Tuesday, August 4, 2020

#COVID19 UNMASKED--Learned vs Acquired Behavior--THE BIRX-FAUCI FAIL

     "...the Birx-Fauci team fails as expert in its limited immunology role mandating social rules..."  

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     (LAB107)--US Congress House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was recently critical of White House Task Force point doctor, Deborah Birx, calling her out for incompetence;
     " 'I think the president has been spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee, so I don't have confidence there, no,' Ms Pelosi told ABC." (1)
The overall dissatisfaction as expressed by the Speaker might reflect the actual lack of diversity in the task force team itself as the root cause of that doubt. Before going into exactly where the fault or failure for the current coronavirus official national policy lies, review of why that shortfall exists is necessary. 
 
     Clearly, the task force was designed using Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  medical experts and immunologists on point, with the Surgeon General's office and Admiral Giroir of the Health and Human Services (HHS), among others. The briefings aired on national television were composed of those members with Vice President Mike Pence as task force director. The briefings gave considerable attention to charts and graphs related to surge and mitigation and evolving from those briefings was a mitigation plan using stay-at-home, testing and face protection mandates. All were in some way or another related to the physiological aspect of medicine, there were no team members related to psychological and social aspects. Then came the "June Swoon."
     In competition with the White House task force were many and myriad state mandates, all in variation with others and still others in direct conflict. The northern states were locked in a bitter struggle with New York City the ground zero for positive cases and deaths. As the weather warmed up, the public at large ignored social-distancing and invaded beaches in the South, where coronavirus rose again in horrible numbers. Out West, a similar situation forced California to reverse course on reopening with hospital ICU beds filled as fast as made available. Throughout all of that development, the economic issue was addressed with bonus unemployment stipends and stimulus checks to the people. That was July, now it's August and the pandemic seems to have only gotten worse.
     Many believed that summer heat would cause a decrease in number of cases, that proved to be false. The President came under fire for his approach, calling for malaria pills as a cure, that also proved false. The President even broke ranks with his own task force and drafted a platoon of outsiders with dubious medical credentials to enforce his claims, which changed on a daily basis. The level of disinformation surrounding the pandemic had reached astronomical proportions. (2) It is no wonder, then, that Speaker Pelosi doubted the direction of the White House in its response.    

     From the beginning, the graphs and charts may have been wrong. The optimism shared at the podium in the briefings didn't pan out with exponential bell curves showing lag times with respect to surge and mitigation. By early summer, with testing ramped up to give a clear picture of the prevalence of the virus in the population, combined with the public's rejection of the campaign of confusion out of the government, confirmed cases changed that graph from a bell curve to a parabolic curve upwards with no limit on the top side. That parabola is a function of two things: first, the lack of expert personnel in the task force beyond physiologists and immunologists; second, the negative response of the population because of that lack of sociologists and psychologists in that same task force. The problem needs to be addressed by understanding the difference between learned and acquired behavior.
     Borrowing from Noam Chomsky, the linguist has developed a theory known as Universal Grammar, or a set of rules innate in all humans at birth that gives each individual the skill to speak the native tongue without a great deal of effort, beginning with childhood. (3) It sets the stage for "learned behavior."  How that differs from "acquired behavior" may be closely scrutinized with respect to the growing resentment of the mitigation component related to the face mask mandate. Directly related to the quadratic increase in positive cases and deaths along with the flouting of social-distancing rules, the public finds itself unable to learn the mask mandate or adjust to the demand of an acquired behavior. It is here also where the Birx-Fauci team fails as expert in its limited immunology role mandating social rules. 
     Borrowing again, this time from psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), there are limits to what childhood trauma such as bedwetting and a castration complex can reveal about why many in society refuse to wear a mask at the grocery store and deliberately cough on the produce. There is, however, a deeper rooting of the particular mask refusal syndrome discoverable in Freud's pleasure principle-death drive theory (4) A better explanation comes in the form of the difference in classical (Ivan Pavlov, 1849-1936) versus operant (B. F. Skinner,. 1904-1990) conditioning;
     "Operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. Through operant conditioning, an individual makes an association between a particular behavior and a consequence." (5)
   
      Skinner broke ranks with Pavlov and his dogs by suggesting certain traits are not just learned or anticipated, but behavior needed to be reinforced. That did not mean the population had to have the proverbial tabula rasa (6) on collective behavior, It infers here that since the population had never "learned" to wear a mask in public, it had to be an "acquired" trait. Many theoreticians in the fields of linguistics and sociology might consider the two terms to mean essentially the same thing, in the case of pandemic mechanics, they do not. The individual has never learned to wear a mask and must be conditioned operationally to do so, using force if necessary to enforce the mandate. 
    The dilemma facing the government is how to make the public adhere to the rules of social distancing and facial protective coverings. By all accounts, the pandemic may never go away, but we have only heard from the experts on the physiology side of the medical profession. Word of a vaccine cure changes with the direction of the wind, and that doesn't address the current infected population, just a long range solution still being developed in the laboratory. On a much larger scale, the role of natural selection has yet to be determined as to whether the human race is fit to survive the pandemic but that is left to another legion of experts.


Footnotes: 

     The current HR 6800 "emergency supplemental appropriations" related to coronavirus relief, passed by the House of Representatives in May and now up for approval in the senate, awards money to the National Science Foundation; 
     "For an additional amount for 'Research and Related Activities', $125,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2022, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including to fund research grants, of which $1,000,000 shall be for a study on the spread of COVID–19 related disinformation:" (7)
     The section describes research grant funding with a focus on six main points: disinformation and public response, sources of that false info, the role of social media in dissemination, is money being made on the false information, strategies and limitations of disinformation mitigation. The section fails to suggest research directed at the lack of qualified experts on the task force other than those in a physiology capacity. The vacuum created by the limited knowledge of the task force staff with respect to sociological reaction to mitigation measures is a direct contributor to that disinformation.

Late Addition:  08/06/2020/1400 PDT:

McConnell: Wearing a mask is 'single most significant thing' to fight pandemic

Senate Majority Leader (R-Ky.) on Thursday said wearing a mask is the single most important thing Americans can do to contain the coronavirus pandemic and get the U.S. economy back on its feet, setting up a contrast with , who rarely wears a mask.


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