Thursday, April 23, 2020

Will our response to coronavirus be so successful it'll look like an overreaction?

I've been seeing a lot of this argument: "People are going to say we overreacted to the coronavirus, but that will actually mean our reaction was effective — it worked at keeping the number of deaths down."

How many of the people making that point have also said: "People say we overreacted to the September 11 attacks because your risk of dying in a terrorist attack has been very low over the past 20 or so years, but that actually means our reaction was effective — it worked at keeping the risk of terrorism low"?


Bleach Drinkers Curing Coronavirus Together said...

Interesting, but terrorism could have/would have been an indefinite threat, whereas a quarantine is never forever. Even the meaning (from Italian) translated to "forty days."

As for whether we've reached the point where it should end or not, this chart should help. He got it from here, where it's still being updated.

If you're good with those charts, it shows we still have a ways to go.

The terrorism measures were probably without as much precedent in American law, unlike quarantines.

I appreciate you allowing me to comment here. Stay well.

Mike said...

I've heard Homeland Security and the TSA justified by exactly this logic -- "the security checks might seem totally pointless and annoying, but nobody has hijacked a plane since 9/11 so..."

John Althouse Cohen said...

My post doesn't imply that everything we did in response to either crisis (coronavirus or terrorism) was a good idea. I'm merely drawing an analogy between two very different issues to point out how a similar fallacy is often made. The fallacy can be understood by anyone regardless of their personal views on how government should address a pandemic or terrorism (e.g. whether the lockdowns have gone too far or not far enough, or whether this or that war was a good idea).