VICTOR JOECKS: COVID conspiracy theories now conventional wisdom
The best way to pursue truth is open and robust debate.
Many of yesterday’s coronavirus conspiracy theories are today’s conventional wisdom. Remember that when the Biden administration says it wants to shut down “misinformation.”
Start with mask mandates, which Gov. Steve Sisolak eliminated in Nevada on Thursday. That followed similar reversals in blue states such as California, New Jersey and Oregon. Killing the mandates was the right decision. But even recently, many argued it was dangerous.
In January, new Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin moved to prevent school districts from mandating masks. White House press secretary Jen Psaki attacked him. The Washington Post said Youngkin “stokes division.” The ACLU sued.
That was just a few weeks ago.
But now that Democrat governors are dropping mask mandates, Psaki defends them even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t change its guidance. After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis banned mask mandates in schools last summer, President Joe Biden said DeSantis and other Republican “governors won’t help defeat the pandemic.” Don’t expect Sisolak to receive a similar tongue lashing.
Mask mandates were a policy fail. Nevada had more cases Thursday per its 14-day rolling average than when Sisolak reinstituted the mandate last July.
This reversal is just one example of an idea that was once dismissed now being widely accepted.
A year ago, Facebook removed posts claiming the coronavirus is “man-made or manufactured.” Now, it’s a distinct possibility, and Facebook reversed itself in May 2021.
In August, YouTube suspended Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., for contending that “cloth masks don’t work.” In January, the CDC admitted “loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection” and recommended N95 masks.
The national media frequently attacked people who sought to differentiate between people dying with COVID and people dying of COVID. On Monday, Politico reported that the Biden administration is now working on doing exactly that.
In August, The Washington Post reported it was “misleading” for DeSantis to blame the weather for Florida’s summer COVID surge. In December, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS News that cold weather driving more people indoors contributed to an increase in cases.
Last summer, The Associated Press clumsily tried to tie DeSantis’ promotion of monoclonal antibody treatments to one of his political donors. Five months later, it called the treatment a “leading” drug against the coronavirus.
Reopening schools in the fall of 2020 was decried as dangerous. Except it wasn’t. Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who once served on Biden’s COVID-19 task force, even admitted, “We kept kids out way too long.”
On the campaign, Biden promised to “shut down the virus.” Now, several of his former coronavirus advisers say we need to learn to live with it.
The public health establishment and self-proclaimed experts got it wrong again and again and again.
It’s one thing to be wrong while affirming the importance of open debate. Everyone gets things wrong, especially when responding to a novel virus. The Biden administrationm, though, doesn’t want free discussion. The White House wants social media companies to ban people for spreading what it deems “misinformation.” Its latest target is podcast host Joe Rogan. Tellingly, it isn’t calling for censorship of its political allies despite all the things they’ve gotten wrong.
The problem with censorship is that God is not fact-checking Facebook posts. It’s done by fallible and biased humans. The best way to pursue truth is through robust debate. The “experts” may even find they’ve been the ones making mistakes.
Contact Victor Joecks at email@example.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.