Pushback on dissenters of religious zealotry.

in #media2 months ago


One of the worst things that happened a year ago was the instantly dogmatic way in which people processed information. I spent the better part of 2020 essentially being called a heretic by people who had no more access to information than I had, nor who had spent much of any time thinking through much of what they were hearing and seeing on the news.

Few of the people who got the most angry with me bothered to look into previously available studies, or so much as question the claims and shoddy methodology so many of the (now conclusively falsified) predictions were based on.

It became a religious conviction that "we had to do ____", and what filled in that blank was constantly changing/being added to all year. Social distance. Stay home. Close your business. Take your kids out of school. Close the schools. Wear a mask. Don't go to the doctor or the hospital unless you have covid. Don't go outside. Don't touch anything without disinfecting it. Wear two masks on top of each other... and on and on.

"Don't just do it for you," we were told. "Do it for everyone else. Do it for your grandma."

Anyone who rejected any part of these demands was harassed, shouted at, sometimes physically assaulted (plenty of video of that out there), and generally told that they were -- in some cases literally -- a murderer. Possibly a mass murderer.

Naturally, this kind of religiously zealous fervor spread quickly. People still accuse me of some horrible motives for highlighting facts and arguments I've always been able to strongly support. I take a lot of care in general on that front.

But it doesn't matter. It's not really about that. It's about my participation in the rituals that other people have been told will ward off the thing they're afraid of.

All that aside, the reason I'm writing this in connection with this article is because one major casualty of this zealotry has been the outright denial and squelching of dissenting voices. Throughout the last year, I've been told to "listen to the experts", as we all have... But this was a brand new problem on which little data was known or confirmed (and that which was coming in was so poorly collected, most of it should have been thrown out).

It's also an exceptionally complex public policy problem that was always going to have enormous costs across a wide array of social issues. I spent a lot of time a year ago talking about all that stuff, only to be told (mostly very rudely) to shut up.

And one thing I used to say to people back then was that it was literally impossible for all the "experts" to agree on this or to have some kind of consensus, so if it seems like there's no one saying anything else, it's because they are not being put forward by the government or the press... and unsurprisingly, many people who were speaking out inside the government and cautioning against some of the worst policies were relegated to calling into radio talk shows and putting out warnings on the internet where they wouldn't be taken seriously.

This was just one part of the innumerable failures of the media, but it's also one that you should be the most angry about.