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What We Hoped For Was Herd Immunity; What We Got Was Herd Mentality

I don’t know what’s going on in your community, but here it is yet another example that supports Ian MacGilchrist’s assessment that we are a society out of balance in our thinking, one where ‘The World As I Want It To Be’ far too much overrides ‘The World As It Is.’

After an entire pandemic of collaboration among the various agencies in our community to reach consensus about Covid recommendations, even those tasked with these decisions have apparently given up and given in to the voices in the community demanding relaxation of public heath precautions. And this in the face of continued high community transmission.

No one doubts that despite dramatic decreases in cases in the past few weeks and now decreasing hospitalizations, the community and most of the region remain in the red zone, indicative of high community prevalence. Many appear to be dismissing, or ignoring, that every recommendation from CDC and our state recommends not relaxing precautions in high transmission areas.

And yet this is exactly what is being done. How do we explain this?

Some would say it is fatigue. Others might add it is frustration. Still others would suggest the economic and social impacts are just too great, especially since nobody expected this to go on this long.

And this is exactly the point. Each of these concerns reflects an aspiration and a hope, rather than what we can see with our own eyes is actually happening. Through the lens of “The World As I Want It To Be,’ people feel they are done. Except the virus isn’t listening, and it’s out of line with ‘The World As It Is’.

And so what we get are pretty illogical rationalizations, almost all of which cannot be substantiated, or are out of context, by people who would like to believe they are being analytical, deliberative and thoughtful about their beliefs. No doubt, they sincerely believe what they feel (other than those who cynically push narratives because they can make a lot of money by doing so), unaware that this is really their inner ‘press secretary’ functions trying to justify and defend those Hidden Brain feelings. Unaware of where those feelings actually come from, they latch onto whatever seems to confirm those feelings. Rather than use the facts and observations to form an opinion, they, instead, use the facts that rationalize that opinion.

We end up seeing a lot of people at the first spike of the Dunning Krueger curve- a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. In this case, we see the hubris that goes with thinking more of one’s skill, ability, analysis, and knowledge than is warranted. During a recent school board meeting, I suffered through an hour long public comment period looking for just one thing said that was actually correct or could even be substantiated. There was not one.

Two weeks ago, some states announced dropping their mask requirements. But in each case, they targeted a future date relying on the current drop in cases continuing down to a low transmission level. People and the media, I’m sad to say, conveniently ignored that part. School boards and now local government extrapolate that further by changing their policies with no delay, relying on the inevitability they so want to believe in- that the current trend actually will play out. Their reasoning is that no one is following the policy now, so what difference will it make. Well, some people don’t wear seat belts and we don’t drop those requirements without some demonstrated proof of improvement, like less loss of life, or less cost to society without seat belt use.

In Free The Brain, it was noted that it takes a catalyst meaningful enough for a person to ‘rethink’ their beliefs, to be open to the possibility their current view may not be the most successful way forward. At some point perhaps the current hope of so many echoed in their “The World As I Want It To Be’ may be seen as a current view that may not be the most successful way forward. Or maybe, this will all work out ok. After 2 years, you’d think a couple more weeks would be a small price to pay for some evidence this wishful thinking actually is correct. But that just says a lot for how out of balance our thinking has become. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good; there’s just not much margin of confidence in that strategy.

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