Education Reading Update

I’m constructively working through my anxiety by reading. So far, got 3-4 books off John C Wright’s Essential SciFi Library list read or reading, and a good start on my collection of Thomas Shields and Edward Pace writings. Reviewed Shields’ First Book here. Am halfway through his Making and Unmaking of a Dullard, an autobiography of sorts, framed as a Platonic dialogue. Think Symposium, but with early 20th century Progressives instead of Alcibiades and Socrates. In other words, much less fun.

Also, found The Catholic Educational Review, VOLUME XI January- May 1916 on Arhive.org. This is a periodical founded by Pace & Shields which ran for decades. Sigh. I’m going to slog through at least this volume, just to get a feel for it. Finally, have a dead tree copy of Shields’ The Philosophy of Education (1917) in the stacks here, got to fish it out and read it next. Then, I must return to Burn’s The Catholic School System in the United States, which I never finished reviewing. Burns got his PhD from Catholic University in 1906 under Shields and Pace, wrote the definitive history of American Catholic schools, and went on to be president of Notre Dame.

Shields, Pace, and Burns are the big dogs when it comes to Catholic education in America. Until they came along, parochial schooling and Catholic colleges were a bit of a free-for-all. For better and worse, they put some order onto Catholic schooling.

All three appear to me to be American Catholic Millennialists, believing that by application of scientific psychology to Catholic education, America can lead the Church to a perfect, or at least a better without limit, world. They are the foremost representatives of Americanism after the manner of Hecker and Brownson. It is fascinating that Pace and Shields were responsible for the article in the 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia discussing the heresy of Americanism, where the pope’s and many Americans’ concerns that the American Church was being lead into Modernism by its some of its leadership were dismissed as a mere baseless misunderstanding.

Right.

The optimism and faith in progress of these men is all but unbelievable. They are just sure that, by applying modern scientific thinking to education, they can create perfect little American Catholics, who are of course without question the model for Catholics world-wide. Their late 19th century psychology and ideas about science are not an advance on phrenology. Seriously. We’ll get to that in a moment.

A couple notes:

The Catholic Educational Review, VOLUME XI January- May 1916

– A large portion of this volume is devoted to an attack on the Carnegie Foundation’s views of education, as expressed in a recent report the Foundation had issued. The gloves are totally off. I have no real understanding of what the issues are, but I can guess. I’ll write this up when I’m done reading it.

– This raises the endless issue: now, I’ll need to find and read that Carnegie report, right? Sheesh. Everything I read points to multiple other sources that seem essential.

Making and Unmaking of a Dullard

– This dialogue seems to be little more than a gripe session about the interlocutors’ childhoods, in order to provide Shields with the opportunity of expostulating on his frankly silly psychological theories.

– Shields lists 7 ways a dullard, or idiot, or atypical child can be created, but focuses on one, the one to which he attributes his own difficulties in school: Alternating Phases of Development. Here’s how Shields puts it, in answer to the Judge’s request for an explanation:

“A full explanation of this physiological phenomenon, Judge, would involve a treatise on the physiology of the nervous system, but stripped of technicalities the important facts in the case are these. All vital functions are controlled by nerve currents….

“On the other hand, the process of mental development, as indeed all the phenomena of consciousness, rest upon high tension nerve currents in the cerebral cortex. Now, it frequently happens that a boy or girl grows very rapidly for a few years, during which period the physical organism makes such demands upon the nerve energy that the cortical tension is lowered and there is not sufficient nerve energy left to carry on the work of rapid mental development.

“We all know how injurious it is, for example, to indulge in mental work immediately after eating a hearty meal. When food enters the stomach it originates nerve impulses that draw the blood away from the brain for use in the processes of digestion. If brain activity be indulged in at this time, the blood is withdrawn from the viscera and forced into the brain under an increased pressure to furnish the required nerve energy and thus the digestive process is delayed and sometimes the digestive apparatus itself is injured.

“Now, we have a similar conflict going on between mental and physical development. It seldom happens that during childhood and youth the balance is preserved between the growth and development of the body and the growth and development of the mental processes. The extent to which this balance is disturbed and the length of time that each phase continues varies within wide limits.”

“If you exclude the children who have become dullards through any one of the six causes just enumerated, and arrange the children in any third or fourth grade room in accordance with their physical development, you will find them fairly well classified inversely as their mental capacity, that is, the brightest children will be the smallest and the largest children will be the dullest. Here and there puzzling exceptions to this rule will be found, but these are not sufficient to obscure the general truth.

“The eagerness and ambition of the smaller children, coupled with their quickness of movement, indicate high cortical tension. If these children are constantly over stimulated, as frequently happens, their physical development may be retarded for some years. In extreme cases they are to be found among those children whom over-fond mothers are in the habit of regarding as too bright or too good for this world. Less aggravated cases not infrequently result in permanent invalidism. This is particularly true of girls when the period of over stimulation is carried beyond the twelfth or the fourteenth year. If these precocious little ones escape disease and death from over stimulation they will finally reach a time in which the balance swings in the opposite direction and physical development, so long retarded, sets in with unusual rapidity. The ensuing mental phase is characterized by lack of energy which to the uninstructed is pure laziness.

CH V, Alternating Phases of Development

So, quick children need to be slowed down by the expert educationist, so as not to overdo their nerve energy or their cortical tension and thus damage their minds and become invalids. You can see the beginnings of No Child Left Behind here: the solution is to dumb down the bright kids – for their own good – and make sure the slower kids get to catch up. All very scientifiliciously described.

That a kid might grow and learn well if encouraged to follow his own interests is not to be considered. Instead, the bright child is to be frustrated in his desire for learning, on the basis of a half-backed theory that is buzzword-compliant, circa 1910, but has little else to recommend it. As Lewis (I think) put it: say you are going to experiment on children, and everybody is up in arms. But say you’re putting them in an experimental school, and all is good.

– Again, Shields has his interlocutors refer to or quote from contemporary sources that I’ll have to at least look up.

Got a lot more reading to do. Further bulletins are events warrant.

Logic and Just So Stories

The current panic is being fanned with a combination of logic fails and just so stories. Given two or more possible explanations, the most obvious and Occam’s Razor compliant one is dismissed or ignored in favor of another whose only real recommendation is that it keeps the panic going. The number of Just So stories, evidence-free speculations that then become enshrined unchallengeable TRVTH any questioning of which is ‘misinformation’ and brands anyone who talks about it officially as a ‘terrorist,’ grows daily.

Let’s hit a few low points:

  1. Near-Zero Flu cases since March, 2020.

Obvious Occam’s Razor Compliant explanation: Flu infections are being either misdiagnosed as COVID cases, or the patient has both COVID and the flu, and the flu is never tested for. Logic: since in almost all cases, symptomatic COVID has identical symptoms to the common flu – aches, fever, congestion, headache – someone presenting with those symptoms is very likely to get diagnosed with the Coof. In the current panicked circus atmosphere, a doctor is not likely to start with a flu test, and is unlikely to follow up a COVID diagnosis with a flu test. The unique COVID symptoms – sudden acute respiratory distress and loss of taste and smell – seem to appear in only a fairly small percentage of cases.

The Just So Story: Steps taken to stop COVID – masks, lockups, social distancing – are nearly 100% effective against the flu, even if demonstrably ineffective against COVID, such that the flu has been eliminated while COVID still ‘rages’. Logic: somehow, masks, lockups, etc., are very effective against one of two airborne respiratory viruses of exactly the same size and with exactly the same vectors, but utterly ineffective against the other. Further, the unmasked scofflaws have been spared the flu despite being assumed to be a reservoir from which the Coof has continued to spread.

Note: the CDC recently issued guidelines recommending that patients be tested for the flu even if they test positive for COVID, recognizing that a positive COVID test result doesn’t mean the observed symptoms are caused by COVID, which very often has no symptoms at all. It is logical to conclude that the CDC recommendation means flu testing werrte not being done – otherwise, why recommend it?

2. We’ve Been Masking Up for Over a Year, yet the ‘Pandemic’ is Still ‘Raging’

Obvious Occam’s Razor Compliant explanation: Since we’ve been masking up for over a year now, and yet the ‘pandemic’ is still with us, the simplest conclusion to draw is: masks are ineffective against COVID. Logic: All the pre-COVID studies, from 1918 until 2020, that showed that masks are not effective against airborne reparatory viruses, and current experiences, are most simply and logically explained by accepting the findings of these earlier studies. Masks are pointless, from a public health perspective. Fauci was telling the truth when he said people should not mask up.

The Just So Story: Sure, masks didn’t and don’t stop the virus, but things would have been so much worse had we all not masked up! Logic: There is precisely as much direct evidence for this Just So story – zero – as there is for the opposite theory: that not masking up would have made thing no worse and possibly better. Since masking has a cost – there is no free lunch – and is an imposition on people minding their own business, it is incumbent upon those making the claim and imposition to produce convincing evidence that masks work – and there is none. (No, the mere existence of ’70 studies’ doesn’t count as evidence, especially when contradicted by scores of studies done before 2020. Evidence would be a marked reduction in deaths, say, where masks are used, measured in a scientifically valid manner.) The tendency of frightened people to readily accept that which increases their fear and reject that which mitigates it is sufficient explanation for the near-religious belief that masks help against a virus that nonetheless continues to spread despite widespread masking.

Note: Reality rarely conforms to what is discovered in lab studies and predicted by nice theories. We require masks, the story goes, because COVID virions are deadly! If masks work, they are trapping those deadly COVID virions. These virions are then rubbed up against your face wherever the mask touches you, and get all over your hands every time you handle the mask, and get all over whatever surfaces they come in contact with. Therefore, if we believe that masks ‘work’ and are therefore full of deadly COVID virions, the protocol would be: scrub down and glove up before putting on, taking off, or touching the mask; scrub your face and anywhere else the mask touched, dispose of any used masks as the hazardous material they are by definition, and never, ever stuff one in your pocket, throw one in the trash, or toss one in the car. Also, masks should be changed every hour or so, hands gloved, scrubbed up, while touching nothing, then scrub up again afterwards, and put everything that came in contact with the mask – gloves, cleaning materials – in hazardous disposal. No one does this because no one truly believes masks work, that COVID is dangerous, or both. They believe it is important to conform.

3. We Must Get Vaccinated AND Keep Locked Up and Masked Up

Obvious Occam’s Razor Compliant explanation: If any of these measures, singly or in any combination, worked as any sane person understands ‘working’, the ‘pandemic’ would have ended long ago. A ‘vaccine’ that doesn’t keep you from getting sick and doesn’t keep you from spreading the virus simply doesn’t work. Therefore, the vaccine – and the lockups and masks – simply don’t work if the ‘pandemic’ is still ‘raging.’ Logic: If we are to introduce the concept of risk reduction, then we must consider ALL risks, not just risks specific to COVID. When we do that, we discover that vaccines, even if they are considered completely safe and completely effective, reduce overall risk for people under 50 by all but immeasurable tiny amounts. For children, it is utterly ridiculous – kids under 18 are at microscopic risk from COVID (about 400 total attributed deaths over 18 months on a population of 65 million kids. And those attributions are highly questionable) that any risk whatsoever from the vaccine – and no drug is ‘completely safe’, aspirin has killed people – is unacceptable. Hey, teacher – leaves those kids alone! If old people want the vaccine, sure, feel free. Making people take the jab if they don’t want to is outrageous, given the tiny reduction in overall risk.

The Just So Story: If everybody gets vaccinated, we reduce the overall risk from COVID by a significant amount. Sure, vaccinated individuals will still get get sick and even die, and still spread the disease, but by reducing the frequency and severity of infections, we improve the overall situation. Refusing to get vaccinated isn’t just putting yourself at risk, but putting the entire population at risk. Anyone who refuses to get vaccinated is a threat to this overall strategy, and must be ostracized, kept out of restaurants and bars, and will be labeled a ‘terrorist’ so as to be designated for further steps as needed, up to an including incarceration in a quarantine camp. Individual rights mean nothing in the face of the existential threat of COVID. Note here the casual totalitarianism of these claims – one is labeled a terrorist if one questions any part of this imminently questionable Just So Story. Yet – NONE of the underlying assertions is supported by EVIDENCE. Is asymptomatic transfer a serious problem? There is no evidence it is, and plenty of evidence it isn’t. Meaning: if I’m not sick, I pose no material risk to anyone else, even if I’m a ‘case’ of COVID. Therefore, if I simply stay away from people when I’m sick, I provide as much protection to everyone else as if I were vaccinated, even assuming in the face of all evidence, that the vaccines are both effective and harmless. (To be clear: what the evidence so far suggests is: these experimental drugs are somewhat effective for some limited time, and are mostly safe, for most people, at least over the short haul. They’re hardly a silver bullet.)

Note: The underlying ‘problem’ here for the pro-mandatory-vax crowd is the lack of dead bodies. Seriously, if people were in fact dropping like flies, such that everybody knew multiple otherwise healthy people who had died of COVID, then you’d have very little trouble selling people on all kinds of steps to prevent it. But they’re not. I am one of millions of people who personally know NOT A SINLGE person who has died of COVID. I know 1 person – an 87 year old friend from church – who was hospitalized, and she recovered in a couple days. The fact is, almost nobody knows any otherwise healthy people who have thus died. if they know anyone, it’s almost certainly someone who was elderly, sickly, or, most commonly, both. I have friends who have hardly stepped out of their home for 18 months because 3 elderly, sickly relatives of theirs, who could have dropped dead at any moment without surprising anyone, COVID or not, had deaths, as the CDC puts it, ‘involving’ COVID. These poor souls are incapable of admitting the obvious: COVID, if it did anything at all, merely accelerated the deaths of their relatives, and not by much. They weren’t living another decade no matter what, and most likely not another year. Harsh, but true. By now, for me personally, dozens of friends, family members, and acquaintances have had COVID. Every single one has completely recovered. Given that just under 1 out of 100 Americans dies every year, this is actually a little surprising. But there it is.

BUT – everyone has also been subjected to endless news stories about tragic deaths. There are always going to be tragic deaths. The only real question is: are there more tragic deaths than usual? The answer, looking at the numbers, is no, there are not. It’s called ‘life’ and life isn’t fair or kind.

Smorgas-bored

Got all these posts to write, from serious – more analysis of the current panic – to fun – review of Galactic Patrol the latest book I’ve read off John C. Wright’s essential scifi list. But that gets to be work, sometimes. So, instead, let’s fire up the flotsam randomizer, and see what floats by:

A. If anyone says ‘the world has too many people’ anywhere other than on their own suicide note, such a one is a murderous bigot.

B. Space Alien Footstep? Look at this:

The dappled lighting made this hard to see, so I put a red border around it.

This (hard to see in the picture, not hard in real life) is a near-perfect rectangle of dead grass in the backyard. It appeared a week or so ago. It’s about the size and shape of a cooler, maybe slightly bigger.

So – what? I can’t remember puttying anything on the lawn, let alone anything that would kill the grass. Nobody else here can, either. The unnaturally exact rectangular-ness makes natural explanations seem far-fetched….

Weird.

C. This deserves at least a dedicated post – Edward Feser’s latest, Ioannidis on the politicization of science, which begins with a link to a 2005 Ioannidis paper, Why Most Published Research Findings Are False Regular readers here know I’m saying ‘duh’ right about now. It seems that Ioannidis’ paper was well-received, back in 2005, in the sense that many scientists acknowledged its obvious truth. I trust you see what’s coming next: Ioannidis recently published another paper, applying his logic from the 2005 paper to COVID studies. As Feser says: ” In a new essay at The Tablet, Ioannidis reflects on the damage that has been done to the norms of scientific research as politics has corrupted it during the pandemic.”

These observations were not as well received.

I started a long response to Dr. Feser, which I may still complete, simply noting the observation that was the genesis of this blog – that, for the most part, one does not need to be a scientist to spot the errors in most papers, that logic, a basic knowledge of the history of science, and, most important, a fairly basic understanding of how science really works – what science can and cannot do – is sufficient to judge most claims made in the name of science. It’s not like it takes genius or a PhD to note, for example, that ‘cases’ are a moving target over time and space, with definitions and data gathering protocols being wildly inconsistent, such that any comparisons of one time with another, or one place or another, needs A LOT of ‘splaining – just assuming a change in the reported numbers reflects increases of infection purely is irresponsible, to say the least.

(Aside: you can separate out the posers at this point – they are the people who will say I’m nit-picking here. To such people, all technical criticism of methodology will appear as nit-picking, yet any knowledge of science history will show that such ‘nit-picking’ is how science works, when it does work.)

Good stuff.

D. Just one thing about E. E. Smith’s Galactic Patrol prior to the full write-up: you can spot a dozen Star Trek episodes and most of Star Wars right there, in a book written in the 1930s. Jedis, way cool mind powers, Hero’s Journey, evil empire, fight to the death. It might be faster to list what’s missing: Dark Father doesn’t get redeemed or even exist; the love interest is not the hero’s sister, and Chewbacca is played by a dragon and Yoda by a disembodied brain. With way-cool Jedi mind powers. Stay tuned.

Pictures, Visualizations, Graphs

Pictures are said to be worth a thousand words.

Maybe. Consider Euclid, Book I, Proposition 16:

In any triangle, if one of the sides is produced, then the exterior angle is greater than either of the interior and opposite angles.

Diagram found here

Euclid is a language unto itself. The words are part of the language, but few people, it seems, can understand the words without the diagram, even if they only picture the diagram in their heads. I know I can’t – I immediately construct the picture in my mind, at the very least. Once you’ve got the picture, then the words help you walk through the proof.

But the picture itself doesn’t tell you what you are to prove from it. Those 2 dozen words in italics that describe what the picture is for do that. This picture might be worth a thousand words, but those thousand words don’t include what the picture means.

I’ve mentioned before how I was epically terrible at Greek, back in collage, yet epically great at Euclid. It’s just a knack, and I’ve done little with it, but I was that annoying kid who could just read the proposition, look at the diagram, and, 9 times out of 10, produce the proof without having to look at the text. Other people could glance at the rules for forming verbs in Greek, and just get them, while they were a plate of spaghetti to me. Just one of those things.

I watched the other students struggle their way through Euclid. I never had that experience, the glory, even, that some people had when the brilliant truth of Euclid’s modest claims broke through – but it was beautiful. Some kids had very limited ideas of what was true, and seeing how the logic of a Euclidian proof compels agreement was the dawn of a new world to them. I think I had a similar experience in 4th grade, when I first understood how the hard sciences can prove something true. Given a set of assumptions and definitions and the rules of logic, a really well-constructed experiment can really prove something, within, of course, the limitations of the observations and definitions.

But I digress. The point here: diagrams don’t speak for themselves You have to speak their language to understand them, and sometimes need many additional words of explanation. One more point: practice makes perfect. If you, like a St. John’s freshman, are working through Euclid pretty much every day, you start to get the hang of how he works, so that each successive proposition tends to make sense more quickly and easily than the last. (This is offset by the generally increasing complexity of the propositions, but you get the drift.)

I write all this to explain to myself how it is that diagrams such as the one below don’t seem to impress people:

So let’s spell it out:

  1. This chart displays deaths by age band by week per 100,000 people in that age group.
  2. The order of the lines on the graph are the inverse of the order of the ages in the list to the right. That is, the bottom group in the list is the top line in the chart, and visa versa.
  3. The y-axis scale peaks at 50 deaths per week, which the line for weekly deaths in the 75+ Years group slightly exceeds at a couple of points. This means that a little more than 50 age 75+ people per 100,000 died over a week a couple of times.
  4. Conversely, at no point are any deaths per 100,000 of those under 40 evident. Given the scale, where 1 death per week is noticeable as a slight bump, this means that, at most, something well under 1 death per week per 100,000 occurred for those under 40.
  5. For those under 50, the peak weeks might be as high as 1 per 100,000 at a couple of points. Since the under 40 are invisible at this scale, if you add them all together to get a weekly deaths per 100,000 for all those under 50, your total weekly deaths per 100,000 over the 7 age groupings added together reaches a max of about 1 at two points over the last 18 months.

But what does this all mean? It means, first, deaths among the elderly have been high, and deaths among those under 50 have been low, with deaths among those between 50 and 75 being measurable but much lower than those 75 and over. For those under 40, deaths per week doesn’t even register at this scale.

One more piece of information not presented here is the age distribution across the population. That’s not the point of this diagram, which is expressly concerned with deaths per 100,000. But to get your arms around what this means in terms of total deaths, you’d also need to consider how many people fall into the various categories.

Here’s a 2019 distribution from the Kaiser Foundation:

(aside: I can never seem to find population distributions by age expressed with the same age banding that the CDC uses. I’ve wasted time backing into the numbers, but it just seems odd that the data is most generally presented with wide age bands that one cannot easily change. So this is going to be sloppier than I’d like, but I think the point will still be clear. End gripe.)

The US population is estimated at about 332M. Almost a quarter of that population, or about 78 million people, are under age 18. Last I checked, about a week ago, 380 Americans under 18 – children – had deaths ‘involving’ COVID (that’s the CDC’s language, not mine). As Briggs points out, that’s less than half as many children as died of pneumonia over the same period. And before you go there, recall that pneumonia also can have lingering or permanent effects on those who survive it.

On the other end, 16.5% are over 65, or about 55 million Americans. Backing into the numbers on the chart above, at the two peaks in April 2020 and January 2021, it looks like as many as 75 people 65 and older died per week. Multiplying that per 100,000 number by the 550 units of 100,000 in 55 million, you get peak weekly deaths in the 65+ age groups of about 41,000 deaths. Peak weekly deaths ‘involving’ COVID for people 65 and over were about 100 times the TOTAL deaths of children over the entire 18 months of the pandemic.

Therefore, taking these CDC numbers at face value, COVID is a threat to the elderly, and not a threat to children. The overall risk of death for children is not significantly increased by the presence of COVID in the environment. Indeed, the overall risk of death for those under 50 is not meaningfully increased by the presence of COVID in the environment.

This situation was evident, as in screaming from the page, with the very first Imperial College report back in March of 2020. But do you hear about it on the news? No?

Thursday Updates, Including Interaction with the Medical Community

A. Another first for me: replaced two dishwashers. No, I’m not hiring manager for a restaurant. Going on 16 years ago now, we went with two dishwashers in our remodeled kitchen – a good choice, very handy, especially with 5 kids at home at the time. But 16 years is like 90 appliance years – these things were failing in their final cause.

Old units awaiting their fate.

On Monday, I made the drive down to the former Sears Outlet in San Leandro to pick up 2 out of box display models of a couple cheapish but well-rated Whirlpool dishwashers, thus saving about $250 over the best retail prices I could find. Bonus: Worked in a side trip to a TLM in Oakland on the way back. Of course, this means I, at 63 years old, am hauling dishwashers in and out of my minivan. Fortunately, these modern units are very light.

Next up: watch a bunch of YouTube videos on how to install dishwashers. Then, spend a couple hours on my knees and back turning water off, unscrewing, unhooking, unwiring, and sliding old units out, then screwing in, hooking up, plugging in, turning water on, and shoving new units in. Only needed 1 (one) trip to Ace for parts! Ickiest part: a lot of gross stuff, including stuff mysteriously glued to the floor, had accumulated under the old dishwashers over the years. Cleaned it all up, so that, in a decade or so, when the next guy replaces the dishwashers, he’ll have a cleaner floor to look at.

Much better. Need to clean those smudges off the front. The important thing: it cleans dishes real good, and doesn’t leak!

Only difficult part: the drain hose hook up for the unit next to the main sink (the 2nd unit is connected to the rinse sink on the kitchen island) is to an air vent located way to the back behind our oversized sink. No way you can even see it; had to lie on my back and disconnect and reconnect the hoses by feel. Let us pray I did a good job – it will be a pain in the back most literally to fix it if it leaks.

Now to load the old units in the minivan and take them to the appliance disposal center, where, last time, it was about $25 a pop for them to take the junkers off my hands. My dad fu is strong. 😉

B. School starts again in a couple weeks. I will be teaching a combined History/Lit class to nine 8th and 9th graders this year. From Greece through the Middle Ages. Should be fun, especially since I will not be creating the class plans and assignments from scratch this year, and also since it’s a combined class, not two classes like last year. Maybe 3 total hours of classroom time per week.

C. Pizza! This Saturday, when it is predicted to be 100F outside, we will be holding a pizza party for the third consecutive weekend – younger daughter’s birthday, little brother’s family visit, and now kickoff for the new school year. I invited the Board, students, and their families – at least 25-30 people, could be much higher.

From the top: Margarita, some Frankenstein abomination, and the house special: smoked salmon, goat cheese, and capers on an Alfredo sauce. These were the last 3 coming out of the oven last Friday.

Should be fun. A pizza party ends up taking about 3-4 hours of prep, then 3-4 hours of standing in front of a blazing hot oven. I enjoy it, but it leaves me pretty worn out by the end.

D. Had to go see my doctor, where we eventually got around to discussing my non-vaccinated status. The discussion went nowhere. He was getting pissed by the end. I kept asking for numbers, he’d show me gross numbers, I’d try to explain what they meant, round and round. He’s convinced 600K+ people have died of the Coof; I point out that 2/3rds of that number don’t show up in the total deaths; I’d say his chance of dying if he caught it is about 1 in 50,000 (young healthy male) while he thinks it’s 1.7% – the gross number you get from the John Hopkins report, which includes all the sick, old people – of which he is not.

It was too rushed. That a doctor would confuse the risk of a population for his personal risk is not inspiring. Let’s say 50,000 Americans die of breast cancer each year (making it up) – his chance of dying of breast cancer remains zero (almost) – because he’s not a woman. I assume he understands that. But then to turn around and accept a ridiculous 1.7% fatality rate as applicable to him, when by far the major risk is to elderly, sickly people? I also asked him if 5 to 10 years of children hospitalization data was available, so that we can rationally judge if COVID has in fact measurably increased juvenile hospitalization rates. He ignored it.

Really nice guy, good doctor and all – but, like 99.9% of everybody, doesn’t understand numbers nor science. Facts do not speak for themselves – they require understanding of the factors that fed into them before they can be understood.

42.

ADDENDUM: Another family ‘tradition’: losing the can opener. Sure, we’ve had plenty of standard manual can openers over the years, but is seems we inevitably lose them until we have only one – and then lose that one, until ut turns up someplace we all swear we already looked for it. Most common use: to open cans of evaporated milk, which several of us prefer in our tea.

So, years ago, when one of our can openers broke, we fixed it. Broke again, fixed it again. Finally, the handle was unsalvageable, but the business end was still good, if unuseable. So we threw it in a drawer, because the next time I had the woodworking tools out, I would just make it another handle, and then we’d have *2* openers to lose.

That was years ago. This morning, I noticed the forlorn opener fragment, and said to myself, I did: why not now? So, I found a suitable scrap of walnut, grabbed a saw, a rasp, drills, sander, clamps, and got to work.

At first, it was going to be strictly functional – just get a handle on it that won’t give anybody splinters, through some tung oil on it, call it a day. Buuuuut…

It started looking good. Walnut is beautiful. So, by the time I had got it all fitted up, it was looking pretty cool. So, last step before oiling: glue in the metal part.

After 15 seconds of looking around, I opted for Super Glue – because, you know, there was a tube in the junk drawer. Checked the fit and alignment one more time, then shot some glue into the cavity, applied a little to the plastic sleeve, and started twisting it in…

And the glue instantly set up about halfway in, with the business end at an odd angle. The amount of force it would take to move it would have broken the wood:

Oh, well. We’ll just lose it anyway.

Night of the Long Knives?

If the difference between science, and, indeed, logic, and everyday judgements had to be summed up in one phrase, I’d pick Confirmation Bias. Viewed from the place where we understand that we humans tend to believe what we want to believe, the whole rigmarole of theory => tests => data => conclusions can be seen as an attempt to short circuit our passion for leaping to conclusions. To get to the starting line, we need clear definitions, well-thought-out tests, careful collection of data, and rigorous reasoning. And even that’s not enough, as the history of science shows: we need, desperately, CRITICISM. We will miss something, guaranteed, unless we, the logician, the scientist, at least keep that Good Angel of Criticism in mind, that voice speaking for our opponents and reminding us to think how this is going to look to them. Then, and only then, would the prudent soul throw it out for public criticism.

And put it out there they must! The hallmark of anti-science, of Lysenkoism, is attacks on critics, claims of special esoteric knowledge that magically immunizes your theory from all attacks. Nobody needs to silence their critics if their evidence is strong. Nobody needs official government backing of their position if they’ve made a strong case.

All this came to mind as I read today’s post by Severian. I, in my dark little heart, really, really want there to be a Night of the Long Knives – far from me and mine, of course. This is not only profoundly uncharitable, but raises the issue of confirmation bias: every time I see any of the former golden boys or girls in trouble, such as Cuomo is facing now, I start thinking and – forgive me! – hoping that a whole bunch of people who deserve it are going to get it at the hands of their former ‘friends’. Then, as long as I’ve decided to go there anyway, that the tables then turn, French Revolution style, and that same Committee for Public Safety set for Step One falls into the hands of people who see that its only a matter of time until they’re next in line for the guillotine, and therefor decide that the Cult of Reason wasn’t such a hot idea after all, and anyone associate with that sent to the front of the line. A feeding frenzy results, in which, like the fall of Belbury in That Hideous Strength, Our Betters are murdering each other because they know if they don’t, they’re next. And then they’re next anyway.

Alas! Lewis pens an ending where the only thing left of Our Betters are two smoldering craters where the University and Government Institute used to stand. I’m not sure I can see things working out so neatly here in the real world. Perhaps the most real thing in that whole fairy tale is that Curry, the officious and manipulative don at Edgestow, whose machinations were instrumental in assembling the Progressive Element at the college and welcoming the N.I.C.E to the neighborhood, survives. He puts on a good face, mourning the loss of the College (and the many people there who died!) while imagining his statue standing the the new college quadrangle, as he, the lone survivor, rebuilds Edgestow and is remembered as its second founder. History is full of Richard Richs.

And we should pray for these people and ourselves! Lord, remember your promise of mercy! Do not judge us as our sins deserve. Rather, for Your Name’s sake, forgive us all, especially those most in need of Thy mercy! Send Michael and the Heavenly Host to cast Satan and his minions out of our country, and bind them and cast them into Hell. Grant us the strength to suffer what we must, to Your glory. Your will be done.

Amen.

Coof Insanity Update

Let us summarize the findings of the latest CDC study reviewed in the last blog post:

  1. In July, there were 476 ‘cases’ of the Dreaded Coof in Cape Cod. Cape Cod has a permanent population of 220K, but gets between 1 and 2 million visitors in July.
  2. Deaths: NONE. NADA, Not a one.
  3. Hospitalizations: 5, of whom 3 has multiple preexisting conditions. So, *2* people who were reported as otherwise healthy got sick enough to require hospital level care.
  4. The anti-Coof drugs don’t work: while about 50% of all Americans are have taken the drugs, 74% of the ‘cases’ and 4 out of 5 of the hospitalizations in Cape Cod in July were people who had received the duly approved magical shots.
  5. Of the 476 ‘cases’, 346 showed ‘symptoms’ of COVID. These symptoms are, and I quote: “cough, headache, sore throat, myalgia (aches and pains), and fever.” In other words, these symptoms of COVID 19 are the same as the symptoms for a cold, a flu, overdoing exercise, getting too much sun, bad allergies, having an asthma attack, and on and on. Were these other possible causes controlled for, as science demands? Nope.

Let’s use nice round numbers: say the Cape had 1.78 million visitors this July – certainly within reason, since they get about 6 million visitors per year and July is peak vacation time – to go along with the 220K full time residents, for a tidy total of 2 million people. Could be less, could be more, but this seems reasonable to me, and makes the math easy. Therefore, if you were so reckless as to visit Cape Cod this July:

  1. You ran a 1 in a million chance of getting seriously sick from COVID if you weren’t already seriously sick. *2* such people got sick out of the 2,000,000 people we’re estimating passed through.
  2. You ran no chance of the Coof killing you – nobody died.
  3. Other than that – a few people, a tiny fraction of a percent, got what amounts to a summer cold.

AND – the Vexx don’t work. They don’t stop you from catching the Coof. The Dreaded Delta seems to be more infectious and much, much less dangerous than the ‘Alpha’ version (which wasn’t ever very dangerous anyway).

So what do our [LONG STRING OF EXPLITIVES DELETED] ‘public health’ officials do here, today, in California, supposedly based on this ‘study’? Why MANDATE MASKS INDOORS. Because – oh no! – there was a increase in *CASES* in Cape Cod, once visitors, in their hundreds of thousands, descended upon it in July. The ‘study’ presents no evidence that masking or not had any part in this ‘increase’ in ‘cases’, but just to be ‘safe’ they’ve decided to swaddle us all in bubblewrap and stack us like cordwood in some out of the way place until 2032. Which makes as much sense, and has as much evidence to back it up, as having us mask up again.

The evilest evil part of this: we’re heading into flu season in a month or two. As you may have noticed, miraculously, no one has died of the flu worldwide since March of 2020. Wow. Since the symptoms of the flu and of the Coof ARE THE SAME (see the list from the CDC above) and the flu really, truly does exist, then the absolutely mundane and predictable annual increase in flu infections and deaths, seen every year prior to 2020 for decades, will AGAIN be attributed to COVID. We WILL have a new ‘wave’ of the Kung Flu, even with some deaths, to keep us all terrified and locked down.

There is a special and especially warm place in Hell being prepared for the perpetrators of this evil fraud.

What a Piece of, um, Crap: Another CDC ‘Study’

While in the early days, from March to about June 2020, I read a number of studies and reports regarding the current panic-induced PANDEMIC and lightly followed the ‘news’ – you can check the archives of this blog – since then, for the sake of my own health, I’ve read little. I was concerned about SARS-2 for about 30 minutes, which is how long it took, back in March of last year, to review the claims and the evidence purported to support those claims. Then, I became very concerned – about how the logical conclusions readily apparent even back then were ignored or misrepresented in order to induce panic.

It was clear, back in March, that this virus was a meaningful threat only to the elderly, that using the case fatality rate as if it were the infection fatality rate wildly overstated the risk, and that experiences that reduced panic (the USS Theodore Roosevelt) were ignored while those that could be used to pump up panic (the third world slums of Wuhan) were endlessly touted.

The initial models used to gin up the panic, with predictions of up to 11,000,00- dead Americans unless we we did exactly as told, in my expert opinion as a user and builder of mathematical models for 25 years, were criminally irresponsible crap. Garbage in, garbage out. In a just world, Ferguson would face a firing squad at dawn.

Seeing as the actual evidence was ignored or radically misinterpreted in nearly every case, I lost interest. Facts, evidence, logic clearly didn’t matter. A panic was wanted, and whatever was needed to gin one up was used.

Yet, here we go again: Longtime reader Foxfier linked in a comment to a new CDC ‘study’ wherein – take your pick – dishonest, lying propogandists with a lack of human decency that would make a pimp blush OR mindless, anti-science rabbits without two braincells to call their own and less understanding of science than your local astrologer, have decided that some new ‘cases’ in Barnstable County, Massachusetts require us all to mask up again. The estimable Dr. Briggs offers his usual concise break down. I’m here only to add some background and blow off some steam.

How is this study ridiculous? Let us count the ways.

First, the background information:

  1. the CDC report talks about Barnstable County. Where is that, someone not from New England might ask? It is more commonly called Cap Cod – you know, that quaint little tourist spot about 6 MILLION PEOPLE visit EVERY YEAR. If you called it Cap Cod, there’s a slight chance some people might have that moment of enlightenment, wherein they understand we’re talking about a popular tourist spot and so numbers in the hundreds may not mean much. Barnstable County has about 220,000 permanent residents. So, the numbers the CDC presents must be understood in the context of millions of people. July, the period under consideration in the CDC ‘study’ (I just can’t stomach treating this piece of propaganda as if it were really a study, thus the quotes) is a popular month for vacationing. Maybe 2 million individual people were in Cap Code over July?
  2. Because we’re talking about tourists here, the chances of identifying any particular disease vector are very small. Visitors might have had the bug before they showed up. They rubbed elbows with locals and other tourists everywhere they went. But by emphasizing masks, as the study does, the CDC focuses on one particular vector – one which can be used for future humiliation rituals and compliance testing.

Now to some actual numbers:

  1. The report says 469 ‘cases’ of COVID were reported in July across Cap Cod. Let’s see: if 2 million people passed through during July, that would show an infection rate of – wait for it! – 0.0002345. If you were so reckless – reckless, I tell you! – to have visited Cap Cod in July, you’d have run about a one in 5,000 chance of becoming a ‘case’.
  2. But ‘cases’ in the novel way the CDC uses the term for COVID and no other disease, doesn’t mean anybody got sick. As far as that goes, the CDC says 346 of those 469 ‘cases’ showed any symptoms. Symptoms include “cough, headache, sore throat, myalgia (aches and pains), and fever.” Oooo-kay. Certainly, people who vacation at the beach in the summer never display those symptoms unless from COVID? Never get tired, or too much sun, or overdo the activities? Only COVID, the genius virus, causes those things? Be that as it may, your chances of developing symptoms are 0.000173, or about 1 in 6,000. You also might catch a summer cold – the symptoms are identical.
  3. 5 people required hospitalization. Your chances of requiring hospitalization would have been 0.0000025, or 1 in 400,000.
  4. Your chances of dying of COVID were zero. Nobody died. Nada, even though 3 of the 5 of those hospitalized had underlying health problems.

Since this is exactly the kind of information that would cause RATIONAL PEOPLE TO THROW AWAY THEIR STUPID MASKS AND DANCE A JIG IN THE STREET ON THEIR WAY TO PARTY DOWN, the CDC ‘report’ does not emphasize these numbers. Instead, they – oddly, it seems to me – choose to emphasize that the drugs don’t work. Of the 469 ‘cases’, “Approximately three quarters (346; 74%) of cases occurred in fully vaccinated persons (those who had completed a 2-dose course of mRNA vaccine [Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna] or had received a single dose of Janssen [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine ≥14 days before exposure).”

Available numbers show that about 1/2 of Americans have been injected with anti-coof drugs as of today. If – and this is the kind of big if the CDC generally ignores, which is one way you know it’s a ‘study’ with nothing to do with science – the population on Cap Cod in July was injected at a similar percentage, then getting ‘vaccinated’ raises your chances of getting the coof and of getting hospitalized. Now, of course, it’s quite possible that ‘having gotten vaccinated’ correlates somewhat with ‘elderly, sickly, or both’ and ‘being a terrified little rabbit’. If so, the injections don’t so much increase your chances of getting diagnosed as identify you as the sort of person who’s run to get tested at the first sniffle. The important part: either way, nobody died. Either way, only 2 people who weren’t already very ill got very ill.

The ‘study’ also mentions that many of these infections were of the dreaded Delta Variant – you know, the more infections yet MUCH LESS FATAL version of COVID? The Coof was nothing to worry about for 99.5% of the population before it mutated into the much less virulent Delta form – you know, like viruses strongly tend to do, Darwinian selection pressures being what they are.

“Overall, 274 (79%) vaccinated patients with breakthrough infection were symptomatic. Among five COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized, four were fully vaccinated; no deaths were reported.”

So, we’re done? No vaccines needed – doesn’t improve your chances of avoiding infection, and you’re not going to die or even get very sick if you do get infected. Stripped of its use as panic-mongering propaganda, that’s what this ‘study’ says. So, we’re done now? Right?

This latest CDC report is, sadly, yet another idiot test: if you’re the kind of person who would pass up the $2.00 20 oz bottle of salsa for the 40 oz bottle on sale for $5, then this ‘study’ is for you!

People are buying the sh*t. We are so, so, screwed.

“I am so sick of being right.”

Who could have predicted it? Why, it looks like mask mandates & lockdowns are roaring back! “Cases” of the “Delta Variant” have “surged”! Be afraid, very afraid – of a disease that was never a threat to anyone even moderately healthy, from which over 99.9% of people recover unless they are already dying of something else, and which, after the nature of its kind, has mutated into a more infectious yet much, much less deadly ‘variant’.

Nursing homes, where we in America send most of our sick elderly to die, have been restocked since the last ‘spike’ earlier this year, and so, if necessary, many, many more deaths can be attributed to COVID. Too bad family and friends aren’t allowed into nursing homes to see exactly how far the level of care has fallen, or, indeed, whether grandpa is being cared for at all. Since the presence of any two symptoms of COVID is sufficient for a diagnosis (that’s what the rules say), and those symptoms include aches, a fever, a cough, and trouble breathing, just about any nursing home death can be attributed to the dreaded coof. Virtually anyone who dies of any lingering illness, let alone a a cold or flu that descends into pneumonia as they so often do in the sickly elderly, has two of those symptoms. If desired, the current COVID test can be done – just run it for 40 cycles, and a positive result is all but guaranteed.

GUY I don’t like this… I don’t like this at all…

GWEN Oh, they’re so cute.

GUY Of course they’re cute NOW. But in a second they’re going to turn MEAN and UGLY somehow and then there are going to be a million MORE of them!…

(another blue creature emerges. This one limps, its leg is hurt. It moves forward, dragging its bad foot along the ground)

EVERYONE Awwww….. It’s hurt…

(Gwen rises up a little, tentatively waving at Limpy…)

GWEN Hi!… Hi there little guy…

(Guy pushes her down behind the rock before the creatures notice.)

GUY Jesus, didn’t ANY of you watch the show!?

(The blue creatures turn toward Limpy, and begin whispering in an alien tongue…)

GWEN Aw, look. They’re helping the hurt one…

(suddenly, the aliens smile, revealing horrible sharp teeth. They attack LIMPY, ripping him apart.)

GUY I am SO SICK of being right.

From a fan transcription of Galaxy Quest, the ‘Miners, not minors’ scene
[TMP] "Wargames Factory 'Greys'...PLEASE" Topic

If you are waiting around for some career political hack in a lab coat, some stern-faced politician who owes his office to a totally legitimate and fair election such as have taken place in Chicago over the last 150 years, or some news reader with all the objectivity of a kamikaze to sound the all clear, you will be waiting for a long, long time.

The lockdowns, masks, etc., never had anything to do with the evidence in the real world. No developments in the real world will cause them to stop.

10 Best Joker Quotes From 'The Dark Knight'
“And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

Testing for Real (yes, the d*mn virus)

Aside: I often think that what I write couldn’t possibly need to be said, that anybody who has enough mental horsepower to read what I’m saying couldn’t possibly have missed the point. But then, it often happens to me that hearing somebody else express what should be common knowledge makes it more clear or vivid to me. I assume this is true for others? Anyway, here goes another post on something I find it hard to believe anyone could miss. But I’m an odd duck, with odd blind spots…

A hundred years ago, medicines didn’t get tested – they got tried out on anyone willing to try them. That’s how people in the 1920’s ended up drinking Radithor. A William J. A. Bailey, a Harvard product (although he did drop out, I’ll give him that) manufactured and sold an elixir of distilled water and radium from 1918 to 1928. His biggest fan, the young billionaire socialite and athlete Eben Byers, died in 1932 from what at the time was diagnosed as radium poisoning, but now would be attributed to cancers caused by radiation. As the Wall Street Journal put it: “The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off”.

After that rather gruesome and highly publicized death, the FDA started getting more involved in testing drugs for safety and effectiveness. It took some time to get up to speed. For example, thalidomide was tested in the 1950s and approved for use against a number of diseases, but famously was not tested for effects on unborn children. The result of having it prescribed to pregnant women was over 10,000 thalidomide babies born with severe birth defects.

Thalidomide was introduced in 1956 and was aggressively marketed by the German pharmaceutical company Chemie Grünenthal under the trade name Contergan as a medication for anxietytrouble sleeping, “tension”, and morning sickness.[3][4] It was introduced as a sedative and medication for morning sickness without having been tested on pregnant women.[5] While initially deemed to be safe in pregnancy, concerns regarding birth defects were noted in 1961, and the medication was removed from the market in Europe that year.[3][6]

The Oracle Wikipedia

As a result, in the 1960s another round of tightening of testing requirements went into effect. This process has been refined and tightened ever since. Now, almost 90 years since Radithor, there’s a giant FDA bureaucracy dedicated to making sure any proposed drug goes through a rigorous regimen of testing before being released on the public. In the US, this testing generally lasts about a decade and may cost a $1B.

Super-high level summery: To get FDA approval, a drug must be shown, first, not to excessively harm lab animals; then, to not excessively harm people. It is important to remember that there’s no such thing as completely safe. The FDA’s approval process recognizes this once-common sense understanding of the world: anything can kill you, and what might be safe for you might kill somebody else. Drugs have to be shown not to be too dangerous, since if it were required to prove a drug was completely safe, no new drugs would ever be approved. It’s logically impossible to prove anything completely safe, so reasonably safe is the goal, for some value of reasonably.

Only once proven ‘safe’ is it tested to see if it actually does anything. Once it is shown to be reasonably safe and to do something positive, it gets approved. ‘Something positive’ is, again, a judgement call. No amount of testing can prove cause and effect, but it can prove really high correlation. Antibiotics seem to correlate very well with recovery from certain infections, for example. (Antibiotics also kill or maim some small percentage of users, but the risk has been determined to be worth the benefit.)

This FDA testing process simply must take years. You test your drug on lab animals – and WAIT to see if there are bad effects. You then test it on people – and WAIT again! If you don’t wait, you are simply failing to test mid-term and long-term effects. To repeat: if you don’t test FOR YEARS you simply are NOT TESTING FOR MID-TERM AND LONG TERM PROBLEMS. Then, once you’ve demonstrated an acceptable level of safety, you can test to see if it works. (1)

That’s why Moderna, which has been around for 11 years, had NO, as in ZERO, as in NADA, products on the market prior to getting their COVID drug approved for use – with about 3 months of testing. Because their drug and similar drugs were not tested for mid-term and long-term side effects, drug companies demanded immunity from damages for all side effects – which the government granted to them. You, if you get vaccinated, are agreeing to this – the drug companies cannot be sued for damages if you experience side effects, even if they cripple or kill you. Side effects have not been tested for – given the limited amount of time devoted to testing, they simply cannot have been.

Prior to getting their COVID drug approved on an emergency basis, Moderna had losses of $1.5B, and returned nothing to a lot of high-profile investors, who have $3.5B invested in the company. Now? They made $803M in 2020, which I’m sure they’ve exceeded handily this year already. AND work is well underway to sell the notion of the need for boosters – forever. Similar situations prevail at other ‘vaccine’ makers using the novel, experimental mRNA approach.

Similarly, mid and long term effectiveness simply CANNOT have been tested for. All that it is possible to know is effectiveness over some period of time no longer than the testing period. That – and the economics involved – is why it is now being ‘discovered’ that vaccinated people are going to need booster shots effectively forever. Nice work if you can get it.

The take-aways:

  1. Nothing in this life is ‘safe’. Aspirin kills and cripples people; so do peanuts and shellfish. Drug testing is merely designed to gather data for a cost/benefit analysis. Anyone who tells you something is ‘completely safe’ is lying his hindquarters off.
  2. Drug testing developed over the last 90 years in response to drugs killing and maiming people.
  3. Testing got more and more rigorous as drugs such as thalidomide proved to having terrible effects in some cases.
  4. Current FDA approval for a new drug requires about 10 years and in the neighborhood of a billion dollars worth of testing
  5. If years are not spent testing a drug, it is simply impossible to discover any mid and long term side effects. Drugs that have been tested for a matter of months have unknown mid and long term effects.
  6. Drug companies demanded and got immunity from being sued for any effects from these ‘vaccines’. Drug companies cannot be sued for any bad effects resulting from these drugs.
  7. Long term effectiveness of the drugs is unknown, but is currently being found to be short, as in 4 months or so in some cases.

Still think it’s a good idea to get vaccinated against a disease that, in its current form, harms less than 0.01% of its victims?

  1. Drug companies are highly motivated to find further uses for drugs that have already been approved. They can skip directly to the ‘does something positive’ stage of testing – saving years and hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s why you see, sometimes, drugs approved for use in treating a bewildering array of illnesses. This whole testing routine is also why Big Pharma has been fined many billions of dollars for falsifying results. (note: this list only includes stuff they couldn’t bribe their way out of, reality being what it is.) If the drug doesn’t actually do anything, you’re out a lot of cash and a decade of testing, so tweak a study here, lie through statistics there…
  2. My late oldest sister was a patent chaser for a (since merged out of existence) pharmaceutical company. A patent chaser tries to find any pertinent already-existing patents that might limit the ability of the drug maker to secure their rights and cash in, and also helps write up the new patent applications to avoid stepping on any existing claims. It takes high levels of technical competence in biochemistry and law. My sister was a sharp gal.