Covid Experts: Credibility Vs Humility
Improve the discourse re pandemics from top down to peer review; i.e., every question merits an answer.
March 18, 2021
Jeffery J. Smith

Authorities they may be in virology, zeroes they are as spokespeople. They’ve lost the trust not only of conspiracy theorists—of which they’ll accuse anyone—but also many Jane and Joe Blows. Instead of accuse people who do not immediately obey without question as being whack jobs (albeit in more polite terminology), what should they say to be believed? Glad you asked. Pass them this script.

First, full disclosure: Politicians (of any stripe) and the media and conventional experts, I’ve always taken with a grain a salt. When I was growing up, those institutions were claiming to be rational by:
* having police put chiropractors in jail,
* throwing down dams in the Grand Canyon, and …
* threatening to use thousands of nuclear weapons.
“Rational”? Hardly. Those actions cost them their credibility with me. And they should with all mature adults, since all of us are obliged to face reality as is. Nevertheless, when my turn comes, I’m leaning toward getting the jab.

A Script Experts Could Gladden Me With

Now that we’ve cleared that up, onto the script that candid, respectful experts should use:

“Hello, but I can not say 'good day.'

I got some bad news. We’re under assault from a new virus. I know we’ve cried wolf before. And we’ve been wrong before and never admitted it. And we of high mainstream credentials are not unanimous (e.g. debate between academics on CNBC). And the politicians who pay us have lied to you big-time in the past (too often to need citing). But for your own safety, indeed everyone’s safety, please take seriously what we have to say this time.

Of course our statistics are not perfectly accurate but we estimate this new virus—Coving 19 and its offspring—is more contagious and more deadly than any previous virus ever. What can you do to avoid catching it? It’s drastic, and it’s not fun, but it is your best chance.
1, Wear a mask in the presence of other people.
2, Keep at least six feet away from other people. And …
3, Wash your hands every time you enter a building, including your own home.
Quit living to keep living.

While the life you save may be your own, the life you endanger may be someone you love. Some epidemiologists—with credentials as recognizable as those of others who disagree with them—say that capping the peak of cases extends the tail of deaths. Early on, your save lives, but dragging out the pandemic results in just as many people dying in total. And if not from the virus, then from depression. Not everyone has someone to bubble with. If you enjoy life you’re more resistant. If you don’t, you’re not. And forget play. Some people who self-identify as providers are not happy not working. Not happy, not anti-viral.

You Talk It, You Walk It

While masking, etc, is what individuals can do. What can governments do? Government can make it easier for medical industry to market cheap, quick-acting tests, then test people before they travel and wherever they gather in public, such as theaters, stadiums, concert halls, etc. And—being able to spy on everyone every second—they can backtrack covid-19’s spread.

Masking, distancing, etc, are defensive. Some of you feel like going on the offense, but there’s little you can do. Except sit tight and wait for Big Pharma to come to your rescue with a vaccine. Actually, let me amend that. Little Pharma, too, is quite capable of coming up with a viable vaccine. Indeed, the so-called Pfizer variant was only bought by Pfizer, not developed by Pfizer. That credit goes to a German firm, and actually not exactly them but to some German Turks. It’s like a big tech company buying up an app you like whose inventor never gets the credit.

Whoever is owed the credit, even with our best efforts, the virus will spread. If you get it, how can you help your body defeat it? Well, do all the things you’re always supposed to do—eat well, enjoy physical movement, get enough sleep, engage with others, be happy. Plus, take plenty of vitamin D and other immune-system boosters like mushrooms. Since covid needs cholesterol, eat less juicy, tasty meat. And laugh a lot.

What can government do? Lots.
* Disburse vitamin D to anyone wanting it.
* Quit subsidizing factory farms whose packaged products weaken the immune system.
* Levy a tax on junk food.
* Close off convenient parking so shoppers must walk more. And most basically …
* Eradicate poverty, since most victims of plagues are poor. Pay everyone a Citizens Dividend. Gather up society’s surplus—the annual rental value of locations, natural resources, and government-granted privileges like corporate charters—then disburse the revenue to citizens as a dividend.
Doing all that will prove that those who tell others what to do—government officials—also take this nasty virus seriously.

A Reform For Pandemics & All Time

One last thing. Covid is not the biggest killer. Bigger causes of death are pollution, lifestyle, violence both interpersonal and international, and low self-esteem from struggling in a torturous world. Imagine if we went all out to solve those more basic issues. We could not shut down the economy for all of them. We would not have any economy—or society—left. Rather, we would have to implement economic justice.

If we shared society’s surplus—largely the worth of Earth but also the value of government granted privileges like monopoly patents—wow.
* Owners would be paying serious Land Dues, too much to sloppily degrade their or anyone's land, which becomes more precious on an annual basis. Bye-bye pollution.
* Government would not be taxing green industry like recycling—which is very labor intensive—nor subsidizing grey industry like factory farming (which is very capital intensive). On a level playing field, junk food is no longer artificially cheap; prices would guide consumers to make healthy choices.
* As people prosper—enjoying their share of rent-revenue from patents and Land Dues—they become less warlike and produce fewer criminals. And …
* Closing the wealth and income gap allows people to leave the workforce for healthy stretches to enjoy friends, family, community, and nature, bolstering their self worth. Immune systems would be so rugged, covid and its cousins that appear as later mutants would not stand a chance. Or, no bigger chance than the flu or pneumonia or AIDS and likely less.

So, you’ve heard enough already of us telling you what to do. Now, you tell us what to do. Lobby us and get these fundamental reforms adopted.

Thanks for listening.”

Questions For Experts? Policies For Everyone?

Of course, any official or media figure saying all this depends on humility, something experts and politicians are not known for. Both are more interested in defending their status and their turf. So by putting their own stature as a priority, not our well being, it’s hard to accept their alarm; maybe the sky’s not falling. Their priorities suggest our well being is not truly threatened so much after all.

Or covid does endanger us terribly. How can we know what to believe? Their bossiness offers us no clarity. And they never address obvious questions anyone can think of like …
* If lockdown is the solution, and covid keeps spinning off even deadlier mutants, is it possible to keep locking down forever?
* Since politicians made Big Pharma fully non-liable for their vaccines killing anyone, should those exempted corporations offer a quid pro quo, like let vaccine patents enter the public domain in a couple months rather than 20 years?
* What are the nano-particle virus killers and immunity boosters that may work as well as if not better than vaccines?
Big silence. Either they don’t know, or don’t want you to know. Either way, they lose credibility and stature in the eyes of responsibly questioning people.

Corporations, governments, and mainstream make it harder for us to know what’s going on. Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to change. You may be better off paying those three major institutions less attention, and look somewhere else for a clear, reasoned, dispassionate answers to all the points each side raises.

Besides seeking answers, do stay safe. That means, lobby your rulers to play their responsible role. That taken care of, then we’ll all get together as soon as we all can.

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Jeffery J. Smith

JEFFERY J. SMITH published The Geonomist, which won a California GreenLight Award, has appeared in both the popular press (e.g.,TruthOut) and academic journals (e.g., USC's “Planning and Markets”), been interviewed on radio and TV, lobbied officials, testified before the Russian Duma, conducted research (e.g., for Portland's mass transit agency), and recruited activists and academics to A member of the International Society for Ecological Economics and of Mensa, he lives in Mexico. Jeffery formerly was Chief Editor at