The Midas Syndrome

Cogito and Conchita Sum had named their son after a college friend who stood out for his imperturbable character, with the expectant attitude that makes improvising everyday life bearable. The son was different. At the age of four he already had so much unrestrained energy that he was allowed to join his sister’s swimming lesson. The sister was six and pleasant. Mister Sum, who was later to be a teacher would often use what follows to illustrate a very general phenomenon. He calls it the Midas Syndrome.

We all know it: wanting something so bad it will disappoint when you get it. The son wanted to swim when he was four, and when that was allowed it was disappointing because he could not swim. Jumped confidently into the water. Had to be saved.

Yesterday Mr. Sum recognized this pattern again, now in an argument that Mr. de Hondt developed with fervor about the relationship between the amount of water in the air and the spreading potential of the coronavirus. It is not clear why Mister de Hondt wanted to see that confirmed, nor what was so new about it, given the familiarity with this phenomenon in influenza epidemics.

But what was especially worrying was that for and according to Mr. de Hondt, this connection, (without further specifying how it could be used to contain the virus) is a ground to reopen the economy and loosen social distance requirements.

Mister de Hondt pretends to do science, but he wants his results too much. And who bases his science on a Midas syndrome is polluting science. We don’t need that.