The public's faith didn't match reality.
I wrote something related in regard to the expectations concerning the vaccine, but I think it generalizes. You are precisely right that it is primitive magical thinking. In fact I think we can view many of the Covid rituals as expiatory in a magical sense. I literally saw someone once making the sign of the cross with sanitising gel on entering a supermarket. Whether or not this was mental confusion or some kind of Freudian lapse, Baudrillard would presumably have loved it. We have been made to feel, as a culture, so guilty for our adherence to the religion of thoughtless consumerism that only magical methods can fend off divine wrath.
Many of those described by the media and all kinds of interested parties as experts are, in reality, "experts" in fake fields, or fields that have been corrupted for a very long time.
Others are just occupiers of various bureaucratic positions in organizations that are expertise-based, but who are not themselves people whose main day-to-day job involves practicing that expertise.
Yet others are generalized intellectuals who comment on things that are not within their field of expertise, or anyone's field of expertise, for that matter (general modeling and data analysis of things, commenting on laws/regulations where the substance of the comment does not pertain to the law but to the phenomenon that the law seeks to regulate, etc)
Not all experts are created equal.
I am not an expert. I am a generalist, which means that I know a little about a lot of things. I view life, the environment, and society as a "tapestry" made up of millions of threads into a complex and beautiful weaving. I found the experts to be hyper focused on very small portion of the tapestry. Their actions felt like a "chainsaw novice" hacking away randomly at the tapestry with no understanding of the threads, or how they were a part of the larger weave. These experts have no idea of the damage they have done to the tapestry, or the long-term impact of their hacking. Unfortunately, not only have they hacked up the tapestry, there are also a lot of threads that have been weakened and not yet given way.
To say the least, I have lost trust in "experts".
The good news, is that there are some like Steve Templeton who know the limits of their knowledge and have the humility to bring forth their knowledge of the tapestry with out making grand claims. These humble seekers after knowledge are well worth following as they are seeking to be wise, not to be right.
"The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was the outlier. Most people don’t want nuance and uncertainty when they are scared. They want to know that there are experts that know everything that is going to happen and how to stop it."
Yes, Steve, you were the outlier; you advocated for a mature, adult approach, one designed to arrive at accurate conclusions from which effective and actionable results can be obtained.
The existing pandemic action plans were based on the knowledge that emerging threats are always rife with uncertainty, and they acknowledged inevitable morbidity. When they were discarded, what replaced them was magical thinking carefully crafted to arouse the most infantile aspects of human nature.
That magical thinking was quite successful; it was "the magic of the marketplace." Behold the result; vast transfers of wealth and huge increases in the influence of those lusting for power.
Yes, being skeptical of people who claim to have 100% of the answers makes us outliers. Most people want to be comforted by certainty - even if that certainty is an illusion. It's psychology going back millions of years and must have some evolutionary advantage I suppose. Ant brain over Ape brain perhaps. When people get scared, they want certainty.
We can't entirely blame the media for staging these so-called-experts - they are just responding to what the public wants. Had MSNBC been paneling experts saying they weren't sure if lockdowns would work, who hedged caution on the vaccine as we have tried and failed for 90 years on ILI vaccines, who said masks may not be effective - no one would have watched MSNBC, they would have flipped channels until they found their Fauci.
Likewise, I think experts who wanted to remain relevant, who felt they could add to the conversation realized the public demanded certainty over nuance.
May be no better example than watching what happened to Michael Osterholm who was a very reasonable expert pre Covid  and quickly learned by making the sin of suggesting we needed nuance on masks that nuance would get you excommunicated from the expert class 
Finally, I think overall, the public doesn't realize that social science isn't a real science. They are conflating it with hard science. More depressing, the PhD social scientists who leveraged their credentials to become social media influencers don't realize social science is a science which isn't a science either. It explains their overconfidence and disbelief they are practicing pseudoscience.
Should just listen to Feynman
 Here, for example, Michael Osterholm casually admits flu vaccines aren't very good and he doesn't know why - that's the type of expert I would trust. This was pre 2020 though.
"It's much more complicated than we thought," - "I know less about influenza today than I did 10 years ago."
 Compare to this, where he had to prostrate to the crowd and beg forgiveness for the heresy of suggesting masks won't do much:
"At the same time, Michael Osterholm, a public health and disease expert who is worried that mask effectiveness is being over-hyped, has also found himself threatened and harassed. Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told me he’s received vulgar emails from people who read his statements questioning the efficacy of cloth masks. Osterholm said that his position was not that masks shouldn’t be worn — he wears one in public, himself — but that there is limited data on how effective DIY cloth masks are at stopping small particles, either from passing through or being forced out the sides of the mask. "
Public perception of risk is terrible, and some vox-pop street surveys suggested that the general public assumed that 5% of the population had died ...
"But I don't know anyone who did" (they explain) ... its all media, isn't it?
Early days, there were two times I remember Deborah Birx saying she didn't know things, but I am convinced the purpose was not to be honest. At one point, she said she had no clue how coronavirus worked. That didn't ring true at all. I had just seen a video from a pulmonologist that explained in detail what coronavirus did to the body. He might not have been 100% correct, but certainly it was wrong to say the experts knew nothing. They had plausible explanations to build from.
The other time was when she claimed there were no treatments. (Translation: we don't know how to treat this.) But that smelled fishy too. There was already word that Hydroxychloroquine was showing promise. She didn't even mention that medicine,. (No doubt for political reasons.)
In other words, when the "experts" did say they didn't know stuff, it had the effect (and likely the purpose) of scaring the pants off of people. Both these instances made me realize people in power were trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
The first UnHerd interview I saw was with Johann Giesecke of Sweden, and his ability to say "I don't know" was encouraging to me too because he was trying to inform honestly rather than terrorize the populace.
Good article and expose on the "expert" culture. Too many are willing to not only accept what an "expert" tells them, but to demand everyone else to as well without any inspection. We now see how dangerous that is. One thing I believe that has been exaggerated, in retrospection, is the estimated numbers of US deaths caused by Covid 19, we are now realizing that large numbers of deaths were actually caused by factors other than the disease itself. The number should be significantly brought down.
*also, Freddie Sayers and Unherd were a lifeline. Somehow by luck i found them early. 🌳
I was a door to door security lock salesman for a few weeks: (student summer job): we hit a poor neighbourhood and told them that our locks were better than the locks they had. This was not untrue, they really were, but we used some dodgy statistics to create fear (which is why I left).
So, once we had a sale, we whistled around the corner and two people turned up: the carpenter to fit the locks, and the team leader to sign the hapless client up to the rather expensive credit hire-purchase scheme - which is what really made us the profit!
Two books i read before the pandemic that saved me ...”Range” by david epstein and “ the coddling of the american mind” by haidt and lukianoff. The latter as it relates to the politics of the last few yrs( BLM etc) and the former re: the myth of the experts. Epstein’s book discussed the experts vs tetlock’s super forecasters as well as md’s inability to solve prob and stats problems. Tegnell proved to be a generalist. God bless him.
There was no "pandemic" in any way that word has ever been meaningful before what happened in 2020. You weren't able to bring yourself to say it when talking to Jordan Peterson. The discomfort in your voice when he said that was obvious. It seems you're not willing to say it now, either.
If you keep referring to "the pandemic," you're simply cooperating with power-motivated manipulation of people who want us to believe that a global health catastrophe took place.
Diffidence in 2023 is . . useless. Actually, worse than useless. It does not inspire the trust that I believe you hope to gain, or hope that your discipline will regain. Quite the opposite.
What's far worse is that there was ample information that they DID know but didn't tell the public, which is criminal.
Video: Pfizer’s “Secret” Report on the Covid Vaccine. Beyond Manslaughter. The Evidence is Overwhelming. The Vaccine Should Be Immediately Withdrawn Worldwide