Progress... I think.
A couple of days ago, a friend posted his thoughts regarding the current situation, where his view stemmed from data he believed demonstrated the death toll of COVID-19 was overblown.
My friend shared his viewpoint, and as I expected, he ended his post with a request for people to chime in with their thoughts because he was open to consider differing points of view - an intelligent, willing mind.
So. Fucking. Refreshing.
The responses were numerous over the next couple of days, but the majority were from those who were very skeptical of the pandemic as a whole and were demanding LA reopen. And the misinformation started spreading like wildfire as a result. And it was startling.
Please remember: MISinformation is UNintentional. And I focused on my mantra of EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE. And this mantra not only applies to the masses, but to ourselves as well, including many physicians who sadly demonstrate more ignorance of basic medicine than I could have ever expected.
I made impassioned pleas in response to a few individuals, leveraging my position as a physician on the front-lines in NYC. And what I recognized afterwards is how essential and RESPECTED our views and experiences truly are, and how our understanding of data and public health may give perspective to those who feel lost during this endemic.
Many are looking for guidance. For support. For understanding. Because they are not okay.
And we need to tell them it is okay to not be okay. But it is not okay to be an uncritical and unwilling mind, and it is not okay to spread misinformation.
A few of my responses:
1. "I think the biggest misunderstanding relates to the moving of the goalposts. The following are quotes from various scientists in a great The Atlantic article that explains the uncertainties of COVID-19 - worth a read. The goalposts with a new disease ALWAYS move because our understanding grows with more experience. This is EXACTLY what took place in our ICUs WHERE I WORKED and saw first-hand how our treatment oscillated as our knowledge grew (coming from a doctor who is NOT bought by the government but actually is in NYC).
The lack of trust in these scientists is jarring - this is what they have devoted their LIVES too, not a month or two of people sorting through things they never gave one thought about before COVID. I am learning too, but as a physician, I have a much better understanding than the lay person about epidemiology and can sort through and understand the data better too as a result."
“When scientists offer caveats instead of absolutes,” Gralinski says, “that uncertainty we’re trained to acknowledge makes it sound like no one knows what’s going on, and creates opportunities for people who present as skeptics.”
This is how science actually works. It’s less the parade of decisive blockbuster discoveries that the press often portrays, and more a slow, erratic stumble toward ever less uncertainty.
“Our understanding oscillates at first, but converges on an answer,” says Natalie Dean, a statistician at the University of Florida. “That’s the normal scientific process, but it looks jarring to people who aren’t used to it.”
2. "Hey - Vaccines save lives, not just yours but others - coming from a physician who gets zero dollars from pharma for saying that. And the additives in vaccines are in amounts which have been determined to not be harmful (for example, the amount of formaldehyde in vaccines, IF an ingredient, is less than what your body produces NATURALLY on its own. I mention formaldehyde because I get this thrown at me all the time from those against vaccines). The additives are there to either kill remaining virus or to ensure a strong immune response when given a vaccine to increase its efficacy. I have seen the effects personally in the hospital of children who have not received their recommended vaccines such as meningitis and it is devastating when it was totally preventable.
I find that picking and choosing what one likes or dislikes from Western medicine is unsettling because its convenient to pick the things that are good about it when it applies to oneself and then say things that do not apply are bad. There is uncertainty in life and disease, so I'm grateful things worked out for those on this thread when people may have thought they would not have, but it doesn't make what the physicians said inaccurate. My buddy was initially a quadriplegic after a car accident and was told by his neurologist he would never walk again - he did albeit with limitations. But even he acknowledges he was an exception. There are always exceptions and uncertainties in science."
3. "Few on this board probably thought even once about pandemics before this one. Very few. Yet people are questioning people who spent their entire CAREERS thinking about this. Please, have more humility and self-awareness. The goalposts move as we learn more about the disease. Uncertainty becomes less uncertainty, NOT certainty.
And I will say the attitude of "let's just get back to normal" is exactly the biggest frustration I have. We have a social responsibility to one another. The same way people choose not to take vaccines, it's the same situation in this case it seems with so many - my body, my choice. But when it comes to communicable diseases, that is a very privileged stance to take. And your choices impact others, whether you want to accept that or not. If you want to eat like garbage, that is your body, your choice. But not in this situation. If ALL people were able to be socially responsible, social distance, wear masks, practice proper hygiene like other countries like South Korea have instituted, we could have opened up much sooner. But people refuse to do so.
Because some don't want to lose ANY freedom, this is why the country as a whole needs to be treated like toddlers in "time out". If we could give up some freedoms to keep most of the rest, this situation could also resolve itself sooner rather than later."
4. "As a physician, it is my duty to protect human life so since COVID can kill someone, I wouldn't go as far as saying the lasting effects could be worse than the virus, but I agree the lasting effects could be pretty devastating.
And I also think we can agree that the world is a shitshow."
Apologies if these responses were not particularly eloquent, but time to edit takes a backseat to impeding further discussion, support, and dissemination of misinformation. I do not usually engage this extensively with responses on Facebook, but we ALL need to be doing our part to stem the tide of these falsehoods and false assumptions.
Do not stop. Do not get discouraged. Keep charging ahead. Keep persisting. Breakthroughs can occur.
Because you know what happened? Not ONE person responded in the negative, nor challenged my stance. Many supported my comments, some of those skeptical asked intelligent followup questions, and the rest remained silent.
And I think the silence said quite a bit. Perhaps they did not read my response. Perhaps they started opening their minds a bit and realized they do not know as much as they thought.
Or perhaps they realized they can not in good conscience challenge someone who has seen the devastation of COVID-19 with his own two eyes and, unlike Dr. Fauci and other scientists who cannot respond to the skepticism of so many, can KEEP IT REAL and respond with clear, intelligent, direct responses full of passion where it is crystal he only fucking cares about saving more lives.
THAT is my agenda. And a sexy one at that.
I remember when I changed my own mind about this pandemic - as I have said in the past, I was once one of those skeptics. So it is possible for change to occur as I am proof of that.
And I think this is the first instance where I felt I COULD have changed some minds. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. I may never know.
But the hope of this will keep me chugging along.
And to those of you who will look at my GIF choice with amusement, keep those dirty thoughts to yourself 🤣😬.