JIM SHARPE

Scientists don’t flip-flop — that’s the job of politicians

Jun 9, 2020, 2:30 PM | Updated: 4:45 pm
(Photo by Misha Friedman/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Misha Friedman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Misha Friedman/Getty Images)

I’ve been trying to give scientists a break. Even when they tell us one thing about coronavirus and then something that seems to be the complete opposite the next day, I realize they aren’t flip-flopping. Research is fluid and they’re often just sharing information as they learn it.

However, when politicians tell us it’s not safe to do certain things and then, when it fits their political goals, they tell us to go ahead and do that very same thing, I never give them a break.

Me? I’m listening to the scientists — and with rapt attention — when infectious disease experts tell me the activities they are willing to engage in and when they believe it will be safe to do so.

The New York Times surveyed more than 500 epidemiologists about the when and the what of (former) everyday activities.

Here are the highlights:

  • A majority or plurality say they’re willing to go to a non-urgent doctor’s appointment, vacation overnight within driving distance or get a haircut before summer is over.
  • The largest percentage of epidemiologists would wait 3-12 months before attending a small dinner party, hiking or picnicking with friends, sending their kids to school or a play date, going to work in an office, traveling by airplane, eating inside a restaurant or exercising in a gym.
  • And, finally, a majority or plurality of the surveyed epidemiologists say they will probably wait more than a year before going to a wedding or a funeral, attending church or a sporting event, going to a concert or a theater or shaking hands or hugging friends.

By the way, the hugging and the shaking are the activities that the largest percentage (6%) of epidemiologists say they NEVER want to go back to doing.

So, based on this list, I’m planning a four-day weekend this summer that starts with my annual physical, followed by a haircut so that I look nice for our family car trip to Flagstaff.

I may see some of my old college friends while I’m up there — but “seeing them” will consist of slow-rolling by their house so we can wave.

OK, I’ll probably stop the car and get out so they can admire my new hairdo.

And, I won’t resent scientists if they tell me later on that I could’ve hugged my Flagstaff friends when we met at a restaurant for lunch, followed by a sweaty afternoon workout at a local gym and church the next morning — where we held hands while we praying.

If I miss out on all those things, I promise that I won’t be mad at the scientists — they’re just looking out for me.

However, I reserve the right to be mad at politicians because the advice they dispense is usually designed to only look out for number one.

Jim Sharpe

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Scientists don’t flip-flop — that’s the job of politicians