Charlene D’Avanzo: As crime writers, we populate our stories with all manner of bad, dangerous people—liars, cheats, swindlers, and of course murderers. My own books include guys who’ve tried to drown my protagonist Mara, slam into her kayak with a motorboat, kidnap her at gunpoint, and leave her to die on an isolated island fifty miles off British Columbia.
While I’m still working on book number five, working title “The Shark, The Girl, & The Sea”, given the elasmobranch fish in the title readers can guess the nature of the danger Mara faces in this story.
However, recent politics have forced me to acknowledge a powerful threat more dangerous than sharks and a lot more challenging to confront.
It’s a danger I’d never considered mainstream—the growing number of people who say they don’t “believe” in science and go on to question the reality of the pernicious virus we deal with daily.
As an ecologist the science statement leaves me gob smacked. And as someone who has lost a family member to Covid-19 virus denial makes me livid.
The well-known Stanford psychologist Leon Festinger tells us that “a man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.”
Today that person is very dangerous indeed. I’ll adapt the title of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s famous book and call our time “Death In The Time Of Disbelief”. The denial manifests itself in many ways, whether that be refusing to wear a mask or insistence on attending large gatherings.
Mainers know first-hand what happens when people scoff at such rules. Recall, for example, The Katahdin wedding in early August which by the end of September had led to eight deaths and at least 177 cases of COVID-19.
More famous examples may help change peoples’ minds. A few days ago, Tanzanian President John Magufuli—who has not been seen for three weeks and was widely rumored to be sick with a virus he downplayed for months—has now died. This “leader” scoffed at mask-wearing, criticized regional neighbors for imposing lockdowns, and rejected coronavirus vaccines. Well, now he leads no more.