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.

About Charlene DAvanzo

I'm a marine ecology/college professor who never, ever thought I'd write fiction. That assumption changed in an instant as I listened to another scientist - a climatologist named Ray Bradley at UMass, Amherst - describe being harassed by climate change deniers. The idea to write mysteries with climate change understories to help readers understand what's happening to our climate in the context of a fast-paced exciting story came to me out of nowhere. That's what I do in my "Maine Oceanographer Mara Tusconi" series.
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  1. Well said. I’m afraid we’re in for an extended double insanity, one where those who trust science get their shots and survive, while the disbelievers continue to infect each other. The second will be an intellectual parallel where those who trust science will work to save the planet and the others will simply continue to kill it.

  2. sallycootie says:

    Well said. Thank you.

  3. Hey, Charlene. So well said and so sadly true. I live in Texas, where the Governor continues to open up the state despite numbers of infections being high. Yes, we’re improving, and tons of us have gotten shots. Now we just need to stay the course a couple of more months, and we’ll be approaching the beginning of the end. But no, Spring Break had tons of people going nuts at South Padre and Galveston. Not as bad as Florida, but most of us expect to see a surge of some sort because of people just not making rational or kind decisions. Thank you so much for writing this, and I’m so sorry for your loss. My husband and I discovered Maine about ten years ago and have made numerous trips to various parts of your gorgeous state. We’re already booked for October and can’t wait, even if we’re still wearing masks. 🙂 I’ll share.

  4. Sandra Neily says:

    I appreciated your “Death In a Time of Disbelief.” That tightened up the whole silly debate, soooooooo nicely. Am rereading the real novel. Thought it was time. Thanks for the straight to it post.

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