“Here we believe science is real”. . . . well, not everyone

May 11, 2021 • 1:15 pm

Ah, yes, here’s the sign one sees everywhere in good liberal communities. Notice the phrase at the top:

And yet, as “science” now tells us we can begin in many cases to resume some aspects of our pre-pandemic life, Emma Green at The Atlantic tells us that there are some liberals apparently so wedded to the provisions of the lockdown that they can’t let go of any of them.

I plead partially guilty here. I still wear a mask when walking outside, even when I’m not near anybody, as when I’m walking along the lakefront.  And yes, I’ve had my two Pfizer jabs. When I pass someone on the street with my mask pulled down, I pull it up over my mouth and nose.  Of course they don’t know that I’m vaccinated, so to me that’s okay—it reassures them. But the fact is that the chance that I could infect anyone is pretty close to zero percent, unless I’m an asymptomatic carrier. Still, even friends who have been vaccinated are wary of having me over—for no good reason I can determine. (Maybe I’m odious!) Click on the screenshot:

A few excerpts:

Lurking among the jubilant Americans venturing back out to bars and planning their summer-wedding travel is a different group: liberals who aren’t quite ready to let go of pandemic restrictions. For this subset, diligence against COVID-19 remains an expression of political identity—even when that means overestimating the disease’s risks or setting limits far more strict than what public-health guidelines permit. In surveys, Democrats express more worry about the pandemic than Republicans do. People who describe themselves as “very liberal” are distinctly anxious. This spring, after the vaccine rollout had started, a third of very liberal people were “very concerned” about becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, compared with a quarter of both liberals and moderates, according to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina political scientist Marc Hetherington. And 43 percent of very liberal respondents believed that getting the coronavirus would have a “very bad” effect on their life, compared with a third of liberals and moderates.

. . . . Even as the very effective covid-19 vaccines have become widely accessible, many progressives continue to listen to voices preaching caution over relaxation. Anthony Fauci recently said he wouldn’t travel or eat at restaurants even though he’s fully vaccinated, despite CDC guidance that these activities can be safe for vaccinated people who take precautions. California Governor Gavin Newsom refused in April to guarantee that the state’s schools would fully reopen in the fall, even though studies have demonstrated for months that modified in-person instruction is safe. Leaders in Brookline, Massachusetts, decided this week to keep a local outdoor mask mandate in place, even though the CDC recently relaxed its guidance for outdoor mask use. And scolding is still a popular pastime. “At least in San Francisco, a lot of people are glaring at each other if they don’t wear masks outside,” Gandhi said, even though the risk of outdoor transmission is very low.

Believe me, I have seen those glares, even when I’m six feet away from someone and I’m not wearing a mask. It’s almost a form of mask-shaming. In fact, it IS a form of mask-shaming.

Green recounts the tale of Somerville Massachusetts, a good liberal neighbor of Cambridge, and a place where “SCIENCE IS REAL.” Except when it comes to reopening schools. Lots of work and research, including installation of UV sterilization units and automatic toilet flushers, determined that Somerville schools could now re-open. But they won’t, because, well, “maybe science isn’t real.”  Finally they opened kindergartens and middle schools, but high schools are still locked tight. People are afraid because they’re afraid that science isn’t real.  Of course the risk is not 0%, but it’s good enough for the experts, as is the CDC recommendation that dining without a mask in a restaurant, for people who are fully vaccinated, is fine with proper precautions. My own physician tells me this. Why is Dr. Fauci resistant?

No, some people are just wedded to the idea that safety trumps everything, which isn’t realistic in a world where there are risks.  I understand this, and do not dislike those who cling to their masks and rituals. But it’s very odd that those of us who waited for vaccinations to free us in some ways are now reluctant to take advantage of that freedom. As Green says:

Policy makers’ decisions about how to fight the pandemic are fraught because they have such an impact on people’s lives. But personal decisions during the coronavirus crisis are fraught because they seem symbolic of people’s broader value systems. When vaccinated adults refuse to see friends indoors, they’re working through the trauma of the past year, in which the brokenness of America’s medical system was so evident. When they keep their kids out of playgrounds and urge friends to stay distanced at small outdoor picnics, they are continuing the spirit of the past year, when civic duty has been expressed through lonely asceticism. For many people, this kind of behavior is a form of good citizenship. That’s a hard idea to give up.

53 thoughts on ““Here we believe science is real”. . . . well, not everyone

  1. I have had my first Pfizer jab and am awaiting the second, but I mask up whenever I am out of the house.

    Two comments: I have no way of communicating to those around me my immunization, nor do I have any way of determine theirs. The mask at least offers some assurance that I am trying to be considerate.Second, I managed through this past summer, winter and spring without the slightest hint of a seasonal head cold, sinus infection, or upper respiratory infection – unusual for me.

    Perhaps masking up during cold and flu season might be a good idea. I wonder if this is something that Canadians and Americans might get used to. Probably not.

    1. I plan on masking up indefinitely – if not permanently. In certain situations, e.g. grocery shopping, i will wear a mask. I am fully vaccinated (Moderna). But who knows what the next bug will be,

      1. We will wear masks for COVID-19 until our local health department says we can stop. Then we will stop, in most cases. (We are fully vaccinated, including my son (17).)

        However: We will likely be masking in certain situations during the cold/flu season. As you state: Going to the grocery store for sure. Probably other shopping as well. I use a nitrile glove when I pump my gas now. This will continue. I use a tissue to grasp the handle on the blue postal service box when depositing mail, and then toss it (I re-use the nitrile gloves). This will continue. We will be even more vigilant about hand washing whenever returning home (we were pretty good already).

        It’s a fact: These two winters have been the healthiest (most free of illness) I have ever experienced as an adult. I have not had a cold for over 24 months. Unprecedented.

    2. I think many of us will mask up during the winter, if we live in a cold area. We’ve all discovered the mask feels great on a cold winter day.

    3. “…it’s good enough for the experts, as is the CDC recommendation that dining without a mask in a restaurant, for people who are fully vaccinated, is fine with proper precautions. My own physician tells me this. Why is Dr. Fauci resistant?”

      Do restaurants in the US require customers to show proof of being vaccinated before letting them in? If not Dr Fauci might be basing his reservations on the possibility that some of the other customers might not be vaccinated. If he is vaccinated himself he may have a good degree of confidence that he won’t become ill himself as a result of exposure to an infected person but I understand that there is much less certainty regarding whether or not he could subsequently transmit the virus on to other people he has contact with (I would be happy to stand corrected on that if it is wrong). As a public health professional he may have legitimate concerns around that. I am sceptical of the idea that Fauci is virtue signalling or trying to demonstrate membership of any particular ‘tribe’.

      Infection rates are now low in the US, as they are in the UK, but in other parts of the World they are still running high and new variants of the virus have and could continue to pop up that may not all be well controlled by the currently available vaccines. With international travel slowly picking up these could be easily introduced into countries with low R-rates and lead to new outbreaks of infection. We need to balance risk with the cost of maintaining precautions and there is good evidence to suggest we can start to relax some of the tougher social distancing measures as the infection rate subsides but I don’t believe it is irrational or anti-science to maintain a degree of caution particularly with respect to measures such as mask wearing that impose very little burden on our freedoms.

  2. Mask wearing and physical distancing (it’s not social distancing, an old and well-studied phenomenon which in the West is exemplified by wearing sunglasses indoors and in much of the Middle East by face covering) have become something a bit like conditioned reflexes after a year of practicing them in the hope that those behaviors at least will keep us from getting infected. It’s going to take a long time for that reflexive quality to dissipate. What was once eminently adaptive behavior has taken on the quality of something like a superstitious performance talisman. Even people who would probably acknowledge the near infallibility of their immune response after full vaccination will have a hard time giving up the subconscious reassurance that performance brings.

    It reminds me a bit of the old joke in which a theoretical physicist visits an experimental physicist at the latter’s lab. As they go through the doors, the theorist is puzzled to see a horseshoe nailed to the wall over the doorway. The theorist turns to the experimentalist and says, ‘Hey, Robin, what’s that horseshoe doing there?

    “Well”, says the experimentalist, “I’ve heard from a lot of people that hanging a horseshoe over your lab door means that wicked spirits like Jack-o’-the-Lab—the ones that cause your equipment to break down and make you confuse noise from electrical surges with the discovery of new physics—are barred from entry.”

    “Come on, you don’t believe that rubbish, do you—a hard scientist with a distinguished research career?, says the astonished theorist.

    “Of course not”, Robin replies. “But I’ve also heard that it works even if you don’t believe in it.”

    So there you go…

    1. “It’s not social distancing”
      The term may have been used previously in other contexts but I would suggest that social distancing is a much better term than physical distancing for what we have all been required to do over the last year. We have been asked to limit our social contacts to a large degree, literally cutting down the number of people with whom we have contact to a bare minimum and abjuring all of the sorts of social situations – parties, concerts, bars, sports events, funerals, weddings, etc, etc, where we would normally interact with our fellow humans. In those limited contexts where we have been allowed some sort of social interaction that is not mediated by the internet we have been required to exercise physical distancing on top – “keep 2m apart”, plastic screens between us and our interlocutors and so on.

  3. I think it’s related to a phenomenon nicely summarized by David Mitchell, a British comedian, in a segment of “Would I Lie to You?” There exists a spectrum of people, from timorous to reckless. And warnings, in general, have to be tailored to be effective when given to those on the reckless end of the spectrum, since they require firmer and more frightening warnings than those at the other end. This, however, has the effect of leaving the “timorous” often filled with significant fear about things that, overall, are fairly low-risk. (In Mitchell’s case, he referred to the fact that, as a child, he was frightened of the sun, because of warnings not to look at the sun because it could make you go blind.)

    In a culture like America, where there are so many people who are rebellious, by nature or habit, against being told what to do or what not to do, it can pay to make warnings and restrictions dire enough that even those who will skimp on restrictions a bit will still be mainly safe (for themselves and for those around them).

    It’s a bit like the Talmudic notion of “building a wall around the Torah” by making the restrictions stricter than those explicitly stated within the Torah, so that even if you slip a little, you won’t accidentally go all the way into full breaking of the “commandments”.

    So, the timorous, or simply the rule-oriented, become emotionally committed to the stricter measures, or the prior measures (in this case) and have a harder time letting go…because there is an emotional commitment – often a kind of fear – involved in following them. And it’s probably better, frankly, that people like Fauci encourage us to err on the side of caution. But then, I’m a timorous person.

  4. I think it’s related to a phenomenon nicely summarized by David Mitchell, a British comedian, in a segment of “Would I Lie to You?”

    Does the sun rise? They lied to you. What they lied about is for you to determine.
    Cynical? Moi? Only when the atmosphere is controlled by microbes.
    Someone, somewhere, is profiting from this. Since money is the One True God, that is the debate over.

  5. I wear a mask when I go into a store or other public building because we still have mandates for this in Milwaukee and it is a small thing to comply with. I don’t wear one outside or inside fully vaccinated friends’ and family’s homes. I’ll admit to getting annoyed with my wife who regularly wears it outside even when it is just her and me on a walk. Or in our car! She’s fully aware it makes no sense and that it makes it more difficult for me to understand when she speaks. But there you have it. Her masks have some kind of talismanic nature, I guess.

    1. I’m half vaccinated and we are in lockdown here with a surge of all 3 variants at once but when I ride my bike I don’t mask up on trails. I never have but I do mask everywhere else and rarely go out with our stay at home order in place anyway.

      1. Probably most of the members of my local Garden Club have been fully vaccinated, some haven’t gotten their second shot yet, but… unless you want to take time out from a meeting to poll everyone individually each time, I think it would become as tedious as introducing yourself and your personal pronouns every time you meet.

        As there are not real rules for this, most friends of mine are just erring on the side of politeness.

  6. I suspect a lot of it is that creature of habit thing. After months and months of staying away and always wearing the mask it becomes a security blanket. Maybe some are not so sure of the vaccine for some reason. It’s like being afraid of high places. You can’t explain it, you just are. I think most people here in Kansas are ready to drop the mask and move on. By July, unless something strange happens I think the mask requirements will be gone. We are not going to make it to herd immunity because there are too many who just won’t get the shots. Having had the virus and then the vaccines, I am not expecting to ever get it again. But, if another shot comes out, I will get it. It is kind of like shingles they say. If you had it once, you do not want to get it again.

  7. I plead partially guilty here. I still wear a mask when walking outside, even when I’m not near anybody, as when I’m walking along the lakefront

    I think that’s fine. I take mine with me but don’t wear it until I see people. So it’s primarily in case I find myself unexpectedly around people. Secondarily because my state used to have an “outside at all times” emergency law, I don’t know if it’s been repealed or not, so I figure if the cops really want to stop me, I’m happy to don it.

    AFAIK, the general rule of masking around strangers is still in effect. What’s changed is that HHS has said if you’re in a gathering with all vaccinated people, masking isn’t needed.

  8. 1. It is funny that I was thinking about this topic just today. My latest interpretation of most signs on lawns is this :

    “I don’t care”

    … maybe it is just me, on a cynical bend lately, but I am trying to see if that is the clearest meaning to be gained. Because a sign is all talk – no action. And the signs never advertise how much someone did – because that would be work.

    2.

    Lyrics from a song :

    “Signs Signs
    Everywhere there’s signs
    4{#@ing up the scenery
    Breaking my mind
    Do this, don’t do that
    Can’t you read the sign”

    … not sure if that is Tesla’s own song, but it came to mind. Granted, they are different signs… or are they?

    1. Because a sign is all talk

      Quite so; most of those abbreviated slogans are about as meaningful and tendentious as the ‘God is Love‘ claim one occasionally sees.

      Being a grumpy old man, were I ever tempted to put up a sign, mine would include:

      Talk is cheap
      Read the small print
      The devil is in the details
      I always lie
      Etc

    2. Addendum:

      Signs on lawns – meaning :

      “I don’t care – but if anything great happens, I claim credit with this sign”

      … I think this is my inner Mencken talking….

  9. There seems to be a lot of personal psychology involved here. When I’m in town, I wear my mask not only in the shopping centre – because it’s compulsory there – but anywhere else that gets crowded. Yet last Saturday, down the farmers’ market, which got pretty cosy, I was in a very small minority in wearing a mask.

    And I still step into the road when I encounter people coming the other way, to maintain proper social distancing (and maybe sigh histrionically when they take no notice of me).

    I have had my two jabs. I’m as immune as I’m ever going to be. So why do I carry on like this? A continuing (misplaced?) sense of social solidarity and responsibility? I certainly feel that it’s going to take a bit of time to break the habits.

    1. The experience of this pandemic is going to be fertile ground for psychological study for the next decade.

  10. If you don’t wear a mask, you might be mistaken for a Republican. Quelle horreur!

    I am mostly serious. Covid got so politicized that the social aspect has become more important than the science. You think everyone is judging you because they are.

  11. Twenty-five thousand years ago, a human walked through a forest after a day of gathering food. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she senses the the shadow of of something large moving. Without stopping to ascertain exactly what the movement is, she runs. Some time later, she arrives back at her village, out of breath but alive.

    What she didn’t know was that the moving shadow was caused by a young tree swaying in the breeze.

    It’s the old, “assume any perceived threat is an actual threat and run” evolved response, of course.

    Is it possible that the feeling of needing to continue to wear a mask is related to this instinct?

  12. I got my J&J one’n’done about a month & a half ago. A week later — around the time you were chowing down on BBQ brisket in Texas — I did my first post-pandemic thing: a backpacking trip with my bestie.

    I still bring a mask with me everywhere, but when I’m out walking for exercise, I keep it pulled down around my neck (though when I stroll near others I’ll pull it up, just to be neighborly). The local businesses still all require masks indoors. I won’t be abandoning mine completely till The Fauch sounds the all-clear claxon.

  13. Wearing a mask outside is pretty pointless, even when un-vaccinated (and has never been recommended practice in the UK at any stage of the pandemic), since the risk of transmission outside is close to zero so long as you stay a few feet away from others.

    Indoors, yes, masks make sense, unless everyone present has been vaccinated.

  14. I suspect that some of the resistance is tribal signaling. There are numerous anecdotes of people who are vaccinated but continue to wear masks in public for fear of being thought to be a Republican.

  15. The NYT had a piece today “A Misleading C.D.C. Number” https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/11/briefing/outdoor-covid-transmission-cdc-number.html?searchResultPosition=2 in which David Leonhardt takes the CDC to task about their new guidelines for mask wearing (even though perhaps well-intentioned), stating that “less than 10 percent” of Covid-19 tranmissions occurred outdoors. The real number is likely less than 1%, according several scientists David spoke to, and in some cases even less than 0.1%. David concludes that mask wearing is in most instances not necessary.

    That kind of “conservative” statement from an august body such as CDC does not help the case for science as it causes more confusion than clarity. Similarly, in the early part of the pandemic, I seem to recall, but – in the inimitable words of our host – can’t be arsed to look it up, that the WHO initially was ambivalent about mask wearing (it was probably an attempt to let health/frontline workers first get access to masks).

    Nonetheless, as several readers have commented, I keep my mask ready when outdoors and pull it up when close to others. However, in my country’s case, only 0.69% of people have been vaccinated… so I remain very vigilant, be it indoors or outdoors.

  16. The situation where I am is that the strict lockdown is over, but you still have to mask up on public transport. It’s therefore usually worth it to mask up when you leave your house if you plan to use public transport and keep the mask on until you reach your destination, or if you plan to go shopping keep the mask on until you return home.

  17. A large proportion of the leftist “Science is Real” people believe that men can have babies.

    As for the mask thing, I wear one when it is required that I do so. My wife and I have both had the disease as well as the vaccine. She has been exposed to infectious patients since, and remains immune.
    My wearing a mask does not have any effect on the spread of Covid. It is entirely performative. The authorities could easily advise the unvaccinated or those at higher risk to wear masks, which would be treating us like adults. If you saw someone not wearing one, a reasonable assumption would be that they are immune.

      1. I’d sure like to see a comparison of the percentage of people on the Left who believe men can get pregnant vs. the percentage on the Right who deny evolution and climate change.

        I suspect that the percentage of those on the Right who buy into conspiracy theories like QAnon or Pizzagate or Birtherism or that Donald Trump had a yooge landslide victory stolen from him by massive voter fraud or that COVID vaccines contain tracking microchips all dwarf the number on the Left who actually believe men can get pregnant.

        To maintain otherwise reeks of false equivalency.

        1. I thought we were specifically discussing people who put the pictured signs up, and the mask issue. I hope we can discuss a particular subject without always having to bring up the argument that other groups also believe in absurdities.
          Also, whether the number of people who believe in pizzagate is in the hundreds or millions, I still feel completely comfortable expressing the fact that I think it is an absurd belief. I can write it here, I could put it in my facebook posts*, whatever. Dr. Coyne could put it on a sign outside his office. If he tried that with the sentiment that men cannot have babies, he might have problems.
          It also says something that people put signs up listing things they claim to believe, but the fact is that they do not hold that belief in particular.
          I suspect that the phrase “Love is Love”, which uses the largest font on the sign, does not come without qualifications, either. There are lots of people who love in ways that are not considered appropriate these days.
          They might have different views on no human being illegal if they came home and found that I had moved in and changed the locks.
          But really, it is doubtful that the sign posters put much thought into any of this. It is a superficial expression that more or less is the definition of virtue signaling. I don’t usually even use that phrase, but this is the most literal example possible.

          *I don’t use facebook, actually.

          1. … virtue signaling. I don’t usually even use that phrase, but this is the most literal example possible.

            I dunno, Max, I don’t use that phrase much either, but I think flag lapel pins and the recitation of public prayer before governmental assemblies constitute at least as literal examples of the concept.

          2. What I’m specifically discussing is the claim that a large proportion of the leftist “Science is Real” people believe that men can have babies. The claim is completely unsupported, and I would assert, nonsense.

      2. Right. I really think only the bonkers lefties believe men can have babies. I (hope?) doubt it is as widespread a belief as birtherism or Trump’s “victory”. Which are verifiably common on the right.

        Just a feeling – I have no real evidence about the bonkers left. They embarrass me.
        D.A.
        NYC

    1. The schools are open where I am. Science or not, the kids are back to almost normal. Masks are worn, somewhat incorrectly, indoors and out, except when eating, when they sit every other seat but also across from each other. Temps are taken but with crappy handheld devices (made in China, oh the irony). Kids are just as bad as always with social distancing. They share toys, computer chargers, food (when no one is looking) and touch each other during all sorts of interactions (not like that!). The custodians supposedly do deep cleaning but it looks just as dirty as always. Sanitizer is commonplace but not used as needed, nor are hands being washed well, they are kids after all. Busses are packed full and masks are frequently taken down or off. We are supposed to feel safe I suppose, but it may be pure dumb luck we haven’t had an outbreak. It is all for show, performance, theater. Science? More like CYA. I do think the adults are trying to do what’s right, but it’s damn near impossible. I don’t blame high schools or other districts for being reticent, but every day, I go in, I mask up, I take my temp, I sign in, I try to do my job while being semi-socially distant but with little kids, scared kids, crying kids, kids with ouchies? It’s hard to be distant. So in those times I put my trust in Pfizer and help those little sad kids.

      And sorry, Max, I dunno why it came as a reply to your post, it wasn’t meant to. I do think I understand what you mean though. I’m not sure any polls or studies have occurred so it might not be possible to offer up citations asked for by GBJames but even PBS has aired nonsense about a “man” giving birth. There is a fair amount of science denialism on the left regarding biological sex, as well as race and other hot button topics of the woke. These have been covered frequently on this site. As to what proportion believe the new woke science, I don’t know, but it is worrisome.

      1. The difficult part is telling the believers from the folks who are just afraid to disagree. Honestly, I wrote and deleted a list of citations from previously objective sources like Scientific American that all support the men having babies absurdity. Most of them seem to do so by using a very fluid definition of what a man is. But that is searching for a rationalization of their religious beliefs, like creationism. If we change the definition of “men” to accommodate them, we will only find that we need to find a new word to use, and they will be back where they started.
        As for the specific proportion, it is certainly much higher than it should be. The subset of people who believe that men can have babies should be pretty much limited to young children who do not yet know where babies come from, and the mentally ill.

        Of course, believing that men can have babies does not in any way change the fact that they cannot. Their belief itself does not bother me particularly. It is ominous that expressing that belief is becoming mainstream. It is scary as heck that there seems to be an emerging trend that the rest of us will not be able to keep our own council on this and similar issues, and will be coerced to at least claim to believe it.
        I cannot help but think a big part of such insistence is them really enjoying the act of forcing someone to declare a belief that they know is false.
        I know some in the trans community just really want to believe, and are willing to compromise their reasoning processes to accommodate their wish, like Pinocchio, to be a real boy. Perhaps they feel that pressuring others to pretend to believe will make their experience seem more legitimate.

          1. “Men who get their periods are men.
            Men who get pregnant and give birth are men”

            ACLU 11/19/2019

  18. I think there’s a simpler answer than safetyism: It’s signalling. Leftists worry excessively about lockdowns because that’s what leftists do and that’s how you show you’re a good member of the Blue Tribe.

  19. I have been in conversations with my neighbors and the members of various group to which I belong. There is a group of them who scoff at covid(“It’s just like the flu”) and refuse vaccinations(“You don’t know what it will do to you in six months.” “I’m never getting the vaccine.” “God will protect me.” “I’m not afraid to die.”) This is why I avoid being around large groups inside. I am not concerned when I am with my vaccinated friends and family, but I am afraid of these other people, and there are a lot of them where I live.

  20. Maybe you ARE odious PCC (E)! hehehehe I hope you get invited out soon, though, it is nice to socialize with friends and from your writings you seem to miss it.

    I confess I’m one of the people Emma Green describes: so are my neighbors. Most, it seems, like me are fully vaxed but it seems to be a cultural thing here in Manhattan – to keep our masks on regardless, even outside. I do. Always. And it is still compulsory in our building.
    And I’ve even got a little “I’m vaxed” sticker on my fedora they gave me!

    D.A.
    NYC

  21. When will life return to normal? Ask the Indians. The government and the people jumped the gun, dispensed with masks and physical distancing, and now they are dying like flies. Only when 100% of the population is either properly vaccinated, or certified (sic) immune, can we safely do everything we used to do. Until then, the prudent will avoid crowds, and business indoors, and the economy will suffer.

  22. I’m fully vaxxed (I did the ‘derna) but remain committed/compliant with wearing a mask when indoors and in the company of persons whose vaccination status is unknown to me. I just think it’s the courteous thing to do, but I sometimes wonder, as well, if many of us suffer from a little bit of cortisol withdrawal. Given the events of the preceding 18 months– the racial injustice protests over the summer of 2020, the US presidential election and calamitous aftermath and, of course, a global pandemic– I find the liberation afforded by (presumptive) immunity from covid and a return to nearly-normal governance a bit jarring. It’s gonna take a while to get used to the new “normal”.

  23. Saying that the overcautious don’t believe science is real is a little silly. How do you know that? How do you know that they don’t think that science is real but that scientists occasionally get things wrong?

  24. I think that the Covid experience underlines the difference between what has been “proven” scientifically and what is generally believed to be “true”.
    The measures we took were taken on the assumption that hand washing, distancing, masks, closing social venues, pubs, schools etc will be effective. Even the efficacy of a vaccine is an unknown.

    Scientifically, it is very difficult to know which of these measures is ACTUALLY effective and what the relative efficacy of each is.

    The transmission of the disease itself can change (plague passed from tactile transmission and through flea bites (bubonic) to airborne aerosol (pneumonic)).

    I am still using masks, I have had two Pfeizer innoculations and am still distancing etc. I even wash myself 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I suspect that the vaccines will only give a few months protection (cf. flu vaccines which give only 6 months cover and are a cocktail updated annually to deal with variants).
    After a few years, hopefully, Covid 19 could become relatively innocuous like the common cold.

    Catching the common cold periodically could even be a good thing: some of the cold viruses are other corona species and could even confer some cross immunity, and in any case could “tone up” the immune system without killing people.

    A neighbour of mine did national service in Suez around 1952. The epidemic of polio began at about that time. In Egypt, it was referred to as the “American Disease”: it seems that there was substantial local immunity but that foreigners could be vulnerable. American troops (even in WWII in the UK) travelled with extensive backup (laundry, fridges (for the beer and Coca-Cola), showering medical care etc). Polio is often subject by faecal-oral transmission so levels of hygiene are important, though ironically the most hygenic people can be the most vulnerable.

    The point I am trying to make is that amplifying measures of hygiene and vaccination (as has happened during Covid) may, in the long term reduce natural resistence.

    Maybe “science” can help here in the long term: disease demographics and statistics can enable meaningful comparison of the various methods available, but it is likely to be a process occuring over years.

    WHO report has just come out into pandemic preventability and future measures:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/12/covid-pandemic-was-preventable-says-who-commissioned-report.

  25. Mask or no, it is worth saying :

    • regulate the breath

    If it is busy, dusty, etc., hold the breath more than usual. If a dust cloud puffs up, breathing out will push particles away from the nasal cavity.

    • pick your nose

    OK, that was some garish writing, but more frequent face washing can easily include _gentle_ scooping out of the accumulated particles from the nose, with water and ONLY water – I think any soap will hurt the sensitive mucous membranes. Also include in a shower. The linger viruses – and bacteria – sit in the nice warm protected shelter of the nasal/throat area, the more likely an infection, I think – I know of _no_ evidence or literature to support this notion!

    … there are tiny filters that fit inside the nose, but personally, they do not work great – usually they get messy before they are useful. I had a phase where I tried some vaseline but that is a bad idea – abandoned it realky quickly.

    Not sure why, over a year from the terrible pandemic, I have never heard any such plain, simple suggestions – this could be terrible medical advice! Consult your own doctors!

    1. There is one situation where it isn’t pointless. In a large group of people crowded together it makes sense to wear masks, even outside.

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