Thursday, April 30, 2020

The burden of proof is on those who impose burdens (Updated)


I have argued both that the lockdown was a justifiable initial reaction to the Covid-19 crisis, and that skeptics ought nevertheless to be listened to, and listened to more earnestly the longer the lockdown goes on.  Here’s one front line doctor who argues that it has gone on long enough and should be eased up.  Is he right?  Maybe, though I don’t have the expertise to answer with certainty, and I’m not addressing that question here anyway.  What I am sure of is this much: The burden of proof is not in the first place on him and people of like mind to show that the lockdown should be ended.  The burden is on defenders of the lockdown to show that it shouldn’t be.
  
This is especially so given that the initial justification for the lockdown (the prospect of overwhelmed hospitals and shortages of ventilators and other medical equipment) no longer applies.  Not to mention the fact that we can be certain that the lockdown is causing massive damage to people’s livelihoods and savings, whereas we are not certain that a general lockdown (as opposed, say, to a targeted lockdown of the elderly and those with special health problems) really is the most effective way to deal with Covid-19.  Not to mention Sweden.

The issue is not just that doing massive damage to the economy is, if unnecessary, imprudent in the extreme – though, to say the very least, it most certainly is that.  It’s that the lockdown entails actions that, in ordinary circumstances, would be very gravely immoral. 

When a surgeon contemplates sticking a scalpel into you, it isn’t merely a matter of weighing the costs and benefits of prima facie equally justifiable courses of action, and then opting for what strikes him as on balance the best one.  Rather, there is an extremely strong moral presumption against his taking such action.  And if he tells you that he nevertheless thinks he should do it, the burden is not on you to convince him that he shouldn’t, but on him to convince you that he should.  He must not do it otherwise.  And notice that this remains the case even though he is the expert.

Now, all things being equal, temporarily forbidding someone to work is, of course, not as grave as doing surgery on him.  But there is nevertheless a very strong moral presumption against the former as well.  As Fr. John Naugle reminds us in an essay at Rorate Caeli, laborers have a right under natural law to work to provide for themselves and their families.  To interfere with their doing so when such interference is not absolutely necessary is a grave offense against social justice (and not merely against prudence), certainly as social justice is understood in the natural law tradition and in Catholic moral theology. 

Hence, governmental authorities must not treat permitting and forbidding such work as prima facie equally legitimate courses of action, either of which might be chosen depending on which one strikes them as having on balance the best consequences.  Rather, the burden of proof is on them to show that there is no other way to prevent greater catastrophe than temporarily to suspend the right to work.  And naturally, this burden is harder to overcome the longer the suspension being posited.  Short of meeting this burden, they must not forbid such work.

It is no good to respond that governmental authorities can simply compensate laborers by cutting them checks for not working.  For this is merely to add yet another measure that is under ordinary circumstances gravely immoral, and thus only justifiable in case of emergency.  It just kicks the problem back a stage.  The natural law principle of subsidiarity states that the state must not take over from individuals, families, and other private institutions what they can do for themselves, including providing for themselves.  As Pope Pius XI emphasized, subsidiarity is a matter of justice, not merely of prudence.

So, if governmental authorities are going to pay laborers for not working rather than allow them to work to provide for themselves, the burden of proof is on them to show that there is no other way to avoid even greater evil.  Again, there is a strong moral presumption against bringing about such dependency on the state, just as there is a strong moral presumption against forbidding laborers from working.

Of course, a difference between the surgery example and the case of forbidding someone to work is that a person who resists the surgery is only putting his own life at risk, whereas the rationale for the lockdown is that those who resist the lockdown order are putting the lives of others at risk.  But here too, that just kicks the problem back a stage.  Would a grave threat to the lives of others override the presumption against forbidding laborers from working?  Sure, but now the burden of proof is on the authorities to show that letting people work really would put the lives of others at grave risk.  The burden is not on critics of the lockdown to show that it would not do so.

Again, the original justification was that without the lockdown, hospitals would be overwhelmed and key medical supplies would become scarce.  So, if that is no longer an issue, why do we still need the lockdown?  The answer cannot be that some significant number of people will die if the virus spreads.  For one thing, there is also an argument that in the long run a significant number of people will die if the population does not build up herd immunity, which would tell against continuing the lockdown.  For another thing, no one calls for banning automobiles on the grounds that a significant number of traffic deaths are a certainty, and no one calls for quarantining people with flu on the grounds that a significant number of flu deaths are a certainty.  So the prospect of some significant number of deaths cannot by itself be a sufficient reason.

But what if it is millions of deaths we’re talking about?  Or what if ending the lockdown results in the virus roaring back and hospitals being overwhelmed after all?  These prospects would seem to provide a sufficient reason.  But how do we know that there would be millions of deaths?  And what is the compelling evidence that the virus roaring back is likely to happen?  It is not enough merely to float these as possibilities, or even as somewhat probable.  We need something stronger than that.

I am not claiming that there are no good answers to those questions.  I am not claiming that the presumption against continuing the lockdown cannot be overridden.  What I am emphasizing is that there is such a presumption and that the burden of proof for those who think it can be overridden is a high one.

The reason this is worth emphasizing is that too many defenders of the lockdown act instead as if the burden of proof is on the other side, or so it seems to me. 

For one thing, some of them seem to be operating with a double standard.  If lockdown defenders change their minds or disagree among themselves about death rate estimates, the likelihood of hospitals being overwhelmed, the utility of masks, or the like, the reaction (not at all unreasonable) is to cut them a break and attribute this to the complexity of the issues and “fog of war” circumstances.  By contrast, when a more skeptical scientist like John Ioannidis presents arguments that others challenge, the reaction (completely unreasonable) is to accuse him of scientific malpractice or perhaps of some suspect motive.

This is the reverse of the way you act when you recognize that the burden of proof is on you to justify massively and possibly catastrophically interfering with people’s lives.  You hold yourself to higher standards and welcome criticism rather than dismissing or demonizing it.

It is no excuse that some critics of the lockdown have said stupid and inflammatory things (which they certainly have).  Two wrongs don’t make a right, and all that.  Furthermore, when you are doing things that might destroy people’s livelihoods and life savings, you shouldn’t be surprised if some of them overreact, and you need to cut them the same slack you demand for yourself – indeed, more slack than that.  And of course, part of the reason lockdown critics have said such things is that they are overreacting to excesses on the part of lockdown defenders (such as the tendency to dismiss all criticism as “denialism”). 

Defenders of the lockdown need to keep in mind that accusations of bad motives and bad thinking can cut both ways.  They must be on guard against the “never let a crisis go to waste” mentality that seeks political advantage in the situation (and naturally thereby only reinforces the doubts of skeptics).  They must also guard against fallacious “sunk cost” thinking that refuses to listen to criticism and looks for novel rationalizations of the lockdown, lest they have to face the prospect of having made a massive mistake.  And they should not be quick to fling accusations of callousness at those who disagree with them, especially when they tend to be precisely the people least affected by the lockdown (e.g. professional writers who are pretty much doing what they would have done anyway and who face no prospect of job loss).

Everyone should make an extra effort at showing humility during this crisis, but especially those who are imposing enormous costs on others, where reasonable people can disagree about the necessity and efficacy of those costs.

UPDATE 5/1: Matt Taibbi does his usual service of calling BS on his fellow left-wingers.  If liberal defenders of the lockdown don’t want people to suspect them of having an authoritarian agenda, they might consider not badmouthing free speech, praising the methods of the Chinese government, or revising history Orwell-style by pretending that it is non-experts and conservatives alone who initially minimized the coronavirus threat.

211 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Ed. In a previous post, you mentioned one of Rusty Reno's articles in First Things magazine on this subject. He now has an updated article. As of today, there are now over 30 million jobs lost because of this policy. There is one factor that you missed. The initial justification of the shut-down was based on models that we now know are wrong. COVID-19 is much less deadly than those early models predicted. Those who relied on models we now know are wrong should make an extra effort at showing humility.

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    1. Tim, maybe you can help us here: I am STILL having trouble coming up with a death rate figure that makes sense. In some places (especially Italy but lots of other places) the death rate seems to be hovering around 8 to 10% of the confirmed cases (and, in some of those places, there are FAR more people whose cases have not yet resolved to either "recovered" or "dead" so the rate might even go higher!) In NYC there are 167K confirmed cases and 17K dead, which works out to just about 7.8% Whereas in lots of other places the rate seems to be around 2% to 3%.

      I think even 1% is a pretty high rate, e.g. in comparison to the annual flu, which seems to run typically more like 0.1% of those who get it. But surely 8% to 10% is not "much less deadly than those early models", is it? I can't make heads or tails of a disease that exhibits that wide a range of mortality rates - is the data bad?

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    2. Tony,
      I don't know of any epidemiologist (Tony Faucci, Deborah Birks) who now thinks that the rate is anything close to 8%. The results of several recent studies seem to place it somewhere between 0.1 and 0.3% which is a LOT less than what was being originally projected.

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    3. Tony:

      My understanding is that IFR is not a fixed property of a disease, and it will vary across different populations. Infectious disease modelers will usually make adjustments for the age and risk factors in a population in order to compare across populations. But even the way it's treated varies from place to place, which could infect fatality rates.

      Even the pessimistic epidemiologists are estimating an infection fatality rate below 1% for the US with a functioning hospital system. The big question that's getting a lot of attention right now is how much of the population was previously infected. And how many excess deaths were caused by COVID-19 but weren't identified at the time? It's a bit of a race right now, and little of this work is going through peer review before being released.

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    4. Tony,
      I think you are right to highlight the "confirmed cases" in the calculation. Currently crude estimates are made with respect to "Case Fatality Rate" which is # of deaths per # of positive cases. Since people disproportionately get tested when they have more severe symptoms, it is a biased estimate of the virus mortality rate, which would be # of deaths per # of infections. That's my current understanding at least.

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    5. Tony,

      Calculating the death rate by dividing deaths by confirmed cases is not a good way to do it, for the reason that many more people are infected than have been actually confirmed, due to the fact that most people who are infected don't get sick and therefore don't get tested. The way to arrive at an accurate death rate is to do a large enough random study of the general population to confirm what proportion are infected, and divide the number of deaths by that number. Although even that number might be inaccurate since there seem to be inconsistencies from place to place in terms of how they assign COVID as the cause of death. From what I've read, the general consensus is that the death rate is under 1% for all people. And since the death rate is higher for the elderly and those with underlying conditions, the rate for younger and otherwise healthy people would be much lower than 1%.

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  2. I argued from the beginning that based on death rates from China, we need only have protected the statistically vulnerable, but otherwise carry on as normal. One thing that is clear, is the monitoring by progressive forces in public administration. They will surely have noted the spineless compliance by the Catholic Hierarchy to concede by obedience,that the Church is a non-essential service, way behind the likes of Wal-Mart or alcohol stores.

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    1. The Church is non-essential in this sense. People have to avoid gatherings if they can, and it's possible to live without Church. Food and pharmaceuticals are essential in the sense that people actually need it. Remember Aristotle noticed that only after man's more basic natural needs are fulfilled that he can then proceed to philosophizing and engaging in higher, spiritual activities.

      I think the argument for keeping church services open has been mostly an embarrassment

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    2. I have been appalled at the apparent abasement and kow-towing to civil authorities' declarations, on the part of Church officials, without even a jot of a mention of limits, qualifiers, etc indicating maybe, possibly, "we won't willingly and readily oblige you if you go too far".

      Atno, the Protestants (by and large), with their highly attenuated sense of sacramental grace, are in a different boat than Catholics with the Catholic teaching on grace. You can probably best think of the sacraments as analogous to vitamins, vaccines, and antibiotics: yes, a very large portion of the population can get by without ALL of those...for a while. The portion that will survive without antibiotics will be somewhat smaller - but some will. The portion that will survive without vaccines will be somewhat smaller - but a heck of a lot of them will be sick (maybe, very sick), for a while before they are OK. The portion that can survive for a wile without vitamin C (even in the food, that is) is very high indeed, but as time goes on, the portion drops toward 0. Yes, people can retain their temporal life intact without going to church and getting the sacraments, but over time the damage to their spiritual lives may be severe or even catastrophic. Measuring it by one month's effect can be deceptive, as would trying to measure the effect of health on a diet without vitamin c for one month.

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    3. Atno..."The Church is non-essential in this sense. People have to avoid gatherings if they can, and it's possible to live without Church. Food and pharmaceuticals are essential in the sense that people actually need it. "

      It is physically possible yes, but spiritually extremely dangerous. I suspect that many administrators are hoping for a large proportion of Churches to go under due to no income from the laity.

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    4. How come the vast majority of bishops didn't even try to find out a way to have public mass safely? How come the vast majority of priests didn't even try to figure out a way to offer confession?

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    5. Hi Adno, I am a nurse and worked on our hospital's COVID floor, which has since been decommissioned. In the best of times caring for the sick and dying is demanding. I have felt sacramentally malnourished. I am sorry you feel my efforts to keep the sacraments available are an embarrassment. I respectfully disagree.

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    6. Delores, great response. Thank you.

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    7. Interesting analogy regarding religious perspectives and vitamin supplements, lol. Perspectives run the gambit. The faithful regardless of what has been put out in the bias media all boils down to simple common sense. In the beginning when not much was fully understood on this Virus and how its transmitted we relied on the Medical community to advise us all on how to respond. No Church gathering or other form of gathering seemed like a smart idea. Yet as the article above so well put such decisions , it really boils down to the burden of proof. I find it so strange that we have far many well known choices which cause a direct link to an early grave, yet we are ok and look past those poor choices or vices everyday. We allow people to drink Alcohol and drive cars , or at least your not suppose to. We allow people to smoke cigarettes , we allow people to purchase fast foods all the while with full knowledge that these things are slow poison. Should we take all of that away? To some degree we have, in more recent times, the banning of smoking in public places was a bit controversial, but then later justified. And shortly to follow the campaign against Coke-a Cola being made available in school lunch cafeterias. We make many decisions within the public eye that have lasting ripple effects upon our neighbors everyday. We do pick and choose selectively as to what is urgent and what is not, yet still being quite selective and often without reasonable data to support our reasons. This is why so many are skeptical and always searching for some truth so they can put things in proper perspective and make reasonable choices. Then we have the sheep , who do little more than watch our very bias news feeds on both sides of the fence , and really never get a straight answer that address's the real cause and effect. So many opinions, and so little time,lol. It is getting worse as the years move forward with more restrictions and more events of total compliance whether or not you believe in it or not. The idea and concept of a total Unitarian society being controlled by a few has become evident. Just look at the business world and by naming just three names you can pretty much stand at attention for all of your day to day needs in today's modern world. Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates. The scary thing is that not one of these people offer anything truly important to humanity and have become very famous by designing a bunch of stuff that has become a false message of what is to be valued. If your nothing without an Apple or a computer or anything cool about Amazon , then you certainly never had much self esteem or self worth. The big lie that has now gathered the masses to place such high importance on being able to speak to a computer. The information highway that has loads and loads of bits of facts and what we call knowledge or Science. Yet we lack the wisdom necessary to do anything to improve our treatment of one another. We still have wars, we are still capable of horrible crimes of injustice around the globe. Nothing has changed in thousands of years. In fact , some could argue that its gotten worse. It's difficult for many to even have sit down intelligent conversations among one another.

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  3. The burden should be on people opining on epidemiology or bio-statistics who demonstrate no obvious expertise in the subject. It's quite strange that we think one can read an article by Ioannadis (who is not an epidemiologist), and suddenly one believes oneself competent to infectious disease models (without even knowing the difference, say, between stochastic and deterministic models).

    St. Thomas frequently showed contempt for people who think they're competent in some science without grasping its principles. It's the worst kind of ignorance, because it's ignorance of one's own ignorance, ignorance that believes itself to be knowledgeable.

    You can see this in Rusty Reno's articles. He recently wrote one that was entirely based on his own confusion about when public health authorities are speaking about case fatality rates and infection fatality rates, or that case fatality rates naturally differ between populations. (This was after an article in which he characterized the nightlife in the 1918-1919 as quite lively.) Anyone who thought the IFR would not be a fraction of the CFR can be simply disregarded.

    We ridicule Richard Dawkins when he attempts philosophy. Oughtn't we do the same to those with dissenting views on COVID-19 that don't even know what Bayesian inference is?

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    1. From the wiki page on Ioannidis:

      "From 1998 to 2010, he was chairman of the Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine"

      Ioannidis' expertise aside, your analogy fails. We don't ridicule Dawkins because he attempts philosophy without being a philosopher full stop. We ridicule him after showing that his attempts fail and why they do so. If he as an outsider to philosophy was making good philosophical arguments, he would be taken seriously.

      And that leads us to the main problem, which is that you have totally misunderstood Ed's argument and that not only is Ed not speaking about an issue he has no expertise on, but he makes a philosophical argument, IOW he's in his space. Ed is not having a disagreement with a bunch of epidemiologists on some empirical data in their field. He makes a philosophical point about the burden of proof that a government would have to meet before it can limit basic rights, he argues that the right to work is amongst them, that the longer the lockdown goes on and people's rights are being suppressed it gets harder to justify it. He also argues that just the fact that there's a risk somewhere (like in driving a car) does not automatically grant the state the right to interfere in people's life like that. Of course, he accepts that these objections can be overcome if and only if it is to avoid a greater disaster. The mere possibility of some risk does not suffice.

      All those are arguments from moral and political philosophy and being an epidemiologist does not make you an expert or even knowledgeable there. Based on those arguments he makes a claim about what the experts (that's where their part comes in) would provide to justify an extended lockdown. Based on such arguments he does not think that the mere possibilities that are being utilized as a basis suffice. If there's something else, then good. If there isn't, we have a problem. Anyone who disagrees can offer counter arguments, which are gonna be philosophical as well, because what suffices to impose such measures is an issue of political philosophy and not of epidemiology. One last time, Ed is not debating the empirical details against epidemiologists here.

      As a final note, since you appear eager to give advice on who should comment on which topics, I'd say that an excellent advice is to have understood the text you're about to criticize before you proceed.

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    2. Agree we need to listen to the health scientists. But there is another science relevant to the other emerging disaster - economics. Those scientific experts are called economists. Epidemiologists are not economists and vice-versa. Policy makers and pundits need to listen to both and then make political/moral decisions. Ed's philosophical/moral framework gives them one such framework to work with. They may choose others. I am sympathetic to Ed's.

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    3. @Thomas:

      Quite so. The arrogance and dishonesty of the right on this is absolutely disgraceful. And they want to lecture us on humility???

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    4. @Zeno:

      Thomas showed why Reno's arguments failed, and they were on the order of "Who caused God?" in philosophy. Most other right-wing pundits fare no better.

      Ed isn't wrong about the moral or political philosophical principles involved (although I might quibble about "burden of proof" as though there some other party to evaluate the government's decision), but he is wrong when he pretends there's a real "debate" to be had about whether such measures are justified according to those principles.

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    5. Lonely Professor,

      What? For a start, this isn't that political. Although there's probably more on the left who are more enthusiastic about the lock downs, plenty of the right are as well. Heck, most of us on the right have said we agreed with the policy in general. Most on the right aren't questioning the lock downs overall, especially given what was known at the time. What is being questioned, sometimes, is how long they need to continue, when and how things should be easier, not to mention some of the excesses of some authorities. It is the left-liberal media and politicians who seems to be acting as if the indefinite continuation of the lock downs is unquestionable and anyone who disagrees wishes to massacre the elderly. That's not to mention that some on the left seem to wish to use the crisis for their political goals. I haven't seen arrogance in this crisis that has approached some, generally left-wing, commentators who have acted like any consideration of the economic catastrophe looming is akin to not caring about human life.

      The bottom line is that the point of the lock downs, as Dr. Feser alludes to, was to stop the health care system getting overwhelmed. Once that is done, then we should be slowly and cautiously opening up. This process is beginning where I live, in NSW, and it's a good thing. The premier has relaxed some of the rules, for example, on gatherings of two outside people in another person's home. Yet still some are getting the vapours as if this will kill us all. Any sensible person looking at the numbers for NSW and Australia can see it is time to begin this process, even if the idiot left-liberal governor of Victoria is delaying it for his state.

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    6. Zeno:

      I should have said Ioannadis is not a representative epidemiologist, either in his published work (metascience) or in his particular opinion. Which is not to say he hasn't earned a right to be read, he has. But he's atypical for a number of reasons, even leaving aside his recent involvement with ethically flawed and mathematically erroneous studies.

      > We don't ridicule Dawkins because he attempts philosophy without being a philosopher full stop. We ridicule him after showing that his attempts fail and why they do so. If he as an outsider to philosophy was making good philosophical arguments, he would be taken seriously.

      Actually, we do ridicule Dawkins for issuing judgments in a domain he has made no serious effort to understand. I could pull quotes from "The Last Superstition" to that effect if you like.

      And I think you misunderstand my main point, which is a qualification, not a disagreement with Feser. Judgments about the justification of lockdowns range across ethics and politics, to economics, to epidemiology, to sociology, etc. The judgment of policy makers is not the same as the judgment of epidemiologists. But to the extent that policy makers (and we as citizens) assume various empirical effects of different policies, that is the domain of the particular empirical sciences.

      One might say "if schools are a primary vector for COVID-19, they should be shut down for x months." But the question of whether the empirical assumption here is true is a matter for scientists, and we should be aware of the limits of our own competence here. And a lot of people are being published that simply aren't aware of their own limits, and their readers often don't know the difference.

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    7. Todd:

      > But there is another science relevant to the other emerging disaster - economics.

      I very much agree with this. Overcoming the consequences of COVID-19 is going to involve collaboration by experts across disciplines, and it's going to require a populace that's able to understand in very general outline what the consensus of the experts is, and how to judge which issues belong to which domain to avoid experts overreaching.

      The one thing that is clear is we are in desperate need of expertise that is being heard by policy makers, and of competent execution of the right policies. Ioannidis became famous for promoting evidence based medicine; we need evidence based policy.

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    8. Dr Ioannides is indeed an epidemiologist.

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  4. Very nice. I had no idea about Sweden. New Zealand appears to be on the opposite end of the spectrum, locking down early and hard, and appears to have had relative success with that. There are lessons to be learned from both countries, no doubt.

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    1. New Zealand may have locked down earlier and harder than some other countries, but not nearly as early and hard as is claimed. We locked down 7 weeks after the WHO declared a global health crisis. We were one of the slowest Western countries to ban travel from high risk places, and we didn't enforce self-isolation of any arrivals to our country before hand.

      Australia is doing better than NZ, and didn't lockdown nearly as tightly as NZ did. I would say what ever successes we had has less to do with being hard and early, and more to do with having the benefits that Australia also has: summer weather, not flu/pneumonia season, not very densely populated, people don't live in apartment blocks, nor have heavy public transport use.

      You would expect us to do better, yet we aren't, and we crippled our economy far more than Australia did. I wouldn't hold us up as an example of success really. We are lucky.

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    2. Interesting; thanks for the info!

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  5. The right has not exactly covered itself in glory on this one, to put it mildly. Hatred and distrust of Big Government, combined with the disdain of scientists and scientific expertise, and the arrogant assurance they know better than those pointy-headed intellectuals, has simply blinded it to the truth. When it is a matter of a global pandemic, and I am constantly bombarded with lies such as it's no worse than the flu, or the models were wrong, or don't make the cure worse than the disease, or the scientific/medical community is hiding the truth that hydroxychloroquine is the miracle cure, or whatever the latest narrative right-wing pundits are parroting, I am angry, and have every right to be. It's literally a matter of life and death, and as Thomas M. Cothran said so rightly above, right-wing pundits like Reno don't have the slightest clue about what they are talking about.

    Some prudent relaxing of the lockdown is warranted at the present time, while still keeping social distancing measures in place, and is happening. But the idea that we can just go back to business as usual is dangerous lunacy. No, reasonable people can't disagree about that, sorry. Coronavirus is clearly much more contagious than the seasonal flu and much more lethal.

    And yes, the attacks on Ioannadis were 100% justified. Just because you don't know enough statistics to see the Santa Clara study is complete garbage doesn't make it not so. It is complete garbage. And yes, when he and his team published an op-ed in the WSJ a month ago claiming the response to the coronavirus was a huge overreaction, and one of the co-authors of the Santa Clara paper is a hedge fundie, it's not too hard to see how their might be a conflict of interest, and how HE not might want to admit HE was wrong.

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    1. Man, I'm pretty up in the air and undecided about the severity of this pandemic, but given that you've come in here guns blazing, I've got a few simple questions:

      (1) What is the actual case death rate of the disease, and has it remained consistent (such that we can trust it enough to make sweeping policy decisions based on it)?

      (2) What is the rate of spread (sans serious prevention measures) relative to "normal" flu bugs?

      (3) Are the ways we measure cases and deaths for COVID consistent with how we have measured cases and deaths for past flu seasons?

      (4) How do reasonable non-experts determine who to trust? Simple majority?


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    2. "Everyone should make an extra effort at showing humility during this crisis..." . And one of the most dangerous things one can do is to attribute motives.

      Please don't apologise after making this statement; "No, reasonable people can't disagree about that", unless you intend to withdraw from your dogmatic position. May I suggest you listen to a reasonable person make a case that most of those under 65 can return to normal life and that those who can do their best to ameliorate the isolation faced by those over 65 or otherwise at greater risk. That reasonable person is Ioannidis and his calm analysis on YouTube of the average and outlier Covid19 situations may help you climb back down from the ceiling or from your high horse.
      see - Dr. Ioannidis on Why We Don't Have Reliable Data Surrounding COVID-19 published 3 weeks ago

      best regards
      David

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    3. As I said above, this seems to have it almost a***e-backwards. There's always looks around, but from what I have seen, most of the right-wing commentators have at least expressed the need for definite social distancing measures, many have supported the lock downs outright. Certainly there have been far fewer rightwing commentators and politicians suggesting Coronavirus is a hoax, we should just completely open up straghaway, etc., than there have been left-wing commentators and politicians who seem to wish for the lock downs indefinitely, consider any concern for economic or social effects to be akin to wishing to kill the elderly, etc. If you add to that the over-zealousness of certain left-wing politicians and the desire of some on the left to make use of this crisis to further their political goals, I'd say we can say much more strongly that it is the left who hasn't covered itself in glory.

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    4. @ccmnxc:

      1) First of all, we need to distinguish between case fatality rate (CFR) and infectious fatality rate (IFR). The CFR is ratio of deaths to symptomatic cases. The IFR is ratio of deaths to all cases (including asymptomatic). The best estimates we have for IFR of COVID-19 is between 0.5 - 1.0%, and CFR between 1 - 2 %. This is many times worse than seasonal flu, with CFR of 0.1% and IFR of around 0.04%. Estimates of IFR haven't changed wildly since the start of the pandemic. Obviously they will be updated as we get better data.

      (2) Estimates of R0 for coronavirus are around 2.5, although some studies suggest it may be even higher. By contrast R0 of seasonal flu is only a little higher than 1.

      (3) More or less, yes. COVID-19 cases are sometimes diagnosed based on symptomology rather than a test result, but that is also true for the seasonal flu. Ascertaining of cause of death is not always an exact science, but medical practitioners do the best they can based on their judgment.

      (4) I don't know to be honest. There is no substitute for the skill to be able to evaluate competing claims.

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    5. @David Johnson,

      No, reasonable people can't disagree that we can just go back to business as usual. The coronavirus is just too contagious and just too lethal. Even Ioannidis isn't advocating that.

      Yes, targeted social distancing would work in theory, but putting in practice is the problem. The problem with targeted social distancing is in fact twofold. First, the elderly aren't the only vulnerable population. Younger, but immuno-compromised individuals or those with other pre-existing conditions are also at risk. That turns out be quite a large segment of the population.

      Then, how do you actually bring about the social distancing when members of the not at risk group cannot completely social distance from members of the at risk group (living in the same household, nurse/doctor patient relationships etc.)

      Not to mention, Ioannidis was wrong then as well. Sure, it would have been nicer to have better data on the coronavirus, but the data we did have was enough to warrant strong countermeasures, which was pointed by many afterwards.


      Delete
    6. @Jeremy Taylor:

      You don't live in the U.S. I quite assure you that's what the right-wing pundits have been saying here. And nobody on the left wants the lockdowns to continue indefinitely. They did react to that idiot Texas Lt. Gov. who said that putting the elderly at great risk is as "sacrifice" they should be willing to make for the economy.

      Delete
    7. the scientific/medical community is hiding the truth that hydroxychloroquine is the miracle cure

      And who said that? I will not that it is not what Trump said. Nor am I aware of anyone else who said so. Any more than there is a chorus to completely relax social distancing (as you say at 12:43 PM.

      Really, if you wish to be taken seriously, you need to deal from the top of the deck. And your comments have been highly arrogant and tendentious.

      Delete
    8. Lonely Professor,

      You seem to be nit-picking based on your political preferences - people with Swastikas, really? Hardly representative of the mainstream right. At least one placard and one poster going around appeared to be fake. The latter, for example, talked of a group that didn't exist and hashtag no one had sent. But the mainstream left has acted as if questioning the lock downs at all or thinking about easing restrictions, even responsibly, means you wish to kill off the elderly. Exhibit One: Piers Morgan, who spends much of his time self-righteously ranting at any lock down deviationists.

      And one can match the Texas Lt. govenor with the idiot New York governor, who said it was worth the lock downs to save one life, which is insane. But I actually think that the Texas Lt governor can be defended. It's a slightly tactless way of putting it, but we make public policy trade-offs all the time, including trading off health and safety risks against other priorities. There's nothing wrong with the idea we might trade off risk to the elderly against economic hardship and risk. The question is the degree of risk and hardship in each case.

      Delete
    9. - that should be nut-picking.

      Delete
    10. We've known for a long time now that the death rate for those exposed to the virus is under 2 per thousand.

      Why should we respect the "science" on offer? In the UK and US, it was founded on an unpublished report by the Imperial College (based on Chinese Communist Party stats) that predicted 1% of the population would be dead in three months without drastic measures. The measures are still in place, yet it is universally conceded that the real "infection rate" is many times higher, making the Imperial College report worthless as a prediction model. Governments were stampeded into doing what they've done, leading to massive poverty and thus wreckage of the health system.

      No country, with or WITHOUT social restrictions has exceeded 600 deaths per million inhabitants. Sweden, with voluntary social distancing, is coping.

      Lockdown "science" has been the emperor with no clothes, if one speaks of respectable opinion. Swedish health officials have given ample scientific evidence for their policies, yet people continue to support lockdown science on the basis that many of its opponents use silly or uninformed arguments, which is about the most illogical and unscientific position possible. As Dr. Feser has pointed out, the onus of proof is on those advocating the lockdown. They never got beyond first base with their pie in the sky fatality rate, which has been shot down with every statistic ever to come to light in the West.

      Delete
  6. "... though I don’t have the expertise to answer with certainty, and I’m not addressing that question here anyway."

    Experts often, I suspect most often in politically intense environments, overestimate the range and degree of their expertise. Temptations abound.

    Likewise, expertise is, by no means, a guarantee against common forms of power seeking.

    There are a couple of superbly incisive essays over at The New Criterion that cover this and related themes. One by the editors titled "The culture of corona: On smoke, mirrors & glimpses of truth" and another by Victor Davis Hanson - "The scab & the wound beneath".

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  7. I have found one argument for strongly favor lockdown which likely to sound.

    This is why we should choose lockdown even if economy collapse:


    (Quote)

    People just don’t get it. Even smart people don’t seem to understand.

    Let’s review how this virus works. It’s incredibly virulent, and literally all the data in the world has shown that its spread can be exponential.

    Furthermore, even if the proportion of people killed by it directly is relatively small as a percentage the number of people requiring hospital care may reach a quarter of cases in at-risk age groups.

    Hence, one is not choosing *between *economic ruin and deaths. If people ‘go back to work because otherwise we’ll end up on the street’ then *mayhem *will follow *quickly*. Here’s why:

    **It’s not just that hospitals will be overwhelmed - their *****staff *****will be lost**.

    Personal Protective Equipment and components for devices (remember, ventilator tubing and IV lines must be changed) are already running out. What happens when a surge of cases finally exhausts them? Then **the** **caregivers go down**. Now, because people decided they needed to make money, the people who *operate *the ventilators need to be on ventilators.
    See the problem?

    In an infectious condition where almost no-one is immune and multiple people are required to care for one case then if the people required for caring become cases themselves that care capacity is literally destroyed.
    Who's Protecting the Protectors? (https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/926680) Healthcare staff are dying all over the world, and that is occurring *with* lockdowns limiting case numbers. Even if the vast majority survive, their absence alone - if only for a few weeks - would be untenable. Anyone ever left alone with the night shifts of three people knows this. It is a matter of time until exhaustion translates to yet more absence.

    People are saying ‘what about the suicides?’ and ‘wouldn’t it be better for some 90-year-olds to die?’.

    That is unbearably foolish.

    Letting the virus run its course would mean the loss of almost all capacity to care for anyone as the *carers *succumb. Tesla may make ventilators - it cannot make anaesthetists. No masks = no manpower.

    It’s that simple.

    (Unquote)


    Source:
    https://www.quora.com/Im-in-the-US-and-our-economy-is-on-the-brink-of-collapse-due-to-coronavirus-Should-we-go-back-to-work-and-let-the-virus-run-its-course/answer/David-Moore-408

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    1. One of the issues with this kind of argument is it seems to imply an indefinite lock down is necessary, stretching month and months, because any easing will likely just cause the infection to spread. But I would think that kind of shut down, if it is a full lock down, would bring literal economic collapse. In other words, hoping to close things for six months or a year would mean would not just a large economic downturn, but something almost unimaginable. I believe J. P. Morgan is already forecasting the US economy will shrink 40% this quarter. Obviously such a collapse would take the health system with it.

      Delete
    2. The above argument makes the same error that it's criticizing:

      Yes, it is possible that the caregivers will get sick and die, and then we're left without doctors, without people to operate ventilators, etc.

      The other side of that coin is, who makes all this stuff? Who delivers it? Everything is connected to everything else. Shutting down the "economy" means shutting down the means by which we create and distribute the resources necessary to fight the virus.

      As was said above, " Obviously such a collapse would take the health system with it."

      Delete
  8. I largely agree with your point. However there is one part I think needs more discussion:

    "But how do we know that there would be millions of deaths? And what is the compelling evidence that the virus roaring back is likely to happen? It is not enough merely to float these as possibilities, or even as somewhat probable. We need something stronger than that."

    I think this is a dubious claim, or at least not obviously true. As writings like Nassim Taleb have pointed out, proper risk management is not just about what risks are likely, but also how devastating a risk potentially is. If the potential result is devastating enough then it doesn't have to be extremely likely for it to be rational to take measures to avoid it. No sensible person would go skating on ice that has "only" a 1/10 chance of breaking. So I would contend that it can be (whether or not it is in this case) enough for a very bad thing to be "somewhat probable" to justify taking extreme measures.

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    1. This is only true if the shutdown did not have deleterious consequences of its own. With the ice-skating analogy, it is more like skating on ice that has 1/10 chance of breaking in order to save a person who looks like they may fall into the ice. This is a far more complex situation, and it seems to me that this is the one we are in: trying to choose between two different but nearly certain forms of collapse.

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    2. If we completely relax all social distancing measures, the virus will come roaring back. That is a near certainty given its R0. Now let's say 70% of the population is affected. That's 230 million people. Now even with a conservative estimate of the IFR at 0.5%, that's over 1 million deaths. But this estimate is valid assuming the health care system isn't overwhelmed, which it certainly will be.

      Of course we can't shut down the economy entirely, because people still need to eat.

      So a sensible middle ground is opening the economy up for essentials, and for whatever can be done with suitable social distancing measures. Sit-down restaurants, bars, sporting events with packed stadiums, etc., are just going to have to remain shuttered for the time being.

      Delete
    3. Wait. You said no one wants the lock down to continue the lock down indefinitely, but what you describe looks at least a lot like what we have now, and would have to be indefinite, as the virus will be out there indefinitely.

      The truth is we will have to open up more than that and sooner. Some people don't realise that the economic damage of months and months will be truly catastrophic, perhaps eclipsing the Great Depression. Also,T socially it just isn't happening. People are not staying inside until a vaccine is developed in six months or a year. That doesn't mean we will simply go back to normal, and no doubt large events and the like won't reopen until at least the (Northern Hemisphere) autumn. we And social distancing will remain. But we going to have to cautiously and slowly open up in weeks, rather than months. And that will include restaurants and bars opening up for eat-in, though with added precautions. Yes, unfortunately many will get the disease, but hopefully now the health care systems won't be overwhelmed. The alternative, of waiting until a vaccine, was always an insane proposition.

      Delete
  9. A noteworthy comment from yet another eminence, Pierre Manent, recently translated and published over at First Things:

    "As for experts and scientists, certain distinctions must be made. We have learned to recognize, to esteem, and often to admire our doctors, caregivers, and researchers. This is a boon during this sinister springtime. We have also discovered the politics of science, which is no more innocent than regular politics. Expertise provides no immunity against the desire for power."

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  10. Great article Ed, this has been the line I have been trying to ride regarding skepticism vs. reality. Cost vs. benefit, etc. It seems at this time that everywhere will end up like Sweden, it is just a matter of when. I think for most of the U.S., sooner rather then later would be good. Do you have any knowledge of/comment regarding the ER doctor's video that was taken off YouTube as "misinformation"? I personally am disturbed by the quickness with which dissenting views are being shut down or mocked.

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  11. The basic reasons for 'lockdown' are fairly clear, in my view. In an epidemic the critical number is known as R0. It is the average number of people infected by each person who has the disease. For the COVID-19 virus that seems to be a bit less than three for normal societal interactions. As there is no inherent immunity in the population, if you take no measures exponential growth is inevitable. This means the time taken for those affected to double is the same. If it takes three days for the number to double, after a month you have 1000 times as many people infected.

    I live in London (England!) and in mid-March the number of cases was increasing by a factor of 10 in a week. With no measures in place, just the cases from London needing hospital care would have overwealmed health services by the end of April. The growth rate was less in the rest of the UK, presumably because the average population density is lower, and so social interactions are less. However, after the lockdown measures were put in place, the rate of infection in London fell below that of the rest of the country. It is catching up.

    The only way of controlling the pandemic is to reduce R0 to below one. There are perhaps three ways of doing this:

    1) increase immunity. This is why a vaccine is being sought. However, in order for immunity to work in the context of 'normal' social relations (going to meetings, restaurants, cinemas etc.) you need to have a fraction of the population which is immune at a level of (R0-1)/R0. For R0 of 3, that means 2/3 of the population need to be immune.

    2) Isolate infected people. Unlike the SARS virus of, was it, 2002, those with COVID-19 virus are infectious before symptoms appear (indeed, some people are infectious and never have symptoms). Thus there is the 'track, trace and test' methodology. You track connections between people, so that when someone is found to have the disease, you trace all those whom they may have infected, test them and isolate if they have been infected. In this way you can reduce the time for passing on the infection. This works in places where social control is accepted, e.g. China, South Korea and Singapore.

    3) Reduce social contact significantly. That is lockdown. However, letting off the controls needs to be done carefully. The virus is now endemic in the world. If R0 rises above one again, then exponential growth will resume. Waves were seen in the influenza of 1918-1920. That may have killed as many as 50 million in the world.

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  12. LonelyProfessorMay 1, 2020 at 2:30 PM

    "UPDATE 5/1: Matt Taibbi does his usual service of calling BS on his fellow left-wingers. If liberal defenders of the lockdown don’t want people to suspect them of having an authoritarian agenda, they might consider not badmouthing free speech, praising the methods of the Chinese government, or revising history Orwell-style by pretending that it is non-experts and conservatives alone who initially minimized the coronavirus threat."

    And if conservative opponents of the lockdown don't want people to think they're a bunch of psychopaths and neo-Nazis, they might consider not storming state Capitol buildings armed to the teeth while the legislature is in session, and brandishing signs with Swastikas outside.

    (See, two can play this game.)

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    1. LonelyProfessor,

      What part of my explicit acknowledgement, in the original post, that "some critics of the lockdown have said stupid and inflammatory things" did you miss? Not to mention my criticisms, in my earlier posts, of the excesses of lockdown critics?

      Here's a wacky idea: Rather than "playing this game" (which you're the one doing, not me) how about just reciprocating with a "Fair enough, the left-wing side has done some dumb things too"?

      I know that's not your usual style, but your usual style, frankly, sucks. No wonder you're lonely!

      Delete
    2. @ LonelyProfessor

      "conservative opponents of the lockdown" are storming the capitol buildings with guns and Swastikas.

      Good greif man, you live in a fantasy. I'm sure you can find some loser somewhere with a Swastika, and it's lucky for you so that you can perpetuate your CNN fueled hallucinations.

      Delete
    3. TN,
      I was with you up to "CNN fueled hallucinations"

      Actually, yes, there have been protests with folks walking around open carry, a few confederate flags and the odd swastika or MAGA hat. But from what I saw the swastika was in the context of likening the governor to a fascist for issuing the lockdown order, not promoting national socialism.

      Dr. Feser,
      "Fair enough, the left-wing side has done some dumb things too"?
      Indeed, perhaps the dumbest thing is thinking this lockdown can just go on and on without very dire harm being done to those the left typically seems to express most concern for, the working poor struggling to make ends meet. Those are the very people who are really hurting right now because of the lockdowns.

      Indeed, the burden of proof is on the leader who seeks to prevent citizens from freely living and working. This is such a critical and major situation I think every government official needs to meet that burden of proof and re-prove the need for the restrictions every day they are in effect.

      Governor Newsom has done well getting out in front of this crisis to avert an NYC type crisis in LA and the Bay Area, plus his refusal to accept the zero sum game mentality and cut his own deal for 200 million masks per month was about the greatest thing any of our governors has done.

      Now Newsom needs to move forward with Phase 1 reopening immediately for businesses that are not public accommodations, require companies to provide masks to be worn at all times, facilitate as much work at home as practical, split shifts, end in person meetings, open up additional lunch rooms, split breaks, maintain social distancing, and increase sanitation.

      I have not missed a day of work in this crisis and I can tell you that if a company aggressively implements the whole suite of mitigation techniques they can operate at very low risk, and companies that are not public accommodations should be able to open and operate immediately under those conditions.

      Delete
    4. I'm not denying there are protesters, I'm just saying that it's not radical extremism to want to be treated with respect and not have your civil rights flagrantly violated; especially by people who see themselves as dictators who don't follow their own rules.

      Delete
    5. LonelyProfessorMay 3, 2020 at 1:57 PM

      Ed,

      I'm just curious how your petty personal insults align with the Thomistic moral theology and virtue of humility you praise so highly. Perhaps you could enlighten me.

      Your insinuation that in general, defenders of the lockdown are apologists for the Chinese government or opponents of free speech was absolute and complete BS. It was a quite intellectually dishonest debate tactic and I was right to call you on it.

      Nor do I buy your "plausible deniability" argument that that wasn't REALLY what you were trying to insinuate. Of course you were. That's why you added that last paragraph. And that's why I said two could play this game. If you want to go there, I'll see you and raise you all in. Saying stupid things (which both sides have done) is nowhere near the implicit threat of violence issued by those idiots in Lansing.

      Delete
    6. Lonely,

      You really need to calm down. You're doing here exactly the sort of thing I was criticizing you for, and which I have seen you do in the past, which is to respond in a knee-jerk way that is needlessly vituperative and otherwise uncharitable. To point that out is not to fling "petty personal insults" but just to note the plain facts.

      The claim that I had "insinuat[ed] that in general, defenders of the lockdown are apologists for the Chinese government or opponents of free speech" is preposterous. I merely called attention to some disturbing remarks made by some defenders. That's all. I have for several weeks now also consistently criticized foolish things said by some opponents of the lockdown. Indeed, I have, of course, defended the lockdown myself.

      My aim has been to call for sober and dispassionate discussion from both sides. You are unhappy with that, apparently, whether out of partisanship or an incapacity for sober and dispassionate discussion.

      I should also point out another problem with your original comparison, which is that there is a crucial difference between a few anonymous yahoos and cranks showing up at a protest rally, and mainstream writers expressing disturbing and extreme views in mainstream publications. You should follow the example of your fellow left-winger Taibbi, who has the intellectual honesty to see this for what it is.

      Delete
    7. LonelyProfessorMay 3, 2020 at 5:25 PM

      Ed,

      Right. So "No wonder you're lonely" isn't a petty personal insult. You see, you lack the first degree of the Thomistic humility you praise so highly, which is RESPECT FOR THE TRUTH.

      Oh sure, you "merely called attention" to some disturbing remarks made by some defenders. And thus I "merely called attention" to some disturbing actions made by some opponents.

      You have no evidence whatsoever to suggest I am "unhappy" with "sober and dispassionate discussion from both sides". In fact, I would really like to see it. Thus, in your Thomistic moral theology, to accuse me of that is the sin of calumny. But somehow, now, it doesn't count.

      And, I would like to ask, what exactly is the "crucial" difference between armed protestors storming the state Capitol in Lansing, and people writing idiocy in "mainstream" publications, except that in the former there is the implicit threat of violence? I would really like to know.

      Delete
    8. "No wonder you're lonely" is pretty obviously just a jocular follow up to his comment on your style.

      Delete
    9. I would say that ranting in this way is pretty good sign you aren't sober or dispassionate...

      Delete
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  14. But how do we know that there would be millions of deaths? And what is the compelling evidence that the virus roaring back is likely to happen? It is not enough merely to float these as possibilities, or even as somewhat probable. We need something stronger than that.

    We have the current trajectories of deaths, with evidence of severe under-reporting in areas like Wuhan. In the month of April, COVID was one of the leading causes of death in the US.

    I don't think vaccines are 18 months away. They will be fast-tracked, Trump will want one out before the election if he can manage it.

    I found a couple of things in Taibbi's piece amusing.

    "Articles with headlines like “Democracies end when they become too democratic” and “Too much of a good thing: why we need less democracy” became common ..."

    The Founding Fathers would definitely have approved of that those notions.

    Also, in piece whose theme is supposed on the dangers of government control, his central example is one where a private company and the medical association correct misinformation being spread by doctors. The confusion between government suppression and peer correction seems to almost escape him.

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    1. How many people died from the flu this year? How would we know since the CDC instructs doctors to call any death that can be “assumed” to be a Covid death as a Covid death?

      Banning people from social media is “peer correction”? OK. What is it when government officials arrest people for violating quarantine when they and their family members do the same? Is that “peer correction”? What is it when celebrities and public figures use cancel culture to intimidate and coerce others for doing what they themselves do? Is that “peer correction” too?

      Delete
    2. T N,

      We have a good idea from the numbers in November-December-January how deadly the seasonal flu was this year, and tens of thousands of deaths that would not be attributable to that level of virulence. What's your explanation?

      Are you saying that the men who run Facebook, Twitter, etc. are not my legal peers, but a part of the government? The doctors are the not peers of other doctors? If not, do you think bringing "government" into the discussion serves to enlighten, or just to inflame; because to me it seems more the latter than the former.

      Celebrities and non-governmental public figures have no power over me that I do not give to them. What you call "cancel culture" from them, you would term "boycott and protest" when the same tactics are used by people whose politics you agree with. I'm not fooled by the vocabulary.

      Delete
    3. Even in February the CDC was projecting an exceptionally bad flu season, but we hear nothing about that because it’s all Covid all the time. We’ve had 62,000 (supposedly) Covid deaths, which is the same number of deaths in a bad flu season. The CDC published guidelines (link below) instructing doctors to report any death where Covid is **“assumed”**, as a Covid death. Meanwhile, flu deaths have magically disappeared from radar.

      Am I saying Covid is no big deal? Not at all. I’m just saying that there is a lot of politics going on here that can’t be dismissed with hand waving and chiding skeptics as science deniers.

      Why do Facebook, twitter, etc. get to decide who gets to be heard and who does not? They are protected from being sued for their content because they merely host content but don’t produce it. If they are going to make judgments on who gets to be heard and who does not, and who is in need of “peer correction” and who isn’t, why do they deserve a protected legal status?

      If you think cancel culture has on power over you, you are simply naïve. Tell people who are doxed; people who have mobs show up outside their homes; people who are followed and harassed and deplatformed; people that have their reputations destroyed by mob rule on social media that cancel culture has no power over them. Go ahead.

      Finally, you claim I have a double standard when it comes to people whose politics I agree with. I deny it! What evidence would you like to present to the contrary?

      https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvss/coronavirus/Alert-2-New-ICD-code-introduced-for-COVID-19-deaths.pdf

      Delete
    4. TN,
      "I’m just saying that there is a lot of politics going on here that can’t be dismissed with hand waving and chiding skeptics as science deniers."
      Indeed. the CDC is part of HHS, which is run by the Secretary of HHS, who answers directly to the POTUS.

      The CDC is a subordinate of Donald Trump, who is a pathological liar and has spread dangerous misinformation about Covid-19 from the start, recently even suggesting injecting disinfectant to internally disinfect the infected individual, leading to a series of warnings by poison control agencies and an increase in cases of self inflicted poisoning by those who foolishly think this POTUS has a shred of honesty or competency, which he does not, clearly.

      In such a literally toxic political structure it is no surprise that the CDC would tell travelers to not wear masks at a time when Asian and European travelers were infecting Americans.

      The CDC is a big organization with many highly talented and qualified public health professionals on staff. But their public pronouncements are clearly untrustworthy because the man at the top has a reputation for destroying the careers of those subordinates who fail to assist in spreading his incompetent lies.

      "The CDC published guidelines (link below) instructing doctors to report any death where Covid is **“assumed”**, as a Covid death. "
      From the link you provided:
      "Should “COVID-19” be reported on the death certificate only with a confirmed test?
      COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death."
      So, TN, I think you are conflating the colloquial use of "assumed" (a baseless speculation), with the use of "assumed" as opposed to a positive Covid-19 test, yet clinical symptoms indicate Covid-19 was likely the cause of death.

      In that context, I think "assumed" means not proven by a specific test for that particular strain of virus, rather, indicated by symptoms prior to death most reasonably associated with Covid-19.

      Still, a logical case can be made that some number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 were due to other factors. On the other hand, a logical cans can also be made that some number of deaths that were in fact due to Covid-19 were reported as due to other factors. Are the combined inaccuracies a wash? I would only be guessing.

      But no, questioning advice and information coming from an agency that is subordinate to Donald Trump does not make you a science denier.

      The big differences between the flu and Covid-19 are that we have vaccines for the flu, and the flu is a fairly stable cause of death along with cancer, traffic fatalities and all the rest. So, we do not face the prospect of a runaway pandemic with the flu.

      Covid-19 left uncontrolled by drastic measures such as shut downs clearly does result in a runaway pandemic, because it is more deadly than the flu, has a long infectious asymptomatic phase, seems to be more contagious than the flu, there is no substantial population of exposure based immunity at present, and most importantly, we have no vaccine for Covid-19 as we do for the flu.

      Delete
    5. One Brow,

      I don't think we can seriously hope a vaccine will be ready within six months of the beginning of the lock downs. And, I'm sorry, but the idea we could stay locked down for six months or more is just not realistic. The economic damage would be huge even for that long. It would almost certainly cause a new depression, not to mention the social strain and just a lack of adherence by many by that point. Even four months seems a fantastic proposal to me. I would think that well within three months things will have to begin to open up, lest the cure really does become worse than the disease. The NSW is already sensibly beginning this process.

      Delete
    6. Jeremy Taylor

      I'm sorry, but the idea we could stay locked down for six months or more is just not realistic. The economic damage would be huge even for that long. It would almost certainly cause a new depression, not to mention the social strain and just a lack of adherence by many by that point.

      The economic damage of adding a few hundreds of thousands of deaths from the lack of front-line health-care workers who have been disabled from an infectious disease would also cause considerable economic damage. So, do you choose economic damage, or economic damage paired with a pandemic killing people?

      "NSW" = "New South Wales"? Just a brief look at the headlines shows something like less than 10 new infections in the past few days there. That's getting to the point where you can track and monitor the infected. Of course they're opening up.

      Delete
    7. T N,
      Even in February the CDC was projecting an exceptionally bad flu season, but we hear nothing about that because it’s all Covid all the time. We’ve had 62,000 (supposedly) Covid deaths, which is the same number of deaths in a bad flu season.

      The number of flu deaths is in addition to the COVID19 deaths.

      https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm

      That's, at the upper end, 62,000 flu deaths over 7 months for flu, as opposed to a similar number for COVID19 over 2 months.

      Flu deaths have declined in March-April, as they do every year. Why would this be the year flu deaths did not decline in March-April?

      I’m just saying that there is a lot of politics going on here that can’t be dismissed with hand waving and chiding skeptics as science deniers.

      There is a lot of politics going on here, and saying the CDC is deliberating attributing flu deaths to COVID19 is science denial.

      Why do Facebook, twitter, etc. get to decide who gets to be heard and who does not?

      They own the platform.

      They are protected from being sued for their content because they merely host content but don’t produce it. If they are going to make judgments on who gets to be heard and who does not, and who is in need of “peer correction” and who isn’t, why do they deserve a protected legal status?

      Actually, part of their protection is the trimming of content that violates the standards of use. They would be much more open to lawsuits by allowing all posts, regardless of content.

      If you think cancel culture has on power over you, you are simply naïve. Tell people who are doxed; people who have mobs show up outside their homes; people who are followed and harassed and deplatformed; people that have their reputations destroyed by mob rule on social media that cancel culture has no power over them. Go ahead.

      I admit, it's hard for me to understand people keeping those sorts of secrets. No one has a right to use a private platform. However, I will say when we are talking about a mob showing up in front of a house, we are well past whatever "cancel culture" is supposed to be.

      Finally, you claim I have a double standard when it comes to people whose politics I agree with. I deny it! What evidence would you like to present to the contrary?

      Sorry, but the evidence of your humanity precedes you. I'll revise my opinion when I see evidence to the contrary.

      Delete
    8. One Brow,

      As I pointed out, the CDC instructs doctors to report any **assumption** of Covid, as a Covid death (see the link I provided previously). Someone may die of the flu, and if the doctor “assumes” Covid, he/she records it as a Covid death. That is what the CDC is instructing doctors to do. Read the document.

      The point is how would you or the CDC know how many flu deaths there are versus Covid deaths? The link you provide explains the “CDC does not know the exact number of people who have been sick and affected by influenza”. They give us their best estimate based on past hospitalization trends; the number will change over time.

      You (like anyone else) simply do not know what the numbers are (and we will not for some time). We do know that our estimates are changing wildly by the day. But the more knowledge you lack, the more you insist that those who disagree with you are science deniers and extremists.

      We do know that massive quarantine and economic collapse has a high price tag—how high we don’t know--and as Alessio eloquently explained below, epidemiology has no special competence in weighing these prudential matters.

      You say that Facebook, et al. are protected **because** they trim content. Illegal content, sure, but credentialed experts giving their opinions is not illegal content; in fact, it is explicitly protected by the constitution. The problem is this: the major social media platforms have become normative means of social participation. To tell people they must conform to the decrees of Mark Zuckerberg if they wish to participate in society is unethical and authoritarian.

      You say the evidence that I have a double standard is that I’m human. Human’s can’t avoid the double standard fallacy? Can you give a non-question begging reason this doesn’t apply to you?

      Delete
    9. T N,
      As I pointed out, the CDC instructs doctors to report any **assumption** of Covid, as a Covid death (see the link I provided previously). Someone may die of the flu, and if the doctor “assumes” Covid, he/she records it as a Covid death. That is what the CDC is instructing doctors to do. Read the document.

      Perhaps you were not aware, but there is a slightly different list of symptoms, and a different disease track, between flu and covid19. So, as was explained above, when the CDC refers to "assumed" covid19 cases, it means the cases for which the symptoms and course better match covid19 than the flu, but no definitive test has been performed. What do you think would be a better standard here?

      The point is how would you or the CDC know how many flu deaths there are versus Covid deaths?

      Without extensive testing, we'll never know.

      How did you do on coming up with reason supposed flu deaths would rise in March/April, instead of falling in March/April like every other year? Do you have a better explanation than covid19?

      But the more knowledge you lack, the more you insist that those who disagree with you are science deniers and extremists.

      I don't recall saying anything about extremists. As for science deniers, I'm not hearing a better standard for following the science from you.

      We do know that massive quarantine and economic collapse has a high price tag—how high we don’t know--and as Alessio eloquently explained below, epidemiology has no special competence in weighing these prudential matters.

      I don't recall giving epidemiologists any special status in determining the value of a life, and Alessio did not address the possibility of an economic collapse resulting from prematurely relaxing the social distancing guidelines. Perhaps you could point out an article that tries to measure economic collapse from social distancing versus the collapse from no longer distancing?

      Illegal content, sure, but credentialed experts giving their opinions is not illegal content; in fact, it is explicitly protected by the constitution. ... To tell people they must conform to the decrees of Mark Zuckerberg if they wish to participate in society is unethical and authoritarian.

      I'm not aware of any epidemiologists who have been de-platformed, just the usual collection of ER doctors with a vest financial interest, the occasional quack, etc. Of whom are you speaking?

      If you don't like Facebook, start your own. Facebook out-competed other platforms (like MySpace), all you have to do is offer a better product. Is Gab still around?

      Can you give a non-question begging reason this doesn’t apply to you?

      Absolutely not. I strongly encourage you to treat all of my ideas and words with caution and skepticism.

      Delete
    10. One Brow,

      I don't think you understand the level of possible of economic damage involved with an extended lock down. J. P. Morgan is already estimating the US economy will shrink by 40% this quarter. I would think that that would be closer to the yearly figure if the shut down drags on for four or six months. We would facing something like the Great Depression. Look up the 1930s, I think economic damage is an understatement. The UN has already estimated that over a hundred million around the world may be pushed to starvation by the current crisis. There has even been talk about the US food supply chains experiencing issues. Once you go to the supermarket and can't buy food, then the rioting starts. See what happened in Sicily. And let's not forget this economic devastation will effect the health system as well.

      As for longer lock downs, of twelve to eighteen months, someone in this thread spoke of a return to the Bronze Age. That's probably an exaggeration, but it is closer than the impression given by your comments. It would represent, no doubt, something like Stalin's agricultural policy on extended scale. The damage to the economy, society, and even government would be unimaginable, likely dwarfing the Great Depression.

      Delete
    11. As for NSW, we're opening up very slowly. Really at this stage it is just that you can have two people who don't live there at your house, instead of one. But there's still plenty getting the vapours at that; people who don't understand that the point of the lock down was to make sure the health system was not overwhelmed and to give us time to get it ready, not wait until the disease disappears. I've seen many question why the government isn't waiting for there to be no new cases or suggest we should wait for a vaccine. These aren't sensible options. Even if cases are rising, that isn't necessarily an issue, as long as we don't think it likely the health system will be overwhelmed. Other than that, we can't wait indefinitely, and certainly not for months and months. The damage to the economy and society is too great.

      Delete
    12. Don't Facebook, YouTube, and the like get legal and tax protection for acting as platforms and not publishers? If they can't abide by the rules involved, as they don't seem to be able to, isn't that an issue for any American citizen, and not to be brushed off by talk of starting your own social media organisation? That's like someone complaining about Apple or whoever avoiding taxes and being told to start their own company if they don't like it.

      Delete
    13. One Brow,

      Maybe you’re right, but how will we know? I’ll just discuss one point at a time, and you can teach me where I go wrong. I’ll refrain from posting links for brevity’s sake, but I can provide them if requested.

      During the April 7th White House briefing, Dr. Birx said that “we’ve taken a very liberal approach to mortality”. She explains that if a person dies from a “heart or kidney issue”, but merely has Covid-19, they are counted as a death from Covid-19.

      You said: Covid has “a slightly different list of symptoms, and a different disease track” than the flu. Heart and kidney disease most definitely have a “different list of symptoms” and yet, according to Dr. Birx, are counted as Covid deaths. Therefore, the claim that we can separate out Covid from the flu or other causes based on symptoms is irrelevant and our statistics are known to be wrong.

      In an article he wrote in April, UK National Health Service pathologist John Lee states that global Coronavirus deaths were .14 percent of the total expected global deaths for the first three months of the year (comparable to the flu) and asks “what percentage of total deaths warrants an international panic”? He also cites the CDC statistic that deaths from pneumonia and influenza in week 12 of 2020 were 8.2 percent of total deaths but are ignored because pneumonia and influenza are familiar.

      But April was an eternity ago in Corona time. As of May 3rd, statista.com lists the average daily deaths per day from all causes in 2019 as 7969 (including peak and off peak flu season). The average daily death listed for influenza is 161 (adjusted for flu season), and Covid-19 is 868. (discussing in terms of deaths per day removes the problem of a shorter time frame for Covid data)

      The Covid-19 number is 10% of total average deaths per day, which is comparable to the pneumonia and influenza number of 8.2% provided by the CDC. But we have problems with this statistic: As discussed above, we have deaths counted that are not really Covid deaths, and as both Lee and the CDC document you referenced points out, influenza is not a reported disease and is bound to be statistically underrepresented for comparison to Covid.

      We also have an additional problem. We don’t know how many people are asymptomatic and that number is our denominator in our lethality rates. How can we have confidence in a ratio where we know the numerator is wrong and we don’t know the denominator? But as numbers come in, that denominator keeps growing which decreases our lethality rate . . . a lot!

      In any case, there are many credentialed experts such as Lee, you will have to put on your science denier list.

      I will be busy for a few days, but will respond when time allows.

      Delete
    14. Jeremy Taylor,

      I don't think you understand the level of possible of economic damage involved with an extended lock down. J. P. Morgan is already estimating the US economy will shrink by 40% this quarter.

      I agree we need sober leadership to balance the economic concerns with the medical concerns. I am saying that the economy will be in jeopardy with or without the lock down, and the various countries of the world will need to act to manage this, regardless. Saying we need to end to lock down to save the economy is choosing the fire over the frying pan.

      Don't Facebook, YouTube, and the like get legal and tax protection for acting as platforms and not publishers?

      They are not legally responsible for what other people write, but there is a degree of accountability for spreading false information.

      If they can't abide by the rules involved, as they don't seem to be able to, isn't that an issue for any American citizen, and not to be brushed off by talk of starting your own social media organisation? That's like someone complaining about Apple or whoever avoiding taxes and being told to start their own company if they don't like it.

      The difference is that if you out-compete Facebook by having a wide-open, uncensored exchange, then you change the marketplace; while if you make computers, that doesn't make Apple pay taxes.

      For examples of what this freedom really looks like, try Gab or the Slymepit (if either is still around).

      Delete
    15. T N,

      Maybe you’re right, but how will we know?

      We'll never know from experience, because we can only make these decisions one time.

      You said: Covid has “a slightly different list of symptoms, and a different disease track” than the flu. Heart and kidney disease most definitely have a “different list of symptoms” and yet, according to Dr. Birx, are counted as Covid deaths. Therefore, the claim that we can separate out Covid from the flu or other causes based on symptoms is irrelevant and our statistics are known to be wrong.

      When people have a chronic disease that is being managed, and then catch a communicable disease so that the body succumbs, we attribute the death to the communicable disease. This is what we do for flu deaths, measles deaths, etc. Why should we count differently for covid19?

      In an article he wrote in April, UK National Health Service pathologist John Lee ...

      As of now, covid19 deaths in the past two months have exceeded the full five-month tally of flu over flu season in any period over the last decade.

      But April was an eternity ago in Corona time. As of May 3rd, statista.com lists the average daily deaths per day from all causes in 2019 as 7969 (including peak and off peak flu season). The average daily death listed for influenza is 161 (adjusted for flu season), and Covid-19 is 868. (discussing in terms of deaths per day removes the problem of a shorter time frame for Covid data)

      Those numbers from the same source indicate 5 times deadlier than flu, and we haven't even peaked yet.

      As discussed above, we have deaths counted that are not really Covid deaths, and as both Lee and the CDC document you referenced points out, influenza is not a reported disease and is bound to be statistically underrepresented for comparison to Covid.

      Influenza is not a reported disease? Did you mean, "First, the cumulative rate of laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations reported during the season may be an under-estimate of the rate at the end of the season because of identification and reporting delays."? The same verbiage can accurately used for covid19.

      We also have an additional problem. We don’t know how many people are asymptomatic and that number is our denominator in our lethality rates.

      I agree. We need a broader, more robust testing capacity.

      In any case, there are many credentialed experts such as Lee, you will have to put on your science denier list.

      I'll reserve judgment for when I read Lee.

      Delete
    16. One Brow,

      That's the purpose of comparing total daily average deaths from last year to average daily Covid deaths this year. No matter how you want to parse out comparisons to the flu or whatever, the total Y.O.Y. increase in deaths is going to give us the bottom line on whether the cure is worse than the disease.

      As of May 6th, the CDC lists Covid deaths as 5% of total deaths, pneumonia as 9%, and we are at 97% of expected total deaths. As I wrote above, the percentage of average daily Covid deaths is higher because of it's higher mortality in a shorter timeframe. Of course these number will change and we won't really know until we are much further out.

      But how the Covid danger compares to all the dangers we face by maintaining our current course, is one in which we all get to decide in the aggregate, not one in which "the experts" (who can no better predict complex outcomes than anyone else) get to decide for us.

      To repeat Lee's question: what percentage of deaths warrants an international panic?

      Delete
    17. A word on the recording issue:

      Lee points out the radical difference in statistics between neighboring countries and asks “Do we think that the strain of virus is so different in these nearby countries as to virtually represent different diseases?”

      Lee says that normally (i.e. until now) when someone dies of a respiratory infection, the specific cause is not recorded unless it is a notifiable disease. If the person has comorbidities, those are usually recorded as the cause of death “even if the final cause was respiratory infection”--which are therefore under recorded. Covid is now reportable, so when someone dies of Covid it is recorded “contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind”.

      Lee continues:

      “There is a big difference between Covid-19 causing death, and Covid-19 being found in someone who died of other causes. Making Covid-19 notifiable might give the appearance of it causing increasing numbers of deaths, whether this is true or not. It might appear far more of a killer than flu, simply because of the way deaths are recorded. . . . This unusual way of reporting Covid-19 deaths explains the clear finding that most of its victims have underlying conditions — and would normally be susceptible to other seasonal viruses, which are virtually never recorded as a specific cause of death.”

      https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/The-evidence-on-Covid-19-is-not-as-clear-as-we-think

      Delete
    18. T N,

      That's the purpose of comparing total daily average deaths from last year to average daily Covid deaths this year. No matter how you want to parse out comparisons to the flu or whatever, the total Y.O.Y. increase in deaths is going to give us the bottom line on whether the cure is worse than the disease.

      My point was that we can't be sure we are taking the best course of action because we only get to make these decisions once.

      But how the Covid danger compares to all the dangers we face by maintaining our current course, is one in which we all get to decide in the aggregate, not one in which "the experts" (who can no better predict complex outcomes than anyone else) get to decide for us.

      Sorry, but I don't buy into the lazy anti-intellectualism. Of course the experts have somewhat better answers than we do.

      To repeat Lee's question: what percentage of deaths warrants an international panic?

      Does Lee bother to answer that question?


      Lee says that normally (i.e. until now) when someone dies of a respiratory infection, the specific cause is not recorded unless it is a notifiable disease. If the person has comorbidities, those are usually recorded as the cause of death “even if the final cause was respiratory infection”--which are therefore under recorded. Covid is now reportable, so when someone dies of Covid it is recorded “contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind”.

      Having worked for hospitals for over a dedace, I can assure you that in the St. Louis region, the infectious disease has been the primary consideration, and the chronic conditions are classified as comorbidities.

      Delete
    19. One Brow,

      I don't understand how there is a degree of accountability for spreading false information, unless ordered by a court to remove it. Being a platform, which Facebook is, doesn't require it to otherwise police false information. Indeed, it requires it not to make such publishing decisions, and American citizens have every right to demand Facebook be held to the standards it's platform status requires and not act as publisher.

      Delete
    20. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    21. One Brow,

      You said: “My point was that we can't be sure we are taking the best course of action because we only get to make these decisions once.”

      That was never at issue. What was at issue was your pedantic and condescending dismissal of anyone who does not happen to agree with your prudential decisions as “science deniers” who need deplatforming and “peer correction”. Your comments are all the more richer for being made on the blog of a person who writes books on the errors of scientism.

      You said: “Sorry, but I don't buy into the lazy anti-intellectualism. Of course the experts have somewhat better answers than we do.”

      Pathologists have better pathology answers; economists have better economic answers; social scientists have better social science answers, but no one—not even you—can claim to have everything all wrapped up such that anyone who doesn’t go along is in need of “peer correction” and should be shunned and deplatformed. Now *THAT* is lazy anti-intellectualism.

      You said: “Does Lee bother to answer that question?”

      No, and that is the whole point: we all get to answer that question collectively without “experts” pretending that expertise in one field qualifies them to dictate how people should think about the meaning of their lives in society.

      You said: “Having worked for hospitals . . . the chronic conditions are classified as comorbidities.”

      Good for you. But, again, consistent and accurate reporting data is hardly an answer to why neighboring, developed countries have radically different numbers. And it's hardly an answer to why we see in the comparisons of Y.O.Y. total deaths that something is obviously wrong in our projections about the impact of Covid.

      Above you stated that you “strongly encourage [me] to treat all of [your] ideas and words with caution and skepticism.” I believe that imperative is accomplished.

      Delete
    22. Apart from what T. N. said, epidemiologists aren't economic experts, and vice versa. Nor are either of these kinds of experts likely to be experts in other areas of relevant public policy. It should be obvious this is a multi-sided public issue, so, even if we ignore the differences and limitations among expert views in a particular field, we can't bow to one category of experts as having all the answers to this crisis.

      Delete
    23. Jeremy Taylor,

      I don't understand how there is a degree of accountability for spreading false information, unless ordered by a court to remove it. Being a platform, which Facebook is, doesn't require it to otherwise police false information. Indeed, it requires it not to make such publishing decisions, and American citizens have every right to demand Facebook be held to the standards it's platform status requires and not act as publisher.

      I appreciate this is your opinion. Since Facebook makes money from the published content, with algorithms that distribute that content, I disagree that it should be invulnerable to losing some of that money for promulgating the content.

      Delete
    24. T N,

      That was never at issue. What was at issue was your pedantic and condescending dismissal of anyone who does not happen to agree with your prudential decisions as “science deniers” who need deplatforming and “peer correction”. Your comments are all the more richer for being made on the blog of a person who writes books on the errors of scientism.

      By contrast, I refuse to make your false characterizations of what I have said the issue of the discussion. I was explicitly clear on what I said was denialism, and it was *not* "anyone who does not happen to agree ... ". I'm just going to delete the rest of such nonsense from my response.

      As for commenting on Dr. Feser's blog, I have a feeling he would not want me to suppress my opinions so sound more like what think his opinions are.

      Now, if you want to have a discussion on peer correction and de-platforming, we certainly can. But if you keep mischaracterizing what I say, it's not going to be very productive.

      Good for you. But, again, consistent and accurate reporting data is hardly an answer to why neighboring, developed countries have radically different numbers.

      Different countries do report things in different ways. I'm only familiar with reporting standards in the US, and only discussing the why it is counted in the US.

      And it's hardly an answer to why we see in the comparisons of Y.O.Y. total deaths that something is obviously wrong in our projections about the impact of Covid.

      Who's "we"? Here in the US, we saw an unexplained increase in year-to-year deaths in February, which is why many/most here seem to think we have undercounted US deaths.

      Above you stated that you “strongly encourage [me] to treat all of [your] ideas and words with caution and skepticism.” I believe that imperative is accomplished.

      Skepticism means accepting the results of good evidence as well as the dismissal of bad evidence. That said, if what I say encourages you to find good evidence, and bring ig back here to refute me, that's a win-win.

      Delete
    25. You said: “I was explicitly clear on what I said was denialism . . .”

      Earlier you said: “. . . attributing flu deaths to COVID19 is science denial.”

      I presented statements by Dr’s Lee (UK) and Birx’s (USA) that we are in fact attributing deaths to Covid that are not caused by Covid.

      You said: “Different countries do report things in different ways. I'm only familiar with reporting standards in the US, and only discussing the why it is counted in the US.”

      I presented Dr. Birx's statemnt that the way we are reporting Covid in the USA matches what Lee has said on the matter.

      Discussion of social media? You are pedantic and it is too much effort to have a discussion with you.

      Delete
    26. One Brow,

      After further consideration, I think the distinction I've been making is irrelevant and that your understanding is correct. The best way forward is still a prudential question, but I don't think the argument Lee makes is relevant.

      Delete
    27. Lee's argument was understandible early on, but has been shown to be irrelevant with better data.

      Delete
    28. One Brow,

      I don't know what you mean? Is Facebook not a platform by law, rather than a publisher? If it is (and it is), is it not its duty to refrain from making publishing decisions, like those that push a particular narrative and remove posts that dissent from this narrative, though they break no laws? This isn't a matter of opinion. It seems pretty clear cut. If this affects their ad revenue, so be it.

      Of course, it isn't clear it does. It turns in some of YouTube's censorship and demonetarisation, it was activists who went to YouTube and got them to censor things they didn't like on the basis advertisers might not like it. The advertisers themselves didn't seem to care. It no doubt bolstered the activists' strategy that YouTube was broadly sympathetic to their ideology and desires.

      Delete
    29. Jeremy Taylor and One Brow,

      Without wanting to get into this, I’d just point out that arguments that the big platforms have too much power to control the means of social interaction simply cannot be casually dismissed. These are real issues that cannot be waved away by telling people to go start their own Facebook. One Brow, is it not reasonable to admit this? The books being printed on this are legion.

      Furthermore, even if one could “go start their own Facebook”, that has some very negative prospects as well, such as further segregating people into warring tribes. Is that really a desirable outcome even if starting your own Facebook were possible?

      Delete
    30. Jeremy Taylor,

      I don't know what you mean? Is Facebook not a platform by law, rather than a publisher?

      Ultimately, Facebook is a corporation. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think there are separate, legally-defined categories of "platform" and "publisher".

      If it is (and it is), is it not its duty to refrain from making publishing decisions,

      ... YouTube's censorship ...

      You seem really concerned with limitations on how private companies regulate their property. Do you have a solution here? Perhaps more government regulation?

      Delete
    31. T N,

      Without wanting to get into this, ...

      Respecting that, I thank you for providing excellent points on difficult questions.

      One Brow, is it not reasonable to admit this?

      You are absolutely correct here.

      Delete
    32. One Brow,

      Why aren't you reading what I actually write? I'm simply saying that Facebook, etc., are legally protected from things like liability for copyright infringement on their sites by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 1996. A publisher, like that of a newspaper or news website, doesn't have this kind of protection. Facebook, et. al. are legally required not to act like publishers. The reason they get the protection is that they are considered more akin to a phone company than a newspaper, and we don't hold the phone company liable for things done through its phone lines by its customers. But taking aggressive editorial lines, as is suggested by deleting differing, legal views on Coronavirus, is acting like a publisher. American citizens have every right to expect Facebook, YouTube, and the rest to follow their lawful obligations.

      Delete
    33. Jeremy Taylor,

      But taking aggressive editorial lines, as is suggested by deleting differing, legal views on Coronavirus, is acting like a publisher. American citizens have every right to expect Facebook, YouTube, and the rest to follow their lawful obligations.

      Removing false and hurtful content is an aggressive editorial line, and Facebook also has a responsibility to their share holders to make more money or lose less.

      However, if there are specific "lawful obligations" you feel they are ignoring, perhaps you could spell them out?

      Delete
    34. I literally told you what those are.

      As I said, you seem to be a sophist or a troll. I don't see much point in discussing further if you never actually respond properly. So answer my question in good faith or go jump in a lake:

      Do Facebook et. al. not receive protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 1996?

      Does this law say precisely that they are not to be treated like publishers of third hand content and held liable for it?

      If they are not publishers then they are neutral platforms, which in fact was the reason the law was introduced: because internet providers were to get the same protections as phone companies. Phone companies do not police what is said on their lines. So no, they legally should not be removing false and hurtful, but legal content. That's an editorial line, as you admit, and they are not supposed to be publishers. It's an extremely broad and subjective standard. What couldn't be potentially removed on such a standard? I find half the Guardian or BBC publishers to answer to that standard. Would I be allowed to remove it and claim I wasn't editorialising?

      So, if you have a proper response, let's hear it, but try to avoid needless sophistry for once.

      Delete
    35. Jeremy Taylor,
      I literally told you what those are.

      You told me what you think they should be. The actual law seems to lay one obligation on the platforms.

      https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230


      (d)Obligations of interactive computer service
      A provider of interactive computer service shall, at the time of entering an agreement with a customer for the provision of interactive computer service and in a manner deemed appropriate by the provider, notify such customer that parental control protections (such as computer hardware, software, or filtering services) are commercially available that may assist the customer in limiting access to material that is harmful to minors. Such notice shall identify, or provide the customer with access to information identifying, current providers of such protections.


      However, the law does touch on the rights of platforms ('provider ... of an interactive computer service') to limit who can speak:

      (2)Civil liabilityNo provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—
      (A)any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
      (B)any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).[1]


      So, their only obligation is to help parents limit the content their children see. There is no obligation in section 230 to allow anyone to post anything the poster wishes to make public, and in fact, it protects platforms from liability when they choose to de-platform. So, I ask again, what are these specific "lawful obligations" you feel they are ignoring, perhaps you could spell them out?

      As I said, you seem to be a sophist or a troll.

      Do you define "sophist or troll" as 'someone who actually reads thing for understanding and asks for evidence to support points'? If so, then you, sir, are no sophist nor troll.

      So answer my question in good faith or go jump in a lake:

      Do Facebook et. al. not receive protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 1996?


      Yes, they do.

      Does this law say precisely that they are not to be treated like publishers of third hand content and held liable for it?

      Yes, it does.

      If they are not publishers then they are neutral platforms, which in fact was the reason the law was introduced:

      The law itself says otherwise. Platforms are held immune from their decisions to restrict content, and the law itself says its purpose, in part, is to help parent protect children from harmful content.

      I find half the Guardian or BBC publishers to answer to that standard. Would I be allowed to remove it and claim I wasn't editorialising?

      On your platform, you could do so legally, regardless of your claims.

      So, if you have a proper response, let's hear it, but try to avoid needless sophistry for once.

      So, only needful sophistry?

      Delete
    36. You know as well as I do that laws rely on things like intent, context, and legal definitions to define how they are to interpreted. It was clearly the intent of those behind that law to protect these platforms as open places for the exchange of ideas:

      https://www.city-journal.org/html/platform-or-publisher-15888.html

      TheywThey to be treated explicitly like phone companies. That was the point, not to be able to act like any publisher and yet get special legal privileges most don't enjoy. Congress literally granted it so these platforms would be “forum[s] for a true diversity of political discourse.” What you are referring to them being able to remove was mostly a matter of being able to remove pornography and like. Removing different, legal opinions on things like Coronavirus, or censoring such things as biological facts (like men are not women), is clearly not what was meant. That would hardly be in line with a true diversity of political discourse, would it.

      What is the difference between a publisher and platform, then, in your understanding? Why give legal exemptions to platforms if they are indistinguishable.

      Delete
    37. Sophistry seems to be a required part of your posts, alas, as well as dishonesty. I have actually restrained myself, given your inveterate sophism. If you wish me to be even more frank, that's fine. Or you can try to stop acting like a bloody numpty, as a Scot might say.

      Delete
    38. Jeremy Taylor,
      You know as well as I do that laws rely on things like intent, context, and legal definitions to define how they are to interpreted.

      What you should know is that when a law defines its intent within its own text, that supersedes the opinion of Adam Candeub, Mark Epstein, and you. What you should know is that a Senator saying what he thinks the law should mean, 20 years after the law was passed, does not compare to what the law says it means. What you should know is that Section 230 very clearly states it purpose: it's supposed to help make the platforms a safer place for parents to allow their children to visit. What you should know is that when a law explicitly protects a platform from liability when that platform monitors its content, it's not trying to say the platform can't monitor its content. I'm not sure why any of this is confusing to you.

      What you are referring to them being able to remove was mostly a matter of being able to remove pornography and like.

      Naturally, you'll be able to back that up with some sort of official statement, right? For all I can tell right now, you're just projecting your preferences into the law, based on hot air.

      Removing different, legal opinions on things like Coronavirus, or censoring such things as biological facts (like men are not women), is clearly not what was meant.

      The biological fact is that males are not females, the social fact is that men are not women. However, your ignorance on that topic is beside the point.

      Also, no one violates the terms of service by saying men are not women (I regularly see links to people who say these things on Facebook and Twitter), and you'll find Corona-conspiracy theories all over Facebook and Twitter. You're actively lying about who gets deplatformed, and why.

      What is the difference between a publisher and platform, then, in your understanding? Why give legal exemptions to platforms if they are indistinguishable.

      Well, two differences would be public access vs. limited access, and directly supporting the authors financially vs. making money off the authors passively. How large a list did you want?

      Sophistry seems to be a required part of your posts, alas, as well as dishonesty.

      Insults seem to be a required parts of your posts, and you're the one spreading the bald-faced lie here.

      I have actually restrained myself, given your inveterate sophism. If you wish me to be even more frank, that's fine.

      I can't imagine why I would care. If Dr. Feser doesn't, fire away.

      Delete
    39. What are you babbling about now, idiot? That quote was from the law itself, it seems:

      https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db0312/FCC-15-24A1.pdf

      Do you practice sophisms? If so, you need more practice, as one as see the very gears of your sophistry grinding each time, like when Alessio pointed out you had switched from one point to a different one with great alacrity. It is well known that people have been banned or sanctioned by social media for saying things precisely like men are not women l? That is doesn't happen every time hardly proves anything. You are, as always, being sophistic and dishonest. By the way, thank you for the lecture men vs. male I neither needed nor wanted. Don't quite your day job.

      Delete
    40. From the law itself:

      https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230

      "(3)The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity."

      You already posted this link, so you are well aware of what the law says. You are such a liar.

      Delete
    41. Jeremy Taylor,
      What are you babbling about now, idiot?

      Of course, you can't respond without an insult of some sort. Do they bring you some sort of internal relief?

      That quote was from the law itself, it seems:

      https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db0312/FCC-15-24A1.pdf

      Do you practice sophisms?


      You mean, do I link to an executive directive on internet broadband providers (such as AT&T, Comcast, Spectrum, etc.), and confuse that with a law on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.? No, I would never step on your toes that way.

      Given your past problems interpreting what you read, I'll say this more clearly: you are quoting a document about regulating the people who bring broadband into people's homes, and confusing it with one about social media platforms.

      If so, you need more practice, as one as see the very gears of your sophistry grinding each time, like when Alessio pointed out you had switched from one point to a different one with great alacrity.

      Projection is a common tool in the arms of some people. Here, it's you switching from platforms to ISPs.

      It is well known that people have been banned or sanctioned by social media for saying things precisely like men are not women l?

      It's commonly thought, but also false. It's a lie spread by people who, because they don't value other people, resort to abuse and insult when they state such opinions. I suppose to someone who must resort to insult in every response, this seems like normal discourse. However, and this may surprise you, some people think it's rude to call others names. Doing so repeatedly can you banned from various platforms. That's not banning for political reasons, that's banning for rudeness, and it happens all across the political spectrum.

      By the way, thank you for the lecture men vs. male ...

      You're welcome. Sometimes we it's important to read what we think we don't need or want.

      From the law itself:

      https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230

      "(3)The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity."

      You already posted this link, so you are well aware of what the law says. You are such a liar.


      Why do you think your quote discusses the purpose of the law, when it some from the section that says "Findings", and not the section that says "Policy"? Is it because you are desperate to prove your point and have to grasp at straws to do so?

      Delete
    42. Yes, yes, we all know you are a sophist and liar by now; there's no need to showcase it in every sentence you write, such as deliberately conflating different links (the one from the FCC with the one containing the law itself).

      The case has been proven. I have shown that the purpose of the law was to grant platform status, just like a phone company, for these providers, partly for the purpose of true political diversity. I have quoted the law itself, as well as discussion and documentation surrounding the law. American citizens have a legitimate interest in seeing laws enforced properly. These companies are enjoying platform status, so, like a phone company, they shouldn't be acting like publishers and policing political and social views. Unless you have a proper response - and your usual jabbering idiocy doesn't count - I think we can close this discussion.

      Delete
  15. Articles with headlines like “Democracies end when they become too democratic” and “Too much of a good thing: why we need less democracy” became common ..."

    The Founding Fathers would definitely have approved of that those notions.

    Yes, and they would have had an entirely different idea of what too much democracy would be than what the political/ideological left brings to bear - and one that would not be merely and vaguely notional.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Did we not used to be more stoic about life and death?
    Did we not used to have less anxiety about potential illness?

    If the above are true, is our increasing atheism exacerbating these trends?

    If this life is IT, Imagine the absurdities we will endure in order to save ourselves.

    (I've submitted a couple variations of this that I don't believe got through, so apologize in advance if all of these make it.)

    ReplyDelete
  17. So here we go again with "All The Experts," which really just means those experts with the Proper Approved Opinions. This view of "Science" as being a monolithic and infallible source of dogma sounds eerily familiar. I'll take my science with a lower-case "s", thanks.

    Now, the most influential epidemiologists have been demonstrably and dramatically wrong, particularly in the beginning. We appreciate their best guesses, but any honest observer would have to admit that they have not been an incredibly valuable source of accurate information during this crisis. What new information has become available has been in the direction of the pandemic being somewhat less serious than early worst case scenarios.

    However, even if the epidemiologists could give us precise and certain death counts for each possible policy, that would not give them any right to decide which policy is correct. The decision of how much our normal human life and rights should be disrupted to save a certain number of lives from the virus is not a question for doctors. There are very many strong countervailing interests including economic, other health issues, mental health, political freedom, and even civilization itself.

    Suppose the epidemiologists could credibly tell us that 2 million will die in the US (and a similar proportion globally) if lockdowns are lifted, even with moderate social distancing and hygiene practices, Does that mean it's clearly the wrong way to go? What if current policies lead to hyperinflation, destruction of the dollar, collapse of the US government and military, invasion by China and Russia, World War III, nuclear winter, cessation of all interantional trade, global famines, 7 billion deaths over 20 years, and return to a bronze age level existence for the next thousand years? Is this likely? I sure don't know. But neither does an epidemiologist. But, when the pro-lockdown side dismisses the other side as only caring about "economics," this is what they're missing.

    This is also where Nassim Taleb has it wrong. I admire Nassim Taleb; I've read his books, and he's a great thinker for our time. But the "long tail risk" in this situation is not from the virus; it's from the response to the virus. We can come up with a worst case scenario of death from the virus, and it's in the millions of deaths. The worst case scenario from the response to the virus is unlimited and unknown; it could conceivably be in the billions.

    This situation has not divided very cleanly between traditional "right" and "left," but fine, let's call the anti-lockdown side the "right." As is often the case, the right have shown a far more sophisticated understanding of the interplay of numerous variables, and the dangers of unintended downstream effects of radical policies, not to mention a healthy jealousy for our freedom and way of life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ Alessio

      I sure do wish your post had a "Like" button; I'd click it til my finger wore out. (accept the part about Taleb. I don't share your admiration)

      Delete
    2. BTW, as I understand it, Facebook's new policy is that anything that disagrees with the WHO is in violation of TOS. The only thing worse than blind allegiance to "experts" is blind allegiance to spectacularly bad "experts".

      Delete
    3. Alessio,
      Now, the most influential epidemiologists have been demonstrably and dramatically wrong, particularly in the beginning. We appreciate their best guesses, but any honest observer would have to admit that they have not been an incredibly valuable source of accurate information during this crisis. What new information has become available has been in the direction of the pandemic being somewhat less serious than early worst case scenarios.

      Normally, as information improves, so do our models, and typically, we wind up doing better than the worst-case and worse than the best-case. What epidemiologists are saying now about covid19 is much better quality than what they said three months ago.

      What if current policies lead to hyperinflation, destruction of the dollar, collapse of the US government and military, invasion by China and Russia, World War III, nuclear winter, cessation of all interantional trade, global famines, 7 billion deaths over 20 years, and return to a bronze age level existence for the next thousand years?

      What if prematurely easing the restrictions leads to decimation of our front-line healthcare workers, a sickened populace, collapse of the economy, collapse of the US government and military, invasion by China and Russia, World War III, nuclear winter, cessation of all international trade, global famines, 7 billion deaths over 20 years, and return to a bronze age level existence for the next thousand years?

      We should be making choices on the best data available, not on what we fear might happen.

      Delete
    4. That seems like an idolatry of figures: we don't have figures for everything we can make informed predictions about. Besides, we do have figures for things like the projected shrinkage of the economy this quarter, and they are terrifying.

      Also, I'm not sure why you think it likely that front-line healthcare workers will be decimated. What the figures do tell us by now is that those under 40 without certain preconditions have a miniscule risk of dying from this disease, and a very small one of being hospitalised. For those under 60, the risks are still very low. Even up to 70 or 75, they are still not huge. Are a large proportion of the doctors and nurses in the US immuno-suppressed, very fat, or over 70? Where is this decimation coming from?

      Delete
    5. One Brow,

      I would have two points in response to this, but TN already made one of them: most healthcare workers are not in the high-risk categories from COVID-19. Those that are should be completely separated from contact with COVID-19 patients. Given what seems to be coming down to a less than 1% IFR, and much, much lower in the young and healthy, there is no chance this decimates (which literally means killing 10% of) healthcare workers.

      The other point is this: how do lockdowns even change this? I think the biggest gap in the pro-lockdown argument is this: what, excactly, are they supposed to accomplish, long term? At the beginning, we were told they were to "slow the spread" and "flatten the curve," to avoid overwhelming the hospital system. As soon as it became apparent that the hospital systems were being UNDERwhelmed, the lockdowns should have ended. Not phased out, but ended.

      There is scant evidence that the lockdowns have even worked to slow the spread, but assuming for argument that they did, what good will that do? Will not the virus continue to spread and infect just as many people, and kill the same percentage, just over a longer period of time? I suppose it could be argued that it gives us more time to develop therapeutics, and thereby save some lives that might have been lost. Does the hope of maybe having a partial cure justify bankrupting 40% of small businesses, consigning millions of hard-working low-middle class people to long-term unemployment, and inflating the hell out of the world's reserve currency by printing trillions of dollars of Monopoly money? I don't know, but it seems like a question worth asking.

      Delete
    6. Two corrections:

      It was Jeremy Taylor who made the point about healthcare workers not being in the vulnerable categories.

      And I misspelled my own name. Oops. Not the first time.

      Delete
    7. Jeremy Taylor,
      That seems like an idolatry of figures: we don't have figures for everything we can make informed predictions about. Besides, we do have figures for things like the projected shrinkage of the economy this quarter, and they are terrifying.

      So, you are saying we should not trust the epidemiological models because we don't want to have an "an idolatry of figures", instead we should trust the figures that economists are throwing out? Do you not see the self-contradiction there?

      Also, I'm not sure why you think it likely that front-line healthcare workers will be decimated.

      Because it is already happening. When one works for a school of medicine, one hears about such things.

      Delete
    8. Alessio,

      ... there is no chance this decimates (which literally means killing 10% of) healthcare workers.

      To be clear: there is a greatly increased risk to the elderly, obese, smokers, etc., but there are people with no risk factors dying from this disease, including heath care workers. Repeated exposure increases this risk.

      As soon as it became apparent that the hospital systems were being UNDERwhelmed, the lockdowns should have ended. Not phased out, but ended.

      Some hospital systems, particularly in areas affected late or when the lock downs were applied swiftly, have seen little traffic. Some hospital systems have been overwhelmed.

      There is scant evidence that the lockdowns have even worked to slow the spread, but assuming for argument that they did, what good will that do? Will not the virus continue to spread and infect just as many people, and kill the same percentage, just over a longer period of time?

      For an example of the "scant" evidence, there's a graph going around of the progress of the disease in Kentucky (early lock down) vs. Tennessee (delayed lock down). You should take a look at it.

      What the time does right now is give us time to build the infrastructure to track individuals who have been infected and all of their contacts, and warn them individually of the danger so they can self-quarantine. Until we have a vaccine, the best way to limit the spread is with a system of tracking (similar to what we had for SARS/Ebola, but on a larger scale because this disease is much more infectious). I agree a lock-down is a poor third choice for containment.

      Does the hope of maybe having a partial cure justify bankrupting 40% of small businesses, consigning millions of hard-working low-middle class people to long-term unemployment, and inflating the hell out of the world's reserve currency by printing trillions of dollars of Monopoly money? I don't know, but it seems like a question worth asking.

      I don't pretend to have that expertise, either. I'm still not going to encourage making decisions built on personal fear.

      Delete
    9. One Brow,

      Where did I say any such thing about the figures? I simply said that not all problems and possibilities can be given statistical form.

      And so you have no actual evidence that health care workers will be decimated. Interesting that you went from idolatry of figures to dubious anecdotes. Have any actual proof? The figures we do have simply don't support your claim, ironically, unless American doctors and nurses are especially immuno-suppressed, obese, and/or old.

      Delete
    10. As far as I know, by the way, no American hospitals have been overwhelmed. There has been some that have felt a good deal of strain, but no one had to be denied care because a hospital was overwhelmed.

      And what is meant by saying coming into contact with the virus repeatedly put you more at risk of dying? It does in the sense it makes it more likely you will contract the disease, but I have seen no evidence it then makes you more likely to die. Yes, healthy people have died, but in very, very small numbers. At least 20% to 40% of deaths have been in nursing homes. Those under 40 have a miniscule chance of dying, and it is very low for those under 60. Even those under 70 or even 75 have a low chance, without pre-conditions. I'm afraid you are fear-mongering. The problem is bad enough without exaggerating it.

      Delete
    11. Jeremy Taylor,
      Where did I say any such thing about the figures? I simply said that not all problems and possibilities can be given statistical form.

      I quoted the part I was responding to, and it references figures a few times.

      And so you have no actual evidence that health care workers will be decimated.

      You have no actual evidence for the severe economic repercussions from the lock down. Modeling the future is funny like that.

      The figures we do have simply don't support your claim, ironically, unless American doctors and nurses are especially immuno-suppressed, obese, and/or old.

      I'm actually part of a team that's modeling this data for the St. Louis region. While we aren't ready to release yet, the mean age of the admitted was 57. We have a lot of doctors and nurses in their 40s and 50s, and being admitted to the hospital means they won't be there care for others.

      However, by all means, show me your figures that say there won't be a problem.

      As far as I know, by the way, no American hospitals have been overwhelmed.

      https://www.foxnews.com/health/nyc-hospitals-overwhelmed-by-coronavirus-patients-resident-warns

      https://abc7ny.com/nyc-hospital-queens-coronavirus-news/6070475/

      There has been some that have felt a good deal of strain, but no one had to be denied care because a hospital was overwhelmed.

      You don't think the quality of care declines when the hospital is over-filled?

      It does in the sense it makes it more likely you will contract the disease, but I have seen no evidence it then makes you more likely to die.

      There are levels of harm between 'all good' and 'dead'.

      I'm afraid you are fear-mongering. The problem is bad enough without exaggerating it.

      That's pretty much my reaction to the predictions of economic collapse.

      Delete
    12. I have no evidence for the severe economic repercussions of shutting down what must be a third or a half or more of the economy for six months or more? Did you really just type that? Anyway, the US economy is projected to shrink by 40% this quarter already, according to J. P. Morgan.

      I seen nothing to support the median age of death or even hospitalisation is so low. As I said, nursing homes and other old age facilities are providing at least 20% of deaths, and up to 50% in some places. It is interesting that you switched your claim from decimated, which strongly implies death, to something less (between 'all good' and 'dead'). Certainly, hospitalisation is more common than death, but it is still very, very low for anyone under 40 and very low for anyone under 60. It seems hard to find good, clear statistics about the death and hospitalisation rates by age. A cynic might suggest because this data isn't be collected or released, to keep alive the impression some have that this virus has any likelihood of carrying off the young and healthy, and hence putting the lock downs understrain. I found some old statistics that suggest something like 7.5% of those 50 to 64 who contract the disease are hospitalised. But those statistics very likely are based on an denominator that is way off, because it excludes many asymptomatic or slightly affected who didn't get tested,and it also includes those with preconditions and, no doubt, the relative risk rises as one gets closer to 65. If the evidence changes, I will accept that, but at the moment what you are claiming looks like pure fear-mongering, which is unhelpful in the current situation.

      Even in New York, they are reducing the extra capacity they needed at the peak of the crisis, or thought they needed. One Christian makeshift clinic was even shut down early by LGBT protestors. The New York governor is a bit of a twit, but I presume even he wouldn't do that if there was any likely need for more capacity. As I said, no US hospitals were overwhelmed.

      Delete
    13. By the way, I just saw one statistics suggesting 40% of American small businesses face bankruptcy or permanent closure, and that's with the current lock downs and perhaps if they continue for a few more weeks. It isn't what I was referring to - locking down for four to six months or upwards. Just ask yourself, would there be severe repercussions for you if you lost a third or half of your income?

      Delete
    14. Jeremy Taylor,

      I have no evidence for the severe economic repercussions of shutting down what must be a third or a half or more of the economy for six months or more? Did you really just type that? Anyway, the US economy is projected to shrink by 40% this quarter already, according to J. P. Morgan.

      Since "severe economic repercussions" is a loosely-defined term, at best, I don't see how you could present evidence for or against it. The last communicable disease serious to cause lock downs was in 1918, and the economy recovered swiftly.

      If you have evidence, as opposed to fear and indignation, I'm all eyes.

      I seen nothing to support the median age of death or even hospitalisation is so low.

      Unfortunately, our research supervisor is not quite ready to present her findings, and they only apply to the St. Louis, USA, region. Our mean age of hospitalization, as of a few days ago, is 57. You may choose to believe that, or not. If you know someone in the field, why not ask them?

      As I said, nursing homes and other old age facilities are providing at least 20% of deaths, and up to 50% in some places. It is interesting that you switched your claim from decimated, which strongly implies death, to something less (between 'all good' and 'dead').

      The mean age of death is definitely higher (over 70, I don't recall exactly and have misplaced the file). As for "decimated", I was using it to refer to health care workers being removed from the ability to care for patients (and 10% is likely an underestimate). I don't recall that last time I saw someone use that phrase literally.

      A cynic might suggest because this data isn't be collected or released, to keep alive the impression some have that this virus has any likelihood of carrying off the young and healthy, and hence putting the lock downs understrain.

      A conspiracy theorist might note that it's all of the researchers in all of the different hospitals across the world working together in a nebulous fashion to achieve this sort of uniform message. More reasonable people might think that the press is trying to sell papers/commercials/etc. as opposed to portraying actual science.

      If the evidence changes, I will accept that, but at the moment what you are claiming looks like pure fear-mongering, which is unhelpful in the current situation.

      Whereas "terrifying" is an indication of sober and rational thinking?

      As I said, no US hospitals were overwhelmed.

      Having linked to news reports of health care workers saying they were overwhelmed, I'm curious about your standard for "evidence changing".

      By the way, I just saw one statistics suggesting 40% of American small businesses face bankruptcy or permanent closure, and that's with the current lock downs and perhaps if they continue for a few more weeks. It isn't what I was referring to - locking down for four to six months or upwards. Just ask yourself, would there be severe repercussions for you if you lost a third or half of your income?

      Absolutely, many individuals will lose their income. In fact, as I was driving into work yesterday, I was listing to an NPR show interviewing the owners of many of these businesses in St. Louis, who will not re-open even though Gov. Parsons is loosening restrictions. They seem to feel the hurt to their business is less important than the threat to people's lives.

      As a quick reminder, the comment at the top of this sub-thread has this little gem:
      What if current policies lead to hyperinflation, destruction of the dollar, collapse of the US government and military, invasion by China and Russia, World War III, nuclear winter, cessation of all interantional trade, global famines, 7 billion deaths over 20 years, and return to a bronze age level existence for the next thousand years? Is this likely? I sure don't know.

      So, if you are going to criticize people for fear-mongering, it's curious that you chose me.

      Delete
    15. One Brow,

      Your mockery of my doomsday scenario shows that you missed the point. My point was not to predict any of those things (I made this clear already), but to point out that there are POTENTIAL and PLAUSIBLE catastrophic risks, which are mostly being ignored by those who fear only the virus.

      I don't think this should be too difficult, conceptually. Obviously one cannot possibly put together evidence and rigorous proof of such a doomsday scenario. Even to try to put a probability of any of it would be pseudoscientific at best.

      However, this lack of "proof" does not mean that we should ignore the possibility of global cataclysm, given a large enough push in the wrong direction. It smacks of scientism to disregard any risk than can't be laid out mathematically and "scientifically." Each of the steps I spelled out in my doomsday scenario has at least some plausible causality, based on economics and history, if a certain tipping point is reached. The key thing is that we don't know where that tipping point is until we hit it. And it would be better not to find out.

      None of us would need a peer-reviewed study to convince us not to drive 100 mph down a narrow road with blind turns. Nor would it be reasonable, on being told that it would put lives at risk, to demand a list of names and addresses of all those people whose lives would be in danger. Some things are obviously dangerous, and the danger is open-ended rather than specific.

      We have pretty good reason to believe that 7 billion people can't all eat without an ongoing, modern economy producing and delivering food.

      We also have pretty good reason to believe that historically unprecedented actions like forcing 30% of the population out of work indefinitely and printing trillions of dollars could cause runaway devastation to the world economy.

      And we have pretty good reason to believe that the consequences of this could ended up being in the BILLIONS of lives as opposed to (at worst) the millions at risk from the virus.

      The fact that so many people just choose to dismiss these vastly greater dangers as frivolous leaves me scratching my head.

      Delete
    16. One Brow,

      The Spanish Flu didn't cause this level of lock down. That's a silly comparison. It certainly didn't cause four or six months' worth or more, which what I was talking about. I'm not one to usually say this, but I don't think you understand how an economy works. As I said, GDP has plunged by a third or more, which is basically unprecedented; unemployment is already at the highest levels since the Great Depression in the US; about 40% of US small businesses are likely to close. Already we are at a stage where we won't just bounce back. There are knock on effects when wages are lost or slashed and businesses go bankrupt on this scale. Mortgages, rents, and bills don't get paid; consumer spending falls further; and so on. And this, again, is what is just what is happening now, whereas I'm talking about what happens if we are locked down for months more. I wish to make this last point clear, as you seem to jump between defending the lock down originally, which I see as a defensible response, and implying it is best to leave them in place indefinitely. These are quite different issues. For example, you could argue that the economy would have taken a large hit anyway, but it is very hard to argue it would have taken the same kind of hit that operating at two-thirds or half capacity for four or six months or more will cause. Probably we have already exceeded what damage would have been done with something like the Swedish approach.

      Where is the evidence US hospitals were ever overwhelmed, in the sense they were unable to treat patients for this virus? This is what you need to show. They weren't overwhelmed, though some were put under a lot of strain in New York.

      Decimated suggests far more than just that healthcare workers will get sick with the virus and have to take time off. The vast majority under 60 do not get more than a nasty bout of flu like symptoms. Again, where is the evidence that this has had severe effects on healthcare workers on the scale you suggest?

      What that other poster said is over-the-top, although it seems more correct about the likely economic outcomes of a prolonged lock down than your strange suggestions we are going to just bounce back. The UN has warned that 130 million people in the world already face starvation due to this crisis.

      Delete
    17. Alessio,

      Your mockery of my doomsday scenario shows that you missed the point. My point was not to predict any of those things (I made this clear already), but to point out that there are POTENTIAL and PLAUSIBLE catastrophic risks, which are mostly being ignored by those who fear only the virus.

      Whereas, my point was that these "POTENTIAL and PLAUSIBLE catastrophic risks" are present whether we stay in a lock down or we do not, and as long as you only assign these risks to one side of the lock down issue, you are skewing the risk/reward ration instead of analyzing it.

      However, this lack of "proof" does not mean that we should ignore the possibility of global cataclysm, given a large enough push in the wrong direction.

      I agree. We should not ignore the the possibility of global cataclysm, given a large enough push in the direction of locking more than is needed, and we should not ignore the the possibility of global cataclysm, given a large enough push in the direction of locking down too little.

      It smacks of scientism ...

      I don't see how. I think you are using that as a slur word rather than an accurate depiction.

      The fact that so many people just choose to dismiss these vastly greater dangers as frivolous leaves me scratching my head.

      Who are these "so many people"?

      Delete
    18. Jeremy Taylor,

      The Spanish Flu didn't cause this level of lock down. That's a silly comparison. It certainly didn't cause four or six months' worth or more, which what I was talking about.

      It also came back in several waves.

      I'm not one to usually say this, but I don't think you understand how an economy works.

      I have much closer experience with the statistics of people dying.

      I wish to make this last point clear, as you seem to jump between defending the lock down originally, which I see as a defensible response, and implying it is best to leave them in place indefinitely.

      It would be very easy to lift the lock down by August, even sooner, if the US wold decide to implement a system of testing and tracing.


      Probably we have already exceeded what damage would have been done with something like the Swedish approach.

      Damage to people? No, not even close.

      Where is the evidence US hospitals were ever overwhelmed, in the sense they were unable to treat patients for this virus? This is what you need to show.

      You mean, like Barnes-Jewish Hospital being forced to transfer patients currently in the ICU to a different hospital because there was no more room? This was happening despite a moratorium on elective procedures.

      They weren't overwhelmed, though some were put under a lot of strain in New York.

      Do you have a basis for this statement besides wishful thinking? Do you have any thoughts on the substandard care delivered by over-crowded facilities, and how that affects survival rates?

      Decimated suggests far more than just that healthcare workers will get sick with the virus and have to take time off. The vast majority under 60 do not get more than a nasty bout of flu like symptoms.

      I tracked down our data. As of May 5:
      Mean age of the 2602 testing positive: 57.7
      Mean age of the 917 hospitalized: 57.7
      Mean age of the 179 put the ICU: 65.1
      Mean age of the 148 dead: 75.1

      So, please stop saying that most of those under 60 are not affected, when they seem to hospitalized to the same degree as the elderly, and even those going to the ICU are not too unevenly between the people above retirement age and those below.

      Again, where is the evidence that this has had severe effects on healthcare workers on the scale you suggest?

      You mean, besides the number our hospital has sent home?

      https://khn.org/news/true-toll-of-covid-19-on-u-s-health-care-workers-unknown/

      Some states, including Ohio, have reported rates of health care worker illness as high as 20% but have not revealed data at the county, city or hospital levels. One health system, Henry Ford in the Detroit area, reported that more than 700 employees tested positive for COVID-19. Yet they have declined to say how many workers died, as in Ohio, to protect patient privacy.

      The UN has warned that 130 million people in the world already face starvation due to this crisis.

      Is that total, or above the number that face starvation when there is no lock down? I mean, there were 815 million in 2016.

      https://www.worldhunger.org/world-hunger-and-poverty-facts-and-statistics/

      Delete
    19. Who are these so many people?

      I'm afraid I don't have a comprehensive list of names, but you yourself said:

      "You have no actual evidence for the severe economic repercussions from the lock down. Modeling the future is funny like that."

      (Re: fear mongering) "That's pretty much my reaction to the predictions of economic collapse."

      As for the rest of "these people," you'll find them in governors' offices, on the news, and all over Twitter.

      The tells are when people use such phrases as:

      "It won't be safe to go back to work until we reach zero new cases..."

      "If it saves only one life..."

      "How many people are you willing to kill for the Dow Jones..."

      Now, I appreciate that you've acknowledged more concern than these people have for dire economic consequences. And you made a good point about the virus itself causing economic harm.

      In response:

      Now that we have much more statistics in terms of hospitalization and death rate, there is no way that the virus itself could shut down as much of the economy as we are doing deliberately. Furthermore, while some economic disruption (people getting sick and missing work, and people avoiding previously habitual activity out of fear of the virus) is inevitable from the virus itself, it does not follow that we should be piling on a bunch more economic harm on top of that. Public policy should be trying to encourage normal operation of the economy as much as safely possible. I don't think you'll even disagree with that in the abstract; it's just where that "safely possible" line is that we are disagreeing on, I suspect.


      "'It smacks of scientism ...'

      I don't see how. I think you are using that as a slur word rather than an accurate depiction"

      In this sense: you asked for "evidence" that there was a risk of massive global harm from destroying the economy. It seems that you've now come around on this point, once you saw you could use it to bolster your own position. Regardless, it sounded to me like you were asking for the same sort of mathematical modeling that was being used to forecast the pandemic. (Maybe you weren't, but that was my interpretation.) My point was that some knowledge comes to us from rigorous scientific procedures, and some from other sources. I think we can all agree that we can know (from an understanding of economics, history, etc.) that there is SOME risk of cascading global disasters resulting from a sufficiently severe economic crash. To disregard this as being "unscientific" is pure scientism. If that's NOT what you're doing, then great.

      Delete
    20. "You mean, like Barnes-Jewish Hospital being forced to transfer patients currently in the ICU to a different hospital because there was no more room?"

      You seem to have a tendency to provide anecdotal evidence for your claims. You have named one hospital, in the worst-hit neighborhood of the worst-hit city in the US, and you just said that they were able to deal with the load by sending patients to a nearby hospital that still had capacity. Please explain how this supports your point, because it seems to strongly support Jeremy's.


      "It also came back in several waves."

      Your original point was that lockdowns shouldn't cause economic harm because they didn't in 1918. Jeremy pointed out that they didn't do lockdowns in 1918, which destroyed your point. You then shifted to talking about second waves, totally changing the subject. Why?


      "It would be very easy to lift the lock down by August, even sooner, if the US wold decide to implement a system of testing and tracing."

      Did you seriously say "August... if"?

      There is no way Americans are staying locked down until August, regardless of any executive orders. Cities will likely burn before then.

      Delete
    21. One Brow,

      As Alessio says, you seem to like anecdotal evidence. This isn't a terrible trait, though it's strange in one who also talks so much about statistics and figures.

      I have read or heard nothing about any hospitals being overwhelmed in the US, including in lock down enthusiast publications. If it were true, it would surely be all over CNN! Of course, there are always limits at particular hospitals, and there was no doubt juggling between hospitals in New York based on who would go where for Coronavirus versus other emergencies. But if any particular hospital was overwhelmed, why were some distinctly below capacity and extra-capacity facilities closed by the governor early? It is for you to prove your claims about overwhelming and substandard care, and not with anecdotes.

      So what is Spanish Flu came back? It didn't cause lock downs.

      I'm not sure I believe those statistics, given that the death statistics across US states seem to show that 40%+ are from nursing homes. Still, even it is true, you are being disingenuous, as I clearly included others with underlying conditions, such as obesity. I would think that these are less common amongst healthcare professionals, given that obesity is perhaps the leading one.

      The UN figure is on top of those already in this position.

      I'm sorry, but even staying locked down until August seems very unlikely. That's four to five months of the economy functioning at two-thirds to half of capacity. That will cause a Depression for sure. The unemployment rates in the US are already at the highest rates since the Great Depression, and perhaps might be as high now, given the lag. J. P. Morgan has claimed it will take a decade for those job losses to be made good. And this is what is happening now, or a few weeks ago. And why would the lock downs stop in August, if such a strategy was pursued? What would likely change then? Nothing, so they'd have to keep going if we chose that strategy. It is just an insane proposition, I'm sorry. And that you are pushing it does make you a lock down enthusiast and extremist. Even Britain, which has been badly hit, is making moves to slowly open up. The government realise that this just can't continue, or the cure really will be worse than the disease. If you have no alternative to opening up other than indefinite lock downs, you have no alternative. Testing and tracing in a country the size of the US, with the disease already widespread, is unlikely to accomplish much. It might help in hotspots, but even there it is limited use. How do you trace in Manhattan, where an infected person can jump on the tube and come into contact with hundreds of people in a small stretch of time?

      Delete
    22. " "That's pretty much my reaction to the predictions of economic collapse."

      I suppose it depends on what you mean by collapse, but we are already in a severe recession. That will be the best case scenario, and would required the lock downs to start being ended all over right away. This isn't a prediction. It's already happening. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. Given that the current quarter seems on tract to experience something like a 40% decline, which is unprecedented, I think we can assume a recession is coming no matter what, and a severe one. As I said, if you think that there's much of a chance things will just bounce right back, you're dreaming. That's not how the economy works. If you lose your house or business, you don't just get it back because the lock downs ended. And these things spiral. The real question is whether we reach a true depression, which seems likely, although many leaders seem now to have realised the danger, including even the Tory government in Britain, and are beginning to pivot towards opening up, slowly a d cautiously. It will be a close run thing, that's for sure. If we locked down for six months or more, who knows what might happen. But I don't think many governments will do that. It is just unthinkable. Not least, there are already signs of restlessness amongst Western populations. Socially, I don't think people would put up with even shutting until August. Unless our governments then wish to follow the lead of authoritarian regimes like China, the lock downs will become a moot point.

      Delete
    23. According to the CDC, 45% of hospitalisations are amongst those 65 or over. So, yes, that does mean 55% are under, but the vast majority of these have underlying conditions. Besides, what matters is not just the hospitalisation level, but also the proportion of those who contract the disease who are hospitalised. Only that would prove the claim that healthcare workers are or likely have been decimated (ignoring for a second the other important issue of underlying conditions).*

      * Also what hospitalisation means would be important as well.

      Delete
    24. Jeremy
      " staying locked down until August seems very unlikely"
      California has already moved to Phase 2, as of 8 May. That means non-essential manufacturing and office buildings can open if they follow the guidelines such as having masks available, closing break rooms as large gathering places, increased sanitation, increased work from home, and social distancing.

      Governor Newsom said California would act according to facts, reason, and science, not ideology, and that is just how he is leading in this crisis.

      Hospitalizations in California stabilized and are down slightly, so opening lower risk businesses with available mitigation techniques is not going to cause a health catastrophe and will greatly reduce further economic impact.

      It is very unfortunate we in the USA have to endure a POTUS who continues with inane ideas such as "injecting disinfectant" while ranting bizarre dictatorial fantasies about having "total authority", but fortunately we have some state and local level leaders who are doing the right things.

      The good news is that the re-opening has already begun.

      Delete
    25. Alessio,
      As for the rest of "these people," you'll find them in governors' offices, on the news, and all over Twitter.

      I'd prefer to see them among combined groups of economists and epidemiologists. Surely you're not suggesting the most trustworthy sources are the vote-panderers.

      In response:

      Now that we have much more statistics in terms of hospitalization and death rate, there is no way that the virus itself could shut down as much of the economy as we are doing deliberately.


      Based on what, exactly?

      I don't think you'll even disagree with that in the abstract; it's just where that "safely possible" line is that we are disagreeing on, I suspect.

      Exactly so.

      "You mean, like Barnes-Jewish Hospital being forced to transfer patients currently in the ICU to a different hospital because there was no more room?"

      You seem to have a tendency to provide anecdotal evidence for your claims.


      I'm not an epidemiologist, nor do I professionally study public health. I'm just a data monkey working two jobs. However, when I come across a claim that there are no health systems being overwhelmed, even I know that 1 > 0, and that since St. Louis is not even close to the worse-hit region, it's much likely worse in regions that have been hit worse. If you see a flaw in that reasoning, I'm all eyes. If not, I welcome you to go find better data on the populations of patients in ICUs, and educate us all. Until then, closing your ears to the issue is not skepticism, it's denial.

      You have named one hospital, in the worst-hit neighborhood of the worst-hit city in the US,

      St. Louis is not even in the top-20 of the worst-hit areas, not by total cases and not by percent of population.

      https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/peteraldhous/coronavirus-maps-charts-us-cities-deaths

      Here's the thing. You didn't bother to do the slightest bit of research before making this claim. It's very difficult to take anything you say seriously when, after fear-mongering about the economy, you make easily-disproven claims because you can't be bothered to do any research.

      LYour original point was that lockdowns shouldn't cause economic harm because they didn't in 1918. Jeremy pointed out that they didn't do lockdowns in 1918, which destroyed your point.

      You're mistaken, again. Jeremy's point was that the lock down were not as severe, in 1918, not that they did not happen. Jeremy was also saying that we would be fine lifting the restrictions now.

      Did you seriously say "August... if"?

      There is no way Americans are staying locked down until August, regardless of any executive orders. Cities will likely burn before then.


      More fear mongering.

      Delete
    26. Jeremy Taylor,

      As Alessio says, you seem to like anecdotal evidence. This isn't a terrible trait, though it's strange in one who also talks so much about statistics and figures.

      While the evidence doesn't tell the whole story, we should follow it where possible. As I keep saying, if you have better evidence, I'd love to read it.

      I have read or heard nothing about any hospitals being overwhelmed in the US, including in lock down enthusiast publications. If it were true, it would surely be all over CNN!

      Perhaps you'll understand if I find that someone who uses terms like "lockdown enthusiast has as much of an emotional axe to grind as one who uses terms like "dollars over deaths".

      I've never been impressed by the quality of CNN's reporting. In particular, why would they report on over-crowding when there are some people dying? Death sells better than over-crowding. If you really wanted to find out about hospital over-crowding, the information is available.

      ... why were some distinctly below capacity and extra-capacity facilities closed by the governor early? It is for you to prove your claims about overwhelming and substandard care, and not with anecdotes.

      To my understanding, the only extra-capacity facility closed down was discriminatory. Also to my understanding, the course of covid19 in NYC has peaked and is on a downward trend, for the time being.

      So what is Spanish Flu came back? It didn't cause lock downs.

      No, just deaths.

      I'm not sure I believe those statistics, ...

      I am perfectly comfortable with your disbelief. Thank you for making this clear. Since you don't care about the actual numbers, you'll understand if I don't care about your reactions to news reports, or believe what you say about the economy has any basis in reality.

      I'm sorry, but even staying locked down until August seems very unlikely.

      I agree that this is unlikely. Our office is planning on rotating staff in and out so that 30% capacity is never exceeded, probably in late June. However, a careful system of testing and tracing is what has allowed other countries to open up safely. Opening up before such a system is in place means the disease will spread.

      I suppose it depends on what you mean by collapse, but we are already in a severe recession.

      Yes, we are. Recessions come and go.

      That's not how the economy works.

      Thanks for your opinion on the matter.

      According to the CDC, 45% of hospitalisations are amongst those 65 or over. So, yes, that does mean 55% are under, but the vast majority of these have underlying conditions.

      Well, since they have underlying conditions, I suppose them getting covid19 doesn't matter so much?

      Only that would prove the claim that healthcare workers are or likely have been decimated

      The way you blew right by the link that mentioned rates of 20% in some hospitals made quite the impression.

      Delete
    27. One Blow,

      You are now just being openly disingenuous. You have posted no proper evidence that hospitals in the US have been overwhelmed. If you have it, post it. And not random anecdotes that don't even prvbe your point. Proper evidence. You have not so far. And of course lock enthusiast outlets would report on it, all day long. It would show the ravages of the virus, besides, most of them have severe TDS and could, and would, blame it all on Trump. You don't think Don Lemon would be ranting about Trump having blood on his hands because he didn't act fast enough and people aren't getting treated?

      Again, where is your actual evidence of healthcare workers being decimated. You have singularly failed to actually back this up with anything not speculative or anecdotal. And thank you for a perfect illustration of lock down enthusiast dishonesty. Where do I say that I don't care about people who have an underlying condition? That's entirely separate from trying to work out how many healthcare professionals are likely to be hospitalised, which was actually your claim, so I was doing your work for you. What I have found is that, at least until mid-April, healthcare workers made up 10-20% of cases in the US, and about 10% ended in hospitalisation. As one might expect, that's no a negligible amount of healthcare workers ending up in hospital, but it also doesn't look like decimation, and certainly doesn't support 20% of workers being hospitalised. As I said, even if the numbers you posted were correct, they are only indirectly relevant, as it isn't how many of the hospitalised that are healthcare workers that we are talking about, but the other way around.

      Recessions come and go? There speaks a man who clearly still has a job and can pay his rent, mortgage, bills, food, etc. Besides, this is already shaping up to be a very severe recession, as severe as the GFC, and I don't recall Obama et. al. campaigning on the notion recessions come and go. Regardless, it won't be a recession if lock enthusiasts, like yourself, have your way. There are signs it is moving in that direction already, and will certainly if we look down to August or beyond, as you suggested. The last depression did come and go, I suppose, after a decade of untold destruction, including political extremism and instability. It ended with a World War that it was an indirect cause of. In the long run I suppose we really are all dead.

      It isn't my opinion that the economy doesn't just bounce back from something like this. If you think it will, then you really aren't in a position to comment on the public policy debate surrounding this virus, as it is not simply a medical one.

      Delete
    28. When I say it isn't my opinion, I mean that it isn't some unevidenced, unsupported wishful thinking, as it seems to be when you say the economy will just bounce back.

      Finally, just to underscore, let's say 20% of those with the disease are healthcare workers. There's around 1,300,000 cases, so that's 260,000 of these would be healthcare workers, if the earlier figures still hold (even if they don't, I highly doubt that's because a higher, rather than a lower, percentage are now healthcare workers). 10% of this number are hospitalised, according to the figures I found for healthcare workers. That's 26,000. Let's make it 30,000. I found figures suggesting there are 18 million healthcare workers in the US. If calculations are correct, that's far less than one percent who are hospitalised. I think we can take your claim of decimation as shown false unless you have actual evidence, and not anecdotes or statistics that don't cover all the necessary information.

      Delete
    29. One Brow:

      "The last communicable disease serious to cause lock downs was in 1918, and the economy recovered swiftly."

      Jeremy:

      "The Spanish Flu didn't cause this level of lock down. That's a silly comparison."

      One Brow:

      "It also came back in several waves."



      Ok, he said they didn't do the same level of lockdowns. But then you changed the subject.



      "St. Louis is not even in the top-20 of the worst-hit areas, not by total cases and not by percent of population."

      I apologize, and stand corrected. Somehow I thought you were referring to Elmhurst in NYC. Sloppy on my part. However, my point that it was anecdotal still stands.




      Alessio: Now that we have much more statistics in terms of hospitalization and death rate, there is no way that the virus itself could shut down as much of the economy as we are doing deliberately.

      One Brow: Based on what, exactly?


      Again, a mathematical proof isn't possible. But to take a few key items:

      * the people put out of work number in the millions, while the number of hospitalizations numbers in the thousands;
      * many areas are being locked down despite having zero or near-zero cases;
      * serology testing is showing that far more have been infected than previously thought, implying less severity of the illness overall;
      * temporary hospital spaces set up to accomodate the expected surge went largely unused

      I think the contrast with the reaction to the swine flu of 2009 is also instructive, although obviously there are many different variables with that.



      "More fear mongering."

      Actually it's called hyperbole, but if you think the sort of pressures that have led to the protests across the country are going to subside with three more months of lockdown...

      Delete
    30. Jeremy Taylor,

      You are now just being openly disingenuous. You have posted no proper evidence that hospitals in the US have been overwhelmed. If you have it, post it.

      I'm not impressed by your tactic of labeling rather than making an argument.

      I at least posted evidence thatone hospital was so overwhelmed that transferred patients while they were in intensive care, and this was in a city and region not particularly hard-hit by the virus. By contrast, you have posted no evidence, and only expressed that you don't believe statistics. Why should I bother digging up more statistics that you won't believe? I see no reason to think you would accept any level of evidence.

      And of course lock enthusiast outlets ...

      Again you resort ot slurs rather than reason.

      most of them have severe TDS

      Another slur.

      You don't think Don Lemon would be ranting about Trump having blood on his hands because he didn't act fast enough and people aren't getting treated?

      I think death drives the ratings better than than over-hospitalizations.

      Again, where is your actual evidence of healthcare workers being decimated.

      I linked to it above. You completely ignored it. If I'm not deatling with a person who will read and evaluate evidence, why should I bother to dig up more?

      Where do I say that I don't care about people who have an underlying condition?

      When you continually make those underlying conditions a point of your argument. If you don't think the comorbidities matter, why do you bring them up?

      That's entirely separate from trying to work out how many healthcare professionals are likely to be hospitalised, ...

      I don't recall making a claim on "hospitalized". If they are sent home, they are still not caring for patients. Again, I gave you a link that said the rate is approaching 20% in some states.

      ...which was actually your claim,...

      I understand this is a long conversation, so let me quote for you what I actually said.

      What if prematurely easing the restrictions leads to decimation of our front-line healthcare workers, a sickened populace, collapse of the economy, collapse of the US government and military, invasion by China and Russia, World War III, nuclear winter, cessation of all international trade, global famines, 7 billion deaths over 20 years, and return to a bronze age level existence for the next thousand years?

      We should be making choices on the best data available, not on what we fear might happen.


      Now, let's see if you can read carefully enough to figure out what my actual claim is there.

      ... like yourself, have your way.

      What is "my way"?

      It isn't my opinion ...

      Why should US politicians be making decisions based on your opinion?

      Delete
    31. Alessio,

      Ok, he said they didn't do the same level of lockdowns. But then you changed the subject.

      He also did not connect the initial quote from me to what he said. I misunderstood the subject.

      However, my point that it was anecdotal still stands.

      Absolutely it's anecdotal. I've said at least three times if someone has better evidence, I'm very interested in reading it.

      Again, a mathematical proof isn't possible. But to take a few key items:

      * the people put out of work number in the millions, while the number of hospitalizations numbers in the thousands;
      * many areas are being locked down despite having zero or near-zero cases;
      * serology testing is showing that far more have been infected than previously thought, implying less severity of the illness overall;
      * temporary hospital spaces set up to accomodate the expected surge went largely unused


      You do realize that three of those four points are directly and in large attributable to the lock down?

      As for the third point, that's valid and definitely needs to factor into the conversation. A comprehensive system of testing and tracing, combined with point 3, would allow us to almost completely end these restrictions.

      I think the contrast with the reaction to the swine flu of 2009 is also instructive, although obviously there are many different variables with that.

      Certainly, starting with the lower communicability and fatality rate of H1N1.

      Actually it's called hyperbole, but if you think the sort of pressures that have led to the protests across the country are going to subside with three more months of lockdown...

      The astro-turfers will just move on to something else when the lock downs are over.

      I'm mean, you didn't think these protesters represented more than a tiny minority, being actively encouraged and aided by a small group of people, did you?

      Delete
    32. One Brow,

      It is quite clear by now that you are a sophist. You routinely ignore points you dislike, and material ones, as well as serve up red herrings. If you have.no response to what seems like figures that definitively refute your fear-mongering about the decimation of healthcare care workers, I see little point in saying much more. Less than 1% of healthcare care are being hospitalised. If you have anything that's not anecdotes or irrelevancies to refute this, feel free to post it.

      So it's my opinion alone that massive jobs losses, bankrupties, drops in spending, etc., tend to have spiralling effects? The fact that you never even attempt to show differently, but try to dismiss such fears with claims of them being my opinion, is just another instance of clear sophism.

      How is lock down enthusiast not an accurate description of you? Do you not support lock downs dragging on for months and months? That's what we have been discussing, and you made comments that seemed to suggest that we'd be lucky to open by August? That's an extremist pro-lock down position, and also insane. It ain't happening. The lock downs are already beginning to give. As I said, even in hard-hit Britain, the government has begun to realise the dangers to the economy and society are mounting quickly and it's time to slowly and cautiously open up. In Australia, we have already begun to open up.

      Delete
    33. Jeremy Taylor,

      It is quite clear by now that you are a sophist.

      Gosh, yet another slur. You really can't help yourself, can you.

      You routinely ignore points you dislike, and material ones, as well as serve up red herrings.

      I ignored many of your points, because you don't believe in the logic that you used to arrive at them any more than I do. For example, while we might have locked down quite as severely in 1918 as in 2020, that's the closet historical US example we have to the effects of a lock down on an otherwise healthy economy, and the economy came back. For modern economies, we have South Korea and Germany as modern examples. There are no food lines, no hyper-inflation, no economic disasters. There is no historical basis for saying that a lock down for an epidemic would destroy a modern economy for years.

      If you have.no response to what seems like figures that definitively refute your fear-mongering about the decimation of healthcare care workers, I see little point in saying much more.

      I see you failed the test of basic reading comprehension, once again. Did you really miss how I was paraphrasing and then quoting the ludicrous line of events that Alessio posted? Did you really miss my point about making decision based on data, not fear?

      Less than 1% of healthcare care are being hospitalised. If you have anything that's not anecdotes or irrelevancies to refute this, feel free to post it.

      Some systems in the heavily-hit areas of covid19 are seeing rates of close to 4%

      So it's my opinion alone that massive jobs losses, bankrupties, drops in spending, etc., tend to have spiralling effects?

      I'm sure it's the opinion of lots of people. What it lacks is support from what has happened to actual, modern economies.

      The fact that you never even attempt to show differently, but try to dismiss such fears with claims of them being my opinion, is just another instance of clear sophism.

      So, the fact you have promulgated unsubstantiated fear and flung insults at those who disagree is sober reasoning, and the refusal to accept your tactics is sophism? Hmmmmm.

      How is lock down enthusiast not an accurate description of you?

      I'm sure there are a handful of people who actually want a lock down, but the number has to be mind-bogglingly small.

      Do you not support lock downs dragging on for months and months?

      I support lifting them as soon as we have a better means of controlling disease transmission. Now, a sophist might ask you why you want to spread disease or call you a disease-spreader, but I will not.

      That's what we have been discussing, and you made comments that seemed to suggest that we'd be lucky to open by August? That's an extremist pro-lock down position, and also insane.

      More slurs, no reasoning.

      Here's a few questions that, as the supposed non-sophist, I'm sure you'll actually answer. Why do you keep bringing up comorbidities when discussing people dying from covid19? Why would I need to repeatedly offer a link? If 20% of covid19 cases are among heath care workers, and we currently have hundreds of thousands infected and tens of thousands dead with the lock down protocols, what is the likely result of loosening those protocols?

      Delete
    34. One Brow,

      I do not suffer fools gladly and I call a spade, a spade. If you don't like it, then stop arguing like a sophist. It's obvious it is at least part deliberate on your side. As Alessio said, you drop one claim and jump to something only tangentially related, and you must know you are doing this.

      AlsosAlso being dishonest. You clearly weren't just parodying Alessio's point when you talked about decimation, hence you went to such lengths to try to support this claim. Only now you have fallen back on the idea that you were just parodying his point. Indeed, you end this very post with a barely coherent allusion to this alleged dangert healthcare professionals. Just be a grown-up for once and admit you were wrong. Anyway, if less than 1% - about 0.2% actually - of health care workers are currently being hospitalised, then what is likely to happen is that number rises, but to know where near decimation levels.

      I mentioned co-morbidities mostly in reference to healthcare workers, as I assumed they were lower than average amongst healthcare workers, which is probably true. Why do you, like so many lock down enthusiasts, think it acceptable to make despicable and dishonest digs about those critical of their position not caring around people dying?

      Your comments about the economic damage of lock downs too relies on various falsehoods and sophisms. For a start, I have made it abundantly clear -unlike you I haven't been cagey with my position - that I think the lock downs to this point have been at least a reasonable policy. I have only been arguing it is time now to begin opening up, slowly and cautiously. If you wish to argue against someone who disagrees with lock downs entirely, look elsewhere. And I agree that of we begin to open up now, we hopefully will get away with just a severe recession. I have already said this. So, no, it won't destroy the economy, although the effects will linger for years. Recessions tend to last a few years at least, and J. P. Morgan is already forecasting that it may take a decade to completely make up for the job losses experienced now, and unemployment is at levels not seen since the Great Depression. Then there's the 40% of small businesses that may well already be on the brink of bankruptcy or beyond it. But the main issue is what will happen if we extend the lock downs for months more. That seems to be your position. If we are essentially in the beginning of a severe recession now, then it is hardly wild speculation to fear what months and months more would do. Modern governments do have some tools that weren't available, or weren't used, in the 30s, but you'd have to be very sanguine to think they can just turn around a Depression quickly. Will the economy be destroyed? It depends what you mean by that and what actually happens in the near future. If we were to try to stay locked down until a vaccine was developed - which seems to be the logical outcome of your position - and that took at least twelve months from this March, who can say. That would be entirely unprecedented.

      Delete
    35. Just to add, there's nothing in my comments about those most at risk from this disease that comes close to this comment from you:

      "Recessions come and go."

      Given that even an ordinary recession causes ruin and misery, this is a callous comment. I would not say such things about people dying of this virus. My comments were only in response to the discussion about healthcare professionals. Otherwise, who dies doesn't make it not a tragedy, except we know who is most at risk so we can use self-isolation of these populations. A very large proportion of deaths are in nursing homes, which can be isolated. This won't work perfectly, but it has a reasonable shot of doing so.

      Delete
    36. Jeremy Taylor,

      I do not suffer fools gladly and I call a spade, a spade. If you don't like it, then stop arguing like a sophist. It's obvious it is at least part deliberate on your side. As Alessio said, you drop one claim and jump to something only tangentially related, and you must know you are doing this.

      I suffer fools all the time and with patience and humility, and I don't need to insult and mischaracterize people in order to have a conversation with them. Falsely labeling people is sophistry. Taking a single error and pretending it is the basis of another person's conversation is sophistry. Saying you refuse to believe statistics is sophistry. Dismissing anecdotal evidence, while presenting zero evidence to counter it, is sophistry. You're arguing from fear, not logic.

      You clearly weren't just parodying Alessio's point when you talked about decimation, hence you went to such lengths to try to support this claim.

      Working in a health care field, I was a little annoyed at the casual dismissal of the over-turning of the lives of health-care workers. I was also annoyed at the insistence of an insistence on a literal interpretation of a word that can almost never be used literally (seriously, what sort of event cause exactly 10% of people to die?). So, I did play along with the notion.

      Only now you have fallen back on the idea that you were just parodying his point.

      Fallen back? You just now wrote that that I "wasn't just parodying", which means parody was obviously included. So, you're saying I've fallen back to what I was originally doing?

      Indeed, you end this very post with a barely coherent allusion to this alleged dangert healthcare professionals. Just be a grown-up for once and admit you were wrong. Anyway, if less than 1% - about 0.2% actually - of health care workers are currently being hospitalised, then what is likely to happen is that number rises, but to know where near decimation levels.

      I see that, for someone who argues so patiently about sophistry, you have no problem a) assigning a specific meaning of 'hospitalization' to my words without my use of the term, and b) assuming that the lock down has had no effect on reducing the levels of disease prevalence. Just how do you know how prevalent the disease could become?

      Delete
    37. Jeremy Taylor,

      I mentioned co-morbidities mostly in reference to healthcare workers, as I assumed they were lower than average amongst healthcare workers, which is probably true.

      Based on what?

      Why do you, like so many lock down enthusiasts, think it acceptable to make despicable and dishonest digs about those critical of their position not caring around people dying?

      Actually, I have specifically avoided these digs. My only dig was saying that to you, people with comorbidities apparently don't count. I still have not heard a reason from you why comorbidities are so important to this conversation. I have a guess, but that would be unfair to you.

      Your comments about the economic damage of lock downs too relies on various falsehoods and sophisms. For a start, I have made it abundantly clear -unlike you I haven't been cagey with my position - that I think the lock downs to this point have been at least a reasonable policy.

      Nor have I been cagey about my position, which is that we should not let fear dictate what is the best policy going forward.

      I have only been arguing it is time now to begin opening up, slowly and cautiously. If you wish to argue against someone who disagrees with lock downs entirely, look elsewhere.

      No, disagreeing with you is interesting enough.

      And I agree that of we begin to open up now, we hopefully will get away with just a severe recession. I have already said this. So, no, it won't destroy the economy, although the effects will linger for years. Recessions tend to last a few years at least, and J. P. Morgan is already forecasting that it may take a decade to completely make up for the job losses experienced now, and unemployment is at levels not seen since the Great Depression.

      We have never experience a recession at a time of economic strength before. Neither you, nor I, nor JP Morgan has any experience with it. People have money (some unemployed people have more money now than when they were working), they are looking for places to spend it without being afraid.

      Then there's the 40% of small businesses that may well already be on the brink of bankruptcy or beyond it. But the main issue is what will happen if we extend the lock downs for months more.

      My position, as I stated, is that we need to have a solid system of testing and tracing. I don't know how long that takes. Even if you open up the economy, people will be staying home until they feel safe. My position is that looking our situations as "ending the lock down" => "starting the recovery" is fundamentally wrong because the one does not imply the other.

      If we were to try to stay locked down until a vaccine was developed -

      Having just yesterday stating that we need comprehensive testing and tracing, to assign to me a position of "until a vaccine is developed" is flatly false.

      Given that even an ordinary recession causes ruin and misery, this is a callous comment.

      Your blabbering on about comorbidities is even more callous, and likely only excused by your ignorance of the subject.

      A very large proportion of deaths are in nursing homes, which can be isolated. This won't work perfectly, but it has a reasonable shot of doing so.

      How does nursing home isolation work? Please give a description of who can enter a leave such a home, so we can together evaluate the effectiveness and humanity of this idea.

      Delete
    38. You are not just a sophist, but dishonest. I was quite patient until your repeated sophistries - noticed not just by me - and your digs about me not caring about those with underlying conditions caused me to realise what you are. Where did I post zero evidence? I have shown that the statistics show that healthcare workers are hospitalised are hospitalised at the rate of less than 0.2%? You have given no proper response to this and now seem to just be ignoring this. You are a dishonest sophist.

      I have no idea what you are rambling about when you talk about how you defined hospitalisation. You are a liar, as well as a sophist, and quite clearly meant something very serious when you spoke of decimation. Why not act like a grown-up and admit this?

      I said I doubted what you were claiming based on other statistics. It wasn't as if the statistics you were quoting proved your case, though you acted as if they did. Even you must have realised that more was needed than hospitalisation by age, such as the amount of people who were hospitalised and the amount of healthcare workers. I found these figures; they disproved your nonsense about decimation; and you continued to spout nonsense and lies.

      Do you have problems with reading comprehension? I literally pointed out several times that obesity is one of these main underlying conditions. I think it reasonable to assume there is less obesity, and probably most other underlying conditions, amongst healthcare professionals. Obesity and quite a few other underlying conditions will make the activity and stress of many healthcare roles harder.

      I have already said it is extremely unlikely that testing will work in a nation the size of the US where the virus is already spreading widely in the community. At best it might help somewhat in hotspots.

      As I said, you don't seem to understand even basics about how economies work. Yes, if we had stuck to the fifteen days to stop the spread that was originally talked about, this might be a case of a good economy bouncing back. But the money doesn't stay around for ever. People have lost their jobs at an unprecedented rate. Nearly aS majority of small businesses are facing bankruptcy already. Spending will take a massive hit; mortgages and rent are probably are already going unpaid at much higher levels and this will increase. The economy won't just bounce back at this point. We will be lucky to escape with a severe recession, and that will require opening up soon. Much longer, and we are in depression territory. The good economy won't prevent that, even if it meant it took marginally longer to get here.

      Delete
    39. Your despicable jump to unevidenced smears about my position on people with underlying conditions is, alas, quite common amongst lock down enthusiasts, and indicative that is they who are the tribalists (most being leftists).

      Delete
    40. Jeremy Taylor,
      I have shown that the statistics show that healthcare workers are hospitalised are hospitalised at the rate of less than 0.2%?

      What do you think that proves, exactly? Did you account for areas where the infections were more prevalent? Did you address how the changing severity of the lock downs changed the local infection rate? Did you look at the number of health care workers sent home?
      No, of course not. One datum is not data.

      I have no idea what you are rambling about when you talk about how you defined hospitalisation.

      I didn't define, or mention hospitalization. That's your bugaboo.

      You are a liar, as well as a sophist, and quite clearly meant something very serious when you spoke of decimation. Why not act like a grown-up and admit this?

      I'm not going to change who I am, and what I meant, to better match your illusions.

      Do you have problems with reading comprehension?

      No, but I'm running out of irony meters.

      I literally pointed out several times that obesity is one of these main underlying conditions. I think it reasonable to assume there is less obesity, and probably most other underlying conditions, amongst healthcare professionals. Obesity and quite a few other underlying conditions will make the activity and stress of many healthcare roles harder.

      Do you have a basis for this? I mean, such studies likely exist.

      I'm still waiting to hear why comorbidities generally, or now obesity in particular, matter in this discussion. Is that coming any time soon?

      I have already said it is extremely unlikely that testing will work in a nation the size of the US where the virus is already spreading widely in the community. At best it might help somewhat in hotspots.

      What does "will work" mean to you, here?

      If you have a better method for controlling the disease while opening up the economy, I'm all eyes.

      As I said, you don't seem to understand even basics about how economies work. ... The good economy won't prevent that, even if it meant it took marginally longer to get here.

      As I said, you don't understand it either, no one does. We've never seen a recession of this scale, not though the excesses of an economic bubble/market disturbances, but by the temporary closing due to illness. Meanwhile, many people at home are actually getting more money than they were when working, and many companies are still hiring.

      Your despicable jump to unevidenced smears about my position on people with underlying conditions is, alas, quite common amongst lock down enthusiasts, and indicative that is they who are the tribalists (most being leftists).

      Please, you can't respond back to me without insulting me. Why should I care about your crying about smears?

      I'm still waiting to hear why you think people having comorbidities is so relevant to this discussion of lock down. When you're done complaining about smears, try answering that simple question.

      Delete
    41. There's nothing new in this fresh bout of idiocy from you. It's just the same sophistic crap. It was you, for example, that brought up the decimation of healthcare workers, so it is up to you to find evidence to prove it, which you have singularly failed to do. Then, when do your work for you and find some statistics that shed light on the matter, and are not unsupported anecdotes, you complain they don't show what might happen in specific hospitals. Here's a novel idea - how about you support your wild speculations? It's rather ironic given the name of this article by Dr. Feser.

      Here's an idea how about you actually read what I have written instead of asking questions that I have answered previously several times? Is there really something wrong with your reading comprehension?

      Delete
    42. Jeremy Taylor,
      It was you, for example, that brought up the decimation of healthcare workers, so it is up to you to find evidence to prove it, which you have singularly failed to do.

      I don't need to justify parody. You seem to feel the need to attack it.

      Then, when do your work for you and find some statistics that shed light on the matter, and are not unsupported anecdotes, you complain they don't show what might happen in specific hospitals.

      They don't show what is happening in specific hospitals, some of which are seeing 3-4% of their work force get sick, even with the guidelines having been in place over a month now.

      Here's a novel idea - how about you support your wild speculations? It's rather ironic given the name of this article by Dr. Feser.

      It's amusing to hear you call the position that we can't allow fear to dominate our decision-making as a "wild speculation".

      Here's an idea how about you actually read what I have written instead of asking questions that I have answered previously several times? Is there really something wrong with your reading comprehension?

      You could answer why you think comorbidities are important to this discussion. I still haven't seen that.

      Delete
    43. You are stil lying. It wasn't a parody, hence even now you are defending it. But if you can't or won't support it, then there's little more to say.

      Delete
  18. California couple is arrested on their honeymoon for getting pizza while we release violent criminals from prisons. This is all justifiable because . . . reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I wonder, is anyone going to learn anything from all this? I think the aggressive blanket lockdown enthusiasts are wrong and have already been proven wrong. (Swedish for common sense, ya?) But the funny thing is they can never be proven wrong, in a way that they would recognize, because even if that's what the evidence shows, they will still think they are/were right to be wrong (and those who were right were wrong to be right), because they listened to the "approved experts" (who are, effectively, their conscience) to whom they were supposed to listen, so that they were part of the great moral majority. And really that is our first and highest duty, in their view: to be morally fashionable, to approve and be approved by the crowd. So it often happens that it's not really about a prudential debate; it's about the aggressive assertion of a moral theory, a form of social-conformism situation ethics. (Me, I'm more with Kierkegaard: our first and highest duty is purity of heart, that is, to will one thing, to will the good in truth.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David McPike,

      "is anyone going to learn anything from all this?"

      No. People are trying to predict the short-term direction of the stock market everyday. And they fail everyday.

      Humans are not good at complex phenomena. We simply don’t know as much as we think we do (thank you Hayek). But we crave certainty so we bestow priestly status on “experts” and act as if they have the magic incantations that explain all the difficult questions. We act as if complex phenomena—the economy, the direction of the stock market, pandemics, traffic flow—can be reduced to a math equation that unlocks the mystery. Like it or not, what we have in life is probabilities, and emergent order, not certainties.

      Delete
    2. T N,
      Like it or not, what we have in life is probabilities, and emergent order, not certainties.

      Hear, hear!

      Delete
    3. TN,
      I think the lockdown enthusiasts were wrong from the beginning. Lockdown was arguable, by very intelligent people, but I think there was never actually a good (objectively convincing) argument for it, and there certainly isn't now. In any case, I'm not sure a stock market analogy really matches the interesting social behaviour we're seeing here. When people fail there (the stock market), they don't get into aggressive moralistic denialism about it. They just accept that the stock market can be risky, especially short term, so anyone who wants to participate had better accept that from the get-go and be open to all information as the daily situation evolves. With the lockdown people, they seem more like compulsive gamblers who will never admit that their gamble hasn't paid off, or that they're never going to recoup their losses by continuing to double down.

      Delete
    4. David McPike,

      I didn't say anything about "aggressive moralistic denialism". I just said that we're not good at predicting complex phenomena, that's all.

      Delete
    5. You didn't, but I did, and that's what's interesting here. Simply "not being good at predicting interesting phenomena" is not.

      Delete
    6. Also, the big issue here (prudence) is much less about prediction than it is about assessment (of complex phenomena). That's necessarily and fundamentally the case because of the impossibility of accurate prediction.

      Delete
  20. David McPike,
    I wonder, is anyone going to learn anything from all this? I think the aggressive blanket lockdown enthusiasts are wrong and have already been proven wrong. (Swedish for common sense, ya?)

    Kentucky vs. Tennessee for common sense?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a typical lockdown-enthusiast argument: "You've exactly two choices: Kentucky or Tennessee. Now which one do you want to choose?"

      Delete
    2. David McPike,
      That's a typical lockdown-enthusiast argument: "You've exactly two choices: Kentucky or Tennessee. Now which one do you want to choose?"

      The problem is that without a lock down, you don't know that you might be getting Tennessee instead of Sweden.

      Delete
    3. So what? The point is that "with a lockdown or without a lockdown" ("Tennessee or Kentucky," etc.) is an absurdly simplistic dichotomy which characterizes and vitiates all of what I am calling the "lockdown enthusiast" arguments. Such absurdly simplistic thinking does not remotely deserve to be called prudential reasoning.

      Delete
    4. I should add, I don't even know what a statistical comparison of Tennessee and Sweden would look like, and I don't care because it's irrelevant. The point is that the lockdown enthusiast looks at Sweden vs. Norway (or Kentucky vs. Tennessee, etc.) and says Sweden made a big mistake with no lockdown, because, like, just compare these two numbers. It's the form of the argument itself that is absurdly simplistic.

      Delete
    5. David McPike,
      The point is that "with a lockdown or without a lockdown" ("Tennessee or Kentucky," etc.) is an absurdly simplistic dichotomy ...

      Agreed.

      which characterizes and vitiates all of what I am calling the "lockdown enthusiast" arguments.

      Falsely labeling people you disagree with in a way that makes sound more evil is not a way to remove the absurd simplicity.

      I should add, I don't even know what a statistical comparison of Tennessee and Sweden would look like, and I don't care because it's irrelevant.

      Works for me. how about you mention that also to Dr. Feser, René Ardell Fehr, Adam, and Will S.

      Delete
  21. Ask a respiratory therapist. It is a nightmare. People on the outside or who know little about contagious diseases are making preposterous allegations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you mean that there are people outside the field of respiratory therapy that are making "preposterous allegations" about repiratory therapy?

      Delete
  22. The first thing EVERYONE should do when dealing with something as serious as a global pandemic is getting the facts straight, and making sure that what one says is the facts and is true, rather than making up and/or regurgitating politically motivated BS. And if you think people like Reno or Ioannidis or those two urgent care docs "censored" from YouTube deserve to be taken seriously, despite NOT doing this, because what they say aligns with your own political leanings, then you frankly don't have the right to an opinion.

    (And that means you, Ed. I couldn't care less whether you like my style or not. I stand by what I said.)

    Then, and only then, can we can ask the question of whether the good to be obtained by certain lockdown measures outweighs the harm caused by them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And, of course, we know who "is getting the facts straight" because they happen to agree with you.

      Delete
    2. Lonely Professor always has had a high opinion of his own views, despite not seeming more than intellectually mediocre. He often pops up to declare he has definitively refuted such and such a point of Thomism.

      Delete
    3. "The coronavirus pandemic is not and never was a threat to society. COVID-19 poses a danger to the elderly and the medically compromised. Otherwise, for most who present symptoms, it can be nasty and persistent, but is not life-threatening."
      R. R. Reno 4.27.20

      The stupidity of the above statement is mind boggling.

      Here we see that the dire threat of a runaway pandemic has in fact been flattened and brought under control by the shut downs, use of masks, social distancing, and the whole suite of mitigation techniques.
      https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

      The daily cases curves and the total cases curves contain the same information but displayed differently. They correlate with each other.

      The daily cases curves show that up to about 18 March cases were nearly flat, then exploded up to about 4 April, at which time the rate flattened and remains flat.

      The total cases shows the same data as a line with a small slope up to about 18 March, then an exponential explosion of total cases up to about 4 April, at which time the exponential curve turned into a steep strait line.

      In mathematical terms the daily rate corresponds to the differential of the total cases. A flat differential corresponds to a constant slope line. A constant slope differential corresponds to an exponential growth in total cases.

      Now is the time to begin to both implement available mitigation techniques (masks, social distancing, work from home) and to open most businesses, starting with businesses that are not open to the public.

      The curve has been successfully flattened at great cost. Now is the time to carefully and responsibly and in phases open up lest the cure become more harmful than the disease.

      Delete
    4. ""The coronavirus pandemic is not and never was a threat to society. COVID-19 poses a danger to the elderly and the medically compromised. Otherwise, for most who present symptoms, it can be nasty and persistent, but is not life-threatening."
      R. R. Reno 4.27.20

      The stupidity of the above statement is mind boggling."

      Beyond being *slightly* exaggerated, what about it is stupid, exactly?

      Delete
    5. Is the same Rusty Reno who stupidly claimed that churches were not closed during the Great Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918?

      Delete
    6. "Slightly exaggerated?
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/24/it-isnt-only-elderly-who-are-risk-coronavirus/"

      Delete
    7. Good of you to link to that. Apart from the editorial spin and the anecdotal evidence (from Louisiana! Bottom 5 in most health categories? Tell me if I'm wrong), it actually supports Reno's point.

      Delete
    8. You don't read too well. Forty percent are age 40 to 54. Besides, when was it okay for pro-lifers to be so casual about oldies dying? Remember how horrified you all were about end of life counselling in Obamacare?

      Delete
    9. Reno: "COVID-19 poses a danger to the elderly and the medically compromised."

      The article you posted says that the risk of Coronavirus falls PRIMARILY on the old AND THE MEDICALLY COMPROMISED.

      I'm not interested in changing the subject to whether one should talk casually or not about death, nor engaging in whataboutism from a situation with a completely different set of facts. I'm more interested in the fact that you posted an article citing facts that SUPPORTED an opinion that you were trying to disprove.

      Delete
    10. Reno also wrote:

      "We need to allocate resources for protecting vulnerable populations. We need rigorous testing of nursing home workers (a five-country study in Europe reported that 50 percent of coronavirus fatalities occurred in elder-care facilities) and others who care for vulnerable populations. We need to allocate funding for at-risk poor people to move to hotels or other places where they can self-isolate."

      That doesn't sound to me like someone callously abandoning people to die, but to those who just want to be hysterical I guess a calm voice of reason is unwelcome.

      Delete
  23. LonelyProfessorMay 8, 2020 at 6:21 PM

    You two had to pop up and show why people who think like you are so pathetic, didn't you. Loyalty to the tribe is more important than truth, to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What are you even ranting about now? It's you who have been keen to make this all about tribes.

      Delete
    2. LonelyProfessor, which "tribe" do you belong to?

      The one whose priesthood has buried us all under an avalanche of lies for 3+ years, and openly participated in an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States?

      Just wondering.

      Delete
    3. Alessio, I think it probably a bad idea to enter into a discussion on the Trump administration to help cure Lonely Professor of his somewhat strange misperceptions about the right and Coronavirus.

      That said, these are bizarre, dare I say partisan, misperceptions. Most people on the right here and elsewhere are taking a middle of the road position that the lock downs were reasonable, based on the options and information available at the time, but they were and are to prepare the health care system (anyone remember fifteen days to stop the spread?), and then to be eased gradually and cautiously. We are between extremists, on hand, dismissing the reasonableness of any lock downs*, or, on the other hand, those who wish to see the lock downs in place indefinitely for various, often not clearly stated, reasons and who consider any talk of opening up as implying no concern for human life. The former type are mostly on the right, true, but they are definitely marginal there. There are more of the latter extremist on the left, including Lonely Professor it seems, and they seem far less marginal there than the former are on the right. So talking about tribes is just strange, especially as there are far more on the left who seem to wish to use this crisis for ulterior political motives.

      * Whether the lock downs were generally necessary in hindsight, rather than a Sweden like strategy from the beginning, doesn't mean they can't have been a reasonable, or the most reasonable, choice at the time, given the available information. I strongly suspect, for example, here in Australia we didn't need a full lock down, especially the last stage, which was entered into even after the national case rate was falling, but it was no doubt reasonable to have one (although I do question the last stage, again).

      Delete
    4. Jeremy Taylor,

      I'd summarize my position as being opposed to people who claim to know too much. Many people read some data and then, perhaps unknowingly, import their prudential judgements about those facts and then chastise anyone who disagrees as a science denier. How this happens--and that it happens--is no surprise to those who are familiar with Feser's extensive treatment of this phenomenon.

      Delete
    5. Jeremy,

      I agree, very short-term lockdowns were at least rationally justifiable based on what was known at the time. I, personally, was on the fence. But it's the decisions that can be made now that are most important to get right.

      Delete
    6. Again, you all are just determined to prove my point in spades. You see things through the lens of tribalism, and cannot imagine I might not be.

      @T N : I'm actually possible of getting the facts straight first and not caring whose political agenda it serves. Believe it or not! But your post shows YOU think mainly in accordance with tribalism, and therefore think everyone else must do the same.

      @Anonymous: you can think me intellectually mediocre all you like. Because no truly intellectually skilled person would ever reject any aspect of Thomism, right? The very I reject it proves intellectual mediocrity, right? (I accept Thomism where it's true, and reject it where it's wrong. Believe it or not!)

      @Alessio: I'm not a member of any "tribe". The left excommunicates me due to my pro-life position, and the right excommunicates me because I point out its idiocies. But you assume I must be, because you are.

      @Jeremy Taylor: I've clearly stated here and elsewhere that I do NOT favor the lockdowns in place indefinitely, that it is time for a prudent and gradual relaxing of restrictions, though keeping social distancing precautions in place, and this does not imply any lack of concern for human life, just the opposite. You didn't actually take the trouble to see what I was actually saying, just branded me as an "extremist" merely because I confronted the right with its idiocies. So, I therefore request that you withdraw the charge in the interest of truth. Now, I know you're not in the US, but I assure you that the right-wing media and politicians have been in denial about this since the beginning and still are.

      ETA: Reno goes full-bore off the deep end, as documented here:
      https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/rusty-reno-melts-down/

      Delete
    7. "@Alessio: I'm not a member of any "tribe". The left excommunicates me due to my pro-life position, and the right excommunicates me because I point out its idiocies. But you assume I must be, because you are."

      Good to know. However, once an issue has been politicized, it is not necessarily possible to de-politicize it. I would be delighted to live in a society with about 95% less politics, but I'm not given that option.

      The reality is that pro-lockdown propaganda and widespread deprivation of individuals rights is being pushed by mostly the SAME PEOPLE who for years have been quite openly trying to take away individual rights, while lying about the most important things in our society.

      Credibility matters. We can't just "get the facts" or well-reasoned analysis from people who have ruined their own credibility and made themselves the sworn enemies of public order.

      Delete
    8. Lonely Professor,

      Okay. I'm glad to hear that you are in favour of gradual and cautious opening up, as am I. But isn't there some irony in you posting an attack on Reno from a publication called The American Conservative and then implying Reno represents the right on this? As a conservative (of the traditional or paleo- sort) I have a good idea of what conservative media are saying. I know that there's a minority of people, in media and out, who have dismissed the lock downs, but, from Ben Shapiro to Rod Dreher to the folks at National Review, most conservatives have seen them as at least rationally defensible. Time will tell if they were truly needed, but given the information on hand at the time, I can accept it was a reasonable, perhaps the most reasonable, option. I have seen far more left-liberals, in media and out, who seem to be supporting indefinite lock downs or far-off milestones to begin re-opening. Even here the left-liberal (and liar and sophist), One Brow, has been pushing such a position with wild claims that the virus is and will decimate healthcare workers. He is more representative of what I have seen from the left, right down to obligatory, unsupported digs about us not caring about the deaths of those with underlying conditions, than I have seen from the right.

      Delete
    9. The lockdowns are already over, for the most part, so why are you guys still arguing about starting to open up?

      Check your news, go to the website of your governor or wherever. The exact details vary from location to location but most people can go to work if their employers implement mitigation techniques such as masks, social distancing, and increased sanitation.

      Large gatherings such a stadiums, as well as bars and schools remain closed. Certain businesses normally open to the public can still only offer curbside or take out service.

      But most people work in office buildings or commercial plants or at other businesses and they are already opened up with a few exceptions, and those are scheduled to open up in about a week.

      So, this is actually a period of increased risk, because daily new cases have only leveled off or decreased very slightly, not dropped to low levels. On top of the steady rate of daily new cases when the lockdowns used to be in full effect, now we are adding large numbers of people going back to work, so that can only increase risk.

      Now, more than ever, I suggest we all remain vigilant in practicing all the mitigation techniques we have available.

      Delete
    10. Alessio,
      Good to know. However, once an issue has been politicized, it is not necessarily possible to de-politicize it. I would be delighted to live in a society with about 95% less politics, but I'm not given that option.

      You do have the option to try to swim against the current, rather than swim with.

      The reality is that pro-lockdown propaganda and widespread deprivation of individuals rights is being pushed by mostly the SAME PEOPLE who for years have been quite openly trying to take away individual rights, while lying about the most important things in our society.

      You mean, those people who want to take away the right to love whom we wish and live as we wish, while lying that they are doing it to protect families?

      If you really are opposed to a highly polarized political environment, perhaps you shouldn't increase the charge on the poles.

      Delete
    11. Aha, well this is interesting.

      We went from having a relatively rational discussion of how to respond to the pandemic, to you posting something so unhinged from reality, that the only way to remotely make sense of it is to assume you're using words in their Leftist Mad-Hatter Newspeak meanings, instead of their ordinary usage.

      But since this is getting way off topic, I am not going to engage with you any further on this point. I am working on what I hope to be a wrap-up post about the pandemic.

      Delete
    12. Were you expecting better?

      Delete
  24. But there is also a rational argument that they were wrong from the beginning, fairly well summarized here:

    https://twitter.com/MarkChangizi/status/1254796958964858882

    On the specific question of whether they were right or wrong in mid-March, I will maintain a neutral skepticism.

    ReplyDelete
  25. So Matt T thinks Russiagate is a hoax? The Republican controlled Senate Intel Committee would disagree with him.https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/21/us/politics/russian-interference-senate-intelligence-report.html

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    1. Weird, the article you linked to didn't contain any evidence of the Trump campaign "colluding" with Russia. Which is kind of the central premise of the Russiagate hoax.

      But Taibbi does apparently buy into the Cloroxgate hoax, so I guess you can still like him.

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    2. The point was Russia interfered with the election, something Trump won't admit. And you do know Trump was being serious about Clorox. Just look at the tape

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    3. https://themoscowproject.org/chapters/

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    4. How is that the point? When Russiagate is called a hoax it is almost always the Trump-Russia collusion hoax that is meant.

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    5. "The point was Russia interfered with the election, something Trump won't admit."

      That's still not what Russiagate refers to. Our country didn't get torn apart for 2+ years over something another country did or didn't do. It was Trump's alleged involvement that made it a (fake) scandal.


      "And you do know Trump was being serious about Clorox. Just look at the tape""

      OK:

      “I see disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that. So you’re going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that’s pretty powerful.”

      Source: https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-nw-trump-white-house-sunlight-heat-fight-virus-20200424-7dnhtyxltvdazkp24mybuefmou-story.html


      Trump often speaks sloppily. No one disputes that. But look at some key operative phrases:

      "...is there a way we can do..." Phrased as a question, not a suggestion.

      "...something like that..." Making a comparison.

      "...so it’d be interesting to check that." ... "So, we’ll see." He's talking about research that could be done.

      "So you’re going to have to use medical doctors..." How often does this part get quoted?

      Can you at least admit that every reporter who changed the word "inject" to "injest" was telling a bald-faced lie?

      There's also the speculation that he was referring to a device for inserting UV light into the lungs. Who knows, but it's more plausible than thinking he was talking about drinking bleach, to anyone not suffering from TDS.

      It's not the Gettysburg Address. It was clumsy, but anyone who speaks a lot, in public, unscripted, is going to say something that can be twisted out of context, something the mainstream media are only too happy to do to Trump at every opportunity. I guess they think that's their job, and that's what happened here.

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  26. Alessio,
    That's still not what Russiagate refers to. Our country didn't get torn apart for 2+ years over something another country did or didn't do. It was Trump's alleged involvement that made it a (fake) scandal.

    As well as the actual involvement of many people in Trump's administration.

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  27. In his writings earlier this week, Rusty Reno has described men who wear masks during the pandemic as unmasculine cowards [his wording].

    He has also gleefully detailed his flouting of the lockdown. He states that he snuck into a hospital to visit someone [deliberately ignoring the no visitors policy]. He attends secret Catholic Masses offered by a NYC priest in defiance of Cardinal Dolan's orders [he probably regards his Eminence as a coward]. He also stated that he would attend at an unauthorized drinking establishment [like the speakeasies of old], if he could.

    Nowhere in his writings does Dr. Reno evince any sympathy for those who have been struck by the virus. Nor does he appear to give a fig for the idea of taking reasonable steps to limit the spread of the virus.

    Frankly, Dr. Reno's attitude to the pandemic is that of a petulant child rather than an educated theologian. He has taken the position of a narcissistic libertarian. There is no recent evidence that he possesses what could be described as Christian charity.

    He has proven that Jonathan Last was correct in asserting that Reno is not a serious commentator on the subject.

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  28. One Brow,

    I'm going to try to wrap this up, because it's taking too much time away from my family and professional duties.

    You certainly have the advantage over me on the medical aspects of this; however, like I've said, I think people who are closer to the medical side tend to focus on that and have trouble with the bigger picture, which is what I'm trying to get. I'm coming at this from the POV of a concerned citizen, not an expert in any part of it. And I have done my research, just not in a really organized way, and haven't kept a bibliography. I've been reading obsessively about this for the last three months (earlier than most of the public, FWIW), trying to get information from a wide variety of sources. What I think is clear is that the mainstream media is staying true to character, spinning a narrative that damages the public order, overemphasizing and distorting the bad news, and downplaying the good news.

    To summarize:

    1. The harms done by the lockdown are massive. We can put a very high minimum on them, and no maximum. Harms from lockdown:

    a. Millions out of work. (You can say that millions might have been out of work anyway from the virus, but the fact is that the ACTUAL cause of them being out of work is government orders.)
    b. Civil liberties being curtailed. We are now at approx. 2 months of not being permitted to leave our house expect for specified reasons. This is not how a free country operates.
    c. Yet to be measured psychological harm from cancellation of all sorts of in-person activities, from social clubs, to therapy, to support groups, to special education, etc.
    d. Yet to be measured health impacts from all non-COVID procedures being cancelled.
    e. Yet to be measured economic impacts from businesses going bankrupt and supply chains being disrupted.

    2. The effectiveness of lockdowns is suspect:

    a. You mentioned Tennessee vs. Kentuckee. There is very little difference between them in terms of cases and deaths at this point.
    b. There is little recognizable correlation between early vs. late lockdown states, and no significant rise in deaths, hospitalizations, or even cases from early-open states.
    c. Countries that "successfully" stopped the spread of the virus are looking at new outbreaks, probably because they don't have immunity. E.g. South Korea opening up the bars, and then having to close them again because a COVID-19-positive guy walked into a bar...
    d. Sweden seems to be doing OK.

    3. Estimates of the IFR of COVID-19 keep going down. Most are 1% or under at this point, and a disproportionate number of deaths are from nursing homes. Suggesting that we could have cut the death rate massively by focusing resources on isolating the most vulnerable.

    4. Predictions of doom have mostly failed to materialize. We were told that the New York City experience was going to spread across the country. It hasn't. We were told that states opening up too soon were going to be overwhelmed by sickness and death. Not so much. People who have more time on their hands are tracking these predictions.

    5. There is an idea out there that we have to continue extreme measures until the risk goes to zero, or we have a vaccine. We don't know if we're ever going to have a vaccine, and it will certainly take too long. And we tolerate risk in all other areas of life, including flu, car accidents, and homicide. The idea that the risk of COVID-19 has to go to zero before we can resume normal life is not rational.

    To be continued...

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