The Gray of COVID-19

We wonder why people seem to be so partisan. Those on the other side of the aisle, whatever the “aisle” is, are always wrong and nonredeemable. But MY side, now there’s the ticket. Politics are where this becomes most obvious, but it’s true in so many other areas of life. And I think that’s because people love black and white answers (caveat: this is not to say that black and white answers don’t exist in many situations). They want to have a foundational belief system that never fails them and never forces them to reconsider deeply-held prejudices (in the best sense of the word). Nuance is considered to be compromise’s identical twin. And compromise is cousin to cowardice. The problem becomes when we place our desire for clarity on pedestals which can’t support it: humans and their institutions. Anything connected to mankind is going to be flawed and imperfect, to say the least. Our thinking is flawed and incomplete, our motives likewise, and don’t get me started on our tendency toward hypocrisy (however unwitting).

So we look around us and we find two extremes regarding this new virus… those who believe it’s all one big scam on the public and those who believe this is the worst health disaster in human history and we’re all in serious danger. What’s more, there are prominent talking heads that fall fairly close to both ends of that spectrum.

But I don’t want to have that be the case with me. I hope to follow the data and the arguments as dispassionately as possible and go wherever they lead me… which is why I really like these two Twitter threads from yesterday. They acknowledge what few of us want to admit: we just don’t know. At least, not with 100% certainty. The next week will tell us a lot, but even then, some significant uncertainties will likely remain for many months.

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