We’ve all have seen the experts standing either with the president or appearing around the clock on TV. Supposedly, they’re enlightening us on the Coronavirus epidemic. I assumed most of them were epidemiologists. After all, epidemiology is the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health. It sounds like the ones to be at the forefront of the present pandemic. Worse, I blamed them for the ill-considered lockdowns. It wasn’t till I saw an Oxford-style debate on Reason.com. I realized I was wrong. I received an invitation to view ” Did the Lockdowns Save Thousands of Lives?” a Soho Forum debate featuring Physician Marty Makary vs. epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski. The subject was of great interest as the journal “Nature” recently touted studies showing the lockdowns saved millions of lives. This seemed highly unlikely, and I was eager to see the proposition debated.
I have seen Dr. Makary on several TV programs giving his views on the pandemic as an expert guest commentator. Knut Wittkowski, the epidemiologist, was a mystery to me. I assumed he would be in the affirmative. After all, weren’t we told by those in his specialty lockdowns were essential? It turns out I was completely off base. He argued the negative. It wasn’t the only thing I was wrong about. It turns out the policy of lockdowns wasn’t promoted by all epidemiologists. For instance, there are none on the White House Coronavirus Task Force. What about Dr.Fauci? He’s an immunologist. It turns out epidemiologists played little or no role in the adoption of the lockdowns. Even Dr. Makary commented in the debate, it would’ve been better if more had been in the discussion. I just never also considered there would be few epidemiologists in a dialogue about an epidemic. I failed to take my own advice about jumping to conclusions. For that, I apologize. I knew I was really on the wrong track when Knut stated he wasn’t aware of an epidemiologist advocating quarantining well people. Blanket condemnations should always be avoided.
The debate was highly informative. It seemed to me Dr. Makary never fully supported the idea of lockdowns saving thousands of lives. Knut Wittkowski made a compelling and well-prepared argument in the negative. He really impressed me when the moderator extolled his credentials, and Wittkowski said, forget them and concentrate on his facts and data. Got to love a guy with that attitude. While Reason is a libertarian magazine, the negative won over the undecideds and prevailed by better than 2 to 1 margin. I strongly recommend watching the debate yourself. There were some of the technical glitches common to today’s remote programming, but both sides come through. You can find it on the Reason website under videos or on YouTube.
While I’m making recommendations, Amazon has reinstated “Unreported Truths about Covid-19 and Lockdowns”. The short book by former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson is well worth the $2.99 kindle price. While much of the material will be familiar to readers of this blog, the book well organized and easy to read. I wish I had thought of putting a book out on the subject. I’m glad he did.