While the hysteria marches on here in Europe, an interesting economics article came out in a decent journal on the political economy of that mass hysteria. Their abstract:
In this article, we aim to develop a political economy of mass hysteria. Using the background of COVID-19, we study past mass hysteria. Negative information which is spread through mass media repetitively can affect public health negatively in the form of nocebo effects and mass hysteria. We argue that mass and digital media in connection with the state may have had adverse consequences during the COVID-19 crisis. The resulting collective hysteria may have contributed to policy errors by governments not in line with health recommendations. While mass hysteria can occur in societies with a minimal state, we show that there exist certain self-corrective mechanisms and limits to the harm inflicted, such as sacrosanct private property rights. However, mass hysteria can be exacerbated and self-reinforcing when the negative information comes from an authoritative source, when the media are politicized, and social networks make the negative information omnipresent. We conclude that the negative long-term effects of mass hysteria are exacerbated by the size of the state.
The main claim I find interesting is that they think a large state makes the hysteria worse, with the essential idea being that a monopoly provider of authoritarian knowledge has more potential to lock its population into false beliefs without a clear mechanism to get out of that, which raises the question of whether one should deliberately split the information-provision role of the state into competing camps.
In the same week, a rapid response comment on a pro-lockdown editorial by the British Medical Journal took that journal to task for its morality, anti-scientific views, and cosying up to power. While I totally agree with that comment, I do find it rather brave of the BMJ editors to put such a scathing critique of themselves on their website. They are certainly displaying tolerance of dissenting opinions! The short letter by a retired GP that doesn’t pull any punches and that names many instances of covid-congestion effects is over the fold.
History is littered with examples of the atrocities which ensue when doctors abandon their traditional principles and judgement in favour of unquestioning subservience to government diktat – medical involvement in torture, human experimentation and psychiatric punishment of political dissidents being familiar examples.
Abbasi [the BMJ editor that wrote the pro-lockdown editorial] takes as axiomatic that there was no prior immunity in the population, that lockdowns are effective, that computer modelling is realistic, that statistics have been accurate and that WHO statements are reliable. All of these parameters have been widely challenged by knowledgeable and conscientious researchers whose findings were often disregarded, censored or vilified.
From a medical perspective, it was clear early on in the crisis that disregarding clinical acumen in favour of blind obedience to abnormal ventilation measures, reliance on an unsuitable laboratory test for diagnosis and management, and abandoning the duty of care to elderly hospitalised patients and those awaiting diagnosis and treatment of serious diseases, would create severe problems down the line.
Doctors who had empirically found effective pharmaceutical remedies and preventative treatments were ignored, or worse, denigrated or silenced. Information regarding helpful dietary supplements was suppressed.
This was further compounded by rule-changes to death certification, coroners’ instructions, autopsy guidelines, DNR notices and the cruel social isolation policy enforcement regarding family visits to the sick and dying.
When medical professionals allow themselves to be manipulated by corrupt politicians and influenced by media propaganda instead of being guided by their own ethical principles and common sense based on decades of clinical experience, the outlook becomes very bleak indeed.
Historically, public respect for and trust in doctors has exceeded that awarded to politicians. The unquestioning capitulation of medicine to an authoritarian executive and predatory corporate power may have undermined the doctor-patient relationship for a generation.