The greatest words in the English language are not “I love you,” but rather, “I don’t know.” If there is one thing that the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us it is that the folks who portray experts in the media do not know much. They have been wrong about nearly everything since the outbreak first started in a Chinese wet market. From the traits of COVID-19 to the global economic fallout, everyone’s track record has been battered, beaten, and broken. And yet, just as sure as former Vice President Joe Biden will forget where he is tomorrow, we will always take them seriously when the next big crisis strikes society and heed every word they utter because they depend on our diminishing little gray cells.
The evolution of the globe’s reaction to Coronavirus has been compelling to witness in real-time.
The Coronavirus is not an airborne respiratory illness. Sorry, the virus is airborne, but it cannot be transmitted between humans. No, wait! Actually, it is airborne and can be contracted human-to-human, but it can only affect seniors. Face masks are unnecessary because they will not protect you and should only be given to front-line workers. As a matter of fact, everyone should wear a mask, and millions will be required to do so. The virus originated in Wuhan, China. Excuse me, but referring to it as the Wuhan Coronavirus is terribly racist.
The public health crisis was indeed unfolding by the minute, but the announcements and decisions made by the World Health Organization (WHO) and governments all over the world were executed based on certainties, facts, professional opinions, and data. The authorities in charge of policymaking were so confident about everything, including the number of deaths worldwide. One might wonder if there could be a case for restitution based on negligence.
Wrong is the New Right
If you were to ask random people on the street what month the Declaration of Independence was signed – July or August – they would have a 50/50 chance of getting the response correct. Therefore, they would select one of the months, even if they had no clue when the historic document was signed.
This type of thinking extends to the smartest men and women in the room who think they must hold the answer to everything. It is rare to find someone on television or in the printed press conceding to not knowing something when queried by a journalist or anchor. Or, if he or she does not know, the person will come up with an inane word salad to window dress their paucity of information and conviction.
It gets worse when people are asked about something in their realm of expertise and they are unsure of the answer. For example, financial analysts may be asked if the stock market will go up or down tomorrow. Rather than admitting they do not have a crystal ball, they will pretend to know, even if it is anyone’s guess what occurs on the New York Stock Exchange day in and day out. It may go up or it may drop. It really depends.
We are all guilty of masquerading as an apotheosis in our field – or on any subject – convincing everyone to claim possession of infinite knowledge.
At the same time, you cannot blame mankind for this characteristic. What fun would it be conversing with someone in a private conversation or on television if the answer is always “I don’t know”? Viewers turn on CNBC for financial wisdom, while political junkies watch the plethora of cable news channels for professional analysis and predictions – and entertainment. If an expert panel repeats their ignorance, then what is the point of it all?
Imagine if the experts qualified every response with “I don’t know, but …” The world might be a better place.
Are You Nostradamus?
Who doesn’t love predictions? The more serious and dire the estimates, the more likely you will capture headlines. The mainstream media is all about panic porn, not rational and perhaps optimistic thought.
Here are just a few headlines:
- BBC: Coronavirus: ‘One billion’ could become infected worldwide
- Associated Press: Africa could see 300,000 coronavirus deaths this year
- CBS News: Coronavirus may infect up to 70% of world’s population, expert warns
As of May 5, there are 3.5 million confirmed global cases and 257,000 deaths. Unless there is a large-scale second wave or a mutation, it is unlikely at this point that one billion people will get the illness.
But this type of hysteria is common in all sorts of industries, and it is most pronounced in finance. Keynesian it-girl Paul Krugman famously sounded the alarm in 2016 that President Donald Trump’s historic victory would trigger a global recession. Up until the COVIDepression, the opposite occurred: enormous growth on Main Street and Wall Street. He was right about a recession happening under Trump’s watch, but it was due to an entirely unforeseen event and not his policies.
Legendary investor Marc Faber, who called the 1987 crash and the 2008 crisis, used to appear regularly on the major business networks, warning since 2011 about the imminence of a 1987-style collapse in the markets. Dr. Doom always provided fascinating and insightful analysis, but his predictions usually failed to hit the mark. Sure, if you warn every day for nearly a decade about a significant downturn, and it happens, you are technically correct. As they say, a broken clock is right twice a day.
Live Another Day
Remember all the Donald Trump is Literally Hitler ™ pearl-clutching? It turned out that the leftists howling at the night sky and drinking fish tank cleaner were a bit too paranoid. The president has governed as a moderate conservative, instituting some of the very same policies the left had championed for years before his ascent, such as border security and paid maternity leave. If it were not for CNN’s perpetual fake news handwringing, the president’s measures would not be considered too controversial. So, if the experts belonging to the punditry class cannot even get the basic facts about the current administration, then how could they be believed about anything else that happens tomorrow?
Read more from Andrew Moran.
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