Don’t let them get away with it, especially the ones with professional misinterests. Try to red pill friends that were calling you a tin hat three years ago, but now may see the light. I would say the number who went along, and now deeply regret it, and are even embarrassed by it, is in the millions. Never tire of being right. I attended a professional sports game yesterday, in a dark blue city which earlier this year had a vaccine mandate to enter restaurants. To travel from the city center to the stadium, we took the subway, as one does. Seats full, strap-hangers crammed in nose-to-nose, at a social distance of 10 inches. Nobody masked, nobody afraid. They all know. – nvp
“when we were in the dark about covid” is not a useful excuse for bad behavior
by el gato malo
brown university econ professor emily oster is out with a new missive in the atlantic (where else?) and it seems to be generating quite a lot of heat.
perhaps this is because it is so seemingly self-serving and tone deaf.
after all, this is quite the spicy take from the woman who did so much to gather so much useful data on masking in schools only to disavow the obvious conclusions it led to because the orthodoxy of those around her at brown U would not allow “masks don’t work to stop covid” to be reported.
just to be clear, emily is not advocating forgiving “those who deliberately spread misinformation” (though she does seem a bit confused about just who that might be) but her “we were all in the dark and people said lots of things and some wound up right and some wrong and we all just need to get over it and move on as recrimination is not useful” take rings hollow and false here.
what does this serve?
why should we forgive those who through stupidity, cupidity, and fear spent 3 years denying 100 years of evidence based science to attack our lives and livelihoods?
oh, no worries! i’m sure you had your reasons?
you were “just following orders”?
you were just doing what the authorities said?
because i seem to remember a whole pile of excuses that sounded an awful lot like that being rejected back in the late 40’s.
and i must agree with that take and take issue with emily.
it is precisely BECAUSE following vicious, evil orders is so easy in times of fear and that humans break and bow to authority with such ease that there must be sharp penalties, reputational and otherwise for so doing.
otherwise, you’re just greasing the rails for next time.
it’s the low energy path of submission and freeing it from consequence serves only to render it a path more followed.
ignorance of the law is not excuse. neither is ignorance of ethics or epidemiology.
in the end, we all stand culpable for what we choose to do based on whatever information we have and this is why, to my mind, those with little information should so stringently avoid doing radical and dramatic things.
isn’t that just basic sense?
so why would we seek to reduce the penalties for having violated such a simple tenet?
even if we accept this “we were in the dark” line of reasoning it still makes no sense.
- we were not in the dark. we had 100 years of evidence based pandemic and epidemiological guidance and guideline upon which to rely. some tried to follow these bodies of canon and were shouted down by those seeking to do exactly what that guidance admonished against. that is lack of knowledge abrogating actual knowledge and panic driven superstition superseding evidence. equating those two viewpoints as “equivalent” is pure nonsense.
- even if truly no one knew anything, then this is a reason for humility, not stridence. the base case is always “respect others and their rights. do not panic. don’t do anything crazy or drastic without a very sound reason.” that’s not what happened. a bunch of terrified anti-science loons got loose with global government and pushed literally unprecedented in human history programs of societal and economic upheaval that flat out broke the world while, predictably, having zero effect on the pandemic. guys, you took you lead from china. china.the precautionary principle does not state “every time you get scared, do the most radical thing you can think of it if feels like safety” that is precisely what it warns against. such excursions into superstitious supplication of pseudoscience are not evidence based epidemiology. they are not even sanity. and again, calling that an equivalent viewpoint to “we need strong, data-driven evidence to take such outlandish actions” (presuming they are permissible at all, itself deeply questionable) is pure nonsense.
- the presumption of prerogative to force upon others the unfounded desires of “those in the dark” fails inherently on every metric germane to sustaining a free society. “we didn’t know, so we took your rights away just in case” is not much of justification. this lays claim to “emergency powers” of dictatorial nature and is exceedingly dangerous as a societal foundation. it’s also incompatible with the basic idea of a republic in which the rights of the individual stand paramount to the whims of the state or the mob. this ought be especially so in emergencies with low information for what could be more likely to work vast harm than great power to coerce usurped and wielded by “those in the dark”? again, this is not a viewpoint that can be granted equivalence to a system that respects rights. doing so is, yet again, pure nonsense.
so, this all fails in epic fashion. this idea of “we didn’t know so how about a little amnesty for all the crazy and damaging things we did to you in direct opposition to your own desires” is just not going to wash.
that laundry is too dirty.
this is especially so coming from emily because in her case it’s so clearly not even true. it feels an awful lot like the desperate play of someone who has realized just how far on the wrong side of the line she wound up despite knowing full well what the right side was.
“let’s not pull any more threads to see where they go” said the lady whose sweater was rapidly gathering around her feet…
oster gathered and published the very data (linked above and here) that shows the utter inefficacy of masks in schools and then cravened out of reporting it honestly for fear of social and career consequences it was bringing down.
this makes it seem odd that she so champions “those in the dark” as she herself was clearly not one so blinded.
she claims to be “data driven” but, in the event was, in fact, driven from the data and back into alignment with orthodoxy.
and this is a high status, large platform player. if she cannot stand up to the sorts of panic pressure to conform to regimes of misinformational messaging then what hope have many others?
of all the people who should have had the confidence to follow data over diktat, should not a trained professor of data handling rise to the fore?
but this failed. and if we would avoid such failure in the future, perhaps a bit of culpability ought be spread around.
as an economist, surely ms oster must understand incentives. if there is no cost to having acted poorly, rashly, and without consideration or information despite the ill effects it had on others, are we not just subsidizing more such antisocial activity in the future?