When Science is the Servant of Politics

Last week I embarked on a piece about how some scientists were making science the servant of their political opinions. Servant is perhaps too kind and vague a term; a better one might be ventriloquist’s dummy. When I started writing it, my expectation was that I would be making this argument about a range of scientific topics. Only the first would be medical science.

But some doctors forced medical science into so many political contortions in that week’s news that I never really managed to get onto other scientific disciplines. The money quote from a statement of 1200 medical professionals connected with the University of Washington’s Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was as follows:

[W]e wanted to present a narrative that prioritizes opposition to racism as vital to the public health, including the epidemic response. We believe that the way forward is not to suppress protests in the name of public health but to respond to protesters demands in the name of public health, thereby addressing multiple public health crises.

And in the last seven days, this argument—that Black Lives Matter protests are uniquely aimed at improving public health, damaged as it is by racism-- has spread to Britain where large crowds turned out for BLM rallies accommodated by the police who were otherwise fining people for meeting in “crowds” of more than six—and to partisan politics in the U.S. where public health professionals were critical of the GOP for pushing ahead with plans for a Republican Convention while tamely hoping that BLM protesters will wear marks.

The public reaction to these medical self-contradictions has been stronger in Britain than in America, partly because the lockdown regulations have been more stringent and more toughly enforced (with police handing out thousands of fines) than in the U.S. Allowing some people to protest and (not incidentally) to indulge in violent rioting in a self-righteous frame of mind, but fining others for attending a parent’s funeral has created a lot of free-floating anger. And one side-effect is a rise in skepticism towards other claims of both medical scientists and their brethren in other disciplines.

Take the Covid-19 claims first.

Britain’s media and opposition have been strongly critical of the handling of the Covid-19 crisis by the Boris Johnson government, suggesting that Ministers had ignored the advice of its SAGE committee of scientists and demanding that the minutes of SAGE now be published. Well, the minutes have now been published, and they show that Ministers followed the advice of SAGE more or less to the letter. If mistakes were made, they were scientists’ mistakes more than ministerial ones (though Ministers have to take responsibility for them on the proper constitutional grounds that “advisors advise, ministers decide.”) Well and good.

One example of this advice was particularly spicy, however. ICI’s Professor Neil Ferguson earlier in the week suggested that the lockdown had been imposed one week too late with the possible result that as many as 20,000 people had died needlessly. But when the SAGE records were released, they showed that the committee, including Ferguson, had voted unanimously for the previous policy because a lockdown would guarantee a second spike of the disease in the Fall.

When that policy changed, it did so in response to Ferguson’s own computer projections showing that Covid-19 was likely to spread very quickly and overwhelm the National Health Service. And as Dan Hodges in the Daily Mail points out, at the time he had pronounced the timing of the lockdown imposition to be about right. Ferguson’s computer projections, however, have since been subjected to savage criticism by information scientists who claim that it is worse than useless. Ferguson himself has changed his informal guesstimates of the course of the virus more than once. Other groups of scientists specializing in the field of infectious diseases have reached very different conclusions. And it’s in the nature of science that they can’t all be right.

We should all admit our own ignorance in these matters, of course. My own judgment—based on previous pandemics but shared apparently by many epidemiologists—is that we won’t know the full destructiveness of Covid-19 for another year at least. Today’s news from Beijing that a serious new outbreak of the disease has occurred and all the local food markets have been closed warn us that some of the early apparent treatments may prove temporary All the scientists’ projections are interesting, and some may prove accurate. But it is the progress of the actual virus in the world that will tell us which ones are right and which wrong.

That’s a highly significant conclusion because some areas of science are highly speculative and others over-reliant on computer projections. That’s true in particular for climate science where almost all of the claims of climate “emergencies” and the need for “urgency” to “combat” them come to us from computer projections that we must now treat skeptically.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation exists to test forecasts against reality on the ground. The IPCC is usually at the soft end of climate alarmism but it has been part of the skeptic camp on the question of weather extremes and if they are caused by global warming. This last week the GWPF published a study by the phyicist Ralph Alexander: which reached the following conclusion:

If there is any trend at all in extreme weather, it’s downward rather than upward. Our most extreme weather, be it heat wave, drought, flood, hurricane or tornado, occurred many years ago, long before the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere began to climb at its present rate. The recent atmospheric heat waves in western Europe pale in comparison with the soaring temperatures of the 1930s, a period when three of the seven continents and 32 of the 50 US states set all-time high temperature records, which still stand today.

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Professor Alexander lays out the evidence for the good news. We can examine it. It happened in the real world not in a virtual reality of guesstimates piled on guesstimates. Nor in a world of utopian politics and well-intentioned authoritarianism.

We have to get back to doing that more of the time.

Why the Wuhan Flu Turned Violent

After a week of violent rioting -- aka, "largely peaceful protests" -- over the death of a man nobody had ever heard of a fortnight ago, the rationale behind the continuing home imprisonment of law-abiding citizens over the phantom menace of the Wuhan Flu no longer make any sense, if it ever did. Trading the economic and social health of nations indefinitely for a variant of the seasonal flu was always a bad bargain, but now that the doctors' scheme has been revealed as purely political, it's time to stop.

The great Covid-19 pandemic was always a #NursingHomeDisease. It disproportionately struck the elderly who also had underlying health problems (comorbidities) that were exacerbated by the opportunistic Chinese bug. Let the facts be submitted to a candid world:

The Most Important Coronavirus Statistic: 42% Of U.S. Deaths Are From 0.6% Of The Population

According to an analysis that Gregg Girvan and I [Avik Roy] conducted for the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, as of May 22, in the 43 states that currently report such figures, an astounding 42% of all COVID-19 deaths have taken place in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Let that sink in: 42% of all COVID-19 deaths are taking place in facilities that house 0.62% of the U.S. population.

And 42% could be an undercount. States like New York exclude from their nursing home death tallies those who die in a hospital, even if they were originally infected in a long-term care facility. Outside of New York, more than half of all deaths from COVID-19 are of residents in long-term care facilities.

This is astounding. The Forbes piece goes on to note that in Ohio, a full 70 percent of the deaths attributed to the virus occured in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities; in Minnesota, the figure is 81 percent. Most of the damage, however, has been in the New York City metropolitan area, with tentacles as far south as Virginia and reaching north up into New England.

Another way to cut the data is to look at nursing home and assisted living facility deaths as a share of the population that lives in those facilities. On that basis, three states stand out in the negative direction: New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

In Massachusetts and Connecticut, COVID deaths per 10,000 nursing home and assisted living facility residents were 703 and 827, respectively. In New Jersey, nearly 10 percent of all long-term care facility residents—954 in 10,000—have died from the novel coronavirus.

The tragedy is that it didn’t have to be this way. On March 17, as the pandemic was just beginning to accelerate, Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis warned that “even some so-called mild or common-cold-type coronaviruses have been known for decades [to] have case fatality rates as high as 8% when they infect people in nursing homes.” Ioannidis was ignored.

Instead, of course, states such as New York deliberately forced the disease-incubating nursing homes to accept Covid-19 patients, with results we now all can see. Combine this with the deliberate cruelty of restricting access to the dying, and you have a hell on earth that only a Democrat could have created.

The bogus excuse for the lockdowns, now strikingly apparent in retrospect, was that we didn't want hospitals overwhelmed with the millions of patients and half a million deaths in Britain alone that "experts" like Professor Pantsdown of the Imperial College in London had predicted.  Nor did we see the deaths linked to "climate change" and air pollution that Harvard experts were forced to walk back. No wonder Dr. Fauci barely shows his face any more.

In short, nearly everything they told us about the second coming of the Black Death turned out to be wrong. And for this, our betters ravaged the economies of the West, bullied the honest citizenry, and suspended the Bill of Rights -- and then when the riots came, excused them on the non-medical grounds that "racism" (a neologism in common usage only since about 1970) is a worse health threat than, well, Covid-19. [What follows is not a parody.]

Public Health Experts Say the Pandemic Is Exactly Why Protests Must Continue

There has been a lot of concern on how the protests over the past several days may produce a wave of coronavirus cases. This discussion is often framed as though the pandemic and protests in support of black lives are wholly separate issues, and tackling one requires neglecting the other. But some public health experts are pushing people to understand the deep connection between the two.

Facing a slew of media requests asking about how protests might be a risk for COVID-19 transmission, a group of infectious disease experts at the University of Washington, with input from other colleagues, drafted a collective response. In an open letter published Sunday, they write that “protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must be supported.”

This is pure neo-Marxist bunkum, of course, a collectivist bit of agitprop that might have come from the Soviet Union in the 1970s. Indeed, the hive mind behind this tripe argue that the protesters are actually performing a public service by their selfless willingness to act as guinea pigs who can test the limits of the unconstitutional lockdowns for the greater good.

The letter and the experts who signed it make a case for viewing the protests not primarily as something that could add to cases of coronavirus (though they might) but as a tool to promote public health in and of themselves. Protests address “the paramount public health problem of pervasive racism,” the letter notes. “We express solidarity and gratitude toward demonstrators who have already taken on enormous personal risk to advocate for their own health, the health of their communities, and the public health of the United States.”

The real reason, though, is propaganda, as this Slate story eventually gets around to admitting:

By Tuesday afternoon, more than 1,000 epidemiologists, doctors, social workers, medical students, and other health experts had signed the letter. The creators had to close a Google Sheet with signatures to the public after alt-right messages popped up, but they plan to publish a final list soon, says Rachel Bender Ignacio, an infectious disease specialist and one of the letter’s creators. The hopes for the letter are twofold. The first goal is to help public health workers formulate anti-racist responses to media questions about the health implications. The second is to generate press to address a general public that may be concerned about protests spreading the virus.

There is a linkage between the coronavirus hoax and the riots -- it's just not what they say it is. From the moment Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election, the Left has been determined to destroy not only the Trump presidency but also the very country that allowed such an enormity to occur. They -- the DNC, the big media, academe -- have thrown everything they have into the fight, and that they have now turned to outright violence in its late stages ought to tell you something, both about the "resistance's" history, and the future it has planned for you.