Shared delusions in Lee Creek and the USA

It’s amazing when two or more people share the same delusion. You have to wonder how that’s possible.

image: The Victor Voice

Look at what happened in Lee Creek. Police were called to the small community on Shuswap Lake where they found two men barricaded inside a house, firing guns at imaginary creatures. The men were relieved when the police arrived because they were surrounded by hundreds of wild animals. They told their detailed observations with police:

“They described in detail having seen cougars kill deer and moose in the front yard,” said Sgt. Barry Kennedy in a news release. “They reported seeing the cougars drag the dead deer and moose up into the tree canopy, where the dead animals were purportedly still hanging. They also believed there was a pile of dead bears in the backyard (CFJC Today, Nov. 25, 2020)”

Well, you might say, we all share a reality of the world we consider to be true. It’s the only way societies can function. Who’s to say what reality is true and anther delusional?

That’s the beauty of the scientific method: investigate and gather evidence.

Police found no piles of bears and concluded that the two men were suffering from a “health crisis.” Their shared reality was a delusion.

In the U.S., and Canada to a lesser extent, millions of people share the perception that the COIVD-19 pandemic is a political ploy. Jodi Doering, an emergency room nurse in South Dakota, told CNN of patients who refused to believe that they were dying of COVID-19. They preferred to believe that it was lung cancer or pneumonia because COVID-19 didn’t exist.

“Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening. It’s not real.’ And when they should be… Facetiming their families, they’re filled with anger and hatred,” said Doering.

Why would someone die of COVID-19 believing that it doesn’t exist? Well, their president told them so. The Outgoing President (OGP) said that after the election over, the virus would simply disappear. You see, the pandemic is just an election ploy by the Democrats.

Where is the evidence to support that claim?

If the RCMP were called to the emergency room in South Dakota, they would be justified in concluding that the COVID-19 deniers were suffering from a “health crisis.”

It’s all part of parallel information machine. In one of the parallel tracks is the news covered by reporters whose job it is to dig up the facts and investigate claims. The alternative track to the news is the opposite; I’ll call it “swen,” news spelled backwards. What would be facts in the news is conjecture in the swen. What is an investigation in the news is a conspiracy in the swen.

Swen has a magical quality to it. You can bring truths into existence just by saying they are so.

Look at what happened when a supporter of QAnon tweeted that Wayfair Furniture was involved in a sex-trafficking ring involving children. Bingo. It was true. Believed by millions.  It was even circulating in Kamloops social media circles.

QAnon, itself, became swen after a mysterious one or more people said it was true.

What the QAnon believers of the Wayfair swen is a fiction within a fantasy. The fantasy is that QAnon is an underground network of Democrat pedophiles. The fiction is that Wayfair is selling children, not furniture.

Like parallel lines, these parallel realities will never meet. One of the “gifts” of the internet is that millions of swen believers live in a delusion totally foreign to news followers.

There aren’t enough RCMP to round them up.

Facemasks should be worn but not be mandated

It’s tempting to change bad behaviour through mandates. The reasoning is that citizens will stop doing bad things if they are told not to.

The problem with mandates is compliance. Unlike laws, which are enacted through a democratic legislature, mandates are orders issued by public officials.

Image: Wall Street Journal

An order by If B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer to use facemasks would run into two problems. The first is political. Facemask use has, unfortunately, become politicized with those who live in a parallel world of reality thinking that COIVD-19 is a hoax and facemasks represent a threat to their liberty.

I hesitate to call these pandemic deniers right-wingers because that suggests that they occupy the political spectrum. Instead, they live in an echo chamber of the Facebook vortex; a demented vision of the world projected by the outgoing president of the U.S.

In Canada, conservatives, liberals, NDP, all agree that measures have to be taken and they vary by province, not by the colour of the politics. Quebec and Ontario have made masks mandatory but Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan are relying on moral suasion to convince their citizens to mask up to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

The second problem is that mandates can seem arbitrary and result in pig-headed defiance. Look at what happened when some of those belligerent types arrived at Mittz Kitchen in Kamloops this summer. After being told of safety protocols at the restaurant, they harassed staff, pushed owner Steve Mitton over a table, and smashed a plate of food on the floor.

I wouldn’t want masks made mandatory any more than I would want vaccinations made mandatory. Vaccinations save lives but orders to get them gets people’s backs up.

I’m not talking about measles vaccinations which everyone, with the exception of small communities, agrees to be necessary. I’m referring to vaccines being developed against COVID-19. Reluctance to get a COVID-19 vaccination has been growing.

 Even with an increase in COVID-19 cases in B.C., fewer people are willing to get vaccinated than before according to a survey conducted in September. The poll found that while a large number people would get the shot as soon as it was available (46 percent) a sizable number would to take a wait-and-see approach (32 per cent). Wait and see as people die?

If masks are to be mandated as part of a program to reduce pandemic deaths, shouldn’t vaccines also be compulsory? Millions of British Columbians would be defiant if such an order were issued.

B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry struggles with ordering the use of masks: “Mandating masks is not something that is going to change people’s minds,” she said. More recently she has tried a different approach. Now she says that masks are, in fact mandatory: they are part of a general order:

“Some people are asking when we will see masks mandated in B.C. The answer is that they already are. The mandate to use masks appropriately is a cornerstone of businesses’ and organizations’ COVID-19 safety plans, and is embedded in our health-care facilities’ operational policies and restart protocols in other public institutions (armchairmayor.ca, November 17, 2020).”

So, masks are mandatory but not mandated. Go figure.

The real solution to make bare faces in public socially unacceptable. Nothing is stronger than shunning the lack of facemasks.

Note: the day that this column was published, facemasks were made conpulsory in BC.