Point of Brew: Dick and Jane explain coronavirus

Point of Brew: Dick and Jane explain coronavirus

I do not expect a brewer to win a Nobel Prize any time soon.

A brewer tends to be a scientific Jack-of-all-trades, needing to know enough plant science to grow barley and convert it to excellent malt, enough biochemistry to convert malt to wort of necessary properties, enough chemistry to infuse wort with hop materials at the right level, enough cell biology and physiology to make the fermentation work the way that’s necessary, enough microbiology to protect against the hordes that would invade the product, and enough engineering to pump liquid from here to there and heat it and cool it efficiently.

If you want to throw in sensory science and human psychology to appreciate what customers need and why, and a knowledge of economics to bring a fine product to market at a fair but profitable price you understand the long distance beer must travel and the long view a brewer must take.

My point is that brewers are pretty savvy when it comes to science because a lot of what brewers do involves scientific thinking and even scientific imagination and invention. 

As a result, I’m sure every brewer in the land understands the logic of the scientific advice that would control the SARS-coV-2 virus and the COVID-19 disease it causes. Though he understands why, every brewer also detests the idea of shut pubs and restaurants and wishes, with every fiber, for those constraints to go away. 

Scientists do not always communicate in easily understood parlance; mainly, I suppose, because the vocabulary they use is not familiar to the public. Medical practitioners can be famously opaque to their patients, for example. But to tell the truth the scientific advice about COVID-19 is pretty straightforward and not hard to understand if a listener listens and has an elementary understanding of the English language. 

That is why it amazes me that a small (I hope) but significant and noisy minority of Americans do not understand, or do not agree with, what is going on and why. They routinely behave in ways that are aggressive and belligerent and opposite to their own best interests and mine. The poster child for this behavior is not wearing a mask, though their foolishness includes other behaviors such as crowding together.

It’s easy to blame the lack of leadership from the White House and the dis-information and ridicule of COVID from right wing blowhards. They bear great responsibility for much illness and many deaths, that’s true. But each of us, individually, surely has a well-developed sense of self-preservation. While we admire those who sacrifice themselves for a noble cause what noble cause is served by deliberately exposing oneself to a potentially fatal infection? What noble cause is served by endangering oneself, one’s friends and family in this way?

Although for most rational people the science of COVID could not be easier to grasp and act upon, some people may hear messages from the scientific community as confusing and too “sciency.” It’s true that such messages may be incomplete and change as new information becomes available. Also maybe science-based messages are resented because they may tend to instruct what to do and how to do it without explaining why it works.

It seems that we need a better communication strategy and so I turn to Dick and Jane who with repeated words and phrases and familiar sounds, taught many of us to “look-see” and read. Perhaps Dick and Jane can help some citizens understand the messages science is trying to send about COVID-19.

So here goes:

A Covid Primer: Fun with Dick and Jane.

1: Dick was sick, along came Jane. Soon Jane became as sick as Dick.

2: Jane came masked so she asked Dick, who’s sick, to do the same. Sick, stayed Dick. Hale, Jane remained.

3: When Jane came she was masked and asked Rick to do the same. Rick just laughed at a mask “It’s a disgrace to cover my face.” “It’s no game” said Jane (a tired refrain) “A mask’s not a task,” Rick laughed again. Then Rick became sick, as sick as Old Nick. “What a shame” said Jane who knew whom to blame.

4: When Jane came, with mask and space, Jane felt safe in an open place. Though Dick was sick he was masked (with no disgrace) and, as asked, well spaced. They played the game. No need for blame.

I’ve often heard the phrase “We are all in this together.” That’s true of course but too may see that as baloney and useless as guidance. Our Dick and Jane audience, maybe all of us, need a common desirable objective or reward, a real carrot,that we all agree upon. Do we have a carrot and a plan of action?

How about this: Message to the nation from the White House wearing a mask:

“I declare from now through Labor Day, a period of national healing when we all together as one people will follow all the public health rules to defeat COVID. In return we will be able to open the schools in the September and have football. Here is $3 trillion to make that possible.”

COVID wouldn’t stand a chance.

Reach Michael Lewis at [email protected] Comment on this column at www.hkxms.cn.



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