High-profile mixed messages

One of the biggest (of many) failures during this pandemic surely has to be public officials — experts, if you will — systematically undermining their own advice to the point where only those with wearing political blinders can take them seriously in anything related to their… expertise. Take Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to both Trump and now Biden:

“Additional evidence suggests that… Fauci’s reversal, which came at a time of political polarization, contributed to the evolution of masks from a basic, precautionary mitigation strategy to a badge of political allegiance. … Such high-profile mixed messages in a short time frame, without substantive new data to justify the change, generated confusion and a backlash from politicians, other experts, and the general public.”

In Australia, our government’s ‘expert’ panel of immunisation advisors, ATAGI, has been farcical in its constant shifting of the goalposts to the point where the public’s confidence in a perfectly good vaccine is so low that half of Australia is imprisoned in a lockdown while more than 3 million vaccine doses sit unused.

I’m not optimistic that a reliance on ‘experts’ will wane with the pandemic. Politicians love being able to deflect “to the best available advice”, in an attempt to avoid accountability for their decisions. This isn’t new — many consultancies exist purely to ex post facto justify a political decision by reverse-engineering a report, which the politician can hold up and call “independent, expert advice”.

Then there’s the experts themselves, who clearly love the attention — Fauci will no doubt profit handsomely from this crisis, already capitalising on his newfound fame to publish a short book.

It’s a vicious cycle.