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Let’s declare a Pandemic Amnesty— Emily Oster

Posted by $ Markus_Katabri 3 weeks, 6 days ago to Culture
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We need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the dark about COVID.

In April 2020, with nothing else to do, my family took an enormous number of hikes. We all wore cloth masks that I had made myself. We had a family hand signal, which the person in the front would use if someone was approaching on the trail and we needed to put on our masks. Once, when another child got too close to my then-4-year-old son on a bridge, he yelled at her “SOCIAL DISTANCING!”

These precautions were totally misguided. In April 2020, no one got the coronavirus from passing someone else hiking. Outdoor transmission was vanishingly rare. Our cloth masks made out of old bandanas wouldn’t have done anything, anyway. But the thing is: We didn’t know.

I have been reflecting on this lack of knowledge thanks to a class I’m co-teaching at Brown University on COVID. We’ve spent several lectures reliving the first year of the pandemic, discussing the many important choices we had to make under conditions of tremendous uncertainty.

Some of these choices turned out better than others. To take an example close to my own work, there is an emerging (if not universal) consensus that schools in the U.S. were closed for too long: The health risks of in-school spread were relatively low, whereas the costs to students’ well-being and educational progress were high. The latest figures on learning loss are alarming. But in spring and summer 2020, we had only glimmers of information. Reasonable people—people who cared about children and teachers—advocated on both sides of the reopening debate.

Another example: When the vaccines came out, we lacked definitive data on the relative efficacies of the Johnson & Johnson shot versus the mRNA options from Pfizer and Moderna. The mRNA vaccines have won out. But at the time, many people in public health were either neutral or expressed a J&J preference. This misstep wasn’t nefarious. It was the result of uncertainty.

Obviously some people intended to mislead and made wildly irresponsible claims. Remember when the public-health community had to spend a lot of time and resources urging Americans not to inject themselves with bleach? That was bad. Misinformation was, and remains, a huge problem. But most errors were made by people who were working in earnest for the good of society.

Given the amount of uncertainty, almost every position was taken on every topic. And on every topic, someone was eventually proved right, and someone else was proved wrong. In some instances, the right people were right for the wrong reasons. In other instances, they had a prescient understanding of the available information.

The people who got it right, for whatever reason, may want to gloat. Those who got it wrong, for whatever reason, may feel defensive and retrench into a position that doesn’t accord with the facts. All of this gloating and defensiveness continues to gobble up a lot of social energy and to drive the culture wars, especially on the internet. These discussions are heated, unpleasant and, ultimately, unproductive. In the face of so much uncertainty, getting something right had a hefty element of luck. And, similarly, getting something wrong wasn’t a moral failing. Treating pandemic choices as a scorecard on which some people racked up more points than others is preventing us from moving forward.

We have to put these fights aside and declare a pandemic amnesty. We can leave out the willful purveyors of actual misinformation while forgiving the hard calls that people had no choice but to make with imperfect knowledge. Los Angeles County closed its beaches in summer 2020. Ex post facto, this makes no more sense than my family’s masked hiking trips. But we need to learn from our mistakes and then let them go. We need to forgive the attacks, too. Because I thought schools should reopen and argued that kids as a group were not at high risk, I was called a “teacher killer” and a “génocidaire.” It wasn’t pleasant, but feelings were high. And I certainly don’t need to dissect and rehash that time for the rest of my days.

Moving on is crucial now, because the pandemic created many problems that we still need to solve.

Student test scores have shown historic declines, more so in math than in reading, and more so for students who were disadvantaged at the start. We need to collect data, experiment, and invest. Is high-dosage tutoring more or less cost-effective than extended school years? Why have some states recovered faster than others? We should focus on questions like these, because answering them is how we will help our children recover.

Many people have neglected their health care over the past several years. Notably, routine vaccination rates for children (for measles, pertussis, etc.) are way down. Rather than debating the role that messaging about COVID vaccines had in this decline, we need to put all our energy into bringing these rates back up. Pediatricians and public-health officials will need to work together on community outreach, and politicians will need to consider school mandates.

The standard saying is that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. But dwelling on the mistakes of history can lead to a repetitive doom loop as well. Let’s acknowledge that we made complicated choices in the face of deep uncertainty, and then try to work together to build back and move forward.

SOURCE URL: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/10/covid-response-forgiveness/671879/


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  • Posted by freedomforall 3 weeks, 5 days ago
    Forgive mass murder (purposely planned and acted out by Emily Oster's comrades in genocide)?
    That's exactly what I'd expect from the statist bird droppings who are paid propagandists at the Atlantic.
    The Atlantic hasn't published anything except leftist propaganda in a century.
    Give Emily 10 COVID vaxes and banish her to Red China. Then revoke her passport.
    Then start the trials and execute the traitors.
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  • Posted by $ Abaco 3 weeks, 5 days ago
    Not one fucking inch of leeway for these people. I was listening to this being read by one of my favorite podcasters today and, like me, he couldn't hold back his own f-bombs. While working at ground zero of the pandemic in a leftist state I realized it was time to quit. It was clear that BOTH science and ethics were totally gone anymore. I got so angry hearing this read today I almost snapped the steering wheel in my pickup...
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  • Posted by term2 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    The basic problem was that the government ordered people to do this and that "for their own good". It should have been left up to individuals to decide what to do, and gain or lose as a result.

    I dont forgive people in government who ordered is to wear stupid masks and stay 6 ft away from each other.

    So there is NO amnesty for them, mostly because they would do it again in a second.
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    • Posted by $ 3 weeks, 4 days ago
      “They would do it again in a second” EXACTLY!
      The same with friends and family too.
      They’ve shown me what they would do if the Feces contacted the air handling device. They’ve demonstrated how they would act. Narcs and Quislings. Snitches get stitches. The one silver lining of the plandemic was it tore the veil off what we all thought WAS vs. what actually IS. And now we know.
      Quod erat demonstratum, baby!
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      • Posted by term2 3 weeks, 3 days ago
        my best friend told me that the best thing that could happen for individual freedom is to let the leftists have a few years of their policies, and just see how it works out in practice. Pretty bad, I would say
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        • Posted by $ 3 weeks, 3 days ago
          I’m already prepping for the worst. If the Left cheats their way to “victory*” so be it. There’s a consequence buffet waiting for their supporters.
          And I don’t have to lift a finger. Sure there’s some opportunity cost involved. But a Democrat victory will have it’s own little opportunities. I’m just sidestepping the 500lb TV as it falls off the TV tray. I do intend to point and laugh though.
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          • Posted by term2 3 weeks, 3 days ago
            you got it. they are prepping for the people just not willingly cooperating as much with the statist government in the future. If I win the current lottery, I would take the CASH option right now (money will not be worth anything in 29 years anyway), and I would NOT invest it and have to deal with tax requirements every year. I will spend the money on what I want NOW
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  • Posted by $ allosaur 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    Me a Christian dino can "forgive those who trespass against us" like it says in The Lord's Prayer."
    You know, the same Lord who lost his temper and overturned the tables of the money changers in what he called his father's temple.
    Those who ran that "den of thieves" had a reckoning coming.
    So do all the criminals who made the recent pandemic far worse than be albeit for greed, power over others or both.
    This Republic is supposed to be a nation of just laws that should never be overlooked because no one is that special. That also goes for you, Dr. "I am science" Fauci.
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  • Posted by jack1776 3 weeks, 5 days ago
    I’m not religious so I don’t have to uphold the ideas of forgiveness and I will not forget or forgive. We should not accept stupidity or ignorance as an excuse for malevolent intent and the same for those that facilitated the malevolent intent of others. Our government doesn’t have a single exemption to any law due to stupidity or ignorance. There should be no place to hide from those that seeking retribution for forced jabs in exchange for employment.

    A “Pandemic Amnesty” is only a plea from the stupid, hoping for leniency.
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  • Posted by $ 3 weeks, 5 days ago
    The whole bleach thing pisses me off. He was being sarcastic. Anybody dumb enough to take that comment at face value is at risk everyday from a whole bunch of poor choices not even related to injecting bleach in their veins.
    Biden said something similar. But his word salads have been so bountiful that I can’t even remember most of them anymore. And that is because the MSM hasn’t been hammering on them relentlessly.
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    • Posted by mccannon01 3 weeks, 5 days ago
      Besides, Trump never used the word "bleach". That whole scenario was a concoction of the I-Hate-Trump MSMM. Fake news from the get go and it was swallowed whole by millions who couldn't figure it out for themselves.
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    • Posted by $ Snezzy 3 weeks, 5 days ago
      Yes, that was conflating chloroquin with hypochlorite. I didn't worry about it at the time, having seen semi-distinguished publications refer to diphenhydramine (Sominex and Benadryl) as diphenhydrazine, which if it existed might be a rocket fuel.

      "Something is wrong on the Internet. I must fix it now!"
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  • Posted by Joseph23006 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    Sorry! Those in authority knew more than they were telling us, perhaps because they were embarrassed by that knowledge from the very beginning! Critical information concerning thingd such as masking learned from the Spanish Influenza of 1918 was either forgotten or ignored by government officials. Advice and fact finding research from distinguished scientists in their fields was ignored or labeled 'misinformation', in many cases sullying exemplary reputations and ruining careers, much of which was belatedly acknowledged to have been accurate. Worst of all the the deliberate curtailing of the free exchange of ideas and knowledge throughout. These were not merely gaffs, not sins of ommissiion but of commission by the very people we were to trust with our lives except some of us didn't make it!
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  • Posted by $ 3 weeks, 5 days ago
    Michael Brendan Dougherty at the National Review sums up my feelings very well.

    “ But the questions in the pandemic were not just factual disputes about a disease that was evolving quickly. They were also disputes about whether the Bill of Rights mattered anymore. Think of Bill de Blasio, telling Christians, Jews, and other religious believers that they had to abide by the city’s rule against gatherings of ten or more people, even as he himself was violating these rules in public support of the George Floyd protests.

    Amnesty for this? Hell, no.”


    Hard HELL NO!
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  • Posted by $ pixelate 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    Never forget, never forgive.
    If there is any "justice" in the fallout, I suspect that many of those who perpetrated the Covid trainwreck, in particular the mid-level and low-level "experts" and bureaucrats, will have taken the Vax along with the Vax sequels -- and will eventually fall victim to their own exercised sociopathology. It's a heavy price knowing that hundreds of millions of individuals went along with taking the Vax, either through compulsion or ignorance. There will be no amnesty. I am still scratching my head, wondering when the body of a high-ranking covid-crank bureaucrat is found in a dumpster.
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  • Posted by freedomforall 3 weeks, 4 days ago
    The only amnesty that is rational and just is amnesty for all the medical care workers who ignored the dictatatorship of the CDC, FDA, AMA, WHO, and treated patients with what worked: e.g., Vit D, ivermectin, hydroxchloroquine, etc. and advised patients to avoid the non-vaccines at all costs.
    In addition, the doctors who provided such actual care should be given control over all the hospitals that followed the "COVID Death Doctrine." All the previous administrators and doctors and corporations of those hospitals should pay fines in excess of their assets with the proceeds going to the care of people harmed by the COVID Death Doctrine.
    Then execute those corporations and humans found guilty of crimes against humanity.
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    • Posted by term2 3 weeks, 3 days ago
      everyone should have been able to voice their thoughts on the subject of a vaccine or other therapeutics. The problem is that some of them had political power and FORCED others to do what they wanted. It was a government power problem that should be abolished. I would rather have everyone voice their thoughts and let ME decide what I do with my body.
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