In these pandemic days, some oppose the government rules and guidelines put in place to control the pandemic. (Fortunately, less in Norway than in some other countries.)
There are several things about that opposition that puzzles me.
For instance, most of those opposed to these rules and guidelines are not epidemiologists. Why wouldn’t you trust someone who has spent their life studying what works in a pandemic? Why would you instead trust some random people on the internet?
If I have a health problem, I’ll trust a specialist in the medical profession, not some random person on the street. If I want a haircut, I’ll go to a hairdresser and not a fisherman. If I have trouble with my car, I’ll go to a mechanic and not a manicurist. If I want to build a bridge, I’ll go to an engineer and not a surgeon.
If I want to know what to do in a pandemic, I’ll go to an epidemiologist and not some random people on the internet.
These people who are so opposed to the pandemic rules and guidelines, do they go to a mechanic when they want a haircut? Do they go to a gardener when they have a serious health problem? Do they ask a nurse to fix the mechanical problem with their car? Do they go to a doctor to design a bridge?
If they don’t, why don’t they trust epidemiologists in a pandemic?
Opposing the guidelines because they are new and unfamiliar?
I also wonder if some of those who oppose the pandemic guidelines do so because the guidelines are unfamiliar to them. After all, these people likely follow a large number of other rules and guidelines put in place to protect us all and benefit society.
Most of them are probably happy to use a seat belt. Follow traffic rules. Pay their taxes. Avoid killing someone. Pay for the products they want in stores. And so on.
Society has a huge number of written and unwritten rules in place, and most are happy to follow them either because these rules are familiar, or also because they know these rules are in place to benefit all of us and so we can have a well-functioning society.
If this is so obvious, why do they still oppose the guidelines?
Both of these seem completely obvious. We go to experts to get something done, and we generally trust them. And we already follow a huge number of rules in society, so what do these temporary ones matter? After all, it’s only for a short period of time and they are put in place to protect us all.
I am not sure. Perhaps it’s because people are not used to thinking logically about things? Or that they prefer to engage in their reactivity rather than what’s more reasoned?
Real-life test cases
We also have real-life test cases, both from history and in the current epidemic.
From history, we know that masks, quarantine, lock-downs, and so on work.
And we see the same in the world today. The countries with leaders who largely minimized and ignored the advice from epidemiologists, like the US (Trump) and Brazil (Bolsonaro), have not fared well. While the countries that did follow the advice have largely done much better.
Of course, there is a reasonable discussion to be had on these topics. For instance, I often think that the Norwegian government is strangely behind the science. They didn’t recommend masks until many months into the pandemic, and they still assume that young people are not very affected by the virus (in spite of a great deal of evidence to the contrary). It’s also clear that masks need to be close-fitting and high-quality to function properly, and that’s often left out in the discussion about masks.
There are many things open to reasonable discussion, although these tend to revolve around the details and the specifics, not the general benefit of masks, temporary lock-downs, and so on.
Epidemiologists know what works, and they agree on what works. So why not follow their recommendations? Why not follow the government recommendations when these largely follow the recommendations of epidemiologists?