“Like the Ghost of Christmas Future, the pandemic itself may very well be the grim reaper pointing at our existing sins while simultaneously shining a light on a new pathway for us – one which rethink our own privilege and reconsider who is essential, what essential status means, whether the truly essential workers are paid as such, and so forth.”
The current pandemic is a very heavy topic and our reactions to it as a country have been highly divisive. Kari Nixon attempts to evaluate and analyze some of the social, ethical and political biases we have as a nation to better help us understand why we have reacted the way we have and to show us examples of similar behavior in the past. She outlines a series of lessons humanity should understand in order to assess the current situation and the behaviors we’re seeing.
My favorite areas were the historical recountings of various pandemic sufferers and the reactions to their losses of freedom, life and the often irrational responses to suggested mitigations. The author is very clear which side of the fence she’s on in each ethical dilemma she presents to us, as she does her classes, but she presents clear and fair analyses of the “other” side. There were times where my personal feelings were rankled and I felt there was some subconscious nudgings in one direction or another but I think for the most part the assessments were fair.
As a scientist, I valued the clear way she presented the truth of science and medicine as a work in progress. That there is still humanity in science and that our biases impact our ability to analyze data and see the truth. Microscopes capable of seeing germs existed a century before the human mind could comprehend and accept them. Handwashing was a simple solution to avoiding post-birth complications with a compelling case for it and doctors still scoffed at the suggestion (sounds a little like the current reaction to masks). The funny thing to me is that more than a hundred years later we’re still arguing similar simple solutions.
Fundamentally, humans have not changed their ease with which they adapt to life-threatening situations. Risk elimination is impossible and statistics can put us in a denial-panic cycle and studies show humans are terrible at assessing risk when in a fear state. Humans can cognitively evaluate but generally emotionally respond. And do so with heavy bias.
Interesting read that is easy to absorb for the non-scientist/ethicist with lots of little anecdotes and scenarios to challenge your own thoughts.
Thanks to Kate Rock Book Tours for a copy. All opinions are my own.
Here’s my pandemic survival kit, how have you survived?