grarpamp at gmail.com
Tue Nov 1 17:51:40 PDT 2022
We forgive each other is one thing, but we all must prosecute
the agents at the top who played the world. They have been
exposed by alternative media since day one. Do not let them
play the amnesty card one grants each other as a form of mind
programming that it should somehow apply to them as well...
Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty
We need to forgive one another for what we did and said
when we were in the dark about COVID.
By Emily Oster
In April 2020, with nothing else to do, my family took an enormous
number of hikes. We all wore cloth masks that I had made myself. We
had a family hand signal, which the person in the front would use if
someone was approaching on the trail and we needed to put on our
masks. Once, when another child got too close to my then-4-year-old
son on a bridge, he yelled at her “SOCIAL DISTANCING!”
These precautions were totally misguided. In April 2020, no one got
the coronavirus from passing someone else hiking. Outdoor transmission
was vanishingly rare. Our cloth masks made out of old bandanas
wouldn’t have done anything, anyway. But the thing is: We didn’t know.
I have been reflecting on this lack of knowledge thanks to a class I’m
co-teaching at Brown University on COVID. We’ve spent several lectures
reliving the first year of the pandemic, discussing the many important
choices we had to make under conditions of tremendous uncertainty.
Some of these choices turned out better than others. To take an
example close to my own work, there is an emerging (if not universal)
consensus that schools in the U.S. were closed for too long: The
health risks of in-school spread were relatively low, whereas the
costs to students’ well-being and educational progress were high. The
latest figures on learning loss are alarming. But in spring and
summer 2020, we had only glimmers of information. Reasonable
people—people who cared about children and teachers—advocated on both
sides of the reopening debate.
Derek Thompson: School closures were a failed policy
Another example: When the vaccines came out, we lacked definitive data
on the relative efficacies of the Johnson & Johnson shot versus the
mRNA options from Pfizer and Moderna. The mRNA vaccines have won out.
But at the time, many people in public health were either neutral or
expressed a J&J preference. This misstep wasn’t nefarious. It was the
result of uncertainty.
Obviously some people intended to mislead and made wildly
irresponsible claims. Remember when the public-health community had to
spend a lot of time and resources urging Americans not to inject
themselves with bleach? That was bad. Misinformation was, and remains,
a huge problem. But most errors were made by people who were working
in earnest for the good of society.
Given the amount of uncertainty, almost every position was taken on
every topic. And on every topic, someone was eventually proved right,
and someone else was proved wrong. In some instances, the right people
were right for the wrong reasons. In other instances, they had a
prescient understanding of the available information.
The people who got it right, for whatever reason, may want to gloat.
Those who got it wrong, for whatever reason, may feel defensive and
retrench into a position that doesn’t accord with the facts. All of
this gloating and defensiveness continues to gobble up a lot of social
energy and to drive the culture wars, especially on the internet.
These discussions are heated, unpleasant and, ultimately,
unproductive. In the face of so much uncertainty, getting something
right had a hefty element of luck. And, similarly, getting something
wrong wasn’t a moral failing. Treating pandemic choices as a scorecard
on which some people racked up more points than others is preventing
us from moving forward.
Read: You were right about COVID, and then you weren’t
We have to put these fights aside and declare a pandemic amnesty. We
can leave out the willful purveyors of actual misinformation while
forgiving the hard calls that people had no choice but to make with
imperfect knowledge. Los Angeles County closed its beaches in summer
2020. Ex post facto, this makes no more sense than my family’s masked
hiking trips. But we need to learn from our mistakes and then let them
go. We need to forgive the attacks, too. Because I thought schools
should reopen and argued that kids as a group were not at high risk, I
was called a “teacher killer” and a “génocidaire.” It wasn’t pleasant,
but feelings were high. And I certainly don’t need to dissect and
rehash that time for the rest of my days.
Moving on is crucial now, because the pandemic created many problems
that we still need to solve.
Student test scores have shown historic declines, more so in math than
in reading, and more so for students who were disadvantaged at the
start. We need to collect data, experiment, and invest. Is high-dosage
tutoring more or less cost-effective than extended school years? Why
have some states recovered faster than others? We should focus on
questions like these, because answering them is how we will help our
Many people have neglected their health care over the past several
years. Notably, routine vaccination rates for children (for measles,
pertussis, etc.) are way down. Rather than debating the role that
messaging about COVID vaccines had in this decline, we need to put all
our energy into bringing these rates back up. Pediatricians and
public-health officials will need to work together on community
outreach, and politicians will need to consider school mandates.
The standard saying is that those who forget history are doomed to
repeat it. But dwelling on the mistakes of history can lead to a
repetitive doom loop as well. Let’s acknowledge that we made
complicated choices in the face of deep uncertainty, and then try to
work together to build back and move forward.
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