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Public Health Midwits, 2/3
When the Great Barrington Declaration urging a return to normal behavior came out, we were just months away from vaccines being widely available, and that fact was quite foreseeable. The cost of delaying some things by several months would have been pretty low. . .
Today, though, the situation has flipped for two reasons.
Vaccination lowers the risk of doing stuff.
Vaccination reduces the benefit of delaying stuff into the future.
And it’s on the second point where I think a lot of public health analysts have lost the plot.
He says that this is because public health officials have only narrow expertise, and decisions regarding COVID require broader intellectual skills, including an ability to see costs and benefits in the larger picture.
I think that public officials do not have any expertise, specialized or general. They are Midwits, meaning that they have fancy credentials but mediocre intelligence. As Tyler Cowen wrote early in the pandemic, “What are their average GRE scores?”
Just a few weeks into the pandemic, I wrote What I Have Come to Believe. These were nine inferences that I had drawn that admittedly were tentative. Of those, only my pessimism about the ability to develop a vaccine was misplaced. Pretty much every other inference proved to be correct, and it took the Midwits in public health much longer to arrive at them. To this day, they don’t get some of them.
The institutions that have committed the worst offenses against rationality in their COVID policy have been colleges and public schools. We should not be surprised by this, given that Midwits dominate the administrations of these institutions.
Public health officials, college administrators, and teachers’ union leaders are not experts within their narrow field. They are Midwits who exercised way more power than usual the past two years. We should have dismissed them as impostors then, and we need to do so now.