The CSI Effect on the COVID Crisis

It’s a regular talking point from the Joe Biden campaign. “The way you fix the economic crisis is that you first fix the COVID crisis,” Joe tells us. Then he assures us that he has a plan to fix it, though the details are always absent. Ads all over the web and on TV boast that Biden has a plan, and the public responds positively. President Trump has been excoriated for saying that we are learning to live with the virus. In fact, one of Biden’s attack lines is that people are learning to live without the relatives who have passed from the disease.

This plays to a large segment of the American people who seem to believe that a cure is just over the horizon if we just apply the right amount of “science” to the problem.

The delusion is clearly a public health version of what prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges termed “the CSI effect,” where people familiar with the forensic science depicted on those types of shows end up with unrealistic expectations of what is possible in real life. USA Today described the effect:

But the programs also foster what analysts say is the mistaken notion that criminal science is fast and infallible and always gets its man. …. Real crime-scene investigators say that because of the programs, people often have unrealistic ideas of what criminal science can deliver.

The same is likely going on with perceptions of medicine. Shows featuring medical professionals usually have a patient with a disease who gets cured by the end credits nearly every week. This creates a perception among some in the audience that any disease is curable provided we send enough people wearing lab coats and stethoscopes into battle.

In this world, Donald Trump is not acknowledging the reality that we can treat the disease and protect the most vulnerable while everyone else goes about their lives. He’s thought to be willing to sacrifice the vulnerable to restore the economy and improve his chances of reelection. If only Donald Trump would extend the lockdown another week. If only Donald Trump had more doctors like Dr. Fauci on his team. If only Donald Trump would lead by example and wear triple masks. If only Donald Trump believed in “the science,” we could beat this thing.

People who believe the world works like this are deluding themselves. Back to that USA Today article:

But real scientists say CSI’s main fault is this: The science is always above reproach.

Sound familiar?

People watch TV and think that fantasies, be they crime or medical shows, are real. Then real life disappoints them.

The real science shows that lockdowns don’t do anything but delay the inevitable spread of the virus. Alex Berenson has done the legwork with his “Unreported Truths About COVID-19 and Lockdowns” books.

The real science shows that the benefits of masks are not clear cut. They may protect the wearer from inhaling water droplets that carry the virus. But the benefits are offset by the fact that people touch their faces more when wearing a mask. Some are now claiming that those same water droplets caught by a mask can be aerosolized and dispersed as smaller particles when a person exhales. The aerosolized particles are much easier to inhale and can work their way deeper into lung tissue.

The real science shows that people with the virus can be treated with existing medications and make a recovery, provided that they get help early in the infection. Drugs like hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin have already been shown to be effective in treating people with coronavirus infections. Cures may be forever on the horizon.

TV can be very tidy. The case of the week gets wrapped up in 60 minutes, unless the network needs a two-part episode. In real life, science is a process more than an answer. Scientists and experts make mistakes in their interpretation of data and have to reevaluate their work. Real life is often messy and we do have to learn to live with things.

The fantasies promoted by Joe Biden and the Democrats are not going to fix this crisis. These fantasies will prolong the crisis and cause deep scars in public health, both physical and mental, the economy. The longer we entertain them, the worse the damage to our country.

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