Blue Fragility, Part VI: Lysenkoism Vs. Actual Science!

Those of us who favor a safe, science-driven re-opening of the economy are frequently derided by the “shut down until ______” (fill in the blank du jour) crowd as either callous or ignorant.

But looking at examples of states that have managed to combine generally good public health outcomes with a relatively sane course on economic re-opening, two patterns emerge:

1) those paths tend to be steered by governors with experience in the private sector – the likes of Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Doug Burgum of North Dakota and especially Ron DeSantis of Florida) treat science as a way of finding the truth, as opposed it being a tool to coerce compliance.

2) The success tends to follow a parade of calumny in the “blue” media – followed by the media moving on to another story when none of the predictions pans out.

The response to Governor DeSantis’s plans early in the epidemic (the sky was going to fall!) and now (it didn’t!) is illustrative:

An irony of the national coverage of the coronavirus crisis is that at the same time DeSantis was being made into a villain, New York governor Andrew Cuomo was being elevated as a hero, even though the DeSantis approach to nursing homes was obviously superior to that of Cuomo. Florida went out of its way to get COVID-19-positive people out of nursing homes, while New York went out of its way to get them in, a policy now widely acknowledged to have been a debacle.

The media didn’t exactly have their eyes on the ball. “The day that the media had their first big freakout about Florida was March 15th,” DeSantis recalls, “which was, there were people on Clearwater Beach, and it was this big deal. That same day is when we signed the executive order to, one, ban visitation in the nursing homes, and two, ban the reintroduction of a COVID-positive patient back into a nursing home.”

DeSantis is bemused by the obsession with Florida’s beaches. When they opened in Jacksonville, it was a big national story, usually relayed with a dire tone. “Jacksonville has almost no COVID activity outside of a nursing-home context,” he says. “Their hospitalizations are down, ICU down since the beaches opened a month ago. And yet, nobody talks about it. It’s just like, ‘Okay, we just move on to the next target.’”

Perhaps more understandably, The Villages, the iconic senior community, was a focus of media worries. According to DeSantis, as of last weekend there hadn’t been a single resident of The Villages in the hospital for COVID-19 for about a week. At one point, the infection rate in The Villages was so low that state officials were worried that they were missing something. “So I got the University of Florida to do a study,” he says. “They did 1,200 asymptomatic seniors at The Villages, and not one of them came back positive, which was really incredible.”

So how did DeSantis go about responding to the epidemic? It began with the data, and trying to learn the lessons of other countries.

The “Red” states’ approaches (and to be fair, California’s) spared their states the carnage that befell New York’s nursing homes (and Minnesota’s, as well); a dispassionate, scientific approach to the data (as opposed to the governor’s desired conclusions, as in Minnesota) led them to protect their most vulnerable – in stark contrast to the policies of New York’s governor (and increasingly, Minnesota’s).

I’ve been calling this response “Blue Fragility” – the tendency of our society’s “gatekeepers” to lash out in anger and frustration at the realization that their version of “science” is as much about browbeating and logrolling people into submission as it is about systematic inquiry leading to knowledge. It helps deflect away from several fairly inescapable conclusions one might get from observing this pandemic:

  1. High density “blue city” urban lifestyles – like the Met Council is mandating in the Twin Cities – are not “resilient” against pandemics. High density living, transit-centered lifestyles, open plan offices, bars and restaurants are all hotbeds of contagion in a way that, at least anecdotally, lower-density areas – even as in Los Angeles as compared to New York – just don’t.
  2. When you mix science and politics, you don’t get scientific politics. You get politicized science – better known as “propaganda” and “logrolling”.

Blue Fragility is causing some shutdown proponents to “kill the messenger”; I had a prominent Saint Paul political operative tell me “small towns are going to get the s**t kicked out of them”, with an almost evangelical glee, like he was looking forward to watching all those MAGA-hatted bitter clingers’ suffereing.

And it prompts people to deflect away from the success story to, frankly, “dog bites dog” stories like this – where a “covid denier” who is quite visibly high risk of contracting the disease…contracts the disease. Surprise, surprise.

It’s easier to mock and taunt one’s opponent than engage them – when that’s all you’ve got.

52 thoughts on “Blue Fragility, Part VI: Lysenkoism Vs. Actual Science!

  1. It was serious enough that senators were dumping stocks back in January. If he bothered to read or hear the daily intel brief he’s supposed to be paying attention to, he knew. And since he knew, his entire reaction has been about minimizing the public image problem.

  2. Trump finally got into a situation that he can’t lie himself out of. This is serious business and should have been treated that way from the beginning.

    It was serious enough that senators were dumping stocks back in January. If Trump has bothered to read or hear the daily intel brief he’s supposed to be paying attention to, he knew. And since he knew, his entire reaction has been about minimizing the public image problem.

  3. Only slightly off topic: I got a call from the office of my Internist, whom I like and respect and hold blameless for what his Overlords at M Fairview have ordered. Namely, that my routine 3 month hypertension followup visit is being postponed and I need to reschedule. Apparently they aren’t doing phone or video visits either. It begs the question of what are they doing, since my having hypertension and being over 65 puts me at higher risk for Covid complications. I suspect I am one of many in the same boat. Being an OCD retired physician means I manage my own medications and do daily BP checks, so I’m not freaking out. What about Bob, retired blue collar guy with hypertension, high cholesterol, type II diabetes? Is he getting pushed back as well? More unintended consequences of the shutdown. Doctors aren’t allowed to practice medicine. This really is a good introduction to state-run health care, if anybody is paying attention.

  4. SC tourist venues (Myrtle Beach), public museums (SC Confederate museum in Columbia), and all public beaches are open for business.

    NY mayor DeBlasio has threatened to erect chain link fences to keep his degenerate citizens off the city’s shithole beaches. I endorse that and would like to encourage him to spot gun towers every 20′ or so along it….maybe lay some AP mines.

    The wife and I are riding down to Savannah with a few friends; promised her dinner at the Olde Pink House.

    Y’all have a great Memorial day weekend, and make sure to open those basement windows wide before firing up the grill, OK?

    There’s no room in the hospital to treat you for smoke inhalation or CO2 poisoning, so you’ll go straight into refrigeration, and they’re trying to keep that cleared out for bat flu victims, too.

  5. Golfdoc – aside from not being named Bob, I’m the guy you’re wondering about. Anecdotal evidence:

    My family practice doctor is at Health Partners, because that’s where my employer’s insurance comes from. My quarterly diabetes management checkup was scheduled for mid-April. Health Partners reached out to me to change the in-person appointment to video or telephone. I decided to skip it altogether because my A1C came back in the usual range (normal for me) so I didn’t need to waste the doctor’s time telling me to watch what I eat, exercise more, and continue taking my pills.

    You need different insurance.

  6. It is looking more and more that the lock down of healthy individuals was based on bad science and bad economics and bad politics.
    Take common sense precautions. Protect at-risk populations. It really is that simple.

  7. For most people, MP, common sense is neither.

    Hat tip to Steve W who I know lurker-reads this blog.

  8. JD: I’m happy Health Partners is doing the right thing. I have straight Medicare, so I can go anywhere. I like my doctor and am not in a hurry to change unless his Overlords continue to block his practice.

  9. Say, D_K?

    I had a pimento cheese and baloney sammich for lunch. Ever have pimento cheese, Dimwit? You should try it; pimento cheese is real tasty. You can get some pimento cheese at Cub foods, probably.

  10. Trump was asleep at the wheel. Next, he ignored damaging reports and played “cheerleader” to downplay the dangers of the Coronavirus pandemic.

    For political purposes, Trump continued to listen to his economic advisors instead of medical experts until the virus was widespread.

    Trump was completely unprepared and unfit to handle this national emergency. Who knew?

  11. Say, Dimwit? Ya think Drumpf likes pimento cheese? I bet he does, what do you think?

  12. It occurs to me . . . we were confidently assured that we had only 10 years to stop global warming before it killed us all. The computer models were clear. The science was settled.

    But now that the entire world is shut down and using less carbon, shouldn’t we get a few months back on the Global Warming Doomsday Clock?

    And if the problem before was too many people using too much energy creating too much carbon dioxide, then Covid killing off a few million of them is also a step in the right direction, towards reducing carbon emissions. We should get another couple of months for that, too?

  13. Joe, every person not wearing a maskie is calling the reprobates damned liars.

    This is just Fries way of humbling the outstate Drumfsters that harsh his buzz every day. He’s had it up to here!

  14. It’s all about humiliating people. As Dalrymple wrote regarding Political Correctness:
    >i>In my study of c0mmunist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of c0mmunist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

  15. And yet, Emery, as this article points out, a few of your preferred leaders, are now guilty of murder, because they didn’t take this pandemic seriously enough to protect the most vulnerable. Now, we have 200 DOCTORS, not arm chair basement dwellers like you, telling the truth; this shut down will do more harm than good. And you and your ilk are the ones telling us how Republicans want grandma to die. But keep repeating your meme. We already know that you passed insanity long ago.

  16. In the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Army rounds everyone up that had gathered at the Devils Tower (landing site).

    They tell everyone there’s been a chem leak, and they gotta go. They even killed some cows and horses and laid them out for effect. Everyone gets a maskie for protection from the chem cloud and jumps into the Army truck.

    Of course there was a couple of MAGA types; tore their maskies off, jump out of the truck and went to aliens dance party.

    This is exactly the same script.

  17. jdm, you keep reading Takimag and Agent Friendly is gonna come visit you. It’s a big red Wrongthink flag.

  18. Sorry about my response… I was responding to the Mpls mask declaration and I didn’t pay enough attention to the HTML commands.

  19. Does Dalrymple write for Taki? I didn’t know – or forgot; the quote is quite old.

  20. jdm,

    Anthony Malcolm Daniels, aka Theodore Dalrymple writes for Taki now. Maybe other places too, I am not sure. He used to write for City Journal.

    I was and continue to be a YUGE fan of his.

    BTW: Your quote was spot on.

  21. So far we have taken a social engineering approach to Covid. Could it be that a civil engineering approach would be more effective?

    The question is no longer who is getting sick – but where.

    Yes, hospital staff is getting sick – but they are in close contact with Covid patients – however, you don’t read about hundreds of people on the floor above or below becoming infected with Covid. That is because hospitals are designed and engineered to prevent passing disease. Every aspect of them is carefully selected to this end – from HVAC system to the floor tiles.

    But Covid is rampant in nursing homes. Why? Because hospitals and nursing homes are not designed the same. When a Covid patient is placed in a nursing home, the disease spreads through systems not designed to handle it.

    Same with packing plants.

    And urban transit.

    And legacy high rises in place like New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Minneapolis where black folks and hispanic folks and people without the means (or inclination) to move to newer construction live.

    Which accounts for the racial disparities that the Strib and NYT wring their hands over.

    When is the last time you heard of a Covid outbreak on a beach or a park or a ball field. Yet we shut them down.

    Our governor is blinded by a model that is built on social interaction principles – but this is more of a “room” problem than a people proximity problem.

    Until this goes away, it might be wise to avoid theaters and event venues and I wonder about bars and restaurants when the flappers on the HVAC systems snap shut in hot weather and we all start inhaling what the next fool exhales.

    But “No more than 10 people in a cathedral built to seat 3,000” or “No more than 50 in parking lot that holds four hundred cars?”


    If the current Model 3.0 can’t address these issues – how about we find one that does?

  22. In case you heard yet, the new OS (13) for Apple devices will have a convenient app that allegedly can monitor where you are and whether or not you are wearing a mask. If you are not, it is designed to narc you out to the nearest Gestapo office.
    Also, Dr. Fear Fauci is pushing hard on the news about a second wave, claiming that another shut down is not out of the question.

  23. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 05.21.20 : The Other McCain

  24. The US model is herd immunity — the people who matter have decided it — there is no point in screaming from the roof every single day.

    History will say whether this was the right or the wrong choice, but the dice is now rolled….there is no turning back.

    Each state operates according to its own rules and objectives, in the same way as each state — except for those who decided to cooperate — bids to buy essential equipment to deal with the pandemic. A president with a clear and widely supported plan would have unified all fifty states.

    Trump’s #1 objective is to win the November election and everything he says and does is focused on that, depending on his instinct of the moment.

  25. Also, Dr. Fear Fauci is pushing hard on the news about a second wave, claiming that another shut down is not out of the question.
    That’s not a decision Fauci gets to make.
    The American people get to decide.
    The courts are already tossing out governors’ edicts right and left.

  26. DJT, elected president of the USA;

    President Donald Trump said “we are not closing our country” if the U.S. is hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections.
    “People say that’s a very distinct possibility, it’s standard,” Trump said when asked about a second wave during a tour of a Ford factory in Michigan.
    “We are going to put out the fires. We’re not going to close the country,” Trump said. “We can put out the fires. Whether it is an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we are not closing our country.”

    Despite what Fauci says, I don’t think we are going to shut down the country again. It has been an unmitigated disaster, with curtailed civil liberties and a crushed economy, with the lowest paid workers hurt the most. And it distracted government from protecting our at-risk population of frail senior citizens.

  27. “A president with a clear and widely supported plan would have unified all fifty states.”
    This is a tautology. Your TDS has taken its toll on your ability to reason, Emery.

  28. With a little luck Trump can soon celebrate DOW 25,000 for the fourth time….

  29. Woolly says: “President Donald Trump said “we are not closing our country” if the U.S. is hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections”

    What’s the point of this story? We already know Trump does not have the authority to close anything and it’s all up to state governors.

  30. Say D_K?

    Did you know that yellow snow is proof that cow farts are melting the Sun? It’s true.

    Eat it, and you will store up vitamin D and Drumpf won’t.

  31. Hey Emery;
    Once again, your absolute ignorance shows through.

    By EVERY state and U.S. Territory signing on to the virus disaster declaration to get free government money, they gave Trump the authority to do whatever he wants. But, he’s too smart to give brain dead haters like you the satisfaction of bashing him for being a dictator. You know, Hillsdale College has a free online course on the U.S. Constitution. You should take it. Really! You can take it from your basement bunker and won’t have to go outside a be exposed to the big bad virus.
    One other point that you missed (to NO ONE’S surprise), was why those doctors urged President Trump to open the country. That is that we need the herd immunity. By shutting ourselves inside, we are making ourselves more vulnerable to everything, not just the fake virus. But, hey. Stay in your bunker and spew your mindless blather. You obviously haven’t recognized that you are a victim of your own stupidity!

  32. The progs are busily going about using fear of contagion to turn the public into obedient Eloi, ready to herd themselves as directed to be harvested for the Morlocks’ dinner plates.

  33. BH429: I think more to the point Trump’s saying next time the states are REALLY on their own and if they thought getting supplies this time was tough…

  34. Getting supplies has not been tough for the states, because the strain the coronavirus placed on the medical system was grossly mis-modeled by experts who did not know what they were doing.
    Hospitals are closing and doctors and nurses are being laid off. That is what mismanagement at the state level looks like.

  35. Say, D_K?

    The results from your IQ test came back; they were negative. Congratulations dimwit.

  36. “I tested very positively in another sense, I tested positively toward negative, right? So no, I tested perfectly this morning. Meaning I tested negative. But that’s a way of saying it. Positively toward the negative.” ~ Donald Trump

    The way he freezes up like windows 95 when the hydroxychloroquine hits. Now do per capitas! Do one for each of us! 😂

  37. D_K compares his negative IQ test with Drumpf’s absence of bat flu.

    I endorse this, and encourage as deep a dive into the subject as a semi-moron IQ will support the project.

  38. The test cross tabs suggested that if D_K’s IQ slips much further, he will require twice weekly watering.

  39. I was wondering how many jabs the little weasel was going to try and get in before someone pointed out Aklo’s admission.

  40. Dear Mr Trump, fire your team and stay the course. These guys know nothing, trust your instincts. The Nation loves you. Everyone will vote for you because you are doing a fantastic job. Please make your press conferences more frequent and longer and give us more ideas on how to fight the “virus”.

    Part of the reason Trump is doing so badly is that people see him and listen to what he says. The more the public sees him, the more they realize he can’t do this job.

  41. I’ll see your Forbes Gallop poll and raise you an aggregate of all polls from 538.

    How Popular is Donald Trump?
    An updating calculation of the president’s approval rating, accounting for each poll’s quality, recency, sample size and partisan lean.

    53.4% disprove
    42.9% approve

    We seem to be reaching the Jonestown phase of Trump’s base. I kinda want Trump to take up drinking, just for the last month of the campaign.

  42. Say, D_K?
    Didn’t 538 project a big win for Memaw Clinton? She pulled the trigger on that big fireworks outlay based on that. Those guys are really good at their job aren’t they.

    You should make reporting their daily hot takes part of your routine; they’ll make you look really, really smart.

  43. Yesterday the nightly business report on NPR closed with a quote from John Kenneth Galbraith. Paraphrase; “Economic forecasters exist to make astrologers look credible.”

    I would apply that to all forecasters, except for the weather forecast for this afternoon. Maybe.

  44. We all stand in awe of your big, galaxy brain observations, Dimwit.

    Been locking in some gains to finance next year’s Birkie?

  45. “Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money. After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities — that is, continuing to speculate in companies that have gigantic valuations relative to the cash they are likely to generate in the future — will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice. But they nevertheless hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. Therefore, the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There’s a problem, though: They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.”

    One of my favorite quotes from Warren Buffet

  46. Dimwit D_K is like a corrupted Chrome app. He has 10 browser tabs open; 9 are frozen and he has no clue where the music is coming from.

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