Of Coin Flips and 'Climate Change'

Heads I win, tails you lose. That might as well be the motto of the left these days, and not least of its Green flank.

For instance, it has become a commonplace that whenever anyone anywhere jokes during winter that global warming sounds nice right about now, for leftist condemnation to come in hot and heavy. As Eric Felton reminds us, when Donald Trump tossed off a one-liner to that effect during a speech on a frigid day in 2019, he was bitterly mocked by environmentalists. Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale's project on climate change communication (yes, such a thing does exist) said that the then-president's comment was "scientifically ridiculous and demonstrably false," adding,

There is a fundamental difference in scale between what weather is and what climate is. What's going on in one small corner of the world at a given moment does not reflect what's going on with the planet.

Good to know. But its hard not to notice that whenever it suits their purposes Greens will unreflectively sling bowls of hot, steamy, anecdata with the best of them. Have you noticed that you hear more about hurricanes during hurricane season these days? Climate change! Still wearing shortsleeves on Halloween? Climate change! Catch the news about that big tornado down south? Climate change!

As noted college drop-out and rich guy Derek Jeter said at Davos a few years ago, "[W]e’re seeing more and more natural disasters each year... Something has to be causing it.” Something other than the 24 hour news cycle and the rise of social media, I think he means.

Felton has a helpful evaluation of this summer's hottest example of this observation bias, the heat wave that hit the Pacific Northwest which saw temperatures consistently exceeding 100ºF. In a piece for RealClear Investigations, he discusses an organization called World Weather Attribution, "a group organized not just to attribute extreme weather events to climate change, but to do so quickly." While the heatwave was still ongoing, WWA put out a statement claiming that they'd analyzed the data and that the extreme weather would have been “virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.”

Considering their mission statement, it's hard to label this conclusion a shocker. But their claim of scientific objectivity gave cover to virtually every mainstream media outlet to confidently report that the heat was attributable to climate change. So saith the science!

Science!

Or saidth -- until a climatologist named Cliff Mass took the time to actually look through the data himself and came to an entirely different conclusion. Mass happens to be an expert in the weather of the Pacific Northwest -- he has actually written a book entitled 'The Weather of the Pacific Northwest' -- and his own weather models accurately predicted the heatwave.

According to Felton, Mass's modeling suggested that "global warming might have been responsible for two degrees of the near 40-degree anomaly. With or without climate change, Mass wrote, the region 'still would have experienced the most severe heat wave of the past century'." In short, the true culprit was the environmentalist movement's least favorite -- “natural variability.”

Mass made it a point to call out the shoddiness of World Weather Attribution's analysis, and they responded to his critique, saying that his report was "misleading and incorrect." But Felton notes that, after the release of Mass's study, WWA's statements on the topic were much more cautious and equivocating.

Let us all be inspired by their belated humility. Caution is king, at least where climate science is concerned. Better to be cautious than embarrassed when someone comes along and checks your work.

Don’t Combat Covid Hysteria with Vaccine Hysteria

Conservatives are supposed to be rational, thoughtful, and logical, relying on data and reason to reach supportable conclusions. These conclusions form the basis for our beliefs and policy, and is one of the ways that we distinguish ourselves from Leftists. Regrettably, however, there is a disturbing trend that runs counter to these tenets regarding the Covid-19 vaccines. If we are to fight Covid-19 hysteria, we must do it with data and facts, not unsupportable hysteria surrounding the vaccines or anything else. Vaccinations, like everything else, are a matter of choice, so let's choose wisely.

All of the data in this article is consistent across the USA and the world.

About the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization

The FDA has a rigorous process for drugs to earn approval from the agency. In circumstances like a pandemic, there is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) process. The process is exactly the same, but occurs on an expedited basis. What matters the most is not the timeline so much as number of participants. All three vaccines cleared Phase I and II. For Phase III trials, Pfizer had 43,000 participants, Moderna had 30,000, and J&J had 40,000. Patients were followed for 60 days after treatment. All trials included a placebo group, so we’re concerned with events in the vaccine group.

All vaccinations may result in “adverse events,” i.e. relatively minor side effects. Those don’t concern us. Serious Adverse Events (SAE), or “any untoward medical occurrence that resulted in death, was life-threatening, required inpatient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization, or resulted in persistent disability/incapacity,” were almost non-existent.

The CDC’s data since the advent of the EUAs has shown similar lack of serious adverse events.

Statistically, you're safe.

On the basis of aggregate population, a given individual is ten times more likely to die from Covid-19 than from a vaccine. After eliminating the Covid-19 deaths from people age 65 or older, a person is four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the vaccine, with the chances of a SAE being roughly equal to dying from the virus.

If we are going to call out the absurdity of locking the world down over a virus with a 0.2 percent chance of killing the general population, in which 94 percent of deaths were in those 65 or older with an average of three comorbidities, it is incumbent that we call out equivalent absurdities regarding vaccines fears.

What About the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) Data?

Anyone can make an entry into the VAERS. There is no supporting evidence required. There is no medical professional follow-up required. Covid-19 reports have been tracked down per the above link, supporting the low rate of SAEs.

Some 551,172 reports regarding the vaccines have been made to VAERS. Even if all of them were legitimate and verified, they represent 0.17 percent of the 321 million doses administered in the U.S. thus far. The unverified count for death, permanent disability and life-threatening reports numbered just over 29,000, representing an infinitesimal 0.009 percent of the vaccine population. That’s on par with each manufacturer’s data. Again, those numbers are unverified. The actual number is likely less.

Interestingly, the number of reported deaths from the virus is 598,624 out of a population of 328 million. The total VAERS reports are nearly identical to the number of deaths attributable to the virus for almost exactly the same size data population.

Are The Vaccines Effective?

The aggregate incidence of Covid-19 in the U.S. is about 11 percent, assuming testing is accurate, which it probably is not. It is likely that PCR-testing gives a significant number of false positives. It is also unclear just how many deaths are truly attributable to the virus alone.

However, we can look to data from Johns Hopkins to determine any correlation between vaccine administration and case count. By clicking on the map of virtually any state or country, vaccinations are correlated with a decline in case count. It’s critical to note that this is merely a correlation, and does not prove causation. A rigorous statistical analysis would be required to determine the rate of case decline at various points before and during vaccination periods. Indeed, case count had already started to decline from their peak when the vaccines began to be distributed.

However, Pfizer reported 95 percent effectiveness with its vaccine, Moderna reported 94 percent, and J&J reported 64 percent. “Effective” does not mean you are immune. It means your body will respond as designed to limit the severity of any illness.

"Vaccinated" doesn't mean "immune."

Are the Vaccines Necessary?

It is notable that 94 percent of all virus deaths occurred in people who had an average of three comorbidities. 80 percent of deaths were in those persons aged 65 and older. About 74,000 people under age 54 have died from Covid in the U.S., or about 12 percent of the total. Roughly 14,000 have died under age 39, of which slightly more than 1,000 were under age 24.

In Sweden, where restrictions were far looser than in equally-populated Los Angeles County, there are fewer confirmed Covid cases (10.8 percent vs 12.6 percent). Sweden’s population is 37 percent vaccinated, while L.A. County is at 70 percent. Sweden’s death rate is 1.46 percent vs. L.A. County’s 2 percent.

The fairly strong inference here is that the lockdowns made no difference. Yet one other possible inference is that vaccinations made no material difference. That’s because the virus had already burned through the most vulnerable populations (the sick and the elderly).

No More Myths:

  1. No, the vaccines don’t “change your RNA.”  This presentation offers a solid explanation of how the mRNA vaccine works.
  2. No, the spike protein doesn't make you ill. See above.
  3. No, the vaccines are not some sinister plot by Bill Gates to reduce population.
  4. No, Big Pharma is not in league with the government to put poison in your body. The only way to encourage private enterprise to develop vaccines was to remove liability.
  5. No, the CCCP did not intentionally release the virus. It would make for a really lousy bioweapon that only kills old and/or sick people. China depends on the global economy, especially that of the U.S., for its own economic health (for now). Had this been intentional, multiple people would have been deliberately infected and flown around the world to spread it. That didn’t happen.

World's worst bio-weapon? Or yummy soup!

As sad as it is to hear stories from people who have lost a loved one as an apparent result of a vaccination, it is critical to recognize that these are anecdotal incidents no different from those of people who say they know someone “young and healthy” who died from Covid. The chances of either occurring are extremely remote. In neither case can any broad conclusion be drawn.

Why is the government at every level pushing everyone to get vaccinated? It isn't some conspiracy. It's because politicians have been reactionary from the start, terrified that people will die, they will get blamed, and lose their jobs and power. They are doing what they always do -- covering their collective and individual asses.

Reason.  Logic.  Data.  Analysis. That’s what makes us special. Keep it that way.