To the Editor:
People differ in their opinions about the coronavirus, but one thing we seem to have in common: assurance that our opinion is right and other opinions are wrong; and that only we are relying on the experts.
It is optimistic to call scientists “experts” on this virus. An expert is trained and has experience with the virus. Fortunately, we have many excellent scientists, but it is a misnomer to call them experts on a virus that is new and has been shown to confound the most sincere expectations of the experts.
Are those U.S. experts advocating for lockdown correct? Or is Sweden’s state epidemiologist right to oppose it? How would we know? Sweden’s curve has not come down quite as well as America’s.
Does that prove which scientists are correct? No, it can’t, because it is currently unknowable whether non-lethal exposure to the virus will produce herd immunity. Scientists have strong opinions on that issue, but no one knows, because this is a new virus and we have not been through a complete cycle.
Sweden may be right, that allowing people to be infected will immunize the herd; maybe the U.S. is right to try to prevent mass infections. But until we have gone through a cycle and seen what actually happened, scientists’ opinions are not certainties.
We only want what is best for us all. But what is best is presently unknowable. Your best intentions will not be a substitute for being right. If you advocate for opening the economy now, and a year later we know that was too soon, will your opinion not have been wrong?
Or, if you advocate for keeping a lockdown, and in a year we discover that your choice caused a second, stronger wave of the virus, will your opinion not have been wrong? Your belief in your opinion won’t matter.
Experience is helpful only if it is considered. If we are wedded to a particular opinion, a contrary experience is not likely to change our opinion. May we keep an open mind. And may we seek wisdom that is available to us.
Scott A. Nolan
Attorney at Law