To mask or not to mask, to heed advice from experts or non-experts?


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Since the CDC's recommendation that fully vaccinated people can move about unmasked, and subsequently many states effectively removing their mandates entirely (see, eg, MD and VA), A good number of people have announced on social media they will be wearing masks regardless, and some counties have said they will continue their mask mandate.

That is a good thing for them to do. The non-expert's ability to refuse the advice of the expert is one mechanism by which negative effects of expert failure can be minimized.

But their behavior does indicate how complex the "just listen to the experts" story really is. The experts (in this case, the CDC) made a recommendation that the non-expert feels is unwarranted. Are the "still-mask-up" folks being unscientific? Are they being anti-scientific? I would argue "no," at least no more or less than the "Do not wear a mask just because the CDC recommends it" crowd. Same coin, different sides.

When we listen to expert advice (which we must do in our lives), we ultimately must choose whether to accept or reject it. Does the advice conform to our perceptions and our situations? Is the advice truly actionable? Etc. The ability to refuse the advice provides a mechanism by which the expert is incentivized to provide better advice.

"Better advice" meaning more in line with normative expectations. Eg, I go to the doctor for advice on how to stay healthy or get better. Competition among experts means the doctor will work harder to make sure the advice s/he gives me helps achieve that goal. So, perhaps less attention on the average and more on the specific.

Or "better" in the sense of more clear. Which, as a non-expert, is more actionable (more clear) to you:

1) As long as the marginal revenue exceeds the marginal cost, a perfectly rational, perfectly informed individual should undertake the action until the point where the two are equal

2) If an action has more pros than cons, you probably want to undertake it.
The two mean roughly the same thing, but I'd be willing to bet for most people, #2 makes more sense than #1


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