Two fallacies of intuition
What do flat-earthers and lockdown proponents have in common?
Once upon a time everyone believed the earth was flat. Even today some people still do. In fact, everyone who doesn‘t already know it isn‘t flat, believes it is. Intuitively it makes sense of course. Just look out the window; you will see nothing, absolutely nothing that indicates it is otherwise. As long as you don‘t have the actual evidence, the idea of a spherical earth is counterintuitive.
While our intuition can be very useful when we have to make decisions in the face of uncertainty, it can sometimes lead us to wrong conclusions.
Intuitively we believe locking people up in their homes can somehow make a viral disease disappear. Where is our intuition failing here? The reasoning goes somehow like this: If I lock myself up and meet with nobody, there is nobody who can infect me. I just have groceries delivered and left outside. So, locking everyone up is a great idea and it works. However the evidence shows no correlation between lockdowns and transmission. This sounds counterintuitive. But this is only because we look at the matter too narrowly. We look at ourselves, as individuals or families, but we fail to take into account the fact that we live in a society, and if we are to survive at all society must function. Someone must deliver your groceries. Someone must remove your garbage, make sure you have heating and electricity, make sure your wifi network is in order and so on and so on.
Both fallacies are fallacies of perspective:
From our perspective the earth looks flat, and we cannot imagine it will look different from a different perspective.
The individual locking themselves up also has a very narrow perspective. They only see themselves: If it works for me, it must work for everyone else.
I must say, I have more sympathy for the person who believes the earth is flat simply because they don‘t know otherwise, than for the lockdown-believer. The root of the flat-earther‘s belief is lack of knowledge. But it is almost impossible to attribute the fallacy of the lockdown-believer to lack of knowledge; after all we all live in a society and there is simply no excuse for not understanding the implications of this.