Hoaxes: Of the election and Covid-19 virus

Breakfast With Bwana

By Anil Madan

I have pasted below an article from The Wall Street Journal. This is scary. Many Americans, too many, think (“think” is a loose word in this context) that the Covid-19 virus is a hoax.

How is it that in a country of relatively well-educated people with virtually limitless access to information and sources of knowledge this could happen?

Photo – img.republicworld.com

Consider this: 

Too many people also think that the results of the election are a hoax. Well, a partial hoax. The HoaxMeister in Chief doesn’t think there is anything amiss about the fact that the Republicans really scored a massive victory against the Democrats in down-ballot races while he lost to Biden. Nor does he think that it is a mistake that he got 74 million votes. But, he declares, there is no way that Biden could have garnered 80 million votes.

What we are seeing is a classic example of cognitive dissonance given a push in the derriere from confirmation bias.

Before November 3, the Democrats were yapping on about Russian interference in our presidential election and that Russia wanted Trump to win. That itself was a curious position because Biden has always been soft on Russia and indeed on China and Iran as well.

The Republicans countered that election interference was coming from Beijing and Teheran as well, and that was in favour of Biden. The Republicans did not explain why China would want to replace a largely ineffective Trump with an unpredictable Biden who may soon be succeeded by Harris.

With the election over and Biden the (apparent) President-elect, the Democrats are totally silent about Russian interference. It is obvious to them that if Biden won, the Russkies didn’t interfere. 

Meanwhile, the Republicans are not claiming Chinese or Iranian interference, but allege three or four different types of fraud: 1. that Dominion’s voting machine software was used to switch votes from Trump to Biden; 2. mail-in ballots were sent to non-residents and deceased persons and those ballots were returned and counted; 3. Republican polls watchers were denied access or excluded from polling areas when votes were counted and somehow this increased Biden’s vote totals; and, 4. people voted more than once or ballots were counted more than once.

The curious thing is that the hand recount in Georgia confirmed the results of the first count and then a machine recount confirmed that the first two counts were correct. 

However, the Republicans claim this result is a hoax because signatures were not matched. But how about the fact that these recounts establish beyond cavil that votes were not counted more than once?

After the 2016 election, Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler insisted there was Russian interference in the 2016 election and worse, that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

I have written more than once that the claim of Russia collusion was nonsense. As we know from analysis of the 2016 results that have been published—and previously linked by me—Trump won in 2016 by 77,000 votes in a few counties in three states. 

It is inconceivable that the Russkies knew more about American electoral demographics than all the election consultants and strategists armed with powerful computers or that the Russkies were able to deploy 77,000 votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

This time, we are asked to believe that someone, not identified, managed to give Biden 14 million more votes than Hillary got in 2016 while giving Trump 11 million more votes than he got in 2016, and distribute the votes in such a way that Biden won many states including some not necessary for him to have secured an electoral vote majority of 270.

Is it any wonder that so many Americans are willing to believe that their eyes and ears are lying to them?

Cheerz…
Bwana


P.S. I deny that the foregoing was written by a Russian, Chinese or Iranian bot.


Covid-19 disbelief saddles health-care workers with another challenge

Doctors and nurses worry that community skepticism about coronavirus will hurt efforts to limit it. A report by Sarah Krouse of The Wall Street Journal

Dr Michaela Schulte works overnight shifts at St. Luke’s Health System hospitals near Boise, Idaho, treating some of the hundreds of critically ill Covid-19 patients filling hospital beds in her state during the most severe period of the pandemic so far.She, like many other health-care workers, faces yet another challenge in keeping up with the recent surge in coronavirus cases: A number of people in her community say the virus isn’t as bad as public-health and news reports indicate—and some say it isn’t real.

Outside the hospital—at the grocery-store checkout line after work, or through family friends—Dr Schulte says she hears people calling the virus a hoax and saying medical professionals are exaggerating the severity. The disbelief, on top of the relentless physical and mental demands of their jobs during the pandemic, is draining many hands-on medical workers and making it even harder for them to provide care, they say.

“We see what is happening—and then to reconcile that with some of the disbelief that you run into is very hard,” Dr Schulte said. “It’s a parallel universe.”

Covid denial, as some health-care workers call it, can take forms ranging from a belief that Covid-19 is no more serious than a routine cold, or a belief that face masks aren’t effective at slowing the spread, to the idea that the pandemic is an elaborate hoax.

An Axios-Ipsos survey in September found that 36% of people believe fewer Americans are dying from Covid-19 than the number of deaths reported, an increase from 23% who believed that was the case in May.

A protester’s sign in Boston doubted the pandemic’s legitimacy in August. Photo – Associated Press

University of Southern California researchers surveyed 5,770 people in November and found 4.6% agreed or strongly agreed that “wearing a mask is unnecessary because coronavirus is not a serious threat to people like me,” down from about 5% in June.

As hospitalizations nationwide hit record highs, many hospitals have cancelled elective procedures to preserve capacity and are struggling to keep up with staffing demands for intensive-care nurses and respiratory therapists. Many clinicians worry about the toll that widespread public doubts and misinformation about the coronavirus are taking on their institution’s overall ability to provide medical care, because individuals who don’t take precautions risk becoming ill and contributing to the spread.

Ashley Bartholomew, who recently left her job as a nurse in El Paso, Texas, recalled a Covid-19 patient in early November who, as she wheeled him out of the intensive-care unit where he had been treated, equated the coronavirus to the flu and said the media was exaggerating the threat.

She told him he was the first Covid-19 patient she had treated all day who was able to converse with her. And she told him that she was treating the sickest patients she had seen in 10 years as a nurse.

He appeared to grasp the seriousness of the virus, she said, adding that he thanked her for sharing her experience and said he had been mistaken.

“The gravity of it was so heavy,” said Ms. Bartholomew, who recently stopped working to care for her three young children as her family prepares to move. She tweeted about the incident with the patient.

She remains concerned about the effects of Covid-19 misinformation when a vaccine becomes available in coming months. “Most of the time, if I test your cholesterol and show you a number, you believe us,” Ms. Bartholomew said. “You believed us with everything else—and you’re not now.”

Some 42% of Americans have said they wouldn’t get vaccinated, according to a Gallup Panel survey of 2,985 adults conducted between Oct. 19 and Nov. 1. Most of those who said they would refuse cited the fast development timeline as well as safety concerns, while others cited distrust of vaccines in general, politicization of the vaccine or the belief that a vaccine isn’t necessary.


* Published in print edition on 8 December 2020

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