“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” The quotation is often attributed to the famous French writer Voltaire, although Montesquieu, an equally famous French writer, had written more or less the same thing 50 years earlier.
Was it modesty that led Voltaire to attribute the thought to “an old Italian proverb,” or a sense of literary competition? Does it matter?
What matters more is how this long- and frequently-observed truth is used. The worthy goal of perfection becomes unworthy when it diminishes good — if imperfect — works. “Anything you can do, I — or someone, somewhere, sometime — can do better… nyah, nyah, nyah.”
But perfectionism can become a deadly weapon when it is used to discourage use of a “best available” — if imperfect — medical treatment, like getting a vaccination to protect yourself against COVID-19. Hold off that jab; do you know all the possible side-effects?
Part of the problem lies in perfection itself. It is enduring. It is unchanging. Which, as Satan points out in his arguments against God in Milton’s Paradise Lost, is boring — and, when it comes to being boring, truth is no defense.
In today’s world of never-ending, but always “updating” news and disinformation cycles, What sells is what’s new.
Thus, in the headline, the exception always rules the rule. Dog bites man — ho hum. Man bites dog, check out this video.
Context is for sissies. Thus, actual aberrations from the norm, a very few cases of blood clots or heart inflammations, overwhelm the reality that hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines have been given safely.
And the rising number of “breakthough” COVID infections is being mislabeled as “proof” the vaccines don’t work. Of course, the opposite is true. Having been vaccinated and boosted is likely what’s been keeping my breakthrough case of COVID-19 from making me seriously ill or worse. Thank you, Moderna. Thank you, Dr. Fauci and thank you to the millions of medical workers who have made vaccinations that work and have enabled hundreds of millions of people to take their shots.
In a recently-published article in The New Yorker, our guest today, Clayton Dalton MD said close to one out of every four COVID cases in the State of New Mexico are “breakthrough” infections of the already vaccinated.
Clayton Dalton‘s writing covers strange and fascinating corners of medicine, health, drugs, and the environment. I have published essays and features with The New Yorker, Wired, The Guardian, Scientific American, NPR, Nautilus, Aeon, and others. He works as an emergency physician in New Mexico, where he lives with his wife.