How does one reason for themselves and use critical thinking to interpret what they see and hear about COVID-19 at this time?

The sad reality right now (April 22, 2020) is that we just have be patient and wait. Careful, considered, critical reasoning won’t do much good without sufficient and accurate data — and that is really what we’re all lacking right now. Too many news, data, and information sources that are usually reliable have been propagating incomplete, inaccurate, lr even dangerous information from the very beginning of the pandemic. Many political leaders are of course even worse about conveying a nuanced and carefully considered understanding of COVID-19. And even medically savvy folks are struggling with what information they feel they can trust. As a consequence, a lot of people remain bewildered, afraid, and confused…and will likely have to remain in that state until we have more data. A lot more data. In perhaps two months’ time, we will hopefully have a much better picture of the COVID-19 pandemic, including how to manage it. For now…we must simply be prudent, and patient.

That said, I will offer a few resources that have been “better than average” IMO at conveying the evolving picture of COVID-19:

1) NBC Nightly News has done better than many other networks in the U.S. in providing carefully vetted, “cautiously accurate” information around COVID-19 in a very condensed format each night.

2) Science | AAAS and Science News Magazine are pretty reliable sources for ongoing developments, and delve into much greater depth.

3) STAT has been better than most at delivering accurate breaking scientific and medical news.

4) To get a very helpful picture of the global data on COVID-19, Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) - Statistics and Research at Our World In Data seems to be a great resource.

5) And of course the Coronavirus section of the W.H.O. website is…well…slightly better than mediocre, though sometimes slow to catch up on the latest developments.

And…well…that’s about it, unfortunately. I’ve been pretty appalled at the wild inaccuracy of many other news and information sources — including ones I have relied upon for many years. They are truly terrible right now.

Lastly, I’ll offer my own web page on COVID-19, which attempts to keep up-to-date on the latest information and provides resources for further research: COVID-19 Overview | Integral Lifework

Of course…this answer must itself be taken with a grain of salt, as I’m just clawing my way through a twilight of understanding like everyone else.

I hope this was helpful.

Why do people oppose opening the economy with social distancing guidelines?

It’s pretty simple: physical distancing isn’t enough to stop an explosive spread of coronavirus. In order to open the economy back up at all, we need to be able to contain, track and treat COVID-19 so that overall disruption and fatalities can be reduced. To do that will require:

1) Better, faster, more widely available testing of COVID-19 infection and antibodies.

2) Adequate supplies of effective masks for everyone who is out in public.

3) Financial support for folks who are at high risk and aren’t able to do their job.

4) A treatment that reduces lethality and permanent injury from infection.

5) And, ultimately, both a vaccine that works and broader herd immunity.

Right now, we have NONE of these things. So this is simply going to take time.

However, folks are also increasingly realizing that there is a larger issue in play: that we may not really want to “go back” to what we had before, and instead have an opportunity to address some pretty nasty systemic problems. Here is a great article about this:

We Are Living in a Failed State

My 2 cents.

Is it just to scuttle the livelihoods of 10's of millions to save the lives of thousands?

This is a false choice.

The impact on jobs and the economy is temporary, not permanent. Also the numbers used aren’t even close to correct. The question would be much more accurately stated: “Should tens of millions of people experience a temporary loss of income — for perhaps a few months — so that a few million people’s lives will be saved?”

That is a bit closer to the mark in terms of tradeoffs. As to whether that is “just” or not, I suppose it comes down to the morality you are operating on — whether temporary economic suffering somehow trumps careless and avoidable death in your worldview. In reality, the economic impact of COVID-19 is much worse because we have structured our society to funnel all the wealth to a few people, while leaving the majority of the working population in debt and without much savings or assets. So the bigger question really is:

“Is it just that tens of millions of millions of people are so vulnerable to COVID-19’s economic impacts, mainly because a few thousands have accumulated all the wealth in society?”

My 2 cents.

Why are people still thinking political even in this Covid-19 situation, instead of uniting all forces to overcome it?

Thanks for the question. My take is that there are many different reasons why COVID-19 is still being politicized and a unified effort is so challenging here in the U.S. — some of the reasons are more obvious, some more subtle. Here are a few that come to mind:

1) The profound political polarization of the country perpetuates partisan polemics — about everything. Nothing, really, can escape this gravity well right now.

2) Lots of folks are benefitting from politicization of COVID-19 — politicians taking a political stance to help them stay in office, companies and media outlets rushing to fulfill the latest priorities of the current political agenda, and so on.

3) There is a paucity of trustworthy leadership, competence and appropriate knowledge at both the national and state levels of government. This is true for both the legislative and executive branches. And, without these qualities, all the really remains is rhetoric, persuasion, and “Us vs. Them” jockeying to move the policy needle in any direction. It’s a sad situation.

4) The American electorate has an unfortunate habit of “going with their gut” instead of really thinking things through carefully. This is a gross overgeneralization of course — there are plenty of thoughtful voters out there — but, on the whole, I think this has been a pervasive problem. And one of the consequences is that these people’s opinions are not usually shaped by facts or logic, but by emotional appeals, groupthink, and the magnetism of their chosen “authority” on a given subject. It is, essentially, the perfect environment for political propaganda and maneuvering to shape all public discourse and narratives around something like COVID-19.

5) Most politicians — especially those who have survived a pretty hostile environment and remained in office for years — reflexively act on political instinct first, and everything else second. It’s behavioral conditioning because of an antagonistic status quo.

My 2 cents.

COVID Easter 2020



My sanity is bound by hope
That after this entombed stillness
Of prescribed isolation
We will resurrect ourselves
Casting away the layered dressings
Of our self-wrought calamity
And breathe fresh morning air
Thoughtfully renewed
In the garden of Earth

What will this new life be?
What will define the yearning brightness
That penetrates our darkest hour?
What clarion lures us forth
From this uneasy sleep?
What, really, is the point
Of our return?

Is it a soaring stock market?
Feverish consuming of endless stuff?
A disregard for every living thing –
Even our own young?
Perpetual striving and toiling
To create another shiny lie
To summit in the dark?
Another hollow victory
Of affluent self-importance?

No…that is the chiseled rock
– An obsessive labor of futility –
That formed the cold and rigid damp
Of our own negation
That is the old way
Of unresurrected self
Blinded into foolishness
By a fixed and narcissistic gaze

To believe in the power
Of rebirth
Is to let go of childish things
And cleave to larger loves
A love of Others
In service and kindness
A love of Nature’s gifts
In respecting and protecting
A love of Beauty
In creating and enjoying
A love of Justice
In championing and obeying
A love of Sharing
In generosity and humility
And a love of Love itself
In remembering, and honoring, the Sacred

Without such reconsideration
We emerge from our tomb
Confused, rudderless, and distraught
Stumbling numbly
Backwards to Golgatha
Eager for the familiar comfort
Of being nailed up on a cross

Without grasping
This moment of renewal
We return to taunted suffering
Pierced by spears of debt
Where greed casts lots
For our lives and our possessions
Where all thirst is quenched
By vile distractions
And our soul cries out:
“Why have you abandoned me?”

This, now, is our chance
To ascend beyond the pettiness
Of “me” and “mine”
To roll away the stone
Of callous indifference
To shed the suffocating mask
Of fearful ignorance
This, now, is the Easter
Of humanity
The lush and fertile change
That delivers us
From ourselves

[Audio version: https://soundcloud.com/user-701150728/covid-19-easter-2020v2]