Coronavirus

What It's Like To Be a Rational Optimist in a Pandemic

Matt Ridley on how the coronavirus caught him by surprise, the crucial role of dissent in politics, and the importance of innovation for survival

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Matt Ridley is one of the best-selling—and best-regarded—science and economics writers on the planet. He wrote recently that in the face of the coronavirus pandemic "we are about to find out how robust civilisation is" and that "the hardships ahead will be like nothing we have ever known." Given that Ridley's best-known book is 2010's The Rational Optimist, those dire words caught some of his fans by surprise.

Ridley's next book, How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom (Harper), will be published in May. It touches on many questions now of acute interest, including how to set the stage for major breakthroughs in medicine and technology. Innovation, the book argues, "cannot be modelled properly by economists, but it can easily be discouraged by politicians."

In late March, Reason's Nick Gillespie spoke with Ridley via Skype from their respective self-quarantines in New York and Northumberland, England. They discussed the political response to COVID-19, Ridley's longstanding distrust of viruses and bats, and when we'll be able to reopen the world economy.

Reason: You are the rational optimist. But when the coronavirus hit North America and Europe, you wrote a couple of pieces that were striking to me because of the pessimism involved. You talked about how you thought we would never be faced with something like this. Can you explain how the emergence of this pandemic has shaken some of your beliefs about progress?

Ridley: Well, the first thing I should say is that I've never believed that the world is the best of all possible worlds and can't be improved—you know, that we've already reached nirvana. One of the things I'm very clear about in The Rational Optimist is there are still problems to be solved. There are still threats. There are still risks. I personally think we've been worrying about the wrong risks, and this is a reminder that we have been doing that. But I'll hold my hands up and say I was not out there saying, "Watch out. There's a pandemic coming." I wish I had been.

But back in 1999, I was asked to write a short book about the future of disease, and I did say in that if we do have a pandemic that goes crazy—that combines high contagiousness with high lethality—then it will be a virus, not a protozoan or a bacteria. We're on top of those enemies pretty well. It's not going to be like the plague or like malaria. We're too good at beating those big organisms. It's the tiny ones, the viruses, that we're still pretty bad at.

I also said it's gonna be a respiratory virus. Why? Just look around you: People are coughing and sputtering all the time. There are up to 200 different kinds of respiratory viruses that we give each other every winter. We call them the common cold or flu. Some of them are rhinoviruses, some of them are coronaviruses. So there's clearly something pretty irresistible to the virus tribe about the urban human population.

And the third thing I said was that it might come out of bats. I said that because a whole bunch of relatively new diseases have come out of bats in recent decades. And in fact, that's been even more true since I said that, because [the 2003 outbreak of] SARS was after I made that remark. The reason is because bats are mammals like us, and it's relatively easy for a virus to jump from a mammal to a mammal. Bats are animals that live in huge crowds—in huge densities. There's a cave in Texas that has a famous bat roost in it. It has roughly the population of Mexico City living in that cave. So respiratory viruses are going to enjoy bats, and they're going to enjoy humans, and there's going to be a crossover between them.

We didn't learn from SARS, which was a really good canary in the coal mine—a very clear warning that these wet wildlife markets in China were a dangerous place for crossover between species. That's because the animals are alive in the markets. The problem is not bringing meat to market. The problem is bringing live animals that are coughing and sputtering. We had a dry run with a virus that wasn't very contagious, but it was very dangerous: SARS. We should have said, "Look, this is a real threat."

I had taken some comfort from the degree of improvement in molecular biological knowledge. The fact that we could sequence SARS in three months or something—that felt electric-fast. Because 20 years ago we hadn't sequenced a single virus. So [with SARS], we'd read its recipe. We knew its defects. We knew how to attack it, in theory. And I had sort of vaguely in the back of my mind assumed that vaccine production would speed up as well.

We sequenced [the new coronavirus] in days. It's almost instantaneous. But it turns out, as I now realize reading up, that vaccine development is about as slow as it was 20 years ago. I read something recently about how the whooping cough vaccine was developed in four years flat in the 1930s by two very remarkable American women. Four years is not that much longer than it's probably going to take us to find a vaccine to this. So we have left the door unguarded, in one respect. We've let obstacles get in the way of the development of vaccines.

So we assume that this all started at a wet market in China. It was clear to observers, health officials and whatnot, that something was going on. We know the Chinese government is going to lie about how great they are. But what were the fundamental missteps in the United States and the United Kingdom when it came to containing this? 

One of the lessons is that countries like South Korea were better prepared. And that was partly because of SARS. They got more of a fright from SARS in Asia than we did in the West, and so they set up this system of "contact tracing" based on extensive testing that they were geared up for in a way that we weren't. Both in the U.K. and the U.S., we were very slow to ramp up testing for the virus. And testing turned out to be crucial. That's one lesson.

The other lesson is we relied too much on the World Health Organization, and I think it has very serious questions to answer after this. If you look at what it was saying in January—it was repeating untrue Chinese claims that this virus was not transmissible human to human, and it was praising China to the skies, and it was ignoring whistleblowers in Taiwan and elsewhere. These are questions that need to be looked into, because I think if the World Health Organization had run the flag up in January, we all might have reacted a bit quicker.

Would you say that South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore have been exemplary in their response to the coronavirus?

On the whole? Yes. What South Korea did was it tracked it—tested lots of people and found out who they'd been in contact with. It issued each of them with an app so that they could go back through their records and find out who they came close to, which is pretty remarkable. There turned out to be one superspreader who had gone to a church and met a huge number of people. Tracking down his contacts proved vital. So yes, I do think that track and trace is the technique that's gonna work in the absence of antivirals and vaccines and so on.

Because what's particularly dangerous about this virus, as I read it, is that it is highly contagious in the very first few days of infection. Whereas with SARS it's about eight days before you infect someone else, with COVID-19, it's about four days. And quite a lot of this transmission is happening from people who are symptom-free. Young people seem to get a very, very mild version. They don't even think there's anything wrong with them. That is a very dangerous feature.

I'll add one other way in which my country in particular was not ready for this, or I myself was not ready for this: In January, we were obsessed with Brexit. None of us could pay attention to anything else. I mean, that doesn't excuse us being caught out in February, but it does excuse us perhaps not being aware of things in January. And of course that's true of every country. America was obsessed with the presidential campaign—

And impeachment. 

Yeah.

On the one hand, you're interested in questions of public health and science. On the other, you're a big defender of individual freedom. It's in the subtitle of your forthcoming book, How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom. Is there a necessary tension between public health, as it was practiced in a country like South Korea or a country like Taiwan, and the freedom that we take for granted in the West?

Yes, there is. We're seeing that very clearly. Not just in terms of what you might call the technology of tracing people, but also in terms of the police state that we are now living in, where we've got policemen arresting people for going on unnecessary walks. That's one of the worrying things about this. But what I would say is, yes, I'm afraid it is necessary to be pretty draconian when you're in the middle of a pandemic, as it was during the plague in centuries past. If you want to avoid that, then you need to unleash the freedom to innovate, to solve the problem, in good times.

Where I think we've been mistaken is we've made it very hard for people to bring forward medical devices, vaccines, drugs, etc., partly because of safety regulations, but partly because of just bureaucratic growth. I have this statistic in my book: How long does it take to get a license for use for a medical device on average? It's like 20 months in America, and it's something like 17 months in Germany. It takes too long to decide whether a new hip joint or a new ventilator or a new kind of personal protective equipment is safe.

The result of that, of course, is invisible, because you're deterring people from going into these fields. You're deterring people from inventing and innovating in this area. So you can't point to it and say, "Show me the product that we could have licensed a bit quicker." The point was he never brought it forward, because he looked at how dysfunctional this market was and stayed away, and so it never got developed. That's one of the issues we have to learn is [the importance of] freedom to innovate.

But there is a tension. I'm not the perfect libertarian. I'm not someone who says that in the middle of a dangerous pandemic, the state should have no power to shut down society. On the other hand, we can have an argument about whether we are to some extent overreacting.

What is the role of dissent in a pandemic? Everybody, with the exception of very doctrinaire anarchists, is going to say, "You know what, when there is a genuine emergency, different rules apply." There are a lot of conspiracy theories about how this disease actually was grown in a Chinese government lab as some kind of bioweapon. Toby Young, the British writer who works at Quillette, was talking about how we're simply wrong to shut down the economy, because when you look at it from a strictly economic point of view, the recession we're causing is actually going to kill more people. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keep going back and forth about whether or not it's a good idea for people to wear masks when they go outside. What is the role of dissent, of pushback against authority, in a moment like this? 

I personally think there's no reason to shut down debate at a moment like this. Quite the reverse, actually. I think that what this is showing us is there is no monopoly on wisdom. Nobody knows exactly what the right answer is. It's possible that we are overreacting. At the beginning, I thought we probably were, because I'd seen so many busted flushes. So many wolves had come along, and we'd cried wolf, and it wasn't a wolf: bird flu, swine flu, SARS, MERS, Ebola. Ebola was a wolf for people in Africa, but it wasn't for the rest of the world. It's right to have that debate about whether or not this is a real threat.

It's also right to have a debate about what the prognoses are, because there's been a dangerous tendency in this country—I don't know whether it's true to the same extent in the U.S.—to believe the models, to put them on a pedestal. Imperial College came out with a model saying that up to half a million people might die [in the U.K.] unless we brought in much more draconian restrictions on people's freedoms. And that caused them to bring forward the lockdown of the economy. Now, that model is not unchallengeable. It's got some very unhappy assumptions in it. And it was immediately challenged by another model from Oxford University—which I think went far too far in the other direction and put some crazy assumptions in about how quickly we'd get this under control. But that has reminded us that models are just that: They are models. They're not scripture.

And that, by the way, is a lesson for the climate change debate, where models have been deified to much too great a degree. But we'll leave that on one side for the moment.

So I don't want to stop anybody coming out with an article saying, "here's my evidence why the Chinese invented it," or "here's my evidence why it's easily cured with this crack here that I've got made out of dandelions, brewed at midnight under the full moon." Let a thousand flowers bloom in this. Let everybody say what they want. But let them produce their evidence, and let them put up with a bit of criticism if their evidence is bad.

In the case of the idea that it's a Chinese bioweapon, I've seen very good molecular biological evidence that that is extremely implausible. So I don't object to the theory being advanced, but I don't think anyone should object to it being severely criticized too.

Some people found your take on the coronavirus to be credible because of your history of skepticism. Your willingness to publicly discuss what you're thinking and how the evidence has changed your mind helped them take this virus more seriously. 

Certainly as somebody who has pooh-poohed alarmism about many different things, from the population explosion through to climate change…I'm all for debunking scares. So for me, as someone who's almost a professional debunker of scares, to come out and say, "This one is quite scary, and we just need to take it seriously," has made some of my friends stop and think.

What are the markers that go into figuring out where we are, if what we're doing is working, and when we can start to reopen things? 

Short answer: I don't know. I haven't got a model, and even if I did, I wouldn't believe it, because it'll depend on assumptions.

What we don't really know, in my view, is which measures are working best. Was closing the schools a good idea or a bad idea, because it sent kids back to stay with their grandparents, and the grandparents are at more risk?

The way I see it developing is that we will get better at curing people who get it. Hydroxychloroquine and things like that may be helpful. Or the way in which just simply laying patients on their fronts, not their backs, when you're ventilating them apparently is helping. So we're going to get a little better at saving lives. We're going to ramp up the capacity for hospitalization, [the number of] ventilators and so on. We're going to improve the testing over the next few weeks so that we're going to get better at contact tracing. And once we've done that, we can start to lift these restrictions, because when it does flare up, we can quickly track down who's at risk and put them under lock and key, rather than the whole of society. Eventually we'll get to the point where the only people who have gotta be really careful are the very vulnerable, and the rest of us can get on with a relatively normal life.

Now, will that happen in April? I doubt it. Will it happen in May? I hope so. Will it happen in June? I jolly well think so, 'cause I think that's the point where we have to start to take Toby Young's arithmetic very seriously and say, "Sorry, we're killing more people by leaving them locked up with abusive partners, alone and in danger of committing suicide, workless and unable to feed themselves properly, more prone to take drugs and alcohol," whatever it might be. There's a whole bunch of things that'll be going wrong with society because of this lockdown.

There are good things about this—sorry, that's not the right word. There are no good things about it, but there are less bad things. The big one is that it does not kill children. Influenza was quite good at killing kids. Smallpox was lethal among children. We're incredibly lucky in that respect. But of course that has contributed to the young feeling somewhat invulnerable, and that's made it harder for them to take seriously the restrictions on movement.

We've been talking mostly about the public health interventions. What about the economic responses? The federal government just passed the single largest spending bill in U.S. history. What are the types of responses, consistent with limited government, that are likely to work, and what are the ones that are likely to do more damage? I mean, we're still digging out of the bailouts from the financial crisis 12 years ago. 

Yeah, I think the U.K. paid off its last debt from the Napoleonic Wars just a few years ago. There is no doubt that when you hugely increase the scope of government, it tends not to retreat as fast as you would like. Britain didn't end [World War II–era] food rationing until something like 1954. And the argument was always, "There are some people at the bottom of society who might not be able to afford food." Well, it turned out the reason they couldn't afford food was because food was being rationed, and so the supply wasn't responding to demand in the same way, and so the price wasn't coming down. Do you see what I mean? It was a sort of circular argument.

There is a real danger that what we've done is nationalized huge swaths of the economy. We will find it very hard to undo it. The moment you start to say, "We'll no longer subsidize you for the fact that your business is struggling," a lot of people will be saying, "I'm going to go bust if that happens!" On the other hand, the idea that the government steps in during this period because we think it's temporary might be quite a reasonable one. In other words, if everyone was just to sort of say, "Right, I'm closing down my business overnight," it would be harder to start the economy up again. But there's got to be a degree of rethinking of how we run the economy in the wake of this. We can take a bit of a blank-slate approach. Things that we've said for years, "You can't do that because there's huge vested interests."

Can you give us an example? 

Well, for a start, the [regulations] around product safety. Not all of them, obviously—we've got to have some. But it's clear that if we can suddenly say, "let's tear up these regulations in order to respond quickly [to the pandemic]," well then we shouldn't be doing that anyway. These regulations are unnecessary. A lot of reporting requirements are about sending bits of paper from one person to another. It's now being said, we don't need to do that: "We don't need to get that bit of paper from you. We'll just get the grant out to you straight away." A lot of the complication around taxes—it turns out to be much simpler to run a tax system than we thought. We need to have a real drains-up look at what we don't need to do.

Likewise, we need to have a look at how we as individuals, not just government, run society. That's things like videoconferencing, what you and I are doing right now. I'm gonna try and insist that I have an awful lot fewer face-to-face meetings and an awful lot more meetings of this kind, 'cause they're generally efficient. And it turns out the technology has really advanced. Five or 10 years ago if we did this, we'd have dropouts, we'd have freeze-ups, there'd be all sorts of stuff that wouldn't quite work. I remember trying to do a lecture to Texas about eight years ago, and there was a 10-minute delay—or maybe it was a two-minute delay. But it was paralytically difficult to do in those conditions.

A number of people I've spoken to say, "You know what? Our regular weekly meeting is happening at half the time now."

This interview has been edited for style and clarity. For a podcast version, subscribe to The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie.

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  1. I personally think there’s no reason to shut down debate at a moment like this. Quite the reverse, actually. I think that what this is showing us is there is no monopoly on wisdom. Nobody knows exactly what the right answer is.

    ^This

    1. Yes

    2. Speak for yourself!

  2. Rational thinking is not in voge at this point in time.

    1. Whitey U. Redd Single mom makes $89844/yr in her spare time on computer without selling or buying any thing. I got inspired and start work now i am making $175 per hour. Its to easy to do this, every one can do this no experience or skill required just join the given link and start earning from very first day. Here is link… More Read Here

  3. Unfortunately most are too caught up in their partisan feelz to have a rational conversation with, and most of them will reliably spout the talking points representing the team jersey they are wearing.

    One of my lib friends about had a heart attack when I said “well we are currently in flu-illness death numbers territory, hopefully it doesnt get worse than that; granted that is after social distancing which we really dont do for the flu, so maybe it would have been worse, but who knows, thats where we are now – better than was predicted”

    “WHAT?!?! You cant tell people its just the FLU! Thats conspiracy theory FOX NEWS crap! Thats irresponsible”

    “Im just saying the numbers are what they are….sigh…nevermind”

    1. From Oct. 1, 2019 – Apr. 4, 2020, the CDC “estimates” that 24,000 to 62,000 people died from the flu.

      In half that time COVID killed at least 62k and killed that many even though we’re all consciously aware of it and have taken extraordinary measures to mitigate it.

      1. Ah, yes, one more cowardly piece of lefty shit, willing to keep YOU imprisoned so he won’t catch a cold.
        Shitstain, here’s the numbers:
        ” In total, the CDC estimates that up to 42.9 million people got sick during the 2018-2019 flu season, 647,000 people were hospitalized and 61,200 died. That’s fairly on par with a typical season, and well below the CDC’s 2017-2018 estimates of 48.8 million illnesses, 959,000 hospitalizations and 79,400 deaths.”
        https://time.com/5610878/2018-2019-flu-season/

        Note that’s 61K annual deaths from a disease for which we have a VACCINE.
        Stuff your PANIC!!! flag up your ass, stick first and sit on it.

        1. Oh my lord you are fucking crazy.

          1. It’s not surprising that cowards are not willing to deal with facts; too scared of getting a cold?
            Does your mommy check under the bed for boogy men before she tucks you in?

            1. The facts. Covid killed 62k Americans in March and April.

              1. Birx admitted that anyone who died with CV but not ftom CV is counted as a CV death. The numbers are fake and are bring inflated to scare people like you into obedience. Of those who have actually died of CV 75% are over 65 with comorbidities. Even if it killed 200,000 as they first said it wouldn’t be worth destroying the lives of 327 million people.

                1. https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/1727839/ FYI…

                  Covid animation of deaths (various causes ranked) in USA, kinda cool IMHO… Sad to say, no new data past mid-April though…

                2. Trump destroyed our lives then if that’s what you want to believe because he came around to supporting the stay at home stuff.

                  1. Trump has no power to force people to stay at home. That’s down to governors and mayors.

                    1. Governors and mayors don’t have any authority to keep us at home either.

                    2. There’s the reality of lockdowns and the fantasy of someone else bringing suit to stop them. By you, all those Nazi concentration camp guards should have said “No” and gotten shot for their troubles.

                  2. “Trump destroyed our lives then if that’s what you want to believe because he came around to supporting the stay at home stuff.

                    You.
                    Are.
                    Still.
                    Full.
                    Of.
                    Shit.

                  3. Ok. I’m not a Trump supporter I’m a libertarian. Do you not know what website you’re on?

                  4. He didn’t destroy my life. You must be a total pussy.

                3. That’s all you guys have left: ” the facts are fake!” You are rebelling against reality.

                  1. Like the fact that this is not much worse than an average year of seasonal flu?
                    Seems YOU have a hard time with facts; no surprise.

                    1. How do you debate, argue, or discuss with someone that makes a point, you address their point, and they reply by making the same point without addressing what you said? The answer is that you don’t.

                    2. “How do you debate, argue, or discuss with someone that makes a point, you address their point, and they reply by making the same point without addressing what you said? The answer is that you don’t.”

                      “Debating” with brain-dead lefty shits like you is not worth my time.
                      Here’s my “debate” to you:
                      Get fucked with a rusty, running chainsaw; make your family proud.

                    3. Sevo kinda has some anger issues.

                    4. loveblamingimmigrants1789 is full of shit.

                    5. Ooh, guess I’m livin’ rent free in your head.

                      (Yuh, I know, the “living rent free in your head” retort is weak, but the Trumpeteers use it all the time when they can’t think of anything better.)

                    6. lovebiblicaltweetingtrump1789
                      May.3.2020 at 8:51 pm
                      “Ooh, guess I’m livin’ rent free in your head.”

                      You.
                      Are.
                      Full.
                      Of.
                      Shit.
                      And I see you can’t seem to get around to answering my calss on your bullshit, 8:59.
                      Not enough lies to cover your ass, you pathetic piece of lefty shit?

                    7. Not sure what a calss is. Oh, I do see an unhinged rant you posted below at 8:59. That must be what you’re referring to. I might deign to read and, possibly, respond to it.

                  2. So are you saying they’re lying about cooking their books?

                  3. No, we see actual evidence from all over that, in the USA at least, the numbers are faked, and they’re always faked in one direction, to increase the number of Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths, never to decrease them. So there’s a systematic error, not just random error, and we know the numbers of serious illnesses and deaths are less than what’s being reported, we just don’t know by what factor: 2? 4?

                    If this illness can be classified as a pneumonia, why aren’t we seeing a corresponding increase in those figures as they relate to pneumonias generally? If you increase a major part, the whole must increase, right? If not — if this is just a shift in the type of pneumonia that’s killing old and sick people this year — then why should policy be made based on such a trivium?

                  4. “…Trumpeteers…”

                    Why do lefty ‘tards spend half their lives coming up with nicknames which embarrass 1st-grade kids?

                    1. I’m a libertarian ‘tard.

                4. Birx admitted that anyone who died with CV but not ftom CV is counted as a CV death.

                  We should not use the word ‘admitted’ here.

                  She did not ‘admit’ anything. She explained how the numbers of deaths were being calibrated. This has been done since day one. Likewise, state level public health officers explained that they, too, were tallying deaths in a similar fashion.

                  No one was ‘caught’.

                  They have been very open, right from the beginning, about the fact that they were deliberately and systematically skewing the numbers.

                  We have no idea what the actual numbers of deaths are. We DO know that there are at least 4000 ‘presumed’ C19 deaths among the NY numbers. Because they told us. Again, openly.

                  And yet we do nothing.

                  The pants-shitters cower in their homes and snitch on any and all they see.

                  And the people who WANT to do something are split into groups. They know somethings wrong with all this, but some are anti-vaxxers, some are conspiracy theorists, some are garden variety nuts, and the vast majority are just people wanting their lives back.

                  Some may protest, but no one is willing to take the stand that needs to be taken.

                  If we ALL go to the beach they can’t stop us.
                  If we ALL open our businesses they can’t stop us.

                  If we ALL say ‘NO!’ there’s not a damned thing they can do.

                  But, in today’s America, there are precious few willing to risk their Lives, their Fortunes, and their Sacred Honor.

                  Are you?

              2. The facts: States are lying about their totals. Deaths are “presumed” to be covid-caused even when people aren’t tested for it and they have obvious other causes of death, including blunt trauma. The totals are being artificially inflated to keep pussies like you hiding under the bed, begging for the government to put a leash on your neck.

          2. Speaking for myself, I like him. Who doesn’t enjoy an insane old crank from San Francisco?

            1. Except he just posts the same insane shit word for word. At least Hihn mixes it up and gives us something new to guffaw over each time.

              1. You mean these words?
                Like the fact that this is not much worse than an average year of seasonal flu?
                Seems YOU have a hard time with facts; no surprise.
                You and commie kid could make your families proud and the world a much better place if you would both kindly fuck off and die.
                Slavers.

                1. You see CMW? There’s something about him. It’s not exactly charming, but something close

                  1. There’s something about you, too; it’s amazing how the stench of scumbags like you passes through the web.

                  2. A cer-tain je ne sais quoi
                    A cer-tain sav-oir faire
                    Ah, yes, zis is Se-vo to me!

                  3. loveblamingimmigrants1789, it’s amazing how the stench of scumbags like you passes through the web.

                    1. That’s good, Sevo. You are trying something other than swearing.

                    2. Fuck off and die; make your family proud, you pathetic piece of lefty shit.

                2. Sure, if you were to squeeze the number of hospitalizations for flu annually into a few months, you might get the rate we are seeing with COVID 19 so far. Why is that relevant? We haven’t gotten to a year experiencing COVID yet. Comparing annual rates isn’t rational yet. Any projection of the current rate of COVID would add up to many more hospitalizations than a typical flu seasonif you were to project it. That’s because this flu is much more contagious than a typical on.

            2. Jello Biafra, is that you?

          3. Maybe pussies like you just piss him off. There’s nothing irrational about being passionately opposed to retardation.

            1. And thuggery; they’re nothing if not thugs.

            2. Especially intentional retardation. Anyone past getting their first job at a real business who still believes in socialist fairy tales is willfully retarded and intentionally refusing to open their eyes and look at the problems of a real business.

              Look at AOC. Her first real job was apparently part time bartender, an excellent learning opportunity, and yet she refused to learn anything. Eyes wide shut, like every socialist.

              Then there’s Bernie, who never had a real job, yet somehow managed to buy three houses and still thinks government is the solution.

              1. It is. for him. Slopping at the public trough is how he GOT those three houses!

          4. He’s quite mad, you know.

            1. loveblamingimmigrants1789 is full of shit.

            2. Socialists have to believe everyone else is mad. Otherwise they’d have to look at their own beliefs and try to square them with reality, and their heads would esplode.

              1. All true, but Sevo is still a crazy San Franciscan with anger issues.

                1. The lefty asshole now using lovebiblicaltweetingtrump1789 seems to have an unhealthy concern with my psyche, but it’s safe to assume it’s a diversion to avoid dealing with his/her fucking lefty imbecility.
                  Fuck off and die.

                  1. Just fun poking you. Like the angry old man who never figures out to stop yelling at the kids when they play ding dong ditch at his front door over and over.

                    And I’m a libertarian.

      2. That’s fine to add that in, but realize you added nothing substantive to my original point. I said we are currently at flu-illness death numbers (we are as you have attested with the 62k), and thankfully it has not been higher. I had the caveat that this is despite social distancing.

        The virus could have done anything, it’s novel. Many were predicting that even with social distancing, we could be in the 100k-200k deaths by April and have every city looking like NYC. We are not and it seems those models were a little…aggressive; so I am thankful we are currently at the death count of a normal flu. It may accelerate as we open things up, it may stay relatively steady/flat. We are seeing many different models as cities span the spectrum of lockdown (Georgia opening up early, cities in Sweden opening early, lots of other cities still on lockdown). We will have data and can talk about the numbers.

        I can attest to this first hand as well, if you die from respiratory failure on a vent with COVID you are being considered a COVID death (appropriately so). If you come in with a heart attack from a physical blockage, and then go into an arrhythmia, and die, and you test positive for COVID, they are calling that a COVID death as well and its being counted. They would absolutely not count that as a flu related death, as the actual mechanism is extremely likely (99%) to have been the arrhythmia coming from the heart attack (from the blockage) and not because covid was in their system (even though it is obviously a confounding variable and cannot be 100% ruled out as the cause). Something to also think about when comparing to “flu” numbers.

        1. That’s because the flu does not cause clots, but COVID 19 does. Respiratory failure is not the only way COVID 19 can cause death.

          1. Well…

            1. Hypercoagulable states have been observed, but usually in association with severe resp. distress and ARDS from COVID. This is interesting because so often you get the opposite response, consumptive coagulopathy, which…also happens with COVID.
            2. It is WAY to early to make a statement such as “COVID19 causes clots”, more data needs to be studied, thus far it is some case reports / observations, it isnt a sure thing that you get covid and you are hypercoagulable. May end up being true, maybe not.
            3. Hypercoaguable states, and new onset clotting (ex: new PE with no history of DVT ever in past) have been reported with influenza as well, so there goes that argument
            4. Occam’s razor: if you have a physical lesion occluding your coronary vessels, as I described, and that progresses to complete occlusion (through its normal progression of atherosclerosis, plaque formation, thrombosis), it is extremely likely that well understood pathology (that kills more americans than anything else, every day, all the time) caused it rather than a chance that a virus that MAY cause clots did it…its just an extreme stretch.

            In summary; I am an actual doc, who takes care of actual COVID patients, and also normally consumes and analyzes real, well performed research in the medical field. And you are in over your head

            1. You don’t know me, bro, or what I do. And anyone can claim to be a doctor on the internet.

              1. I dont need to know you to spot a high school level argument supported by 6th grade level thought process. Which is what you’ve provided.

                My analysis of your argument and reply to it stands, the article you provided does not help your case friend.

                1. LOL. And Ouch.

              2. Try refuting the message (which has plenty of detail just waiting for someone as self-proclaimed sharp as you to rebut) instead of attempting to shame the messenger.

                1. “Actual doc” started with the “shaming the messenger” bit first.

                  1. No, shitbag, he called you on your bullshit.
                    You should easily recognize that; most everyone here does so on a regular basis since you bullshit almost constantly.

              3. Eunuch, you post here enough that we all know everything that we need to know about you: you have zero talent, wit, charm, insight, independence, or any redeeming qualities.
                You’re an entirely contemptible clump of cells that would be best served by ceasing to be

                1. Ha, ha, har. This is coming from Nardz.

                  1. Yep.
                    Not only am I right, I’m also completely unconcerned with your bitch tears

                    1. If you were completely unconcerned you wouldn’t have replied to me.

                    2. Lol
                      Whatever you gotta tell yourself

              1. Go through Br J of Haematology and find the article which you linked a summary of. The actual article.

                Read it.

                Some patients. Late stage disease; severe disease. Mimicking a DIC like state restricted to the pulmonary vasculature, again in these patients, in this study. None of the above would lead any reasonable physician to conclude that joe schmo coming off the street with classic ACS was caused by COVID, given the evidence you linked. Would be the equivalent of me saying a guy with a beer in his system that got run over by a bus definitely died because of the booze.

                The only way to make the leap is if you are: not understanding the data, do not understand much about medicine, or are being blatantly disingenuous to attempt to bolster your position.

                1. Thanks doc.

                  Some great contributions.

                  The differential for coagulopathy is too long to mention here. You would not want to start there and work backward.

                  What can be deduced is that in all of this is, in a pandemic people will clutch at straws. It affects us not just physically but emotionally and in negative life consequences. We want to attribute
                  those to something controllable.

                  1. “”in a pandemic people will clutch at straws. “”

                    It will make people think that non infected people not wearing a fabric mask is spreading the virus and will kill your grandmother.

                2. Of course we are talking about some patients that are serious cases. The fuck. And I never mentioned ACS or assigning heart attacks to the COVID-19 death count, so I am not sure why you are bringing that up.

                  Here is another study:
                  “Haematological abnormalities have been found in almost every patient with coronavirus infection, which may contribute to mortality.” And “Our present investigation showed that nearly 30% of coro-navirus-infected patients had thrombocytopenia.” That’s low platelet count. Because the platelets are busy forming clots.

                  1. Wow, I just wasted like 30 minutes of my time on a nice Sunday afternoon on this shit, while taking a break. I should really know better. This is my own fault, of course. I am outta here, enjoy.

                    1. “…I am outta here…”

                      Please make it permanent.

                  2. If you have a time course that shows thrombocytopenia developed rapidly in a given patient, that’s from widespread clotting or other sequestration of platelets. However, if all you have is a count at a particular time, that could be a result of deficiency of formation of platelets.

                  3. “The fuck. And I never mentioned ACS or assigning heart attacks to the COVID-19 death count, so I am not sure why you are bringing that up.”

                    That is the main thing you mentioned. The end of my comment was about how the COVID death tag is being pinned on any condition in which the person clearly died of another cause (or very likely did) and they also were found to have covid. My example, which we literally had here yesterday, was a patient that had standard ACS, had a huge LMCA lesion that fully occluded, and died on the cath lab table. He tested positive for COVID. He died of a massive left main STEMI.

                    Your response to me was “well thats because flu doesnt cause clots and COVID does”. So ya, you directly related the two. I mean just scroll up its right up there lol.

                  4. ” That’s low platelet count. Because the platelets are busy forming clots.”

                    This is the difference between someone that thinks using the scientific method and normal garden variety folks.

                    I see that and say “it could be from platelets forming clots; that is also a likely scenario, related to some kind of DIC perhaps; maybe some splenic sequestration though?, maybe something causing direct destruction? maybe hepatic dysfunction causing lack of synthesis?; interesting and more info is needed” and you see it and say “because clotting, supports the thing I want it to, the end”.

                    It may be that they are clotting more and hypercoagulable. But that isnt the point. My point was you saw a couple early observations and jumped right to “covid kills people the flu wouldnt because it causes clots and the flu doesnt”, all of which I gave you many points to think about related to why this is a juvenile thought process that I would have gotten scolded for in grade school science class.

                  5. I am no doctor, but something with that doesn’t add up. “Almost every patient”, yet only 30% have low platelet count. What do the other 70% have that is abnormal, high platelet count? So either high or low, covers everything, but no mention of how low (or high); 1%? 10%? 50%? If if not high, what abnormalities? What is the range for uninfected people?

          2. “That’s because the flu does not cause clots, but COVID 19 does.”

            Your stoopid ate your cite.

            1. OK, you have a cite.

              1. Not a very well interpreted one, apparently. Someone discusses it in detail and he resorts to name calling.

                1. I did a couple of searches before calling BS; they came up empty on various combos of words. Nothing.
                  I’m guessing that the asshole known as CMW, like brain-damaged lefties everywhere, has no idea how to do any actual research.
                  That link was probably posted on some chicken-little site or perhaps Vox or the like.
                  They cited it, absent any analysis, as justification for being a coward, and that was good enough for our asshole!

                2. Ya the cite and the study (although I think it is still in the process of peer review) are technically fine; decent enough journal etc. It’s just not proving the point he wants it to prove, he’s using it to bolster a point that it does not.

                  The job called for a drill and he showed up with a perfectly fine paint brush. Nothing wrong with the particular paint brush, it’s just not going to do what he needs it to.

                3. Insults are Sevo’s stock in trade here. He’s frequently right, but you have to pick his facts from a lava flow of vitriol.

                  1. “Insults are Sevo’s stock in trade here.”

                    You might try reading when I’m dealing with those other than lefty scum, whose stock in trade are lying, misdirection, and other forms of mendacity.
                    I admit to harboring a thoroughgoing distaste for thugs, as a result, they get far better than they deserve from me.

                  2. Oh, and stuff it up your ass.

          3. Influenza or any acute respiratory infection also increases the chance of heart attacks and blood clots.

            https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/flu-increases-heart-attack-and-stroke-risk-study-claims-1.3435506

        2. It’s not good enough to say that we didn’t know much about this novel virus at first, but now things are turning out better than we thought.

          Sevo, Geraje, and the gang want you to apologize for not knowing with the same certainty in your heart from the start that this was all fakery by fascists trying to expand oppression. Not overreaction by government trying to keep people safe, but EVIL MOTIVATIONS.

          They especially want Ron Bailey to apologize, because he’s an evil trans-humanist.

          Curiously, they don’t call for Trump to apologize, even though one of Trump’s multiple personalities has supported and guided lockdowns all along. Trump is somehow always blameless.

          1. There’s such a mixture of motivations in this, the guilty are swept up in the accusations along with the innocent, the credulous, and the opportunists. When people with one motivation provide pecuniary incentives for people, and then those people act as they are incented to, the overall effect of the evil is magnified. But it also includes many whose sincere judgment missed the mark, those whose judgment is bent in one direction by how they value things, and people who’ve been called on to exercise judgment without understanding.

            And now, as John pointed out in another thread, positions have hardened as people have developed psychologic and other investments in the facts being a certain way. Even though I’m so much more knowledgeable than most people about how to think about these things (being a life scientist), I’m hampered by lack of direct access to facts, and I feel helpless to do anything about the situation.

            1. Well said.

          2. loveblamingimmigrants1789
            May.3.2020 at 6:05 pm
            “It’s not good enough to say that we didn’t know much about this novel virus at first, but now things are turning out better than we thought.”

            As a lefty scumbag, you’d love to sweep this under a rug, but I’m going to continue jamming it down your throat.
            No, it’s not that ‘it’s now turning out better’; that’s your lame, current excuse.
            The issue is the simple statement that you do NOT go full-authoritarian at the first hint of a problem.
            There was NEVER an attempt at a measured response to this; it was ‘lock-down, close businesses’ from day one. I didn’t see one consideration from the tin-pot-dictator wannabes to account the damage to the economy, and the probable number of deaths from that: Poverty kills.
            Yes, it certainly was an OVERREACTION, and those of us hear were shouting about it from day one; don’t you think we should expect that sort of consideration from our supposed leaders? So, I’m sure you’ll forgive me if it seems an effort at ‘hero action!, locking everyone down on executive order!’ might look just a bit like some tin-pot-dictator-wannbe getting her rocks off.
            ‘If we save only one life’ is the claim of the asshole who is more than willing to sacrifice yours to make them look good.
            And OK, liar, find ONE time when I beat on Bailey for your bullshit claim. Just one, or STFU.

            “Curiously, they don’t call for Trump to apologize, even though one of Trump’s multiple personalities has supported and guided lockdowns all along. Trump is somehow always blameless.”
            Your TDS will prove fatal, I hope:
            “Coronavirus: Five tweets that prove Trump didn’t take the outbreak seriously”
            and then:
            “Trump administration pushing to reopen much of the U.S. next month”
            You.
            Are.
            Full.
            Of.
            Shit.

            1. Nice rant. It went south right at the start when you assumed I’m a “lefty”.

              One trait all of you Trumpeteers share is a complete incapability for understanding anything but extremism. One of the way it manifests is assuming anyone who criticizes Dear Leader Trump is a lefty. Which is funny, since this is a libertarian website.

        3. I made a similar comment with some data and articles on FB the other day. I have been fairly skeptical and have been checking out numbers on my own to try to verify. Even if the numbers are exaggerated by 2X, we are still right in the range for a normal flu. But, our death curve is extended a bit compared to Spain, Italy, probably since our country is so spread out with lost of rural areas and states that have not been hit as hard yet. So, the total numbers will continue to grow over the next month even if we get to where it is “only” 1,000 per day dying from Covid. So, we will get to 100K or 150K and then (again even if the numbers are off 2X) we will be at the deaths of the 2017-18 flu but without a vaccine and with social distancing and half the economy shut down. So, this is clearly worse than even the bad flu from several years ago. If you look at Spain, France, UK, Italy, are they all double counting the numbers? I can believe ours are exaggerated 10-20% but not 2X or 3X. That said, we do need to open the economy and have the CDC and FDA get the hell out of the way when it comes to having to approve each new test or procedure with separate Emergency approvals. The Reason article the other day that compared several more recent articles was a good one.

      3. You aren’t considering the deaths of people who HAD the coronavirus but did not die FROM the coronavirus. Like so many statistics abusers, you conflate whatever suits your agenda; like blaming alcohol or pot for every traffic accident where the drivers had alcohol or pot in their blood but were not at fault.

        1. Unless all of these arguments that the way COVID-19 deaths are being counted are putting us in a whole different *order of magnitude* why is it being called fakery, or being discussed as if it is significant. If data is within an order of magnitude of correct that’s doing pretty well during a pandemic.

          1. It would take much less than an order of magnitude difference to take this out of the category of pandemic at all. What if the numbers turn out to be 3X what a reasonable interpretation of the facts would have them as? Just half a log, not a full log, and people’s concerns would be very different.

            Just a couple days ago I was thinking about how parallel the public policy fiasco over this is to that of narcotics policy, and how much it depends on people’s beliefs regarding facts, not just value judgments.

            1. Fair enough. Order of magnitude is an arbitrary bar to set.

              The important thing not being discussed by all the commenters here complaining about too many deaths being counted is (a) is it a significant overcount, (b) what is your evidence it was done maliciously or in an attempt to deceive.

              1. lovebiblicaltweetingtrump1789
                May.3.2020 at 8:59 pm
                And shitbag, you’ve yet to respond to the call-out of your bullshit above.
                Wonder why…

          2. You lecture on “orders of magnitude” while not understanding the term or its significance. Classic politician! The only people you fool are the ones who are afraid to think because they might learn something.

            1. I’m a politician?! Yikes!

          3. “Unless all of these arguments that the way COVID-19 deaths are being counted are putting us in a whole different *order of magnitude* why is it being called fakery, or being discussed as if it is significant.”

            Let’s see, we now have ~60K deaths. And order of magnitude would put that at ~6K deaths; about 1/2 the annual deaths from poisoning.
            And you wonder why people laugh at you?

            1. Wow, you really are dumb.

      4. Pffft. You believe those numbers? Illinois admitted that it attributes to Wuflu deaths that had absolutely nothing to do with it. Publicly admitted it. New York has been caught doing it repeatedly. They count “probable,” “possible,” and “potential” Wuflu deaths among the confirmed ones. People are “presumed” to have died of it and are counted in the totals when they actually died of everything from blunt trauma or Alzheimers and are never tested. Given the bullshit numbers, the real totals are probably a third lower or more. The bottom line is that 99.8% of people who get Chinese Lung AIDS live, over half the people who get it it don’t even know they ever had it, 99% of the fatalities are elderly and/or have pre-existing conditions, and it’s either the same or less dangerous than seasonal flu. Get off your fucking knees.

        1. What we need, but may not have for months or a year (I have not found it with simple searches – the CDC site is cumbersome) is the total number of deaths from ALL causes for this year by day or week or month, compared to the total deaths in other years.

      5. The first reported case in America was January 21st. It’s been 4 months, not 3. And the epicenter of American deaths actively worked against containment.

        1. And given that the overwhelming plurality comes from one urban area, there is certainly cause for suspicion regarding those numbers.

    2. What I find annoying is people who say this is unprecedented.

      https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1968-pandemic.html

  4. You’re deterring people from inventing and innovating in this area. So you can’t point to it and say, “Show me the product that we could have licensed a bit quicker.” The point was he never brought it forward, because he looked at how dysfunctional this market was and stayed away, and so it never got developed. That’s one of the issues we have to learn is [the importance of] freedom to innovate.

    But there is a tension. I’m not the perfect libertarian. I’m not someone who says that in the middle of a dangerous pandemic, the state should have no power to shut down society. On the other hand, we can have an argument about whether we are to some extent overreacting.

    It’s interesting to juxtapose those two paragraphs – the creative innovator thinking outside the box and pushing the boundaries of the universe of the possible and the foolish libertarian thinking outside the box and pushing the boundaries of the universe of the possible.

    Just as the innovator has to get past the skeptical bias of treating the unthought-of as the unthinkable, so too the libertarian (or any fringe philosophy) has to do the same, get people to examine their principles and question the foundation of their principles and ask themselves why this thing must be so and that thing cannot. Does it violate the laws of physics? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Are we properly assessing the costs and the benefits? Why or why not?

    I think 5-year olds should be able to carry machine guns on their way to the heroin store.

    “Well, that’s silly, 5-year olds are not fully-formed intellectually and can’t be expected to be held responsible for their decision-making so there has to be some limit on their ability to make choices.”

    Okay, I’ll accept that argument – so once the kid turns 18 or 21 or whatever age you choose as the age of emancipation, then can he carry a machine gun to the heroin store?

    “Of course not! Machine guns are dangerous weapons that pose a threat to other people and people shouldn’t be allowed to endanger other people!”

    Yes, machine guns are dangerous – but so too is a government powerful enough to enforce a prohibition against machine guns, and you’ll notice the government hasn’t prohibited the possession of machine guns for themselves, have they? Perhaps we should examine this argument more closely.

    “But still, heroin is a bad drug and people shouldn’t be allowed to use bad drugs.”

    Heroin users apparently don’t believe heroin is a bad drug. As long as they’re not hurting anybody else, who has the right to tell somebody else what they can and cannot do with their bodies? Who is capable of deciding what’s best for someone else? If we can ban drug use, can we ban prostitution as well? What about banning abortion? Gay marriage or inter-racial marriage? Tattoos and piercings? Stupid-looking haircuts and ugly clothes? Overweight people eating at McDonalds? If it’s simply a matter of where we choose to draw the line rather than a matter of principle, why not draw the line over there rather than over here?

    Pushing the boundaries of what’s possible is no less important in the world of thought than the physical world because every physical act begins with a thought. Push the boundaries hard enough and far enough, and the unthinkable becomes thinkable and the impossible becomes possible. How do you think we came to the point where it’s both thinkable and possible we might elect a straight-up Socialist as our next President?

    1. The 5 year old buying the machine gun and heroin also completely ignores human behavior. Almost nobody would sell a 5 year old anything but candy or yard sale junk. Most people would actually assume the kid had separated from its parents and try to find them by calling out, getting the kid to sit down and wait, and eventually calling the police.

      Statists love to ignore the innate common sense of most people. They have low self-esteem, as evidenced by their continued reliance on others to tell them what to think (Che t-shirts!) and to tell when what to do, and assume everyone else is just as helpless, ignorant, stupid, greedy, etc. Kid wanders in the store? Be stupid enough to sell him a machine gun or heroin, because that’s what unthinking morons do, and everyone is an unthinking moron.

      1. “The 5 year old buying the machine gun and heroin also completely ignores human behavior.”

        Don’t you even Sierra Leone, bro???

        1. Come on, everyone knows you can’t get heroin in Sierra Leone.

          1. You have know a guy.

  5. I dont think your belief is accurate.

    From Oct. 1, 2019 – Apr. 4, 2020, the CDC “estimates” that 24,000 to 62,000 people died from the flu.

    In half that time COVID has definitely killed at least 62k and killed that many even though we’re all consciously aware of it and have taken extraordinary measures to mitigate it.

    You might want to reevaluate your belief.

    1. Nobody said this was an average flu season. They said this would be like one of those from 1957 or 1968. And that’s been proven out now. This virus does not kill in the quantities they were hoping for. The mitigation does not prevent you from eventually contracting it, nor does it prevent deaths. I only prevents them suddenly.

      The final numbers are not in, but the data says what it says. Our response was over the top, and this virus is not as deadly as once thought. Now we’ve gone into a mode where if you talk about facts, like the fact that lockdowns will kill more people than the virus, then they try the old climate change model of insulting you, demeaning you, and publicly shaming you. Because that is how the left operates – not with honesty, not with facts, but with disgrace and violence.

      1. And fear. Don’t forget the fear.

      2. Man, on March 1st Covid had killed 2 Americans or something. 60 days later it’s now 62k. It’s pointless talking to you fuckers.

        1. It’s funny how no one has die of the flu in the last 60 days.

        2. Hate to be more of a stickler about numbers, but this is a disingenuous and poor argument

          COVID was actually already in the country at this point (might have been as early as late 2019, certainly was in early 2020) and probably did kill many old folks overlapping with the seasonal flu. Our hospital has had multiple co-infected patients at this point. Furthermore, we didnt have and were not testing every person with a cough for COVID before that time, so we just cant know who had it and who died from it.

          So we cant know. It was certainly more than 2, but how much more is something that wouldn’t be possible to truly assess. Was it a few more and drastically escalated to 62000, or was it somewhere in between and has had a less steep incline to its current state?

          The truth is either scenario is possible and without knowing which it is, your assumption that it was absolutely at close to 0 at the beginning of march (this is far likely to be the inaccurate of the above choices) and escalated to 62000 rapidly is faulty.

          1. “Hate to be more of a stickler about numbers, but this is a disingenuous and poor argument”

            You shouldn’t be; that particular sad excuse for humanity NEVER comments without at least some dishonesty. Commonly, outright lies.

        3. Because you’re impervious to the facts. Deaths are being counted as covid-caused when the cause has nothing to do with it. Get your head out of your ass.

        4. On October 1st the death toll from flu was 0 you disingenuous fuck.

      3. like the fact that lockdowns will kill more people than the virus

        States facts not in evidence.

        1. Yeah, poverty doesn’t kill, according to scumbag proponent of mass starvation here.

        2. The general trend of history shows that increased wealth and increased health go hand in hand.

          The general trend of history also shows that socialism correlates strongly with increased state murder and pollution, and decreased wealth and health.

          1. You’re too kind; the correlation between commie scum and mass death is 1:1.

          2. Long term, yes. You are going off into talking bout an entirely different subject.

            1. Long term my ass. How long did it take Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Chavez, Jong-what’s-his-name, or any other communist to start murdering his opponents? I’d say negative days, but let’s be kind and call it zero for your sake.

              Name one socialist take over that waited “long term” to start murdering opponents.

              A clear distinction between individualism and collectivism is that individualism can simulate collectivism with contracts; but collectivism cannot even tolerate individualism, let alone simulate it.

              1. Overreact much?

                1. “Overreact much?”

                  No.
                  Calling lefty scumbag on their bullshit often gets called ‘overreaction’ by those lefty scumbags.

                2. One of the reasons I always assume that DoL and Baby Jeffy are the same person is the consistency of both handles response to anyone pointing out Socialism’s record of murdering 100 million of their own citizens by calling it an overreaction.

                  Hey, fuckwad, there is no such thing as an overreaction to Socialism. Anyone advocating socialism is an enemy of free peoples and should be ridiculed and shamed until correct their erroneous thinking or commit suicide.

    2. Cowards need to learn things; wee above, coward.

      1. It is hilarious that you live San Francisco.

        1. “And fear. Don’t forget the fear.”
          Ask mommy for help…

          1. You’re panicking over the economy. The world is gonna end because I can’t get a hair cut. You’re constantly screaming and mashing your teeth about govt. You’re the fucking pussy.

            1. The world is gonna end because I can’t get a hair cut.

              My world is gonna end if I’m a barber and I can’t get paid to cut hair.

              1. Nuh uh, because the right-thinking politicians (almost all of them) are going to keep sending you stimulus checks, and deferring your rent payments, and postponing your utility bills… And of course, none of this will have any adverse effects. Things will go back to normal when the planners deem it proper and necessary to wade among the levers and gauges of their giant economy machine to push the big green ‘unpause’ button.

            2. The collapse of the economy will kill way more than 60,000 so yes panicking is a reasonable reaction.

            3. “You’re panicking over the economy.”

              Seems to me that you’re panicking because old people are dying. Sorry, friend, but that’s what old people do best.

            4. “Axeblood
              May.3.2020 at 11:06 am
              “You’re panicking over the economy…”

              I’m not panicking over anything; I’m trying to live my life and cowardly pieces of lefty shit like you are so scared of catching a cold, you’ve got the government locking me up.
              Why don’t you just admit you’re a whiny excuse for humanity and crawl in a hole someplace?
              I’ll be happy to shovel the dirt back over you.

            5. You know what else I can’t get? Preventive cancer screening, you fucking pussy. Try for once in your life thinking in terms of principles: If the government can tell you when or whether you can get a haircut, it can determine everything else in your life, and it will if you concede that premise. It’s just a matter of time.

            6. Not panic.
              Indignation and anger, bitch

        2. It is hilarious that you live San Francisco.

          That’s why he is so angry all the time.

          1. My anger has nothing to do with my place of resided. If you would learn to read, you’d noticed it’ss aimed at lying lefty scumbags like you, commie-kid, pod, JFree and the rest of that steaming pile of shit; you all deserve far worse.
            But why are you so stooopid all the time?

            1. Because you can only believe in socialism by giving up thinking for Lent and the rest of the year too.

            2. Ha ha. You are getting so angry you are making all kinds of typos.

              I know you, Sevo. You have anger issues. That’s very clear.

              1. I know you, loveblamingimmigrants1789.
                You.
                Are.
                Full.
                Of.
                Shit.

    3. So what? It’s not worth destroying the lives of the 327 million other Americans over it. That’s not callous because I’m at risk too but I’m a patriot and I’m willing to take that risk for my fellow Americans. You on the other hand are a coward.

    4. Exactly. People are comparing estimated flu deaths with confirmed coronavirus deaths. The estimated coronavirus deaths are gonna end up being much higher.

      1. “…People are comparing estimated flu deaths…”

        Out right LIE!
        ” In total, the CDC estimates that up to 42.9 million people got sick during the 2018-2019 flu season, 647,000 people were hospitalized and 61,200 died. That’s fairly on par with a typical season, and well below the CDC’s 2017-2018 estimates of 48.8 million illnesses, 959,000 hospitalizations and 79,400 deaths.”
        https://time.com/5610878/2018-2019-flu-season/

        You should hide your lies like Pod and commie-kid, liar

        1. You proved my point, you dumdum.

          1. You really are that stooopid?
            61K deaths are not an estimate; that represents historical reality, you pathetic piece of shit.

      2. The Coronavirus deaths are estimates too. Jesus Christ, they’re on record for saying as much.

        1. The CDC’s own estimate for COVID deaths stands at 37K as of 4/25 according to their own data.

          1. So why is it barely half of the “official” count?

    5. “”In half that time COVID has definitely killed at least 62k””

      Maybe not. (See table 1)

      https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/index.htm

      1. Ahhhh, I see I’m late to that game.

  6. A serious question (and speculation): how many people who do support censorship are incapable of, or at least reluctant to, objectively weigh evidence and make their own decisions? For those who operate in a world of beliefs, where adherence to preferred ideas and authorities is an arbitrary choice (discounting tradition and tribal politics), should we be surprised that their tolerance for diverse and challenging beliefs is limited?

    1. All of them. Next question.

  7. Because 20 years ago we hadn’t sequenced a single virus.

    This statement is so ridiculous that it identifies the speaker as someone who knows absolutely nothing about disease or molecular biology. The first virus was sequenced in 1977; Sanger used it to demonstrate his sequencing method.

  8. “Wet wildlife markets in China were a dangerous place for crossover between species. That’s because the animals are alive in the markets. The problem is not bringing meat to market. The problem is bringing live animals that are coughing and sputtering.”

    So, I’ll make the libertarian case for shutting down these markets for live exotic animals (apparently used in Chinese traditional medicine)–not that the Chinese government cares about the libertarian case for anything.

    Start with the observation that if government has any legitimate purpose at all, it is to protect our rights. I maintain that rights are the obligation to respect people’s choices. Rape and theft are crimes because we’re all obligated to respect each other’s choices, and raping and stealing ignores the obligation to respect the choices of rape victims and theft victims. People should be free to do as they please so long as they don’t violate anyone’s rights.

    As Adam Smith pointed out, however, sometimes our rights overlap and conflict with each other. When a cinder from your neighbor’s chimney lands on your newly laundered shirt, he may owe you for the cleaning bill, but, especially in 18th century Edinburgh, doesn’t your neighbor have the right to warm his home in the winter by burning coal or wood? Smith saw a legitimate purpose for government in protecting our rights from each other in this way. Just because you have a right to sleep in your bedroom doesn’t mean others don’t have the right to play music, but just because they have the right to play music doesn’t mean they can shake the windows a block away with it at two o’clock in the morning.

    Private covenants like home association rules attached to land titles are probably the best way to deal with such things, and local ordinances make more sense than federal rules for most things. Why should the standards in downtown Philadelphia be the same as those in small town Arkansas? However, when the conflicting rights in question impact people on a regional or federal scale, it may be perfectly appropriate for the government to protect people’s rights on that wider scale.

    If the government won’t let me build my nuclear reactor within 50 feet of an earthquake fault, that may be restricting my rights, but it may also be the case that they’re legitimately protecting the rights of millions of other people who live nearby.

    They had to evacuate 500,000 people from San Diego in 2007 due to wild fires, much of which apparently could have been avoided with diligent enforcement of weed abatement policies. Yes, you have a right to choose not to cut down the hip high, dried out field of weeds on your property, but when the county comes in and cuts them for you (after sending you a notice and giving you plenty of time to take care of it yourself), they’re protecting the rights of the hundreds of thousands of other people who live in your fire zone. (The fire in 2007 burned down more than a thousand homes).

    I’m not saying that people don’t have a right to own bats. They do! I am saying that the government may have a legitimately libertarian role to play in shutting down live bat markets to protect the rights of 3 billion people on this planet who do not wish to deal with the impact of viruses making the jump from bats to humans by way of live bat markets. There isn’t a question of whether there will be an earthquake on a fault or a fire in a fire zone, and I’m not sure it’s a question of whether live bat markets will produce another virus. I suspect it’s mostly just a question of when.

    1. The market didn’t sell bats. Government caused this fiasco by hiding it. I doubt more government is the solution.

      1. Help me if I’m wrong about this, but hasn’t bush meat been blamed for AIDS?

        Didn’t Ebola come from fruit bats?

        We’re not just talking about COVID-19, and we’re not just talking about what’s happened in the past.

        Live bats seem to be a consistent issue here.

        1. Look, the slaver is back. Do you need more of your words tossed back at you? Are you sober Sevo?

          1. “Look, the slaver is back”

            Sorry to see you here.

          2. Ken isn’t Sevo you bigoted piece of shit.

    2. I don’t know that you’re making a libertarian case so much as a utilitarian case – if I don’t like you building your nuclear power plant 50 feet from an earthquake fault, I should be willing to pay you not to do so. Insofar as collective action via government goes, there’s the takings clause and we should admit that zoning laws are a taking in that you’re taking away somebody’s right to use their own property as they see fit. As long as the majority can take other’s property at no cost by legislation, there’s a distorted market in taking. Force “government” – the taxpayers – to pay market value for what they take and suddenly you’ll find more selective shopping.

      PJ O’Rourke covered this in “A Parliament of Whores” when he mentioned his own town voting on allowing a developer to build a golf course community on some vacant land. They voted “No” and thereby simply took the developer’s right to develop the land away from him. A more honest town would have been willing to pitch in and buy the land from the developer if they preferred the land vacant rather than developed. Except that recouping the cost of the land to the town would probably mean they would have to develop it, possibly by building a golf course community.

      1. The principal objection to development always seems to be “more traffic congestion on existing roads.” In many parts of the country, it just isn’t possible to build more roads without taking lots of valuable private property. What results is that the last guy to try to develop his land is left holding the crap end of the stick.

      2. I wrote below about threats before I reloaded and saw this comment. I agree with you up until threats come into play. I agree that the golf course developer and the nuclear power plant are fine. But some projects would destroy my land — an open pit mine too close to my house, for instance. Possibly a pig farm or slaughterhouse too close would make my house uninhabitable, but that’s a much grayer area and depends too much on differing noses, and I’d rather leave that to the Coasean bargains you mention, and save the worry about threats to real threats such as molasses floods from poorly situated, poorly designed, and poorly built tanks.

      3. PJ is terrific but he brings up an easy case. How is it any skin off my nose if you build a golf course community? I have seen this in my own, a very nice luxury condo apartment development, high end with a lake and green space, a winery and fancy shops and restaurants along with nice rental units. All defeated. Why? Rental. The dog whistle is right there. We have the top rated school district “those types from the city”, you know what I mean, not to be racist, will come here and “we” don’t want them. I supported both projects.

        The nuclear power plant on the fault line is another matter. As is the five year old with a machine gun. Both are clear hazards to everyone around them.

        It would be nice if we could neatly divide the world into deontology vs utilitarian considerations but we cannot. At some point your right to go zooming drunk through the intersection at Rt.8 and Sycamore are violating mine to reasonably expect to return from the grocery store alive and we may need a stop light.

        To me you need to push very hard against my liberty or that of anyone else to do so.

        1. It really depends on the type of nuclear plant. Something like Chernobyl is a hard no. A Molten Salt Reactor I wouldn’t have a problem with.

      4. “I don’t know that you’re making a libertarian case so much as a utilitarian case – if I don’t like you building your nuclear power plant 50 feet from an earthquake fault, I should be willing to pay you not to do so.”

        Oh, it’s a librarian case . . .

        “Start with the observation that if government has any legitimate purpose at all, it is to protect our rights. I maintain that rights are the obligation to respect people’s choices. Rape and theft are crimes because we’re all obligated to respect each other’s choices, and raping and stealing ignores the obligation to respect the choices of rape victims and theft victims. People should be free to do as they please so long as they don’t violate anyone’s rights. As Adam Smith pointed out, however, sometimes our rights overlap and conflict with each other.”

        It all flows from those principles, and that’s Libertarianism 101 stuff.

        I am making a distinction between things that are inevitable and things that aren’t.

        If you build a nuclear reactor on top of a fault line, there will eventually be an event that kills people.

        The weeds grow like crazy with the rains in southern California, and in the summer, they all die and can turn to waist deep seas of kindling without weed abatement. If your property is in one of the deep red areas on the map below, because of prevailing winds, topography, etc., every house in those red zones will burn down–it isn’t a question of if, it’s just a question of when.

        https://osfm.fire.ca.gov/media/5969/san_diego.pdf

        Ridley says there are bats in a cave in Texas with the population of Mexico City–10 million or so in a relatively small confined area. Those suckers can pack together tight and let those viruses swarm and mutate among them, maybe like no other organism on earth. If the last three major viral outbreaks have been tied to human interactions with live bats, I’m not sure the question of whether the next one is an “if” question so much as a “when”.

        This is in sharp contrast to, say, someone’s right to own and bear arms. There are a hundred million law abiding Americans out there who own guns and have never pointed them at anybody much less shot somebody with one. IF IF IF you misuse your gun to violate someone’s rights, the government should protect the rest of society from your right to bear arms–using a jury of your peers. But more than 99% of gun owners never shoot anybody their whole lives. The question isn’t when their guns will violate someone’s rights but if they’ll violate someone’s rights, and as long as they aren’t violating anybody’s rights, they should be free to do as they please.

    3. You’re ignoring threats. As the saying goes, your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. But that’s only part of it. I have the right to react to a threat before it becomes unavoidable, or as I see it, to react before it becomes imminently unavoidable harm. I have the right to block your swinging arm before it is too late to prevent it from hitting my face, even if you have every intention of pulling back in time to avoid the harm.

      Quarantine of symptomatic carriers falls in this category. If I see your face covered in red dots, it is entirely reasonable to find out if you have the measles or are just playing with a red marker. If you do have the measles, and know it, it is entirely reasonable for others to make sure you stay isolated from others.

      If you dig a mine next to my house and threaten to create a landslide or sinkhole, I have the right to stop you. Obviously there is a huge gray area between safe and dangerous; it will probably come down to experts at a trial, and loser pays is what deters vexatious litigators.

      Wet markets are similar but with an even harder gray area. I suspect it would come down to the current styles have been shown to be dangerous, so now instead of slaughtering animals right on the street, they have to be taken to slaughter businesses. Maybe that will prove to be only a little better, or maybe experts at trials will convince juries that live animal markets themselves are too dangerous.

      1. “You’re ignoring threats. As the saying goes, your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.”

        Yes, I am purposely ignoring the suggestion that people don’t have the right to harm each other because pretty much everything we do (or don’t do) is harmful to other people in some way.

        In other words, not only does a mere threat of people doing something NOT justify the government violating people’s rights, choosing to put other people at risk is fundamental to almost every choice we make.

        Meanwhile, you’re conflating things that don’t belong together. The risk of a disaster when a nuclear plant is built on an earthquake fault is 100%. The risk of a devastating fire breaking out in San Diego without weed abatement is 100%. The risk of the next virus jumping from live bat markets to humans may be 100%. It may not happen this week, this year, or this decade, but it will happen eventually.

        A risk of 100% is like punching someone in the nose.

        Making other people feel threatened by the risks you take is not the same thing. In fact, almost everything we do (or don’t do) puts someone else at risk in some way. If you can’t distinguish between one activity and all the others in that regard, then you have no business banning that activity. It isn’t that people should be free to do as they please so long as they don’t put anyone else at risk. It’s that people should be free to do as they please so long as they don’t violate anyone’s rights.

  9. “WASHINGTON—U.S. intelligence agencies are assessing whether the coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic escaped from a Chinese biological laboratory in Wuhan . . . .

    “It should be no surprise to you that we’ve taken a keen interest in that, and we’ve had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that,” Gen. Milley told reporters Tuesday. “And I would just say at this point it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural. But we don’t know for certain.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-intelligence-sifts-evidence-for-origins-of-coronavirus-11587077170?

    I’d love to use Occam’s razor, here, but which explanation makes the fewest assumptions–that a virus jumped species in a live bat market or that a government bureaucrat in a bio-lab was incompetent?

    1. Either one is more plausible than weaponizing viruses. I always go for incompetence over evil, but I also go for stupidity and negligence as major aspect of incompetence, and the coronavirus is a pretty pathetic bioweapon.

      1. The SARS-CoV2 virus isn’t a weapon. It very likely was never intended as a weapon, but instead was a tool in gain-of-function research to analyze coronavirus binding with certain human cellular receptors.

        The out-of-left-field theory I think is interesting about another possible reason for the research is that they were trying to make an HIV vaccine out of the coronavirus. Attach potentially useful epitopes from HIV-1 to areas on this Cv that modeling suggests might be easily bound by immunological receptors, and see if a beneficial immune response can be generated without fear of actually catching the disease. I’m not an immunologist or virologist (Virologist, jump right in and tell me how this is wrong.), but AIUI coronaviruses have utility over other kinds of viruses for doing this sort of thing. An HIV vaccine could easily promise enough financial rewards to risk this kind of research.

        1. Yes there has been research on using Coronavirus vectors as a vaccine. It’s possible this is what they were doing but id have thought they were using a much milder version of Coronavirus and not this strain. My guess is that they did accidentally release it then they were using it model something similar to SARS rather than HIV
          https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17162377/

    2. Ken, does it change the assessment to know that the bat species in question that the virus is supposed to have jumped from, doesn’t natively live within something like 500 miles of that market? The only live specimens of that bat species in Wuhan…were laboratory research animals at one of those virology labs.

      Either the virus escaped through gross negligence at one of those labs, or it escaped via gross negligence at one of China’s wet markets, due to their abysmal lack of sanitation and keeping widely diverse species of animals in very close spaces. Something the Chinese had been warned repeatedly by any health organization that took a look at it, that those conditions would breed a pandemic-causing organism in the near future. And something that, post Covid release, they’ve gone right back to doing.

      The Chinese government has been negligent and we’ve suffered one hell of a loss because of it. They need to pay.

      1. I’m guessing the guys paid to dispose of the test animals when the experiments were complete had a little side business selling the animals to the wet market vendors.

      2. I know an ol’ timer who was bitten by a monkey while work at an NIH lab back in the 70s.

        The escaped virus thing doesn’t even require gross negligence. Maybe a janitor didn’t wash his boots off after he mopped up the area where they were keeping the cages.

        1. Negligence is the most likely cause. If you’ve ever seen Chinese construction projects you would not be surprised. The safety practices are almost non-existent, and the work is slipshod in many cases. Things are improving, but far from Western standards.

          1. They’ve had several high speed rail disasters that we know of. If they are that sloppy on such highly visible projects, I don’t have much faith in keeping labs sanitized.

  10. CA population (at least part of it) gets a spinal implant:

    “Protests mark growing unrest with California stay-home order”
    […]
    “While much of the state’s population remained behind closed doors to deter the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the building anxiety while repeatedly teasing the possibility the state could begin relaxing some aspects of the restrictions next week.
    “We are all impatient,” the governor said during his daily briefing, adding “We have to be really deliberative on how we reopen this economy.”
    https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Orange-County-beaches-closed-by-California-s-15239179.php

    No.
    We.
    Don’t.

  11. So the commentariat is following those with English degrees now.

    1. Too hard to read for your limited abilities?

    2. Your comment shows you followed it too.

    3. An English degree doesn’t disqualify someone from speaking with rational arguments and facts. Ridley is pretty well versed in a range of scientific disciplines. He may not be expert quality but he is thoughtful and eloquent, and keeps a skeptical and humble point of view.

    4. He had to put that degree in English to use somehow.

      1. Your major in stooopid seems to be paying off.

    5. Better than being a piece of human garbage like you.

  12. Better than being a piece of human garbage like you and this time i practice to become cricketer https://www.99cricketnews.com/cricketer-kaise-bane-cricket-banne-ke-liye-kya-karna-hoga/

    1. Even the spammers are trolls?!

  13. “And quite a lot of this transmission is happening from people who are symptom-free. Young people seem to get a very, very mild version. They don’t even think there’s anything wrong with them. That is a very dangerous feature.”

    Or not. Best guess is that 2000 years or so ago, this would have been identified as the devil and all of the ‘appropriate’ pseudo science prescriptions prescribed to eradicate it. As they more or less are today. With the exception of stoning to death or burning at the stake….

    Then again, could just be a Darwinian thingy where those who have either knowingly (aka the few persistent cigarette smokers etc.) or unknowingly (aka anyone who listens to pseudo science) compromised their own immune systems.

    Of course one has to exempt any children who may fall into the unknowingly category or the front line workers who put themselves within spitting distance of this thing on a daily basis.

    But hey, in the history of mankind, who has survived? Your day may come today or tomorrow or some day in the future but don’t mess around with mother nature.

    That certainly seems to be the underlying and overlying message in these days of the rona.

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