Will Americans develop trust issues when it comes to medical professionals?

The halving of the estimated COVID-19 fatality rate was welcome news — to a point.

To state the obvious, fewer lives lost to the virus is a happy development.  Saving lives is a paramount good — it's not the only good, but it overrides almost everything else on the hierarchy of collective values.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the public face of President Trump's coronavirus response team, told NBC News of the revision: "I believe we are going to see a downturn in that, and it looks more like the 60,000, than the 100,000 to 200,000."

Another obvious point: the preferred number of coronavirus-caused deaths is zero.  But cleaving the fatality total in twain is, it can be coldly reasoned, a win for life.

That speck of hope is giving the Trump administration its cue to sound out a proper day to reopen the economy, with initial estimations of sometime in May.  For the first time in weeks, an expiry to the self-imposed shutdown seems not only plausible, but within view.

Speculation is now bubbling over what a post-corona world looks like.  Some thinkers posit that COVID-19 is a paradoxical antidote for the disease of hyperglobalization, a "turning point in history," as John Gray puts it.  Others view it as a hard lesson in the frangible nature of our constitutional rights.  A growing faction sees our loose commercial relationship with China as increasingly untenable.

Columnist Damon Linker has a different kind of concern — a concern that's been sintering for some time and has been made more visible thanks to the pathogen.  Of all the forces that enabled the political rise of a real estate tycoon–cum–cable celebrity, institutional distrust was the through line that connected the disparate concerns Trump raised on the campaign trail.  From rampant illegal immigration to the dispossession of the manufacturing sector to the resentment-inducing effect of P.C. culture, these were all elite prerogatives pushed from the lee of institutional protection.

Whereas public opinion on institutional probity has fallen in nearly every area, doctors and other public health officials remain in relative good standing.  But the coronavirus and resultant economic closure may be a chink in the armamentarium.  "Yes, some epidemiologists and other medical experts have overstated likely death tolls and other predictions," Linker admits, acknowledging the frustrating incongruity of fatality estimates and the actual number of deceased.  The divide can be explained by what economists call a counterfactual, or, as is the case with virology, a lack thereof.  "[T]here are no control groups in life, no alternative timelines we might use to evaluate definitively the relative effectiveness of our actions," Linker rightly reasons.  We don't know what the alternative would have been had states withheld shelter-in-place decrees and life went on about its merry way.

Epistemological humility is always good habit.  In this instance, it runs both ways: we not only don't know what an absence of social distancing would occasion, but can't even be sure our current measures are really making a difference, especially as statutory isolation is starting to yield insalubrious results.

Questions are starting to be asked of our medical pantheon overseeing the rearguard action against COVID-19 — a kind of odium scholasticus for the high priests of public health.  Many are driven by the glaring improvidence of Dr. Fauci, who has seemed one or two steps behind the disease since its advent.

As Tucker Carlson has ably documented, Fauci's shilly-shally pronouncements on the danger of this coronavirus strain haven't inspired confidence.  "[T]his is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about," the doctor said about the virus back in January.  Two months later, he prescribed a nationwide industrial shutdown, unaware of the constitutional infeasibility of such a fulsome measure.  The infectious malady expert continues to bang on about necessitous closure of the economy, ignoring the damage being wrought upon our long-term productive capacity.

Fauci is, needless to say, a doctor whose expertise is in bodily health, not GDP optimization.  But even on the most basic of plague precautions, he failed.  The noble lie about M.D.-less citizens not needing to wear masks in public was assisted by Fauci, who told 60 Minutes back in March, "People should not be walking around with masks."  The good doctor has reversed field and now encourages donning cloth facial covers in public.

The none-shall-wear-masks pronouncements were repeated everywhere from the U.S. surgeong general to Big Apple city officials to foreign public-health commissars to the ghastly World Health Organization, which has functioned as a bought-and-paid-for megaphone for the CPC since the pandemic began.  The advice never made sense in the first place: why were masks useful for doctors and nurses, and thus in need of conservation, but not useful for the average uncredentialled air-breather?  "How stupid did they think we were?" critic Kyle Smith asks, before excoriating the manipulative lies elites told us.  "How many people will fail to take sound future advice from such organizations, having learned to mistrust institutions with a demonstrated record of lying?" he inquires, with an understandable feeling of bitterness.

Linker, who is more sympathetic to the knowledge class, reminds us that experts "aren't gods or saints," as if we're too benighted to recognize basic human shortcomings. 

Yes, the big brains ensconced in our moldering institutions are as fallible as the rest of us.  That isn't the problem.  Health experts like Dr. Fauci didn't just botch the initial response to a global pandemic; they lied to us along the way, like parents promising to take their kids to Disney World but rolling up at the dentist's office instead. 

Such a child is liable to develop trust issues.  It goes the same for adults who listen to the medical cognoscenti while society all around them commits a slow seppuku.

The halving of the estimated COVID-19 fatality rate was welcome news — to a point.

To state the obvious, fewer lives lost to the virus is a happy development.  Saving lives is a paramount good — it's not the only good, but it overrides almost everything else on the hierarchy of collective values.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the public face of President Trump's coronavirus response team, told NBC News of the revision: "I believe we are going to see a downturn in that, and it looks more like the 60,000, than the 100,000 to 200,000."

Another obvious point: the preferred number of coronavirus-caused deaths is zero.  But cleaving the fatality total in twain is, it can be coldly reasoned, a win for life.

That speck of hope is giving the Trump administration its cue to sound out a proper day to reopen the economy, with initial estimations of sometime in May.  For the first time in weeks, an expiry to the self-imposed shutdown seems not only plausible, but within view.

Speculation is now bubbling over what a post-corona world looks like.  Some thinkers posit that COVID-19 is a paradoxical antidote for the disease of hyperglobalization, a "turning point in history," as John Gray puts it.  Others view it as a hard lesson in the frangible nature of our constitutional rights.  A growing faction sees our loose commercial relationship with China as increasingly untenable.

Columnist Damon Linker has a different kind of concern — a concern that's been sintering for some time and has been made more visible thanks to the pathogen.  Of all the forces that enabled the political rise of a real estate tycoon–cum–cable celebrity, institutional distrust was the through line that connected the disparate concerns Trump raised on the campaign trail.  From rampant illegal immigration to the dispossession of the manufacturing sector to the resentment-inducing effect of P.C. culture, these were all elite prerogatives pushed from the lee of institutional protection.

Whereas public opinion on institutional probity has fallen in nearly every area, doctors and other public health officials remain in relative good standing.  But the coronavirus and resultant economic closure may be a chink in the armamentarium.  "Yes, some epidemiologists and other medical experts have overstated likely death tolls and other predictions," Linker admits, acknowledging the frustrating incongruity of fatality estimates and the actual number of deceased.  The divide can be explained by what economists call a counterfactual, or, as is the case with virology, a lack thereof.  "[T]here are no control groups in life, no alternative timelines we might use to evaluate definitively the relative effectiveness of our actions," Linker rightly reasons.  We don't know what the alternative would have been had states withheld shelter-in-place decrees and life went on about its merry way.

Epistemological humility is always good habit.  In this instance, it runs both ways: we not only don't know what an absence of social distancing would occasion, but can't even be sure our current measures are really making a difference, especially as statutory isolation is starting to yield insalubrious results.

Questions are starting to be asked of our medical pantheon overseeing the rearguard action against COVID-19 — a kind of odium scholasticus for the high priests of public health.  Many are driven by the glaring improvidence of Dr. Fauci, who has seemed one or two steps behind the disease since its advent.

As Tucker Carlson has ably documented, Fauci's shilly-shally pronouncements on the danger of this coronavirus strain haven't inspired confidence.  "[T]his is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about," the doctor said about the virus back in January.  Two months later, he prescribed a nationwide industrial shutdown, unaware of the constitutional infeasibility of such a fulsome measure.  The infectious malady expert continues to bang on about necessitous closure of the economy, ignoring the damage being wrought upon our long-term productive capacity.

Fauci is, needless to say, a doctor whose expertise is in bodily health, not GDP optimization.  But even on the most basic of plague precautions, he failed.  The noble lie about M.D.-less citizens not needing to wear masks in public was assisted by Fauci, who told 60 Minutes back in March, "People should not be walking around with masks."  The good doctor has reversed field and now encourages donning cloth facial covers in public.

The none-shall-wear-masks pronouncements were repeated everywhere from the U.S. surgeong general to Big Apple city officials to foreign public-health commissars to the ghastly World Health Organization, which has functioned as a bought-and-paid-for megaphone for the CPC since the pandemic began.  The advice never made sense in the first place: why were masks useful for doctors and nurses, and thus in need of conservation, but not useful for the average uncredentialled air-breather?  "How stupid did they think we were?" critic Kyle Smith asks, before excoriating the manipulative lies elites told us.  "How many people will fail to take sound future advice from such organizations, having learned to mistrust institutions with a demonstrated record of lying?" he inquires, with an understandable feeling of bitterness.

Linker, who is more sympathetic to the knowledge class, reminds us that experts "aren't gods or saints," as if we're too benighted to recognize basic human shortcomings. 

Yes, the big brains ensconced in our moldering institutions are as fallible as the rest of us.  That isn't the problem.  Health experts like Dr. Fauci didn't just botch the initial response to a global pandemic; they lied to us along the way, like parents promising to take their kids to Disney World but rolling up at the dentist's office instead. 

Such a child is liable to develop trust issues.  It goes the same for adults who listen to the medical cognoscenti while society all around them commits a slow seppuku.