Turns out that despite my frequent criticisms of the bed-wetters, they actually saved the whole world from dying. I know this because they’ve told me so on Twitter.
I pointed out that we can stop panicking because the despite the rising casedemic, the deaths and hospitalizations in places like New York have plummeted to near-zero. Like this:
That’s because of the lockdowns and the mandatory masks! the bed-wetters informed me. The pandemic is under control in places where the authorities took HARD ACTIONS!
Ahhh, I see. So that means in places that imposed HARD ACTIONS, like lockdowns and mandatory masks, the pandemic is under control, while in places that didn’t impose HARD ACTIONS, the hospitalizations and deaths must still be rising.
Well, Sweden didn’t impose lockdowns or masks. Let’s compare their COVID deaths to Italy and the U.K., which took HARD ACTIONS.
Hmmm, looks like the deaths in Sweden peaked a little later and then plummeted a little later, but the curve is nearly identical … except with fewer deaths per million people at the peak. That would almost suggest lockdowns and masks have little if any effect on how the virus spreads.
There are seven U.S. states that never issued stay-at-home orders. They’re the ones highlighted in yellow below. I also circled South Dakota because the state didn’t close any businesses either. It’s the least bed-wetting of all states. Notice the low death rate (the scale is deaths per 100,000 people).
Oh, yeah, sure! That’s because those states don’t have big cities!
That’s what the bed-wetters told me. Apparently they didn’t do well in social studies classes. Look at the states in the bottom half of the chart. Big cities in those states include Seattle, Portland, St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville, Louisville, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Oklahoma City.
Population density! We meant population density! the bed-wetters replied. South Dakota only has, like, 12 people per square mile!
The bed-wetters seem to think people in low-population states like South Dakota spread themselves evenly across the land. They don’t. I used to do comedy tours in those western states. You can drive for hundreds of miles and barely spot a house. Then you get to a city with actual people (and a comedy club). I know that’s how it is in those states, but I nonetheless checked the data on a U.S. census site. Here are percentages of the population in several rural/western states who live in what the census bureau labels as urban zones: 90% in Utah, 80% in Oregon, 73% in Nebraska, 70% in Wisconsin, 66% in Oklahoma, 64% in Iowa.
So yes, even in those low-density states, most people live in or near cities. And please refer back to the chart and tell me which BIG CITIES in Mississippi and Rhode Island explain their high death rates.
But you’ve got to look at Florida! Second wave! Second wave! Second wave! They never should have opened up the state in June, because look at the deaths! They should have stuck with HARD ACTION!
Yes, there was a summertime rise in COVID deaths in Florida. But thanks to the videos posted by Ivor Cummins, I’m aware of how the COVID curves are following the curves for seasonal flu outbreaks. So with that in mind, I looked up curves for flu and other respiratory infections for previous years in Florida. Here’s a chart showing the curves for several respiratory infections:
June begins around week 23 most years. So what do we see in this chart? Yup, we see summertime spikes (or a SECOND WAVE! if you prefer) for respiratory infections in Florida. That’s the usual pattern.
Here’s a chart showing visits to a medical provider for flu-like illness in Florida in 2009.
See that big second spike beginning in the summer? Once again, this is normal.
The seasonal flu curves for northern regions and southern regions aren’t the same. Southern regions show a spike in the summer months. That’s why summertime COVID deaths rose in Florida, and it’s why they’re rising in places like Peru and Brazil.
And by the way, Peru took HARD ACTION that was harder than almost any other country … which makes this headline interesting:
Here’s a chart comparing deaths in Peru (world’s strictest lockdown) to deaths in Brazil, which didn’t take the HARD ACTIONS the bed-wetters insist saved the world:
Oh, yeah? Well, if Florida had a summertime rise because it’s in the south, how do you explain the fact that Italy didn’t get a big summertime rise too? Huh? Italy is south, ya know! Huh?
Gee, I’m sorry you didn’t do well in geography classes. Italy is in the south of Europe, yes, but it’s not south as far as the world is concerned. Look at a globe. Italy is at the same latitude as the New England states in America. Rome, for example, is at the same latitude as Providence, Rhode Island. Florida, meanwhile, is at the same latitude as the Western Sahara in Africa. The summertime rise in southern areas isn’t about failure to impose lockdowns. It’s about latitude.
Lockdowns didn’t stop the spread of the virus. Masks won’t stop the spread of the virus (which is why scientists in the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway recommended against mandating them). So why can’t the bed-wetters just admit they were wrong?
Because when one of their Grand Plans fails to fix a problem – or even causes more harm than good – The Anointed never, ever, ever admit the Grand Plan was a bad idea.
As you know, I borrowed the term The Anointed from Thomas Sowell and his book The Vision of the Anointed. In speeches and blog posts, I’ve summarized Dr. Sowell’s description of how The Anointed interpret the failure of a Grand Plan. They always decide that:
The plan was good, but people didn’t follow it correctly because they’re stupid
The plan was good, but it was undermined by people because they’re evil
The plan didn’t go far enough … so we need to do the same thing ONLY BIGGER.
Actually, Dr. Sowell added another interpretation I haven’t mentioned previously:
Sure, the Grand Plan didn’t fix the problem … but without the Grand Plan, the problem would have been EVEN WORSE!
That’s what the bed-wetters are telling themselves now. One bed-wetter on Twitter recently insisted that without the lockdowns, the coronavirus would have killed 500,000 Americans. All hail the HARD ACTIONS taken by The Anointed for saving us.
And prepare yourself … they may still decide we need to do the same thing again, only bigger.
“There’s a virus out there that’s killing people.”
“Really? Which people?”
“Well, the median age is 80, and about half the people who died were in nursing homes.”
“Oh my god! Ya know what we should do? We should close all the schools!”
“Uh … but —”
“I mean, some young people died too, right?”
“Turns out the virus is less likely to kill young people than the ordinary flu, but yes, some younger people died. Nearly all of them had pre-existing diseases or metabolic problems like obesity, diabetes—”
“Holy moly! In that case, we need to cancel college sports! We can’t take a chance that 20-year-olds in peak athletic condition will get sick and die!”
“But … ya see … I was just pointing out that—”
“Is there any indication of when this horrible virus will stop killing people?”
“Actually, in most regions, hardly anyone is dying from it now. People aren’t even showing up in hospitals anymore.”
“That’s terrible! We need to make sure everybody wears a mask so this senseless slaughter will stop!”
Welcome to the world of bed-wetter logic, where facts and data bounce off people’s heads like tiny ping-pong balls.
Remember a few months ago, when the bed-wetter media breathlessly reported on the rising number of deaths? You don’t see that much anymore. Now the bed-wetter reports are mostly about THE RISING NUMBER OF CASES!
Well, yes, the number of people testing positive for some fragment of the virus is rising and rising and rising. That’s because we’re testing like crazy, and – surprise! – finding more of exactly what we’re trying to find. The vast majority of the people who test positive have no symptoms, which means for the vast majority of us, coronavirus barely qualifies as a cold. That ought to be good news.
But no, the bed-wetter media insist on reporting the rising number of (ahem) “cases” as if it’s proof the equivalent of airborne AIDS is blowing around out there and we’re all in danger. Not surprisingly, surveys show that a huge chunk of the public wildly overestimates how many non-elderly people have died. Here are some typical survey results:
Six months into this pandemic, Americans still dramatically misunderstand the risk of dying from COVID-19:
On average, Americans believe that people aged 55 and older account for just over half of total COVID-19 deaths; the actual figure is 92%.
Americans believe that people aged 44 and younger account for about 30% of total deaths; the actual figure is 2.7%.
Americans overestimate the risk of death from COVID-19 for people aged 24 and younger by a factor of 50; and they think the risk for people aged 65 and older is half of what it actually is (40% vs 80%).
Yup, lots of people out there believe thousands of school-age kids have died. That’s what happens when the bed-wetter media are more interested in scaring the hell out of the audience than in … oh, I don’t know, let me think back to journalism school and see if I can remember the supposed purpose of news organizations … oh, yeah: informing the audience.
Substitute watch TV news for read the newspaper, and Mark Twain’s observation has never been more relevant than it is today: If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.
Thanks to our bed-wetter media, here’s how badly misinformed people are:
This misperception translates directly into a degree of fear for one’s health that for most people vastly exceeds the actual risk: we find that the share of people who are very worried or somewhat worried of suffering serious health consequences should they contract COVID-19 is almost identical across all age brackets between 25 and 64 years old, and it’s not far below the share for people 65 and older.
The discrepancy with the actual mortality data is staggering: for people aged 18–24, the share of those worried about serious health consequences is 400 times higher than the share of total COVID deaths; for those age 25–34 it is 90 times higher. The chart below truly is worth a thousand words:
The hysteria and the wild overestimation of actual risk among the misinformed has allowed bed-wetting politicians to get away with authoritarian overreach and impose restrictions that make absolutely no scientific sense.
In California (governed by a world-class bed-wetter) the schools are closed for the foreseeable future. We just can’t risk exposing kids to this horrible, deadly disease, doncha know. And how many school-age (under 18) kids have died from COVID-19 in California? Wait for it …
One. That’s right, one. In the entire USA, a grand total of 92 school-age kids have died from COVDID-19, and most of them had pre-existing health issues. Those are the actual facts. But thanks to the bed-wetter media’s constant hyping of the RISE IN CASES!, people are afraid their kids will get sick and die if they go to school.
The bed-wetter media apparently exist all over the world. Check out this video of a doctor being interviewed on Spanish television. (If you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll have to read the subtitles.) The journalist clearly wanted the doctor to confirm the EVERYTHING IS AWFUL angle of the story. Lucky for the viewers, the doctor told the truth instead. He keeps trying to point out that positive tests among people with no symptoms don’t mean anything, and the epidemic is basically over. Meanwhile, the bed-wetting journalist keeps interrupting to cite the positive test numbers as proof that EVERYTHING IS AWFUL. Never mind what the doctor who actually works in a hospital says.
Ivor Cummins has been using the term casedemic to describe the current round of bed-wetting. I don’t know if he originated the term or not, but it’s perfect. Here he is, using data to explain the difference between an actual epidemic and the current casedemic:
If you chose to skip the video, here’s what Ivor is talking about: The bars above the red lines are cases, which are rising because of all the testing. The bars below the red lines are deaths, which have plummeted to nearly zero, despite all those (ahem) “cases.”
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has fallen 96% since the peak of the pandemic, official data reveals.
Remember when lockdowns were all about flattening the curve so healthcare systems wouldn’t be overwhelmed? They’re clearly not overwhelmed. And yet the hysteria continues. Anyway, back to the article:
Hospital staff are now treating just 700 coronavirus patients a day in England, compared to about 17,000 a day during the middle of April, according to NHS England.
Last week, some hospitals did not have a single coronavirus patient on their wards, with one top doctor suggesting that Britain is “almost reaching herd immunity”.
I believe that’s true in the U.S. as well.
Wait … before any bed-wetters out there jump into the comments section to berate me, yes, I’m aware that deaths have been rising in some southern states, such as Florida. The summertime rise in the south is following the same curve as previous flu outbreaks. And as we saw elsewhere, 82 percent of deaths in Florida have occurred among the elderly, and nearly half of those occurred in nursing homes. Regardless of the recent (and predictable) rise in deaths in the south, here’s the latest CDC chart showing the deaths by age since the epidemic began.
Notice how younger people barely show up on the chart. And yet I’ve seen bed-wetters on Twitter post links to articles like this one, apparently thinking they’ve proved something awful is happening:
A Georgia school district that does not require masks has closed a high school and now has over 1,100 students and staff in quarantine due to the coronavirus.
Naturally, the bed-wetter reporter had to work does not require masks into the article. Yeah, that must be why the kids are infected, boy oh boy. It couldn’t be that they were already infected and didn’t know it until they were tested.
The Cherokee County School District, based in Canton about 40 miles north of Atlanta, made the announcement Tuesday, just eight days after its schools reopened.
“This decision was not made lightly,” Superintendent Brian Hightower said in a statement about the temporary halt to in-person instruction at Etowah High School.
Ahhhh, the decision wasn’t made lightly. So there must have been a major outbreak of COVID-19 among the students, leading to a bunch of hospital admissions.
He said the high school had 14 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 15 tests pending as of Tuesday morning.
An entire high school was closed because 14 kids tested positive for a virus that’s soooo deadly, they didn’t know they’d been exposed … at least not until testing added them to the casedemic files. I asked the bed-wetter who posted this article on Twitter to find the follow-up article telling us how many of those 14 kids required medical treatment. I’m still waiting for his reply.
If closing schools actually stopped the spread of coronavirus, we’d see dramatic differences (or even kinda-sorta moderate differences) in outcomes between areas that closed their schools and areas that didn’t. But we don’t. Here are some quotes from an article in the Irish Times:
The reopening of schools in many EU countries has not led to significant increases in community transmission of Covid-19, according to a new report.
Child-to-child transmission of the disease in schools is uncommon and not the primary cause of infection in children attending class, particularly in preschools and primary schools, the report by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) suggests.
Schools are unlikely to be more effective environments for propagating the virus than other work or leisure settings with similar densities of people, the report states.
There’s a good reason schools are unlikely to be an effective environment for spreading COVID. Watch this report from the BBC and, if you’re impatient, skip ahead to about the 2:15 mark:
I’ll repeat what a researcher says in the report, in case you skipped the video entirely:
Unlike illnesses like influenza, which are spread wonderfully by children — they’re very good at spreading influenza — children don’t seem to be spreading the COVID 19 virus to anything like the same extent. and that’s very different from most respiratory illnesses, where it’s usually the child that’s brought the illness into the household. So there’s something different about this that provides some reassurance when it comes to opening schools.
Closing schools hasn’t made a difference. Lockdowns haven’t made a difference either. As I’ve been saying since coronahysteria began, the virus is here and it’s going to spread, period, whether we impose lockdowns or not. Here are some quotes from a BBC article:
Exposure to Covid-19 is similar in Stockholm and London, based on antibody tests, despite different lockdown strategies, research suggests.
Sweden chose to avoid a strict lockdown, with shops and restaurants staying open.
Health experts predicted that 40% of the population in the capital, Stockholm, would have developed antibodies to the disease by May.
The actual figure was 17%, according to a review of evidence.
The research, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, found that 17% of people tested in April in Stockholm had developed antibodies.
This compares with 17% of Londoners tested in April and May, and 5%-10% of people living in Geneva.
Sweden adopted a lighter-touch strategy for dealing with the pandemic compared with most other European countries, deciding not to institute a widespread lockdown, and putting in place relatively few restrictions.
This was based partly on the idea of letting Covid-19 sweep through the population creating so-called herd immunity. Such an approach was considered but then abandoned in the UK.
The herd-immunity approach shouldn’t have been abandoned, but unfortunately, the bed-wetters won the day.
By the way, if you’re thinking 17% of a population testing positive for antibodies doesn’t sound like herd immunity, think again. Remember, most people who test positive for coronavirus fragments never felt ill. It turns out many people shake off the virus without producing antibodies. Here are some quotes from an article in the U.K. Telegraph:
Antibody tests may be missing large numbers of people who contracted Covid-19 because they don’t work for people who had a mild infection, new research from Oxford University suggests.
A study of more than 9,000 healthcare workers suggested significant numbers of people were getting ‘negative’ test results, despite probably having had the virus.
The work has major implications for government health policy, and scientists said it might also mean reviewing where the threshold between negative and positive results lies.
Hospitalizations and deaths in Sweden – with no lockdowns and no masks — are now close to zero. I’m pretty sure at this point, the bed-wetters would prefer to pretend Sweden doesn’t exist. A professor of microbiology and immunology in Tel Aviv name Udi Qimron made that point when interviewed for the Israel National News:
“There is a very great interest for anyone who has supported the draconian measures taken around the world to say that Sweden’s policy has failed. Because if it succeeded, and trillions went down the drain for no reason, someone will have to answer for it.”
“That is why all over the world they prefer to claim that [Sweden] was wrong. But in the end, the truth came to the surface. In a world where decision makers, their advisers and the media were able to admit their mistake and the initial panic that gripped them, we would have long since returned to routine. The ongoing destruction due to the inability to admit this mistake, despite the epidemic’s small mortality numbers, is outrageous.”
Yup. It’s been several years since I mentioned the terrific book Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), which explains why people who take very public positions find it darned near impossible to admit they were wrong, even when the evidence proves they were wrong. We’re seeing the phenomenon described in the book among all the bed-wetter politicians now.
Back to Professor Qimrom in the Israel National News:
He said smart behavior would be the opposite of what we do today; Populations not at risk should become infected and create chains of immunity, which will protect the sick and the elderly. We are currently working for sweeping social distancing, which prevents such differential immunity, he said.
He went on to explain that infection of children is a welcome thing, because it protects at-risk populations. “For the same reason, I would open up the whole education system, because the vast majority is made up of people who are not at risk. Of course a solution needs to be found for teachers suffering from diabetes or other background diseases, but I see no reason to prevent activities that encourage the economy. Not only because it allows parents to go to work, but also because it lowers mortality in the long run. I would also ask children and young people to take off their masks.“
But … but … in a Georgia high school that does not require masks, 14 kids were found to have fragments of the virus!
I was more or less agnostic on the wear your mask! issue at first. I suspected they wouldn’t do much to stop the virus because I saw at least three doctors explain that the virus is so tiny, wearing a mask to avoid spreading it is like trying to keep out mosquitos by putting up a chain-link fence.
But I also had my doubts because of some basic logic: if areas that imposed lockdowns didn’t fare any better than areas that didn’t impose lockdowns, why the @#$% would telling people to wear masks make a difference? Let’s think through that logic, shall we?
Okay, keeping people apart didn’t work, so we’ll let them out in public again – but they need to wear some cotton on their faces, because that will somehow do what keeping them apart didn’t do.
Suuuure, it will.
The wear your mask! crowd trots out studies showing one of two results: 1) wearing a mask reduces the distance saliva droplets travel if you cough or sneeze, or 2) the rate of infection among healthcare workers declined after they and all patients were required to wear masks in hospitals.
So if you’re out in public and still sick enough to spread the virus via your saliva (in which case, why the heck are you out in public?), a mask might stop you from sneezing the virus onto another person. Okay, we’ll go with that.
As for the reduced infections among healthcare workers after mask mandates were imposed … that could be a coincidence. I haven’t seen anything like a control or comparison group for the same time period.
For the sake of the healthcare workers, I sincerely hope the masks do work. But again, we’re talking about healthcare workers who treat COVID patients sick enough to show up at a hospital. That means up-close-and-personal interactions with people who are likely coughing and sneezing the virus into the nearby air. It’s probably putting masks on the patients that made the difference, not putting masks on the healthcare workers. Either way, that tells us absolutely nothing about the effectiveness of ordering asymptomatic people to wear masks when they’re out in public.
Denmark boasts one of the lowest COVID-19 death rates in the world. As of August 4, the Danes have suffered 616 COVID-19 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
That’s less than one-third of the number of Danes who die from pneumonia or influenza in a given year.
Despite this success, Danish leaders recently found themselves on the defensive. The reason is that Danes aren’t wearing face masks, and local authorities for the most part aren’t even recommending them.
This prompted Berlingske, the country’s oldest newspaper, to complain that Danes had positioned themselves “to the right of Trump.”
Because wearing a mask should, of course, be a political decision, not a scientific one. No wait … that doesn’t sound right …
This apparently did not sit well with Danish health officials. They responded by noting there is little conclusive evidence that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of respiratory viruses.
Denmark is not alone.
Despite a global stampede of mask-wearing, data show that 80-90 percent of people in Finland and Holland say they “never” wear masks when they go out, a sharp contrast to the 80-90 percent of people in Spain and Italy who say they “always” wear masks when they go out.
Well then, Spain and Italy must have much lower COVID deaths rates than Finland and Holland, thanks to those masks. Let’s check the data:
Dutch public health officials recently explained why they’re not recommending masks.
Does the explanation look something like this?
“From a medical point of view, there is no evidence of a medical effect of wearing face masks, so we decided not to impose a national obligation,” said Medical Care Minister Tamara van Ark.
The nation’s top scientists, having examined key data and research, have declared there is no firm evidence to back the use of face coverings. Indeed, they argue that wearing the wretched things may actually hamper the fight against disease.
Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence,’ said Coen Berends, spokesman for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. ‘There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.’
In a memo, published in English on its website, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said that even in the best case, with medical masks which prevent 40 percent of infections, 200,000 people would have to wear them to prevent just one new infection per week.
That’s one COVID case, not one COVID death.
This, it said, meant that the likely negative impacts outweighed any benefits “in the current epidemiological situation”.
“The number of people who experience undesirable effects is likely to be much larger than the number of infections prevented,” it said.
Wait, what? Ya mean wearing masks can have undesirable effects?
Why yes, they can. Here’s a video posted by a woman who’s spent 20 years working as an OSHA-approved Personal Protective Equipment expert.
Yes, it’s a long video. I’d urge you watch to it, but in case you don’t, here are some of the points she makes:
Masks can’t possibly stop you breathing in or breathing out the virus because it’s incredibly tiny. (Again, I’ve heard doctors describe wearing cotton or even surgical masks to stop the spread of COVID as the equivalent of putting up a chain-link fence to keep out mosquitos.)
Yes, masks do reduce the amount of oxygen you breathe. She mentioned that several doctors and nurses have disputed that point by saying they wear masks in surgery all the time and breathe just fine. But what they don’t know is that OSHA has stringent requirements for hospital environments, including … wait for it … extra oxygen pumped into operating rooms because OSHA knows masks reduce oxygen intake. (I don’t need an OSHA expert to tell me that. When I wear a mask at the grocery store, I have to periodically pull it away from my face and take a few deep breaths to avoid feeling light-headed.)
Because masks reduce your oxygen intake, OSHA doesn’t allow employers to mandate masks unless each employee passes a medical exam to prove the mask won’t cause problems … and again, OSHA often requires the employer to pump extra oxygen into environments where masks will be worn. Now OSHA has mysteriously set those requirements aside.
Perhaps the dumbest argument I’ve heard for wearing masks goes something like this: Sure, there’s no evidence they actually stop the spread of the coronavirus. But if you wear a mask when you’re in a public place, it will make the people around you feel safer.
Allow me to interpret that:
Now that we bed-wetters have needlessly scared the hell out of everyone over a virus that’s a threat to almost nobody who goes out in public, we need you to wear a worthless mask on your face so the people we’ve terrified will feel less terrified. It’s your civic duty, doncha know.
Here’s my alternate suggestion: The virus is here, it’s not going away, and it’s going to spread, period … no matter how many lockdowns the bed-wetters impose, and no matter how many asymptomatic people they force to wear cloth over their faces. And for the vast, vast majority of us, that’s not scary news at all. In fact, the sooner we get to herd immunity (if we’re not there already), the better.
So let’s tell the bed-wetters to @#$% off, put on their big-boy pants, and leave the rest of us alone. We have lives to live.
Someone recently accused me in comments of being a bully because I call the people who want ongoing lockdowns bed-wetters. That gave me a chuckle, since it’s bed-wetters who want to tell everyone else where they can go, how many people they can be with, which businesses can open, who has to wear masks in which situations, etc. – and they want anyone who defies them arrested. That’s a bully.
Thanks to the bed-wetters, the hysterical response to the coronavirus will likely cause more harm (including more deaths) than the virus itself. Why don’t the bed-wetters see that? I think the best explanation lies in a couple of concepts from disciplines outside medicine.
The first is a concept in software engineering called separation of concerns. In simplest terms, it means each of the major functions of the system lives in its own little code box and is designed and maintained by an expert in that function.
For example, I recently coded a user interface that displays data that’s retrieved from a database by a web service. Someone else coded the web service. And still someone else designed and maintains the database. We don’t need to know much at all about each other’s jobs … and good thing, because the IT field is too huge and too complex for anyone to learn it all.
Most of the time separation of concerns is a good thing in IT. But sometimes the separation causes problems, such as when a database administrator decides to make changes to a database table, and those changes cause applications to break.
Separation of concerns exists in medicine as well, and that separation can produce lousy treatments. I remember my dad’s cardiologist insisting he MUST TAKE HIS STATINS! because his cholesterol was high. Never mind that Dad was slipping mentally and statins are known to cause cognitive issues. The cardiologist’s only concern was bringing down the cholesterol score. Dad’s brain health wasn’t his concern.
The second concept is from economics: the seen vs. the unseen. The brief explanation is that actions always produce secondary effects — often unseen, and often unwanted.
Suppose we raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour. Some low-skilled people will clearly earn more money. That’s seen. But employers will hire fewer people and, when possible, replace what are now too-expensive employees with kiosks and other technology.
As a result, it will become more difficult for an unskilled person to snag that all-important first job. That’s the unseen. Nobody reports on the people NOT hired because of the new wage. (Thomas Sowell wrote a terrific book on the seen vs. the unseen titled Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One. Stage One is the seen; the unseen effects show up later.)
If a new virus starts killing people and you ask a pandemic expert – we’ll call him Dr. Foolchi – what to do, he’s likely to recommend shutting down human contact as much as possible. The infection rate may slow down as a result, and in Dr. Foolchi’s area of concern, that means he succeeded.
But here’s the problem: Dr. Foolchi isn’t an expert in economics, or in cancer treatments, or in the effects of stress on heart disease, or in depression. If people lose their jobs, die from cancer that wasn’t detected in time because medical offices were closed, have heart attacks from the stress of being unemployed, or slip into a depression from lack of human contact and begin abusing drugs … well, those aren’t his concerns. So if you’re in a position to set government policy and you ask Dr. Foolchi how to respond to the virus, you need to keep in mind that he probably doesn’t know if a shutdown will create bigger problems than the one it supposedly solves.
Unfortunately, many of those bigger problems fall into the unseen category. Sure, we all know unemployment has spiked since the shutdown – which has prompted many self-righteous ignoramuses to declare I care more about lives than money! But as many economists have pointed out, it isn’t a matter of lives vs. money. It’s a matter of lives vs. lives, because those unseen effects will kill people.
In a recent post, Dr. Malcolm Kendrick explains how financial stress likely caused a huge spike in heart-disease deaths after the Soviet Union broke apart and millions of people became unemployed. The lockdowns are causing similar financial stress. He concludes with this:
We were persuaded into lockdown with the promise that hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved in the UK – and millions worldwide. We were never warned about the many millions of lives that could – and, I fear, will – be lost as a consequence of lockdown. I consider that to be negligent. Especially as, in this case, the patient in question was the entire population of the Earth.
More than 200,000 people could die because of delays in healthcare and other economic and social effects all caused by lockdown, a government report has warned.
The great majority of the deaths – 185,000 – are attributed to an extended wait for treatment in the longer term.
But up to 25,000 deaths would have come in the first six months because of healthcare delays, according to experts at the Department of Health and Social Care, Office for National Statistics, Government Actuary’s Department and the Home Office.
With lockdown measures in place and hospital priorities shifted, patients have likely missed out on life-saving care for heart attacks and strokes and early diagnoses of diabetes and kidney disease.
The University of Oxford discovered just last week that 5,000 fewer heart attack patients had attended hospital between March and May.
Granted, the numbers are speculation. But let’s say the estimate is exaggerated and only half that number will die in the U.K. because of lockdowns. That’s still 100,000 people. As of today, the U.K. is reporting a total of around 46,000 COVID deaths. If 100,000 people die from the unintended, unseen effects of the lockdown, then the lockdown killed twice as many people as the virus itself. That’s a lousy tradeoff.
According to a modeling analysis commissioned by the Stop TB Partnership, a lockdown that disrupts TB diagnosis, treatment, and prevention services for 2 months, followed by the 2 months it would take to get normal TB services back up and running, could result in a rapidly growing pool of undetected and untreated TB patients. Over the next 5 years, that could produce an additional 1.8 million TB cases and 342,000 deaths globally.
Under a worst-case scenario of a 3-month lockdown and 10-month restoration period, global cases would rise by 6.8 million, with 1.4 million excess deaths, the analysis found.
Hundreds of thousand of deaths – perhaps a million deaths – just from delays in diagnosing and treating tuberculosis. Dr. Foolchi and his colleagues around the world probably didn’t think of that one. It’s not their area of concern.
An additional 6.7 million children under the age of five could suffer from wasting – and therefore become dangerously undernourished – in 2020 as a result of the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF warned today.
According to an analysis published in The Lancet, 80 per cent of these children would be from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Over half would be from South Asia alone.
The estimated increase in child wasting is only the tip of the iceberg, UN agencies warn. COVID-19 will also increase other forms of malnutrition in children and women, including stunting, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight and obesity as a result of poorer diets and the disruption of nutrition services. UNICEF reports from the early months of the pandemic suggest a 30 per cent overall reduction in the coverage of essential – and often life-saving – nutrition services. In some countries, these disruptions have reached 75 per cent to 100 per cent under lockdown measures.
Now add in the stress and depression caused by the countless small businesses destroyed, the unemployment, the loneliness, etc., etc., and I’d say the cure has been far worse than the disease.
These unintended consequences weren’t caused by the virus. They were caused by the bed-wetter reaction to the virus. They were caused by shutting down major portions of the world economy so we can all shelter in place and be safe and blah-blah-blah. Early on, when little was known about the rate of infection and death, a temporary lockdown made sense. But continuing to act as if the coronavirus is airborne AIDS makes no sense whatsoever at this point.
So to all you STAY IN LOCKDOWN UNTIL WE HAVE A VACCINE AND WE’RE SAFE! bed-wetters out there, screw your I care about lives! virtue-signaling. What you mean is that you care about your life. You don’t care about all the people around the world who will die from what amounts to mass hysteria. You’ll happily sacrifice those people if ongoing lockdowns mean there’s an itty, bitty, tiny reduction in the odds that you (or your 81-year-old grandma) will catch the virus.
If you’re not elderly or fragile from some underlying condition and want us all to stay in lockdown until a vaccine comes along, that means you’re willing to have other people die so you don’t catch a cold.
And if you think I’m a bully for pointing it out and calling you a bunch of bed-wetters, well, I really don’t care.
Pardon the absence. I’ve been socially distancing myself from the blog because I’m afraid if I interact with too many of you, I’ll catch the coronavirus and die. I’ve learned from the bed-wetter media that we’re all at extremely high risk, so I figured I’d best stay inside, wear a mask (even in the house) and avoid living my actual life as much as possible.
Okay, that’s not exactly it. Truth is, I’ve been face-down in other projects. I’ve also been spending part of my evenings and weekends teaching Sara to drive, since she leaves for college next year and still doesn’t have a license.
I’ve been following the coronavirus story in the news, of course. I’d summarize the bed-wetter media’s coverage something like this:
OH MY GOD CASES ARE RISING AGAIN BECAUSE SOME STUPID STATES EASED THE LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS AND IT’S ALL HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE AND MOSTLY TRUMP’S FAULT AND WE HAVE TO LOCK DOWN AGAIN RIGHT NOW AND STAY LOCKED DOWN UNTIL IT’S SAFE!!
Every time I see another bed-wetter report on the news, I wonder why the #$%@ anyone is surprised the virus is still spreading. As a reminder, I wrote this on April 16th:
Adult knowledge says the coronavirus will spread … and the most social distancing can do is slow the spread. Adult knowledge says the virus will kill people – just like the flu kills people — whether we shut down the economy or not.
I wrote this on May 18th:
The medical system was successfully saved from being overwhelmed, but in the meantime, the bed-wetters moved the goalposts. They no longer talk about flattening the curve. Now they want us to stay locked down UNTIL IT’S SAFE!
Say what? Until it’s safe?! They apparently believe if we just stay inside long enough, the virus will disappear, and then we can all come out to play again. They haven’t the grasped the fact – and it is a fact – that the virus is here, it’s not going away, and it will spread. I’ll say that again for the slow-witted: the virus is going to spread. And one more time: THE VIRUS IS GOING TO SPREAD.
I wrote this (in comments) on June 6th:
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: THE VIRUS ISN’T GOING AWAY, AND THE ONLY PURPOSE OF SOCIAL DISTANCING WAS TO PREVENT HOSPITALS FROM BEING OVERWHELMED — PERIOD. Social distancing was never intended to stop the spread of the virus, because it can’t be stopped. The intention was to slow the pace of the initial spread. Will there be some spikes in infections as areas open up? Probably … and that will happen whether they open up now or a year from now — because THE VIRUS ISN’T GOING AWAY.
I wrote this (in comments) on July 4th:
We have to accept that the virus is here, it’s not going away, and staying in lockdown won’t prevent people from being exposed unless we stay in lockdown forever.
So … several states began easing restrictions, the number of cases began to rise (largely because of more testing, but we’ll come back to that), and people began tweeting comments along the lines of SEE?! Those lockdowns you irresponsible crazy people said weren’t necessary are ending, and now the number of COVID cases is spiking! SEE? SEE?!
Uh … you mean do I see that the virus is here, it isn’t going away, and it will spread throughout the population whether we end the lockdowns today or a year from now, exactly as I stated? Well, yes, I do see that. But what the bed-wetters apparently can’t see is that the death rate is continuing to plummet, and those “spiking” infections are being identified mostly among people who experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
Here’s the “spike” the media and government bed-wetters keep harping about so we’ll submit to another round of lockdowns:
Wow, that looks bad, doesn’t it? Boy oh boy, that’s a spike if I’ve ever seen one.
But wait … take a look at this chart showing the number of tests per thousand people in several countries:
There’s the U.S. at the very tippy-top of the chart, testing more people more quickly than any other country … and darned if that spike in tests conducted doesn’t look a lot like the “spike” in cases.
But the bed-wetters never bother to point that out. Instead, they keep trying to scare the hell out of us. CNN, perhaps the most bed-wetting of all the bed-wetter media, reminds us every two minutes or so that THE UNITED STATES NOW HAS MORE CORONAVIRUS CASES THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY!!
OH MY GOD THE UNITED STATES HAS MORE CASES THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY IT’S ALL HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE AND MOSTLY TRUMP’S FAULT AND WE HAVE TO LOCK DOWN AGAIN RIGHT NOW AND STAY LOCKED DOWN UNTIL IT’S SAFE!!
Let’s pretend we’re rational, logical adults (and thus disqualified from working in most news organizations these days) and think this through: The United States is the third-most populous country in the world. The two countries with larger populations are China and India. Does anyone believe China and India have conducted anywhere close to as many tests as the U.S.?
So here in the third-most populous country in the world, we’re testing at the fastest rate of any country, and – DUH! – the result is that we now lead the world in identified cases of coronavirus infections. Somebody hand me an adult diaper; I’m afraid this shocking news may prompt me to wet the bed.
And keep in mind the number of cases is likely exaggerated. As several doctors have reported, they were pressured by hospitals to count cases where coronavirus was only suspected, not actually confirmed. Why would hospitals do that? As always, follow the money. Here’s what a doctor wrote about the financial incentive to overreport cases:
Why would someone want to inflate case counts, and what are the risks and benefits of doing so? As reported in Modern Healthcare, July 17, 2020, “HHS to send $10 billion in round two of relief grants to COVID-19 hot spots.” Modern Healthcare reports, “Hospitals that had more than 161 COVID-19 admissions between January 1 and June 10 will be paid $50,000 for each COVID-19 admission. HHS asked hospitals to start submitting COVID-19 admission data on June 8.”
Hospitals that use the new CDC definition stand to make millions of dollars. The first round of HHS grants was $12 billion and paid $76,975 per admission to hospitals that had more than 100 COVID-19 admissions from January 1 through April 1. Clearly, states hit early got tons of money- Illinois got $740 M, New York got $684 M, and Pennsylvania got $655 M alone. Additionally, Medicaid will pay out $15 billion in relief funds- hospitals must apply by August, so the more cases the better the return. The hospitals reporting the most cases get the most money.
In addition to expanding the definition of a New COVID-19 case to include exposure to a COVID-19 positive patient and a self-reported fever, lowering admission thresholds, and requiring testing on every admission, the ability to code a hospital admission as “with-COVID” is easy and becomes a very lucrative business model. My OB-gyn colleague told me about her scheduled C-section patient who was asymptomatic but tested positive on the required admission COVID test, so she too became a hospitalization “with COVID.”
Clearly, hospitals are financially incentivized to code more COVID cases and deaths. Definitions matter. Another sad consequence is that we are losing freedoms and destroying our state and country based on the inflated numbers.
Watch this video of a doctor explaining that after he was put on a contact-tracing list (and we’ll just set aside the huge potential for government abuse of that practice), he learned that if he so much as had a runny nose, he’d be counted as positive for COVID. I recommend watching the entire video, but his explanation of how cases are counted starts at around 3:00:
Let’s continue thinking like rational, logical adults: if the disease is actually spreading like wildfire in the U.S. population (as opposed to merely being identified in more people), and if the disease is as deadly as the bed-wetter media wants us to believe, then the death rate must be shooting up like crazy, right?
Here’s a chart showing the bi-weekly number of deaths:
You might notice a little spike around June 26. What you might not be able to read is the explanation in tiny type. It reads June 26, July 1: probable/earlier deaths added. So even that little spike may not be a spike in current deaths.
Here are the deaths by age group:
The bed-wetters want us to panic over a disease for which the deaths peaked in April. Yes, it’s a shame so many old and vulnerable people died, but even Neil Ferguson, the professor in England whose original model predicted millions of deaths, has stated recently that up to two-thirds of those killed by COVID would have likely died this year from some other cause.
And just like with the counts of coronavirus cases, the death counts may be exaggerated. According to the bed-wetter media, it’s just a conspiracy theory that people who test positive for the virus and later die for some other reason are counted as COVID deaths. But we know it happened:
A man who died in a motorcycle crash was counted as a COVID-19 death in Florida, according to a new report from FOX 35 Orlando.
According to the report, Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino was asked whether two coronavirus victims in their 20s had any underlying medical conditions that could have potentially made them more susceptible to the virus.
Pino’s answer was that one of the two people who was listed as a COVID death actually died in a motorcycle crash. Despite health officials knowing the man died in a motorcycle crash, it is unclear whether or not his death was removed from the overall count in the state.
Dr. Pino tells FOX 35 that one “could actually argue that it could have been the COVID-19 that caused him to crash.”
Ah, I see. A guy in his 20s had the virus, and the virus might have somehow caused him to crash his motorcycle, so it’s a COVID death. Well, okey-dokey then.
Before Washington State changed its policy, there were suicides, homicides and drug overdoses being counted as COVID deaths simply because the dead people had previously tested positive for coronavirus. It’s nice that the state decided to clean up its data, but how many states and hospitals haven’t? And given what the doctor explained about hospitals receiving funds based on the number of COVID cases and deaths they report, why would they have any incentive whatsoever to re-classify deaths as non-COVID?
In the U.K., it’s apparently official policy to count anyone who ever tested positive for coronavirus as a COVID death, regardless of the actual cause of death:
[Public Health England] regularly looks for people on the NHS database who have ever tested positive, and simply checks to see if they are still alive or not. PHE does not appear to consider how long ago the COVID test result was, nor whether the person has been successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community. Anyone who has tested COVID positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included on the PHE COVID death figures.
By this PHE definition, no one with COVID in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness. A patient who has tested positive, but successfully treated and discharged from hospital, will still be counted as a COVID death even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later.
On July 7, for instance, [Arizona] recorded 117 “new deaths” on its dashboard. Calling that number a “record,” CNN reported that Arizona that day reported “117 deaths from Covid-19 over the last 24 hours.” Business Insider reported that Arizona recorded “its highest number of newly reported coronavirus deaths” on that day. News Break said the state on that date “recorded its highest single-day death toll.”
Yet actual state data as of Saturday indicated that only 53 people are so far recorded as dying in the 24-hour period in question, 54% less than the “record” day touted in numerous headlines. Indeed, going by date of death, the most fatalities the state has ever recorded over 24 hours is 57, on June 30.
A similar problem was seen in Florida this week, when the state health department on Thursday announced 156 deaths in one 24-hour period. That number was touted as a frightening new record by media outlets such as CNN, the Miami Herald, NBC, the Orlando Sentinel, and numerous others.
Yet as of Saturday afternoon, the actual number of deaths confirmed for that 24-hour period, per the state’s dashboard, was just 58—roughly one-third the “record” that the state health department touted on its website.
Again, I wrote this back in April: Adult knowledge says the coronavirus will spread … and the most social distancing can do is slow the spread.
Actually, I no longer believe social distancing had much of an effect in slowing the spread. If you haven’t seen the videos Ivor Cummins has been posting on the topic, this would be a good time to start. As you may already know, Ivor is a biochemical engineer. He cares rather deeply about stuff like data, evidence and logic. If you watch his longer videos and follow along with the data he and his guests present, you’ll learn that:
The infection and death curves are virtually the same across countries whether they locked down or not. (The curves have a different shape in countries close to the equator.)
The curves are the same as for flu outbreaks.
Sweden has more deaths from flu during flu seasons than its neighbors, so comparing Sweden’s COVID deaths to Finland’s or Norway’s COVID deaths proves nothing about the effectiveness of lockdowns.
The death rate in most countries was already dropping when lockdowns were mandated.
Years in which flu and other infectious diseases kill fewer vulnerable people (“light” years) are followed by years with more deaths – and 2019 was a “light” year.
In terms of total excess mortality, 2020 doesn’t even rank in top five of the past 25 years.
I’d urge you watch his longer videos, but here are a couple of shorter ones:
As Ivor often says in his videos, science and logic were tossed out the window once the lockdown mentality set in. If you didn’t actually watch the second video, it features an Irish professor insisting that without the hard lockdown, the death rate in Ireland would have been 11 times the death rate in Sweden, which didn’t enforce a lockdown.
Eleven times the death rate in Sweden?! Goodness, apparently if the Irish aren’t locked down, they wander down to the pub, throw back a few pints of Guinness, then express their affection by licking each other’s noses and eyes. My Irish relatives never mentioned this charming tradition.
If Ivor and the people he interviews can examine the data and see what it’s actually telling us, then so can the bed-wetters in government and media … which means the STAY IN LOCKDOWN mentality isn’t about saving lives. There are clearly other agendas at work here. As Obama’s former chief of staff once put it, You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. It provides the opportunity to do things that were not possible to do before.
And what might those other agendas be? One is pretty obvious. This is an election year, and it’s quite rare for a president seeking re-election to lose when the economy is booming. The satirical site The Babylon Bee put it perfectly:
If you don’t think the STAY IN LOCKDOWN nonsense is political, then explain the logic behind this: New York City mayor Bill de Blasio recently put the kibosh on all large public gatherings except -– wait for it — Black Lives Matter protests. Yes, my fellow Americans, if you gather together in public, you’ll spread this awful-horrible-deadly disease, so we can’t allow it … unless you’re protesting something and the mayor supports your cause.
In a similar fashion, the mayor of Houston recently told the state GOP they can’t proceed with their annual convention scheduled there becuz COVID. But Black Lives Matter protests? Yeah, he’s okay with that. No need to shut those down.
But to really see science and common sense tossed aside in favor of a political agenda, just look at the school districts refusing to open their classrooms UNTIL IT’S SAFE!
Safe? Excuse me? We’re supposed to believe it’s not safe for kids to go to school? As a reminder, here are the COVID deaths by age, at least as of halfway through June:
A grand total of 138 deaths among school-age kids and teens. By contrast, according to the CDC and other government sources, here’s how many kids and teens die in an average year from other causes:
Auto accidents – 4,000
Cancer – 1,800
Drowning – 995
Heart disease – 600
Burns – 340
Your kid is far, far more likely to die in an auto accident while being driven to school than from COVID. Your kid is more likely to die by drowning than from COVID. (Perhaps that’s real reason Governor Newsome closed the beaches.) Your kid is more likely to die in a house fire than from COVID. Keeping schools closed is insane. This disease just doesn’t kill kids, period, unless they have severe underlying conditions.
But … but … but kids will spread the disease in school, then go home and infect their families!
Sorry, but that’s bull#$%@. There’s simply no evidence that asymptotic kids can spread the disease, even if they’re carriers of the virus. Yes, CNN and other bed-wetter news organizations recently promoted a (ahem) “study” saying kids can spread the disease, but I took a look at it. The “study” was pure speculation – no data, no actual evidence — that symptomatic kids might be able to spread the disease. Funny how countries that didn’t close their schools fared just as well as those that did. And by the way, many schools — including those in our local district — have long had a policy that kids can’t come to school if they have a fever.
If you believe school systems are closing their doors to stop the spread of the virus, then I’d suggest you look at what the Los Angeles Teachers Union is demanding before they feel (ahem) “safe” to return to work:
More federal funding for schools
Increased taxes on the wealthy
Defunding the police
Medicare for all
A moratorium on private and charter schools
Amazing … somehow only passing a left-wing wish-list of legislation will protect students and teachers against the awful, horrible, deadly virus. What a load of #$%@. This isn’t about protecting kids. It’s about holding them hostage for political purposes.
We’ve lost our minds over this, folks. In this article, the author quotes a psychiatrist who treats anxiety disorders. Here’s what he had to say about the panic over the coronavirus:
I’m a practicing psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety disorders, paranoid delusions, and irrational fear. I’ve been treating this in individuals as a specialist. It’s hard enough to contain these problems in normal times. What’s happening now is a spread of this serious medical condition to the whole population. It can happen with anything but here we see a primal fear of disease turning into mass panic. It seems almost deliberate. It is tragic. Once this starts, it could take years to repair the psychological damage.
I couldn’t agree more. The panic over coronavirus is causing far more damage than the virus itself. We need to regain our sanity and accept that viruses that kill vulnerable people are part of life – and then get back to living. As every immunologist and virologist willing to risk the wrath of the bed-wetters in government has pointed out, we’re not going to stop the coronavirus from spreading, period. Perhaps there will be an effective vaccine someday, but that could take years. And frankly, if a vaccine is rushed through the FDA’s testing and approval process, I’m sure as hell not geting it. The FDA has a bad enough record with drugs that went through usual years-long process.
The virus will cease being a threat when we reach herd immunity. (We might even be close to herd immunity already.) And how do we get to herd immunity? By opening schools. By opening businesses. By allowing people to gather in public even if they’re not engaged in protests approved by left-leaning politicians.
This crazy #$%@ needs to stop … and the bed-wetter media need to take off their diapers, put on their big-boy pants, and stop trying to scare the hell out of us.
In our last episode, we nominated best performance by a politician for the First Annual Bed-Wetter Awards. This time we’re moving on to best performance by a media organization. Spoiler alert: I’ve already picked the winner.
There’s no shortage of bed-wetters among the media, of course. Most media types have been dutifully supporting the view of The Anointed that by gosh, we can’t get back to normal gatherings UNTIL IT’S SAFE! Well, that is … uh … unless people are crowding together for purposes that meet with their approval. Then the idea that crowds will spread the coronavirus just kind of vanishes. There’s a strange lack of embarrassment among news organizations that put out articles like these on the same day:
So there you have it. Large gatherings are extraordinarily dangerous, but only if you don’t like who’s gathering. Got it.
The Bed-Wetter nominees were by no means limited to American news organizations. Here’s a superb bed-wetter performance by a BBC host:
Lord Sumption, her guest, points out that coronavirus is mostly killing people who are old and have multiple health conditions. Somehow the BBC reporter interprets that as it’s killing people who would have been with us for many years.
Uh, no. It’s mostly killing people who already have one foot in the door marked EXIT. I’ll give you a close-to-home, somewhat painful example: when I spoke to my mom back in April, she told me she was very worried she would catch coronavirus and die. Had she caught the virus in her fragile condition, it may indeed have killed her, in which case she would have been counted as a COVID death. But she didn’t catch the virus. She died from a hemorrhagic stroke instead.
She was almost 84 and her brain health was deteriorating. I’m sorry she died and I’ll miss her, but I accepted more than a year ago that she was headed for the door marked EXIT. It was only a question of exactly when she’d be gone.
When Lord Sumption pointed that we will never live in a risk-free world, and that people who are afraid of the virus can self-isolate, the reporter immediately responded with But what if you’re a carrier of the virus and go to the theater and infect the person next to you! Perfect bed-wetter sentiment … which Lord Sumption dismissed by explaining the obvious: the person next to him at the theater would be there voluntarily, and could just as easily be a carrier of the virus.
I could go up and down the list and find articles and newscasts warning that WE CAN’T RETURN TO NORMAL UNTIL IT’S SAFE! from nearly every major news organization. No surprise there. Besides largely being mouthpieces for The Anointed, news reporters aren’t losing their jobs because of the lockdowns. In fact, the lockdowns have simply granted many reporters the luxury of doing their jobs from home. (Same for me: no bothersome commute since March.) If lockdowns were causing massive layoffs in the news business, I suspect the narrative would be different.
Since there are simply too many bed-wetters to choose from in the major media, I’ve selected a dark-horse winner: PsyPost.org, which describes itself as a psychology and neuroscience news website dedicated to reporting the latest research on human behavior, cognition, and society.
New research provides some initial evidence that certain antagonistic personality traits are associated with ignoring preventative measures meant to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The study has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science.
Ah, well, as we know, peer-review in psychology is a rock-solid guarantee that we’re looking at valid research … so rock-solid that most experiments can’t be replicated.
Anyway, here’s a quote from the study’s author:
“It was clear from reports in the media very early in the COVID-19 pandemic that some people were rejecting advice to socially distance and engage in increased hygiene. There can be many reasons for this, and I thought that personality may play at least a small role in it.”
And what would those personality traits be, oh wise one?
“I knew that traits from the so-called Dark Triad (narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) as well as the traits subsumed within psychopathy are linked to health risk behavior and health problems, and I expected them to be implicated in health behaviors during the pandemic.”
Goodness. People who ignore orders to stay off the beach exhibit traits subsumed within psychopathy? Can you explain how you reached that conclusion?
“People high on the Dark Triad traits may knowingly and even deliberately put other people’s health at risk, e.g., by engaging in risky sexual behavior and not telling their partner about having HIV or STIs.”
Hmmm … seems like a rather giant case of bait-and-switch to me. I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure engaging in sex without telling your partner you have the HIV virus isn’t quite the same as ignoring a governor’s orders to stay off the beach. That’s like putting people who have two glasses of wine in a restaurant and then drive home into the same category as people who chug a fifth of gin and then pilot a commercial airliner.
“Early in the pandemic, and in subsequent months, there were numerous reports of individuals purposefully coughing, spitting, or even licking door handles in public, either as a way to intimidate others or as a way to rebel against the emerging new norms of social distancing and hygiene.”
Again, I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure people who spit on fruit and lick door handles in public during a virus outbreak do indeed have issues. I’m also pretty sure people who spit on fruit and lick door handles in public when there’s no outbreak of any disease whatsoever have those same issues. I’m also pretty sure people who spit on fruit and lick door handles in public don’t belong in the same category as people who ignore orders to stay off the beach. But the article goes to great lengths to link them:
People who scored higher on the psychopathic subtraits of meanness and disinhibition tended to show less interest in social distancing and hygiene. Meanness and disinhibition also predicted the endorsement of behavior that puts others at risk of infection, such as touching or sneezing on high-use surfaces in public.
Ah yes, the old A is linked to B and B is linked to C, so A must produce C nonsense. Yes, I’m sure mean, disinhibited, psychotic people are less compliant with social distancing … and I’m sure mean, disinhibited, psychotic people are more likely to spit on fruit and lick door handles and otherwise intentionally put others are risk. That doesn’t mean people who go the beach, get together with more than four friends, or otherwise resist social distancing are mean, disinhibited and psychotic.
Here’s an analogy: Compared to the rest of the population, criminals on average are less intelligent, less trusting, less emotionally stable, more violent, more psychotic, and more likely to be drug and alcohol abusers. Criminals are also far more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans. Therefore, we conclude that supporting the positions of the Democrat party is linked to being less intelligent, less trusting, less emotionally stable, more violent, more psychotic, and more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs.
Stupid conclusion, right? Sure is … but it’s pretty much the same (ahem) “logic” used by the study’s author. In fact, the study reminds me very much of the (ahem) “studies” that conclude libertarians and conservatives suffer from a form of mental illness. If you don’t agree that The Anointed should tell you how to run your life or your business, you might be mentally ill!
If you’ve ever read up on how those studies are designed … well, let’s just say they make Walter Willett‘s nutrition studies look like solid science by comparison. The perfessers simply design the study to produce results that confirm their own political views. Something like this:
“Jenkins, I have an idea for a study. Let’s conduct a survey to see if there’s any correlation between political preferences and traits such as paranoia, mental inflexibility, and callousness towards others.”
“Excellent idea, sir!”
“Now, we need to think of some questions for the survey. How shall we determine callousness towards others?”
“How about something like, I believe people who want to become American citizens should go through the legal naturalization process instead of sneaking into the country.”
“Not bad, Jenkins. But it’s a little verbose. Let’s tighten that up to I am opposed to open borders.”
“Very good, sir.”
“Indeed. How shall we define mental inflexibility?”
“Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Maybe something like, I believe what is or is not constitutional should be determined by what’s written in The Constitution.”
“Outstanding, Jenkins! You’re really getting the hang of psychological research. Finally, how would we define paranoia?”
“I’ve got it: I worry that the people running our government are secret Russian assets.”
“Sorry, I meant, I worry that some Middle Eastern immigrants might be secret members of terrorist cells.”
“Much better, Jenkins. Now get out there and make some phone calls.”
(47 minutes later)
“Well, Jenkins, what did you find?”
“Well sir, according to our completely objective data, political conservatives are far more paranoid, mentally inflexible, and callous then political liberals. “
“Good work, Jenkins! Let’s write it up and send it out for publication.”
Yes, that’s an exaggeration … but not by much. Point is, these “studies” are basically meaningless. They’re designed to give the answer the researcher wants.
This particular researcher wanted to link people who ignore orders to stay off the beach to people with psychotic traits who actually enjoy putting other people in harm’s way. And so, with a little A is linked to B and B is linked to C so A is linked to C magic, he did.
When I commented on the study on Twitter, I received a few replies along the lines of But bruh! If you ignore social distancing, you’re going to spread the disease and kill muh grandmuh! That’s callous, bruh!
That’s roughly as logical as saying that if I’m sexually promiscuous, I’m going to spread STDs and then you might catch one from your wife. If that happens, I didn’t infect you. Your wife did. If you’re afraid grandma will catch coronavirus, tell grandma to stay inside, observe strict social distancing, and refuse to let anyone in her house who hasn’t also observed strict social distancing. If you pick up the virus somewhere and then pass it on to your grandmother, I didn’t infect her. You did. So if you’re that worried, stay away from grandma UNTIL IT’S SAFE!
Does that sound a bit callous? Maybe. But if I were designing a study to determine who’s heartless and callous now that coronavirus is here, I’d start with this agree/disagree question:
I haven’t lost my job or experienced a reduction in my income during the mandatory social distancing that has bankrupted countless businesses and put millions of people on unemployment, and I support ongoing mandatory social distancing if there’s a teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy chance it will prevent me from ever being exposed to the coronavirus.
A bed-wetter would agree. Clearly, so did our winner of Best Bed-Wetter Performance by a Media Organization.
Hollywood gives out Oscars every year to celebrate the most politically correc— uh, I mean the highest achievements in filmmaking. The music business gives out Grammys to celebrate achievements in songwriting and performing. The Tonys, the Pulitzers, the Emmys … heck, the list goes on and on.
Since COVID-19 has exerted a more profound effect on society this year than movies, music, theatre, television, etc., I believe we need an award similar to the Oscars and the Grammys. Therefore, I’m announcing the First Annual Bed-Wetter Awards, given to those who have demonstrated the highest achievements in whining, panic-spreading, and generally scaring the piss out people over the horrible (and imaginary) things will happen if we return to normal instead of hiding forever from a virus that’s about as deadly as the flu.
I’ll pick the nominees, and you can vote for the winner. Today’s category is best performance by a bed-wetter politician.
I was tempted to nominate Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. This is the brilliant leader who decided old people who tested positive for COVID-19 should be returned to nursing homes, where they promptly infected the most vulnerable population. Meanwhile, Cuomo was determined to protect the group that least needs protecting – school-age kids. Here’s the distribution of coronavirus deaths by age:
Yup, kids below the age of 15 have accounted for one of every 10,000 coronavirus deaths. Seasonal flu has been deadlier for kids. In fact, kids are more likely to die being driven to school than from COVID-19. Toss in the 15-to-24 group – which would take us through the college years – and we’re still talking about 12 of every 10,000 deaths. Only an accomplished bed-wetter could look at those numbers and conclude that kids are at risk. So let’s enjoy the performance that nearly got Cuomo nominated for a Bed-Wetter award.
Impressive. But after thinking about it, I decided Cuomo doesn’t deserve a nomination. New York was the epicenter of COVID-19. Scaring the New York population under those circumstances simply wasn’t a difficult enough achievement to be honored with an award.
So our first actual nominee is Governor Gavin Newsome of California. Newsome runs a state with a population of more than 40 million people, but only saw 4,000 COVID-19 deaths. By contrast, New York has a population of 19 million, but saw 24,000 COVID deaths. In other words, the COVID death rate in California is less than one-tenth the death rate in New York. Most of the COVID deaths in California (as elsewhere) were among people who were old and sick. In fact, 42 percent of those deaths occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
And yet Newsome ordered businesses to close all over the state, including rural counties that had no reported cases of COVID-19. He also closed the beaches, apparently believing they’d be swamped by 80-year-olds planning a mid-day plunge in the ocean. And when some youngsters defied the order and went to the beaches anyway, Newsome had some words for them. Let’s take a moment to admire his performance:
Stunning. Newsome talked about the need for herd immunity, then young chided people for going to the beaches where they might be exposed to the virus … which would help achieve herd immunity. Then Newsome talked about a glorious future when everyone has been vaccinated against the coronavirus … never mind that an effective vaccine may never be developed.
Newsome is also one of many governors planning to hire a brigade of “contact tracers” – because what would possibly go wrong with giving governments the power to track where you go and who you’re with?
Our second nominee is Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. Whitmer demonstrated real imagination by deciding liquor stores and dispensers of lottery tickets are “essential,” while banning the sale of garden seeds. Whitmer further demonstrated her bed-wetter chops by banning people from traveling to their own vacation homes … because as any scientist will tell you, leaving a crowded city to go live in a cabin in a secluded area is how you catch coronavirus.
Whitmer has finally lifted some restrictions on businesses, but is still very concerned that Michigan citizens may be traveling across the border to Ohio to get their hair and nails done. Since that means hair and nail salons are open in Ohio, a logical leader would check with Ohio officials to see if there’s been a sudden spike in deaths among Ohioans with coifed hair and shiny nails. But no, Whitmer instead warned that people in Michigan who travel to Ohio may be spreading death. Here’s part of her performance:
Our final nominee is the governor of my former home state, JB Pritzker of Illinois. Pritzker twice extended the lockdown in Illinois even after neighboring states opened up without any resulting spikes in COVID-19 deaths. A representative from downstate Illinois took the matter to court, and a judge ruled that Pritzker had exceed his authority by extending the lockdown.
That prompted Pritzker to put on the performance that won him a nomination:
A fine performance, but you can’t appreciate just how fine it was unless you also know this: while ordering people in Illinois to stay home – to keep everyone safe, ya know – Pritzker and his family traveled to their vacation horse farm in Wisconsin. His wife and daughter also traveled to a vacation home in Florida. But Pritzker’s real claim to being a bed-wetter is this:
FOX 32 News watched Thursday as construction workers from Illinois crossed the border to work on the governor’s farm. Pritzker, though, says there is no double standard because construction workers are exempt.
FOX 32 wandered over the Wisconsin border into Kenosha County and found more than 20 construction workers — nearly all from Illinois — helping build a massive new home and several outbuildings on Pritzker’s horse farm.
Pritzker decided it was “essential” for construction workers to travel across state lines to build a new home on his Wisconsin property … but if you ventured out for a haircut, he wanted you arrested. You could spread the virus, doncha know.