My previous post outlines the ideas I have about a fantasy government of data and urgency as it relates to the COVID19 situation. Here, I want to contrast different approaches to governing.
The current government’s obsession over the absolute numbers ignores the fact that when this is over, these casualties will only be numbers. In the future, our government will have to contend with the remaining survivors. At that time, the survivors will judge the government’s wisdom in prioritizing dark data over the observations available to it.
The trolley problem we faced was that leaving this disease take its course would put at risk the lives of people who are mostly elderly or dealing with other conditions. We chose to follow a different path that puts at risk the lives of the younger generation either through premature death or a greatly degraded quality of life than they would have if the choice had not been taken.
The dark data observations are actually assertions that the present world obeys the expectations for how the world operates according to very small number of people’s (often just one) understanding. This presents the opportunity for those same individuals to force the simulated world to the way that best conforms to their wishes. No one else will know whether the tests are for actual science or for some agenda.
Our panicked government locked down non-essential opportunities that most benefit the younger populations. The same government already has decided on a similar trade for a future vaccination program that will primarily impact the younger population and may not even apply to the older population. We are frighteningly close to risking sterilizing our next generation to get this vaccine out. We may have already made that decision with the first imposition of the lock-downs.
We are learning that we can not live on this earth on our own. We all depend on external life support systems of government directions and universal obedience. Initially by following social-distancing and isolation directives, and ultimately be getting annual immunization shots.
Going back to 1986, the situation at the time was a declaration of urgency by the vaccination industry that threatened to discontinue their production (and research capabilities) unless there was some kind of immunity from lawsuits. The urgency was further justified by the science at that time that vaccines are especially effective as controlling epidemics when applied to large populations of healthy people. The only ruling available to government is a permanent one that basically says from date forward to infinity vaccines are an essential part of life on earth so that any risks involved must be accepted.
The science for how to deal with COVID19 is clear, and it clearly goes against all common sense. This may be a time when the best response to scientific recommendation is to dismiss it as ridiculous.
The absolute and accumulated numbers are only important for political gains for electing parties and politicians. A government by data and urgency has no such politician elections so these numbers are not meaningful as long as the survival rate is sustainable. From an operational perspective, what matters is maintaining sufficient capacity to handle the new cases.
The biggest failing of science in the current COVID situation is its inability to react to new evidence that its original conclusions were wrongly decided, and the assurances to governments were incompetent. We implicitly accept that any initial science-based decisions attains some law-like status that is automatically presumed to be true until there is overwhelming evidence that it is wrong. In particular, such decision making does not permit a simple apology for making a mistake following new data that clearly disproves the original science.