Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Nate Silver

Well, yes.  As expected if we remember Scott Siskind's Toxoplasma of Rage, which I have commented on many times over the last few years. I have called it the best essay of the 21st C, but I think even he has exceeded it a few times since then.

But back to Silver.  Even though I am off all political media except what I run into at my small circle of friends (I am still reading the headlines and sometimes reading your comments, even if I do not click the links), I have the same sense myself.  The people who were originally nervous that we might be underestimating the danger of Covid moved to insisting on every possible lockdown and precaution, and are now furious that you people who have stopped wearing masks are literally killing people. Even the vaccinated ones, apparently. I wear a mask often because stores require it, and I think it is simply polite not to make other people nervous when they don't know my level of safety.  But I'm wearing it less and less, and find no guilt in this. People are entirely safe around me and I am simply treating their anxiety now. I get it that teachers are conditioned by decades of personal experience that "students are disease farms" - which is true - and have not been able to get over that in terms of schools reopenings.  And that includes those who would have less work with everything open, but still somehow can't feel safe. (That goes back to a lack of science and math training for educators in general, but that's another story.) But the others are just pearl-clutching. We know more than we did a year ago, and school opening is not dangerous.

On the other hand we see people doubling down that masks and distancing were never useful, and we should have been open all along, and it's all just a dry run for further ordering the sheeple into pens. Data doesn't seem to affect these people much either.  I have some here, and if you think you have any tendency toward those thoughts, go over to worldometers and look at the graphs state-by-state, and you will see we were heading toward zero, but as individual states opened up, the number of cases stopped decreasing and sometimes even went back up. This, even with vaccinations well under weigh. So the graphs you see right before your eyes will tell you that (gulp) gee, masks and distancing do have some effect, don't they?  Because what else is there to explain those numbers? That doesn't stop sites from cherry-picking data that "NEW STUDY SAYS MASKS ARE USELESS."  Which the studies don't but you can squint really hard, or pretend that government requirements = real mask use. 

Advocating that we should have just "lived with" the deaths and opened up last April anyway is a different discussion.  But pretending we would have not had many more deaths - hey, maybe even that 2 million that the skeptics have been sneering at the "so-called experts" for predicting, now that we are over 600K - has no basis in fact. But it still has a basis on the internet of people not only insisting they were right all along, but even that they didn't go far enough. They seem to have forgotten that the rest of us have been here all along, reading them over the last fifteen months. We know what you wrote, and we know the general reliability of the sources you quoted then and now. A reminder: Advocacy sites are suspicious.  Not necessarily wrong or without value, but suspicious.

Now people are quadrupling and octuplying down that the those who have been vaccinated are carrying some dread disease to the noble ones who refused this "experimental government vaccination." A further level of insanity. Hopefully that one just peters out soon.

Increasing polarisation in both language and in assertions.  The Toxoplasma of Rage.


dmoelling said...

I've worked on industry standards committees that have real legal standing and by design/law they are slow moving and careful. In emergencies others have leeway to adjust (temporarily) but not to demand changes wholesale. The FDA and CDC are by nature overly risk adverse to the point of uselessness today and are easily politicalized. They seem to have no experience in actual public health with regard to dealing with real people. They also cannot balance risks to get the best practical outcome in any real sense.

Dr. Fauci seems an absolute failure at developing strategies and realistic policies. His 15 months of fame have really gone to his head. The new head of CDC seems to understand this better, but lacks the courage to stand up to the lower level staff, thus lots of clarifications and backpedaling.

But in the end obsessing over masks when you have one real job of nudging people to get vaccinated is a major failure.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, in an emergency, the ability to understand the main thing is the main thing.

Sam L. said...

I'd like to have seen the whole text in the box, not the middle without both ends that got cut off. I couldna make heads nor tails of it, nor much of the middle, either.

I am soooo bummed.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Sam - eh, his specific examples aren't that important, I don't think. It's the general idea that I think was more valuable.