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Last night the UK Prime Minister said that those who could not work from home, like those in construction and manufacturing should go to work today, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding public transport if possible. Primary schools may begin reopening in June, as may some shops, and some of the hospitality industry may reopen in July. The advice was conditional: if the reproductive rate goes above 1 (it is estimated to be between 0.5 and 0.9) then these relaxations may have to be reversed.

Bizarrely, in my view, he added: “it will soon be the time… to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air”. If that had been implemented in January the UK would not have had an epidemic. For some reason the argument he gave was that, because good progress had been made in reducing R by shutting down society, it was now appropriate to deal with the supply of the virus and in due course, without any particular urgency, turn off the tap that set the whole country afire.

So, it is not an end to lockdown, nor the beginning of the end, but possibly the end of the beginning.

Lots of ideas are rattling around the country, and it is salutary to note some of them, since we are getting so much history now. Decades when nothing happens, and then days when decades happen.

There is considerable scepticism about the Imperial College model, which is seen as poorly documented, poorly configured in computing terms (bad architecture). There is plain scepticism about the accuracy of any of Prof Ferguson’s predictions, because he has a history of wildly exaggerated death rates. Or that is the claim against him. More likely, each of his simulations involved several predictions: best case, most likely case, worst case and both he and his critics can pick those which best suit their story. What is Prof Ferguson’s Brier score (mean squared difference between predictions and actual outcomes)? How many predictions does he make per simulation? Would he get to super-forecaster levels? At the moment it does not seem likely. Interesting, however, that his predictions are mutative: even if wrong, they have had a big influence on policy, and so alter the outcomes which serve as the test of predictive accuracy.

He did not do well with the foot and mouth outbreak. Long before I took up blogging I wrote to the relevant Ministry to ask for their justification for their slaughter of cow herds, and was fobbed off for months until on the third attempt they sent me what they claimed was their justification: not the work of Ferguson but a calculation by another professor. I contacted him and he replied that his note to the ministry was a back of an envelope calculation, and no basis for any policy at all. Foot and mouth disease does not lead to appreciable drops in animal fitness, and the meat is still fit to eat, so the whole episode remains something of a mystery. I digress.

What should one require of all model simulations on which public policy may be based? At a minimum, it seems essential to have an introductory page giving all the assumptions in plain language, and in a standard agreed format. Then, a second page explaining the basic structure of the computer program. Then, publication of the actual code for inspection and expert testing.

It is extraordinary that one of the most important events in current economic and social history was based on the unexamined workings of a computer model. It appears that politicians believed the numbers because they were printed out by a computer. An accountant friend was once asked to audit a very smart perfume shop in Mayfair, London. It was a palace of marble and chrome, every saleswoman a beauty, and the accounts beautifully printed out by computer, which was novel at that time. He asked himself: If I owned this shop and was trying to steal money, how would I do it? Suspicious, but at a loss where to begin, he spent some days adding up all the entries with his own calculator. The computer totals had been falsified, but very neatly, and they were skimming money out of the business.

Was lockdown a waste of time, because even if it prevented prompt deaths, herd immunity is lowered, leaving us open to a much more dangerous second wave this winter? This is an unpleasant Is it 66% or a far lower figure? If most super-spreaders are already immune, very likely because they were most likely to catch the virus in the first place, then the herd could be safe at a lower threshold. In the UK at least, the picture is still unclear.

On a far brighter note, there is now more clarity about how the infection spreads. As a result of a series of tweets (a chorus of tweets?) Dr Muge Cevik of St Andrews University deserves two medals: one for not having a computer model; the other for looking in detail at 14 studies of close contacts of Covid cases, showing how many infected people go on to infect how many others, and how those rates differ between sustained indoor settings and more casual outdoor ones. Apart from confirming the age gradient in vulnerability, she shows very clearly that sustained exposure in an enclosed space is the greatest vector of infection (houses, offices, public transport). Casual interactions outdoors are far less risky. Looks like droplets, not aerosols, are the main vector. The advice would be: stand apart, wear masks, wash hands, and reconfigure public indoor settings to reduce all respiratory disorders in future.

While the infectious inoculum required for infection is unknown, these studies indicate that close & prolonged contact is required for #COVID19 transmission. The risk is highest in enclosed environments; household, long-term care facilities and public transport.

High infection rates seen in household, friend & family gatherings, transport suggest that closed contacts in congregation is likely the key driver of productive transmission. Casual, short interactions are not the main driver of the epidemic though keep social distancing!

Increased rates of infection seen in enclosed & connected environments is in keeping with high infection rates seen in megacities, deprived areas, shelters. A recent preprint demonstrates that #COVID19 epidemic intensity is strongly shaped by crowding

Although limited, these studies so far indicate that susceptibility to infection increases with age (highest >60y) and growing evidence suggests children are less susceptible, are infrequently responsible for household transmission, are not the main drivers of this epidemic.

Finally, these studies indicate that most transmission is caused by close contact with a symptomatic case, highest risk within first 5d of symptoms. To note: this preprint suggests that most infections are not asymptomatic during infection

In conclusion, contact tracing data is crucial to understand real transmission dynamics. Cautionary note: This data & interpretation is based on the available evidence as of May 4th. Our understanding might change based on community testing/lifting lockdown measures.

Addendum: While we have limited data, similar high risk transmission pattern could be seen in other crowded & connected indoor environments such as crowded office spaces, other workplace environment, packed restaurants/cafes, cramped apartment buildings etc.

Conclusion 2: (a) we need to redesign our living/working spaces & rethink how to provide better, ventilated living/working environment for those who live in deprived & cramped areas; (b) avoid close, sustained contact indoors & in public transport, & maintain personal hygiene.

The probability of getting infected when you are in close contact with an infected person tells us a lot, and puts things into perspective. in household, this risk is about 15-20% (so 1 in 5 chance), but in crowded closed places this can go up to 40% (super spreading events) but casual short interactions are far less risky.

There is further opinion on infectivity here: https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

From Brazil comes a delightful piece of work.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.02.20050773v2

The authors note that, given the fact the virus originated in Wuhan but is now found world-wide, it must have got there by some means. They correlate country levels of infection with the number of airplane flights each country receives, and find that the main explanation is air traffic, which accounts for 45% of the variance. Socio-economic and climatic factors are less powerful. Who would have thought it?

Moral: when an epidemic is in the offing, close down airports, first banning flights from those countries or parts of the country where the infection originated, then to those countries which have air links to the originating country, but best of all, just close airports. Then, once you have all the facilities in place, accept a restricted number of flights for those people you may deem necessary to let in, but test and quarantine (in central facilities) as you see fit.

Ban planes, muffle sneezes, clean up droplets.

There is a simple psychological point about epidemics: it is best to take draconian actions before they are necessary. Better to lose the airline industry than the whole of industry.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Britain, Coronavirus, Disease 
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  1. If most super-spreaders are already immune, very likely because they were most likely to catch the virus in the first place, then the herd could be safe at a lower threshold.

    That would be nice.

    b) (The Ferguson story is a big one.)

    c) (…) lose the airline industry (…) – Losses are no eminent feature of our current mentality/way of thinking.

    (Myths take in loss – Paul Nelson in his Bob Dylan essay in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

  2. dearieme says:

    Good news! It would seem that a treatment has been discovered for post-COVID-19 fatigue.

    https://order-order.com/2020/05/11/boris-five-guys-lockdown-lunch/

  3. dearieme says:

    “Bizarrely, in my view …”: I’m glad to think that the government is at last rejecting the standard advice from epidemiologists not to bother with banning visitors to the country nor even to check their temperatures.

    The advice was unambiguously stated on the report we discussed weeks ago, the one that formed the basis of the response to the plague.
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/213717/dh_131040.pdf

    Note that when the Orange Ogre banned flights from China to the US he was accused, yet again, of being Literally Hitler, or at least of being a fascist, Nazi, racist, xenophobic blah, blah, blah.

    I wonder whether youtube still carries footage of Nancy Pelosi and other leading Dems traducing him thus? He’s various sorts of oaf, but the Nazi accusations are the stuff of lunacy.

    His mistake, of course, was to fail to ban flights from Europe at the same time. But perhaps the tragedy in Lombardy wasn’t yet visible? Or not visible to the American political classes?

    • Agree: res
  4. botazefa says:

    It is extraordinary that one of the most important events in current economic and social history was based on the unexamined workings of a computer model. It appears that politicians believed the numbers because they were printed out by a computer

    It is extraordinary how many high IQ individuals blindly trusted expert opinion delivering the computer printouts. Wouldn’t you agree, Dr. Thompson?

    Second question: if droplets are the viral vector (not aerosols), and droplets rain out of the air rapidly (because they are heavy), is the current guidance on masks correct?

    • Replies: @Wally
    , @PetrOldSack
    , @Alfred
  5. res says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful and considered post. A breath of fresh air in the sea of overblown rhetoric and jumping to conclusions (some of that contributed by me ;-/) concerning COVID-19.

    From Brazil comes a delightful piece of work.

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.02.20050773v2

    The authors note that, given the fact the virus originated in Wuhan but is now found world-wide, it must have got there by some means. They correlate country levels of infection with the number of airplane flights each country receives, and find that the main explanation is air traffic, which accounts for 45% of the variance. Socio-economic and climatic factors are less powerful. Who would have thought it?

    That paper is very interesting. Worth noting that there was a predecessor version of that paper on April 11th.
    Exponential phase of covid19 expansion is not driven by climate at global scale
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340468666_Exponential_phase_of_covid19_expansion_is_not_driven_by_climate_at_global_scale
    Notice the more conservative title of that paper compared to the current paper’s: Exponential phase of covid19 expansion is driven by airport connections

    Table 1 gives their model statistics. It is worth noting that they did not just look at number of airplane flights. They used the specific network connectivity of the flights to compute Eigenvector Centrality (it would be interesting to see how closely that correlates with the raw number of flights). Their description:

    we measured the countries centrality in the network using the Eigenvector Centrality [31], hereafter centrality, that weights the importance of a country in the network considering the number of connections with other countries and how well connected these countries are to other countries – indirect connections.

    The variables in the model which were significant at p < 0.05 were: Eigenvector centrality (most significant by far with a t value 3x the magnitude of the others which all had p around 0.04), Annual population growth, health investment, and mean precipitation (I wish they had included dew point or specific humidity as a climate variable).

    Here is their text summary of their model:

    We build one model including only climate and socioeconomic variables, which explained only 14% of the variation on growth rates. This model did not have spatial autocorrelation in the residuals. When we added country centrality (i.e. country importance in global transportation network) as a predictor, the R2 increased to 48.6%. In this model, annual population growth and precipitation had positive and significant effects (Table 1, P = 0.036, P =0.041, Fig 2), while health investments had a negative and significant effect on growth rate (Table 1, P= 0.035, Fig 2). Here, exponential growth rates increased strongly in response to countries importance in the transportation network which has more than two times the effect size of any significant variable (Table 1). However, it is also important to note that growth rates of COVID-19 weakly increases with increases of annual population growth and precipitation, and decreases with higher investments in health (Table 1). Statistical coefficients were not upward biased by spatial autocorrelation.

    I think this detail is worth being explicit about.

    Prior to the analysis, we applied logarithmic (mean precipitation, total population size, and network centrality) and square root (mean health investments) transformations to the data to approximate a normal distribution.

    Another detail worth being explicit about.

    This data is available for 204 countries, for which 65 had more than 100 cases recorded and for which time series had at least 30 days after the 100th case. We also performed the analysis considering countries with more than 50 cases, but it did not qualitatively change our results. Thus, we only show the results for countries with more than 100 cases.

    Dr. Thompson, I am not seeing the 45% of variance figure. Could you please elaborate on that? The only variance numbers I see are 14% for the model with climate and socioeconomic variables only and 48.6% for the model adding country centrality. So an incremental increase of 34.6% in variance explained. I would expect a univariate model using country centrality to have a higher variance explained than that, but 45% would be surprising to me.

    P.S. They collapsed the airports for each country into single nodes in their network. It would be interesting to do a city level analysis. Even if only for the largest and/or worst hit cities.

  6. @dearieme

    No excuse for not banning flights from Italy to the US in my eyes.

    The problem had been very clear from very early on. – Matteo Salvini (litterally Hitler, too, of course….lots of Hitlers at all kinds of places now – in Berlin too: His name there is Björn Höcke / AfD – a history teacher, who knows all kinds of things about the decaying Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire of German Nationality etc. pp. … – as I wrote: Exactly like Hitler….) – ahh: The flights from China into Italy: Matteo Salvini dug this problem too – in February! He rang the alarm bell numerous times big style and asked for the flights from China to be canceled and – was dismissed – as – you know what….time and time again…

    So – the Chinese threat was known very early on in Italy (and elsewhere in Europe) – but hopes were still, that this thing would be just passing by and all it would ask for was patience… It didn’t just ask for patience, as it turned out…

    His clearsightedness might help Salvini in the next elections.

    • Agree: Mefobills
  7. @dearieme

    You alerted me to the 2011 Govt planning document, and I was struck by the fatalistic acceptance of unfettered travel into the UK. This was the worst possible advice. What astounds me is that, having realized their error, they are in no hurry to correct it.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  8. @res

    Dear Res, thanks for your typically thorough reading and analysis. First point: I read the paper in detail last week, then made a very brief summary from memory today, so for the incorrect 45% please read 48.6% for the total when the “nodes and links” variable was added in. I thought their work on connectivity was elegant, but simplified it (perhaps too much) with the policy implications in mind.
    The paper is very timely, because as I discussed with dearieme, UK planning took the fatalistic view that the spread of a virus could not be prevented. I thought that supine and conceited. It implied that no right-thinking person would do anything so low as to keep anyone from visiting Britain, no matter whether they came from an epidemic hot-spot.

    • Replies: @res
  9. @James Thompson

    ” I was struck by the fatalistic acceptance of unfettered travel into the UK”

    Globalism is a religion. Boris may have ridden the Brexit wave to power, but I doubt his advisers’ visions of “Singapore-on-Thames” bear much relation to Singapore as it actually exists, with its strict law enforcement and its immigration policy of maintaining 80% Chinese (105 IQ) ethnicity, let alone its draconian CV19 mitigation policies.

    “Britain – Open For Business”

    • Agree: LondonBob
  10. res says:
    @James Thompson

    I think your simplification was reasonable. In my opinion one of the best features of your blog is your ability to simplify complex topics at a level appropriate for lay readers. In that sense, perhaps think of my more detailed comment as a footnote?

    The paper is very timely, because as I discussed with dearieme, UK planning took the fatalistic view that the spread of a virus could not be prevented. I thought that supine and conceited. It implied that no right-thinking person would do anything so low as to keep anyone from visiting Britain, no matter whether they came from an epidemic hot-spot.

    I strongly agree. I think it is also worth being explicit (if I recall correctly dearieme’s reference took this into account) about not necessarily banning travel. Instead enforce mandatory symptom checks (e.g. temperature readings) and quarantines either based on those or everyone from particular hotspots.

    It is important to be clear about whether one is attempting to completely prevent the spread (which requires harsher measures) or just slow it down. One thing slowing it down (say detecting and quarantining 4 out of 5 incoming contagious potential transmitters) would accomplish is allowing early measures like contact tracing rather than just throwing up one’s hands due to being overwhelmed.

    • Replies: @Sean
  11. anon[191] • Disclaimer says:

    In any job where accuracy is of any importance, this “Professor” Ferguson would’ve been given the pink slip many years ago. Either he belongs to a very strong government union, or his job is to come up with “predictions” that fit the agendas of the various governments and NGO’s that fund him. eg: Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. It just goes to show you that the title professor can be given to any person regardless of their proficiency in anything. The secret to keep your job in academe is to keep pleasing your masters; if what they want you to turn out is garbage, then you do so and don’t ask any questions.

    • Agree: Alfred, Bert
  12. dearieme says:

    Then came the problem of death certification. What should I write? COVID, or not COVID? Who knew, because still no-one was being tested in nursing homes. Not patients, not staff. Pure guesswork.

    Who can doubt that?

    Source:
    https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2020/05/11/how-to-make-a-crisis-far-far-worse/

    • Replies: @Herald
  13. Interesting stuff about the (not all that interesting or threatening) Corona virus, by Swiss Propaganda Research here:

    https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR1Zng-N_16QgYBYwQEUPxJUZFPLz6-o7ECyX4_wcfVaUhhifh0b0MGsxag

  14. res says:
    @dearieme

    Thanks. Lots of interesting material following links from there. Here is one example. Comment from someone who works with natural catastrophe models.


    Link to the COVID-19 dashboard from one commercial model vendor.
    https://www.air-worldwide.com/models/Life/verisk-covid-19-dashboard/

  15. res says:
    @dearieme

    After thinking about this some what I find especially depressing is that none of these conversations/investigations occurred after Ferguson’s earlier bad predictions.

    Consider the following excerpt from this comment:
    https://lockdownsceptics.org/second-analysis-of-fergusons-model/#comment-5577

    4/ On a slightly different point – but none the less related – why in the past 15 years or 13 years (estimates vary) was this model not rewritten and test so that it could reliably retrofit the previoius disease outbreaks it’s been used on? That is, having got the foot and mouth, swine flu, BSE, outbreaks etc so spectacularly wrong, why did Ferguson et al not at least use those experiences to drag the model into at least the correct order of magnitude?

    • Replies: @Alfred
  16. Anon[200] • Disclaimer says:

    Absolutely this pandemic is caused by air travels. China should’ve grounded all outbound flights as soon as the outbreak was reported, not just out of Wuhan but out of all of China. Instead, they coerced WHO into telling countries not to shutdown borders, and kicked up a fuss about Trump banning travelers from China. It was highly irresponsible and China needs to be punished. I think a just punishment would be for all countries to extend the ban on Chinese travelers for the next 5 years, or until China pays off the trillions in economic losses in each country.

    We need a new testing mechanism for air traveling. Now that a test that returns result in 15 minutes has become available, we need to make all travelers take the test from the point of departure. Only passengers who test negative should be allowed to board the plane. The temperature check is completely worthless and I don’t know why they are still doing it at airports, and what’s more, not at point of departure but at point of arrival, which is way too late as the whole airplane is probably already infected if there’s someone with a fever.

    Colleges should also adopt the same testing regiment – all incoming students must past the test before they can move into the dorm. Commuting students should be subjected to regular, perhaps biweekly testing.

    • Replies: @Bertrand Muscle
  17. Sean says:
    @res

    I strongly agree. I think it is also worth being explicit (if I recall correctly dearieme’s reference took this into account) about not necessarily banning travel. Instead enforce mandatory symptom checks (e.g. temperature readings) and quarantines either based on those or everyone from particular hotspots.

    Foreigners would think that.

    It is important to be clear about whether one is attempting to completely prevent the spread (which requires harsher measures) or just slow it down

    Clearly the aim now is to stop it at the borders.

    One thing slowing it down (say detecting and quarantining 4 out of 5 incoming contagious potential transmitters) would accomplish is allowing early measures like contact tracing rather than just throwing up one’s hands due to being overwhelmed.

    Contact racing is unfeasible before the epidemic is under control. Why let anyone in from abroad before it is feasible to effectively contact trace?

    I think the reason they are going to halt air travel is because they are now looking to and putting a date on ending the lockdown for commercial premises. Flights in continuing when the shop /pub lockdown ends would be a confounding factor and make it difficult to determine whether any bounceback by the virus was due to the lockdown ending or just infected foreigners flying in. The system’s internal and external states must be conditionally independent, hence the border as Markov blanket. Make it so!

    • Replies: @res
  18. Pft says:

    Models are to science what paint is to an artist. Given enough free parameters scientists can model an elephant that can fly. Given enough paint and an artist paint anything he can imagine.

    With any model GIGO applies. If your inputs are guesses and based on erroneous assumptions and poor data your output is garbage and you are just engaging in curve fitting extrapolation with politicized science favoring the political result.

    To change your society and create unnecessary hardships and loss of freedom for fear of a lifeless collection of proteins called a virus is about the silliest thing ever. 10% of our DNA is made from viral DNA. Our immune systems have evolved over millions of years and is so diverse such that every virus that is easily transmittable will only harm a small percentage of healthy and well nourished people and then herd immunity or partial herd immunity sets in . Dozens of virus reside in each of us and coexist with their human host unless an immune deficiency develops due to age or disease. Viruses are essential for the normal development of infants immune systems. Some actually provide immunity against bacterial pathogens..

    A War agains Viruses is like a War against ourselves. Pointless from the viewpoint of the overall health of the species. Don’t let the Bug Hunters/Warriors say otherwise. Especially when one considers the chosen weapons for this War will be vaccines that alter human DNA with clinical trials so limited in duration and scope we will all be guinea pigs.

    Madness. Must be something in the water.

    • Agree: Skeptikal
    • Replies: @Skeptikal
  19. refl says:

    It is extraordinary that one of the most important events in current economic and social history was based on the unexamined workings of a computer model. It appears that politicians believed the numbers because they were printed out by a computer.
    (…)

    Was the lockdown a waste of time, because even if it prevented prompt deaths, herd immunity is lowered, leaving us open to a much more dangerous second wave this winter?

    It does not matter, if politicians believed the numbers. The ones who made the decisions were incredibly few, and these characters served other masters then the people who elected them. Anyone else in politics was just keen to go into home office, so they need not attend parliamentary sessions, keep office hours, confront their awkward electorate etc.
    Early on, I made a serious missjudgement about corona. I thought that this was about installing the globalist dictatorship and shutting up dissent. This was wrong. My perspective was based on reading to much Hitler/Stalin stuff.
    The reality is, that the globalist dictatorship has been there for a long time already. The difference is that the younger generation of political leaders is so inept and so unable to think beyond there own privileged position, that democracy has become a pointless and futile excercise.
    I mean, how can one in this situation keep discussing numbers, when everyone should have got it in the meantime that the test and thus the statistics are garbage? And how can one not see, that the real consequences will be the longtime errosion of civic liberties in the West?

    And this whole talk about the second wave serves its purpose to feed the narrative. The second wave will be as real as the first, with the difference that after a year long depression, being unable to get any relief, with health care having been demolished by corona-related madness, the serious health conditions among the population will grow. People will die from corona – the cackhandling that goes by this name, not the bug, to be sure.

    Early on, I wrote that the death toll would result from suicides, depression and illnesses that could not be treated due to hospitals being fixed on corona. This prediction has been proven right by now, and I am not proud, because it was obvious.

    I now predict an ever growing desperation, ever growing economic calamity, as people realize that this thing is here to stay. At some point, there will be blood, but maybe for those who keep strong, some spiritual rebirth.

    I apologize for once more interfering as a hoaxer. It shall not happen to often, and anyway, everything that had to be said has been said.

  20. Wally says:
    @botazefa

    recent:

    CDC Data Not Trustworhy says, task force’s Dr. Birx:
    https://www.businessinsider.com/deborah-birx-cdc-comments-coronavirus-task-force-meeting-2020-5?op=1

    Dr. Birx: “There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust”
    The Washington Post reports Birx and others reportedly fear the CDC is using inflated data on coronavirus death and case rates.

    https://www.lifezette.com/2020/05/dr-birx-there-is-nothing-from-the-cdc-that-i-can-trust/

  21. Alfred says:

    It appears that politicians believed the numbers because they were printed out by a computer.

    James Thompson is so very naive. When a minister wants a particular policy, he appoints a “working group”. They in turn call in outside “consultants”. The report that reaches the minister after a great delay and a lot of expenditure confirms the desires of the minister and his civil servants. It is a sham.

    The only unusual thing about Ferguson’s work is that it was financed by Bill Gates. Boris Johnson was only given his marching orders after his advisors had told him that herd immunity is the only reasonable approach. Hence his pretend sickness and the dramatic change of heart. He is no more in power than I am.

    Here is a video of the nurse clearly lying to the media. I bet they told her what to say and this process had to be repeated several times. They chose the best “take” and put it on the media. Anyone with half a brain can see that she is lying and that she is most reluctant to be doing so. The Official Secrets Act (1989) is hanging over her head. She is no psychopath like Johnson. Lying is not her profession.

    NHS nurse who helped save Boris Johnson’s life from coronavirus in intensive care confirms: ‘He absolutely needed to be there’

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  22. @botazefa

    It is extraordinary how many high IQ individuals blindly trusted expert opinion delivering the computer printouts. Wouldn’t you agree, Dr. Thompson?

    Dr. Thompson seems to be retracting to a sensible position underneath, a position underscored by the little is known as to the plump affirmative action undertaken, taking advantage of the political opportunity.

    Maybe the two high pitched unconditional fearmongers here at unz.com, Ron and AK, both populist under a wrapper of polyethylene-cliometrics, do not have the intellectual integrity to do the same? So silent are they one can hear a cockroach whistle.

    As for myself, on the twenty-fifth of March, shifted position, in a comment here on the expose of the “Unz formula” to estimates, long forgotten. Our high IQ intellectuals, long winded writers, where not even at the crux then.

    • Agree: botazefa
  23. Alfred says:
    @botazefa

    It is extraordinary how many high IQ individuals blindly trusted expert opinion delivering the computer printouts. Wouldn’t you agree, Dr. Thompson?

    If feeding your family depended on “trusting” that scoundrel Ferguson, you might well go along. I have never been in that situation so I cannot say what my reaction might be.

    if droplets are the viral vector (not aerosols), and droplets rain out of the air rapidly (because they are heavy), is the current guidance on masks correct?

    It has nothing to do with public health. Few people wear the masks correctly and even fewer change them often. The objective is to enforce conformism and to scare the public. Not wearing the mask in public is a political statement.

    I tried to see how far I could push it in Kiev and I was finally intercepted by 3 chunky policemen outside their parliament. I told them “no problem” and put it on until I was around the corner. But then half the people ignored that rule two weeks ago. I suspect it is only enforced in areas where the common people live.

    • Thanks: botazefa
    • Replies: @Stephen Paul Foster
  24. Alfred says:
    @res

    I find especially depressing is that none of these conversations/investigations occurred after Ferguson’s earlier bad predictions.

    He had a powerful backer. Someone with super deep pockets. That is how the world works. The days when researchers were wealthy people who did their own stuff almost as a hobby have been over for a very long time.

    The “problems” with his program were actually “features”. Do you think Bill Gates does not know a better programmer or two?

    I have Reviewed Feruson’s Code – It’s a Joke

    I really like the choice of words – “Final Solution”

    Bill Gates Says His Vaccine is the Final Solution

    Larry Summers said to Yannis Varoufakis: “ ‘There are two kinds of politicians,’ he said: ‘insiders and outsiders. The outsiders prioritize their freedom to speak their version of the truth. The price of their freedom is that they are ignored by the insiders, who make the important decisions. The insiders, for their part, follow a sacrosanct rule: never turn against other insiders and never talk to outsiders about what insiders say or do. Their reward? Access to inside information and a chance, though no guarantee, of influencing powerful people and outcomes.’” Source: Yanis Varoufakis’ book, “Adults in the Room.”

    • Thanks: Agent76
    • Replies: @Peripatetic Commenter
  25. LondonBob says:

    The proposal to bring in quarantine now is particularly bizarre, no point now.

    The handling of this has been rank incompetence.

  26. @Alfred

    “It has nothing to do with public health. Few people wear the masks correctly and even fewer change them often. The objective is to enforce conformism and to scare the public. Not wearing the mask in public is a political statement. ”

    Agree: see,

    http://fosterspeak.blogspot.com/2020/05/striking-through-mask.html

    • Agree: PetrOldSack
  27. David says:

    Verisk is a company that began as an insurance industry data sharing operation. Congress passed a law allowing insurers to violate anti-trust laws so that smaller insurers would have the experience data to base rates on in areas they otherwise wouldn’t be able to enter. Then in 1993 a bunch of the worst dressed, smarmiest sleazeballs you’ve ever seen took what had been essentially a public good, allowing more competition and thus lower rates, private, then “public” for their big payday. Since that infamous move, they have done all they can to fumble everything they know over progressively higher paywalls. Their quasi-monopolistic position (owning and having sole access to the historical data is a wide moat) has allowed their cost to grow mightily and their competence to wither completely. I promise you, you can’t begin to imagine the stupidity and worthlessness of that organization.

    I notice they aren’t inviting you to compare their projections to actuals.

  28. I am not exactly addressing any specific part of this excellent article by James Thompson, but I hope my considerations will not be totally off-topic. I hope they aren’t too ureasonable either.

    Imagine a relatively healthy family, the only vulnerable person being grandmother. In a normal non-quarantine situation, mom and dad go to work, the children go to school, and grandmother stays at home. If they are moderately educated, they will take some precautions to protect grandmother. Stop hugging and kissing the children, get out of her bedroom in the morning after everyone has gone out to work/school, go to bed before mom and dad come home from work. This is a fairly safe environment for her. In a month or two, odds are that everyone in the house except grandmother will have been infected, and, in the majority of cases, recovered. From then on no one will be able to infect her and they may relax those precautionary measures.

    Now imagine the same family in a quarantine. Everyone is in the house together all day long. Dad goes out to buy food or medicine or some other essential item. He comes back infected and passes it on to grandmother. She dies.

    That’s what lockdowns do.

    • Agree: acementhead
    • Replies: @Alfred
  29. Ron Unz says:

    Well, here’s a question for those who have followed the technical details of Covid-19 far more closely than I have…

    I’d say that two of the most crucial parameters are the IFR fatality rate and the estimate of who infectious the disease is under reasonably normal conditions. Obviously, these are multi-dimensional, with the first being heavily influenced by age or other personal conditions, and the second being even more complex, with details of how the disease tends to usually spread still only gradually being understood. There’s obviously also the question of the distribution of serious but non-fatal cases and ICU requirements.

    It seems to me that unless and until these parameters are reasonably well understood, complex computer-modeling is pretty useless.

    Now suppose that we know those parameters. Let’s say IFR=1% and the disease is very highly infectious, with a big R0. Doesn’t that tell use what will happen even without bothering to build a complex computer model? Basically, absent serious public health measures such as wearing masks and lockdowns, the disease will spread until the overwhelming majority of people are infected and 1% of them will die.

    So what exactly is the benefit of the various complex computer models? And why should people argue about whether they’re well or poorly designed?

    I’d think the biggest uncertainty in predicting results is how much R0 will change based upon changes in personal behavior and different public health measures. And isn’t that almost entirely an empirical question? So what do the complex computer models get you that you couldn’t just get from the simplest sort of crude calculation?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the models were just used as a stage-prop so that Ferguson or the other experts could generate nice looking graphs and declare that “The computer said so!” But now his critics have responded “His software code is bad!”

    Both IFR and R0 seem to be empirically determined quantities, obviously impacted by treatments, social behavior, and government policy. And once you know IFR and R0, don’t you already have almost everything you need to know about the current course of the epidemic?

  30. AJSpencer says:

    “This is an unpleasant Is it 66% or a far lower figure?”
    Is there a missing line or two here in the text?

  31. IMO, still not too late to do a full quarantine for 6 weeks. Then screen the inbounds from outside of the border.

    If every country did this at the same time, the screening doesn’t even need to be done.

    I cannot understand the need to argue for this side or that. When the simple solution is staring you all right in the face.

  32. David says:
    @Ron Unz

    I have been playing with models of contagion for a couple of weeks. Very simple stuff that nevertheless still takes a lot of calc time. What I’ve found is that the most important assumption after R0 greater than one, is the likelihood of distant travel. The chance of taking the disease to a fresh host population. It’s a parameter that’s hard to peg but easy to manage.

  33. botazefa says:
    @Ron Unz

    And once you know IFR and R0, don’t you already have almost everything you need to know about the current course of the epidemic?

    To me, the short answer is yes.

    We’re all recently/currently at the risk analysis stage, ie “what is MY personal riak level?” Some of us first turn to experts for advice, perhaps out of habit. Some of us turn inward. Ron, I don’t know you and wouldn’t attempt to speak for you but I suspect you may be inclined to trust expert opinion more strongly in times of crisis. I’m apparently hardwired for suspicion.

    Someone telling me that I have to wear a mask in pubic triggers me and makes me very angry. That someone had better have a rock solid reason to invade my autonomy so violently.

    Whatever is being said by Gates, Birx, Ferguson, or Fauci about masks and social distancing is contrary to what I learned and witnessed 20 years ago as a respiratory therapist in the Navy.

    Thinking about this situation logically I come to the conclusion that if the virus was really that dangerous, to ME personally, the bodies would be piling up because the lockdowns and mask techniques are too porous to be effective. By now, it simply can’t be that infectious because I don’t know anyone who has it or has heard of someone who tested positive for coronavirus. What are the odds of that, 5 months into a viral pandemic. It can’t be that deadly because there are way too few dead. So why are the experts favored by the mass media so shrill in their advice that we are in grave damger!

    I agree with you, Ron, that making decisions based upon ‘hot’ models produced under stress is obviously foolish. In a couple months Gates and his ilk will catch up. In the interim I’ll proudly go about without a mask and suffer the social consequences of being a a flu denier.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @bjondo
  34. @Anon

    “Absolutely this pandemic is caused by air travels. ”
    I agree 100% as the case of Australia dramatically shows, (I hope to write a separate comment about this).
    However, while the Chinese would have some sway over the WHO, there is no way it could be more than the US. Then if you factor in Gates and related enterprises, Chinese funding is but a small fraction of this.
    China may have wanted borders to stay open, but the WHO and its more substantial backers have to take the bulk of the blame for promoting open borders early on.

  35. 450.org says:

    Moral: when an epidemic is in the offing, close down airports, first banning flights from those countries or parts of the country where the infection originated, then to those countries which have air links to the originating country, but best of all, just close airports.

    Fair enough, but in the case of this novel virus, what is the country of origin? That is in dispute. China was the first country to acknowledge this virus for what it was and to act radically to contain it, but that doesn’t mean it was the country of origin. Godfree Roberts and Ron Unz have been doing an excellent job revealing that this novel virus may very have been circulating in places outside of China before it was introduced into China during the military games in October.

    View post on imgur.com

  36. Alfred says:
    @Brás Cubas

    Imagine a relatively healthy family … From then on no one will be able to infect her and they may relax those precautionary measures.

    You are absolutely correct my friend. Finally, someone is seeing the light. I want give you a big friendly hug. 🙂

    The great advantage of a discrete-event simulation is that you can have such families in your model and you can have gays living together, single mothers, nursing homes with hundreds of people – whatever. Regardless of the initial inputs of the model and the policies you impose, you will quickly discover that at around 10-30% of people with antibodies, the number of new infections will crash to almost zero.

    It is a thin tail distribution – not a fat tail as that idiot/genius Nassim Taleb claims. Every one of his numerous best-sellers is based on fat tails and he is incapable of imagining anything different.

    I am sure that if he had some skin in the game and lost all his income, home, savings and family, he would think differently. He is just another elitist incapable of thinking outside his paradigm. I used to think he was a smart Lebanese.

    • Thanks: Brás Cubas
  37. Bert says:
    @Ron Unz

    A former grad student of mine, who had a 99 percentile GRE, characterized ecology as “the quantification of the obvious.” One could say the same thing about epidemiology as it pertains to the interaction of a pathogen and an oblivious host population. However, modeling is useful to estimate which responses of the human population would be most effective against an epidemic. Modeling of successive 10-day lockdowns alternating with 4-day work periods predicts that the Ro of SARS-2 would be driven below 1.0 relatively quickly.

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.04.20053579v4

  38. GoMore says:

    The problem is that after this virus there will be the next one and the next… I predict the permanent state of house arrest for the population, scaremongering in media and huge changes in an economy all with the direst outcomes for us.

    • Agree: botazefa
    • Replies: @Bertrand Muscle
    , @bjondo
  39. Tom Welsh says:

    “It appears that politicians believed the numbers because they were printed out by a computer”.

    A fallacy that has been clearly understood for well over 70 years. Long before the first programmer reflected, “Garbage in, garbage out”, Charles Babbage said the same thing in much more memorable words.

    “On two occasions I have been asked, ‘Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?’ I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question”.

    – Charles Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, 1862.

    Obviously there are at least three challenges for anyone setting out to model an epidemic.

    1. To gather accurate data, and to know exactly what it means.

    2. To create an accurate and reliable mathematical model, and test it thoroughly.

    3. To write software that correctly and reliably implements the mathematical model, and test it.

    In the present case, none of those three challenges has been met. There is no clear agreement or understanding of what counts as a “case”, an “infection”, or even a “death”, since there are almost always comorbidities.

    The mathematical model seems to exist only in the heads of Professor Ferguson and his colleagues, and has apparently never been tested against reality or reviewed by peers.

    The less said about the software the better. It seems to have been written and modified in a sustained attempt to contravene every single rule of correct software engineering.

    So we have grossly unreliable, inaccurate software implementing a partial and inappropriate model – the whole fed with extremely unreliable and inconsistent data.

    Only a politician could find that satisfactory and proceed to lock down 66 million people on the strength of it.

    • Replies: @David
  40. Alfred says:
    @Ron Unz

    It seems to me that unless and until these parameters are reasonably well understood, complex computer-modeling is pretty useless.

    I entirely agree that continuous simulation is useless as a modelling tool for studying epidemics. Discrete-event simulation is the appropriate tool. Ferguson and his sponsor know that very well.

    The great thing about discrete-event simulation is that you can do it on a large board like a game. Tossing dice is a good way to know the outcome of any event. Of course, it is much faster with a computer. There are lots of software packages that make it easier to program and which produce nice charts.

    Here is a picture showing how the simulation for a clothing store can be played manually – with dice.

    All of this is standard Operations Research. NATO keeps on playing these games in Brussels and the Russians always thrash them. 🙂

  41. anon[161] • Disclaimer says:
    @botazefa

    …to wear a mask in pubic triggers me and makes me very angry. That someone had better have a rock solid reason to invade my autonomy so violently.

    “Violence.” LOL. “Triggered.” Yikes.

    …it simply can’t be that infectious because I don’t know anyone who has it…

    And….. an idiot.

    • Replies: @botazefa
  42. A non technical question: who owned that swanky shop in Mayfair, London? Was it an Englishman? My guess is that it couldn’t have been but I could be wrong …

  43. In Australia COVID is at risk of extinction. Perhaps not an ideal thing, since it is bound to return. But I’ll put that matter aside.
    In limiting the spread of the virus, it was not lockdown, but controlling international arrivals that was decisive.

    As of today, 62.5% of Australia’s cases of COVID have been brought in from abroad.
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-17/coronavirus-cases-data-reveals-how-covid-19-spreads-in-australia/12060704?nw=0
    This is despite the:
    -March 15 self quarantining for all arrivals for 14 days
    -March 20 border closure to all non-residents
    -March 28 mandatory quarantine of all arrivals

    On March 25 the severest lockdown measures were initiated (non-essential businesses, restaurants, bars close).
    About two days later, the number of daily infected peaked.
    Why? Because the number of infected arrivals peaked.
    https://theconversation.com/how-much-has-australia-really-flattened-the-curve-of-coronavirus-until-we-keep-better-records-we-dont-know-136252

    Australian decision makers must have known the day-by-day numbers of community spread separated from infected arrivals. Daily community infections had ceased any kind of exponential spread by March 23rd!! Yet they decided to lockdown and unnecessarily cost Australia tens of billions.

    Eg. State of South Australia. Land area bigger than Texas. Pop approx. 1.7 million.
    Total COVID cases 439
    Infections acquired overseas: 300!!
    (Currently only 5 people total remain infected)

  44. @GoMore

    I also fear this. The C-virus will mutate like the flu and we will be coerced into bearing our shoulders and accepting the new strain vaccine every year.

  45. res says:
    @Sean

    Foreigners would think that.

    ???

    Clearly the aim now is to stop it at the borders.

    What people don’t seem to understand is when you talk about a STOP it somewhere solution even a single case getting by can blow up on the other side of the barrier. What I think you want is to slow all of inter-national, intra-national, and local spread. And protect the most vulnerable as much as possible (e.g. don’t be an idiot like Cuomo and send COVID-19 cases INTO nursing homes in New York).

    Contact racing is unfeasible before the epidemic is under control. Why let anyone in from abroad before it is feasible to effectively contact trace?

    The point was you put those travel restrictions on BEFORE the epidemic is out of control. Ideally before it even has a significant foothold. How would the epidemic trajectory in the US have looked if measures like that had been put into effect for China and Italy when Trump announced the China (only) travel restrictions?

    As far as why let anyone in, at minimum I think you need to give people a chance to finish their travel out while requiring quarantine when they arrive home (perhaps on site at the terminating airport?).

    And in that scenario above, how much difference would it have made to put travel restrictions on NYC when the epidemic blew up there?

    • Replies: @Bertrand Muscle
    , @Sean
  46. Alfred says:

    The dishonest media of the West will not report about the lockdown in India. Their megalomaniac of a prime minister, an ex-teashop owner, stopped the trains wherever they were without warning. A huge number of day-workers started to trudge vast distances back to their villages. For many of them, it was a race against starvation. When they passed through towns or villages, the police would frequently beat them with sticks for not respecting the curfew. All that in a country where 600 million have no access to toilets and clean water. A country with many more dangerous infectious diseases.

    Wrecking Entire Economies: Lockdowns May Be Causing More Harm Than Good Worldwide, and Especially in India

    “So statistically, the entire country has been preoccupied with only 1 coronavirus death out of 638 total deaths”

    Here is a propaganda picture showing the kindness and generosity of India’s police.

    Youtube has removed videos showing the police beating poor workers with long sticks. But this they have not removed. Transgressors are forced to do push-ups. These are middle-class boys. Not day-workers. They had a car.

  47. 450.org says:

    Basically, absent serious public health measures such as wearing masks and lockdowns, the disease will spread until the overwhelming majority of people are infected and 1% of them will die.

    Yes, and what then? It doesn’t mean it’s end of story. If this virus is more likened to AIDS or Influenza in its persistent nature, it means this could go on in perpetuity. Managing it will affect the way we live. It will affect our economic paradigm. It will be a game changer. Hell, it already is. Ignoring it will mean game over for whoever does.

    View post on imgur.com

    • Disagree: acementhead
  48. res says:
    @Ron Unz

    Now suppose that we know those parameters. Let’s say IFR=1% and the disease is very highly infectious, with a big R0. Doesn’t that tell use what will happen even without bothering to build a complex computer model? Basically, absent serious public health measures such as wearing masks and lockdowns, the disease will spread until the overwhelming majority of people are infected and 1% of them will die.

    Some factors to simulate which go beyond that.

    – Attempting to evaluate the effect of countermeasures. This was the selling point of the Imperial model as I see it. It is fine grained (simulating people and how they respond to countermeasures) which allows evaluating (in theory) the effects of different approaches (singly or in combination). The major problem with that model seems to be that its basic predictions are grossly pessimistic (see the Swedish estimates using a similar model). You can’t do a meaningful evaluation of second order effects without at least being close on the first order effects.

    – Attempting to evaluate effects which go beyond the basic SIR or SEIR models. The most important effect seems to be non-homogeneity (e.g. superspreaders get infected early) which apparently results in herd immunity occurring at lower infection rates than the simpler models predict.

  49. res says:

    And another post from Dr. Thompson is promoted on the front page. How did I know that was what I would find after reading the comments above ; )

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  50. @Alfred

    This statement in the review is curious:

    Then this mode is so old, they recommend that it be run only on a single CORE processor as if we were dealing with an old IBM XT.

    Was the code multi-threaded?

    Why did running on multi-core system cause a problem?

    • Replies: @Alfred
  51. As late as 26 March 2020 (Report 12) these “modellers” were predicting 7 Billion infections and 40 million deaths from COVID-19 in this year if no preventive measures were taken.

    https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/covid-19/report-12-global-impact-covid-19/

    The number of infections in that time frame are totally off the scale when compared to any other illness in the history of mankind, so of course it looked really scary. As if that wasn’t enough to set off the alarm bells of policy makers, the outright admission that the researchers “[did] not consider the wider social and economic costs of suppression, which will be high and may be disproportionately so in lower income settings” should have.

    So they threw in the juicy nugget that supression would save at least 38.7 million of the potential 40 million lives at risk. Sounds nice, but it ain’t science, it’s just a model, the output of which warranted a lot more consideration of the possible unintended consequences before accepting the researchers’ prescriptions as gospel.

    It really is funny how people too often take doctors’ prescriptions and end up dead.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/22/medical-errors-third-leading-cause-of-death-in-america.html

    What should one require of all model simulations on which public policy may be based? At a minimum, it seems essential to have an introductory page giving all the assumptions in plain language ….

    Well, one does exist for the Imperial model:

    https://mrc-ide.github.io/global-lmic-reports/parameters.html

    As for the code, which is how we know how problemmatic it is:

    https://github.com/mrc-ide/squire

    It appears that politicians believed the numbers because they were printed out by a computer.

    You think they’d at least have a human check the output ….

    It’s almost as if the leaders of the West saw the Chinese lockdown, and instead of saying “Commies have no idea what they are doing, that it will crush them,” they instead said, “I didn’t know we could do that … Hold my beer!”

  52. Today: Six feet apart.
    Tomorrow: Six feet under.

    Fight free or die in prison.
    Your choice.

  53. botazefa says:
    @anon

    I know a lot of people. That no one I know has tested positive or knows anyone who has tested positive is a data point. But you call me an idiot. Okay?

    Yes, it triggers me to anger that the authorities force me to wear a mask for reasons. I suppose you gladly don the mask? If it doesn’t bother you why doesn’t it bother you? Why do my feelz provoke you to comment?

    • Replies: @anon
  54. dearieme says:

    I’ll tell you osomething that puzzles me about the/a Conspiracy Theory of COVID-19.

    How exactly are the gazillionaire plotters going to get even richer by impoverishing the world economy?

  55. @res

    “The point was you put those travel restrictions on BEFORE the epidemic is out of control. Ideally before it even has a significant foothold. ”

    Exactly. As discussed above, community spread was low, (and not rapidly increasing), when control of overseas arrivals was implemented in Australia. The data is clear as it is backed up by a high rate of targeted testing (targeting has since loosened since infections have dropped though). Severe lockdown was not required.
    Elsewhere, eg US and much of Europe, it appears community spread was already widespread.

  56. Alfred says:

    The most important effect seems to be non-homogeneity (e.g. superspreaders get infected early) which apparently results in herd immunity occurring at lower infection rates than the simpler models predict.

    Absolutely correct. Society is not like chickens in a battery farm. Some people deal with a great number of others every day. Elderly people generally deal with far fewer people.

    If nothing had been done other than to protect the elderly, the young and active would have acquired immunity and antibodies. The infection could no longer use those with antibodies as a bridge to those not yet infected. That is why the collapse is so dramatic after the attainment of herd immunity.

    It will be interesting to see what will happen in Australia when they are compelled to allow more people to travel by air. It is Autumn there and they will be having a long winter. I suspect that plenty of people will get heart attacks from the fear their media is generating. It is a wonder to behold. Here is some fearmongering from Melbourne. The underlying assumption is that catching this thing is as chancy as playing Russian-roulette. There are almost no deaths. Certainly nothing compared to traffic accidents. 🙂

    • Replies: @res
  57. What a lousy article, full of sheer nonsense.

    Covid-19 is NOT the deadly disease that dozens of governments and “specialists” have been telling the public that it is. Certainly it is a criminal act to put entire nations under lockdown, with the concomitant effects of a destroyed economy, gutted nationwide retail business, wiping out of most restaurants and bars. Social life has been murdered by a handful of ruthless criminals.

    And then the sheer nonsense of “social distancing:” it may have worked traditionally for British Royalty, but look at what kind of pathetic sub-humans those people have become. Social distancing eventually destroys all of our individual immune systems, makes us all in-human.

    I am afraid that is the real goal of Bill Gates of Hell, that ugly wife (or transgender or whatever) of his and the crooks working for the WHO, to turn normal people into full-blown dimwits, psychopaths and crooks such as themselves.

    • Agree: Skeptikal
  58. David says:
    @Tom Welsh

    Ada Lovelace likely picked up her views from Babbage: “The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. It can follow analysis; but it has no power of anticipating any analytical relations or truths. Its province is to assist us in making available what we are already acquainted with.” From an appendix to his book.

  59. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    Good to see an intelligent article on Covid-19, something that neither politicians nor msm seem capable of discussing sensibly.

    And yes, the epidemic will end with herd immunity and the only important practical question is how to get there quickly, but without overshoot, while protecting the small minority at risk of death or serious illness from the disease.

    As a means of not only demonstrating an intelligent appreciation of the problem, but also as a guide to when lock-downs should end (assuming lock-downs are even useful), governments should be carrying out population surveys to determine how many have immunity (to date it seems there are published data only for New York City — 20% with antibodies as of weeks ago — and some small town in Germany) .

    Instead we have mostly BS, and busted budgets, suggesting that the crisis is being prolonged to provide cover for some seriously nefarious schemes, financial, social and political.

    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  60. Alfred says:
    @Peripatetic Commenter

    Was the code multi-threaded?
    Why did running on multi-core system cause a problem?

    Ferguson’s code is not multi-threaded so it cannot run on more than one of the CPU’s on the machine. That is actually quite normal and there is nothing wrong with it. A mickey-mouse program like this needs almost no resources.

    I am not quite sure why Martin Armstrong is criticizing Ferguson on this score. Much more important is the fact that its entire structure and design is based on the fallacy that all humans are identical in society. Like drops of water in a bucket. 🙂

  61. cranc says:

    James writes:

    It is extraordinary that one of the most important events in current economic and social history was based on the unexamined workings of a computer model.

    Ron asks :

    So what exactly is the benefit of the various complex computer models? And why should people argue about whether they’re well or poorly designed?

    Quite simply, it was part of the propaganda. And it worked. They needed something opaque and complex that they could point to as an explanation for the remarkable course they’ve taken us down. (Expect a lot more of that in the AI world).
    This is a revolution. The ‘masters of the universe’ are re-purposing the economy and reconfiguring the role of government and they needed a pretext. They need to reframe the public narrative of what it means to be a human being, in order to make this work. It’s a tad ambitious.
    It’s a big risk, made easier by the fact that so many people insist on keeping on talking about a virus that is only remarkable because of its timing, rather than talking about the surveillance, the internet of things, 5g, automation, the financialisation of the natural world, compulsory vaccination, the contents of those vaccines, the censorship online…

    • Agree: Alfred, Skeptikal
  62. onebornfree says: • Website

    J. Thompson said:” There is a simple psychological point about epidemics: it is best to take draconian actions before they are necessary.”

    Phuck ALL government mandated lockdowns, for ANY reason, and phuck you too, Thompson, you government worshiping coronavirus cretin!

    If a vast number of the many half-wits and morons such as yourself do not wake up soon and get a clue, here’s a very small example of what is probably coming our way, soon :

    “Anti-Quarantine Protesters Spotted With Rocket Launcher In Downtown Raleigh”:

    Armed protesters on Saturday lugged around an “inert” AT4 rocket launcher, an M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun, and an assortment of different weapons on the first full day of North Carolina’s Phase 1 in downtown Raleigh Saturday afternoon. ”

    “The protesters, which looked like a group of mercenaries from the movie The Expendables, were spotted marching on the streets and eating in a Subway restaurant, according to The News & Observer’s Travis Long, who snapped several pictures of the group. …”:
    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/anti-quarantine-protesters-carry-inert-rocket-launcher-and-50-cal-downtown-raleigh

    No regards, onebornfree

    • Replies: @Peripatetic Commenter
  63. @res

    Promotion onto the front page happened before comment 30 from the editor, so this may be reverse causation. On the other hand, you could posit a prior intention which accounted for both, the sort of thing an editor might do. Perhaps we should design a model to simulate the effect? 🙂

    • Replies: @res
  64. res says:
    @Alfred

    Australia over the next few months should make a good case study for a possible second wave in the Northern hemisphere winter flu season. A quick search indicates that the flu season in Australia usually spans from June to September and peaks in August.

    • Agree: Alfred
    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  65. res says:
    @James Thompson

    My guess would be promotion happened in the two hour window between comments 18 and 19 (or did you mean immediately before comment 30?). Any way we can know for sure? I like checking my judgment.

    I know you are joking (and I chuckled), but I think it would be pretty simple to come up with a model based on who comments and how frequent the comments are.

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  66. Alfred says:
    @dearieme

    How exactly are the gazillionaire plotters going to get even richer by impoverishing the world economy?

    They knew that we were going to hit a wall because of the debts owed by almost everyone. This controlled demolition will ensure that the deplorables consume fewer resource of any sort. Their real assets will be for sale at a big discount – farms, land, mines, water, power stations, forests, factories, oil wells. The elites have access to the money spigot and they will buy everything worthwhile on the cheap. You and I will get nothing.

    Here is how it works. Insiders will get the money and outsiders will go bust.

    The Fed Wants to Become a Financial Central Planner, Will Be Selecting Winners and Losers on a Grand Scale

    How do you think the USA’s elites profited from WW1 and WW2? American soldiers could get a German beauty for a pair of stockings.

    Now, a similar process is starting inside the USA. They have sucked Ukraine and other places dry.

    Keep an eye on the going rate for a first-class hooker. It is a lot more accurate than the DJIA.

    I just checked. The going rate for New York seems to be around 10 times that of Kiev – and the women 10-15 years older. When it is only twice Kiev and the girls as young as in Kiev, you will know that we are in deflation. Just what Bill Gates was looking forward to. Not that he cares about women. He does not seem to remember when he met his wife.

    Karen Gold – New York

    Yliana – Kiev (Divide by 26 to get USD)

  67. @Alfred

    Yeah, I am aware of the non-threaded vs multi-threaded issues since I write a lot of code in that area.

    It is important when criticizing something to avoid incorrect criticism because it invalidates all your correct criticism as well.

    • Replies: @Alfred
  68. @onebornfree

    Armed protesters on Saturday lugged around an “inert” AT4 rocket launcher, an M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun, and an assortment of different weapons on the first full day of North Carolina’s Phase 1 in downtown Raleigh Saturday afternoon. ”

    Why are you quoting more hyperbolic nonsense from the #LyingMSM?

    An “inert” AT4 FFS?

    Maybe if I carried around a piece of 4-inch plastic plumbing tubing about four feet long at such a location I would be accused of such.

    The thing is useless by itself.

    Kind of reminds me of people who are scared by empty cartridge cases.

  69. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @res

    Australia over the next few months should make a good case study for a possible second wave in the Northern hemisphere winter flu season.

    There must be significant seasonal effects on R nought, with people, in most places, being more frequently outdoors and widely spread in summer than winter, or to use the jargon of the day, socially distanced (with some exceptions — In springtime, the only pretty ring time, When birds do sing, etc.), and when climatic conditions alter the rate of pneumonic spread.

    For those reasons, lock-downs in the Northern hemisphere should end now when the severity of any “second wave” (and risk of overshooting the infection rate for herd immunity) will be muted by the seasonal effects.

    But does anyone have data on R nought versus climatic conditions?

    Seems epidemiology is a primitive science engaged in chiefly by incompetent modelers, instead of sensible chicken farmers, like Alfred.

    • LOL: Alfred
    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  70. Alfred says:
    @Peripatetic Commenter

    I am aware of the non-threaded vs multi-threaded issues since I write a lot of code in that area.

    Sorry. I didn’t realize. 🙁

    I think Armstrong lost control.

    He wrote to Trump that if the lockdowns don’t end by May 1st, the USA will be in a slump for 13 years. His forecasts have been uncannily correct. He is a programmer and trader. Very wealthy. He called out this as a hoax long before anyone else. I confess that I disbelieved him at the beginning when there was no data. His software follows the money flows internationally and he claims to be surprised by its results. It predicted that the backlash should start around now.

    He believes that the number 8.6 explains a lot of history. It is derived by multiplying pi by 1000 and dividing by 365.25. Truly weird. But it seems to work and that is all I care about.

    Good News from the Other Side – Gates is Losing 8.6 Weeks

  71. Herald says:
    @dearieme

    Kendrick may have a problem, but most will likely go with the flow, with little compunction. Doctors are highly trained in following directives and standard procedures. To do anything else is high risk.

  72. Butterfly of the Week, 11 May 2020: Back to What Future?

  73. glib says:
    @dearieme

    not sure what comment are you pointing to (the whole page of comments appears), but the random number generator can not be a problem. It might generate small errors, even a very poor one, but not orders of magnitude errors.

  74. @dearieme

    How exactly are the gazillionaire plotters going to get even richer by impoverishing the world economy?

    I thought that everybody had heard of “The Fed”, but obviously I was wrong.

    “The Fed” is now “printing”-up trillions of dollars and giving it to themselves and their friends. This transfers wealth from the savers to the borrowers. Every dollar in existence will be reduced in value and the value transferred to borrowers.

    Why is there anything, why isn’t there just nothing? It is because some people save, that is they consume less than they produce. This is the only way that capital comes into existence. Well now the prodigal are going to be/are being rewarded again and the provident punished again, this time mightily.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  75. @res

    Population density defintely matters too.

    • Agree: res
  76. @Alfred

    Much more important is the fact that its entire structure and design is based on the fallacy that all humans are identical in society. Like drops of water in a bucket.

    The problem with the model is that it starts with a rather parsimonious set of parameters and then seeds those by making interesting simplifying assumptions. What’s your take on this from Report 13?

    In this report, we use a semi-mechanistic Bayesian hierarchical model to attempt to infer the impact of these interventions across 11 European countries. Our methods assume that changes in the reproductive number – a measure of transmission – are an immediate response to these interventions being implemented rather than broader gradual changes in behaviour. Our model estimates these changes by calculating backwards from the deaths observed over time to estimate transmission that occurred several weeks prior, allowing for the time lag between infection and death.

    source: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/covid-19/report-13-europe-npi-impact/

    For making decisions to shut down entire economies, I would expect something that runs on a Cray, but I guess it would be asking too much for a climate science modeller to take a break from modelling hurricanes to spend a few weeks helping the epidemologists to build a more robust model, and it would be nice if a bit more statistical rigour was employed to work out the seed values for the parameters.

    • Replies: @Alfred
  77. @Alfred

    Speaking as a former consultant covering the intersections of technical innovation, business and state funding, I can only agree. Nobody hires you again if you produce negative results. At best, you can dress up reality in positive language, pointing to the best way out you can find. It’s amazing how often that works.

    • Thanks: Alfred
  78. 450.org says:

    Yes, it triggers me to anger that the authorities force me to wear a mask for reasons. I suppose you gladly don the mask? If it doesn’t bother you why doesn’t it bother you?

    I wear a mask and I’m not ashamed to say I do. It’s an N-95, in fact. And gloves. The CDC advises not to wear gloves because they say it gives a false sense of confidence — that you’ll let your guard down and touch your face. It’s the opposite for me. The gloves are awkward and cumbersome so they make me conscious of my hand movements and since I’m conscious of my hand movements, I make sure not to put my gloved hands to my face.

    As well, I’m in direct defiance of the World Health Organization. It appears the peeps who don’t want to wear masks and gloves work for the CDC and WHO. I’ll listen to the person from China who told me back in late February to wear a mask and gloves and to stay away from people.

    https://www.voanews.com/science-health/coronavirus-outbreak/who-dont-wear-face-masks

    Don’t wear face masks to fend off the coronavirus, the World Health Organization says.

    “There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly,” WHO executive director of health emergencies Mike Ryan said Monday.

    The WHO says the only people who need masks are those who are already sick and those who are caring for the sick.

    Ryan also cited the global shortage of medical supplies and the risk frontline workers are facing every day.

    “The thought of them not having masks is horrific,” Ryan said.

    Although some medical researchers endorse face masks and say effective ones can be homemade, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they are ineffective in filtering small particles from the air and may not help if an infected person sneezes or coughs nearby.

    View post on imgur.com

    • Replies: @anon
  79. Air travel to and from Wales in not large. Yet Wales had the earliest large scale community transmission of CV19 and a Welsh local authority, although not always the same one, has headed the UK table for highest infection rate per 100,000 people. Brent in London and Middlesborough usually being the highest ranking English councils. Brent is socially very alien to Wales and a place for long distance travellers. Middlesborough is very similar to industrial South Wales.

    Now the Covid-19 death rates are plunging downwards in all areas of the UK, I have found a moment to look at the excess death rates for deaths not diagnosed as Covid-19. In Wales these are probably quite accurate because Care Home deaths were always counted and there were outbreaks in few Care Homes, although some were horrific, all 19 patients on a floor specialising in dementia for example.

    This graph shows the ratio of non Covid deaths this year with 2019, a very ordinary year. You can see an erratic but rising trend for excess non Covid deaths. It is not clear what there are. Hospital emergency admissions fell by 60%. Some potential patients may have chosen death at home rather than hospital attendance. There may have been a rise in stress related diseases such as heart attack, stroke and suicide. It is too early for deaths from late diagnosis of cancer to show although there will be many. I am told the presentation of new cases has almost ceased. Anecdotally, it appears that far from being overworked, hospitals are not at all busy.

    The peak value corresponds to about 20o deaths. The rise in non Covid deaths started as the first Covid deaths were reported.

  80. @CanSpeccy

    And yes, the epidemic will end with herd immunity

    Consider this data for China:

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1090007/china-confirmed-and-suspected-wuhan-coronavirus-cases-region/

    Just taking data for Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Beijing – combined population 78 million, confirmed cases 3888, deaths 28. So only 0.005% of the population of these cities contracted Covid-19 and there have been no reports of new cases or deaths. In fact the epidemic ended in all of China about two months ago after some 82,000 confirmed cases, less than total deaths in US so far, and only 4,633 deaths, mostly in Wuhan.

    Yet in New York with 348,470 confirmed cases out of a population of 8.4 million, 4% of the population have so far contracted the virus and 27, 150 have died, with new cases and deaths still being reported.

    So tell me, what ended the epidemic in those Chinese cities? Herd immunity or something else? If something else then there is a way of ending it without relying on herd immunity. If it was herd immunity that stopped it then it should have already been achieved in New York and apparently it has not.

    (I am using official figures here, not that I trust them, but there is nothing else to go on)

    • Agree: utu
    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  81. utu says:
    @Ron Unz

    And why should people argue about whether they’re well or poorly designed? – Frustrated kibitzers who want to signal their alleged knowledge and expertise. The horrendum of global variables they can’t bear and similar unpardonable sins of the incel/coder world.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if the models were just used as a stage-prop…” – Great insight. The political decision to put the society under the lockdown had to be made. Pretty much everybody knew it before any modeling was done. One look at Wuhan and Lombardy was sufficient. The problem was that not everybody looked hard enough as the “herd immunity” and “it’s just a flu” memes were injected into the discourse. At this point an attention capturing stage-prop was necessary. And Ferguson’s jobs was to bring it on the stage. Too bad that it was not done 4-6 weeks sooner. The 30,000 who died in the UK would be still alive. The injection of the memes was the top down job (Boris Johnson…) which was picked up by the usual recalcitrants of the libertarian persuasion who gave it a traction. Was the injection of the memes a psy-op intended to aggravate the impact of the epidemic in the West, to delay proper and timely response, to compromise the political elite as incompetent and indecisive?

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  82. Agent76 says:

    April 7, 2020 POLL: Would you like to see investigation & discussion of possible links between Coronavirus, lockdowns, and 5G?

    Despite hundreds of published studies (like Section 8 of the Bioinitiative Report) concluding that EMF radiation causes immune system effects, the mainstream media, YouTube and Facebook are now closing ranks to censor all investigation and discussion of any possible link — health or otherwise –between Coronavirus and 5G.

    https://www.takebackyourpower.net/poll-content-2020/

    Jan 25, 2019 ΕX DΗS ΕMPLΟΥEE REVEALS ALL IN THIS ΙNTERVΙEW ON THIS CΟMΙNG TECHNOLOGY

    ΑNΟNΥMOUS lNSIDΕR shares what we all may face…AND HOW to PRΕPARΕ. ΕX-DΕPΑRTMENT of HΟMΕLΑND SΕC. ΕMPLOYΕΕ TΕLLS ΑLL she experienced with HΕR DΕCLINING health working next to FIVΕ GEE TΕCH!

    Feb 15, 2020 The 5G Trojan Horse (Documentary) Researched, written, and narrated by Derrick Broze

  83. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @CanSpeccy

    Seems epidemiology is a primitive science engaged in chiefly by incompetent modelers, instead of sensible chicken farmers, like Alfred.

    And the trouble is the media suck up all the BS and spew it far and wide. Here’s a quote from today’s National Post:

    News that the “reproduction rate” — the number of people each person with the disease goes on to infect — had surged back to 1.1 in Germany cast a shadow over the reopening of businesses ranging from…

    Blah, blah, bullshit squared.

    How bloody stupid are these journalists?

    Obviously, when you remove restrictions on human mobility you increase the number of social interactions and hence disease spread. That means an increase in “reproduction rate”. That’s an inevitable consequence of the changed social dynamics. But in time, as it raises the number of people with immunity, it brings the reproduction number back down to one or less.

    It seems that virtually everything written about covid-19 is designed to keep people terrified and intimidated. It’s bullshit to baffle brains.

    But unless some genius has an idea other than naturally acquired immunity as the answer to the disease, and in the absence of an effective vaccine, the only public policy alternatives are (a) death of the West by permanent incarceration and economic decay, or (b) a rise in infections until we have herd immunity under whatever range of social interactions we allow.

    Is that hard to understand?

    I don’t think so. That’s why the media are full of crap. Gotta keep the moronic masses in the moronic state we have so assiduously cultivated with our moronic state dictated, education.

    And, yes, in the meantime, the plutocratic bastards self-isolating on their yachts, Caribbean islands, and gated estates borrow at negative interest rates to buy up the bankrupted small business owners’ assets.

    If the Unz Review were a radical site, we’d have some account of how that’s being worked out right now.

  84. 450.org says:

    Nobody hires you again if you produce negative results.

    Does this mean Trump will not be reelected?

  85. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Commentator Mike

    Just taking data for Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Beijing – combined population 78 million, confirmed cases 3888, deaths 28. So only 0.005% of the population of these cities contracted Covid-19 and there have been no reports of new cases or deaths.

    Yeah, that’s right. Take it from a Commie shill. The Chinks stopped the virus in its tracks. Well done China. Well done the Communist Party of China. Lead on China, lead us to the sunlit uplands of Communist paradise.

    Except nobody believes what the Chinese or their shills have to say.

    Meantime, there are 20 flights a day to China just from the US alone. But of course every passenger is completely disease free , so no prob.

    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  86. “which is seen as poorly documented, poorly configured in computing terms (bad architecture). There is plain scepticism about the accuracy of any of Prof Ferguson’s predictions, because he has a history of wildly exaggerated death rates. Or that is the claim against him. More likely, each of his simulations involved several predictions: best case, most likely case, worst case and both he and his critics can pick those which best suit their story.”

    No, you aren’t a software engineer or computer scientist. The level of incompetence involved in his work is immense, rising to the level of criminal negligence given that people are using it for decisions that can end lives.

    I am telling you flat out as a software engineer and a computer scientist who knows something about simulation that his work is appalling, failing to meet the standards of even something as trivial as the typical Android app or Playstation game. No test cases, no modularization, inappropriate choice of language, lack of documentation, etc.

    It isn’t up for debate anymore than the actions of an engineer who approved a building project without investigating the soil underneath the foundation. At some point you have failed to use even the most basic techniques from a field, leaving you wide open to charges of negligence.

    • Replies: @utu
  87. dearieme says:
    @acementhead

    But if the whole world is impoverished their dollars will be worth nothing.

  88. utu says:
    @jbwilson24

    “No test cases, no modularization, inappropriate choice of language, lack of documentation, etc.” – Not sure what you mean by test cases but the other three objection are questionable. The program was developed in an academic environment where scientists become programmers. They implement their algorithms and models by themselves. It is a very practical approach as it is easier to write a code by a scientist than him having to explain what needs to be done to a programmer and then supervising him at every step. In the end a competent programmer will write a nicer code that will be easier to be managed and debugged but the scientist who writes his program does the debugging on the fly more efficiently as he knows the meaning of the intermediate outputs while a programmer knows only the syntax of the code and can judge the code on syntax only. Your claim about language is ridiculous. Similar mathematical problems like solving diffusion and scattering stochastic processes were done in Algol or Fortran and their precursors when nuclear reactors and weapons were designed. Even Basic would do. Obviously modularization for secondary reasons is preferable but is not necessary. One of the secondary reasons is when bringing on board a novice and having him familiarize with the code and do some changes. Even your seemingly reasonable objection to the lack of documentation can be questioned. The program was not commercial, was not for sale. It was a research program to be used by those who wrote it.

    • Replies: @Alfred
  89. anon[161] • Disclaimer says:
    @botazefa

    my feelz

    Aww, such a sensitive little liberty freak.

    • Replies: @botazefa
  90. CanSpeccy says:
    @utu

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the models were just used as a stage-prop…” – Great insight.

    Although more loquacious, Utu increasingly reminds me of the Wodehouse’s “Nodder.”

    “A Nodder is something like a Yes-man, only lower in the social scale. A Yes-Man’s duty is to attend conferences and say “Yes.” A Nodder’s, as the name implies, is to nod. The chief executive throws out some statement of opinion and looks about him expectantly. This is the cue for the senior Yes-Man to say yes. He is followed, in order of precedence, by the second Yes-Man – or Vice-Yesser -, as he sometimes is called- and the junior Yes-Man. Only when all the Yes-Men have yessed, do the Nodders begin to function. They nod.

    As for:

    “The political decision to put the society under the lockdown had to be made. Pretty much everybody knew it before any modeling was done. One look at Wuhan and Lombardy was sufficient.

    Look at Wuhan and Lombardy, if you like, but then take a look at Sweden.

    Then explain how you end the lockdown. Remember, when you do, R nought will rise, as it is doing in Germany right now to the consternation of the media hacks selling the Unz/Utu line.

    The problem was that not everybody looked hard enough as the “herd immunity” and “it’s just a flu” memes were injected into the discourse.At this point an attention capturing stage-prop was necessary.

    Do tell us what is the alternative to herd immunity. Shutting the economy until Bill Gates has his vaccine ready? Trouble is we may all starve before then. Certainly many people will be much poorer than they would otherwise have been.

    • Replies: @utu
  91. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Ron Unz

    I’d say that two of the most crucial parameters are the IFR fatality rate and …

    That’s something that virtually all governments seem not to want you to know.

    Yes, they announce rates of reported infections and deaths, but we know that it is possible to be infected without being aware of the fact, and moreover, many (most surely) of those who suffer only a mild infection never come to the attention of the medical authorities and thus are never included in the infection count.

    To obtain a valid estimate of the infection rate it would be necessary to conduct a population survey for covid-19 antibodies. That is reported to have been done for only one large population, that of New York City. There, as of several weeks ago, 20% were shown to have been infected. Given the deaths in NY City attributed to Covid19, the survey data indicated an IFR of, if I recall correctly, 0.35%. But if in NY City, as reported by the Public Health Agency of Canada to be the case in Canada, 79% of Covid-19 deaths are of elderly care home residents, it would mean the infection fatality rate for non-care-home residents in N.Y City is around 0.07%.

    However, we know from various published studies that death certificates are often, and indeed usually, incorrect in the designation of cause of death. Thus the NY City IFR could be above 0.35, or more likely lower (on the assumption that during a epidemic, doctors will tend to ascribe to the epidemic agent whatever looks like a death due to that agent even though deaths due to many other causes may look pretty much the same).

    It should be noted further, that the NY City IFR is probably higher, perhaps much higher, than the national rate, due to poor air, a large population of relatively poor recent immigrants, and a State-mandated policy requiring care homes for the elderly to admit or readmit people infected with Covid-19, a policy that amounts to a death sentence for many care home residents to whom the infection is likely to be passed.

  92. onebornfree says: • Website
    @Alfred

    “Much more important is the fact that its entire structure and design is based on the fallacy that all humans are identical in society.”

    This just in: most modern mainstream medical so-called “science” as practiced is based on exactly the same idiotic assumption [ causing an average 225,000 deaths per year within mainstream medicine in the US alone: https://blog.nomorefakenews.com/2015/11/25/dr-starfields-revelations-shock-of-shocks/ ], as is most all so-called political “science”, as are practically all other social sciences, including nearly all of so-called “modern” economic theory, particularly of Marxist , Keynesian or Chicago school origins.

    Bottom line: the world is run on false assumptions made by brainwashed [i.e. “educated”]idiots and ignoramuses .

    And so it goes…..

    Regards, onebornfree

  93. utu says:
    @CanSpeccy

    “Do tell us what is the alternative to herd immunity.” – Herd immunity became the favorite trope of flu hoaxers and Sweden became their New Jerusalem. You guys are trapped in a false dichotomy of all or nothing doomsdayism. The epidemic can be stopped, can be squashed at any level below the so-called herd immunity threshold. When the last infected patient is cured, when the last virus is destroyed the epidemic stops. It is simple like that. Look at China, look at New Zealand. Local flare ups can be managed if there is a will. Some social distancing measures will become habits and some travel restriction will have to stay in place as long as there are countries with active epidemics.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  94. Ron Unz says:
    @res

    My guess would be promotion happened in the two hour window between comments 18 and 19 (or did you mean immediately before comment 30?).

    Actually, there’s a flag I set that automatically raises a piece to become a main feature at Midnight Eastern time. I usually set those flags sometime late in the afternoon.

    • Replies: @res
  95. Alfred says:
    @The Alarmist

    In this report, we use a semi-mechanistic Bayesian hierarchical model to attempt to infer the impact of these interventions across 11 European countries

    Bayesian means random distribution about a mean. But there is nothing Bayesian about the way epidemics spread.

    The Bayesian distribution is useful for deciding the required tolerance of bits of metal that need to fit together. The more narrow the distribution, the fewer bits are rejected.

    Another alternative that people fond of obscurification like is the Hubbert Curve

    The Hubbert curve is a way of estimating the likely total output of an oil well. 🙂

    As you can see, these academics are trying to fit reality into their shoe box. Happily, reality will have none of that as the curve below for cases of chest infection (by age) in Germany shows.

    For making decisions to shut down entire economies, I would expect something that runs on a Cray

    Actually, how epidemics spread can be demonstrated quite effectively on a large piece of cardboard and some dice.

    This can be speeded up a lot by using any old PC as it is something quite easy to do. We did this sort of stuff as an assignment at Imperial College in 1973 on an IBM1130 which had 8k of memory and a hard disk of 500k. We simulated Heathrow Airport’s landings with the aircraft stacked and waiting to land.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
    , @Philip Owen
  96. bjondo says:
    @GoMore

    …permanent state of house arrest for the population, …

    That’s the plan.

    Depends if people act like sheep and follow the stupid orders
    or refuse as some have: the hairdresser in TX, Elon Musk,
    few others acting like they are descended from balls not tits.

    5 dancing shlomos

    • Replies: @Sparkon
  97. Alfred says:
    @utu

    They implement their algorithms and models by themselves. It is a very practical approach as it is easier to write a code by a scientist than him having to explain what needs to be done to a programmer and then supervising him at every step.

    If the academic is unable to put in writing his thoughts, he is peddling trash.

    I was “Directeur Informatique” (IT manager) at one of the top business school in Europe, INSEAD at Fontainebleau, France. The academics had to explain in writing what they wanted before I allowed any of my programmers to start work. There was no other way. Everyone knew that academics were incompetent at writing code. If Ferguson did it all by himself that is remarkable considering that Bill Gates paid over $5000 per line of code.

    I really don’t like replying to your missives as I believe you are a troll.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @CanSpeccy
  98. bjondo says:
    @botazefa

    …because I don’t know anyone who has it or has heard of someone who tested positive…

    Same here.
    Don’t know anyone who has this shadowy thing.

    Been to 2 large, 2 medium grocers last couple weeks.
    Asked masked and unmasked employees if any workers
    or friends/family have gotten sick -no

    Gas station – no.
    Bank – no.
    Auto shop – no.
    Neighbors – no.
    Called local AM/FM radio – no.
    Funeral home – everybody dead.

    5 dancing shlomos

    • Replies: @Paul C.
  99. Skeptikal says:
    @Pft

    BTW I see your posts at MoA—generally agree.
    I have been banned there.
    I think because I called out an obvious troll.

  100. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @utu

    When the last infected patient is cured, when the last virus is destroyed the epidemic stops. It is simple like that.

    Simple-minded, anyhow.

    Means you have to isolate from the rest of the world, for as long as the disease agent is in circulation anywhere.

    But isolating from the world is not what they are doing in Wuhan.

    They have an airline flight arriving from all over about every five minutes.

    What’s more they have a new Covid flare-up there now. That means a bunch of people were infected several weeks ago. Infected, that is, by some person or persons who may have been creating new infections ever since.

    Epidemics don’t end the way you imagine.

    They end with a reproduction number below one, due to widespread immunity achieved either by widespread infection or by a global vaccination campaign as vast as the smallpox eradication effort.

    Or they can end with death of an entire community, as happened in a number of communities as
    a result of the plague during the 14 century.

    Wuhan has been ordered to conduct a comprehensive survey of immunity — all eleven million inhabitants to be tested for Covid-19 antibodies.

    If we get an truthful report, we’ll know then whether the Chinese epidemic ended through the magic of tyrannical control or the usual way, with herd immunity.

  101. anon[161] • Disclaimer says:
    @450.org

    botazefa must have been teased (as a teen) or maybe he still is one. Yes, the Chinese (including the ones in H.K and Taiwan) made it very clear what works.

    China: We discovered a new virus.
    America: So what?

    • Replies: @Sean
  102. Paul C. says:
    @bjondo

    Get ready to be shouted down for thinking for yourself. On this “alternative” site the majority prefer to let the MSM and the obviously corrupt gov’t tell them what and how to think.

    If anyone should be quarantined, it’s the MSM and the Gov’t. Lock’em up and throw away the key. The zombies don’t understand we’re under attack. The poor souls will be lining up for their vaccine shot, not knowing or caring what’s in it. The same reaction they have to the lines in the sky. No thinking required or tolerated.

  103. utu says:
    @Alfred

    “I was “Directeur Informatique” (IT manager) at one of the top business school in Europe” until something got me unhinged and since then I am caught in the downward spiral. – It happens to smart people with a serious personality disorder. Character is your destiny.

    • Replies: @Alfred
  104. Sean says:
    @anon

    China: We discovered a new virus.
    America: So what?

    They (China and the WHO) said it was not infectious between people. China also said 15% infected with it died.

  105. CanSpeccy says:
    @Alfred

    If the academic is unable to put in writing his thoughts, he is peddling trash.

    Absolutely. Whatever their programming expertise, an investigator unable to state the functionality they desire in a program, can hardly be expected to write a useful program?

    But what a program designer who leaves the coding to a programmer must do is check the functionality of every program module and user interface, as well as the integration of components.

    That the Ferguson group were content to use a program that yielded different outputs with the same inputs, settling for a mean of the output of multiple runs, tells you something was seriously wrong with their whole approach.

    The same don’t-give-a-damn approach to what Private Eye used to call Ugandan Affairs that, none too soon, finished Ferguson’s career as a government advisor.

    • Replies: @Alfred
  106. Sean says:
    @res

    The reason the flights were not ended before the epidemic was out of control is China–unwittingly or not– misled the world about the prospects of an epidemic and the experts were too trusting of China. When Trump* ended flights from China: “hysterical xenophobia” *

    *China did not end them, but it did ban internal flights from Wuhan and tell the world that the virus did not spread between people easily enough to cause an epidemic.

    • Replies: @res
  107. @CanSpeccy

    Go and look at the numbers for Third World non-communist countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. These countries have huge populations living in over-crowded conditions, large Chinese minorities, proximity to the epicentre of the pandemic and widespread travel to and from China until it became obvious there was an epidemic, yet their Covid-19 numbers are modest compared to those in Western Europe and USA. So it seems that even poor countries without these advanced medical facilities of the West have had far greater success in combating this disease. Of course the West has a higher proportion of the elderly in their population but those countries have far greater absolute numbers of the elderly than the West and yet they’re not dying of Covid-19 in such great numbers. There is of course the possible effect of warmer weather and that people there don’t object to wearing face masks as much as some whites seem to. And their people are far more sociable than Europeans and yet have handled the emergency measures far better, although there is discontent there too. I know everyone is talking about Japan and South Korea as success stories in the far East but these other less developed countries are not doing much worse.

    Sure I’m confused when I compare Chinese and US numbers, but then I’m not sure who is more likely to be lying and for what reasons.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  108. @Alfred

    Actually, how epidemics spread can be demonstrated quite effectively on a large piece of cardboard and some dice.

    It’s not just about the spread of the epidemic and how certain measures affect that. A decision making process should also look at the knock-on effects and potential costs of those. Ideally try to work some of that into a larger model of the world, and not just the virus’ spread.

    To get around a serious discussion of the policy making, they’ve figured out that all they have to do is trumpet the phrase, “You only care about money, not people” (which seems to be true in any case), and then make up big scary numbers of people who will die frim the disease, with only a passing reference that people might be “impacted” by the cost of the policy response.

  109. @Ron Unz

    It’s not just about the spread of the epidemic and how certain measures affect that. A decision making process should also look at the knock-on effects and potential costs of those. Ideally try to work some of that into a larger model of the world, and not just focus on the virus’ spread.

    To get around a serious discussion of the policy making, they’ve (whoever they are) figured out that all they have to do is trumpet the phrase, “You only care about money, not people” (which seems to be true in any case), and then make up big scary numbers of people who will die from the disease, with only a passing reference that people might be “impacted” by other costs of the policy response.

  110. dearieme says:
    @Skeptikal

    So the proposition is that the whole world will be ruined deliberately but somehow someone will still make a fortune from vaccines?

    Have you tried stand-up?

  111. Alfred says:
    @utu

    Enjoy your cubicle. 🙂

  112. Alfred says:
    @CanSpeccy

    finished Ferguson’s career as a government advisor

    Don’t be so sure. Ferguson has a history of terrible projections. He has served his purpose for now. He is well-protected. They will bring him back when they need him again. The public will associate him with competence once more because the media will wipe the past clean. Wikipedia will have a nice write up about his talents. 🙁

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  113. botazefa says:
    @anon

    Aww, such a sensitive little liberty freak

    Seems my ‘feelz’ triggered you.

  114. The #LyingMSM sure seem to act like they know it’s a hoax when they think the cameras are off:

  115. COVID-19: Melatonin as a potential adjuvant treatment

    Abstract

    This article summarizes the likely benefits of melatonin in the attenuation of COVID-19 based on its putative pathogenesis. The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has become a pandemic with tens of thousands of infected patients. Based on clinical features, pathology, the pathogenesis of acute respiratory disorder induced by either highly homogenous coronaviruses or other pathogens, the evidence suggests that excessive inflammation, oxidation, and an exaggerated immune response very likely contribute to COVID-19 pathology. This leads to a cytokine storm and subsequent progression to acute lung injury (ALI)/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and often death. Melatonin, a well-known anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative molecule, is protective against ALI/ARDS caused by viral and other pathogens. Melatonin is effective in critical care patients by reducing vessel permeability, anxiety, sedation use, and improving sleeping quality, which might also be beneficial for better clinical outcomes for COVID-19 patients. Notably, melatonin has a high safety profile. There is significant data showing that melatonin limits virus-related diseases and would also likely be beneficial in COVID-19 patients. Additional experiments and clinical studies are required to confirm this speculation.

  116. Another model around mask wearing:

    https://www1.icsi.berkeley.edu/~dekai/mirror/masksim/

    However, haven’t found the code as yet.

  117. res says:
    @Ron Unz

    Thanks for the info! If I have the conversion right that is 4AM GMT in the timestamps. Which would be right before comment 17 (rather than 19). So I was close–about one hour and two comments off.

  118. res says:
    @Sean

    Trump announced (the word I used, intentionally) the Chinese travel restrictions on January 31st. They became effective February 2nd. If you look at this page you can see how many countries put on restrictions at the end of January.

    https://www.thinkglobalhealth.org/article/travel-restrictions-china-due-covid-19

    I strongly agree with the following statement of yours.

    When Trump* ended flights from China: “hysterical xenophobia” *

    All of the politicians wailing about Trump not doing enough need to revisit what they said at that time.

  119. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Commentator Mike

    Go and look at the numbers for Third World non-communist countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. These countries have huge populations living in over-crowded conditions, large Chinese minorities, proximity to the epicentre of the pandemic and widespread travel to and from China until it became obvious there was an epidemic, yet their Covid-19 numbers are modest compared to those in Western Europe and USA. SSo it seems that even poor countries without these advanced medical facilities of the West have had far greater success in combating this disease.

    As I noted in response to a comment by Ron Unz (to which I doubt he will reply), excluding deaths of very old and sick inmates of care homes, mostly staffed by the cheapest available labor, i.e., part-time, contract labor, without relevant qualifications, often working at more than onefacility, the better to spread infection from one home to another, the infection-specific mortality in New York City, one of the worst hit places in the world, may be as low as 0.07%, which in a third-world context is indistinguishable from zero.

    So I would say it is not that “even poor countries without advanced medical facilities of the West have had far greater success [than the West] in combating this disease,” but that the disease kills almost no one but the very old and sick anywhere.

    However, it is probably true that Covid19 kills more people in the prosperous West than in the more or less impoverished Rest because Western nations:

    (1) have a proportionately larger population of the very old;

    (2) gather the very sickest and oldest together in care homes, which may be subject to murderous directives from State Governors (in the US that is, e.g., New York, New Jersey, Virginia and several others) to admit new residents known to be infected by the virus;

    (3) Western populations may have a higher incidence of predisposing conditions, especially obesity and diabetes;

    (4) Smoking is more common in China and many other Third World countries than in the West, and bizarrely, nicotine is apparently protective against the virus.

  120. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Alfred

    Ferguson has a history of terrible projections. He has served his purpose for now. He is well-protected. They will bring him back when they need him again.

    Yes, as the late Freeman Dyson said:

    In the modern world, science and society often interact in a perverse way. We live in a technological society, and technology causes political problems. The politicians and the public expect science to provide answers to the problems. Scientific experts are paid and encouraged to provide answers. The public does not have much use for a scientist who says, “Sorry, but we don’t know”. The public prefers to listen to scientists who give confident answers to questions and make confident predictions of what will happen as a result of human activities. So it happens that the experts who talk publicly about politically contentious questions tend to speak more clearly than they think. They make confident predictions about the future, and end up believing their own predictions. Their predictions become dogmas which they do not question. The public is led to believe that the fashionable scientific dogmas are true, and it may sometimes happen that they are wrong. That is why heretics who question the dogmas are needed.

  121. Sparkon says:
    @bjondo

    Depends if people act like sheep and follow the stupid orders […] 5 dancing shlomos

    Sez the sheep who continually repeats the false meme of 5 dancing shlomos.

    There was never any report of any dancing by the five high-fivin’ photo-shlomos on 9/11.

    Zip. Zero. Zilch.

    Rather, the five Israeli employees of Urban Moving Systems were reported to have been celebrating, exchanging high fives, and mugging for photographs on 9/11, but never did anyone report them dancing, so you are perpetuating disinformation by parroting this bogus meme.

    Baa, Baa, black sheep, have you any wool?
    Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.

    One for the master,
    And one for the dame,
    One for the little boy
    Who lives down the lane

    Five high-fivin’ photo-shlomos…

    • Replies: @bjondo
    , @Paul C.
  122. @Alfred

    I did fish populations in the North Sea a few years later. I never saw the computer. Just handed in the punched cards.

  123. bjondo says:
    @Sparkon

    Again,
    thank you.
    See previous reply.

    You can balance by using your suggestion,
    especially for the sake of posterity.

    I will continue as is.
    DOB: Approx 2002.

    And,
    too many key strokes.

    5 dancing shlomos

  124. Paul C. says:
    @Sparkon

    Rather, the five Israeli employees of Urban Moving Systems were reported to have been celebrating, exchanging high fives, and mugging for photographs on 9/11, but never did anyone report them dancing, so you are perpetuating disinformation by parroting this bogus meme.

    This has got to be the most dimwitted comment I’ve ever read on Unz. The context of “dancing” in 5 dancing Israeli’s is exactly what you described: celebrating, high fives and mugging for photographs in front of the burning towers with people dying in them. Did you think he implied they were doing the rhumba? Are you that daft? And what kind of person attacks a 9/11 truther? What a sad character you are.

  125. Does SARS-Cov-2 still bind to sialic acid even though it also binds to the ACE2 receptor?

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6554059/

    If so, then our normal defenses against the flu virus would also help against SARS-Cov-2.

  126. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    Could it be that the Corona virus panic is the first case of global mass hysteria?

    Will we soon see mobs, including no doubt, graduates of Harvard and Stanford Universities, grabbing non-mask-wearing “spreaders” to burn them, hang them, or dunk them in a pond?

    And will we ever have valid numbers on either infection rates or virus-related death rates?

    Might these not be a productive lines of inquiry for the community of academic psychologists?

  127. So, who will supply masks to the airlines? I mean who is the wholesaler for British Airways? My Chinese supplier just qualified their output of KN95/FFP2 masks. Orders of up to 3 million a day accepted subject to 6 weeks notice. 100’s of thousands with immediate effect. Pity I am a mask sceptic.

    I suspect there will be no takers. The HMG’s procurement activities have been abysmal. They have been reinventing the wheel while sitting on a galloping horse. We still belong to the excellent EU tendering system and are likely to do so for the foreseeable future because it gives our firms access continuig access to EU contracts. HMG couldn’t be that stupid? Could they? HMG seem to have a top down bright ideas approach where the bright ideas are totally uninformed by experience or knowledge or the fabulous Rolls Royce of the Civil Service. Shades of Dominic Cummings.

  128. Akouo says:

    Lots of ‘hindsight’ and justification AFTER the fact. Lot’s of mismatched and debunked nonsense mixed with a heavy dose of missing the point. Why a lockdown? Why an obvious suicide of economy for a known contagion? This is not about health. Perhaps it’s about interest rates and the spectre of the elephant called derivatives. Just imagine what would happen if the interest rate really DID go up!

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  129. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Akouo

    Yep, time for Ron Unz to put down his “Hang the Hoaxers, and Dunk the Deniers” placard. The game’s just about over. A study from the University of Manchester estimates the UK has now achieved herd immunity with an infection rate of 25%.

    with a reported UK Covid19 death toll, so far, of 33,614, a 25% infection rate, and a population of 67 million, the apparent infection-specific Covid19 mortality rate is just under one in 2000, or 0.05%, about the same as the seasonal flu.

    If, as in Canada, Italy, the US, and many other countries, most Covid 19 deaths in the UK are among elderly residents of care-homes, those numbers imply a Covid19 infection-specific death toll among the non-care-home-resident population of between 0.01 and 0.025%, or one or two per 40,000.

    Ample justification for wrecking the economy, and driving people nuts due to weeks of pointless incarceration, no doubt, but time to end the insanity now and allow people to get on with their lives.

    • Replies: @geokat62
    , @Ron Unz
  130. geokat62 says:
    @CanSpeccy

    A study from the University of Manchester estimates the UK has now achieved herd immunity with an infection rate of 25%.

    Do you have a source?

    • Replies: @res
    , @CanSpeccy
  131. res says:
    @geokat62

    Here is an article about the study:
    https://www.mirror.co.uk/science/coronavirus-over-25-uk-likely-22025278

    The study is here:
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ijcp.13528

    I see the statement: “29% of the population may already have had the disease and so have increased immunity”, but I am not seeing a claim that herd immunity has been achieved.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  132. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @geokat62

    Sorry, I omitted the source:

    https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-uk-covid-.html

    Quoting from which:

    The published case data from the 144 Local Authorities analyzed by the team now gives an R value of well below 1.

    The value—which was over 3 at the start of the outbreak in the middle of March 2020—fell as a consequence of social distancing combined with the natural consequences of cumulative community infection.

    Daily reported cases peaked at the beginning of April 2020 and hospital deaths a week later in England. By the second half of April, based on extrapolating the variation in infection rate between local authorities with more or less cases reported depending on location, over 25% in the UK population could already have had the virus, the team have found.

    I don’t understand the methodology, but if it is valid, and if R nought was below one sometime last month, there would seem no justification for continued lock-down. R nought will go up when the lockdown ends but most people will likelycontinue to wash hands, avoid crowds, etc. and thus moderate the rise in the rate of new infections.

    And if they take effective steps to keep covid19 out of care homes, the death rate should fall rapidly.

    • Thanks: geokat62
  133. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @res

    I am not seeing a claim that herd immunity has been achieved.

    The medical express link I just provided reports the claim that R nought is now less than one. Hence the conclusion that herd immunity has been achieved. This may be lost if an end to the lockdown sharply increases social interaction.

    However, it’s likely that people will continue to minimize the risk of infection in the various approved ways, so even if the lockdown ends now, R nought is likely to remain low and down-trending after any initial rise.

    And remember the reported 27% infection rate occurred weeks ago, so must be higher now.

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  134. Ron Unz says:
    @CanSpeccy

    Yep, time for Ron Unz to put down his “Hang the Hoaxers, and Dunk the Deniers” placard. The game’s just about over. A study from the University of Manchester estimates the UK has now achieved herd immunity with an infection rate of 25%

    Ha, ha, ha. The crazy Flu Hoaxers who hang around on my website are now coming up with the most ridiculous sort of nonsense to justify their stupid ideas. I’d be absolutely *astonished* if 25% of Britain—16M people—have already been infected. And, no, I don’t accept “extrapolating the variation in infection rate” as solid evidence.

    We actually *know* the approximate infection rate in NYC based upon random testing, and it was over 20%. The death rate was over 1% of the infected population.

    Similarly, nationwide testing in Spain indicates that the infection rate is about 5%, and once again, roughly 1% of all the infected people died:

    https://www.unz.com/isteve/spain-still-far-from-herd-immunity/

    Elsewhere, the death rate has been closer to 0.5%. The massive dataset from China is perfectly consistent with this range of fatalities.

    So unless British people are magic in some way, if 16M British people had been infected, you’d have had between 80K and 160K deaths.

    The problem with calculating Covid-19 deaths is over-counting and under-counting due to misclassification, so it’s best to look at “excess deaths.” As reported in a good NYT column this morning, a Harvard statistician did this for the US and estimated that deaths are now over 100K:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/13/opinion/coronavirus-us-deaths.html

    Although 20% of devastated NYC was infected, my guess is that the nationwide figure is somewhere around 4%. And if a 4% infection rate has killed over 100K Americans, simple multiplication will get you the body-count for any higher infection rate. Complex computer models just aren’t necessary.

    The whole focus on computer infection models seems ridiculous to me. They’ve only been around for a few decades, while governments have been coping with dangerous epidemics for thousands of years. So how did people decide what to do before computer models came along?

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  135. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Ron Unz

    Ha, ha, ha. The crazy Flu Hoaxers who hang around on my website are now coming up with the most ridiculous sort of nonsense to justify their stupid ideas. I’d be absolutely *astonished* if 25% of Britain—16M people—have already been infected.

    Well no doubt you are a lot smarter than the peer reviewers for the International Journal of Clinical Practice, even if they are specialists in a field in which you have no recognized expertise, but for a math/physics guy, you’re arithmetic is surprisingly imprecise.

    You claim a 1% death rate from Covid 19 in NY City, which is simply wrong. The infection rate for New York City was reported by Governor Cuomi to have been 21% on April 20, when the “probable” covid-related death toll was reported to be 15,000, so based on those crude figures, the covid death toll was 0.85%. But no one actually knows with any certainty what the covid death toll was, since death certificates usually misstate the cause of death. Most likely, during an epidemic, whatever looks like it might have been caused by the epidemic agent will be attributed to that agent even though there are a lot of other causes of mortality that look pretty much the same.

    But in any case, even if the rate was o.85%, that reflects chiefly death of very old and sick people in care homes. Those homes are being forced by New York State Health Department to admit or readmit patients known to be infected with Covid19. Thus a death sentence is being imposed on many care home residents who are the people most likely to be killed by the disease and among whom the virus spreads easily.

    Excluding deaths of care home residents — which likely account for between half and three-quarters of all covid19 deaths in the US, as in Canada, Italy, UK, etc. — New York City’s Covid19 death toll is probably nearer 0.35 than 0.85% — as I pointed out to you some time ago.

    And New York City is just about the worst affected place in the world, due most likely to a combination of air pollution, crowding, and widespread poverty, among other factors. Thus, in Britain, with 27% testing positive for covid antibodies, the Covid19 mortality rate is 0.5%, or likely not more than around half that if one excludes care home victims.

    This you think is not comparable to the seasonal flu, but according to some reports, the US death rate from the flu is much higher. Thus it was reported:

    There were 8,602 cases of flu confirmed in New York City in the week ending Feb 1, 2020, the state’s department of health said.

    “So far this season in the U.S. (there’s been) a mortality rate from flu-like illnesses and pneumonia of around 7 percent,” Dr. Charles Bailey, an infectious disease specialist with St. Joseph Hospital in Irvine, California, told Healthline.

    “Clearly, if there’s no panic concerning the current flu season — which is a fairly normal one — panic over (the) domestic 2019 coronavirus situation doesn’t seem justified at present.”

    Wow, “7% mortality from flu-like illnesses and pneumonia.” Now there you have real killers.

    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  136. utu says:

    I have looked at the University of Manchester paper. It is one of the strangest things I have ever seen. Does the “it is not even wrong apply” or that the stupidity is so impetuous that it can’t be stopped.

    Here is my summary: They look at data from 149 communities, Upper Tier Local Authority (UTLA). For each community they calculate daily rate of infection Radir and smooth it with 7 day moving average. They also calculate the slope ∆IR of Radir vs. days over 7 days. The plot ∆IR vs. Radir for the communities on the 19/04/20 and color code reported infections per 1,000 with red the highest and green the lowest. At this point they have the eureka moment of pure unobstructed by thinking genius: they notice that the red point have lower Radir and green point have higher Radir. They conclude that Radir vs. (reported cases per 1,000) will have a negative slope. Here is what they say:

    The inclusion of the number of reported cases/1,000 population quartiles show that those regions with the highest cases/1,000 population now have the lowest infection rates, suggesting there may be a relationship between these two factors.

    So they generate Figure 4 of Radir vs. (reported cases per 1,000). They do linear regressions which btw has r2= 0.22 and get the zero point which occurs at 6.6 reported infections per 1,000. And now comes the real genius which must have been inspired by the divine intervention:

    Radir=0 implies that epidemic stops because population reaches immunity. Everybody wants to publish something about the coronavirus.
    Population reaches immunity when 100% population is infected.
    1,000/6.6=150 must be the factor by which the reported cases undercount the actual infection cases.

    If this relationship is linear then extrapolation (See Figure 4) shows zero RADIR being achieved at 6.6 reported cases/1,000 community population. Therefore, to achieve full population immunity, this is equivalent to 150 community cases for each reported case.

    Now the factor 150 is used to get the actual number of infections from the reported infections by scaling by 150:

    This also suggests with current 105,000 reported cases that 16.1 million (26.8% of the total population) have now been infected.

    There are some small discrepancy in this: 105,000*(1,000/6.6)=15.9 million and 16.1 million is 24.15% of 66.65 million – UK population from google.

    How did the minds of these geniuses work? They see a bunch of point and know you can always fit a straight line and calculate intercept, slope and zero point. Because they parameter always have some physical meaning, right? They focused on the zero point reasoning that Radir=0 means the infection must have stopped, right? Then they make a trivial through in this case a very bold assumption that infections stops when everybody is infected. So they can calculate the coefficient 1,000/6/6=150 from which it follows that the UK is almost 1/3rd infected.

    The availble pdf of the article has a big stamp Accepted Article one each page.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  137. Ron Unz says:
    @CanSpeccy

    And remember the reported 27% infection rate occurred weeks ago, so must be higher now.

    So some sort of ridiculous hand-waving estimate based upon “extrapolating the variation in infection rate” concluded that 27% of British people have already been infected. Okay.

    But the BBC just reported that an actual, real-live random test of 11,000 British people produced VERY different results, finding that only 0.27%(!!!) had been infected:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52662066

    So your hand-waving, model-based nonsense appears to be off by a factor of 100x from what you get when you actually test people at random.

    Actually, that 0.27% result seems suspiciously low to me, and the true figure might be several times higher. But it’s certainly not 27%.

    • LOL: CanSpeccy
    • Replies: @James Thompson
    , @CanSpeccy
  138. @Ron Unz

    The 0.27% figure, which I quoted in a tweet a few days ago, is for those currently infected (or semi-currently if you factor in the time course of the disease). It is an antigen test and covers those with the virus from 27 April to 10 May, a two week period.

    Therefore, one might expect a real antibody test to show a higher figure. My back of an envelope calculation is that if the 0.27% is equivalent to seropositives over 2 weeks, then the true figure might be from 5 to 10 times higher, depending how long it has been knocking about in the UK. If we assume roughly 16 weeks, then the true figure on an antibody test will be 8 times as high, which is 2.2%. Not very high.

    • Replies: @Astuteobservor II
  139. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @utu

    I have looked at the University of Manchester paper. It is one of the strangest things I have ever seen. Does the “it is not even wrong apply”

    So the article has the Utu stamp of contemptuous dismissal. Still, London has only 24 reported new cases of Covid-19 per day. So however stupid those people at UMist may be, the Covid19 epidemic in Britain is virtually at an end, as the results claimed in the UMist paper imply.

    Chiefly, Covid19 has been an effective mechanism for clearing out old-people’s homes, as we pointed out in February, although the magnitude of the resulting demographic rectification will likely be less than I envisaged then.

    For those neither very sick nor very old, infection has mostly not even been noticed.

    • Replies: @utu
  140. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Ron Unz

    So some sort of ridiculous hand-waving estimate based upon “extrapolating the variation in infection rate” concluded that 27% of British people have already been infected. Okay.

    But the BBC just reported that an actual, real-live random test of 11,000 British people produced VERY different results, finding that only 0.27%(!!!) had been infected:

    So who you gonna believe, scientists at Europe’s largest if not greatest university writing in a peer-reviewed article in a journal published by John Wiley and Sons, an old-established firm of science publishers, or the BBC?

    And before anyone jumps to a conclusion on that, note that the BBC number is impossible if Google is correctly reporting 237,000 Covid infections in the UK, since that amounts to more than 0.27% of the county’s population.

    Further, New York City’s total of reported covid19 cases today (189,000) equals 2.26% of the population. Yet several weeks ago, 20% of the population was reported to have antibodies to Covid19. So weeks ago, the proportion of the City’s population with covid19 antibodies was 8.9 times the number of reported Covid 19 cases today. If the ratio of those with covid19 antibodies to the number of reported covid19 cases were the same for the UK as for New York City, there would now be at least 2.1 million UK residents with Covid19 antibodies, or 3.1% of the population: more than ten times the BBC number you cite.

    What is almost certain, is that far more people have been infected by Covid19 than are reported to have been made ill by it, and indeed many, probably most, of those infected are unaware of the fact.

    This is no longer time for hyperventilating panic, but a time to reflect on why the response to Covid19 has been so disproportionate to the harm wrought by the virus, so corrosive of freedom, and so economically self-destructive.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  141. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @CanSpeccy

    if Google is correctly reporting 237,000 Covid infections in the UK

    However, according to the UK Government’s scientific advisory panel, 1.8 million people in London (20 per cent) have already been infected by Covid 19.

    Moreover, the reproduction number (R0) for Covid19 in Britain is now estimated to less than 1.0 in every region of the country. Moreover, the data show that R0 was falling fast before the the country was locked down. Thus the lockdowns can be seen in hindsight to have been a multi-trillion pound/dollar/Yuan mistake.

    Perhaps the most interesting question now is how are those wonderfully smart, female-led, zero-new-infections New Zealanders going to exit quarantine:

  142. geokat62 says:

    The Swedish Approach to the Coronavirus Pandemic:

    Description:

    Diehard Swedes: In contrast to the vast majority of European countries, Sweden has bet on herd immunity and individual responsibility as proscribed by Anders Tegnell. But not all doctors support the newly hyped epidemiologist.

  143. utu says:
    @CanSpeccy

    The U of Manchester paper is really very bad. Methodologically it is an embarrassment. Cardinally false assumptions are made like that the zero point of the extrapolated line which they think suppose to signify the end of epidemic is equivalent to the 100% infection prevalence. This assumption gives them the factor of 150 which leads to outrageously overestimated conclusion.

    Unfortunately the critics of the paper do not address the methodology as I did. I read the paper very carefully. The critics rather take Ron Unz’s approach that their conclusion is totally unrealistic because of other empirical studies like serological tests and because of a basic common sense. So while I agree with Ron Unz because I am his yes-man, so I must, I want to go further. I would like the authors of the paper put in pillory, laughed at, stigmatized and have their scientific careers finished. They really deserve it.

    Here are the critics:

    expert reaction to study reporting the suggestion that 25% of people in the UK are likely to have already been infected by the COVID-19 virus
    https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-study-reporting-the-suggestion-that-25-of-people-in-the-uk-are-likely-to-have-already-been-infected-by-the-covid-19-virus/

    Dr Konstantin Blyuss brings up methodology: “The second issue concerns the methodology. The value of R is notoriously difficult to estimate, and as a result, the estimates always have a wide margin of error, which means that it is almost impossible to rely on accurate estimates of R for any significant population-wide conclusions.” but he is barking at the wrong tree. The parameter Radir that U of M estimates and uses in their extrapolation is not the reproduction number R. But he is right that Radir is burdened by huge errors which shows in very low correlation of r2=0.22. With so low correlation the confidence interval on the value of the zero point (6.6 infected/1000 in their case) will be very wide. They did not estimate it. No sensitivity analysis. If they did they would have to claim that in UK with 95% confidence level anywhere form 3% to 50% people are infected or something like that. But this is not my main objection.

    My main objection is that there is no theoretical justification for doing a linear extrapolation of the regression line of data points ( Radir, total prevalence of infection) for many different populations (UTLA). That in their data points the linear regression line happens to have a negative slope is a pure luck. Because of the negative slope they can define and calculate the zero point into the future from which based on cardinally wrong assumption that the end of epidemic means 100% prevalence they get their ridiculously hight coefficient of 150.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  144. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @utu

    You may be right. The paper may be more or less pure nonsense. Most scholarly journal articles are, apparently.

    I haven’t attempted to critique the paper because it is not in what is, or was, in my field of expertise. But even if most journal articles are rubbish, one has to assume that a significant number are not, so I have to assume that the conclusions of this particular paper might be valid.

    And it seems the main conclusion is correct. The Covid19 reproduction number in every region of Britain is less than one, or so the UK Government is being advised, this presumably being based on a valid calculation on valid data.

    Thus key consequences of the pandemic seems to be (a) the clearing out of a large proportion of sick and elderly care home residents (over 23,000 in Britain, or almost half of all Covid deaths), and (b) an unnecessary, government-induced economic downturn unparalleled since the Great Depression.

    For the great majority of people, Covid19 appears to be a mild infection that in most cases will not even be noticed.

    Today, among those likely to find the infection most troublesome are the heads of governments where spread of the virus was brilliantly stopped at the earliest stage and where they now have to figure out how to re-engage with the rest of the world without admitting that their quarantines and lockdowns were for naught.

    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  145. @James Thompson

    2.2% and the hoaxers are screaming “herd immunity” already.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  146. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Astuteobservor II

    2.2% and the hoaxers are screaming “herd immunity” already.

    In all jurisdictions in North America and Europe daily totals of new infections are reported to be declining. That means the number of people each newly infected person infects, i.e., the reproduction number, is less than one. That means herd immunity has been reached.

    Ending lockdowns may raise the reproduction number above one, but as it is reported from Gangelt, Germany, New York City and, according to the Umist Study, in Britain as a whole that infection rates are in the 15 to 25% range, herd immunity will be maintained or rapidly regained following an end to lock-downs provided people continue to take precaution to minimize risk of infection, i.e., hand washing, avoiding crowds and crowded places, working at home where possible, etc.

    The change of season should also help, with people being outdoors more and therefore more spread out, and exposed to more sunshine and therefore having a higher vitamin D status. Moreover, the virus likely spreads pneumonically less well in warm dry weather than in the dull damp days of late winter and early spring.

  147. Vojkan says:

    Sneezing is not a symptom of covid-19. I sneeze a lot in this season. On the other hand, coughing in the middle of a (distantiated) crowd before saying ‘I beg your pardon’ in order to attract attention…
    Regarding ‘distantiation’, funny how an American word (British English dictionaries say it’s American English) got to gain a whole new meaning (originally it’s about emotional or intellectual not physical distance) on a global scale and in other languages. In French, the original meaning of ‘se distancier’, in the various forms of Serbo-Croat ‘distancirati’, is the exact same as the original meaning of ‘distantiate’ in American. How that word came to mean physical distance on a global scale? How different outlets in different countries came up with identical charts and tables down to the color codes and with only numbers changed to present covid-19 statistics? How… I’m conspiracy-theorising again.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
    , @Philip Owen
  148. @CanSpeccy

    And it seems the main conclusion is correct. The Covid19 reproduction number in every region of Britain is less than one,

    I haven’t read that paper but that conclusion at least seems to be right, however, for different reasons than you are suggesting. How can there be a high R if people are locked down, wearing masks, practicing social distancing, etc.? Surely the reinfection rate is going down everywhere there is/has been a lock down in place because of the impossibility/low likelihood of spreading the virus under such conditions rather than that heard immunity has been reached.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  149. @CanSpeccy

    Wow, “7% mortality from flu-like illnesses and pneumonia.”

    I’m not sure what that says. Does it include Covid-19 as Covid-19 is a flu-like illness?

    BTW we should be seeing a decrease in the incidence of influenza and deaths thereof due to the lock down. Since Covid-19 and the flu are spread in much the same way then the Ro for flu should have gone down also. Unless sufficient quantities of the virus to cause infection are present in the general air in which case the lock down measures would have little or no effect since we all breathe it, indoors or outdoors.

    • Replies: @res
  150. res says:
    @Commentator Mike

    BTW we should be seeing a decrease in the incidence of influenza and deaths thereof due to the lock down. Since Covid-19 and the flu are spread in much the same way then the Ro for flu should have gone down also.

    In the US the COVID-19 lockdowns ended the flu season almost immediately. Week 13 was the end of March.
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  151. News articles are now catching up on what a dumb-ass Ferguson was:

    Coding that led to lockdown was ‘totally unreliable’ and a ‘buggy mess’, say experts

    The code, written by Professor Neil Ferguson and his team at Imperial College London, was impossible to read, scientists claim

    • Replies: @utu
  152. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Commentator Mike

    How can there be a high R if people are locked down, wearing masks, practicing social distancing, etc.?

    Certainly modification of behavior to reduce viral spread will lower R0. Still, in most jurisdictions reported Covid19 cases were rising day by day for weeks after the imposition of lock-downs. Later, daily reports indicated that the rate of infection was falling. The most likely explanation for transition from rising infection rates to falling infection rates is that there was an increase in immunity as the infected proportion of the population (many asymptomatic) rose. Thus, once the daily infection rates began trending down, it is reasonable to infer that, under the prevailing conditions, herd immunity had been achieved, although other explanations are possible — a change in the weather, for example.

    Ending lock-downs will result in an increase R0, possibly above 1.0. In that case herd immunity will be lost, although widespread immunity will still exist, which will hasten the attainment of herd immunity under conditions of increased ease of viral transmission.

  153. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @res

    Not sure the lock-down had anything much to do with the end of the 2019-2020 flu season. There is the same pattern most years with a sharp decline to essentially nothing by weeks 12-14, e.g., 2018-2019:
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2018-2019/Week39.htm

    Which raises the question whether lockdowns had much to do with the decline in Covid19 infections.

  154. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Vojkan

    How different outlets in different countries came up with identical charts and tables down to the color codes and with only numbers changed to present covid-19 statistics? How…

    There’s this:

    And this:
    Bizarre EU Funded Comic Book Predicted Pandemic, With Globalists As Saviours

  155. @CanSpeccy

    Wait. How do you account for New York?

    Are you one of those conspiracy theorists who claim that it was Cuomo sending SARS-COV-2 positive old people back to nursing homes?

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
    , @dearieme
  156. res says:
    @CanSpeccy

    Not sure the lock-down had anything much to do with the end of the 2019-2020 flu season. There is the same pattern most years with a sharp decline to essentially nothing by weeks 12-14, e.g., 2018-2019:

    Let’s put the two plots right next to each other.

    Now focus on from week 11 on for both plots. Week 11 was 3/9 – 3/15. Right when the early COVID-19 countermeasures were being applied.

    Now notice how in 2020 week 13 infections were down from over 10,000 to almost 0. While in 2019 week 13 still had over 10,000 infections. And the number of infections remained over 1,000 until week 18. That difference seems rather obvious to me. The 2020 decline was both earlier and steeper.

    Which raises the question whether lockdowns had much to do with the decline in Covid19 infections.

    We agree on a lot of COVID-19 issues, but here I am quite confident you are wrong. Whether or not the lockdowns specifically were helpful, the whole spectrum of countermeasures has made a difference. Seasonality would have helped, but not to the extent we have seen.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
    , @TRM
  157. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @Peripatetic Commenter

    Are you one of those conspiracy theorists who claim that it was Cuomo sending SARS-COV-2 positive old people back to nursing homes?

    Are you accusing the New York Times of promoting a conspiracy theory?

    New York Times: ‘Playing Russian Roulette’: Nursing Homes Told to Take the Infected

    • Replies: @Peripatetic Commenter
  158. dearieme says:
    @Peripatetic Commenter

    one of those conspiracy theorists

    It seems to me to be the opposite of a conspiracy theory: it’s a “politicians do stupid things” theory.

  159. @Vojkan

    All the charts were developed with Microsoft Chart. I use Google myself.

    • Replies: @Vojkan
  160. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @res

    We agree on a lot of COVID-19 issues, but here I am quite confident you are wrong. Whether or not the lockdowns specifically were helpful, the whole spectrum of countermeasures has made a difference. Seasonality would have helped, but not to the extent we have seen.

    LOL. You seem to be having a struggle to find a cause of contention. I questioned whether lockdowns have had much to do with the fall in rate of Covid infections and you say:

    whether or not … [they, i.e., the lockdowns] made a difference.

    So like me you don’t know whether lockdowns made a difference.

    But you say,

    the whole spectrum of countermeasures has made a difference.

    Well obviously. They’ve made us all poorer, for one thing, while denying us freedom of action in many ways.

    Then you say:

    Seasonality would have helped, but not to the extent we have seen.

    Oh yeah. Well tell us how much it would have helped but “not to the extent we have seen.”

    The fact is, practically nobody knows nuthin’, except that we now know that probably most people who have the virus don’t know it, and of those who have had it and know it, most have suffered something no worse than a cold or a dose of flu, but of those over 65 and especially over 75, and particularly those with one two or three other serious health problems, the infection is likely to kill them.

    So the lockdowns seem insane, when all that was needed was to quaratine care homes for the elderly, test staff regularly for covid, bar visitors, etc.

    Making millions unemployed with all the negative consequences — suicides, opioid overdose and other drug-abuse related deaths, loss of schooling with its known negative impact on IQ seems crazy. All for what? To insure hospital ICUs were’nt overloaded — an issue resolved long ago.

    • Replies: @res
    , @Commentator Mike
  161. @CanSpeccy

    Nope. I accuse them of being only useful for wrapping fish.

  162. res says:
    @CanSpeccy

    Seasonality would have helped, but not to the extent we have seen.

    Oh yeah. Well tell us how much it would have helped but “not to the extent we have seen.”

    Speaking of looking for points of contention ; ) It is rather funny you write that while replying to a comment comparing 2019 to 2020 and thus giving a pretty good answer to that question. How about you take another look at those two graphs and answer it for yourself?

    Alternatively, search my comments for “Kinsa” to see other data indicating the early countermeasures were useful for reversing the increase in COVID-19 infections. I think Miami is a particular good example. The trend was looking bad then turned right around.
    https://www.kinsahealth.co/tale-of-two-cities-atypical-illness-trends-for-santa-clara-and-miami-dade-county/

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  163. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @res

    Yes, if people don’t come close to one another, they won’t exchange fleas, etc.

    But the question was — I thought — why, in many jurisdictions, during a period under lockdown, a several-week-long period of rising daily infection rates has been followed by a transition to falling rates. Rising immunity is presumably is one key factor, but a change in the weather could, so I suggested, be an important factor as well. I don’t see the data you present refuting that.

    • Replies: @res
  164. CanSpeccy says:
    @Peripatetic Commenter

    The unexposed bit is interesting.

    Has an effective vaccine ever been produced for a corona virus?

    • Replies: @Peripatetic Commenter
  165. @CanSpeccy

    I don’t believe so.

    Corona Viruses are said to be responsible for up to about 20% of common colds, and no one tries to produce a vaccine for those.

    Hmmm, is that the game plan here? A way for big pharma to make money from making vaccines for corona viruses.

  166. @CanSpeccy

    Making millions unemployed with all the negative consequences

    Maybe that was the plan whether this virus is real or just the flu, created in the lab or natural. Perhaps the economy already crashed and they just didn’t want to let us know the usual way so better under cover of the virus and the emergency. How many of those businesses are operating without any loans or have a chance of ever repaying those loans other than just paying the interest? Are they really solvent, and is that the way to run a viable economy? Just speculating here, as we’re all more or less speculating in the absence of firm information. We’ll see better what state it’s all in after the dust settles when the emergency is lifted. Or maybe not if they keep feeding us more BS – as they probably will.

  167. utu says:
    @Peripatetic Commenter

    “…was impossible to read…” – Reading comprehension problem. I do not think that David Richards of WANdisco had time or ability to parse the mathematical algorithms imbedded in the program. But for people who know the algorithms like the mathematicians who work on stochastic processes related to the dynamics of the epidemic parsing the program would be very easy. When you understand the ideas that program suppose to implement you can parse and find bugs even if your knowledge of particular language is very superficial.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/09/you-dont-have-to-be-good-at-math-to-learn-to-code/403342/
    You Don’t Have to Be Good at Math to Learn to Code

    Learning to program involves a lot of Googling, logic, and trial-and-error—but almost nothing beyond fourth-grade arithmetic.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/09/saving-the-world-from-code/540393/

    “The problem is that software engineers don’t understand the problem they’re trying to solve, and don’t care to,” says Leveson, the MIT software-safety expert. The reason is that they’re too wrapped up in getting their code to work.

    [MORE]

    “For Lamport, this is a failure of education. Though programming was born in mathematics, it has since largely been divorced from it. Most programmers aren’t very fluent in the kind of math—logic and set theory, mostly—that you need to work with TLA+. “Very few programmers—and including very few teachers of programming—understand the very basic concepts and how they’re applied in practice. And they seem to think that all they need is code,” Lamport says. “The idea that there’s some higher level than the code in which you need to be able to think precisely, and that mathematics
    actually allows you to think precisely about it, is just completely foreign. Because they never learned it.”

    Lamport sees this failure to think mathematically about what they’re doing as the problem of modern software development in a nutshell: The stakes keep rising, but programmers aren’t stepping up—they haven’t developed the chops required to handle increasingly complex problems. “In the 15th century,” he said, “people used to build cathedrals without knowing calculus, and nowadays I don’t think you’d allow anyone to build a cathedral without knowing calculus. And I would hope that after some suitably long period of time, people won’t be allowed to write programs if they don’t understand these simple things.”

    https://phys.org/news/2020-03-math-code.html

    “Most programmers just start writing code; they don’t even know what the algorithm is. It’s like starting to build without a blueprint,”

    “You don’t reduce the code size by ten times by better coding; you do it by cleaner architecture, which is just another word for a better algorithm.”

    “Some students have asked us when can they stop doing and reviewing the math and start the software programming,”

    For Dr. Lamport, becoming fluent in mathematics is the first step, but for mathematical thinking to truly impact the way algorithms are written, it has to change the way we think. “I want to emphasise that mathematics doesn’t solve the problem for you; you have to solve the problem,” he said. “Thinking mathematically will help you solve the problem; and mathematics helps to ensure that the solution was right.”

    _____________________
    Do not fall into the trap when form and dogma that defines it interferes with functionality. When form becomes l’art pour l’art. Sometime ‘bad’ code can be smaller, easier to understand and possibly more efficient. I would even gos as far as claiming that some spaghetti codes are better than highly structured codes.

    https://medium.com/@copyconstruct/small-functions-considered-harmful-91035d316c29
    Small Functions considered Harmful

    “The idea that functions should be small is something that is almost considered too sacrosanct to call into question. It often gets trotted out during code reviews, on Twitter discussions, conference talks, books and podcasts on programming, articles on best practices for refactoring code and so forth.”

    “The virtues of small functions are evangelized so very often…”

    “Some people seem so enamored with small functions that the idea of abstracting any and every piece of logic that might seem even nominally complex into a separate function is something that is passionately advocated for.”

    “DRY and a propensity to make functions as small as possible aren’t necessarily the same thing, but I’ve observed that the latter does many a time lead to the former. DRY, in my opinion, is a good guiding principle, but an awful lot of times, pragmatism and reason are sacrificed at the altar of a dogmatic adherence to DRY, especially by programmers of the Rails persuasion.”

    “My main problem with DRY is that it coerces one into abstractions — nested and premature ones at that. Inasmuch as it’s impossible to abstract perfectly, the best we can do abstract well enough insofar as we can. Defining “well enough” is hard and is contingent on a large number of factors.”

    • Replies: @res
  168. res says:
    @CanSpeccy

    why, in many jurisdictions, during a period under lockdown, a several-week-long period of rising daily infection rates has been followed by a transition to falling rates.

    That is indeed a good question. I assume you are talking about NY, any other examples?

    a change in the weather could, so I suggested, be an important factor as well. I don’t see the data you present refuting that.

    Not only do I agree with the not refuting part, I agree change in weather is probably an important factor. If you read iSteve you will have seen me making a big deal about seasonality. Although we don’t know for sure if or how much it affects COVID-19.

    As I said, we agree on a lot here. The points I was objecting to were you asserting or implying:
    1. The lockdowns did not matter. (with a key distinction being whether “lockdown” includes the early countermeasures or only the full on lockdown)
    2. Seasonality would have been enough to produce the decline in COVID-19 we have seen.

    • Replies: @CanSpeccy
  169. res says:
    @utu

    Learning to program involves a lot of Googling, logic, and trial-and-error—but almost nothing beyond fourth-grade arithmetic.

    It is cute when utu comments on things he knows little about. That might be true for basic programming, but if you want to do it well you need more math. Leaving aside domain specific knowledge, let’s look at requirements for a CS curriculum:
    http://catalog.mit.edu/degree-charts/computer-science-engineering-course-6-3/

    If you think you are getting through most of that with “nothing beyond fourth-grade arithmetic” then you are in for a rude awakening. That is actually a big part of the problem with the “everyone can learn to code” rhetoric. There is some truth to that, and there is value to learning to think in a logical rigorous fashion, but that is not the same as doing something well.

    Let’s just focus on three of the CS requirements which illustrate the kind of CS-specific math you need. If you are familiar with MIT course nomenclature you will know that a J after a course means it is Jointly offered with another department. In these three examples that would be course 18, aka mathematics.
    https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-042j-mathematics-for-computer-science-fall-2010/
    https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-045j-automata-computability-and-complexity-spring-2011/
    https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-046j-design-and-analysis-of-algorithms-spring-2015/

    Hopefully it is obvious that goes “beyond fourth-grade arithmetic.” And that is without getting into the prereqs you need for those classes.

    This statement is a clear sign that you have not done much (any?) real world programming in groups:

    When you understand the ideas that program suppose to implement you can parse and find bugs even if your knowledge of particular language is very superficial.

    You might want to take a look at some of the refactored Imperial code and see how hard the equations are to make out from the code. If your knowledge of the language is superficial you are at a huge disadvantage. Sufficiently well written, commented, and documented code can overcome that to some degree, but that we don’t have code like that is precisely Peripatetic Commenter’s point.

    Much of the rest of your comment is dead on though. For example:

    “The problem is that software engineers don’t understand the problem they’re trying to solve, and don’t care to,” says Leveson, the MIT software-safety expert. The reason is that they’re too wrapped up in getting their code to work.

    “For Lamport, this is a failure of education. Though programming was born in mathematics, it has since largely been divorced from it. Most programmers aren’t very fluent in the kind of math—logic and set theory, mostly—that you need to work with TLA+. “Very few programmers—and including very few teachers of programming—understand the very basic concepts and how they’re applied in practice. And they seem to think that all they need is code,” Lamport says. “The idea that there’s some higher level than the code in which you need to be able to think precisely, and that mathematics
    actually allows you to think precisely about it, is just completely foreign. Because they never learned it.”

    Lamport sees this failure to think mathematically about what they’re doing as the problem of modern software development in a nutshell: The stakes keep rising, but programmers aren’t stepping up—they haven’t developed the chops required to handle increasingly complex problems. “In the 15th century,” he said, “people used to build cathedrals without knowing calculus, and nowadays I don’t think you’d allow anyone to build a cathedral without knowing calculus. And I would hope that after some suitably long period of time, people won’t be allowed to write programs if they don’t understand these simple things.”

    First, it is important to be clear that there are two different points being made here (not sure how obvious this is). Leveson is commenting on the lack of domain specific knowledge (which I have mentioned in other comments here). Lamport is talking more about the kind of CS classes I mention above.

    Both of them are very right that many programmers do not have enough of these kinds of background.

  170. CanSpeccy says: • Website
    @res

    As I said, we agree on a lot here. The points I was objecting to were you asserting or implying:
    1. The lockdowns did not matter. (with a key distinction being whether “lockdown” includes the early countermeasures or only the full on lockdown)
    2. Seasonality would have been enough to produce the decline in COVID-19 we have seen.

    Restricting viral spread to prevent hospital overload while waiting for a rise in immunity or a change in the weather to slow the spread makes sense. But what has happened here in Canada, at least, and apparently in Britain and the US, is the perpetuation of a lockdown long after a turn in the infection/mortality rates and the weather.

    No credible justification is offered. Instead we get drivel from public health officials such as, “Be kind, be calm, be safe.” Does that sound like a basis for slashing 20 or 30% off the year’s GDP?

    Meantime no immunological test data are available on infection rates, though reliable antibody tests now exist and governments would have to be criminally irresponsible not to have already conducted surveys. So what’s happening? Why are we led by seeming morons whose actions are destroying the welfare of millions?

    I suspect that immunological survey data are suppressed because they would reveal that the infection has not been effectively contained by putting everyone under house arrest. That would reveal to the public: (a) that the virus has a very low lethality (the Asian Flu of 57/58, which I had as a fourteen-year-old, caused worldwide mortality of around 0.06%, whereas Covid19 has thus far killed only about one twentieth that proportion of the world’s population); and (b) that herd immunity is developing fast and there is no public health justification for the prolonged lockdown.

    So again, what’s the purpose of this apparently contrived panic?

    Why is Ron Unz so anxious to convince us that Covid19 is as deadly as the Black Death?

  171. Some are saying this is more evidence of a manufactured virus:

    In silico comparison of spike protein-ACE2 binding affinities across species; significance for the possible origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus

    Firstly, they used modelling.

    Secondly, did they also test its affinity for sialic acid? It would be interesting to know whether it retains any affinity for binding to sialic acid.

  172. dearieme says:

    Long ago I was asked to have a look at a couple of commercial programs and comment critically on them.

    In one case I noticed a particular number in a segment of code that was otherwise a mystery to me. On a weekend train journey I dozed a little and the thought occurred of doubling the enigmatic number. Lo, I recognised the result and thereby deduced what that line of code was doing and – perhaps just as important – what it wasn’t doing.

    In the second case I was eventually able to see what was going on because I recognised an expression as being something from my undergraduate education – a representation of excess Gibbs free energy of solution (or something like that; it was decades ago). The detail showed that the program was probably not fit for its purpose. Note that it was the science that saved the day not some aspect of “software engineering”.

    In both cases the insufficiency of comments was a nuisance. Comments are good; people shouldn’t need inspiration from Morpheus, or chance familiarity with just the right bit of the thermodynamics literature.

    But in neither case was the program written in the absurd slapdash manner of Ferguson’s. And that was in the seventies.

    • Replies: @Peripatetic Commenter
  173. Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin plus zinc vs hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin alone: outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients

    Results: The addition of zinc sulfate did not impact the length of hospitalization, duration of ventilation, or ICU duration. In univariate analyses, zinc sulfate increased the frequency of patients being discharged home, and decreased the need for ventilation, admission to the ICU, and mortality or transfer to hospice for patients who were never admitted to the ICU. After adjusting for the time at which zinc sulfate was added to our protocol, an increased frequency of being discharged home (OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.12-2.09) reduction in mortality or transfer to hospice remained significant (OR 0.449, 95% CI 0.271-0.744). Conclusion: This study provides the first in vivo evidence that zinc sulfate in combination with hydroxychloroquine may play a role in therapeutic management for COVID-19.

    • Thanks: Brás Cubas
  174. @dearieme

    That’s all very nice but do you disagree that where the results from an implementation of a model is being used to justify public policy that is enormously costly should be subjected to the most rigorous of reviews?

    • Replies: @dearieme
    , @Philip Owen
  175. Hmmm, what is the possibility that this article is correct and if it is, what are the implications?

    Downward Virus Flux in Earth’s Atmosphere Is Over Three Billion Viruses Per Square Meter Per Day

  176. The world truly is a very confusing place:

    Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza

    Large-Scale Quarantine Measures

    There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread of influenza. A World Health Organization (WHO) Writing Group, after reviewing the literature and considering contemporary international experience, concluded that “forced isolation and quarantine are ineffective and impractical.”2 Despite this recommendation by experts, mandatory large-scale quarantine continues to be considered as an option by some authorities and government officials.35,43

    The interest in quarantine reflects the views and conditions prevalent more than 50 years ago, when much less was known about the epidemiology of infectious diseases and when there was far less international and domestic travel in a less densely populated world. It is difficult to identify circumstances in the past half-century when large-scale quarantine has been effectively used in the
    control of any disease. The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete restriction of movement of large populations; difficulty in getting critical supplies, medicines, and food to people inside the quarantine zone) that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.

    There is more. Much more.

    One of the authors is claimed to have been involved in the eradication of smallpox.

    Brought to you for your entertainment.

    • Thanks: res
  177. dearieme says:
    @Peripatetic Commenter

    Both a model and its implementation should be reviewed before you bet the farm on it. But that should have happened years ago when the government strategy for a pandemic was being drawn up.

    Somebody should have asked “Do we have a model available of substantial merit?” And when someone mentioned Ferguson at Imperial then his work should have been examined in the calm circumstances of, say, 2011-2016.

    On one of Doc T’s early threads on this subject I remarked that the data available for the modellers to get their parameter values were so bad that I’d back my own guesses against their predictions. Eventually, I conjectured, they would be able to beat me. It seems that I wasn’t sceptical enough. Blind Freddy’s guesses would have beaten them. Might still do.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  178. @Peripatetic Commenter

    Not all climatologists reveal code or data, famously Michael Mann. Time to roll them into this?

  179. @dearieme

    The calm analysis of the modelling was done in the UK in 2013 and last updated in 2018. The present government took no account of it. It is interesting to note that in April, Dominic Cummings lost his uncle Sir John Law to COVID-19. The cautio nof our policy since then may have been influenced by this.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/spi-m-publish-updated-modelling-summary

    • Replies: @dearieme
  180. dearieme says:
    @Philip Owen

    Many thanks, Philip.

    The most promising bit is Annex 4: Data Required for Real Time Modelling in an Influenza Pandemic. I’ve skimmed through it; they did indeed discuss the data required, as advertised.

    I could see no sign, however, that they appraised the models and implementations available. But without decent models, properly implemented, what use are the modelling data?

    I was baffled; why wouldn’t you look critically at the models you have in mind to use?

    So naturally I asked myself “Who are the bozos who wrote this report?” A cursory google turned up no names. Consequently I suspect that we had poachers who had not turned gamekeepers – people who would not critically appraise models because the models were their own.

    What the devil is the Civil Service for if it isn’t to keep politicians – i.e. rank amateurs – from falling for a scam like that?

    • Agree: Philip Owen
  181. Vojkan says:
    @Philip Owen

    So 1) they’re Microsoft software users 2) they only know to use Chart templates.

    We should trust them?

    PS: I use OpenOffice. They could to. It would save some taxpayer money.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  182. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    Wonder what you think, James, of this report on British Government program of applied psychology to achieve control over the public mind?

    https://off-guardian.org/2020/05/13/watch-boris-johnson-coercing-uk-into-accepting-covid19-house-arrest/

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  183. @Vojkan

    Once upon a time there was Lotus Smartsuite. I still use Lotus Approach for database management work. Nothing has ever come close. I agree with you about Open Office although I actually use the Libre Office fork. Microsoft has been superb at undermining attempts to switch to Linux. IBM, China, India, Russia and Munich have all tried. The usual Microsoft response was to flood their top high schools and universities with free computers using free Windows and Office. Munich found the training costs and the issues of working with other organizations too costly in the end. Windows had dropped in relative cost.

  184. Trump is leading by example … and putting his life on the line to prove the rabid anti-Trump media are liars …

    President Trump Informs Media He is Taking Hydroxychloroquine and Zinc As Preventative Measure…

    If they truly believe it is bad for you they will welcome this move.

  185. @CanSpeccy

    Not much. Nothing particularly fancy or tricky-psychological.
    It is a partial lifting of the lockdown strategy, and will probably lead to a general lifting, with many people of 60+ age retaining social distancing. Will be interesting to see how many below that age wear masks.
    All bets off until November, when cases might rise again.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  186. dearieme says:
    @James Thompson

    We visited a hospital last week. We both wore masks. Those hospital staff who were sitting out in the sun didn’t. All the nurses who treated us did.

    I sport a beard. Does it make a mask pointless?

    I wore the mask on the assumption that it would impede my coughs or sneezes from flying onto someone else. In fact I neither coughed nor sneezed.

    PhD topic there – does wearing a face mask inhibit coughing and sneezing? If so is the explanation physical or psychological? Such a study is pretty much guaranteed to do less harm than badly executed mathematical modelling.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  187. @dearieme

    Interesting report. We have been avoiding hospitals at all costs. I presume a beard will make it harder to get a perfect seal, but any mask is better than none. Astounding how long it took the Royal Society to state the obvious.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  188. dearieme says:
    @James Thompson

    It would have been astounding forty years ago. But nowadays? Another much respected institution fallen to the Forces of Progress.

  189. TRM says:
    @res

    For 2020 the USA has an “excess death” rate about 5.5% (50,331) higher than the previous 4 year average for weeks 1 to 16. As a comparison I checked the first 16 weeks of 2018 compared to the previous 4 year average and it was 7.2% (63,260).

    The script and all related files are here if you want to kick the tires:
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fh9x5fngmfbeiiu/AAAH-OtOMqiY_R9qqG6YccCRa?dl=0

    As of 2020-05-22 the CDC data has North Carolina missing week 16 for 2020. The rest of the states are complete.

  190. Factorize says:

    Dr. Thompson, what is your opinion on the Spirit Level hypothesis? You made a brief comment on the book a few years ago, though elaboration would be welcome. Their theory that relative (not absolute) income differences are of primary importance does not reflect the actuality that given the positional nature of many goods even $20K per capita is often barely sufficient. The further claim made that income inequality is strongly associated (causal?) of serious physical health conditions is even more difficult to assess. I wonder how much of this might simply be a result of genetic confounding for intelligence and possibly a range of other traits/conditions.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  191. @Factorize

    In my view the thesis was comprehensively taken apart by Peter Saunders and others, so I didn’t feel the need to say anything. The criticisms were, in essence, cherry picking of countries which varied with what was being discussed; and cherry picking of measures.

    I should like to contrast it with all those who have done country level analyses by including all countries, and standard sets of measures, including as many as possible to see which ones seem to have the most effect on the desired outcome variables.

    However, The Spirit Level had and continues to have political influence. The British Psychological Society invited the authors to give a keynote speech at the annual conference, I think last year, and as far as I know there was no counterbalancing session for the critics of the book.

    Stuart Ritchie commented that he had loved the book when he read it as a young man, and was now astounded to see how poor the methodology was.

  192. Factorize says:

    I do not want to thread squat, though The Spirit Level would be a highly engaging topic for further discussion on the blog (Hopefully, I will be able to generate some interest in the book and the issues it raised. It has to be worth more than a 200 word comment, especially as it has attracted such high level political attention as noted. Allowing the ideas of the book to largely go unchallenged opens up the possibility that pro Spirit Level policies could be adopted without the full consent or awareness of the governed).

    While the top line premises might not have been entirely proven (or possibly wrong), there is nonetheless a great deal of truth in the book that people need to be made aware of. For example, our transition into a post-economic society is very important to contemplate. While the economy as a competitive system geared towards the production of commodities for basic survival ended perhaps decades ago, people apparently never read the memo.

    I went around the clock for a time investigating ideas from this book. One of the more amusing ideas that occurred to me was that the book cover actually suggests a counter-narrative. Egalitarianism is the central message of the book: We should be more equal for the greater good. Yet, the fish in the fish bowl on the left (the equal fish) are not happy fish. Their eyes are bugging out (possibly as a stress response to extreme overcrowding). “L’enfer, c’est les autres (poisson)”? The fish looking to the near empty fish jar on the right appear envious. We want what he has! Is the Spirit Level’s solution really suggesting that we put all the fish into a slightly larger fish bowl, in order that they could all have a 10% better life? Wouldn’t this simply mean that everyone would then be nearly as crowded as before, yet now there is no better life to even dream about? Was this an ironic visual puzzle that no one could unravel?

    Interestingly, a fish bowl of our own could be the outcome of the current COVID pandemic. The pandemic has given everyone the chance to escape the sardine jar and live large. People appear to appreciate this new lifestyle. The predominant feeling that most are probably feeling now is a sense of relief; finally escaping a modern society that has made most of us very unhealthy. There is an increasing likelihood that COVID will be the spark that allows us to reorder modern life in a way that the book was unable to potentiate. People are finally experiencing something very different in their lives possibly for the first time: Freedom! I am now starting to hear whispers that the escape from the fish jar might become permanent: People might not return to their offices again after the pandemic; they might never return.

    They have likely noticed that they feel so much better not having to jam onto extremely overcrowded public transit for 2 or more hours every day, only to arrive at offices where their job might consist largely of answering emails, and then return home exhausted, unable to provide any positive energy for the families that they nominally love. Typical modern life can’t possibly be rational.

    Without COVID people had never been able to piece together the life imagined in the book. How do you get from a highly unhealthy work focused life to something else? People typically did not know. People are experiencing an alternative life to the work sleep repeat cycle and they like it. Community could return to people’s lives if they were not working essentially 24/7.

    The changes brought about post-pandemic might provide children with a much higher quality of life. Children might get their parents back again instead of the exhausted strangers that they have barely know. Further, school shootings have completely stopped since COVID closed the schools and home schools opened. Before COVID America had started to experience school shootings on a near weekly basis. Are students actually going to go back to such dangerous schools now that they realize that there is a viable alternative (i.e., home/online schooling)? Once I experienced the overwhelming level of psychological relief of being an online student (vs. bricks and mortar student) there was no possible argument that would have induced me back to a physical school. Billions of students around the world are now experiencing exactly the same sense of relief. In my home school I have never had any concern about drugs, violence, abuse, distractions etc.. How many bricks and mortar schools guarantee this to their students? In a home school, study is the only activity that is available. It is quite remarkable how much more study I have been able to log in this environment. Home school can dramatically out-competes bricks and mortar (by orders of magnitude).

    The response of my community’s school system to the pandemic has been surprising and disappointing. Their transition to a temporary virtual school model is nothing more than school as a panopticon. Children meet up online and video conference. It is difficult to imagine; such a truly abysmal academic format had been entirely beyond my capacity to imagine dystopia. Roughly a virtual environment in which every emotional response could be recorded and analyzed ad nauseum.

    I consider myself an expert online learner; I have taken many online courses and have been highly successful in this learning format. However, within my learning environment there has been no attempt to create a baby sitting service. Education imagined in this way is more a system of control and surveillance than one devoted to learning. For mature learners, a high quality electronic library along with email support from instructors are almost the only resources required.

  193. I agree that there is a chance to re-evaluate many of our former arrangements. For example, video sessions with family doctors are very likely to be a more efficient and effective format for most cases. Hehalth services can be foci of infection, and remote consultation could be a net benefit.
    However, in the UK at least, the recent lockdown has been at the cost of future debts. It is not clear how this would work in the long term.

  194. Factorize says:

    That’s the spirit Dr. Thompson! Now we have an almost completely unique opportunity to manifest change for the better. People are finally outside of their typical behavior patterns and they are trying out different ways of being. People usually keep on doing what they are already doing, though inertia as a universal law of human psychology and sociology is not convincing as a theory from first principles; it is more victory due to a prior claim. Evolutionary competitive selective instead of momentum is what is needed. COVID has introduced the chance to experience such competition.

    Deconstruct mass society and embrace a descaled post-industrial life! During the pandemic we have been pushed into this descaled life and it actually feels great. In a post-industrial economy and society there is no great rationale to continue with the factory scale logic that we have maintained up till the current time. This false sense of dehumanized efficiency is the central driver of most of our social problems. This could be the moment in which we finally seize the possibility to live a more healthy and balanced post-modern life. Ironically, this lifestyle does allow you to go beyond social relativisms and it does feel great (as suggested in the Spirit Level) to be beyond such comparisons. Instead of a mass political movement devoted to redistributing income to equality, all that is needed is to escape mass society.

  195. Factorize says:

    The socially divisive nature of typical Western economic development continues to captivate my attention. Nations such as the UK as leaders in the transformation towards an industrial society had unplanned transitions into development (the industrial revolution happened mostly without a guiding plan) which resulted in lasting social acrimony. Even two centuries after the start of British modernization, Marx could still observe a society with an overwhelmingly high total fertility rate and the socioeconomic strains that this caused. Specifically, consider the enormous leftward shift of the labor demand curve and the result of workers with minimal bargaining leverage. Indeed, notice that during the current COVID pandemic the shutdown of most of our economy had little (if any) impact on the production of the goods required for basic survival.

    Go to Gapminder and change the vertical axis to Babies per woman. Into the 20th Century nearly all advanced nations combined high fertility and moderate income levels (level 2); a recipe for social chaos. It is only with the second wave of nations (1950-2000, e.g., China) that a coordinated plan of pre-staging economic liftoff allowed them to avoid the near endless economic growing pains experienced in the West. Economic growth occurred at high rates for decades in strong contrast to our own development histories.

    Of critical importance in doing development right is ensuring that total fertility rates are somewhere near or below replacement levels before the economic development wave is brought fully online. Nations can then experience a rapid economic launch. Notice how China powers through centuries of development over the space of a few decades in an almost straight line path to prosperity. Currently such definable curves are typical for nations undergoing development. Yet the time series for England and most other first wave development nations, shows a path that is closer to a random walk. The conclusion that people in Western were very uncertain about what they needed
    to do to achieve a better life is self-apparent.

    The world’s remaining undeveloped nations (almost all in Sub-Saharan Africa, blue dots in top left of Gapminder bubbles) are rapidly approaching their own economic liftoff. The near free fall that is occurring in their total fertility rates should allow them to avoid the lasting social trauma that we have experienced when a segment of our community persisted in living a pre-modern lifestyle (high fertility etc.) and to achieve a substantially enhanced quality of life. Once they are deeper into their economic pre-staging launch zone, the powerful forces of capitalism will finally work for and not against them. It will be gratifying to observe the completion of humanity’s shift to a modern conception of reality.

  196. Factorize says:

    For the year to date the blog has been too focused on following headlines and not enough on keeping pace with the genetic research that will transform human reality in the 21st Century. Taking your eye off the ball when there is an exponential process underway is clearly unwise. Corona dramatically illustrated this truth. Do we really need to learn this lesson the hard way again with GWAS research?

    This article follows up on the breakthrough article from Nature Genetics 2018 1.1 million EA GWAS. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.01.14.905794v1 “We identified 157 genome-wide significant loci and a polygenic architecture accounting for 57% of genetic variance in EA.” Are they serious? I am guessing, yes they are. Why isn’t that result a front page headline? The 2018 article already reported ~400 EA points. They can double down on this with non-cognitive genetic traits contributing to EA?

    Another ~~~100 EA points? Are we scared yet? I have assumed a detached rationalism to cope with the approaching Cognitive Singularity. Roughly, when the replacement humanoid species soon arrives just go with it. Yet, it must be nice not having enough cognitive ability to realize how socially disruptive even the existing genetic research will be on human civilization. The big pieces required for extreme human achievement are now falling into place: general cognitive ability (Check), non-cognitive ability (check), executive function (Check), … . All of these traits are highly polygenic, therefore very extreme phenotypes are foreseeable (1500 IQs etc.). Get ready for uplift.

    … and non-cognitive traits are important for life success! Those in the bottom quartile of non-cognitive ability are unable to monetize their cognitive strengths even within the top decile of cognitive ability (page 47 +). This perspective adds yet more power to the insights of The Bell Curve. What is of particular significance is that non-cognitive skills are teachable. Basically, everyone could move up in life by simply honing their non-cognitive abilities. Smile, nice, obsequious, “Yes I agree” … cash your bonus. Of course, remember to send Factorize some fungible love. http://www.nber.org/papers/w12006

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