Jen Gerson, co-founder of The Line and former National Post writer, is a pundit.
Pundits are generally expected to either be good writers, smart, witty, provocative or entertaining. Judging by the continued existence of her Substack about 1.5 years post-creation, it appears that some in Canada believe Gerson meets at least one of those criteria. But this isn’t enough for Gerson, who apparently isn’t content with striving to be any of these things: she wants to be a psychic, too.
What perhaps stands out most to casual readers of Gerson’s work is not her analysis of, or commentary on, what has already happened, but rather her from-the-gut predictions about what will happen in the future.
Pundits aren’t like surgeons, where errors can mean death (at least in the vast majority of cases.) Their mistakes can’t get them barred from their profession. They don’t have any licenses to lose. Still, if pundits feel confident enough to make predictions, and subsequently suggest that readers act in, or feel, a particular way based upon them, I believe they need to be right. Maybe not all of the time, sure, but at least consistently, on the things that matter.
While Gerson may be a successful pundit in some respects, her skills as a psychic are lacking. She is often wrong, and not just about Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Her pandemic writing has been no exception.
For example, on April 9, 2021, Gerson wrote on Twitter, “As we move into a third wave, it may be easy to lose sight of this fact; but there’s every reason to be optimistic that we’ve turned the final corner on COVID. Keep hope.” She added, “It’s easy to get caught up in panic and doom. And the criticism of governments is entirely justified. But don’t let it totally cloud your judgement. We might be in for a rough few weeks, but on the whole, things are getting better. The end is nigh.”
Of course, Gerson was wrong. While she may have found a reason, or even some reasons, to be optimistic about emerging from the pandemic, there certainly wasn’t “every reason.”
A few weeks later, Gerson offered up some more optimism, this time about Alberta’s pandemic future. On May 28, she wrote in a post at The Line: “I’d be willing to bet $100 — although perhaps not $1,000 — that as the province re-opens, our current state of exponential decay in case rates will continue until it stabilizes at a low level. I don’t anticipate a fourth wave.” She added, “I can’t boast any particular mathematical insight, here. All I can note is that this seems to be the pattern just about everywhere else.”
Gerson was right that cases did stabilize at a low level — for about two months. They then started to climb to a level comparable to the May peak in September (when she admitted she was wrong), and then to record-breaking numbers from this January onward. The fourth wave is here.
But has that stopped Gerson from making another prediction? Absolutely not.
Yesterday, she wrote on Twitter: “There are good odds — not guaranteed, but good odds — that Omicron will be our last major wave Covid wave [sic]. Absent some nutty new mutation, Omicron *is* the mandatory vaccine.” As in past waves, she added that “the next few weeks may very well be a problem for us,” but that “we’re near the end, and there’s not much more to be done.”
In that May article I mentioned, Gerson, condemning those who make predictions she deems too gloomy, wrote, “If you’re a psychic, you’ll never go out of business warning of bad news. Death is always imminent.” I imagine many go to psychics for the opposite reason: they want to be told everything will be fine, that their life will improve, that they’ll be rich. Perhaps that is why Gerson has fans: people want to hear everything will be OK. She offers them that (though the exact opposite usually happens.)
If Gerson continues on her current path, eventually her hopeful prediction will be correct. If she writes “just a few more weeks” enough times, a moment will come when things really do get better. Still, if she hopes to be right sooner, I’d suggest she take-up the George Costanza method instead. If not, I hope she at least predicts that I’ll be broke and unloved for decades to come.