“Clearly, we have not succeeded in getting the public as a whole to uniformly respond in a way that is a sound scientific, public health and medical situation,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, “And it’s unfortunate. And it’s frustrating.”
And it’s pretty dumb. The way many of us are responding to this pandemic is pretty dumb. Believe it or not, this kind of dumb has less to do with our intelligence, and more to do with how our brains are wired. Let’s explore how our minds and hearts can get us into avoidable trouble.
As infection and death rates rise on cue to our trickle-y forays into “It’s Over-land”, one might think news of spiking infection curves should be enough to make everyone take a long PPE-protected breath. But that’s not what’s happening. The pandemic has wreaked havoc with immune systems, for sure, but it has also taken advantage of some distinctly weak spots in our brains — even smart brains — as we have learned from recent studies in psychology and neuroscience.
God, we love science in this little corner of the world. It’s the scripture that can make most liberal-thinking folks’ hearts go aflutter. But it is downright unscientific to think of ourselves as rational beings. We can think, and even act, rationally, but that does not a rational being make. Taking stock of how irrational you are may help save a life, including your own.
President Trump said: “When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.” And: “The more you test for Covid, the more cases you will detect. If you want to detect fewer cases, do fewer tests”.
Ok, it may sound nuts, but It has a measure of logical reasoning to it. The fact that it is irrational — that is, wrong — would be merely incidental, if the stakes weren’t so high. Most of us, it’s humbling to realize, do a version of similarly flawed thinking every day.