year? Where were the masks and vaccines?

    • #14
    • November 30, 2020, at 11:08 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve never seen a political disease before. My job is not political. We all get the same diseases. I treat everyone the same. I don’t have a political job. Or at least I didn’t, until recently.

    This is so different, and so odd. I just don’t understand what happened here…

    There was AIDS, but that was probably before you became a doc.

    That’s a fair comparison, but that was more cultural than political, I think. That’s the closest parallel that I can come up with as well, however. I was in medical school when that was big, and I don’t remember such a political split. But everything wasn’t this politicized then, either.

    We were both a lot younger back then, and information was not so easily shared.

    I got the strong impression that AIDS was spread almost exclusively by repellent conduct — anal sodomy and IV drug use. But we weren’t supposed to talk about that, and it was falsely presented as a major danger to the wider population.

    It should not be surprising that sexual activity that, quite literally, involves playing around in the sewer of the human body ends up creating an elevated risk of disease. But you know the Left. They viewed it as a “civil rights” issue, not a public health issue.

    The widespread acceptance of sodomy has been one of the strangest phenomena of my lifetime. Trans is even stranger, I think, and seems to be following the same path.

    Of course, the major battles were lost quite a bit earlier, mostly in the 1960s, with the breakdown of heterosexual morality, marriage, and traditional family. We are now reaping the whirlwind of these errors, in my opinion.

    • #15
    • November 30, 2020, at 11:11 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve never seen a political disease before. My job is not political. We all get the same diseases. I treat everyone the same. I don’t have a political job. Or at least I didn’t, until recently.

    This is so different, and so odd. I just don’t understand what happened here…

    President Trump happened. In response came “Resistance” and BAMN. Almost total corruption of our major institutions (government, academia, media, business) happened.

    • #16
    • November 30, 2020, at 11:40 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  17. DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone Coolidge

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve never seen a political disease before. My job is not political. We all get the same diseases. I treat everyone the same. I don’t have a political job. Or at least I didn’t, until recently.

    This is so different, and so odd. I just don’t understand what happened here…

    President Trump happened. In response came “Resistance” and BAMN. Almost total corruption of our major institutions (government, academia, media, business) happened.

    The total corruption was already there. President Trump just exposed it.

    • #17
    • November 30, 2020, at 11:58 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  18. MarciN Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… (View Comment):

    What I find annoying are the people who seek to blame others for the spread of COVID in their communities. “People are dying because you refuse to wear a mask!” 

    Or maybe not.

    Recent surveys showed that Wisconsin residents have a 90% compliance with our mask mandate. I don’t know how you get a 90% compliance with anything! So if that’s the case, why did we spike so badly this fall?

    I’m seeing the same thing on Cape Cod. Compliance with the social distancing and masking guidelines and rules, yet there’s a sudden spike in cases here over the last two weeks.

    Now I’m wondering about the original concern about asymptomatic carriers. At this moment, no other explanation seems plausible to me.

    We have had lots of tourists starting last spring. Our numbers dropped to nearly none all summer and early fall. Most of the tourists have left. The ones here now are second-home owners for the most part. We have had an increase in our year-round population–a lot of people from other states have moved here in the last few months. But they’ve been here for weeks now.

    Why would our case numbers suddenly go up unless there is something to the asymptomatic carriers issue?

    The virus must have been here and spreading all summer and fall, but no one knew because no one got sick from it. As soon as the weather got colder a couple of weeks ago, people who had been carrying it asymptomatically all summer and fall finally succumbed to the symptoms as the virus multiplied in their upper respiratory or GI tract.

    I can’t think of any other reason why the case numbers are suddenly spiking right now. With all the tourists we had this summer from all over the country, one would think it would have spiked in July and August. But it didn’t. It went down.

    • #18
    • November 30, 2020, at 1:01 PM PST
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  19. DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone Coolidge

    On the other hand, I know people who had it, yet those closest to them — those who lived in the same household — never got it. So for all the concern about asymptomatic carriers, sometimes even the symptomatic ones aren’t passing it along. I thought it was determined that the idea of asymptomatic carriers was largely mythical?

     

    • #19
    • November 30, 2020, at 1:19 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. MarciN Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… (View Comment):

    On the other hand, I know people who had it, yet those closest to them — those who lived in the same household — never got it. So for all the concern about asymptomatic carriers, sometimes even the symptomatic ones aren’t passing it along. I thought it was determined that the idea of asymptomatic carriers was largely mythical?

     

    Yes and yes. I too know households where only one or two people got it. And I also have read that the asymptomatic carriers idea has been debunked. 

    I have no idea what is going on on Cape Cod right now. I can’t come up with a decent explanation from what I think I know about how this virus spreads.

    The only thing I can come up with is that there is something after all to the Typhoid Mary, asymptomatic spread theory. 

    Sigh. 

    • #20
    • November 30, 2020, at 1:35 PM PST
    • 1 like
  21. Dr. Bastiat Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… (View Comment):

    On the other hand, I know people who had it, yet those closest to them — those who lived in the same household — never got it. So for all the concern about asymptomatic carriers, sometimes even the symptomatic ones aren’t passing it along. I thought it was determined that the idea of asymptomatic carriers was largely mythical?

     

    Yes and yes. I too know households where only one or two people got it. And I also have read that the asymptomatic carriers idea has been debunked.

    I have no idea what is going on on Cape Cod right now. I can’t come up with a decent explanation from what I think I know about how this virus spreads.

    The only thing I can come up with is that there is something after all to the Typhoid Mary, asymptomatic spread theory.

    Sigh.

    It appears to be a seasonal flu. Masks, social distancing, travel, etc don’t seem to matter very much. Weather does. Just like influenza.

    • #21
    • November 30, 2020, at 1:48 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  22. Old Bathos Moderator

    MarciN (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Consta… (View Comment):

    What I find annoying are the people who seek to blame others for the spread of COVID in their communities. “People are dying because you refuse to wear a mask!”

    Or maybe not.

    Recent surveys showed that Wisconsin residents have a 90% compliance with our mask mandate. I don’t know how you get a 90% compliance with anything! So if that’s the case, why did we spike so badly this fall?

    I’m seeing the same thing on Cape Cod. Compliance with the social distancing and masking guidelines and rules, yet there’s a sudden spike in cases here over the last two weeks.

    Now I’m wondering about the original concern about asymptomatic carriers. At this moment, no other explanation seems plausible to me.

    We have had lots of tourists starting last spring. Our numbers dropped to nearly none all summer and early fall. Most of the tourists have left. The ones here now are second-home owners for the most part. We have had an increase in our year-round population–a lot of people from other states have moved here in the last few months. But they’ve been here for weeks now.

    Why would our case numbers suddenly go up unless there is something to the asymptomatic carriers issue?

    The virus must have been here and spreading all summer and fall, but no one knew because no one got sick from it. As soon as the weather got colder a couple of weeks ago, people who had been carrying it asymptomatically all summer and fall finally succumbed to the symptoms as the virus multiplied in their upper respiratory or GI tract.

    I can’t think of any other reason why the case numbers are suddenly spiking right now. With all the tourists we had this summer from all over the country, one would think it would have spiked in July and August. But it didn’t. It went down.

    We know squat about transmission. The way the number of cases rise suggests it is highly contagious so why does it peak and drop so mechanically when you would think it would continue to rip through everyone? It has been explained to me that not all potential carriers are the same. The ideal COVID spreader has no resistance, develops symptoms slowly and has an unusually active social life. The opposite is a healthy, t-cell prepped healthy recluse. Secondary spreaders seem to infect proportionately fewer until the bug runs out of primo spreaders. That still does not explain the weird regularity if the rise and fall. Maybe there is some pattern to viral load depending on who you got it from. We do know that all policy crap has had surprisingly little effect which also points to not really having a handle on transmission.

    • #22
    • November 30, 2020, at 1:50 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone Coolidge

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    We do know that all policy crap has had surprisingly little effect

    What is obviously required is MORE MASKS MANDATES AND BUSINESS SHUTDOWNS!

    • #23
    • November 30, 2020, at 1:56 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  24. Hammer, The Member

    I think virtually all of those anecdotes are fake. You see them all over comments sections at newspapers as well. Ridiculous. But at least twitter, et. al. is committed to combatting “misinformation,” you know, like studies from well-respected scientists that happen to contradict the media and political class’s preferred narrative.

    • #24
    • November 30, 2020, at 4:53 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. Kenton Hoover Thatcher
    Kenton HooverJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’ve never seen a political disease before. My job is not political. We all get the same diseases. I treat everyone the same. I don’t have a political job. Or at least I didn’t, until recently.

    This is so different, and so odd. I just don’t understand what happened here…

    There was AIDS, but that was probably before you became a doc.

    That’s a fair comparison, but that was more cultural than political, I think. That’s the closest parallel that I can come up with as well, however. I was in medical school when that was big, and I don’t remember such a political split. But everything wasn’t this politicized then, either.

    We were both a lot younger back then, and information was not so easily shared.

    I got the strong impression that AIDS was spread almost exclusively by repellent conduct — anal sodomy and IV drug use. But we weren’t supposed to talk about that, and it was falsely presented as a major danger to the wider population.

    It should not be surprising that sexual activity that, quite literally, involves playing around in the sewer of the human body ends up creating an elevated risk of disease. But you know the Left. They viewed it as a “civil rights” issue, not a public health issue.

    The widespread acceptance of sodomy has been one of the strangest phenomena of my lifetime. Trans is even stranger, I think, and seems to be following the same path.

    Of course, the major battles were lost quite a bit earlier, mostly in the 1960s, with the breakdown of heterosexual morality, marriage, and traditional family. We are now reaping the whirlwind of these errors, in my opinion.

    HIV was spread by P-V intercourse as well. It was just that it was less likely that it was spread from women to men, and that those women who had it were assumed to be unclean for being promiscuous instead of it being from men who weren’t being straight, er, honest with their partners. Promiscuity has always been an issue and to suggest that the sexual revolution of the 1960s was what ruined the world is to ignore that STD rates didn’t vary all that much among the 30-and-over set from the 1950s to the 1970s. 

    • #25
    • November 30, 2020, at 7:50 PM PST
    • 1 like
  26. DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone Coolidge

    Just yesterday I saw an article that referred to “the experiences of those who lived through the HIV Pandemic” . . . and . . . I guess it looks like we’re using “pandemic” for all kinds of things, now. Plus, of course, there’s that identity-politics subtext: “hey, we were pandemic victims, too! We need to make this about us!”

    • #26
    • December 1, 2020, at 6:24 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. James Lileks Contributor

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    That’s a fair comparison, but that was more cultural than political, I think. That’s the closest parallel that I can come up with as well, however. I was in medical school when that was big, and I don’t remember such a political split. But everything wasn’t this politicized then, either.

    It was entirely political. Gay men were dying of AIDS because Reagan didn’t say anything about it. Silence=Death. If Reagan had made a solemn speech that spoke of the particular perils of particular activities, a chastened population would have refrained. “No, not tonight. Didn’t you hear what President Reagan said?” But no, he said nothing, so the bathhouses remained open, until Rock Hudson died, and then everyone changed behavior because now it was serious. That was the narrative, anyway.

    The dominant message of the day was anyone can get it, which was technically true but statistically unlikely. The media pattern was much like COVID: run the anomalous story that confirms a greater “truth” they thought needed unquestioning acceptance. After a while the death of 1,000 gay men wasn’t the story; the death of a divorced mom who had a fling and got it – after just one romantic fling! – was the story. They had to Raise Awareness until everyone was wearing a mask. Sorry, I meant condom.

    What people tend to forget: the AIDS crisis was preceded by the Herpes Panic, which swept the media a few years before. Everyone was already twitchy about a life-changing horrible disease you got from SEX, and AIDS was a reprise with a fatal twist. 

    I remember hearing about the disease on “Overnight,” an NBC late-night news show. Hey, as if you didn’t think the 80s could get worse, what with Reagan and all, now sex can give you CANCER. It was called GRID – Gay-related Immunity Disorder, or something like that. It targeted a specific population with a specific manifestation – Karposi’s Sarcoma – but all that would be swept away as the media did its damndest to make everyone care about the disease because young professional white women could get it, too. 

    I’m exaggerating with slight cruelty, but oh, it was utterly political.

    • #27
    • December 1, 2020, at 10:25 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  28. Old Bathos Moderator

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    That’s a fair comparison, but that was more cultural than political, I think. That’s the closest parallel that I can come up with as well, however. I was in medical school when that was big, and I don’t remember such a political split. But everything wasn’t this politicized then, either.

    It was entirely political. Gay men were dying of AIDS because Reagan didn’t say anything about it. Silence=Death. If Reagan had made a solemn speech that spoke of the particular perils of particular activities, a chastened population would have refrained. “No, not tonight. Didn’t you hear what President Reagan said?” But no, he said nothing, so the bathhouses remained open, until Rock Hudson died, and then everyone changed behavior because now it was serious. That was the narrative, anyway.

    The dominant message of the day was anyone can get it, which was technically true but statistically unlikely. The media pattern was much like COVID: run the anomalous story that confirms a greater “truth” they thought needed unquestioning acceptance. After a while the death of 1,000 gay men wasn’t the story; the death of a divorced mom who had a fling and got it – after just one romantic fling! – was the story. They had to Raise Awareness until everyone was wearing a mask. Sorry, I meant condom.

    What people tend to forget: the AIDS crisis was preceded by the Herpes Panic, which swept the media a few years before. Everyone was already twitchy about a life-changing horrible disease you got from SEX, and AIDS was a reprise with a fatal twist.

    I remember hearing about the disease on “Overnight,” an NBC late-night news show. Hey, as if you didn’t think the 80s could get worse, what with Reagan and all, now sex can give you CANCER. It was called GRID – Gay-related Immunity Disorder, or something like that. It targeted a specific population with a specific manifestation – Karposi’s Sarcoma – but all that would be swept away as the media did its damndest to make everyone care about the disease because young professional white women could get it, too.

    I’m exaggerating with slight cruelty, but oh, it was utterly political.

    It is also why we must teach third-graders about a wide range of sexual practices. The important thing was not to actually save any lives but to prevent any adverse judgments made about drug-assisted sexual promiscuity of any kind. 

    • #28
    • December 2, 2020, at 5:32 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  29. DrewInEastHillQuarantineZone Coolidge

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    I’m exaggerating with slight cruelty, but oh, it was utterly political.

    I don’t think there was a bit of exaggeration there. I remember the hysteria. The media tried to make it sound like just shaking hands with someone who had AIDS was a death sentence. I also remember trying to console a friend who, having been fed all the hysteria, was in tears, convinced that we were all gonna die from it.

    • #29
    • December 2, 2020, at 6:28 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. kylez Member
    kylezJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Have you seen any of these recent commercials for an AIDS drug. They feature gay men. 

    It struck me that here we are a generation later and now its totally okay to make AIDS about gays. 

    • #30
    • December 2, 2020, at 5:52 PM PST
    • 2 likes