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May 23, 2020

The 'Halo' (aka Corona) Effect

The 'Halo' (aka Corona) Effect

The 'Halo' effect is a phenomenon where we perceive people positively or negatively based on secondary, sometimes unrelated, characteristics.  For example, you might think that an interview candidate is very intelligent because they have a very nice British accent, or unintelligent because they have a American accent with a severe drawl – when their accent could be completely unrelated to their qualifications and qualities as an individual.  

Racism occurs when one group of people judges another group of people based on a characteristics that can be very unrelated to what should be the basis of judgement (i.e., the skills/qualifications of an individual should be the basis of hiring when applying for a job). The 'halo' effect is at negatively work with this 'ism' and all sorts of other 'isms' - the list is quite long, but a few are:  ableism, ageism, classism, ethnocentrism, sexism, sizeism, and many, many others. These secondary effects create impressions that shouldn't exist.  There are religious-isms and political-isms as well - people often support those who identify with the same characteristics as themselves, and disregard those who don't fit their same isms.

The 'halo' effect creates positive effects for people who can use it to their advantage. The way you dress, talk, react, age, other looks, cause people to make a judgement about you. Now, to get myself into hot water... this isn't always a bad thing, but neither is it always a good thing.  You trust people that have given you a reason to trust them. This includes certain family members, scientists, actors, politicians, members of your religious persuasion (even whether they are atheistic, if your persuasion is atheistic). In Utah, where I'm from, this results in a huge amount of people who fall for pyramid business schemes, because, bless them, the innocence of Utah combined with the halo effect creates people who believe the best in people of the dominant religion there.

Now, here's where it gets tricky: You often judge others based on their secondary characteristics.  There's no way around it.  If I work with you, I have to believe that you will help me, at least enough, otherwise we will never get anything done. And I believe that because you appear to be capable based on the mannerisms that you convey. I will believe this as long as you don't give me a reason to believe in anything else. Circumstantial evidence, which is secondary evidence, is a type of halo effect. We live our lives based on sufficient trust of other people, which is based on the halo-like characteristics, mannerisms, of society appearing to function fairly normally.  I trust that the 99.9% of drivers out on the roads will drive sufficiently well that both myselves and my passengers won't be hit. To live in a society requires a minimum trust in others. I may not be explaining this well, but the point here is that we live our lives based on evidence that may be related to, but not always related to, the decisions we make.  

An angel with a halo. A completely unnecessary photo, but hey, there you go. I prefer the toucan, even if it's off topic. It makes this site slightly more colorful. It's what came up when I searched 'halo' and 'angel' on wikicommons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angel_Halo_Prayer.jpg

The word corona in Spanish means 'crown'. In Latin, corōna, is a garland, chaplet, wreath, as well as crown.  In Ancient Greek, κορώνη, korṓnē, is a garland or wreath. In modern English, a corona has extended to be beyond these meanings, such as a 'corona discharge' when plasma is created around a dominant electricity flow, or the corona of the sun (or any star).  A corona can be a halo, a secondary characteristic, garland that surrounds a primary feature.

The name for the coronavirus refers to the spikes on the virus, that make the virus look like a crown. I'm a proponent that the coronavirus should be named such because it's secondary characteristics are much worse than the virus itself. The virus affects the binding of oxygen to blood.  Now, you have everyone trying to figure out why there's this killer virus that affects everything in every part of the body. My very personal opinion is that the virus isn't directly affecting those parts of the body.  I hypothesize that the virus is likely dead by the time it's been in the body too long, outside of the lungs and esophagus. The virus isn't affecting, directly, the rest of the body. The virus has an effect on the rest of the body - there is huge evidence of tissue damage, everywhere in severe coronavirus patients. There's an important distinction there. Oxygen is just that important.

The halo, the secondary effects, the corona, of this coronavirus is much worse than the virus itself.  (Note, the singular/plural subject of that sentence is weird.)

People are dying from a lack of care and economic activity that is not directly related to the virus. People who should be tested for changes in severe diseases, non-coronavirus related diseases, have been avoiding hospitals and the care that they need.  The effects on mental health due to the lock down has no doubt costed lives, if not also affecting children who may not be able to eat properly.

When you treat the symptoms, and not the disease, you are delaying the inevitable.

This is halo caused by sunlight refracting across cirrostratus.The sun, not pictured here, has a large secondary effect, everywhere. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Halo_in_cirrostratus_1.jpg

The thematic parallels that I've driving at should be very obvious.

The corona caused by the virus needs to be addressed in all its biological, economic, and social forms. If you let the disease go on for too long, you have to address the symptoms too.  It's much easier to stop the disease early, but that looks to be too late for too many symptoms.

We are becoming even more interconnected than before as a society.  This is inevitable.  Our society lacks the social tools to handle this increasing interconnectivity that threatens all of us in so, so many ways.

We will come under threats of much worse diseases that will spread much more quickly, and our current response to this coronavirus has been very .. lackluster.  It's the first time we've encountered this on such a scale.  It's good that the virus hasn't killed the millions (well.. directly..) that were predicted early on by far too many specialists.  We have time to improve our global responses to these things. The answer is not shutting everything down, otherwise we create huge new problems that we will be forced to address with significant pain. (..except in very, very rare circumstances, and this wasn't it, and never for this extended period.)  

We have to address the direct causes of these viruses, or they will continue. I certainly can't point to the cause of every disease, but I can tell you that as long as we, as humans, wish to exist, we will have to interact with any number of other lifeforms, even ourselves, that can cause deadly diseases because that is just a part of living.  There is no getting around this.  You can lock yourself in a room, but that doesn't prevent diseases from spreading because you kill your immune system by never interacting with other near-disease-free humans.  You want a healthy biome, one that is in equilibrium, which is very difficult to maintain. Locking yourself in a room to prevent diseases from spreading would be based on the assumption that the rest of society will function as normal, but the rest of society would remain just as susceptible to disease, which could eventually be spread to you on accident anyways.

Hiding is almost never the answer.  (Sometimes it is, but very very rarely.) When we hide, we also lose the support of the many people around us that can help us in known and unknown ways.

Viruses like dark places. At least, respiratory viruses do that tend to come from damp or dark caves.

The solution seems pretty simple for this virus:

Sunlight kills most viruses as well as a bit of fresh air.  

Who knows, maybe that's the solution for all viruses?

(Coronaviruses have a lipid membrane that is disrupted with these two things......... Also, these things help your immune system improve by increasing vitamin D levels and important biological reactions.)

There's a secret message here too? What? Are there secret messages everywhere? Nooooooooo. Maybe. This is Josh Kaggie that you are talking about.