In a recent piece at The Wall Street Journal, Andy Kessler called out the confusing word salad of messages that are being served daily on issues from the Covid-19 pandemic to the anti-racism protests.

Among the highlights:

“The WHO declared in March that you don’t need to wear masks. California now requires them, even outside. Again, what is it? Whacked in the head so many times with untruths, you stop believing anyone.”

“Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared residents could only use the “wet sand” part of the beach to go swim. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said dry sandy beaches are fine. Not very scientific.”

“It took only 15 days of pandemic panic to slow the spread of truth. Words need meaning.”

Indeed, they do.  Words have a profound impact on our behavior and understanding of complex scientific issues.

Just last week my wife and I drove from Chicago to New Orleans to visit two of our grandchildren. At each stop along the way the rules were different. Mandatory masks in one place, optional the next.  Restaurants open at limited capacities here, but only drive-through and carry-out service there. And, social distancing regulations went from being strictly enforced to an afterthought the further south we went.

Confusing? You bet. Dangerous too. But as Kessler pointed out, after being whacked on the head so many times with conflicting messages, my wife and I didn’t know what to believe. At the end of the day, facts have to lead the way. The problem that the pandemic poses for us is what scientific truths, facts, and words can we believe?

The Center is prepared to tackle this challenge in the coming months.