One Harm Banditry

Well, I would have washed my hands of it all, but there is no longer any soap or hand-sanitiser in the shops. We have well and truly lost the plot. We had initially embarked on a sensible, balanced strategy that is now being corroded by social media delirium.

Everybody’s advancing their own crackpot theories based on what they are pleased to call their highly developed common sense. And thereby lurks one of the insidious dangers. What seems on the surface to be obvious to a layman may well not be sensible at all. We really don’t rate experts anymore, do we?

Surely the preeminent line of attack would be something akin to 1) experts develop a strategy and guidance 2) we follow their advice 3) experts modify strategy and guidance if more information comes to light? Repeat until shitstorm averted. Next.

Lamentably, our keyboard-warrior mentality appears to have defaulted to sheep mode.

We need to ditch this ‘follow the crowd’ nonsense. From where I’m sitting, none of the global approaches has yet been proven to work. Unless of course you believe that China has broken the back of it inside 30 days?

But, keep it real. This is not bubonic plague. What is scary for so many is the rate of contagion. They deduce that they will get it and assume that it will be devastating.

Odds-on right on the first point; overwhelming odds-on wrong on the second.

At the moment, we’re starting to pump our money and resources into a machine where the ultimate prize will not only never be worth it but will likely act to our further detriment. It’s one harm banditry.

The real enemies here are the fear of the unknown and those who thrive on that. Any psychologist worth their salt will tell you that we overrate risks of the unknown and underrate those relating to familiar situations. We’ve got a 1 in 7 risk of dying from heart disease and about a 1 in 50,000 chance of death in a terrorist attack. Guess which one we’ll rate as the most worrying? Meanwhile, we’ll happily push the 19th burger of the month into our reddening faces.

When any new disease hits the scene, there will be a host of invisible panic buttons: risk to life, its stealth, the fact there’s no vaccination, our involuntary exposure to it, and the apparently incompetent politicians and their hopeless or ineffective plans.

And make no mistake, all those red buttons have been whack-a-moled with some vigour and pumped across the world’s communication vectors with unbridled enthusiasm. You’d like to see a degree of probity, judgment, or responsibility to be exercised by our high-profile media outlets. But hey, it’s a massive story and everybody wants a piece of the action. The greater the sensation, the greater the slice of glory. It’s all about them.

The reality is this. The Chinese got their heads around the scientific components of the virus and quickly shared their learnings. General coronavirus research is in any event globally expansive and has been firing on all cylinders for 50-odd years. It won’t be long before effective therapies and vaccines become available.

Just be wary of any Indian call centre claiming to have has diagnosed your corona-status from a distance and punting the option of a multi-thousand-dollar-fee to straighten it all out. A piece of free consultancy from me: that’s going to be a scam.

Stick to NHS and WHO advice on best practice, not that of the jumped-up, self-promoting scare-shysters, screaming down the experts into accepting their intuition as a trump card over years of research and expert training. These are the ones who will leave us shaking our heads is despair once the dust has settled because it looks like we’re already shooting ourselves in the collective foot. We’re dreaming up a scenario, but only the consequences of our actions are going to be real.

And some of these actions are already clearly bonkers.

And you never know, if we do heed the reality check, the rest of us may get access to the right detergent to wash our hands properly.

And that may actually help.

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