What makes Covid-19 relative? Social Relativity (Thesis 1)

As we can observe in China, New Zealand, Vietnam or Australia, Covid-19 is a disease that could be quickly contained with the correct individual actions and disease prevention measures. The outbreak of Covid-19 must therefore more so related to our current form of social living and communication of Covid-19 as I discussed in my last article. Covid-19 is therefore a phenomenon relative to our form of communication and society. In this article, I discuss the relativity of Corona that is related to our binary constitution of society and media communication:

  • 1. Thesis: Corona is relative.

    Explanation: Corona locates right between being a very dangerous disease and a harmless cough (also relative to specific individuals). Both positions, independent from which one is true, are defended with selective evidence and relate to the new complexity that social media mass communication has initiated.
    • In the New England Journal of Medicine, Fauci writes on the risk of Covid-19: “This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.” In other words, the risk should not be exaggerated.
    • The ambiguity of Covid-19, however, does not substantiate the claim that it is part of our normal life-risk (the chance of death is 1 to 1000). The chance of dying in a car crash, for example, is much lower (in most states lower than 1 to 10000 (Source: Thrillist.com)
    • Ambiguity-intolerance reveals itself as neglecting the relativist nature of knowledge. Capitalists and anti-capitalists, cultural optimists and pessimists, progress-deniers and progress-proponents utilize their science to emphasize what they perceive as clear answers. In addition, it seems that viral media only allow for binary communication.
    • As a result, the discussions center around rather useless binary questions of whether we should wear masks or whether Bill Gates is the head of a vaccination conspiracy. Of course, any possibility of limiting  the outbreak should be seriously considered. However, the mask question was politicized as a marker of political difference. In Republican terms, it stands for the freedom to die and for the absence of evidence. In other words, it stands for Democratic silliness. In Democratic terms, it stands for the cruelty and absence of empathy, as well as it stands for the denial of scientific evidence. In the words of a Democrat, Republican are cold-hearted and silly. In this climate, Democrats tend to perceive themselves to be the returning Jedi to slay the Emperor and his Sith-lords.
      • The thesis of the excellent podcast “You are not so smart” is that anything can be politicized. The podcast therefore depicts the current discussion as a result of tribal psychology. According to the podcast, the discussion became a question of “us versus them” which is particularly part of the American psychology. The podcast also argues that the question of masks became a marker for distinguishing Democrats from Republicans. It is not a matter of science, but a matter of political sympathies (Note on Masks and Evidence).

In comparison and far from the dilemma of political debate, China has established suitable living conditions already at the beginning of June. In September, it began opening its universities without any significant events. Given the freedom, I currently enjoy in China, it is not a political question but simple pragmatism.

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