I noticed that the HBD crowd (Steve Sailer, Greg Cochran) took Covid-19 seriously while the populist right as embodied by the America First crowd, talk radio and Fox News minimized the seriousness of Covid.
Has the HBD crowd been wrong about any major issue?
If I were to make a broad distinction, it seems to me that reactions to Covid-19 separated the contenders from the pretenders. Those who were flip about the dangers of Covid-19 lost the debate. According to the most comprehensive study to date, each Covid death cost about 16 years of life.
There have been a lot of left-wing hysterias that have not lived up to the hype (heterosexual AIDS in the West, global cooling, the war on women, campus rape, etc) and the Right has been proved right.
For the Left, marshaling the resources of the government to tackle Covid came naturally. The Left seems more competent and effective than the Right dealing with Covid (whether that is true or not is another question). This is a crisis that plays to the Left’s strengths, just like terrorism, crime, welfare fraud and out of control immigration play to right-wing strengths.
The pandemic can be used to make the case for nationalism or for globalism. In America, I think the globalists have emerged a tad stronger, but I expect the world will become more nationalist, though there may be some areas where we get more international cooperation.
If Trump had appeared to show an average level of competence with regard to Covid, he would have been re-elected. I don’t think he was a horrible manager, but I understand why suburban voters swung 2% against him in 2018 and 2020.
Covid-19 is a virus that often results in severe medical problems. Society’s mitigation efforts against Covid are in part a medical response, in part a scientific response, and in large part, a political response. Science doesn’t command us a society how to respond to Covid.
Society does have a significant interest in people getting vaccinated for all sorts of things, including Covid.
Some of the instinctive reactions on the Right to Covid have validity such as the notion that health is not always the number one priority in life, that while social distancing may mitigate spread of the virus it also comes with a severe psychological and social cost that must be included in our calculus of what to do and what to mandate, and that we should do more fat-shaming. If Covid is this enormous problem that the media says, and I believe it has been an enormous problem, then fat people should lose weight and most people need to exercise more. If we are going to shame people for not getting vaccinated, and I’m open to a moderate amount of this, then why not shame fat and sedentary people as well?
Much of the American Right reaction to Covid reminded me of the American Right reaction to 9-11. It was ideological and all about our freedom. The terrorists supposedly hated us for our freedom and the Dems want to restrict our freedom to fight Covid, which is just the flu, bro. I think both of these responses were moronic. The attack on 9-11 had nothing to do with our freedom and everything to do with our excessive intervention in the Middle East. Al Qaeda did not hate us for our freedom. Nine eleven called for a law enforcement response more than an ideological response. Covid called for a technocratic response rather than an ideological response (muh freedom!).
Covid revealed the poverty and barrenness of right-wing media. The American Right has nothing like the New York Times or even New York magazine.
In practical terms, I think the Republican governors of Florida and Texas embodied the American Right reaction to Covid, which was less restrictionist than the typical Democratic governors and less inclined to take away freedoms. Perhaps the Left has more faith currently in the power of technocratic solutions and the Right has less faith. For the new Right, the Reagan Right, government is the problem, and hence they won’t like using the government to contain Covid. A default attitude that government is the problem strikes me as moronic, particularly with regard to things like Covid.
I can’t think of any popular position right now more clueless and more deadly than denying the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States.
Expertise is complicated and people want to take the easy way out such as always trusting the experts or always distrusting the experts. That’s easy. What’s hard is to evaluate expertise. I don’t think we should bow down to the experts, nor should we dismiss them. I stand equidistant between these two extremes. We have to evaluate what incentives the experts operate under, what is their track record in this kind of situation, what is the evidence, what is the upside of following their directions and what is the down side and what are the odds that they are right. It seems that in America today, people on the Right are less likely to trust the experts than people on the Left.
People on the Right tend to have a stronger fear response than those on the Left, so I don’t see anything anti-right about having grave concerns about Covid.
Covid has exposed how naive much of the Right is about power. All functioning democracies have unlimited ability to take away freedom in the name of confronting an emergency. You couldn’t have a functioning democracy without this ability to respond to a dire threat. Yet much of the Right in America has been complaining about the unprecedented loss of freedom from Covid restrictions and how this was not constitutional.
Power does not come from a constitution. Power comes from your ability to make other people follow your dictates.
If Americans know one thing about their system of government, it is that they live in a democracy and that other, less fortunate people, live in dictatorships. Dictatorships are what democracies are not, the very opposite of representative government under a constitution.2
The opposition between democracy and dictatorship, however, is greatly overstated. 3 The term “dictatorship,” after all, began as a special constitutional office of the Roman Republic, granting a single person extraordinary emergency powers for a limited period of time.4 “Every man the least conversant in Roman story,” remarked Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. 70, “knows how often that republic was obliged to take refuge in the absolute power of a single man, under the formidable title of Dictator” to confront emergencies caused by insurrection, sedition, and external enemies. 5 No political constitution was well designed, Hamilton believed, unless it could confront emergencies and provide for energetic executive powers to handle them.6
Under this view, dictatorship-the power of government officials to act on important matters free of accountability or timely legal checks-is not the opposite of democracy-or what our Constitution calls a “Republican Form of Government.” 7 It is an institutional feature within constitutional democracies that can and should be employed to perform valuable civic functions. From this perspective, “dictatorship” becomes-as it was in the early Roman Republic-a term of description rather than a term of opprobrium.8 It refers to institutions and powers of emergency government that constitution makers might establish to serve the public interest. Indeed, if the institutions are properly designed, “dictatorship” might even have positive connotations-think only of the praise heaped on the legendary Cincinnatus.
* Carl Schmitt offers perhaps the most chilling analysis of all. Although he recognizes the possibility of commissarial dictatorships, where the ultimate goal of dictatorship is restoring the status quo, he assumes that elements of the sovereign dictatorship always lurk in the background, waiting to emerge and to transform any existing political order.74 No matter how well designed a constitutional system might be, the true sovereign will always be able to escape the confines of that design and make exceptions to it.
* Emergency, or at least claims of emergency, are the standard cause and the standard justification for creating dictatorships.
Those people on the Right such as John J. Mearsheimer and the realist crowd who hated the idea of invading Iraq in 2003 have taken Covid-19 seriously.
Steve Sailer wrote Oct. 23, 2019:
…when I spoke to Marantz for several hours in 2017 over the phone, my impression was that he was most disappointed by my answer to his question about which historical event was the dividing point between establishment and antiestablishment conservatives.
I answered: “The Iraq War.”
Bush’s decision to invade Iraq for no good reason was when conservatives distinctly divided up over the administration’s grand strategy of Invade the World/Invite the World into the triumphant globalists versus the despised nationalists. For example, The American Conservative magazine was founded in 2002 by Taki, Pat Buchanan, and Scott McConnell, with me as movie reviewer, to oppose Bush’s horrible plan for war.
I could sense Marantz’s hope for an acclaimed New Yorker article suddenly deflating as he realized my fundamental explanation of the history of the 21st-century right was correct. But, clearly, his editor David Remnick was not going to greenlight a lengthy profile of somebody like me who could calmly document how today’s Reviled Right came together in opposition to Bush’s dreadful war.
Ruling-class Republicans like Bush and Rove worked for invasion abroad and at home. In contrast, we outcast conservatives made ourselves unpopular by speaking up for peace and rule of law. We were denounced by mainstream Republicans as racists for not believing that American conquest would turn Iraq into Germany or Japan.
But we were right.
Big business has taken Covid seriously. Republican politicians by and large have not taken Covid as seriously as Democrats.
Covid became partisan in America while that did not happen in countries such as Australia. Freedom is a dominating value in America so Covid restrictions were bound to rub many Americans the wrong way. In countries that put a premium on fairness such as England, Australia and New Zealand, I think there was less resistance to restrictions on freedom to fight Covid.
No Western industrialized nation has shown the way overall in responding to Covid. Outcomes haven’t been particularly different (except among island states such as Australia and New Zealand). The one dramatic policy difference has been in getting people vaccinated where some states such as America, Chile and England have done well.
Another silly part of the right-wing American response to Covid was to decry the Left’s Great Reset. Every group, every ideology, tries to use crises to further their agenda. Immigration restrictionists were glad to use Covid as an excuse to limit immigration.
The conservative media, by and large, was not impressive in their coverage of Covid:
Columia Journalism Review, April 13, 2020:
The denialists began in late February, led by conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh, who also posts full transcripts of his show on his website—a key fact in the spread of his ideas. In his February 24 commentary, Limbaugh called coronavirus “the common cold.” Limbaugh correctly said that the survival rate was 98 percent, but he omitted predictions that a third of the country could become infected. At this point, there weren’t many conservative stories denying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. The influential Limbaugh set the tone.
It’s getting better all the time
Once there was no denying that the pandemic was in and around us, the coverage shifted to “it’s not so bad and it won’t last too long.” American Thinker’s March 9 story “Coronavirus Codswallop” stated that the statistics about the pandemic “should be taken with a grain of salt.” A day earlier, the New York Post told its readers that “the spread of the virus continues to slow.” Dr. William Hazeltine, writing for FoxNews.com on March 21, predicted that the pandemic may end sooner than we expect.
Stories from right-wing websites praising Trump’s handling of the crisis then came to dominate the coverage. The Daily Caller labeled Trump’s much-criticized February 27 press conference, in which he presented the overall risk of the coronavirus to Americans as very low, a “master class in crisis management.” A few days later an opinion article on the same site stated that Trump “has got the coronavirus situation completely under control.” Trump’s March 11 Oval Office address drew plaudits from the New York Post (“Trump Passes Coronavirus Test with Flying Colors”) and FoxNews.com (“Trump Coronavirus Response Will Protect America’s Economy, Workers and Businesses”). Writing in CNS News on March 20, Christian leader Franklin Graham gushed, “Thank God we have a president who knows how to take charge.” Not to be outdone, in late March, Lara Trump penned an op-ed for FoxNews.com that read more like advertising copy: “My father-in-law, President Trump, is showing what leadership looks like in a time of crisis.”
At least half of conservative coverage centered on the name of the virus, with right-wing journalists enthusiastically labeling it “China coronavirus” or “Wuhan virus.” Limbaugh and the American Thinker put forth the theories that somehow the virus had escaped or was deliberately released from a lab in China, and that the country was buying up stocks in the slumping market. (The headline was “Did China panic the world and steal our wealth with a common cold?”) American Greatness called the virus a way for China to destroy the United States.
The cure is worse than the disease
The first stories suggesting that the remedies to battle covid-19 were worse than the actual disease began showing up in mid-March. A number of media outlets voiced this perspective, including the Washington Times, The Federalist, and BernardGoldberg.com. The Epoch Times expressed a similar concern and added, “For a disease that so far has extracted a relatively small death toll and from which a quarter of those infected have already recovered, why are we reacting as if Covid-19 is the second coming of the Black Death?”
Bashing the rest of the media
Conservative media became increasingly critical of major mainstream media outlets and their reporters throughout the coverage of the crisis. Conservative commentator Todd Starnes wrote that NBC’s Peter Alexander, whom he described as a propagandist, “got what was coming to him” after President Trump rebuked him for asking if he was giving Americans false hope. The Power Line blog claimed on March 24 that MSNBC and CNN have reduced covering the administration’s press conferences because they were showing the administration in a positive light. Predictably, both The Federalist and American Greatness accused the mainstream media of stoking public hysteria, which correctly characterized some of the reporting without acknowledging the widespread under-reaction from the right.
There’s nothing new about conservative media disparaging Democrats. But the criticism intensified as the crisis grew. A RedState article accused Joe Biden of plagiarizing Trump’s plan to combat the “Wuhan” virus. March 13 articles on Breitbart and American Greatness stated that the coronavirus spread because the Democrats diverted the attention of the country with the impeachment effort. Community Digital News ran an inflammatory headline calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “the ring leader of Dems’ covid-19 relief thievery.” The body of the story called her a “bitch” who “pisses on American’s [sic] collective leg.”
Of course, there were dozens of other coronavirus-related stories published in right-wing media that couldn’t be neatly categorized. And a handful were even critical of the administration’s efforts.
But probably the most important and influential story coming from the right during the pandemic was Tucker Carlson’s commentary published March 10 on FoxNews.com (and delivered by Carlson on the network the night before). He was virtually alone among conservative commentators in stating unequivocally that the virus will get worse, and he called upon the country’s leaders to stop lying about it. (It’s worth noting that he had visited the president days before to deliver the message in person.) By March 13, President Trump had changed his tune and acknowledged the challenge facing the world. It was a watershed moment in the administration’s approach to the coronavirus.
I see many parallels between the way the conservative media covered 2020 voter fraud and Covid-19. Even if you believe in the strong possibility that massive voter fraud shifted the 2020 election results in important ways, which I don’t believe, you can’t claim that the conservative media has done a good job producing evidence for this. It’s done a terrible job. It has been long on innuendo and short on facts.
* Here is a report from Nov. 13, 2020:
According to the paper, “Getting Conservatives and Liberals to Agree on the COVID-19 Threat,” published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research in September, conservatives tend to see free will as the primary driver of outcomes in life, whereas liberals are more accepting of the idea that randomness plays a role. Compared to liberals, conservatives tend to attribute outcomes to purposeful actions. So in the context of the pandemic, they’re more likely to blame any negative outcomes in their lives on these more agentic policymakers or fellow Americans rather than the virus itself.
“According to our study, conservatives might at least in part be less likely to wear masks because they don’t feel as threatened by the virus itself,” says Zane. “Any hardships that they’re facing in their lives around health, financial issues, even going to movie theaters or shopping malls, might not necessarily trace back to the virus for them. So, they feel like they don’t have to protect themselves from it.”
* How Right-Leaning Media Coverage of COVID-19 Facilitated the Spread of Misinformation in the Early Stages of the Pandemic in the U.S.
*Partisan differences in physical distancing are linked to health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Collapsing counties into pro-Trump versus pro-Clinton bins, Trump-voting counties reduced their general movement 9.5 percentage points less and reduced their visiting of non-essential services 19.4 percentage points less than Clinton-voting counties.”
* The role of ideological attitudes in responses to COVID-19 threat and government restrictions in Australia:
Support for restrictions was also positively predicted by Submission, and negatively by Conventionalism, Dominance, and Anti-egalitarianism. Reactance to government restrictions was negatively predicted by Submission, and positively by Conventionalism, Dominance, and Anti-egalitarianism. These findings suggest that right-wing ideological subfactors contribute to the one’s perception of COVID-19 threat and government restrictions differentially.
…As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, its perceived threat has become increasingly politically-polarised in the United States (Hart et al., 2020). Democrats are more likely than Republicans to view COVID-19 as a major threat to public and personal health (Van Green & Tyson, 2020), and conservatism appears to be associated with lower levels of perceived personal COVID-19 vulnerability (Calvillo et al., 2020) and increased scepticism (Latkin et al., 2021). This is unexpected, given that conservatives are generally more threat sensitive than liberals (Jost et al., 2003), and have a heightened motivation to avoid pathogens (Tybur et al., 2016).
Yet there is also evidence that right-wing adherents might be more concerned about system-level threats over personal threats such as contracting COVID-19. For instance, right-wing attitudinal dimensions in Right-Wing Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Orientation, and conservatism, positively relate to external threats (threats that pose a danger to society as a whole), but they do not relate, or negatively relate, to internal threats (threats that pose a risk to the individual; Onraet et al., 2013). Therefore, right-wing adherents may be less concerned about threats to their personal health that would result from contracting COVID-19 and more concerned about political, economic, and social threats adjacent to COVID-19, such as government restrictions on social and economic behaviour.
…Anti-egalitarianism was the only subfactor in the regression model to predict COVID-19 threat in both samples. This finding is somewhat comparable to other global socio-political and science-based issues such as climate change, where Anti-egalitarianism predicted higher levels of climate change denial and lower pro-environmental attitudes (Clarke et al., 2019; Stanley et al., 2017). This may reflect the right-wing ideological tendency to be less concerned with personal threats over system-level threats (Onraet et al., 2013), despite a tendency for right-wing adherents to be pathogen avoidant (Tybur et al., 2016). Indeed, the reduced threat perception might be motivated by other factors such as opposition to government restrictions that aim to reduce the spread of COVID-19, consistent with an ideological solution aversion account (Campbell & Kay, 2014).
…anti-egalitarianism, aggression and traditionalism/conventionalism predicted voting for Trump over Clinton.
Doctors say they’re facing increased skepticism and pushback from patients over Covid-19 treatments. They and researchers attribute this to skeptical and misinformed coverage of the pandemic, which often amplify President Donald Trump’s misstatements.
“The right-wing media and President Trump eroded faith and trust in scientists and in actual data during this pandemic, so now we’re left at the end of December with this terrible surge in hospitalizations,” Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor at the University of California, San Francisco, who specializes in treating HIV, told NBC News.
One published academic analysis found that from Feb. 1 to March 23, right-leaning outlets had published nearly 4,000 stories with misinformation about Covid-19 compared with mainstream outlets, which had about 1,500. The researchers also found that “right-leaning media viewers are more than twice as likely to endorse Covid-related misinformation.”
* Individualist right-wingers (right-leaning libertarians) are more opposed to government interventions in general than corporate right-wingers. Perhaps Covid reveals once again the weaknesses of the libertarian approach?
NEW YORK (AP) — When Dr. Alexa Mieses Malchuk talks to patients about the COVID-19 vaccine, she tries to feel out where they get their information from.
“Sometimes I feel like the education I have to provide depends on what news channel that they watch,” the doctor in Durham, North Carolina, said.
The mixed messaging can come from the same media outlet — and even the same source. On Fox News Channel on Monday, host Sean Hannity looked straight into the camera to deliver a clear message: “It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccinations.”
Yet Hannity followed up his statement by interviewing a woman protesting her college’s requirement that students be vaccinated, a segment appealing to people skeptical of the immunization push. His prime-time colleagues, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, opened their own programs by questioning vaccination efforts.
Skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccination is a common theme in media appealing to conservatives, despite assurances from doctors and scientists that the vaccine is safe and effective. Some medical experts worry that conflicting takes and outright distrust of the vaccine shown by influential media personalities contribute to a failure to meet inoculation goals aimed at arresting the pandemic.
Two recent exchanges in recent days on Fox News Channel’s popular morning show, “Fox & Friends,” illustrated the mixed messaging.
During a discussion of Los Angeles County’s decision to reinstate mandates to wear masks indoors, even if people are vaccinated, guest host Lawrence Jones said, “People are saying, ‘Why get the vaccine if you’re not going to return to normal? What’s the use of doing it? Why?’”
“Well, you won’t die,” colleague Steve Doocy replied. “That’s a good reason.”
Doocy, arguably Fox’s most influential figure arguing in favor of vaccinations, also took on co-host Brian Kilmeade on Monday when he said people should not be judged if they decide not to get the shot. Doocy responded that the vast majority of people who are dying of COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
“That’s their choice,” Kilmeade replied.
Several personalities on Fox News Channel — including Bill Hemmer, Dana Perino, Bret Baier, Greg Gutfeld and the three-member “Fox & Friends” morning team — have been vaccinated and publicized their status. Rupert Murdoch, the network’s founder, has been jabbed, too.
* Richard Haass: “India’s problems reinforce the pattern that countries least successful in contending with Covid-19 are headed by populists slow to mobilize government & accept the seriousness of challenge & what is required. Bolsonaro, AMLO, Putin, Trump, Erdogan, & now Modi all come to mind.”
* Washington Post, May 3, 2021:
Right-wing nationalists failed during the pandemic. But they weren’t the only ones.
Were some political systems better positioned to beat the pandemic than others? “This covid epidemic may actually lance the boil of populism,” Francis Fukuyama, the acclaimed political philosopher, told the BBC last year. “I don’t think there’s any correlation between being a democracy and doing well or poorly [in dealing with the coronavirus]. But there’s definitely a correlation between being a populist leader and doing badly.”
Fukuyama made his diagnosis at a time when the United States under former president Donald Trump seemed the textbook example of pandemic management gone wrong. Case counts were soaring while the White House fumbled the federal response, feuded with state governors and cast doubt on the recommendations of public health experts and blame on foreign adversaries and domestic rivals alike. Chest-thumping nationalism of the Trumpist variety, the argument went, could offer little in the face of a pandemic that required sober technocratic judgment and international coordination.
A year later, Fukuyama’s diagnosis remains broadly accurate. The two current worst-hit major countries, Brazil and India, are governed by right-wing nationalists who have presided over hideous surges of the virus that overwhelmed hospital systems and filled cemeteries and crematoriums. Daily deaths are now in the thousands in both countries, with the real number in India likely far higher than the reported one.
Brazil passed 400,000 covid-related deaths last week, trailing only the United States; the majority of those deaths occurred in the first four months of this year. India recorded its highest official number of coronavirus infections Saturday. The following day, it announced 3,689 deaths in the previous 24 hours, marking a new national record.
* The suburbs swung 2% against Republicans in 2020, and I think much of that was a reaction to Republicans seeming less competent than Democrats, in particular with regard to Covid.
A friend says:
I don’t think you can divide it in a left/right way. I think you have to look at so many interrelated factors that it is hard to generalize.
There is the dividing line politically so that when Trump was president, Biden and Harris raised doubts about vaccination. Now that Biden is president there is a concerted effort to pretend that didn’t happen and that the reason for any slowing in vaccinations is due to right wingers even though Blacks disproportionately are not getting the vaccine.
But you have to look at a number of things: (1) the origin of the virus and the how the view of this has changed over time. Right now it appears that most are leaning to the virus being lab created in China and then either intentionally or not being released. Those most oriented toward a negative view of China view it as a form of warfare which harmed out economy…. It is now clear the NYT deliberately squelched investigations into the origins of the virus. Was this politically motivated since Trump called it the China virus, or because the NYT had ties to China or for some other reason.
Then there is the issue of how serious the virus is…. This has led to a philosophical difference about how to treat the pandemic. There are three ways that have been promoted to prevent the spread of the disease. They are to maintain physical distancing, to disinfect surfaces (including frequent hand washing) and to wear masks. The distancing issue went to its logical end by locking down and having people stay at home. Others have said this is not how any other previous communicable disease in an epidemic had been treated. Persons who were sick were quarantined. Here where those most at risk of getting the disease and becoming serverely ill or dying from it can be pretty easily identified. The approach suggested by others was isolating them and letting everyone else go about their business since even if the disease spread, it would not kill them. This then took on political overtones. With conservatives suggesting that lockdowns were an unjustified use of police powers to among other things give dictatorial powers to the governors in various states and condition the populace to complying with a totalitarian government. Liberals suggested that it was the duty of government to prevent the horrors of a full blown pandemic and that by limiting the opportunities for infection and then subsidizing those out of work and unable to pay their rent, was the best solution.
Then there is the issue of therapeutics. So far the only therapies that have been recognized by the medical establishment to work are steroids to help with breathing since Covid causes some sort of interference with breathing in the lungs, and mono clonal antibodies if given early enough. Additionally supplemental oxygen for those with low blood oxygen saturation is also useful. But redemsiver although expensive hasn’t been proven to have any beneficial effect and although some (primarily conservatives) think Hydroxyclorquine and Ivermectin work, there still have been no gold standard tests which show this is the case. There is substantial anecdotal reporting supporting their use, but most medical authorities (except those who use them) do not accept them. There are also those who support vitamin (primarily vitamin D, though sometimes C and A) and mineral (primarily zinc) and nutraceutical supplementation (primarily quercetin) which is pretty much frowned upon by the medical establishment. These don’t really break down along liberal conservative lines, although libertarians do support any and all of these.
When you get to the vaccines, it is even harder to say it breaks down by political orientation. The anti vax movement has long been led by Robert Kennedy Jr., who is liberal in all other things, and by suburban moms who feared that even the traditional vaccines may have led to our outbreak of autism.
Right now there is a huge issue which to me is really troubling. There is an all out effort to compel everyone to get vaccinated, including those who recovered from the virus, although there is substantial evidence that natural immunity based on being infected is far superior to whatever immunity is gained from being vaccinated…
I think that the right has coalesced around condemning Fauci who is the face of the government effort to fight Covid. He is attacked as a government bureaucrat who wants to accumulate and exercise arbitrary Power. He has been blamed for funding the gain of function research in Wuhan to avoid U.S. laws prohibiting it. He has been accused of being a liar because of his position on masking changing over time. He was tolerated under Trump but now he is viewed as some sort of operative seeking to help the Democrats.
So is it a liberal or conservative position to be cynical about whether masks help…. The whole issue with cleaning of surfaces was later withdrawn… Handwashing is of course important since almost all viruses are spread that way. However, it is remarkable how many persons wear masks outdoors even when not close to anyone else. My understanding is that the Chinese studied this and there is only one case of the disease spreading out of doors. Is this a conservative or liberal position?
The difficulty is there still is no unequivocal scientific proof for many of these points.
Person like Steve Sailer pride themselves on making data based decisions. He has refrained from much of this in relation to covid (although a couple of weeks ago he made the observation that someone he knew who had covid caught it again and he thought we might be in for a rough time as it had a resurgence but I think he constantly reevaluates his position as more data comes in and doesn’t want to opine too soon since so much of what has been conventional wisdom on this has changed.