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Stacey Rudin

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Anti-Lockdowners: Take a Stand

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“You’re a grandma killer.” “You’re not a scientist.” “You’d kill people to revive the economy.” “You should trust the experts.” “I knew you’d resort to conspiracy theories.” These phrases all have one purpose: silencing you, to control the competing narrative. The fact that they want to shame and intimidate you into compliance is evidence that your thoughts are dangerous — all the more reason to shout them from the rooftops. It is highly desirable and crucial to question motives, critique experts, and think for yourself. When that doesn’t happen, the force of the crowd prevails, and disaster occurs.

How many of us questioned the veracity of this image? We all saw them on social media, bombarding us with an astroturf campaign designed to convince us that support for lockdown was universal. After all, who wouldn’t be willing to simply remove himself from the “chain” of infection, thereby “saving lives?” Most people accepted the story. They put the “stay home, save lives” sticker on their social media profiles. They joined the team, collecting money for “frontline heroes,” and summarily ostracized outsiders. None of this is surprising: we have access to neverending media, but very few of us have pandemic management knowledge. This is a combustible combination.
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The Myth That Lockdowns Stop Pandemics

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From the beginning of time, humans have used mythology to make sense of a chaotic natural world. Sir G.L. Gomme dubbed myths “the science of a pre-scientific age.” Folklore provided pre-scientific people a comforting sense of control over nature. To address dry spells, they deployed rain dances. Sunless stretches hindering crops prompted offerings to Helios. Then, our ancestors sat back and waited. The rains always came. The sun always reappeared, validating their “wisdom,” the illusion of control reinforced.

Thanks to science, we know this was pure superstition. Though the same outcomes would have occurred had the tribe taken no action, the tribe leader would still have received credit or blame from his constituents. Similarly, today’s politicians race to take credit -- or place blame -- for COVID-19 “results.” Do politicians really control these outcomes, or are they simply exploiting our ingrained tendencies? 

When China first deployed lockdown in January to “defeat COVID-19,” The Washington Post approvingly quoted a Georgetown University professor as saying, “The truth is those kinds of lockdowns are very rare and never effective…”
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