During the Pandemic, Don’t Be a Prisoner of the ‘Experts’

April 3, 2020 Updated: April 7, 2020

Commentary

During the pandemic, we are prisoners of the “experts.” They are in charge. They are the ones who are supposed to know.

Everyone from the president to the unemployed guy on the food line relies on the “experts”—or they are told, as the president was on multiple occasions, that they must rely on the “experts.”

The “experts” then rely on their “models” but their “models,” like this one from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, often turn out be drastically wrong. (IMHE predicted 121,000 Americans hospitalized by April 1. Real number: 31,142.)

Sounds better, eh? Maybe we’ll survive. They’re not going to cancel football season, even if they cancel baseball.

On the other hand, CNN reports a “prestigious panel” (how’s that for expertise) has told the White House that COVID-19 may be spread “by talking and possibly even just by breathing.”

Breathing? How do we deal with that? Start walking around in scuba gear when grandma gets the virus? Which “expert” are we to believe? Feeling whipsawed yet?

We were told by our experts that wearing masks was not useful for our citizenry, while citizens of Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and China were doing exactly that. Taiwan and South Korea have fared much better fighting the virus than we have, with far fewer fatalities, even on a percentage basis, and a quicker resolution.

Taiwan, remarkably, has only 339 cases and but 5 deaths. Just across the straits from China where it all started, they must have been doing something right.

Now, after what feels like years but is actually just a month or two, our “experts” have changed their minds about the masks. We’re supposed to wear them, though not the secure N95 kind. They’re reserved for healthcare workers.

No doubt you note that “experts” is in scare quotes. I admit I have long been suspicious of that—what shall we call it—honorific. When I read words like “Middle East experts say” in the newspaper or online, or even “experts say,” I fear I’m about to be sold a bill of goods.

Experts in scientific areas are somewhat more impressive—they can be checked—but a bit of skepticism is still useful. The big time “experts du jour.” Drs. Fauci and Birx don’t even fully agree with each other if you listen to them carefully. I tend to agree with Birx, but maybe that’s because she seems more optimistic, not necessarily because she’s right.

Who is right? Well, we don’t know really, do we? Also, the anointed experts tend to work against each other, some favoring a medical solution first and others wanting a simultaneous economic solution. (I’m with the latter.)

The World Health Organization (WHO) personnel and the organization itself have long been sold to us as “the experts of experts” but their leader has been revealed to be a prevaricating toady to the Chinese Communist Party. Their Canadian representative seemed similar in a television interview when he wouldn’t even acknowledge the existence of Taiwan. This is even-handed science?

It doesn’t take an expert, with or without scare quotes, to wish that the WHO, at least as it is presently constituted, be disbanded.

As for obeying the constraints—sheltering, social distancing and so forth—even if you distrust the experts, as I do, it’s still better to follow their diktats. Most of the time there is little choice. As in Pascal’s Wager for the existence of God, the alternative is not so good.

But do so while keeping your eyes open. Scientists can be as self-interested as anybody else, consciously or unconsciously (cf. climate change). As has been said by someone before “Trust, but verify.” And don’t let the “experts” throw out the baby—the USA—with the bath water.

Roger L. Simon is The Epoch Times’ senior political columnist. His most recent book is “The GOAT.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.