We live in a networked world. Is it even possible for one person to have sufficient expertise to understand a complex situation such as this pandemic? So do we rely on one subject matter expert or rather a subject matter network?
I have noted many discrepancies between advice from our Chief Medical Officer of Health as opposed to a network of experts who I follow on Twitter. Our CMOH has been responsible for producing some of the most complicated public health guidelines and even our local CBC radio station staff could not come to an understanding of the concept of a ‘steady ten’ — Do these circles overlap? How long can they last? What about children going to school in contact with others? Talking with other people I have noticed that everyone interprets it differently. This is a failure to communicate.
But we often collectively defer to people in positions of authority. Yesterday I noted on Twitter that I understand that our chief public health officer is not on Twitter but some of what she says conflicts with what I read from a range of pandemic experts. From these sources I learned to wear a mask before it was mandated by our province. I learned that the virus was airborne before it was officially noted here and I learned that rapid testing significantly differs and has different benefits from the more specific PCR testing currently being done — according to the CBC, “New Brunswick has used only 4.15 per cent of its 284,064 [rapid] tests”.
When I shared these thoughts on Twitter I received a comment that is likely typical for a large percentage of society. Namely that social media do not provide authoritative information and that a lay person like myself should defer to the authoritative figure.
I will let the readers be the judge and determine if these ‘Twitter doctors‘ are worth listening to. They have been ahead of every decision made in this province so far.
- Dr. David Fisman, Canada
- Dr. Michael Mina, USA
- Amy Greer PhD, Canada
- Dr. Trish Greenhalgh, UK
- Dr. Adam Kucharski, UK
- Zeynep Tufekci PhD, USA
- Yaneer Bar-Yam PhD, USA
- Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, USA
One expert is merely a node in a network.