Cyril has squandered the main thing he needs to fight Covid – ...

Ideas

Cyril has squandered the main thing he needs to fight Covid – our trust

The government’s non-science-based decisions are nonsensical and have cost it public trust

Columnist

No, your head spinning is not a symptom of coronavirus infection. It’s because of the things that make absolutely no sense in a time of Covid. Things such as, why have we been the only country on the planet to ban booze and cigarettes as ways of fighting the pandemic? Bewildering. (Full declaration: I am a non-consumer of both). It probably makes more sense to allow people some calming or distracting influences, given the isolation and anxieties so many experience with this extended lockdown.

Why do otherwise rational people do seemingly senseless things? To answer this question requires insight into human behaviour, especially during times of crisis. It makes no sense, for example, that so many Americans aggressively refuse to wear face masks, even though there is abundant evidence that the covering drastically reduces the chances of infection. Appealing to science will get you nowhere. Understanding what informs such puzzling behaviour helps.

Listen to the explanations. “It is my constitutional right to wear a mask or not. It is my individual choice. No government can tell me what to do.” What you are hearing is not selfishness, as many claim, but years of indoctrination lodged in extreme individualism and constitutional fundamentalism. So even with an unrivalled epidemic of gun violence, where schools are shot up and scores of children die, the right to bear arms (the second amendment to the US constitution) and my right to bear arms trumps any logical argument about even modest interventions, such as background checks on gun buyers. This behaviour, rooted in American culture, explains why infections, hospitalisations and deaths marched upwards in the US while coming down drastically in European nations during the first wave...

This article is free to read if you register or sign in.

Sunday Times Daily

If you have already registered or subscribed, please sign in to continue.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.