Summary, Highlights, and Transcript for bonus episode with Kevin Bass

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Summary

In this bonus episode, the hosts discuss the early period of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. They discuss how social psychologists said that a superordinate threat could bring people together and overcome polarization, and how this did not happen with the pandemic. They provide a timeline of the pandemic, from when people were not worried about traveling and crowded places, to when President Trump declared a national emergency and when states began to implement shelter-in-place orders. Lastly, they discuss Dr. Anthony Fauci’s projection for the number of cases in the US.


The conversation discussed the difficulty of predicting the number of cases and deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic and how the models often overshoot the true numbers. It then discussed the advice from the CDC and White House Coronavirus Task Force to wear a face covering in public, as well as President Trump’s halting of funding to the World Health Organization and his claims that the peak of new cases had passed. The conversation then discussed the movement against Mitigations that was taking place in the US and around the world and how this was spreading on social media. It also discussed the protests against stay at home orders in several states, including Alabama, and the plea from Mayor Adler for people to wear masks and social distance. Finally, it discussed how the pandemic had become politicized with protests organized by Republican activists and other groups.


In this conversation, the host and guest discuss the issue of trust between the scientific community and the public. They analyze the opinion piece written by the guest in Newsweek, which suggests that the overall approach of the scientific community was flawed in a way that caused excess deaths. The guest argues that the scientific community turned science into a team sport, making it “us versus them” and the public responded by resisting. The host recommends the public take the vaccine, but understands if they decline. Ultimately, both agree that the temperature needs to be lowered and that the scientific community should be more open to criticism in order to rebuild trust.


In this conversation, the host highlights a point made in an opinion piece published in Newsweek by the guest. The piece claims that the public health community overstated the evidence and misled the public about its views and policies, including on natural versus artificial immunity, school closures and disease transmission. The host and guest then discuss how the “team sport” mentality of the pandemic has created an “us versus them” mentality, which has caused some members of the public to resist the public health community’s policies and advice. The guest, who is part of the medical community, has seen the effects of this resistance firsthand with his patients. The conversation highlights the importance of finding common ground between the public and medical communities in order to make progress in responding to the pandemic.

Timestamps

0:00:16 Heading: A Timeline of the Early COVID-19 Pandemic Response in the US +

0:03:27 COVID-19: A Timeline of Events and Responses in the US +

0:07:27 Heading: Discussion on the Impact of Intergroup Conflict on the Scientific Community’s Response to COVID-19 +

0:10:22 “Exploring the Impact of Making Science a Team Sport: A Conversation with Dr. [Name] on Public Health Misinformation” +

0:11:55 Exploring the Role of Misinformation and Preexisting Distrust in the U.S. During the COVID-19 Pandemic +

0:17:22 Heading: Examining the Exclusion of Important Populations from Policy Development +

0:19:01 Conversation on Involvement in Policy Discussions Regarding Vaccines and Genes +

0:21:10 Heading: Understanding the Reasons Behind Trump’s Popularity and How to Better Engage with His Supporters +

0:23:10 Exploring the Impact of Polarization on the COVID-19 Response +

0:29:48 Heading: Strategies for Reaching Persuadable Audiences in Political Discourse +

0:31:52 Conversation on White Fragility and the Scientific Community +

0:33:20 Heading: Conversation on the Need for Dialogue to Move Society Forward +

Transcript

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions.

[0:00:16]  A: Welcome to outrage Overload, a science podcast about outrage and lowering the temperature. This is a bonus episode about our COVID response. Um, social psychologists had always told us that one thing that could overcome polarization would be a superordinate threat, something that could overcome our partisan identities and activate our superordinate identity as Americans. They might cite an example, like an alien invasion or a global pandemic, but that didn’t happen with the coronavirus pandemic.

[0:01:15]  A: To set this scene, I want to take us back to 2020 and give a brief timeline of that early period of the pandemic. So take a deep breath and try to put yourself in a time before COVID being sandwiched in a crowded train car without much thought, when we didn’t know what essential workers were, before we were using refrigerator trucks for morgues, a time when we weren’t getting in fights over masks and vaccines, when we traveled to other towns without concern for COVID status. Mask rules vaccination level march 14, 2020.

[0:02:06]  B: To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort, today I am officially declaring a national emergency. Two very big words the action I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion of very importantly, very important, and a large amount of money for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease.

[0:02:35]  A: By March 16, 2020, areas were shutting down.

[0:02:39]  C: San Francisco mayor London breed tweeting moments ago that, effective at midnight, san Francisco will require people to stay home except for essential needs. She says that necessary government functions and essential stores will remain open and wills. This is called a shelter in place directive. And according to other local reports surrounding counties making up the bay area will also be placed on this lockdown until April 7.

[0:03:03]  A: By March 25, 2020, more than half of the states in the US.

[0:03:06]  D: Had issued shelter in place orders.

[0:03:09]  A: 27 total. March 29, 2020. Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked about the projected deaths in the US.

[0:03:18]  E: How many cases do you think the US.

[0:03:20]  D: Will reach? A million cases, 10 million cases? Or do we not even have any idea?

[0:03:27]  F: You know, Jake, to be honest with you, we don’t really have any firm idea. There are things called models, and when someone creates a model, they put in various assumptions, and the model is only as good and as accurate as your assumptions. And whenever the model has come in, they give a worst case scenario and a best case scenario. Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle. I’ve never seen a model of the diseases that I’ve dealt with which the worst case scenario actually came out. They always overshoot. So when you use numbers like a million, a million and a half, 2 million, that almost certainly is off the chart.

[0:04:06]  F: Now, it’s not impossible, but very, very unlikely. So it’s difficult to present. I mean, looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100 and 200,000 cases, but I don’t want to be held to that because excuse me, deaths. I mean, we’re going to have millions of cases, but I just don’t think that we really need to make a projection when it’s such a moving target that you could so easily be wrong.

[0:04:33]  A: By April 3, 2020, the CDC and White House Coronavirus Task Force were recommending Americans wear a face covering when in public. Quote, Medical grade masks like N 95 should be reserved for medical professionals. Homemade coverings, including those made of fabric, are all acceptable if they cover your nose and mouth completely, end quote. April 14, 2020, president Trump halted funding to the World Health Organization, accusing it of failing to do enough to stop the virus from spreading when it surfaced in China.

[0:05:04]  A: The next day, he kicked off his White House briefing in the Rose Garden by proclaiming, quote, the data suggests that nationwide, we have passed the peak on new cases, end quote. By mid April 2020, within a month of lockdowns, the momentum had begun for reopening. Protests against stay at home orders took place in several states. A movement against Mitigations was already underway in the US. And around the world.

[0:05:31]  A: This movement was spreading in various circles on social media. Also in April 2020, Facebook was attacked for blocking protesters from using the site to organize in person gatherings that violated states stay at home orders. By July 2020, deaths from COVID-19 were.

[0:05:49]  G: Soaring as more people continue to die from the coronavirus. Here in Austin, local authorities are taking extra measures to prepare KV’s. Tori Larnett joins us live this morning. And, Tory, this is not easy to say to talk about, but local authorities are bringing in trailers to act as makeshift morgues. Now, this comes after weeks of record breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases in the area. Health officials and public leaders across the board are urging people to wear masks and social distance now before it gets even worse. Last week, Mayor Adler had this message.

[0:06:21]  E: For people this is not a second wave for us in Austin. This is the first wave. We just tamped it down. We didn’t make it go away.

[0:06:32]  G: Officials in parts of California and Arizona are making similar preparations to get refrigerated trucks as their morgues also become overwhelmed. In New York City, dozens were sent there during their search.

[0:06:44]  A: Also in July 2020, president Trump held his first coronavirus briefing since April, in which he encouraged people to wear masks.

[0:06:52]  D: But by then, the pandemic had already.

[0:06:54]  A: Long been politicized, with protests organized by Republican activists, our party organizations, tea party activists, armed militia movement supporters, gun rights activists, and anti vaccine advocates. Here’s what that looked like in August.

[0:07:09]  G: 2021, tens of thousands of people in Alabama gathering for Donald Trump’s rally as the state struggles with a surge of new coronavirus cases. Trump facing a wave of booze, in fact, by his own supporters when trying to tell the crowd to get vaccinated.

[0:07:27]  B: I do. You got to do what you have to do. But I recommend take the vaccines. I did it. It’s good. Take the vaccines. But you got down. That’s okay. That’s all right. You got your freedoms, but I happened to take the vaccine.

[0:07:54]  A: Um, so what went wrong? Some social scientists predicted this. Wilder, Jussom, and Ashmore wrote in 2001, quote, when intergroup attitudes and relations have moved into the realm of outgroup hate or overt conflict, the prospect of superordinate common group identity may constitute a threat rather than a solution. When intense distrust has already developed, common group identities are likely to be seen as threats.

[0:08:24]  A: And that’s what IDA suggests is the state we’re in. With the decline in trust of outgroup authorities, superordinate goals are no longer powerful enough to bring us together. Our guest today published an opinion piece in Newsweek titled It’s Time for the Scientific Community to Admit We Were Wrong About COVID and It Costs Lives, in which he suggests the scientific community’s overall approach was flawed in a way that undermined its efficacy and resulted in excess deaths.

[0:08:52]  A: He says, we made science a team sport, and in so doing, we made it no longer science. It became us versus them, and they responded the only way anyone might expect.

[0:09:02]  D: Them to by resisting.

[0:09:09]  A: I invited Kevin Bass, a medical student and researcher, to come on the show to discuss just that. Let’s lower the temperature and listen. Um, I discovered, you know, your opinion.

[0:09:39]  D: Piece in in Newsweek, and that’s how we first connected. The piece was called. It’s time for the scientific community to admit we were wrong about COVID and it cost lives. And it’s an opinion piece in Newsweek, as I mentioned. And so I wanted to sort of, for transparency reasons, because this is a science podcast and I wanted to kind of, for transparency reasons, sort of say one of the premises you have in there is that I think I’m paraphrasing the beginning, but the public health community overstated the evidence and misled the public about its own views and policies, including on natural versus artificial immunity, school closures and disease transmission. Aerosol spread mask mandates vaccine effectiveness and safety, especially among the young.

[0:10:22]  D: Now, my plan is not to I first thought, well, we’ll go over those point by point, and as I really thought about what you’re saying more, I’m just going to let that stand for now. We may or may not come back to it, but I don’t think that’s the important part of what you’re saying. But I wanted to make that clear to the audience, at least, that that’s kind of in your paper and you in your opinion piece, and they can obviously go find that.

[0:10:47]  D: But where I thought things were much more in line with kind of where the podcast is on kind of this outrage kind of world we’re in, is you say in there that we made science a team sport, and in so doing, we made it no longer science it. It became us versus them, and they responded the only way anyone might expect them to by resisting. I kind of want to start the dialogue there and kind of bounce off that and some related things that you talk about in there when you’re saying we made you are part of that.

[0:11:24]  D: You’re part of that science side. You’re in the medical community, so you kind of saw some of this firsthand in terms of patients and their reactions and resisting and things like that. So you are the we, and I am the we to a degree, too. I was out there screaming for the science, and I guess you could have to argue that. I don’t know if it’s an absolute failure, but you’d have to anybody, any objective, zura would have to say that the country as a whole could have handled all this better.

[0:11:55]  D: You could probably debate as exactly how and why, but that’s probably an evident fact. So maybe we can start there, and you can kind of lead us off that way, if that’s okay.

[0:12:06]  E: Yeah, I think that’s a perfect place to start, because it’s really one of my central concerns for a really long time. And I’ve been doing science communication. I’ve been on social media, trying to help the public to understand science better for over five years, and bad information and misinformation has been a really big focus of mine for a lot of that time. And for a lot of that time, I believed that the reason misinformation existed was that there’s basically opportunistic individuals who have some sort of credibility and an ability to connect with people who are ignorant about science in an emotional way and turn them against science and tell them outrageous things that cause them to engage with those individuals. We call them grifters. Right.

[0:13:03]  E: And as a result, people get the wrong idea about science, then they start making bad health decisions because they turn against effective treatments and therapies including things like vaccines, heart disease, medications, all sorts of cancer medications, all sorts of different things. And so therefore, we had to figure out some way to counter and to beat the grifters, to neutralize them. What we decided to do over the course of COVID and maybe a little bit before we started to deplatform the grifters. But what I have recently started to look at and think about is another point of view, which is that maybe another model of misinformation, which is that there’s actually really high levels of distrust in this country. That’s one of the things among developed countries that really marks the united states as somewhat distinct.

[0:13:56]  E: There are other countries with high level of distrust, but certainly the united states is among the highest distrust for establishment, especially for institutions. I’m not a scholar here in this area, and it may even be, like, distrust for each other sort of we’re an anatomistic individualistic society. So I started to look at that and think, well, I started to look at some of the literature there about that.

[0:14:22]  E: And apparently there are many scholars or some scholars in the United States who attribute some of the bad health outcomes due to COVID because the United States had among the worst reduction in life expectancy, among the worst mortality of any developed country in the world. And so there are scholars who attribute that to in large part the distrust in this country. And I think that’s certainly part of it.

[0:14:45]  E: And then I started to think maybe it’s not so much grifters opportunistic people who are just injecting bad information by manipulating people’s emotions. It’s actually preexisting distrust. That what we call grifters. And I’m a little bit more ambivalent about that term now, because I think there’s well, what these individuals do is they simply reflect and validate preexisting distrust among the public to a certain degree, of course. I think they certainly inflame it sometimes, but that distrust preexists those individuals coming there and talking about it and talking about how the medical establishment is bad, et cetera, et cetera.

[0:15:35]  E: So then I started to think maybe a big part of our blind spot among people in the establishment who were thinking about COVID and who were like you and me, trying to tell everybody, here’s the science. Stop being so ignorant and stop being so bad, and just, like, accept here’s what the science is. Maybe one of our blind spots is that it’s not ignorance necessarily that’s turning them against us. It’s also, like, preexisting distrust. And perhaps we can play a role in making that better. And perhaps we can also play a role in making that worse.

[0:16:11]  E: For example, when we kind of heavy handedly insist on, quote, unquote, the science and impose it on people who already distrust us, we can certainly inflame that distrust. And so then I started to think, maybe in part, some of these grifters that we call them, are actually there as a result of some of the things that we could do better if we decided to actually do those things better. So we could actually, in part, deal with the misinformation problem by doing better ourselves in creating trust, and then as a result, there might be less misinformation.

[0:16:48]  E: And so that was really a central concept, which you pointed out immediately of the piece, that we have a responsibility in sort of taking the public seriously about their concerns so that we then can increase the trust, and then they’ll be more receptive to some of the things we say. And I think that we didn’t do such a great job of that during COVID We did a bad job. I think we did an absolutely horrific job during COVID of doing that.

[0:17:22]  E: And I think that opinion piece that’s not the only point the opinion piece makes that’s a major point of the piece.

[0:17:30]  D: Well, one thing that you say that we did poorly was we excluded important parts of the population from the policy development. And I think to add on to it, we will answer that question because I do want to hear your views on sort of who that excluded segment is, you think? But I think you could talk about how one challenge I have about this is that today we’re in a place where people have become so entrenched in their sort of ideology that they kind of see everything with a political lens. No matter how hard you try to be sort of neutral in your language and things like that.

[0:18:07]  D: Now, I think. So the question that I kind of have is, was this inevitable anyway? Because that fundamentally we have this distrust going on and it maybe was going to happen, but it feels like we probably could have done better. I mean, I think, like you mentioned, this idea of just and I’ll say scientists can be snarky and that kind of thing. So it might have also been a turn off often to sort of and also this whole point often we talk about, well, this is just self evident, we don’t need to describe it to you.

[0:18:37]  D: And that is not a good strategy to tell people it’s self evident, it’s terrible. And so there’s things like that. I think we could have done better. So I do kind of have that question of whether it was going to happen no matter what. But yeah, you’re saying we did exclude important parts of the population. I’m curious. A lot of the stuff that was out there really was pretty conspiracy theory kind of stuff.

[0:19:01]  D: Bill Gates is going to put a chip in you and that divermectin stuff and the vaccine will change your genes and stuff like that. It was pretty conspiracy theory. So, I mean, are those the people you want involved in in the policy.

[0:19:15]  A: Or who are you kind of referring to there?

[0:19:18]  E: Yeah. So this is a very interesting question, and I haven’t yet. So one of the things that I wanted to do, perhaps, and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get this done, or perhaps I’m not sure if it’s worth the time for me to do it, but one of the things I wanted to do was write up a separate sequel to the article. Sort of like what we could do better, how we could avoid this. So I haven’t written that yet and I haven’t done the research, but of course I have some ideas.

[0:19:48]  E: But being involved in the policy discussion, obviously not. So the kind of people who would want to be involved and this is a big problem during the pandemic, obviously, because we had like, who is the leader of the sort of alternative view during the pandemic, it was Trump, right? Trump was the person who represented and championed those views that’s I wrote in the piece. And obviously Trump wasn’t the best representative of the alternative views because he liked to say whatever was on his mind, and it wasn’t always correct.

[0:20:21]  E: And so as a result, people would get the wrong idea about things. So it was a little bit problematic, but ideally, in an ideal scenario, and then I guess we could talk about the practical scenario, but like an ideal scenario, we would want to find people who are reasonable. And the problem, though, of course, with that, and I guess I’m arguing with myself, is that part of the reason people loved Trump, right, was because he was so authentic, because he connected with them at an emotional level that was sort of not civil, and that’s what they loved. And that’s a part of that’s closer to the sort of values, the sort of comportment the habitus of people who voted for Trump.

[0:21:10]  E: There’s class differences there, and I think they’re very important. So then I guess we can go to the reality, like, what would you do, actually, if we went back at that time with Trump? How would we deal with that better? I think it’s the same way I just said, right? To express sympathy and to express understanding of the point of view that he was coming from and to show that I don’t think that would be that hard to show in the way that you talk to Trump and then at the same time, gently, very gently, correct things that he said was wrong. I don’t even think he would have he might respond, like, negatively to that, but I don’t think I think if he even Trump knew that people cared and stuff, I think things wouldn’t have been bad or as bad.

[0:22:02]  E: But instead, what we had is we had the situation where we dismissed him as a buffoon. We polarized against him, we demonized against him. People hate when I use this term because they say this is just a term fox came up with the whole liberal media, which is basically the media except for Fox. Well, they loved to castigate him because that was good for their bottom line, too. That was how they blew up. That was how New York Times really blew up in the social media era, was by castigating Trump. But that’s all they did. And that polarized our country and reduced the ability for someone like Trump or any kind of representative, but in this case, Trump, to make the ordinary people or the less educated people or the people who Trump generally championed make them feel involved in the discussion. And they needed Trump to allow them to feel involved in discussion. And our demonization of him, our marginalization of him, really perpetuated the problem that got him into office in the first place, in my opinion.

[0:23:10]  D: Yeah. And I think one thing I’ve kind of discovered, as I kind of on this podcast, I do what I call these men on the street interviews where I talk to regular people across the political spectrum and generational spectrum and other it’s not a pushback thing. I just go into listen mode and just hear where they’re at and people really open up and you hear where they really stand. And one thing I’ve noticed from that is we definitely differ on the issues. That’s true. But what’s worse is sort of a worldview gap that neither side is really aware of how the perception they’re not aware of how far apart we are on worldview.

[0:23:50]  D: And so when they go into a conversation like the first sentence, they’re just like in shock now. It’s just like some kind of I don’t know where to go from here. And then it’s not surprising that these dialogues don’t go very far because if you came into it kind of knowing that person had that worldview, I think that would help prepare you of how to conduct this conversation. But because these worldviews are so far apart and we live in our bubbles enough that we don’t realize there’s other people that have seen the same facts and come to way different conclusions, that that’s a huge challenge. And I think that played a role in this as well, that the scientific community was not prepared for that different worldview and was very much just like you say, sort of dismissive of it.

[0:24:36]  D: And I know a lot of us were like that. Like I say, we can be snarky.

[0:24:43]  E: Right now as we speak, I’m tweeting and stuff and I have old friends and also friends who are excellent scientists, excellent social scientists, like truly brilliant people who have the most respect for intellectually they think I’ve gone insane.

[0:25:00]  D: They think you’re on the dark side.

[0:25:02]  E: I’m on the dark side. I’ve gone insane and I’m a self interested grifter and that’s the reason I’m doing this. And it’s because they can’t wrap their head around what I’m saying. They have to find some way to dismiss it to maintain their own belief, integrity. It’s pretty wild, right?

[0:25:24]  D: I mean, that’s one thing I talk about on the podcast a lot is this kind of grandstanding, some people call it, or the sort of virtue signaling and that kind of thing or a litmus test kind of thing. Like if we don’t say the right thing, we’re at risk of being outcast by our own people as we’re supposedly on our own side. And it’s gotten to that point. And so this has pushed anybody with any kind of more moderate view to kind of self silence because they don’t want that social absolutely cost yeah, you already answered that a little bit by that comment. But have you got any other traction in the scientific community or in the medical community on doing this?

[0:26:06]  D: I think we’re always asking the other side to be self, yes, to be introspective, but it’s hard for us to do it.

[0:26:15]  E: Yes, but when you said that you were saying us. But then I was also thinking about my side now. Now I’m so frustrated with what used to be my side, and I’m like, Why can’t you see I’m doing the same thing now on the other side?

[0:26:35]  D: Right. Well, and I was particularly asking sort of within the medical and science community yeah.

[0:26:43]  E: So I think that people are just like the people who already well, I think people already have their views. Some people are more moderate. And I have, for example, a friend here at my school who they are on the left, like, very much on the left, but they also were a little bit critical of COVID And then I also have actually another friend of a few friends like this, and they see what I’m saying. They’re critical of the COVID policy, and they see what I’m saying, and it’s cool. And then I also have people on the right who see what I’m saying, and they think it’s great.

[0:27:21]  E: But then people who are on the left who never who are just, like, hardcore, you know what I mean? Those people are not very happy with me. So I don’t think I’ve changed minds, but I think I’ve brought things out. Change minds is hard.

[0:27:37]  D: Oh, yeah. I mean, the primary thing you’re asking is for us to have an intellectually, honest dialogue conversation about this. I mean, that doesn’t seem like that seems like a very scientific thing to do.

[0:27:48]  E: But if you think that the other side has no basis, that it’s just grift, that it’s just nonsense, then what I’m saying is nonsense.

[0:27:59]  D: Yeah, well, I think the fun yeah, right. My thing was I was very sensitive to this. I mean, I felt like people were people that wouldn’t wear masks and wouldn’t get vaccine were sort of being selfish, terrible.

[0:28:15]  E: It made me so angry. I was so angry at people who didn’t have masks on. I literally wanted to get into a fight with them whenever I was out, I wanted to get a fight with people doing a musk on. Yeah, I was the same way.

[0:28:28]  D: Yeah. And it doesn’t really help. It doesn’t help to discount them out of hand and that kind of thing. And I think that once it got to that point, it was pretty hard to turn them back. And again, I still come back to that question, was that inevitable anyway? But probably the scientific language and the way they approached it, as you say, the conditions were not great at that time, as you say, you sort of had trump was the only leader that you had to kind of work with.

[0:28:57]  D: There was nobody else, sort of speaking for the scientific side that would appeal to those people. So you sort of had to bring Trump into it. And if you look at things like all of these books coming out of the people had to deal with Trump, like John Kelly talks about the way he had to convince him of things. It was sort of like dealing with a four year old trying to get him to take him down a path.

[0:29:18]  D: And I think a lot of people didn’t want to go there. But I think some of it wasn’t that way either. I mean, I think there was still we probably were way too dismissive of regular people too. Like if someone’s going to say the virus alters your genes, well, I think if you could calmly, like you say, facts aren’t always the best way, but you can say here’s how it works, maybe there’s a way to approach that and go, that’s not happening. But again, it comes back to that trust thing. They’re not going to trust you if you have the wrong color hat on.

[0:29:48]  E: Yes. Ideally, I think having people who are in that tribe who are like known as being like Republicans or right wing who could carry that science based message, that would be probably the way because then they could.

[0:30:07]  A: Yeah, and there were a few, and.

[0:30:09]  D: I think some of them that did that had the same problem. They like risked that sort of litmus test check and suddenly they were sort of excommunicated. I find some of this I compare this a little bit. I’ve done some work with racial justice and other kind of ideas of bringing people into the fold kind of thing and I kind of compare it to this call out, call in thing idea that different people practice different ways or think about different ways. But if you think about sort of a spectrum of where people lie, there’s people on the extreme far ends that you probably they’re kind of unpersuadable and they’re probably not really worth your time spending on a lot of time spending on that. Or if they’re way on your side, you don’t have to worry about them, they’re already on your side. And then you sort of have right in the middle people and then you have which are still pretty persuadable and then you have people kind of a little bit one way or the other and that’s the group that’s the main persuadables. If you can talk to those people that are a little bit or somewhere between sort of extreme and directly middle, that’s the group that’s kind of reachable. And that’s where people talk about this idea of calling in instead of calling out. So in the racial justice world, they kind of want to help, but they still don’t know how pronouns work or they still use a lot of racial language and they’re sort of innocent in the sense that they don’t really realize they’re doing it, they don’t understand the impact of it and things like that. So you have the option to call them out and sort of send them further down that path. And you could argue that’s white fragility or whatever in the racial context, but if. You want to create the cause. And I think this is something that you’re saying in this paper, that if you care about the cause, then drop the ideology, right, and work on the ends rather than the sort of means and the other sort of emotional satisfaction you get by down talking these other people.

[0:31:52]  D: So you can call those people in and say, you’ve got some good ideas, let’s talk about this, that and that, and maybe take you along. And I think that’s a similar kind of thing that we probably failed at here.

[0:32:04]  E: Right.

[0:32:05]  D: But yeah, so I didn’t want to ask you I mean, you may have some comments on that, so let you comment on that. But I just wanted to ask you one other thing, if you have more time before I let you go.

[0:32:13]  E: Oh, yeah, I agree with what you said. Yeah, I agree with all of that completely.

[0:32:20]  D: Well, I guess the question would be, what are your thoughts on whether we think the scientific community is kind of ready to do this or would be able to do this? Because I know the CDC has its own sort of political stuff that they have a hard time being honest, to be honest, right, because there’s political appointees and all kind of stuff going on there, but somewhere there’s got to be. So do we think there could be an honest dialogue about this in a sort of retrospective?

[0:32:47]  E: I don’t know. That’s a really interesting I’m not sure. I guess the question I would ask to that question is, can we move on as a society without having that dialogue? And I don’t know if we can. I think we have a real problem. Like, maybe we can, but we we have I mean, I don’t there’s sort.

[0:33:20]  D: Of a healing reckoning, you know, that we have to do.

[0:33:23]  E: Yeah, I mean, if we try to go if we try to keep just, like, ignoring that this happened, which is what a lot of people want to do, they just want to say, oh, we’re done with this. There’s a lot of unhealed wounds that it’s going to take a generation for people to forget, if not much longer. I think the deeper issue, though, is that there is this preexisting distrust, and it’s probably related, it’s probably related in our country to class and racial divisions, ultimately wealth inequality, stuff like that.

[0:34:01]  E: But if that’s the case, and if we’re going to continue as a society, we are still going to have racial divisions, we are still going to have that wealth inequality, we have to do things in a more enlightened manner, because in order for society to function, it has to be at least somewhat unified. It has to has to work together to cohere somewhat. And if these separations divisions keep increasing, eventually this society won’t work and bad things will happen.

[0:34:34]  E: More bad things.

[0:34:35]  D: Bad things have happened.

[0:34:36]  A: Yeah.

[0:34:37]  E: Right. So we have to try, or we will lose our society in the long run. Maybe not us. Maybe our children or grandchildren. Will these problems have to be addressed? We will lose our society in the long run. So I don’t know if we can, but I know we have to try.

[0:35:00]  A: Well put.

[0:35:01]  D: Okay, well, thank you very much for making the time. I don’t know if there’s anything else, any other final sort of closing thoughts you have, but I wanted to make sure I thank you for coming on the show.

[0:35:13]  E: No, I mean, this was a really interesting experience. I love having this kind of conversation because I don’t get to have this kind of exchange very often. Things are very polarized right now, usually basically being attacked all the time. And it’s really nice to be able to say a perspective and be understood and speak a common language with somebody about a really serious problem that we both recognize. So I really enjoyed this a lot.

[0:35:41]  D: Oh, good. Glad to hear it.

[0:35:43]  E: Awesome. Thanks, David.


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