You need some words to be able to notice a phenomenon. A few years ago I learned the word man stature: Explaining something to someone who actually knows more about it than the explanation itself. Since then, I’ve seen it everywhere: unwanted monologues, overestimating the speaker, the victim’s vain attempts to interrupt him.
It’s not just men who are to blame for this. Personally, I recently inadvertently misinterpreted the origin of the welfare state to a professor researching the origin of the welfare state. I wrote my bachelor’s thesis on the subject myself thirteen years ago, so I considered myself quite an expert.
It’s easy enough that the term is there now, because the corona crisis led to a human explosion. Since March 2020, many people suddenly know how exponential growth works and what are the stages of vaccine development; They are happy to share this knowledge with OMT members on Twitter. They loosely drop terms like IFR, prevalence, and comorbidity, saying, for example, “4×12 ivermectin is the answer,” or “passing through Covid19 causes cross-immunity.”
This confident tone is reminiscent of a famous 1999 article by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Krueger, who gave names to the “Dunning Kruger effect.” They showed that incompetent people tend to overestimate their skills. Psychiatrist Esther van Fenema expressed her dismay at this on Twitter this week: “After a long and intense study of medicine, you know something about the immune system, but humility is still relevant. I find discussions with normal people who have “googled a lot” and suddenly “understood” It’s all “a little tricky and stressful…” (Many Twitter users have taken the trouble to explain how Van Fenema’s immune system works.)
The misinterpretation is annoying behavior, but when it comes to corona, it is also understandable. Compare it to driving a car. You know that as a co-driver without a driver’s license, you should not criticize someone’s driving style. But what if the driver applies the brakes too late every time, takes too tight corners or doesn’t care too much about the red lights? Do you shut up or intervene?
The Cabinet is that driver in the Corona crisis, and the driving staff are co-drivers who open their mouths. They are not reassured that the government is making the right decisions – and rightly so. From February 2020 until now, there is a series of errors in judgment: from hoping the virus will survive in Brabant to assuming that people will continue to test themselves after vaccination.
The latter was expected to be incorrect, and was confirmed again on Thursday. Only 40 percent of people with complaints are tested, according to behavioral research by the RIVM Institute. It is not surprising, because there is hardly any communication about the risk of infection after vaccination, and the need to go to the GGD. The result: numbers rise, health care workers collapse, and another press conference.
From the start, there is often a lack of logic behind the policy. Think about when you could be inside with two people, but outside with one person. The almost masochistic emphasis is on “washing your hands”, while the topic of ventilation has received little attention. (As a result, every supermarket had a pathetic employee with cleaning spray in baskets until well into the Corona crisis, while ventilation guidelines for the food industry have been relaxed in the meantime.) Or think about the fact that students will soon be. The corridors.. should wear a mask, but not in the lecture hall. At least about everything about the mouthpiece: at first it made no sense, later the Grapperhaus sang it goodbye, and now it rises from its grave. But coolly then, not as in Germany, where already effective FFP2 caps are mandatory.
It will make a difference if the government is transparent about mistakes made, and provides insights and changes in strategy. But it doesn’t. No wonder people make room for the wrong man in his own right: politics is just screaming for intervention.
Fleur Rossmann ([email protected]) Editor at Norwegian Refugee Council
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on November 6, 2021
A version of this article also appeared on NRC on the morning of November 6, 2021
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