Whoppers to the Left, Whoppers to the Right

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

I recently heard someone -- Kira Peikoff during an interview with Yaron Brook, I believe -- say to the effect that journalistic outlets on both "sides" of the political divide often display bias so blatantly as to be embarrassing.

And if my memory fails me on that score, someone should have said it: Yesterday, without even really looking for either of these, I found them -- examples from left and right -- on separate glances at my Twitter feed.

Instructions: (1) Read between the lines. (2) Ignore insults. (3) Consult other sources. (4) Actively apply your mind, knowledge, and experience to any claims of knowledge. (Image by Roman Kraft, via Unsplash, license.)
First, from the left came a nearly audible sigh of great relief at Joe Biden's timely remarks against the rioting. Up until that point, this had received his tacit support and was beginning to threaten his poll numbers. Even people I know not to be Democrats -- but, like me, wish there were a viable alternative to Trump in this election -- were praising the speech.

That sounds like something a Republican would say, I thought. Indeed, the Vice President had himself said something very similar previously. It is tempting to bring up Biden's history as a plagiarist, but what is much more relevant to this story are (1) the political pressure he was under, (2) the current policies of the Democrat-run jurisdictions where most of the rioting is happening, and (3) the very recent past behavior of his running mate. Kamala Harris has been encouraging people to bail rioters out of jail. (Knowing the revolving door policies of certain jurisdictions, I am amazed Harris even found such a measure necessary.)

So, yeah. Amazing speech -- if it was his, if he meant it, and if it ultimately makes sense in some future context.

Second, I found the latest dose of wishful thinking about the pandemic from the right: An obvious misinterpretation of a recent CDC report on the role of comorbidities in the pandemic has some people gloating to the effect that 94% of corona deaths are really due to something else. Naturally, President Trump buys into this, but I beg to differ:
The fundamental flaw of this new conspiracy theory is the assumption that the only "true" coronavirus deaths are ones that list only COVID-19 as the cause of death. But listing comorbidities alongside COVID-19 does not make those deaths any less attributable to the virus. Some of those comorbidities are caused by COVID-19; for instance, according to the CDC's data, more than 14,000 people died also of sepsis, which is known to develop in COVID-19 patients. And over 54,000 people -- around 30 percent of the total U.S. deaths -- have respiratory failure listed as a comorbidity; it's well established that COVID-19 causes major respiratory issues. [links omitted]
Cue embarrassment with claims such as those bolded. I looked at the report when I saw that claim -- which reminds me of the left's equally ridiculous claim that 97% of scientists are with them on global warming -- and recall thinking, The virus causes lots of these.

And speaking of embarrassing, let me call out that Slate article I just linked about that 94% baloney: I understand the temptation to use a term like "COVID-19 denier," but I'll again ask the question: "[W]hat [is] such a term is supposed to accomplish?" Sure, it applies to the people doing the cherry-picking. But to the people who are just looking for good news, or don't have the luxuries of a solid science background or time to unravel such things? This is alienating and so, harmful to the cause of truth.

(And this is especially so because the politicization of masks has all but made wearing one into a badge of allegiance to the immoral and unscientific policy of indefinite universal incarceration, aka "lockdowns." I wear a mask (and often a face shield) in public, but I have opposed lockdowns from the beginning.)

A Soviet-era saying played on the names of the news outlets of the Communist Party and the government, Pravda (meaning truth) and Iszvestiya (meaning news): "In Pravda there is no news, and in Izvestiya there is no truth." We have the same thing going now, although with some ability to use each side to debunk the other at the small price of the truth-seeker enduring insults.

May fellow advocates of liberty possess thick skins and great endurance while we find our voices.

-- CAV


SteveD said...

Thanks for saying this, Gus. All the gloating about CoVid only being the sole cause of death in 6% of the cases had me scratching my head. It’s not a case of dying from the virus rather than with the virus. In addition to those comorbidities caused by Covid-19, which you point out, that 6% leaves out cases where CoVid is the primary or secondary (but not sole) cause of death in which the additional comorbidities were not caused by Covid-19. This seems to me to be more bad news than good because I thought the number would be lower than 6%. If taken at face value, it means that CoVid can kill many otherwise completely healthy people.

If it takes three health conditions to kill you, you would still be alive today if you only had two of them. Many if not most of the non 6% death would still be alive if they hadn't contacted CoVid-19.

Reminds me of a video recently of a guy I saw vaping with a mask, demonstrating that masks don't stop aerosols. That's a straw man because no one claims they do. The stop large water droplets which is the primary means by which most respiratory viruses spread. Even if CoVid19 can be propagated in some instances by aerosols (and I think the jury is still out on this), it is highly likely this will be large factor in the spread.

Gus Van Horn said...

In line with the idea that a lower viral load can allow one to escape illness, or at least a severe case, I would guess that aerosols are mainly a hazard in hospital settings, or crowded, confined spaces. IIRC, the viruses need moisture, so the infectiousness from an aerosolized virus is short-lived as its tiny, airborne, droplet evaporates.

My (admittedly layman) thinking is that droplets carry more viruses, but fall to the ground quickly, and aerosols, fewer. The latter can stay airborne, but the water evaporates from them fast enough that they don't remain a threat for long, and can only collectively have enough viral load to cause infection.

That's my two cents. I welcome correction.

SteveD said...

Even if aerosols don't evaporate, they should dilute into the air and seldom transmit the viral load necessary to produce a severe case.

But low viral loads might transmit a weak infection and grant immunity in the same way variolation did for smallpox. So, all of the interventions (government and individual) which delayed that immunity perhaps, especially closing schools and universities, may have actually increased the number of deaths.

My strategy is to protect the vulnerable but let the children and university students run wild.

Or voluntarily inoculate all the non vulnerable population with a small dose of live but/or weakened virus.

Gus Van Horn said...

"Even if aerosols don't evaporate..."

Yes. And that's exactly why avoiding confined spaces with poor ventilation is so important.

As far as live virus inoculation goes, that's a measure I wish would get some attention, but IIRC, little is known about the relationship between load of this virus and severity of disease.


Anonymous said...

I receive posts in my FB feed from one of those groups that makes ridiculous claims about COVID-19 being a globalist conspiracy so that Bill Gates can inject us all with microchips for population control and reduction. (No, that is not an exaggeration of one of their frequent refrains.) It's all part of an approach that basically applies Leninist techniques to anyone who disagrees with them to tar them as Marxists; in the words of Lenin, as quoted by Richard Mitchell in one of his finest essays, “Why should we bother to reply to Kautski? He would reply to us, and we would have to reply to his reply. There’s no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Kautski is a traitor to the working class, and everyone will understanding everything.” Or it is just enough to announce that they are Cultural Marxists or Obleftivists or traitors (the last a word they like to throw around with gay abandon in the certainty they don't have to say it to anyone's face, which would be unhealthy for them); and of course any articles stating anything they don't like are "Luegenpresse," pure and simple. (No, they insist, of course they're not Nazis; they just think Goebbels was a masterful sociopolitical analyst, I guess.) Thus, the Russian dossier shows the whole opposition to Trump is Russian-fed slander, and all the testimony of people who stated publicly under their own name things that Trump did is evidentiarily speaking "hearsay," then in comments to a succeeding post go to great lengths stating why the QAnon people are trustworthy and Pizzagate was true, indicating that either they don't know what "hearsay" means or, more likely, don't give a damn so long as they build more of their narrative, trusting that people who agree with them will be too inflamed to keep track of all the other things they've said or think about it critically.

One example from last year was when they recycled a picture on 3 July of Somali children in a park in the US waving Somali flags, commenting something about how they're all traitors, so send them home. I looked around and found that the picture was taken on 30 June but posted on 3 July to really inflame the readership, and after one minute of Internet searching found that 1 July is Somalia's Republic Day. Were they celebrating that? Probably, just like my Canadian friends in grad school would celebrate Canada with us Yanks on the 4th, and just like we expats in other countries would gather on the 4th for burgers and beers, though alas no fireworks. Hardly a sign of disloyalty, and if the people had been white they wouldn't have commented on it, but don't I dare say that since they're NOT racists, it's just an empirical fact that all the people from s***hole countries (they LOOOOOVE that phrase) just so happen to be brown...and occasionally in the comments they'll tease the readership that there's a solid reason for that, but not racism.

After that it's no surprise the stuff they say about COVID-19, and not even a surprise the fallacies they employ.