Sunday, April 12, 2020

What Flattened the Curve?

Well, social distancing did. But why did people comply with social distancing orders? Jonah Goldberg comments on the debate raging on the right over whether the initial estimates of many million deaths were deliberate lies:
It’s almost surely the case that the models were wrong to one degree or another for the simple reason that any model is only as good as the data fed into it. With imperfect information — partly thanks to the outrageous dishonesty of the Chinese government and the grave missteps of the World Health Organization — it was inevitable that the models would never be more than best guesses. We’re far from out of the woods, but the fact that “only” some 60,000 Americans may die instead of 240,000 seems like something to celebrate, not an excuse to scapegoat officials who scrambled to save lives.

Still, there’s an interesting assumption common to both sides of the debate: that the government is responsible for all of this. Both defenders and the critics start from the premise that government diktats are the only variable here. . . .

Information doesn’t just come from governments. The death tolls in Italy and New York probably did more to change behavior on the ground than all of Trump’s press conferences or Dr. Anthony Fauci’s TV appearances.

And this raises another complication for those who think the government can just “re-open” the economy with the flick of a switch. Trump and all of the governors could lift the stay-at-home orders and federal advisories tomorrow. That wouldn’t necessarily fill the restaurants, airplanes, or stadiums. People would still need to be convinced it’s safe. Such persuasion comes via clear, believable information, not orders from on high.

And that’s how it should be in a free society.
I don't entirely agree; there are people who listen to Trump, or to the doctors they put on CNN.  But the news filtering out about star athletes still holding parties and so on shows that if people wanted the flout stay at home orders, they could. If they are not, it's because they have been persuaded that this is a good idea.

1 comment:

Shadow said...

The uptick in numbers combined with pleas for PPE, ventilators, and beds amidst worries hospitals would run out of them captured everyone's attention scaring the bejeebers out of them. Persuasive arguments, probably less so.