“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
– Anonymous (erroneously attributed to Mark Twain)
I happened to notice a colleague’s post on the topic of a particular avenue of dangerous false equivalences that are circulating on social media. John Woodman, graciously agreed to submit this for publication on Writer’s Lounge:
COVID-19 “Herd Immunity” Fail
I would like to comment on a bit of COVID-19 quackery that’s been making the rounds. This nuttery is made all the worse by the fact that it’s put out by a man who can credibly claim he’s an epidemiologist. Unfortunately, that makes it even worse than the usual nuttery.
A man named Knut Wittkowski suggests that what we really need to do is just shelter the elderly, open everything else up, and let COVID-19 run its course over a few weeks — in order to develop herd immunity.
If we were to do so, we would certainly develop herd immunity. But what would be the cost of that? Wittkowski doesn’t go into that.
Developing herd immunity would mean something more than half of Americans would get COVID-19. Wittkowski himself actually says 80% should be exposed, but we’ll be super-generous here and say that only 60% of Americans are infected in order to produce this herd immunity.
And let’s say — again, super-unrealistically — that we can perfectly insulate everybody who’s 55 or older. This is insanely generous, since so many older Americans live in families, and since it wouldn’t be possible to perfectly insulate even those who live alone, but once again we’re going to go with super-generous assumptions here.
So this gives us 200 million Americans, all below age 55, who get infected.
Based on the existing figures we have, probably around 0.3% of this age group would die. (Wittkowski himself says around 2% of people who show symptoms will die, but that doesn’t seem to bother him somehow. Again, with 0.3%, I’m being generous here.)
So, simple multiplication — in our ideally rosy scenario — gives us an estimate of 600,000 people dying if we should follow Wittkowski’s advice.
So why does he give this stupid advice? It seems to be based on the absolutely wrong assumption that we’re going to have the same number of deaths so matter what we do, so we might as well get them over with.
This is wrong-headed and crazy at two different levels.
First, if we allow our hospitals to be overwhelmed — as they are already in danger of being in some places — then an enormous number of people are going to die simply because they can’t get medical care.
In fact, to the 600,000 above, we could add many tens of thousands more who would die from other ailments that they would normally be treated for and survive, simply because Wittkowski’s suggestion would block masses of Americans from getting care for everything from cancer to automobile accidents, due to the floods of COVID-19 victims in our hospitals.
Secondly, the point isn’t to just spread out our deaths. It’s to reduce infection to a low level and keep it under control, by testing and identifying people who have the virus, and tracing their contacts, and isolating only the people who may have COVID-19, so the rest of us can get back to work.
This strategy is already being used with great success in places such as South Korea.
We had our first diagnosed case of COVID-19 the exact same day that South Korea had their first diagnosed case. As of April 9, they’ve had a grand total of 204 deaths, and are only averaging around 5 deaths per day.
They never had to go into mass lockdowns, because they did massive testing and contact tracing from the very beginning.
If we had managed this outbreak from the beginning as effectively as the South Koreans have, we would only have around 1,300 total deaths nationwide today, rising by 30 or 40 a day — instead of nearly 20,000 to date and rising by close to 2,000 a day.
Here’s the bottom line: Knut Wittkowski’s idiotic COVID-19 advice would result in far more than 600,000 American deaths even under completely unrealistically rosy assumptions.
But his COVID-19 nuttery is now being spread virally, because too many people want to believe that our health authorities are all wrong, and there’s a simple, easy, painless alternative solution.
It would be far better for us to share this rebuttal of Wittkowski’s quackery widely, and virally spread that instead.
by John Woodman
Crisis in Government – how years of radical, anti-government thinking has brought us to our knees.
Former President Ronald Reagan is often attributed to the following phrase, “Government isn’t the solution to the problem; government IS the problem.”
There are those who would argue that this phrase is often taken out of context. Surly the godfather of the “conservative” movement was noting that not every problem requires a government solution. What these apologists conveniently ignore is the anti-government radicalism that permeated Reagan’s governing philosophy.
Ronald Reagan was wrong. Although not every problem we face requires a government solution, government is not the problem.
What we face is a problem within government itself. Those who serve lack the character, maturity, leadership, and sense of personal responsibility for their actions. Seventy years of radical rhetoric, and legitimized by Reagan, William Buckley and Rush Limbaugh, has led to a government populated not by public servants, but by public saboteurs who see government as a means to an end.
A government not made of people who see government as the highest form of statecraft; of a meeting of the minds to discuss, compromise, and come up with solutions for the benefit of all Americans, and by extension, the world at large.
What we have today is a government made up of people who only represent their constituents, their philosophy; people who look, not to the betterment of the community at large, but of what’s in it for them. Often, they are focused on causing their “enemies” as much pain as possible. To them, compromise is blasphemy.
How forty years of radical indoctrination has convinced an entire generation that Democrats are the illegitimate party.
On April 7, President Trump opined that Democrats shouldn’t be “allowed” to win in 2020.
President Trump: "[Democrats] want to make Trump look as bad as they can because they want to try and win an election that they shouldn't be allowed to win based on the fact that we have done a great job." pic.twitter.com/e4HaGmxIkN
— The Hill (@thehill) April 6, 2020
To Trump and his radical supporters, a major party is illegitimate. Moderates, liberals and progressives are not fellow Americans, with different ideas and philosophies of government, they are parasites that must be stopped at all cost.
This same philosophy permeates the radical Right’s views of activism and government action. Conservative activists are seen as hero’s, protecting our freedoms from the anti-American goals of the liberals, moderates, and progressives. On the other hand, they maintain, liberal activists are just trying to control our lives.
Author and activist Robert K. Massie noted this irony in his book, Loosing the Bonds.
“The process, in which regional representatives found themselves debating the merits of foreign investment, sanctions, and international diplomacy [as a means of stopping apartheid in South Africa], was, for Ronald Reagan, painfully ironic. The doctrine that state government should take more initiative in what normally had been considered federal policy areas had been essential features of Reagan’s conservative ideology.”
Activism is fine for the Right; but from the Left, it’s an evil that must be stopped. This is how self-proclaimed “Constitutionalists” such as Rep. Matt Shea (R-WA), can support, and even encourage discrimination against the Left. To them, these individuals aren’t “true” Americans.
Again, COVID-19 didn’t create this crisis, it revealed it. But it’s up to us to stand up to this evil and say, “Enough is enough.”
The lives and ideas of all Americans matter.
by Tiffany Elliott