I’m no virologist, but…


How do you survive the corona crisis, as a columnist? By seriously investing in retraining! Make coffee, surf to Google dotcom, and read a number of opinions from across the political spectrum about issues you don’t know much about, but about which you do have an opinion.

I’m no virologist, but these sure are bizarre times, right? I hear what those RIVM experts have to say, but it just doesn’t sit well with me. You can’t just go ahead and decide for seventeen million people without letting them have their say, can you? After all, there are numerous examples of how to go about it differently: look at how they do it in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, and look at how they tackle the crisis in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Papua New Guinea and the Faroe Islands. Why don’t we do it like that? Are we that stupid, or are they that smart?

Look, I’m no expert, but what difference does that one-and-a-half-meter measure really make? I read something about that on Facebook the other day by one of those animal pollsters with an Excel sheet. Then it started to dawn on me. That’s right, shouldn’t we just stop coughing? Because that’s the easiest way for the coronavirus to spread: it’s in your lungs, so as long as you don’t cough, you won’t infect anyone else. Good news as far as I’m concerned; the golf courses and tennis courts can start to reopen.

The problem is that the RIVM thinks in terms of models and viruses, but not in terms of people. For that, you need other scientists, people who think beyond their own expertise. Fresh thinkers, those who think against the grain and broaden our horizons: generalists with knowledge of the person behind the numbers, the economy behind the lockdown, the emotion behind the virus.

I read a Medium blogpost the other day by an entrepreneur in San Francisco with a Master’s degree in physics. He had a great story about how we need to be in lockdown (‘the hammer’) for only four weeks, after which we can ‘dance’ to the finish line. The story didn’t include figures or other data, but it was exactly what I was looking for: an argument I completely agreed with. Brilliant piece by the way.

I’m not the only one who took retraining. Initiatives sprouted all across the political spectrum to hold up a mirror to the government. On Tuesday, for example, people with a wide variety of interests took to the streets to jolt the cabinet awake, partly at the request of a Quote 500 millionaire who believed that ‘the people should revolt.’ They held up signs saying “Stop the Lockdown,” “Vaccination is wrong” and “Say no to 5G,” because they read somewhere that all these things are bad. It’s important in these times to keep hearing from all sides of the debate.

There’s a text sprayed on a wall across from the university building in Norway where I worked before this lockdown. It says “Never trust anyone’s opinion” and, written directly below in a different typeface: “except this one.” I’m no expert, but the same is true for my column.

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