After folks in the “medical community,” to the extent that is even a concrete thing, went from arguing that our country should bear unfathomable economic and humanitarian losses to stop the spread of the coronavirus to endorsing and even participating in massive rallies virtually overnight, anyone with half a brain understood that they were going to take a significant credibility hit. I’ve witnessed a lot of people go from being “I don’t know what opinion to have on the coronavirus, but I will defer to the experts” to “were the experts lying to us all along?” For some, these events have changed the way they classify themselves politically. There’s nothing like getting laid off and finding the sacrifice was literally for nothing to change your perspective on power.
Everything that is broken about academia is broken in the medical community, which is really just a subset of academia. The activism that has destroyed the intellectual content and prestige of humanities departments is now present in professional schools, including medicine, law, and business. If you want to understand how The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine were caught publishing studies based on fake data or why what doctors prescribe to treat an illness is suddenly a hot-topic political issue, this is why.
These are no longer empirical fights, but political and cultural fights. And that is going to be profoundly unacceptable to many stakeholders.
It is easier to roll your eyes at this trend in other professions than it is in medicine, however. Most people need to have confidence that when a loved one is in the hospital, the person treating them is not viewing them as subhuman merely because of their political opinions. Most people want to be able to trust the things their pediatrician tells them about keeping their kids healthy.
People need to believe their doctors are ethical, and that is thoroughly shot now.
Here’s a poll from Pennsylvania that was done in April and then just recently. The shift in public opinion and political polarization is incredible.
Yeah, I don’t think 66% trust in doctors is a good statistic at all. If one out of three patients thinks their doctor is a political quack, that’s going to be a source of major problems in the industry.
In April, 87% of Republicans had a good/great deal of trust in medical professionals. That is down to 35% now. And I doubt what appears to be a primarily politically motivated flip-flop on social distancing is going to be forgotten anytime soon. This level of distrust and resentment is going to be quite durable.
Among Independents, the shift is also huge, from 88% to 66%.
Democrats have not materially changed, from 99% to 91%. I’m not sure this communicates anything about the coronavirus itself, so much as Democrats liked the shutdowns because they are consumed with hating Trump and (in their heart of hearts) had a tremendous case of Schadenfreude over the economy. Now the medical community is perceived to be endorsing mass gatherings that they themselves like, so there’s no source of cognitive dissonance for them.
When I look at data like this, all I can think of is, wow, we have seen peak vaccinations.