April 21, 2020

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Protests show ‘two Americas’ — those who lost their jobs and those still getting paid. “People don’t appreciate being condescended to and bossed around, especially when the leaders ask them for sacrifices without empathy and humility.”

Plus: “Ultimately, this rising resentment is itself a failure of public health, and of public health administration. You can complain that people are irrational and resentful, that they don’t ‘believe in science,’ or whatever. But people are what they are, and their response to epidemics is surprisingly predictable. If your messaging — and your behavior — inspires resentment that causes people to resist and ignore public health messages, then you have failed at your job, whatever the amount of scientific knowledge you bring to bear.”

I’ll just add that one thing that has appalled me — in the comments here, on social media, and well, everywhere — is that so many people dealing with a situation full of uncertainty and unreliable data are so dead-certain of their positions and so abusive of people who disagree. And that’s certainly true of both sides in this debate.


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