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Irrational Panic

“Irrational Panic” is actually an older article.  I have been wrestling with my website for a few days.

How do you create irrational panic? Simple. You employ irrational propaganda.

I’ll begin with a statement that will be most ignored. I know COVID-19 is a real illness and that for some people it can be deadly. This is not to be taken lightly. In response to this article, the groupthink dingbats will pretend I never said that so they can continue to quote the non-scientific, sky-is-falling pronouncements we have been bombarded with for months now.

The one thing you can say about the “scientific” approach to the present pandemic is that the response to it has been anything but scientific. I will give you just a couple of examples.

Modeling

Modeling is a science only in that it is an exercise in statistics. The science of it ends there. And as a tool, modeling is rarely used in a scientific fashion. Of all the mathematical disciplines out there, modeling is the one most abused to achieve the ends of the modeler.

Take the hurricane prognostications we get every year before hurricane season. In an effort to get the group thinking along a line of preparation and (perhaps) a healthy fear, NOAA almost always announces a season that will be more active than other seasons. How do they do this? Modeling. They put an arbitrary or subjective set of parameters into a program and then start to add even more arbitrary, sometimes ridiculous assumptions to run against the parameters. When they get what looks like a desired result they announce their “findings”. And they are ALMOST ALWAYS WRONG.

The predictions are released, the expected numbers of storms are announced and then they are ratcheted up or down mid-season to reflect what is actually happening. The argument for this approach is that if we don’t do worst-case predictions the people won’t be smart enough to prepare for hurricanes. To address that I would say you need to check in with Chicken Little.

It is all as scientific as the sports caster who calls winners and losers on Thursday and spends Monday explaining how he would have been right except for a series of extraneous circumstances.


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And so goes the non-scientific battle with the Red Death. Nakedly motivated with producing a result that will keep you shaking in your Danskins, the “modelers” create assumptions that have proven time and again to be inaccurate, often to the point of being completely useless. So far, the higher the predicted cases and deaths a model has produced, the more inaccurate they have proven to be.

But they sure have the people buffaloed. I hear constantly remarks to the tune of…it doesn’t matter. At least, if people listen (one of my friends even employed the term obedience) then they won’t get sick and possibly die.

For those folks I have the saddest news: both the obedient and disobedient will all die, not at all likely from COVID.

Social Distancing

Ah, yes, the new verb. Folks are proudly joining the group, as I said in a past article, and declaring that they too, are social distancing. They post pictures on social media, clad in masks standing a prescribed distance from friends and loved ones. That’s great.

But there are a few problems here. One, there is no science behind it; quite the opposite. And two, they may be doing as much harm as good.

Early on, Drs. Fauci, and Brix along with the Surgeon General and the TV medicos ALL said that wearing masks as a response to COVID is counter productive. One reason is because people fidget with them. The result is that if you are not conditioned for years to wear a mask professionally you touch your face an average of 28 times per hour, usually to fuss with the mask.

I have witnessed this myself at a number of critical locations like Lowe’s and Walmart. Especially among the young, I notice people who take their masks on and off while chatting to each other. I have seen more than one being spun on a finger like a lifeguard’s whistle. If any of them have actually been exposed to COVID or any other pathogen…that’s right. They are inhaling it now and spreading it actively.

More on the mask.

A surgical mask has VERY limited use. Doctors are only supposed to use their mask to see a patient and then get a new one of they are to see another patient. Wearing one mask over several visits will protect the doctor, so long as he doesn’t fuss with it or swing it around like a whistle. But he doesn’t protect his patients.

(Update: 5/20/20.  Studies say the effectiveness of masks run between 25% and 80% against COVID. I am going out on a limb and saying the difference in the results stem from the difference on the tests. Herre is a anecdotal reference.  When working in the woodshop, if not wearing a mask, the results are easy to see.  When I blow my nose, the results are brown and black from saw dust.  BUT when I use a mask, this includes N90, …the results are the same.  That’s because I wear the mask for a long time and they are not very efficient.  The only truly efficient masks are the hard shell masks with replaceable filters and an airtight fit.)

While you breath, your mask becomes warm and moist. Over an hour or so it become a Petri dish on your face. If you have seen one patient and get to close to another you shed, from the mask, whatever you inhaled into it from the previous patient.

Then there are the unforgivably stupid people (this includes a dentist I once visited) who wear a mask with their nose sticking out over the top. Really? Jackasses! With a little luck these morons will get sick and get off the streets for a couple weeks.

The Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, is the only professional who has stuck to his guns on this issue. The others know the mask, after the first hour or less, is pure placebo. But they figure if it makes the public more comfortable and protects them for the first 20 minutes or so during a given day, well that’s alright. It also helps foster an atmosphere that we have tried to create when we have millions of people running around masked.

And that is why I mentioned propaganda. That is what the government approach to “fighting” COVID has been. It certainly isn’t science. Even the distancing is pure propaganda. Are the intentions good? Sure. Is the 6-foot rule effective? Sometimes? It depends. But the rule is literally the result of the following science.

Bureaucrat 1: So what do we tell them? Stand back from each other? How far?

Bureaucrat 2: That’s a good idea. How about 3 feet?

Bureaucrat 1: No. That probably wouldn’t hammer home the safety thing. 10?

Bureaucrat 2: No way! Too far. Most places wouldn’t have the room.

Bureaucrat 1: 6?

Bureaucrat 2: Yeah, I suppose. That sounds reasonable.

That’s it. There is no science associated with 6 feet. And if two people are moving in the same direction, there is absolutely no value to the rule since person number 1 passes point A followed by person number 2 within one second. If number 1 sneezes, coughs or even exhales number 2 gets it right in the kisser.

So, yeah. The distancing, the masks, they are all the result of successful propaganda. Not good, not bad. At best, the effectiveness is nearly random. The damage isn’t the propaganda. It is the ensuing group think. Every politician, looking to capitalize on the event has jumped on the band wagon. More and more restrictions were placed on the population “out an abundance of caution”, of course.

But no golf? No walking on a  20-foot wide, miles-long promenades? No kayaking ALONE?!?! Keeping schools closed after we have long-since learned that COVID is almost non-existant in children and not as dangerous for them as adults? This is what happens when you don’t use real thinking and real science in response to an event like COVID.

Now, after vapid rhetoric like ”If one life it lost it is too many” has taken hold in the collective psyche, the politicians that brought us to this point don’t know how to unwind the screw-ups. They know the media will find the one kid out of millions that will, for some reason, die of this illness and go ballistic on the town, county or state that says we need to face the risks.

Now that we are opening up in some places…

…we should be encouraged, right?

I want to say yes. But in almost every case we hear the underlying cowardice. Governors warn that “if the disease spikes”, we will have to shut down again.

This stay at home crap has done untold damage to the economy. If you think my priorities are screwed up consider how hospitals can stay open just treating COVID and not treating routine patients. There will come a tipping point, especially if we all hide under our beds again where there won’t be enough economic activity to sustain hospitals, police or most other critical activity.

I have a news flash for you. This thing WILL spike again. We can’t wait it out. We have to face the risk of getting sick and at the same time do what we can for the more vulnerable.

But IT WILL COME BACK! Get that through your head. It will still be here, chugging away when flu season starts. We cannot afford to retreat to the barracks again. And we won’t do ourselves a bit of good if we do. You need to have more fortitude than your politicians. So long as you buy into emotional sentiments like “I’ll die if I go to work” you are part of the wider problem that is COVID-19. You’re great grandmom might die if she went to work with you, so don’t invite her along. But you do her, your kids or yourself NO GOOD if you don’t get back in the game and stay in it.

Keep the ventilators and PPE coming! Get USNS COMFORT back to NY. You’re gonna need them. But please, no more shut downs and no more “stimulus”.