“Science”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

New CDC guidelines on masks.  We’re told it’s necessary because we must follow the SCIENCE.  Let’s review how we got here:

In March of 2020, when the Covid panic really took hold, there weren’t enough test kits specific for Covid.  States were told to count all deaths from respiratory illness (pneumonia, influenza, emphysema) as Covid deaths even without a test.  And Congress passed the CARES act, which gave hospital administrators a financial incentive to over-count Covid cases to receive the 20% higher reimbursement rate.  The number of deaths attributed to Covid shot up, giving rise to fears of a Surge which would overwhelm hospitals and morgues.  It never arrived.  The refrigerated warehouse sits empty.

House arrest, mask mandate and social distancing were imposed by Governor Walz with vague references to “science” but no scientific studies were cited to support the measures.  The Peacetime Emergency remains in effect.  Governor Walz retains the authority to ‘adjust the dials’ governing every aspect of life, at whim.

In July, the FTC approved RT-PCR test kits.  Reported case numbers skyrocketed as more people tested positive but hospital admissions for confirmed cases of Covid did not.  Instead, the graph of Covid resembled the graph of seasonal influenza – peaks in winter, gone in summer.  The national charts of Covid cases versus mask mandates show mask mandates made no difference to Covid cases.

By the election, President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed had delivered results but mask mandates, social distancing and lock-downs remained in place as case numbers rose (following the same graph as seasonal influenza).  Thanksgiving was cancelled. Christmas was moved outdoors.  No studies were provided to support the orders. In December, the FDA issued emergency approval of Covid vaccines.  It also withdrew its request for emergency approval of the RT-PCR test which some critics had said resulted inover-counting of cases to artificially inflate the numbers to justify extreme measures.

On April 14, 2021, Governor Walz extended his restrictions again but on April 29 he ended many of them.  No new scientific studies were cited to support the change.  Covid case numbers continued to fall, following the pattern of seasonal influenza.

On May 1, 2021, the CDC stopped counting ‘breakthrough’ cases of Covid among vaccinated persons The obvious result is Covid cases are only counted among un-vaccinated persons, which gives rise to claims that the vaccine is working when the truth is we have no numbers to support that claim because we stopped collecting those numbers. 

The change is significant because it makes a year-to-year comparison impossible.  In 2020, millions of Covid cases were reported but was that because there were millions of infected persons or millions of false positives?  In 2021, far fewer Covid cases will be reported but is that because the vaccine works or because we no longer count Covid cases in vaccinated persons, making them the statistical equivalent of false negatives?  And where are the scientific studies which justify mask mandates, social distancing and distance learning?  Where is the SCIENCE?

It’s difficult to make public policy recommendations when the severity of the threat is unknown because the numbers are unreliable but as far as I can tell, the new CDC mask mandates make no sense and are not supported by any scientific justification.  The verifiable evidence supports the conclusion that Covid is a bad flu and should be treated like one – quarantine the sick, liberate the healthy.  The best Covid site on the web is Healthy Skeptic.  This post from last April is a good summary.

Joe Doakes

If only there were a group – in or out of government – devoted to providing Americans (and their policymakers) reliable, unvarnished, unpoliticized information.

But I dream.

Urban Progressive Privilege: My Scientific Research Project

Title: Analyzing the Propensity of Modern Feminists, Progressives and the Media to Overstate Accrued Virtue.

Aim of the Experiment: The aim of the experiment is to test whether there is any activity approved of by “Big Left” that a woman can do, that will not be turned into a example of supreme personal moral virtue.

Hypothesis: It is predicted that, provided the activity is one promoted by “Big Left”, that there is no activity a woman can carry out that will not be referred to as “Brave”, “Courageous”, “Fierce” or other such superlatives.

Background Theory: It is believed that the rhetorical “Bar” for an action to be considered an act of personal moral courage, when the action is:

  • Congruent with the values of modern political and social “progressives”, and
  • Performed by a woman

…has dropped to the point of nearly being indistinguishable from any normal activity.

Methodology: The research team:

  1. Observed an extensive list of actions
  2. We specifically looked for examples of morally unremarkable, mundane, even counterproductive activities not being referred to in morally superlative terms
  3. We documented the results.

Results: We found no examples.

Discussion of Results: In comment section

Conclusion: There is literally nothing a woman can do (provided it’s congruent with the values of Big Left) too unremarkable, mundane or even destructive that won’t be called ‘Brave’.

You Were Warned. Fat Lotta Good It Did.

Politicized “Science” in Public Health is to “Science” as Scientology is to “Science”. .

Case in point: Vaping was a godsend for millions of smokers who wanted to quit smoking tobacco, but couldn’t.

Big Left, riding a wave of prohibitionism driven by (pick one) (or two, or all of them, I don’t know, it may be entirely appropriate):

  • Self-righteous dudgeon, or
  • A pathological hatred of people enjoying themselves, or
  • The aesthetics of putting something in one’s mouth for fun, or
  • A need to control everyone’s behavior

…drove a wave of rules and statutes that treated vape like cigarettes.

And the “unintended” consequences?

Well, what do you think?

When San Francisco voters overwhelmingly approved a 2018 ballot measure banning the sale of flavored tobacco products — including menthol cigarettes and flavored vape liquids — public health advocates celebrated. After all, tobacco use poses a significant threat to public health and health equity, and flavors are particularly attractive to youth.

But according to a new study from the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), that law may have had the opposite effect. Analyses found that, after the ban’s implementation, high school students’ odds of smoking conventional cigarettes doubled in San Francisco’s school district relative to trends in districts without the ban, even when adjusting for individual demographics and other tobacco policies.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics on May 24, is believed to be the first to assess how complete flavor bans affect youth smoking habits.

“These findings suggest a need for caution,” said Abigail Friedman, the study’s author and an assistant professor of health policy at YSPH. “While neither smoking cigarettes nor vaping nicotine are safe per se, the bulk of current evidence indicates substantially greater harms from smoking, which is responsible for nearly one in five adult deaths annually. Even if it is well-intentioned, a law that increases youth smoking could pose a threat to public health.”

In other words: to “safeguard” people from addiction to a chemical that’s about as dangerous as caffeine, they drove people from a delivery system with minimal, largely edge-case dangers, to one that literally involves drawing concentrated air pollution into the lungs.

It’s almost too obvious to be a Berg’s Law: when you mix science and politics, you don’t get scientific politics; you get politicized science.

New York Bookstores And Suburban Gas Stations

We’re a week past the lifting of the mask mandates. But as Miranda Devine notes in the New York Post, confusion reigns:

This is how confused New Yorkers are about masks. At Barnes & Noble Wednesday, no mask was required to browse the bookshelves, but on the other side of Union Square, the Strand bookstore had mandated masks for all shoppers. Practically everyone inside both stores was wearing a mask, anyway, despite CDC advice that you don’t need one, indoors or outdoors, if you’re vaccinated against COVID-19.

Considering that more than half of Manhattan has been fully vaccinated, something is very wrong with the way we are processing risk. The trust between public health experts and the public is broken and now no one knows what to believe.

Why is that? Devine has a culprit:

We can blame one man above anyone for this parlous state of ­affairs: Saint Anthony Fauci, the coronavirus czar once hailed as the most trusted man in America for his leadership through the pandemic. He has flip-flopped on every piece of advice, never admits doubt and tells lies with ­brazen indifference.

True, Fauci is a dissembler for sure. But the weirdness must be just in places like Manhattan, right? But what are we seeing here in Minnesota? 

Mitch shared a few examples yesterday. Here is what I’ve seen: I get a cup of coffee every morning at a gas station near my home. While I live in Ramsey County, I am not a St. Paul resident and there is no mask mandate for our community. The mask requirement signs are all taken down. But based on what I’ve observed, just about everyone who enters the station, at least in the morning rush, is wearing a mask. I started watching this behavior midweek. In the two days I observed, I saw about 25 people enter the store. Almost all of them were still wearing masks. The only guys who consistently didn’t wear a mask going into the store were the guys delivering milk. And, um, me.

Is there a health benefit to still wearing a mask, especially if you’re vaccinated? Or is it theater? Back to Devine:

It was just on Tuesday that Fauci admitted it was not science but theater that kept him wearing a mask — even double masking — despite being fully vaccinated for ­almost five months.

“I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals,” he told “Good Morning America.” “But being a fully vaccinated person, the chances of my getting infected in an indoor setting is extremely low.”

So it is. But even then, he squirted out more octopus ink:

“I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It’s not,” Fauci told Axios. “It’s an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors.”

And Devine isn’t having it:

Fauci at this point is being deliberately confusing. He is feeding the mental disorder of vaccinated Karens who cling to their masks. He needs to tell them the truth and stick to it.

I agree. And don’t expect Governor Walz to help straighten things out.

 

 

 

V-K Day

Mr. Mask Mandate, he dead:

Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday he’ll sign an order Friday ending Minnesota’s statewide mask-wearing mandate following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance allowing fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks.

Calling it a great day for Minnesota, the governor continued to plead with unvaccinated Minnesotans to get their shots to hold back the spread of COVID-19.

“So those peacetime emergencies are done and the business mitigations are coming to an end. I want to be clear it’s not the end of the pandemic, but it is the end of the pandemic for a lot of vaccinated folks,” he told reporters.

It’s the end of many things, actually — most importantly, it’s the end of Karen Nation enforcement and forcing shopkeepers and restaurateurs into indentured scolding, at least on this particular issue. Walz’s Nurse Ratched, Jan Malcolm, admitted as much:

“When things are no longer a rule or a mandate, they think therefore that everything is safe,” she said, noting that Minnesota still has a relatively high level of COVID-19 spread. “People may translate this guidance meaning that the pandemic is over.”

Malcolm said if it were feasible to keep a mask mandate just for unvaccinated people, “I definitely would have liked to see that. I just think that it’s not practically enforceable at this stage.”

I’ll bet she would have liked that. But apparently there is a limit after all. Maybe you don’t need to laminate the ol’ vaccine card.

The economic and social toll of the lockdowns is incalculable — how many families were separated, how many graduations were canceled, how many businesses were shuttered, how many of our elderly were consigned to death in nursing homes without being able to say goodbye or even have a final hug? Meanwhile, we’ve had the joy of experiencing Walz and his coterie treat our fair state as a protectorate. Now, suddenly, we say Goodbye to All That. The signs will come off the doors as soon as tomorrow, but the reckoning is about to begin.

A Ton Of Prevention Is Worth A Gram Of Cure

Went to Regions to visit a relative who is recovering from a heart attack.  New Covid rules: only one visitor per day.  Not one visitor at a time –  one per day.  If her spouse visits from 10 am – noon, nobody else can visit until 10 the next day when visiting hours start again.

Visitor must wear a mask at all times; must stay in the patient room, use the bathroom there; cannot bring in food or drink but must order from room service and pay by credit card; must leave by 8:00 pm and cannot stay overnight no matter how much the patient begs not to be left alone in the hospital. 

Turns out it’s not only the hospital.  Different relative dying of cancer in a long-term care facility cannot have visitors at all, not even with masks and social distancing.  Might bring in Covid so she spends her days dying alone. 

Covid, you see.  Science.  What am I, a science denier?  Do I want people in the hospital to die? Do I want to kill old people in the nursing home?

Not necessarily.  But heart disease and cancer aren’t the only things that people die from.  People can die of loneliness, too, and from hopelessness. 

Joe Doakes

In the meantime, some facilities have radically different rules. Some long term care facilities are pretty much open (with precaution similar to but less than the ones Jo described in the hospital, above); others, like Joe says, are in full blown lockdown mode.

Science!

From The Archives

Seems like forever ago that Michael Mann published his hockey-stick
graph, Mary Steyn made fun of it in a column for National Review, and
Mann sued for defamation.  The case has lingered for eight years in the
courts, only now entering the ‘discovery’ phase after National Review
was dismissed as a defendant.

Mark Steyn was deposed by Michael Mann’s lawyer.  Steyn uploaded the
transcript here: https://www.steynonline.com/documents/11106.pdf

I suppose reading deposition transcripts isn’t everyone’s cup of tea,
but I found it entertaining.  Your mileage may vary.

Joe Doakes

I can’t imagine those lawyers knew what hit them.

2+2=Road Salt

Got any questions?

Don’t bring ’em to Erin Maye Quade, former MN state representative, 2018 Lieutenant Governor candidate, and (along with former commenter Dog Gone and William Davis) one of the Minnesota DFL’s most imortant intellectual thought leaders.

Because, being a thought leader, she’s got the answers:

So a trans woman, having experienced none of growing up as a bio-female, can not only appropriate a lifetime of bio-female experience, but in so doing scoop up all the scholarships – which, I hasten to add, are what put a lot of working-class bio-girls a shot at a higher education (for what little that seems to be worth these days)?

Seems a little…misogynistic?

My daughter grew up playing basketball in elementary school and junior high with, and against, a bunch of very talented, largely black girls from Frogtown, the Midway and the North End.

Some of these girls, even at 10-13 years old, were already working hard on their games, in hopes of getting scholarships.

I’m dying to see how Ms. Maye Quade would explain to those working-class girls how not only were their scholarships going to bio-boys, but they’d best shut up about it if they ever wanted to do lunch at the Saint Paul Grill again.

I’m just waiting for a bunch of bio-guys who couldn’t quite make the NBA, and are tired of playing in Italy and Poland, to “transition” and dominate the living s**t out of the WNBA and Women’s Soccer.

Boys Will Be Boys Whatever Leadership Says They Are

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

On his very first day in office, President Biden ended Girls’ Sports. From now on, there will be Boys Champions and Boys in Dresses Champions but no girl champions because they’ll be physically unable to compete.

Good! Gives the girls more time to work on sewing and baking cookies and raising babies, being properly ladylike instead of roughhousing tomboys.

Joe Doakes

Why, it’s almost as if every single “progressive“ policy destroys the things that they are ostensibly trying to promote.

Rhetorical Media Questions

It’s rhetorical, because Big Media never actually responds to the plebs.

But is it possible…:

…that there could be a less scientifically literate phrase than “believe in Science?”

How about “Think Critically about the data in front of us, and make an informed decision?”

Nah, that’s just more radical conservative talk.

And I’m Ready…

…for a Senator who knows science is a system of analyzing the world involving healthy skepticism of conventional wisdom and relentless questioning…

…rather than a pseudoreligion used to browbeat people into acquiescence.

Which, if you take her at her word, is apparently what she thinks it is:

All About The Science!

Cornell – the Dollar General of the Ivy League – is requiring students to get vaccinated for Covid when a vaccine is available.

Well, most students:

That is, unless those students are “Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC).” Those students aren’t subject to the same stringent vaccine requirements of their white classmates, and though they are strongly encouraged to get tested and get the flu shot, the university offers them an exemption should they choose not to. The university even describes the requirements foisted on whites as “suspect or even exploitative” to its students of color.

Cornell won’t dispatch racial scientists to check the skin tone of any of these students, or ask for a DNA test. Merely identifying as “BIPOC” is considered grounds for exemption, meaning bonafide crackers like Shaun King or Rachel Dolezal could avoid the shot, were they students at Cornell.

Because apparently one’s stated identity has physiological effects.

We have the dumbest ruling class ever.

Blinding Science

The worst part of this pandemic may be how “science” has been turned from a system for analyzing what we don’t know, into a weapon to logroll people into line behind a conclusion.

It’s not just Karens karen-ing, or @NPRNews claiming there’s a “Team Science”, a consistant, constant body of knowledge and its high priests standing united against the uninformed peasants attacking the metaphorical observatory with pitchforks and torches. That’s bad – but it’s been a problem for a while, now.

Scientists are now adopting social media tactics, and “influencing” “followers” to “cancel” scientists they disagree with.

People are turning science into Scientism – a pseudo-religious, faith-based mass of dogmas combining the worst aspects of revival religion and social media herd mentality.

Denialists!

SCENE: Mitch BERG is waiting for takeout at a near-eastern restaurant on Snelling Avenue when Avery LIBRELLE walks in. Trapped, BERG tries to ignore…er, Avery. To no avail.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Oh, hey, Avery. What’s new…

LIBRELLE: Republicans reject science!

BERG: Is that so?

LIBRELLE: That’s right. You don’t wear masks.

BERG: Huh. So – just to be clear, if you conduct an experiment, and the theory succeeds, and succeeds repeatedly, then it’s an indication that one’s theory is holding up well.

LIBRELLE: Of course. Science is awesome.

BERG: OK. So – theory: defending against ballistic missiles would remove a key area where a hostile foreign power can blackmail the US by threatening millions of American lives. Hypothesis: modern technology makes point defense against incoming missiles not only feasible, but reliable enough to incorporate in foreign and defense policy.

LIBRELLE: Nonsense. It’s impossible. That science was settled back in the 1980s.

BERG: This ain’t the eighties, and the science is settling in the direction of “set ’em up, we can shoot ’em down”.

LIBRELLE: Not only is it impossible to shoot down missiles, but even considering it is destabilizing, actually making a nuclear attack more likely, which would disproportionally affect People of Color, Latinx, gay and transgender people.

BERG: So we’ve gone from science to intersectional sociology.

LIBRELLE: Intersectional sociology is science.

BERG: Huh. And queer gender theory?

LIBRELLE: Science.

BERG: The 1619 Project?

LIBRELLE: Science.

BERG: Vox.com?

LIBRELLE: Scientists, every one of ’em.

BERG: Shooting down missiles using a 50-year-old missile and guidance technology that’s been steadily improving since Jimmy Carter was in office?

LIBRELLE: Pure emotion.

BERG: Gotcha.

LIBRELLE: Hey, could you buy me a gyro?

BERG: When can you pay me back?

LIBRELLE: What do you mean?

BERG: Right.

And SCENE.

Generation Plath

Consider the possibility that humans evolved over millions of years. Consider the possibility that survival traits selected for evolutionary value are different for women than men. Consider the possibility that the most evolutionary successful survival traits for women include the herd instinct, and maternal instincts.

College teaches women to be strong, independent, career-oriented people who have children late in life, if at all. Everything about modern feminist education directly contradicts the millennia of hardwired evolutionary instincts. The endless mental conflict between what society tells you to do and what your instincts tell you to do, is exhausting and depressing.

But that’s all silly, isn’t it? That’s just white privilege and mansplaining and patriarchal oppression. 

Isn’t it?

Joe Doakes

To answer your observation of the contradictions, shut up.

What If We Held A State Of Emergency, And The State Of Nature Didn’t Care?

Hypothesis: neither the lockdown nor the re-opening really affected the course of the pandemic:

TrendMacro, my analytics firm, tallied the cumulative number of reported COVID-19 cases in each state and the District of Columbia as a percentage of population, based on data from state and local health departments aggregated by the Covid Tracking Project. We then compared that with the timing and intensity of the lockdown in each jurisdiction. That is measured not by the mandates put in place by government officials, but rather by observing what people in each jurisdiction actually did, along with their baseline behavior before the lockdowns. This is captured in highly detailed anonymized cellphone tracking data provided by Google and others and tabulated by the University of Maryland’s Transportation Institute into a “Social Distancing Index.”

Measuring from the start of the year to each state’s point of maximum lockdown, which range from April 5 to April 18, it turns out that lockdowns correlated with a greater spread of the virus. States with longer, stricter lockdowns also had larger outbreaks. The five places with the harshest lockdowns — DC, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts — had the heaviest caseloads.

It could be that strict lockdowns were imposed as a response to already severe outbreaks. But the surprising negative correlation, while statistically weak, persists even when excluding states with the heaviest caseloads. And it makes no difference if the analysis includes other potential explanatory factors, such as population density, age, ethnicity, prevalence of nursing homes, general health or temperature. The only factor that seems to make a demonstrable difference is the intensity of mass-transit use.

The whole thing is worth a read and a critical evaluation.

But as this thing progresses, it seems more and more that the public health response was largely political posturing, and that the scientifically supported response was to promote responsible personal behavior (not just wearing masks and washing hands, either – losing weight, quitting smoking, managing diabetes and blood pressure all have outsized importance), aggressively protecting the extremely vulnerable, and investigate treatments (ideally free of politically-motivated interference).

We are in times in which the conservative approach (i.e., science) is pretty radical.

When Reality Imitates Satire

It’s easy to “joke” – especially living as a Republican in places like Saint Paul – that “Mike Judge’s cult classic Idiocracy isn’t a comedy, it’s a documentary”.

But you – we – are not wrong:

And for exactly the reason Judge lampooned…

So why are we supposedly getting dumber?

Previous research has found that women of higher intelligence are having fewer children, meaning women of lower intelligence are driving population growth, according to the study.

Over time, experts say, that would affect the average IQ of a population.

…or “lampooned”, as the case may be.

It’s only funny if you don’t look at the world around you.

Loose

It annoys me when writers are carefree with their words.  As Mark Twain pointed out: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”


This article starts out saying: “So when a crisis of the magnitude of the COVID-19 global pandemic forces restaurants to close, and their revenue drops to zero overnight, things get particularly dire.”

Except it didn’t.  Covid was not the cause, Covid was the excuse.  Restaurants were closed by the government and remain closed to various degrees in various states because of politicians

There is no evidence bar patrons in Wisconsin (wide open) are dying in greater numbers than Minnesota (some controls) or California (total ban).  Same virus, diffferent government, different revenue loss,

Okay, it’s nit picking.  I get that.  But still, blaming your restaurant woes on a virus is a conceptual error.  It’s not the virus’ fault.  It’s the Governor’s fault.  And we must not forget that because there is always an excuse to take away your rights, if we’re willing to let them.

Joe Doakes

Most journalists – including some NPR “science correspondents” – can’t discern cause and effect, or correlation and causation, much less the finer points of science.