The Psychology of Viral Paradoxes

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

There are a lot of known unknowns and paradoxes in these times of uncertainty. Here are a few.

1) Trump is criticized as both “racist” and “xenophobic” in his condemnations of the “Chinese” virus, while he’s also criticized for “appeasing” President Xi when he makes friendly references to their coronavirus chats. How can Trump be both?

Is he merely erratic? Perhaps any smart president at this moment would prefer both to galvanize Americans about the threat of Chinese near monopolies of industries key to the U.S. in extremis (such as medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and rare earths) and  yet to not to so offend our  only importer that it cuts off a vulnerable U.S. in the middle of a crisis.

2) The media hype the increased number of cases (the denominator) without much attention to the number of deaths (the numerator) caused by, or perhaps mostly by, the virus. The numerator, however, is not increasing daily at a rate that’s commensurate with the denominator, despite a number of important other extenuating criteria:

a) Those seeking tests are mostly those with some sort of malaise or exposure, and yet they test overwhelmingly (so far) negative, perhaps at rates, depending on locale, of 80 percent to 90 percent negative (an increasingly not widely reported fact), and thus they may underrepresent percentages of the infected in the general population.

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