In the midst of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, protests against such orders, etc., it is clear that some politicians have seen this pandemic as an opportunity of not letting a good crisis go to waste.
At the same time, such measures enacted also constitute a knee-jerk reaction to this pandemic. And such a reaction is nothing new.
Here are several examples of knee-jerk reactions to various incidents from Tom Bethell’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science:
- The partial meltdown at a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, which occurred a couple of weeks later after the film The China Syndrome premiered (a film centered around a meltdown at a nuclear power plant). The incident demonized nuclear power in the mind of the public (and particularly among environmentalists), despite the fact that disaster had been prevented. There were also no fatalities or injuries, and only a small amount of radiation was released.
- The explosion at a nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, Ukraine, which killed fifty people and radiation was released in the area. People in the area died of thyroid cancer, but their deaths were due to iodine deficiencies and not radiation. And contrary to popular belief, there is not much radioactivity these days at Chernobyl.
- Small amounts of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) were found in the Hudson River, and General Electric had to spend a quarter of a billion dollars to clean it up.
- Twelve to sixteen drops of mercury were found in the basement of a Washington, D.C. high school, and the school was closed for several weeks.
- Love Canal in New York State became a dumping site for Hooker Chemical Company. A foul odor was reported in the area, and some residents became sick. Dioxin (a harmless byproduct demonized by
environmentalists) was said to the substance causing the odor and illnesses.
- Dioxin was also discovered in Times Beach, Missouri, and the authorities evacuated the town. Times Beach eventually became a ghost town. It was later converted into a state park.
- A Hoffman-LaRoche chemical plant in Seveso, Italy exploded, and 37,000 people were exposed to chemicals (including dioxin). The exposure caused a panic among people in the area, including pregnant women (ninety of whom subsequently had abortions despite the fact that unborn infants
were not affected by the exposure).
Such knee-jerk reactions have a tendency to result in tyranny. And this
pandemic is just another example.