You know what the difference is between experts and fuckwits? I’ll tell you. Experts learn from their mistakes. Okay, there are other differences too, but that’s a big one.
Yesterday, in his FoxNEWS interview with Chris Wallace, Comrade Trump (not an expert) responded to a question about masks with this: “Dr. Fauci said don’t wear a mask. Our surgeon general, terrific guy, said don’t wear a mask. Everybody was saying don’t wear a mask. All of a sudden, everybody’s got to wear a mask.” He went on to say he believes masks are good, but clearly Trump’s intent was to discredit Fauci and the necessity of wearing a face mask in public.
Today the conservative online magazine The Federalist parroted Trump’s argument in an essay written by David Marcus (not an expert) called ‘How Have Our Scientific Experts Gotten So Much Wrong?’. The magazine, by the way, is privately owned, so it doesn’t have to disclose who the owners are or who funds the magazine; make of that what you will. Here’s an example of what Marcus (still not an expert) thinks the experts have been ‘wrong’ about:
Masks don’t make a difference. Remember that? It was about two months ago. The consensus of scientific experts who must be obeyed unless one is a Trump-loving troglodyte assured us that there was no need to don a silly mask. Today, masks are the Holy Grail of stopping the virus. How did that happen? What do we know in July that we didn’t know in May?
At least non-expert Marcus asked the right question: what do we know now that we didn’t know back in May? Sadly, he assumes the answer is ‘nothing’. He fails–or refuses–to understand two things. First, this is a novel coronavirus. It’s brand new; we’ve never seen it or dealt with it before, so nobody, including the experts, knows quite what it does, how it does it, or how to stop it from doing it. The experts hoped SARS‑CoV‑2 would act like similar coronaviruses (it hasn’t) and would respond to similar treatments (it doesn’t).
To answer Marcus’s question, there’s a LOT we know now that we didn’t know in May. We didn’t know infected people could be asymptomatic for a couple of weeks. We didn’t know asymptomatic people could transmit the virus. We didn’t know the virus could be transmitted by talking loudly or singing, and not just by the more common forms such as coughing and sneezing. We didn’t know masks were an effective way to significantly retard transmission. That’s what we know now that we didn’t know in May.
This is how science works. This is what experts do that fuckwits don’t. They incorporate new information and allow it to revise their understanding of the problem in order to better shape their response to it. The fact that the experts were wrong at the beginning doesn’t mean they’re unreliable, or that they can’t be trusted, or that they’re not really experts. It just means they didn’t know as much back then.
Another example of the difference between experts and fuckwits. Marcus (very much not an expert) wrote:
[O]f all the blunders by our elite intellects that must not be questioned, perhaps the most significant is one that President Trump pointed out in March only to be jeered and mocked. On March 4, the president told Sean Hannity that he had a hunch that the World Health Organization’s assertion that 3.4 percent of people who contracted the Chinese Virus would die was wrong. He said he believed the actual number was closer to .5 percent…. Months after the mockery of him, it turns out Trump was right. It also turns out, and I know this is impossible so I can’t explain it, the scientific experts who must be obeyed were, how should I put this…um, (leans into microphone) “wrong.”
Maybe not. As I write this, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US is 3,925,886. The number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths is 143,515. In other words, about 3.65% of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US have died. That’s a tad more than the experts of the WHO estimate, but a LOT more accurate that the ‘hunch’ of Comrade Trump (not anywhere close to being an expert).
Near the end of his editorial, Marcus (OMG not an expert) says this:
Let’s remember that the massive spikes in deaths predicted when Gov. Brian Kemp opened Georgia, or when Trump held a rally in Tulsa a month ago did not materialize.
Yes, let’s do some remembering. Let’s remember that Georgia re-opened on April 30th. They had 693 new cases that day. Yesterday they had 2,453 new cases, a bit down from their seven-day average of 3,201. And let’s remember that on June 20, when Trump held his rally in Tulsa, they had 331 new cases. Yesterday they had 916, up from their seven-day average of 715 new cases.
And while we’re remembering that, let’s also remember that new Covid-19 cases lag a couple of weeks behind actual infections, and that Covid-19 deaths lag anywhere from two to four months behind diagnosis. Bodies are going to start piling up.
Marcus (nothing like an expert) concludes by suggesting we should weigh the advice of all those experts who’ve been wrong against our own common sense. And hey, he’s right. We really should do that. But when we’re doing that weighing, our common sense should tell us to include the weight of the 143,515 dead Americans.
I your common sense tells you NOT to wear a mask, then you’re probably a fuckwit. Don’t be a fuckwit. Wear a mask.