Only a few years ago, the people of Britain had "had enough of experts".

At least according to Michael Gove anyway, in the run up to the Brexit referendum when what voters were really sick of was probably politicians, Brexit, and referendums.

Fast forward four years to the midst of a global pandemic and the value of "experts" - especially scientists of public health, microbiology, immunology, epidemiology, virology, and so on - has never been higher.

It may be up to politicians to make the decisions, but access to the best advice, expertise, evidence, and data crunching to guide those decisions is crucial.

And it is also clear that the first truly global pandemic to occur in the social media age has also given the public instant access to a plethora of expert opinions and analyses that would never have been possible before.

READ MORE: How fast food giants spun the pandemic for profit

While trust in governments and the "mainstream media" falters, people repeatedly express thanks for the blogs, Twitter posts, television and radio appearances of the experts bringing them the information and understanding they crave.

To be clear, these are not conspiracy theorists or snakeoil merchants claiming that hot water cures Covid or the whole thing is a Chinese hoax; these are often highly-qualified academics, people in serious positions at serious universities, with the research credentials to match.

It's just that they don't always agree with one another.

Increasingly over the course of the pandemic, platforms such as Twitter have highlighted splits and disagreements between experts on some of the key policy controversies, from mandatory facemasks and mass testing to assessments of how bad the situation really is and whether our response to the pandemic is striking the right balance between necessary caution or a dangerous overreaction that will store up even worse public and chronic health problems in the decades to come.

The point of this is that, for non-expert members of the public, a lack of expert consensus - arguably inevitable given the novelty of this virus and the fast-moving pace of a pandemic - can all become extremely confusing.

And it very quickly opens the door to the all-too-human psychological human foibles of motivated reasoning (the tendency to evaluate arguments with a bias, conscious, or unconscious in favour of a particular conclusion that you already agree with) and confirmation bias.

As the old Private Eye cartoon goes: "I decided to do some online research on confirmation bias, and it turns out I've been right all along."

In other words: whatever your view, there's an expert for you - and you'll probably find them online.

To take one example that seemed to unleash disproportionate levels of ire over the summer: advice on wearing facemasks.

Two pieces of research stick in my mind, shared on Twitter in July by highly-qualified UK-based professors at seemingly polar opposite ends of the debate.

READ MORE: Real number of Covid patients in Scotland slashed to 48

One, an observational study from Germany, had monitored Covid cases in the 10 days after facemasks became compulsory and assessed that "face masks reduce the daily growth rate of reported infections by around 40 per cent".

The second referenced a study by Norway's Institute for Public Health which extrapolated that, even if masks reduced the risk of infection by 40%, when virus levels are low (as they were in the summer when rules on wearing them were introduced) you would need 200,000 people to wear one to prevent one new infection per week.

More recently, debate has been getting heated around the question of whether UK and devolved governments are overstating the resurgence of the virus.

A graph - widely shared by various academics on Twitter this week to underline their view that we are in fact at a crucial turning point - shows a clear upsurge in hospital admissions, including serious cases requiring ventilation, in England from the beginning of September.

HeraldScotland: Hospital admissions data for England up to Sept 14Hospital admissions data for England up to Sept 14

Yet a science blog co-authored by a university-employed respiratory medicine professor, epidemiologist and pharmaceutical professional surmises that there are no longer enough susceptible people left in the population to support a second wave, instead predicting "local, small and self-limiting mini-outbreaks".

HeraldScotland: Hospital admissions data for Scotland, up to September 7 (PHS)Hospital admissions data for Scotland, up to September 7 (PHS)

In such an environment it is easy to understand why healthy scepticism can give way to outright hostility and rejection of 'official' public health guidance.

For example, if your business has collapsed under lockdown, or you have been left in agony waiting for a new hip because the operation you were supposed to have this year is now indefinitely on hold.

To date, 77% of the 4,236 Covid deaths in Scotland have been among over-75s - and more than half of these in over-85s.

READ MORE: The truth about Covid rates, young people, and hospital admissions

It is not unreasonable to ask whether the consequences for cancer and chronic disease patients – and the mental health and wellbeing of elderly people themselves - may be too damaging in the long-run as result of actions taken to curtail a disease that has claimed just 49 lives in the past nine weeks (according to National Records of Scotland).

These are difficult dilemmas, and no policy decision will escape criticism.

But if there is one piece of advice (shared by an academic this week on Twitter) that we should all agree on, it's this: choose kindness.

It goes as long way.