Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus: Five typical reactions

So as we enter into the end of our first real month of reacting to the Covid-19 virus, I've noticed about five general groups of people when it comes to reacting to this.  Like all such groupings, this is not some clean cut set of categories that people fit 100% neatly into each and every day.  It's just a difference in general reaction I've noticed. The five basic groups I've noticed are:

The Hysterics Group: We're going to die by the millions.  We'll be under state mandated military police state martial law totalitarianism as people drop over by the tens of millions.  There simply is nothing to stop it.  All is over.  A dark age begins.  It's worth noting that many - not all, but many - who are in this group also display rather obvious ideological and political agendas.   Left of Lenin progressive pundits and Never Trumpers are plentiful in this group.  Naturally it's mostly Trump's fault.  Also in this group, in a strange twist, are many I know from Orthodox Christian areas.  In that case, it often comes packaged in a 'Divine Justice' interpretation of events.

The Fear and Panic Group:  These aren't quite so stark as the Hysterics crowd, but they see much suffering, death and misery coming with our lives forever changed.  Many are here.  Many medical experts in front of cameras seem to be here.  If we take the most radical, over the top measures imaginable, we could reduce the worst case scenario numbers of millions dead by half!  Some who peddle for agendas and scoring points against this or that leader are here.   This is likely the most common I'm hearing from those notables who have the media's ear as well as the media itself.

The Caution and Concern Group:  The other set of medical experts are here, accepting many of the dire warnings, but being somewhat skeptical of the worst case scenarios.  They tend to emphasize the fact that the numbers are fuzzy, death rates seem to vary country to country in terms of severity, and don't put too much on model based predictions.  They also emphasize the need to go along with most of the extreme measures being rolled out to stop this.   Much of the Christian leadership world seems here.  Accept the severity of the predictions, go along with the most extreme solutions, and hope and even pray that STEM steps in to save the day.

The be prepared but this will pass with more of a whimper than the predicted roar Group:  They realize it is a virus, and likely a serious one.  With that, we should do what we need to do to mitigate it, though concern for the long term consequences of radical measures is high in the thinking.  They don't dismiss the possibility of a very bad global pandemic, perhaps with high death rates and infection rates.  They simply insist that the numbers may or may not go in the worst directions, and it might be worth considering long term harm done by extreme prevention if, in months to come, it turned out nowhere nearly as bad as predicted.  They also, FWIW, point out that a big problem is that we have no way of evaluating this in terms of prevention and results.  If the virus kills millions, the medical community can insist we didn't do enough.  If it doesn't, and blows over with nowhere near the infection rates feared, they can say it's because we took the radical measures.  We'll never know the truth of this, so proceeding with cautious caution is the wise move.  Put me in this group.

The what virus?  It's a [fill in the blank] conspiracy Group:  This is the group, often more libertarian or right of center, who's pretty sure it's all bunk.  Oh, they admit there is a virus.  They acknowledge it could be bad, and washing hands or being careful around seniors may not be a bad thing.  But most of this is overreaction at best, a vast conspiracy to take away our freedoms at worst.  There is also no shortage of conspiracy theories here, with tales of a man made virus to eliminate the elderly, or to stop the Hong Kong protests (which it has done), or to come into our lives and set us up to give up all freedoms and liberties, abound.  Nobody here denies the virus, but they see it mostly as a big nothing burger being exploited by the principalities and powers.  And as for ideology, they still cling to the old Free Market Freedom notion, and if millions get ruined by this no matter which way it goes, we must preserve the purity of a non-tainted market.

Those are the general ones.  There are overlaps to be sure, and I'm not saying it's the final word.  Just something I've noticed over the last week or so.  One bonus observation, as I heard that in Ohio elective surgery is being limited if not banned during the duration of the outbreak: Does abortion count as elective surgery?

UPDATE#1: Perhaps nobody embodies Group One (the Hysterics) more than Rod Dreher.  In addition to the 'It's Trump's fault, he's toast, we told you he was a threat to the world', he also posts daily reminders that this is the apocalypse and the world is doomed to an age and and age of terror and unprecedented carnage.  And in a bit of irony, he just posted a broadside against a Christian pastor for not closing his church and banning church services in obedience to the State.  That would be Rod Dreher, author of "The Benedict Option" in which he argues Christians have to be prepared to gather and remain faithful against the assault against religious liberty and freedoms we've come to take for granted, and who makes protecting religious liberty and defying State oppression a primary cause.  Let that sink in.


  1. we must preserve the purity of a non-tainted market.

    Funny, the video of the guys I watched yesterday in this group you speak of talked about preserving the constitution - not the market.

    I do wonder since there is in the news the guy that's been put on house arrest in my state for being infected.

    I think what bugs me is what you pointed out a few days ago. I remember the days when AIDS was being discovered, and how strongly folks objected to even measures to get a handle on that disease, like closing down bath houses.

    I think this is a debate that we still haven't settled yet and it is an interesting philosophical question of where does freedom end and public health begin. I admit that I have no ready answer to this since I chafe at control, but have seen the need for sanitation too.

    What did CS Lewis say about tyranny for our own good?

    1. True that.

      The sentence you reference was actually an eleventh hour addition after I read a post on FB, from a site run by decidedly libertarian minded people, railing against the GOP should the GOP go along with the government bail out. My point there is that, whatever happens disease-wise, the radical measures being taken are hurting people in ways they have no control over. It's not 'the rule of the market.' For better or worse, it's government following the recommendations of scientists and experts with the little people steamrolled. We can object all we want, but can we really just stand by and let perhaps countless numbers be ruined in the process? The FB post was clear, but then it also linked this to the idea that it was all a big bunch of nothing. My point was that the resulting hardships would not be nothing no matter what else happens. They already are, with one of my sons being shut out because he works for his college (which is closed down).

    2. Well you can understand some concern because as the saying goes: "Nothing is more permanent than a temporary government program." Certainly I think if the government forces people to not work, then it should probably be responsible for compensating them for that. But the government also has a knack for making problems worse too.

      Not going to say it's a simple answer or solution. But I could argue that maybe you should go into more details and expand to 6 or 7 categories - or maybe category #5 could be broadened just a bit to better encompass more people.

      But then I am a data nerd who is paid to fret over properly labeled categories so don't take it personally. ;)

    3. That we're overreacting is not something I can deny. I am of that 'let's do what we need, but watch out for long term problems.' I think the biggest hit will be the churches unfortunately. But yes, I'd say your take is my take: if the government makes us lose our jobs, then pay up.

  2. Dave, you are right on target IMO. The costs of the wholesale government panic-and that’s what it is, not rational response-are already likely worse than warranted. I am in the “we don’t really know how bad this may be” camp, favoring reasonable actions without arbitrarily shutting down huge swaths of society. The Group One and Two people are unfortunately in control right now. Everyone in those groups thinks the whole world will be like Italy, which if you believe some people is on the verge of literal extinction. If it’s really that bad over there, which I’m not sure of since our overlords in the MSM have no credibility anymore, then I’m guessing there are control factors present there which are not present or are of much less importance in most of the rest of the world.
    And with all this we are called racists for pointing out that it came from China.
    Crazy. Praying for some sanity to be restored in the local and state government levels.

    1. Yep, praying for sanity and courage on the part of the faithful and our leaders. FWIW, I also notice that the top three countries in terms of deaths from the Coronavirus make up 80% of the total deaths worldwide. I also notice they are countries that have been rocked by uprisings, protests and political upheaval over the last year or so. Not sure what it means. Can't help but think there is at least some connection.


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