Scientific "prophets" give "expert" advice and our leaders blindly follow
Why are governments the world over rendering hundreds of millions of their citizens jobless, impoverishing at least a billion people, endangering the family life of millions (straining marriages, increasing child and spousal abuse, and further postponing marriage among young people), bankrupting vast numbers of business owners and workers living paycheck to paycheck, and increasing suicides?
The reason given is that we must lock down virtually all human social and economic activity in order to prevent millions of people from dying of the coronavirus and overwhelming hospitals.
But is it true? Was this lockdown necessary?
In order to answer these questions, we need to know how many people would have died from COVID-19 if we hadn't ruined the world's economic life.
The truth is we don't know. And the truth is we never knew. A large swath of the "expert" community cloaked itself with unscientific certitude, beginning, on March 16, with a model from the Imperial College London -- the source governments relied upon for the decision to ruin their economies -- which projected about 2.2 million Americans and half a million Brits would die.
Almost every national leader, politician and media outlet in the world believed that model. As I explained in my last column, modern men and women have substituted "experts" for prophets and priests. Science is the secular religion, and "experts" are its prophets and priests. In fact, they have greater authority among the secular, especially those left of center, than the pope of the Catholic Church has among Catholics. Whereas popes have invoked the doctrine of "infallibility" twice in the history of the Catholic Church, "experts" invoke it every day among the secular faithful.
But on what grounds are we to believe that millions would die without ruining the American -- and the world's -- economy? Without our being told by an omniscient God, there is no way to know the definitive answer.
But here are some data that cast doubt on those assumptions, based entirely on the only metric that matters: deaths per 1 million. The number of confirmed infected people is meaningless, since so few people anywhere have been tested for the virus, and we don't know how many people already had the virus and never knew it. (Moreover, asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic carriers of the virus constitute the majority of those infected.)
As of yesterday, according to the Worldometer website, the United States ranked 12th, with 71 deaths per 1 million people. (I have not included San Marino and St. Martin because they have such small populations.)
France's death rate is 229 per 1 million, three times greater than that of the United States, and it went on national lockdown March 17. America didn't go on national lockdown because that decision is the responsibility of states. So, let's take California, the most populous American state (and therefore nearest to France's population). California went on statewide lockdown March 19, two days after France. The death rate from coronavirus in California is 2 per 100,000. Two. Deux.