The Excesses of Experts
The Excesses of Experts
By Tom McClintock
In 1877, British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury offered this warning: “No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.”
Experts have the luxury of indulging their worst fears and ignoring the effect that their policies have beyond their area of expertise. That’s why decisions are reserved to elected officials, who are expected to rationally balance risks and costs and, most of all, apply common sense and good judgment.
That important check on the excesses of experts broke down in the COVID-19 panic. It has taken just a few months of unprecedented home detention of entire populations, the shuttering of countless businesses and the trampling of fundamental American rights to transform the most promising economic expansion in our lifetimes into a dystopian nightmare of unemployment, poverty and despair.
What happened when elected officials allowed the “experts” to run amok?
First, they substantially overstated the severity of COVID-19. Eighty percent of people who get the virus have either no symptoms or experience it as a mild respiratory infection. In New York, 73.6 percent of those who died were over age 65 and just 0.06 percent were under age 18.
How did the “experts” follow this science? They closed schools and packed nursing homes with infected patients.
Once epidemiologists began surveying general populations, they discovered the disease isn’t nearly as severe as the claims used to justify these excesses. The CDC’s latest best estimate is that 0.4 percent of symptomatic cases are fatal. Seasonal flu kills 0.1 percent.
Simply stated, your chance of recovering from the flu is 99.9 percent and 99.6 percent for COVID-19. For this, the “experts” threw more than 40 million Americans into unemployment, hitting the poorest families the hardest.
Next, they ordered wholesale population-wide lockdowns founded on an untested theory. In 2006, based on an Albuquerque teenager’s science project, the Bush administration proposed a contingency plan for mass lockdowns in the event of a severe flu pandemic. Leading epidemiologists at the time warned, “The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete restriction of movement of large populations…) that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.” Obviously, it wasn’t.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has now admitted that 84 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York are people either already “sheltering at home” or at nursing homes. Obviously, the lockdowns didn’t protect them.
Statistical analysts, including Stanford University’s Michael Levitt, Tel Aviv University’s Isaac Ben-Israel, Kentucky State University’s Wilfred Reilly and Cypress Semi-conductor’s T.J. Rodgers, are finding no significant statistical difference in the infection curves between those jurisdictions that have laid waste to their economies and those that haven’t. A study by JP Morgan notes that as economies re-open, infections are dropping.
A study of 318 outbreaks involving 1,245 cases in China found just one transmission that occurred outdoors, infecting just two people. Nearly 80 percent of the outbreaks occurred in people’s houses. What did the “experts” do with this science? They closed outdoor venues and ordered people to stay at home.
Worst, they never considered how many people will die because of the lockdowns. The Well Being Trust predicts up to 75,000 additional “deaths of despair” due to suicide and drug and alcohol abuse. The Epic Health Research Network reported that in March, breast, colon and cervical cancer screenings declined between 84 and 96 percent. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network reports a 22 percent increase in children calling for help. A 2011 Columbia University study funded by the National Institutes of Health estimated that 4.5 percent of all deaths in the United States are related to poverty. How many Americans have the “experts” condemned to despair, delayed health care and poverty?
Of course, the “experts” aren’t really to blame, because they have no authority to issue such orders. That responsibility rests with the elected officials who became so besotted on the experts’ strong wine and so drunk with power that they lost any semblance of common sense or any concern for the damage they have caused.
These politicians have that power for one reason. We gave it to them.