25 Mar 2020

## Estimated vs. Actual Mortality Simulation

[EDIT: I changed the original title on this post, to clarify that I wasn’t giving even a back-of-the-envelope estimate of what I thought was actually going to happen. I am just showing how one particular issue affects observations.]

One big thing about the coronavirus that I didn’t fully appreciate at first, is the lag between (a) exposure, (b) showing symptoms, and (c) death. This obviously affects things like the calculated mortality rate for a given region, etc.

Now to be sure, there are lots of other things going on too. For example, a lot of people probably got it, but were mild cases and so didn’t get picked up as “new cases.”

In any event though, I whipped up the following table just to show how the specific lags I’ve mentioned affect things. Let me know if you see any mistakes.

#### 87 Responses to “Estimated vs. Actual Mortality Simulation”

1. Julien Couvreur says:

Khan Academy has a good video that emphasizes that point. From current measurement, you infer how many people were sick before incubation, then you apply growth.
https://youtu.be/mCa0JXEwDEk

• Harold says:

Good video, short and informative.

2. Tel says:

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/03/13/the-math-of-epidemics/

He explains the “Gompertz Curve” which is a mix of exponential growth and exponential decay. The growth comes as more people catch the virus, thus making more people exposed to catching it from those people. The decay comes as the available pool of people who have not caught the virus shrinks (either they hide and isolate themselves, or they catch it and become immune, or they die). There’s a formula for the curve if you scroll down near the bottom of the article.

• Transformer says:

So whatever the observed mortality rate is in the early weeks of a pandemic the ultimate mortality rate is likely to be several times higher ? And in fact not just the early weeks based on Bobs model – but through much of its duration as the accumulation effect will be for a huge proportion of the deaths to be in the later stages.

But I assume the experts can estimate the true final mortality rate even in the early weeks by looking at deaths by date first showing symptoms rather than just using cumulative numbers as in Bob’s model ?

• Chris says:

I remember studying the similar curve – logistics function – in math class as a model for a spreading infection. The math part of my brain tells me to be cautious of any function modeling such an event that doesn’t have the constant ‘e’ in it. Like pi is fundamental to circles, ‘e’ is fundamental to systems where the change in a quantity is dependent on the current value of the quantity (exactly like the spread of an infection). But then I realized his ‘e’ is just implicitly embedded with the k. Still, I hadn’t heard of the Gompertz Curve until now.

• Tel says:

The full formula he gives is this one:

y(t) = α * exp(-β * exp(-k * t))

Computer nerds use “exp(x)” to mean ‘e’ to the power of ‘x’. That’s because you need something you can write in ASCII across an 80 column screen; while math nerds prefer to use pencil and put their funny symbols all over the place.

So the ‘e’ is embedded in the “exp()” function … it’s the whole point of that function. They still teach the school kids the old way, even in engineering class, as if computers were never invented. Then you go to type it into your laptop to check some numbers and need to mentally translate everything back into ASCII again.

I should point out that some people avoid ‘e’ then by using different constants, and they use a doubling function which is to say, make it 2 to the power of x and express everything in terms of time taken to double up. There’s some attraction to the intuitive nature, visualizing a doubling, but engineers never do it that way … biologists often do.

You can also rework the whole formula based on compound interest and then convert the constants into interest rates. The biologists and engineers might look at you strangely, but that doesn’t matter. The economists will like it and they know where the money comes from. There should be some very similar applications in economics that might lend themselves to the Gompertz Curve. Think about entrance of a new “disruptive” technology into an existing marketplace … early in the piece you get slow adoption but it accelerates as more people take an interest in what their friends and family are using, so you get something like exponential growth. At the same time you will see approximately exponential decay in the number of potential new customers as after a while most people already bought one.

The history of the curve is also kind of interesting … Benjamin Gompertz used this curve to model demographic change, as a rebuttal against none other than Thomas Robert Malthus.

In instances of this kind the powers of the earth appear to be fully equal to answer all the demands for food that can be made upon it by man. But we should be led into an error, if we were thence to suppose that population and food ever really increase in the same ratio. The one is still a geometrical and the other an arithmetical ratio, that is, one increases by multiplication, and the other by addition. Where there are few people, and a great quantity of fertile land, the power of the earth to afford a yearly increase of food may be compared to a great reservoir of water, supplied by a moderate stream. The faster population increases, the more help will be got to draw off the water, and consequently an increasing quantity will be taken every year. But the sooner, undoubtedly, will the reservoir be exhausted, and the streams only remain. When acre has been added to acre, till all the fertile land is occupied, the yearly increase of food will depend upon the amelioration of the land already in possession; and even this moderate stream will be gradually diminishing. But population, could it be supplied with food, would go on with unexhausted vigour, and the increase of one period would furnish the power of a greater increase the next, and this without any limit.

https://www.econlib.org/library/Malthus/malPop.html

The Malthusian catastrophe was considered mathematically inevitable (and still is by many) but Gompertz demonstrated a simple curve that can be a good fit for an exponential for a while, but then smoothly reach equilibrium without catastrophe. Many examples have demonstrated Gompertz to be correct and Malthus to be wrong … yet who ever heard of Gompertz?!?

That’s what you get for being right and deflating the doom mongers.

3. Harold says:

The basic model based on “bottom-up” approach to understand what is actually happening is the SIR model. This takes the total number of people and divides them into susceptible (S, initially everyone), infected (I) and resistant (R).

One problem with this model is that we don’t know the factors that turn S into I, such as the basic reproductive ratio. This is the number of people an infected person will infect.

I think Gompertz and similar models are very useful to estimate what this value is. In the initial stages the disease is sort of “wild state” as no measures have been taken. We can use this initial phase to estimate R by curve fitting. This can then be used in the SIR model.

Here is a good explanatory video of the model.

I very highly recommend watching this as explains the maths in a very understandable way and explains how our actions can affect the course of the outbreak.

2) How many people will be infected at any one time?
3) How many people will get the disease?

The answers to all 3 depend on q, the contact ratio. This is the fraction of the population who will come into contact with an infected individual during their infectious period.

For “wild state” Covid19, q is large. This means that the disease will spread (which we already knew) but significantly that the number of people who can be infected at any one time is large and the number of people who will get the disease is also large. This means that most people will get it and many of them will have it at the same time.

In this situation the fatality rate is likely to be much higher than we currently observe as the healthcare system is overwhelmed and lots of people die from treatable complications, as well as many other deaths from unrelated causes as healthcare is unavailable.

Fortunately, we can do something about q. We can reduce q by reducing the number of contacts (and washig hands etc.). This means that fewer people will get the disease, fewer will have it at one time and fewer of them will die of it.

This shows the value of proper models rather than simply curve fitting. Curve fitting cannot tell you what the outcomes of your actions will be, modelling can.

Curve fitting, such as the Gompertz described by Tel above, is a valuable tool in epidemiology.

The problem is that the curve fitted to Wuhan will only apply on other areas if they do the same things China did in Wuhan. This approach cannot inform what would happen if the reaction is different. If we shut down cities as they did Wuhan then we should get a similar result.

• skylien says:

“The problem is that the curve fitted to Wuhan will only apply on other areas if they do the same things China did in Wuhan.”

That is to say, we first need to know what they actually did in Wuhan. I guess we only know half of it. And it’s quite likely, we don’t want to know the other half.

• Harold says:

This is true, but we don’t need to do exactly the same things, just reduce the contact ratio to the same extent. By saying “do the same things” I was inaccurate, I should have said do things that achieve the same results. Which is a tautology, and demonstrates the limitations of the curve fitting approach.

• Transformer says:

In Bob’s model people get infected and 3 weeks later 1% of these people die. For the first week they show no symptoms. Assuming researchers living in the model are are able to identify from empirical data that the deaths all occur 2 weeks after initially showing symptoms they could readily calculate the real 1% mortality rate by tracking fatalities against week infected.

4. Harold says:

Regarding your table above, this means that the true mortality rate would be underestimated until 4 weeks after everybody has had the disease.

Whilst this is surely the time taken before a definitive answer can be given – i.e. what was the actual fatality rate for this epidemic, it does not seem likely that the fatality rate cannot be estimated more accurately than this in the earlier stages.

I cannot see anything wrong with the table, but something tells me there is something not quite right here.

I think it may be that you have assumed the exponential phase of the outbreak continues until everyone is infected, whereas in reality it flattens off, even without taking preventative measures, as the susceptible population shrinks and the recovered population grows.

• Bob Murphy says:

“I cannot see anything wrong with the table, but something tells me there is something not quite right here.

I think it may be that you have assumed the exponential phase of the outbreak continues until everyone is infected, whereas in reality it flattens off,”

I agree with all of this.

5. Transformer says:

Just for fun I decided to code Bob’s model in python and rather than just have accumulated new cases increasing by 4 times each week I added a calculation for new cases that took into account the ratio of immune to non-immune people in that week. This indeed caused the curve to flatten in later weeks and interestingly it caused ‘actual new cases’ to be 0 before everyone had got infected which (if if is not a bug in my code!) maybe represents herd immunity?

Interestingly if I reduced the infection rate (in my model) below the initial 4x weekly growth in total cases then this caused ‘herd immunity’ to kick in at a lower level of total population infection.

• KEN P says:

Yes, it is something like that. If I get sick others in my household are likely to be infected by me. So maybe I have 3 opportunities to spread it in this circle and they can’t spread it to me or anyone I spread it to. And none of my other social circles can spread it to me or anyone I have spread it to. So there is an ongoing decay in opportunity for new infections. The decay is less obvious initially when those exposed arena small part of the population. Then there are dead ends like people with few social contacts.

• Harold says:

This is predicted by the SIR model I reference above. Numberphile has a model you can play with.
https://www.geogebra.org/m/nbjfjtpv

Original video here

The time units are arbitrary as we do not have the data to insert the correct ones. The important factor to notice is that if we reduce the transmission rate (on the slider), the number of people who ultimately get the disease goes down.

For herd immunity to work we need 1-1/R0 to be immune – either recovered or vaccinated. R0 for Covid19 without any social distancing measures in place is probably about 2.4 -3.9, but that is a bit uncertain at the moment, say 3 for simplicity. That requires 66% to be infected and recovered. At this number of immune the disease cannot spread.

If we reduce social contact and hence the transmission rate, the number of recovered people is lower, and hence the total number of infected is lower. We stop the spread with a smaller total number of infected people and crucially with far fewer infected at the same time.

The problem arises when you remove the social distancing measures. Transmission rate goes back up and you start the spread again *unless* you kept the measures long enough for the number of infected to reduce to about zero.

At this point you are in a position to have much more testing than we had at the beginning, so you can identify the start of a new outbreak early and shut down that area only. This is the whack-a-mole stage and relies of extreme vigilance and a high level of testing.

Hopefully this stage will end when a vaccine is developed, but during that stage most people will be able to operate approximately normally.

6. random person says:

Have any studies definitively confirmed human-to-human transmission of coronavirus? Like, not just CDC or WHO statements, not assumptions based on the observation of the virus living outside the body, but actual, definitive, human-to-human transmission?

https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-422X-5-29

“In 2003, Bridges et al reviewed influenza transmission and found “no human experimental studies published in the English-language literature delineating person-to-person transmission of influenza. This stands in contrast to several elegant human studies of rhinovirus and RSV transmission …” [50]. (p. 1097)”

“However, according to Jordan’s frightening monograph on the 1918 pandemic, there were five attempts to demonstrate sick-to-well influenza transmission in the desperate days following the pandemic and all were “singularly fruitless” [19]. (p. 441) Jordan reports that all five studies failed to support sick-to-well transmission, in spite of having numerous acutely ill influenza patients, in various stages of their illness, carefully cough, spit, and breathe on a combined total of >150 well patients [51–55].”

“Rosenau’s work was the largest of the studies, illustrative of the attempts, and remarkable for the courageousness of the volunteers [52]. In 1919 – in a series of experiments – he and six colleagues at the U.S. Public Health Service attempted to infect 100 “volunteers obtained from the Navy.” He reports all volunteers were “of the most susceptible age,” and none reported influenza symptoms in 1918. That is, “from the most careful histories that we could elicit, they gave no account of a febrile attack of any kind,” during the previous year. The authors then selected influenza donors from patients in a “distinct focus or outbreak of influenza, sometimes an epidemic in a school with 100 cases, from which we would select typical cases, in order to prevent mistakes in diagnosis of influenza.” Rosenau made every attempt to get donors who were early in their illness, “A few of the donors were in the first day of the disease. Others were in the second or third day of the disease.””

“”Then we proceeded to transfer the virus obtained from cases of the disease; that is, we collected the material and mucous secretions of the mouth and nose and bronchi from (19) cases of the disease and transferred this to our volunteers. We always obtained the material in the following way: The patients with fever, in bed, has a large, shallow, traylike arrangement before him or her, and we washed out one nostril with some sterile salt solution, using perhaps 5 c.c., which is allowed to run into this tray; and that nostril is blown vigorously into the tray. That is repeated with the other nostril. The patient then gargles the solution. Next we obtain some bronchial mucous through coughing, and then we swab the mucous surface of each nares and also the mucous membranes of the throat.””

“Then they mixed all the “stuff” together and sprayed 1 cc of the mixture in each of the nostrils of 10 volunteers, and “into the throat, while inspiring, and on the eye” and waited 10 days for the volunteers to fall ill. However, “none of them took sick in any way.” Undaunted, Rosenau conducted another experiment in which ten acutely ill influenza patients coughed directly into the faces of each ten well volunteers. Again, “none of them took sick in any way.””

“Perhaps Rosenau’s and similar experiments failed because all the well volunteers had contracted infections in 1918 and were immune from further infection. While possible, none of the volunteers reported symptoms in 1918, even a fever. Furthermore, adaptive immunity to influenza is relative to the immune response that infection generates and to the time since infection; it is seldom absolute and abiding.”

“Another explanation is that all of the influenza patients had passed their time of infectivity although Rosenau obtained donors in the first, second, or third day of their illnesses. As no laboratory confirmation was possible, perhaps the ill did not have influenza, but we doubt U.S. Public Health Service physicians had much trouble making accurate clinical diagnosis of influenza in 1919. Furthermore, all the donors were symptomatic; peak viral shedding occurs 24–72 hours after infection, and the amount of virus shed is associated with symptoms [56]. Perhaps peak viral shedding is not associated with peak infectivity. Perhaps – although Rosenau does not report the date or season of the experiments – all the naval volunteers had adequate innate immunity from sun exposure. Obviously, another explanation is that sick-to-well transmission is not the usual mode of contagion.”

• Harold says:

The spread of Covid 19 does not match the problems identified in this article. Most of the conundrums do not apply – such as seasonality, explosivity, co-incident outbreaks, sudden end and comparison to early epidemics without modern transport.

These are unknown for influenza and science has not produced a definitive answer.

In their conclusions they say
“A subpopulation of good transmitters among the infected further clarifies influenza’s confusing epidemiology. The addition of both variables would improve current epidemiological models of influenza.

Compelling epidemiological evidence indicates vitamin D deficiency is the “seasonal stimulus” [22].”

This is not the case for Covid 19 which does not have the same confusing epidemiology. Southern and northern hemispheres and different climates seem to be about the same.

Nonetheless, a vitamin D supplement or trying to catch the sun from your window, garden or balcony is unlikely to do any harm and may do some good.

• Tel says:

Many common colds are coronavirus and those are certainly seasonal, and there is other evidence that COVID 19 is similarly seasonal. For example Australia has been exposed for some time and we brought in whole cruise ships of infected people and dumped them into Sydney which is the largest city. The government response in Australia has been utterly moronic with new rules changing every day, arbitrary selective enforcement and astounding hypocrisy.

Schools and child minding services are mostly still open … official reason given, “pre-emptive closures are not proportionate or effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission” also “children are at very low risk from coronavirus” and “In China, 2.4 per cent of total reported cases were under the age of 19 years old.”

However beaches, pubs, clubs, parks, coffee shops mostly closed because apparently what applies to kids in schools does not apply to people in their 20’s and 30’s, even though that groups is also at very low risk.

Australians must practice socialist distancing, which means being a certain distance away from other people, but this magically does not apply in schools and universities.

Everyone needs a “reason” to be allowed to travel, and exactly what this means is anyone’s guess. Visiting family is not allowed but if you are “assisting” someone that’s fine. Always carry a small step ladder and a box of light bulbs in the boot of your car in case you are asked. There are huge fines and even jail if your “reason” is not up to snuff, based on pretend “legislation” that never went to Parliament and no one voted on … but y’know emergency powers have emerged.

Despite the utter stupidity, Australia does not appear to have many deaths … while the number of infections is largely unknown because when the local Mother’s group report that their kids are coming back from school with sniffles, the government health authorities refuse to test them (no I’m not kidding this is real). So far there is no hospital problem here, other than shortage of basic supplies which appear to have been shipped to China for some reason. There aren’t enough serious cases to have any significant effect on Australian hospitals right now.

This leads me to believe that warm weather is offering us significant protection, but we wait another 6 months to find out what happens as it gets colder. Australian capital cities don’t drop below freezing but they get cold enough to have a distinct “colds & flu season”. We could be lucky in as much as all the school children will already have built up some immunity by then.

If vitamin D is part of the mechanism for seasonality then I’m guessing that closing beaches, parks, golf courses, etc would make everything worse. There could be other mechanisms, such as the virus surviving longer on cold surfaces than warm surfaces (it’s a fatty virus so cold will harden the fat, and heat will soften it). In general Australians spend more time out of doors during Summer, and there are more holidays during Summer, so if the virus is airborne then it would be more dangerous with people indoors. For the record I am predicting that Australian statistics get worse as the weather gets colder.

This is not the case for Covid 19 which does not have the same confusing epidemiology.

Not confusing? Or not confusing in exactly the same way?

We know hardly anything about the Covid 19 epidemiology, but what we do know is darn confusing. It has a stealth mode where you are infected at a very low level, hardly show symptoms and yet can still be contagious, this lasts for a random length of time from days to several weeks. When it breaks out of the stealth mode it generally attacks the immune system with various results: the immune system can win the battle quickly, or the patient can be hit hard within a matter of hours and end up in intensive care, or somewhere in between. For some reason kids and young people usually shrug it off fairly easily but not in every case, and no one knows how long they are contagious for. Recovery time is also a bit random depending on how bad your immune system was whacked, and re-infection is possible, but not common.

The Covid 19 virus can sit on a surface for extended periods of time … maximum so far tested is up to 3 days sitting on stainless steel at regular office temperature (obviously that’s without any wipe-down or other deliberate attempt to kill the virus). This virus also mutates rapidly which is similar to other colds and flu.

I should also point out that New York also applied all those socialist distancing rules, and closed business all over the place. If anything they were a lot more organized about it than the Australians have been, and yet the virus is hitting New York very hard indeed … there must be a reason for this, and seasonal difference might be the most logical explanation. Air quality is better in most Australian cities than in New York, so that might also be a reason. I find it difficult to believe that people in New York are intrinsically dirtier than in Sydney … I would say overall behaviour and culture is almost the same. In addition the mix of racial groups and other factors is quite close … probably Sydney has more Asians, and New York has more Italians but the difference is minor.

• Harold says:

“Not confusing? Or not confusing in exactly the same way?”

Not confusing in the same way. The paper is attempting to explain aspects of flu which are not presented by Covid 19.

Colds are less seasonal than flu. Best guess at the moment is that spread will be slightly slower in summer but will not be a solution. Part of the problem is that we don’t fully understand why flu is so seasonal – hence the paper above. It is probably partly due to different behaviours, which the social distancing rules are enforcing, as well as the virus itself and factors such as vitamin D.

https://ccdd.hsph.harvard.edu/will-covid-19-go-away-on-its-own-in-warmer-weather/

This could be good news for us northerners, but bad news for you down south.

“This virus also mutates rapidly which is similar to other colds and flu.”

Actually it mutates relatively slowly.
““The virus mutates so slowly that the virus strains are fundamentally very similar to each other,” said Charles Chiu, a professor of medicine and infectious disease at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.”

This is good news for a vaccine in the future.

• random person says:

Tell wrote,

I should also point out that New York also applied all those socialist distancing rules, and closed business all over the place. If anything they were a lot more organized about it than the Australians have been, and yet the virus is hitting New York very hard indeed … there must be a reason for this, and seasonal difference might be the most logical explanation. Air quality is better in most Australian cities than in New York, so that might also be a reason. I find it difficult to believe that people in New York are intrinsically dirtier than in Sydney … I would say overall behaviour and culture is almost the same.

I wonder if there could be some very specific form of pollution that interacts with Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or something like that.

• random person says:

Sorry for forgetting quotation marks, but I’m sure it will be easy to figure out which part is the quote and which is my reply.

• Tel says:

Some of the Australian deaths might very well be hidden behind other things.

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/act/2020/01/02/woman-dies-after-exposure-to-bushfire-smoke-smothering-canberra/

That woman went down hard after spending a few hours breathing smoke polluted air (mix of soot particulates, plus various wood breakdown chemicals such as formaldehyde, resins, also NOx etc). Given the timeline of the virus propagation, it was certainly possible that the had a dose in January 2020, and I am very confident she was never tested for any virus.

The kind of sudden collapse has hallmarks of a cytokine storm, possibly triggered by the smoke, but the proximate cause might very well have been a virus. Normally smoke annoys people but hardly ever can it strike you down stone dead in a few hours.

I’m just putting that theory out there, but it would explain the surprisingly low lethality percentage in Australia’s official figures if the outbreak started earlier than anyone expected and if vulnerable people died and were written off under other categories.

• Tel says:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.5694/mja2.50545

<blockqDuring the study period, PM2.5 concentrations exceeding the 95th percentile of historical daily mean values were recorded by at least one monitoring station in the study area on 125 of 133 days (Box 1). We estimated that bushfire smoke was responsible for 417 (95% CI, 153–680) excess deaths, 1124 (95% CI, 211–2047) hospitalisations for cardiovascular problems and 2027 (95% CI, 0–4252) for respiratory problems, and 1305 (95% CI, 705–1908) presentations to emergency departments with asthma (Box 2). Applying lower thresholds for defining bushfire smoke‐affected days (no threshold, 90th percentile of historical values) did not markedly alter our findings; a higher threshold (99th percentile) reduced the estimates by about 20%. The highest population‐weighted PM2.5 exposure level, 98.5 μg/m3 on 14 January 2020 (Box 1), exceeded the national air quality 24‐hour standard (25 μg/m3)19 and was more than fourteen times the historical population‐weighted mean 24‐hour PM2.5 value of 6.8 μg/m3.

• Tel says:

Messed that one up.

Anyhow, that was an unusually high number of deaths, and the symptoms of asthma might appear similar to coronavirus when masked by inflammation caused by smoke. Difficulty in breathing, getting a “wheeze” sound trying to inhale, etc.

• random person says:

If it were something like that, bushfire smoke and other forms of pollution setting off the virus, so to speak, it could help explain why death rates seem so much higher in places like New York.

And if, for the sake of argument, that were the case, lockdowns and quarantines could be making things worse by preventing people from escaping polluted air.

• random person says:

This looks like a parody of an article, rather than a real article.

UK media outlets told not to promote baseless 5G coronavirus theories:
Broadcasters warned they face sanctions if they give airtime to false Covid-19 health advice by Jim Waterson

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/apr/02/uk-media-outlets-told-not-to-promote-baseless-5g-coronavirus-theories

Alright, so this is telling us that a) some people are thinking that maybe 5g has something to do with coronavirus, b) these people are being censored and c) the author of the article keeps reassuring us that these people’s belief on this matter is completely baseless.

For comparison, check out, “Are Flat-Earthers Being Serious?” by Natalie Wolchover on Livescience.

Alright, so, even though Natalie Wolchover clearly doesn’t believe the earth is flat, she is still able to talk about people who do believe the earth is flat without describing their beliefs as “baseless”. In contrast, the word “baseless appears four times in Jim Waterson’s article about people who think there’s a connection between coronavirus and 5g, including the article’s title. Baseless seems rather hyperbolic. Natalie Wolchover, even though she clearly doesn’t believe the earth is flat, goes into great depth trying to explain why other people do believe it’s flat, rather than simply writing off their beliefs as “baseless” (rather than a misinterpretation of evidence, which is not quite the same thing as “baseless”).

Although the article clearly describes censorship, eerily absent is discussion on the cultural and moral value of free speech.

If anything, the article reads like a satire on the topic of censorship.

“This poses a conundrum for those seeking to convince the public that the fears are unfounded. Fact-checking organisations often find that people are reluctant to change their mind once convinced of an issue if they are simply told they are wrong, despite international agencies finding there are no health risks associated with 5G and no link to coronavirus.”

*sarcasms* Really? People are reluctant to change their mind if they are simply told they are wrong? Argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to authority) isn’t enough to convince people by itself? I am shocked! Shocked I tell you! I believe everything international agencies tell me! No one at the UN has ever lied or been wrong on anything! *end sarcasm*

“There is also the risk that declining trust in mainstream media means that attempts to stop the claims spreading are seen as a cover-up.”

*sarcasm* Really? Because media that is censored is clearly the most reliable. I would never trust the media if it weren’t for the authorities threatening sanctions on them for saying things that are clearly untrue, because the authorities are omniscient and they never lie. The more censored my media is, the more I trust it! *end sarcasm*

I read that article, and I wonder if “baseless” is some sort of codeword that really means, “Please let me report on the topic of censorship without being sanctioned. Thanks!”

Like, honestly, reading that article makes me want to look into theories connecting 5g with coronavirus or other health problems.

• Harold says:

Flat Earthers are not causing much harm at the moment. If lots of pilots started flying passenger planes out into the Pacific and running out of fuel, or civil engineers building bridges that collapse, you might see a more aggressive response.

Principally, the articles you compare are about different things. One is about how misinformation causes harm and the other is about why people believe misinformation. There are a great many articles out there pointing out why flat earth is baseless. Although semantically, a round Earth is baseless too!

The fallacy is appeal to false authority. It is not a fallacy to think that experts know more about their area of expertise than we do. But ultimately, it is appeal to evidence. If you don’t want to accept the authority, go check the evidence.

If you wish to maintain belief then, you are left with conspiracy theories to allow you to dismiss the evidence.

There is a difference between scientific and political conspiracy theories. The scientists have little reason to make it up.

I found this amusing.

• random random says:

“Baseless” and “wrong” are not the same thing. If we look on vocabulary.com, it has the following to say about the term “baseless”:

“Baseless facts in a research paper don’t have sources — they may have simply come from the writer’s own imagination. A baseless allegation is when one person accuses another of doing something wrong, without having any solid proof or reason for the accusation. The sense of base that baseless comes from is “foundation,” from the Greek basis, “step or pedestal.””

Alright, so if someone has references or other evidence, but still reaches an incorrect conclusion, then their conclusions are not “baseless”, they simply misinterpreted the evidence, or perhaps the references or whatever were themselves incorrect. Baseless is when someone comes up with something purely from their imagination, not when they simply interpret data incorrectly (or receive faulty data to begin with). And, if we look at Natalie Wolchover’s article about Flat-Earthers, it does seem that they are misinterpreting data, rather than holding a completely baseless belief. See for example D. Marble’s experiment on the airplane. Sure, we could say his experiment is shoddily designed, but the same could be said of many experiments performed throughout human history. Calling his belief “baseless” rather than merely “wrong” or “incorrect” is hyperbole.

If an appeal to authority is taken to mean that the authority is never wrong and that should be the end of the discussion (which seems to be what the Guardian article is implying), then appeal to authority, when taken as such, is indeed a fallacy, since humans, even humans who are geniuses, are inherently fallible. Newton and Einstein are both widely acknowledge as geniuses, but Einstein proved Newton wrong about gravity, and now scientists are saying Einstein was wrong too. Thus, all authorities (or at least all human authorities) are false authorities, if by false we mean “not correct 100% of the time”. And that it is also why it should never just be the end of the discussion, to be enforced by censorship, because scientific knowledge is always imperfect and thus in constant need of revision.

If someone makes a weaker statement about authority, such as, “So-and-so knows more about this topic than I do, and hence is more qualified to write a convincing argument than I am, even though I acknowledge that so-and-so is a human being and thus not infallible,” then that would not necessarily fall under the appeal to authority fallacy.

Of course, people aren’t always clear which they mean – that they consider the authority to be infallible, or merely more knowledgable and qualified to write a convincing argument – but advocating for censhorship and suppression of disinformation implies that certain people indeed consider authority to be infallible.

That some small minority of people who think there’s a link between 5g and coronavirus are causing a small amount of harm – assuming we believe the censored media outlets reporting on this alleged activity – is not convincing reason to suddenly abandon the moral and cultural principle of free speech. Also, someone who is saying they believe 5g is harmful, but is not advocating for sabotage against cell phone towers (or any other sabotage), does not present a “clear and present danger.” (Even if they were advocating for such activity, there’s some legalese regarding the fine distinction between advocacy and incitement.) Additionally, see “Why Net Censorship in Times of Political Unrest Results in More Violent Uprisings: A Social Simulation Experiment on the UK Riots” by Antonio A. Casilli and Paola Tubaro. If we want to discourage people from sabotaging cell towers for (probably) misguided reasons, censorship is arguably exactly what should not be done. Far better to actually go through their (probably) faulty evidence piece by piece and explain why they are wrong, in, you know, the spirit of free speech, rather than simply tell them they are wrong and then censor them.

In any case, the vast majority of people who believe that in a 5g-coronavirus link probably aren’t likely to do more than use landline phones rather than cell phones – which is probably a good idea anyway, given the security and privacy benefits of wired technology over wireless technology. (See, for example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s article on Cell-Site Simulators/IMSI Catchers.)

Plenty of people who were, in scientific terms, correct (at least about certain things), were monsters in ethical terms. For example, Cornelius P. Rhoads, acknowledged as a pioneer in chemotherapy research, wrote, in a letter, that, “The Porto Ricans (sic) are the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere! They are even lower than Italians. What this island (Puerto Rico) needs is not public health work, but a tidal wave or something to totally exterminate the population.” He further wrote that, “I have done my best to further the process of extermination by killing off eight and transplanting cancer into several more.” Deliberately killing patients is far more barbaric than sabotaging a cell phone tower, which is the worst allegation I have heard or read against anyone who believed that 5g was harmful. Cornelius P. Rhoads is merely one example, but the history of medicine contains numerous examples of unethical medical experiments performed on non-consenting patients.

Going back to the inherent fallibility of human beings, a scientist can be wrong and yet still less wrong than his contemporaries. Molly Caldwell Crosby gives some examples of this in “The American plague: the untold story of yellow fever, the epidemic that shaped our history”:

“There was also a French scientist named Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy who had suggested twenty years before that a mosquito—a striped one—had an intrinsic relationship to yellow fever. The fewer mosquitoes, the fewer incidences of fever. Where Beauperthuy missed the mark was in believing that the mosquito just carried filth or decomposing matter, spreading the disease through its bite. Around the same time as Beauperthuy, an American physician, Josiah C. Nott, had also suggested a sort of insect theory, wondering if the yellow fever germ could travel through air much like insects. Beauperthuy saw the mosquito as a vehicle for infected matter; Nott saw infected matter as taking flight like the insect. Both were wrong, but their theories circled the truth nonetheless and broadened thought for future scientists.”

Even though my initial inclination is to agree that people who think there’s a 5g-coronavirus link are (probably) wrong, seeing censorship triggers my inner rebel, so, I looked around, and found a website called the Microwave Injured Veterans Network, which has a page on coronavirus.
https://www.microwavedvets.com/virus

They seem to be alleging that microwave radiation lead to immune suppression, thus increasing the chance of dying from a virus. Clicking on “Library” in the website’s menu gives a long list of reference material… far too much to go through in a short period of time. That doesn’t mean they are right (or rather, I haven’t spent nearly enough time looking at their material to make an informed opinion about whether they are right), but it is sufficient to say that writing off their views as “baseless”, as if they were unable to come up with any references other than their imaginations, is quite hyperbolic. Flat-earthers can probably come up with long lists of reference material too, but that’s part of why I simply call their belief incorrect or wrong, rather than “baseless”.

• random person says:

“Baseless” and “wrong” are not the same thing. If we look on vocabulary.com, it has the following to say about the term “baseless”

“Baseless facts in a research paper don’t have sources — they may have simply come from the writer’s own imagination. A baseless allegation is when one person accuses another of doing something wrong, without having any solid proof or reason for the accusation. The sense of base that baseless comes from is “foundation,” from the Greek basis, “step or pedestal.””

Alright, so if someone has references or other evidence, but still reaches an incorrect conclusion, then their conclusions are not “baseless”, they simply misinterpreted the evidence, or perhaps the references or whatever were themselves incorrect. Baseless is when someone comes up with something purely from their imagination, not when they simply interpret data incorrectly (or receive faulty data to begin with). And, if we look at Natalie Wolchover’s article about Flat-Earthers, it does seem that they are misinterpreting data, rather than holding a completely baseless belief. See for example D. Marble’s experiment on the airplane. Sure, we could say his experiment is shoddily designed, but the same could be said of many experiments performed throughout human history. Calling his belief “baseless” rather than merely “wrong” or “incorrect” is hyperbolic.

• random person says:

If an appeal to authority is taken to mean that the authority is never wrong and that should be the end of the discussion (which seems to be what the Guardian article is implying), then appeal to authority, when taken as such, is indeed a fallacy, since humans, even humans who are geniuses, are inherently fallible. Newton and Einstein are both widely acknowledge as geniuses, but Einstein proved Newton wrong about gravity, and now scientists are saying Einstein was wrong too. Thus, all authorities (or at least all human authorities) are false authorities, if by false we mean “not correct 100% of the time”. And that it is also why it should never just be the end of the discussion, to be enforced by censorship, because scientific knowledge is always imperfect and thus in constant need of revision.

If someone makes a weaker statement about authority, such as, “So-and-so knows more about this topic than I do, and hence is more qualified to write a convincing argument than I am, even though I acknowledge that so-and-so is a human being and thus not infallible,” then that would not necessarily fall under the appeal to authority fallacy.

Of course, people aren’t always clear which they mean – that they consider the authority to be infallible, or merely more knowledgable and qualified to write a convincing argument – but advocating for censhorship and suppression of disinformation implies that certain people indeed consider authority to be infallible.

• random person says:

That some small minority of people who think there’s a link between 5g and coronavirus are causing a small amount of harm – assuming we believe the censored media outlets reporting on this alleged activity – is not convincing reason to suddenly abandon the moral and cultural principle of free speech. Also, someone who is saying they believe 5g is harmful, but is not advocating for sabotage against cell phone towers (or any other sabotage), does not present a “clear and present danger.” (Even if they were advocating for such activity, there’s some legalese regarding the fine distinction between advocacy and incitement.) Additionally, see “Why Net Censorship in Times of Political Unrest Results in More Violent Uprisings: A Social Simulation Experiment on the UK Riots” by Antonio A. Casilli and Paola Tubaro. If we want to discourage people from sabotaging cell towers for (probably) misguided reasons, censorship is arguably exactly what should not be done. Far better to actually go through their (probably) faulty evidence piece by piece and explain why they are wrong, in, you know, the spirit of free speech, rather than simply tell them they are wrong and then censor them.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0759106312445697

In any case, the vast majority of people who believe that in a 5g-coronavirus link probably aren’t likely to do more than use landline phones rather than cell phones – which is probably a good idea anyway, given the security and privacy benefits of wired technology over wireless technology. (See, for example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s article on Cell-Site Simulators/IMSI Catchers.)

• random person says:

Plenty of people who were, in scientific terms, correct (at least about certain things), were monsters in ethical terms. For example, Cornelius P. Rhoads, acknowledged as a pioneer in chemotherapy research, wrote, in a letter, that, “The Porto Ricans (sic) are the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere! They are even lower than Italians. What this island (Puerto Rico) needs is not public health work, but a tidal wave or something to totally exterminate the population.” He further wrote that, “I have done my best to further the process of extermination by killing off eight and transplanting cancer into several more.” Deliberately killing patients is far more barbaric than sabotaging a cell phone tower, which is the worst allegation I have heard or read against anyone who believed that 5g was harmful. Cornelius P. Rhoads is merely one example, but the history of medicine contains numerous examples of unethical medical experiments performed on non-consenting patients.

https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-horrifying-letter-in-which-a-scientist-confessed-1507897479

Going back to the inherent fallibility of human beings, a scientist can be wrong and yet still less wrong than his contemporaries. Molly Caldwell Crosby gives some examples of this in “The American plague: the untold story of yellow fever, the epidemic that shaped our history”:

“There was also a French scientist named Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy who had suggested twenty years before that a mosquito—a striped one—had an intrinsic relationship to yellow fever. The fewer mosquitoes, the fewer incidences of fever. Where Beauperthuy missed the mark was in believing that the mosquito just carried filth or decomposing matter, spreading the disease through its bite. Around the same time as Beauperthuy, an American physician, Josiah C. Nott, had also suggested a sort of insect theory, wondering if the yellow fever germ could travel through air much like insects. Beauperthuy saw the mosquito as a vehicle for infected matter; Nott saw infected matter as taking flight like the insect. Both were wrong, but their theories circled the truth nonetheless and broadened thought for future scientists.”

• random person says:

Even though my initial inclination is to agree that people who think there’s a 5g-coronavirus link are (probably) wrong, seeing censorship triggers my inner rebel, so, I looked around, and found a website called the Microwave Injured Veterans Network, which has a page on coronavirus.
https://www.microwavedvets.com/virus

They seem to be alleging that microwave radiation lead to immune suppression, thus increasing the chance of dying from a virus. Clicking on “Library” in the website’s menu gives a long list of reference material… far too much to go through in a short period of time. That doesn’t mean they are right (or rather, I haven’t spent nearly enough time looking at their material to make an informed opinion about whether they are right), but it is sufficient to say that writing off their views as “baseless”, as if they were unable to come up with any references other than their imaginations, is quite hyperbolic. Flat-earthers can probably come up with long lists of reference material too, but that’s part of why I simply call their belief incorrect or wrong, rather than “baseless”.

• Harold says:

I don’t think we are that far apart, and this is not a central argument regarding the post, but what else are we to do?

So, to continue the discussion.

Almost nothing is “baseless” in absolute terms. The spirit level on the plane is effectively baseless because the experiment cannot provide any useful information and that can be easily shown to be the case. The basis is so flimsy as to be almost without any merit at all, so calling it baseless is reasonable.

Your link to the definition says “If something’s baseless, it can’t be proven or justified.” The flat earth cannot be proven or justified.

I have looked in on flat earthers because I wondered how they can justify their apparent belief. They do so by deliberately ignoring actual evidence and refusing to consider the logical consequences of their proposals. They have no model of how a flat earth could work (because it can’t) and they utterly mis-understand the spherical Earth model, no matter how many times it is explained. Almost the whole of physics must be abandoned, from Newton’s laws of motion to gravity.

The 5g stuff is dangerous because anything that spreads disinformation about Covid 19 is likely to reduce the response of people to calls for social distancing. If I get it from 5g why should I keep my distance? The more false stuff there is out there getting repeated the less attention it is possible to pay to the real information.

““The Porto Ricans (sic) are the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere! ”

So at least he wasn’t a flat Earther!

• random person says:

Considering the course of human history, and all of the strange things people used to believe (and some still do), the experiment with the level isn’t that bad. No doubt, many of the things we currently believe are true will be viewed as ridiculous in perhaps 100 years. Maybe far less years, at the rate things are going.

To see a small sampling, check out “16 Weird Things You Won’t Believe People Used To Believe, Believe Me” by Hilary Mitchell on Buzzfeed.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/hilarywardle/stop-blowing-smoke-up-my-ass

To quote one of Mitchell’s examples,
“Medieval people also believed that fairies sometimes kidnapped babies and left fake “changelings” in their place. One way to test whether your baby was a changeling was to get its attention and then put a shoe in a bowl of soup. If it giggled, it meant that it got the joke so it must be a fairy…because babies never find random things funny.”

Like, yeah, the level experiment seems pretty bad, but not as bad as the shoe in the soup experiment.

• random person says:

I think the example of Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy helps highlight the difference between “wrong” and “baseless” well. Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy was wrong, but he wasn’t completely wrong. He noticed a correlation between yellow fever and mosquito, and, although he did not experimentally prove transmission of yellow fever by mosquito, a U.S. Army yellow fever commission headed by Walter Reed eventually did eventualy come up with experimental evidence. So, Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy was not wrong that yellow fever was spread by mosquitoes, but he didn’t have experimental evidence, and he got some of the details about how the mosquito actually does this wrong.

He didn’t have experimental proof, but he did have a correlation, and the key part of his theory was eventually proven experimentally. Humanity would have benefited from listening to him sooner, and taking efforts to fight mosquitoes in yellow fever regions.

It is said that, “Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there’.”

People who draw conclusions based on correlations are often wrong. In the case of Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy, for all his contemporaries knew, the presence of mosquitoes could have been purely coincidental. For all they knew, it was the “bad air” in the regions that coincidentally happened to have mosquitoes. And, even though he turned out to be right about the mosquito transmission, he was wrong about how exactly mosquitoes did this, which is another danger of relying on correlation. However, although people who draw conclusions based on correlations may often be wrong, that doesn’t mean their conclusions are totally baseless, and contained within their wrongness may be some amount of truth. Stifling that truth, even if it is contained within wrongness, can stifle the human advance of knowledge.

• random person says:

I gather that there’s a lot of suspicion about a COVID-19 5G link because of some sort of correlation between 5G rollout and places with high death rates. I’m not actually sure how close that correlation is, because it’s hard to find good, trustworthy maps of either COVID-19 deaths or 5G rollout.

But lets suppose the theorists are right that there’s at least some kind of correlation, albeit possibly a weak one. That still doesn’t mean that there’s causation. 5G coverage could coincidentally be higher in areas with more air pollution, or a specific type of air pollution, or just simple higher population density may help give the virus more opportunities to spread. But contained within their theory is a valid question – why are some parts of the planet experiencing so many more COVID-19 related deaths than others? Why, even though they keep warning us that COVID-19 is going to be a disaster for Africa, have we seen so few deaths in Africa? It is simple lack of data? Are Africans dying by the thousands without their deaths being reported? Or is there something else at work?

Suppose there were 1,378 competing theories trying to explain the death distribution. (This is an arbitrary number, but whatever.) Suppose the truth lay somewhere in a combination of 218 of those theories. But unfortunately, we don’t know which ones, because all of them are unproven so far. Or maybe only 7 of them are proven. (All supposition.) Suppressing an incorrect theory, even supposing we are right that it is incorrect, could have a chilling effect on other theories that are at least partially true. And even theories that are mostly incorrect might contain valid questions which are worthy of investigation. Thus, suppressing disinformation, or alleged disinformation, is likely to impede the process of trying to figure out what is actually true.

Excepting of course that radicals of any belief system can be dangerous, I don’t think that people who believe that there is some sort of COVID-19 5G link are particularly dangerous or causing that much harm, generally speaking. Saying that alternative theories (even ones that seem far-fetched) are dangerous and should be suppressed because they might reduce compliance with social distancing, would be like saying that the idea that mosquitoes spread yellow fever should have been suppressed because it might have reduced compliance with quarantines.

• random person says:

For one thing, neither the 5G-coronavirus theory nor the mosquito-yellow fever theory totally disprove the usefulness of social distancing or quarantines. They do, however, offer additional options (if you believe the theories) on how to respond. So, for example, mosquito eradication programs turned out to be a far more effective way of fighting yellow fever than quarantines. That doesn’t mean the quarantines did nothing. The mosquitoes will bite an infected person, incubate the disease for some number of days, and then be able to spread it; stopping infected people from moving can still help by preventing the mosquito food (their blood) from moving. However, killing mosquitoes and putting up mosquito netting works better.

Similarly, if we look at the version of the 5G-coronavirus theory promoted by the Microwave Injured Veterans Network, they aren’t telling people not to practice social distancing. If anything, they are suggesting people should go further and avoid public bathrooms. They aren’t denying that there’s a virus, and that social distancing can help reduce the spread. However, they believe that microwave radiation, including 5G, is immunosuppressive, and thus, in addition to social distancing and other hygiene recommendations, they would like for 5G to be turned off, which they believe will increase people’s chances of surviving coronavirus. Also, if someone were afraid of cell phones, I should think that would give them even more reason to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people in public, since those other people might be carrying cell phones.

https://www.microwavedvets.com/virus

• random person says:

If anything this headline from CNN is more likely to discourage people from practicing social distancing. Even then, the risk is low. Even if the COVID-19 has been circulating for years before evolving into a more deadly form, I still wouldn’t want to get or spread the more deadly version.

“Has Covid-19 been in humans for years?”
https://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2020/04/04/uk-coronavirus-evolution-walsh-pkg-vpx.cnn

Quarantines/social distancing/isolation/lockdowns/stay-at-home orders and stuff like that are a massive hardship when voluntary, and an even more massive human rights problem when involuntary. People still need food, water, and other necessities of that nature even more than they need to avoid illness, so unless we are okay with people starving to death and whatnot to avoid the spread of illness, the social distancing will at best slow things down, not stop it. Headlines are saying that domestic violence and child abuse are going up under these conditions. There are warnings that the food supply chain is threatened. Some people are losing their incomes and then their homes. Social distancing works best for wealthy families who can telecommute (or at least have sufficient savings to see themselves through the lockdowns) and don’t have domestic violence problems — conditions that don’t describe a large portion of the world’s population.

Even when implemented, nothing about social distancing is expected to actually stop coronavirus from spreading, only to slow it down, “flatten the curve”, and make it easier for hospitals to handle. That leaves a lot of space for people to ask questions. While we are slowing it down, can we investigate other, better ways of handling it? Are there ways to slow it down more? Are there ways to self-treat at home and thus further reduce stress on the hospitals, especially if the hospitals are running out of beds and ventilators and whatnot? What do we plan to do when the food supply chain gets disrupted? Stopping people from asking and trying to answer these sorts of questions is likely to make things worse, not better.

Cornelius P. Rhoads was a monster. Flat Earthers aren’t monsters (or, if some of them are, it likely has nothing to do with their belief in a flat Earth).

• Harold says:

“Considering the course of human history, and all of the strange things people used to believe (and some still do), the experiment with the level isn’t that bad.”

It is bad because it cannot differentiate between the globe and flat models. The problem is that he does not understand the globe model at all. Both models predict there will be no deflection of the bubble, but he thinks the globe model predicts something else.

“Thus, suppressing disinformation, or alleged disinformation, is likely to impede the process of trying to figure out what is actually true.”

I actually agree with you here. However, we must weigh up the costs and benefits. In most cases nutty theories do little harm , so we should not silence them, as very occasionally they turn out not to be nutty.

In this case, the cost is that more people will become infected (at least infected sooner). The chance of impeding the process of finding out what is actually true by widespread public dissemination is very small.
We must weigh the cost against the benefits, and in this case I think the costs far outweigh the benefits.

That does not automatically mean we shut down the misinformation, but it needs to be considered.

“Cornelius P. Rhoads was a monster. Flat Earthers aren’t monsters (or, if some of them are, it likely has nothing to do with their belief in a flat Earth).”

My language may have been clumsy – I was not trying to imply that flat Earthers were monsters. I was intending to say at least he wasn’t a flat Earther as well as being a monster.

It is along the lines of the joke about the man waking up in hospital.
” We have good news and bad news” says the doctor. “The bad news is that we had to amputate both your feet. The good news is that the man in the next bed has offered to buy your slippers.”

I was not familiar with Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy. the wikipedia article is very sparse, and there seems to be few articles about him at all. This seems a great shame. It strikes me this should be a widely known as Ignaz Semmelweis and puerpal fever.

• random person says:

*joke*
Pessimist: Things can’t possibly get any worse.
Optimist: Oh, yes they can!
*end joke*

I’m not saying the level experiment was good. I’m saying bad experiments are part and parcel of being human, and the shoe in soup experiment was worse.

Harold: “In this case, the cost is that more people will become infected (at least infected sooner). The chance of impeding the process of finding out what is actually true by widespread public dissemination is very small. We must weigh the cost against the benefits, and in this case I think the costs far outweigh the benefits.”

I’m a little confused what you intended to say here. Perhaps you meant to say that you believe the chance of impeding the process of finding out what is actually true by *censoring* certain ideas is very small? (In your opinion, of course.) And that the costs of allowing free speech far outweigh the benefits (again, in your opinion)?

I would disagree because harsh social distancing measures (and if we are stepping up to censorship, then that would probably include other harsh measures as well) could do a lot of people more harm than good. (Also, perhaps, for other reasons.) Social distancing is the sort of thing that might work for a) wealthy families who either have enough savings, or the ability to telecommute, that they can afford to just hide away until the epidemic passes, as well as no significant domestic violence problem in the household, or, b) self-sufficient communities who don’t need the rest of the world anyway, and shut themselves off before the illness enters.

These conditions do not describe a large portion of the world’s population. Yes, some people and communities are either self-sufficient, or wealthy enough to make themselves at least temporarily self-sufficient, and just staying home until the whole thing blows over can probably work for them. Gentler options, like washing hands and surfaces more frequently and trying to increase space from other people can probably help people who are not so fortunate.

• random person says:

Not everyone has a job or other form of income-earning they can telecommute to. Globally, most probably don’t. Apparently, about 46% of the world’s population doesn’t even have internet access. Of the remaining 54%, some significant number, though I’m not clear how many, apparently have jobs or other forms of income-earning that require their physical presence. Construction work comes to mind. The poorer (in overall terms, at least) people are, the less likely they will be able to afford to keep paying for rent, food, and other basic bills without going out and about. As of 2017, an estimated 29% of the world population didn’t have what the WHO calls “safely managed” drinking water. Not sure how much you trust their numbers, but reading news from around the world seems to confirm there’s a lot of people in the world with water that is unclean or not nearby. An estimated 10% apparently don’t have access to “improved” drinking water within a 30 minute round trip. Frequent handwashing could be too much to ask from a significant part of the world’s population. In the United States, Newsweek is estimating nearly 60% of Americans won’t be able to afford basic necessitities if quarantined for a month. Imagine how much worse the numbers are likely to be in Africa and Latin America, especially in places where large numbers of people might not have savings to last more than a few days. Searching through the news reveals a number of people in poorer parts of the world, such as Uganda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zambia, Columbia, India, and Mexico, are more afraid of hunger than of COVID-19, and seemingly for good reason. People in more crowded places are also more likely to have difficulty with the reccomendation to stay at least six feet away from each other. A headline from the Guardian reads, “Coronavirus could double number of people going hungry.” A quick Google search suggests that perhaps 9 million people per year already die of hunger, so doubling that would give another 9 million.

Looking at the overall state of the world suggests that social distancing, especially the stricter versions of it, is more of a luxury for some rich people (rich in global terms, not necessarily relative to their neighbors) than something that can reasonably be implemented as the main strategy for dealing with COVID-19. Unless, you know, letting 9 million people or so die of hunger to reduce the spread of the virus seems like a reasonable strategy.

Given the ineffectiveness of social distancing in dealing with situations where people aren’t economically in a position to just hide themselves away for a long period of time, finding other options is a valid topic for debate.

Individually, I feel like just trying some herbal teas that are known to strengthen the immune system or reduce symptoms of other viruses might be a sensible idea. You know, teas that are classified as food, and therefore Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) anyway. Stuff like peppermint that I already have. Not likely to hurt, and it could help. I realize it’s unlikely that anyone has bothered to do a double blind study to see if peppermint tea does anything at all against COVID-19, but given that I’ve had peppermint tea plenty of times before and haven’t choked to death on it, or had any other ill effect that I could feel, I think it should be safe, at least. One friend I suggested this too went off on me about how I shouldn’t spread misinformation. Because, you know, just thinking that maybe, possibly, there’s a chance that a tea that is classified as food might possibly do some good, well, we can’t have that, the World Health Organization hasn’t approved it! And I think I am seeing part of the problem here. If there were a bunch of people sharing information on the internet, maybe with enough surveys and personal story swapping, we might have eventually identified herbs and other plants that seem to do some good. Especially if people who actually had COVID-19, as well as people at high risk of getting it, participated in the surveys. Perhaps a double blind study could come after surveys had identified which plants were worth further study. Perhaps some survival-enhancing option could be found that could even be cheap enough to hand out somewhere like Nigeria. But there seems to be way too much censorship and people saying not to spread misinformation to leave much space for collaborative creative thinking.

• random person says:

Not everyone has a job or other form of income-earning they can telecommute to. Globally, most probably don’t. Apparently, about 46% of the world’s population doesn’t even have internet access. Of the remaining 54%, some significant number, though I’m not clear how many, apparently have jobs or other forms of income-earning that require their physical presence. Construction work comes to mind. The poorer (in overall terms, at least) people are, the less likely they will be able to afford to keep paying for rent, food, and other basic bills without going out and about. As of 2017, an estimated 29% of the world population didn’t have what the WHO calls “safely managed” drinking water. Not sure how much you trust their numbers, but reading news from around the world seems to confirm there’s a lot of people in the world with water that is unclean or not nearby. An estimated 10% apparently don’t have access to “improved” drinking water within a 30 minute round trip. Frequent handwashing could be too much to ask from a significant part of the world’s population. In the United States, Newsweek is estimating nearly 60% of Americans won’t be able to afford basic necessitities if quarantined for a month. Imagine how much worse the numbers are likely to be in Africa and Latin America, especially in places where large numbers of people might not have savings to last more than a few days. Searching through the news reveals a number of people in poorer parts of the world, such as Uganda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zambia, Columbia, India, and Mexico, are more afraid of hunger than of COVID-19, and seemingly for good reason. People in more crowded places are also more likely to have difficulty with the reccomendation to stay at least six feet away from each other. A headline from the Guardian reads, “Coronavirus could double number of people going hungry.” A quick Google search suggests that perhaps 9 million people per year already die of hunger, so doubling that would give another 9 million.

Looking at the overall state of the world suggests that social distancing, especially the stricter versions of it, is more of a luxury for some rich people (rich in global terms, not necessarily relative to their neighbors) than something that can reasonably be implemented as the main strategy for dealing with COVID-19. Unless, you know, letting 9 million people or so die of hunger to reduce the spread of the virus seems like a reasonable strategy.

Given the ineffectiveness of social distancing in dealing with situations where people aren’t economically in a position to just hide themselves away for a long period of time, finding other options is a valid topic for debate.

• random person says:

Individually, I feel like just trying some herbal teas that are known to strengthen the immune system or reduce symptoms of other viruses might be a sensible idea. You know, teas that are classified as food, and therefore Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) anyway. Stuff like peppermint that I already have. Not likely to hurt, and it could help. I realize it’s unlikely that anyone has bothered to do a double blind study to see if peppermint tea does anything at all against COVID-19, but given that I’ve had peppermint tea plenty of times before and haven’t choked to death on it, or had any other ill effect that I could feel, I think it should be safe, at least. One friend I suggested this too went off on me about how I shouldn’t spread misinformation. Because, you know, just thinking that maybe, possibly, there’s a chance that a tea that is classified as food might possibly do some good, well, we can’t have that, the World Health Organization hasn’t approved it! And I think I am seeing part of the problem here. If there were a bunch of people sharing information on the internet, maybe with enough surveys and personal story swapping, we might have eventually identified herbs and other plants that seem to do some good. Especially if people who actually had COVID-19, as well as people at high risk of getting it, participated in the surveys. Perhaps a double blind study could come after surveys had identified which plants were worth further study. Perhaps some survival-enhancing option could be found that could even be cheap enough to hand out somewhere like Nigeria. But there seems to be way too much censorship and people saying not to spread misinformation to leave much space for collaborative creative thinking.

And I think the same creative freedom should be afforded to people with nuttier ideas like they think it has something to do with cell phones or 5G. If they want to try not using cell phones until the epidemic is over, that’s at least not likely to hurt anything. If they and their neighbors want 5G shut off or not built in their neighborhoods, I can see no reason why their request shouldn’t be respected. Assuming they are wrong, silencing them could have a chilling effect on people with entirely different ideas, such as those who want to discuss, say, air pollution.

• random person says:

And we should remember that even wrong people can ask valid questions that we shouldn’t necessarily ignore. For example, in a Slate article, “Fearing the Invisible: The long history behind the 5G COVID-19 conspiracy thoery”, Jordan Frith points out, “For example, one conspiracy that went semiviral compared a map of COVID-19 hot spots in the U.S. to places that had tested 5G networks. The map showed a clear overlap, but it really just showed major metropolitan areas.” He gives a link to the maps. Now, if we want to wonder why major metropolitan areas are hotspots, that’s a valid question. Most obvious reason is higher population equals more people to potentially get infected. Next possibility is maybe people living closer together gives more chance for the virus to spread. After that, I’m wondering if air pollution could be an issue. Looking for “major metropolitan areas” that don’t fit the pattern could help figure things out. Why is it that when we look at a world map, Africa and Latin America don’t seem hard hit yet? Is it lack of data? If it were simply a matter of population density, India should be harder hit. My point isn’t that I have the answer here, simply that this kind of data analysis, looking for correlations, is worth doing. If people want to try including unlikely seeming things in their search for correlations, the best of luck to them. Plenty of ideas we now accept as true seemed unlikely to people when they were new.

I intially came across Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy’s name in Molly Caldwell Crosby’s “The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped our History.” However, there is much more detailed information about him here:

For more information on a sampling of scientific experiments performed by monsters other than Cornelius P. Rhoads, see Salon’s article, “10 of the most evil medical experiments in history: The subjects are often society’s most vulnerable, and the doctors have rarely had to answer for their crimes.” Considering how many times throughout history doctors have resorted to non-consensual experiments on other human beings, I really think the idea that we should be afraid of people performing consensual experiments on themselves, whether things that seem sensible like an herbal tea, or things than seem bizarre but still harmless like turning off their cell phones, is quite overblown.

• random person says:

“Norfolk couple have a cellphone tower in their backyard, but T-Mobile pays them nothing”

https://www.pilotonline.com/news/article_d4956e92-a04c-5df3-bea7-53edf134a542.html

“She said she called and emailed T-Mobile but got the runaround, with the company insisting the tower wasn’t even on her land. She went to the city several times to make sure it was, and a T-Mobile official has since acknowledged under oath the tower is on the Richardson property.”

“In 2015, Martin ruled VEPCO’s original easement only allowed it to use the land for transmitting electricity and did not authorize it to let T-Mobile install cellphone antennas.”

“But Pat Richardson said it’s about the principle. To her, T-Mobile operating a tower on her land without permission is no different from McDonald’s building a restaurant in her backyard.”

• Harold says:

Each case of disinformation is separate. Herbal teas is not really disinformation. As you say, they may do some good and will do no harm. That is,a s long as they are said to be a possible mitigation which may or may not be helpful. If they were to be promoted as an absolute cure and that idea gained traction then the idea could do a lot of damage. It is not usually allowed to make medical claims without evidence, for good reason. We do know that there are lots of vulnerable and desprate people who will grasp any lifeline. I do not exclude myself from this group, as I have been succesfuly scammed. We are all vulnerable.

We could take a “buyer beware” attitude, and leave it up to every individual to decide for themselves. We do know that this will result in lots of people being harmed.

We can also say that people will be harmed by being denied the benefits of the miracle cure, but these benefits tend to be illusory. Most snake oil does no good.

So I have been taking vitamin D supplemets, trying to get some sun, and maybe will have a cup of peppermimt tea.

I still think that blaming Covid19 on 5g will cause significant harm. The risk is not that a small number of people believe it, it is that lots of people who want to have some reason to avoid social isolation – maybe very good reasons, such as losing a job, will sieze on this as a reason to not do it.

The problem is that with complicated issues such as this, it is difficult to have a reasoned public discussion. Disinformation such as the 5g stuff makes it even nore difficult.

• random person says:

We should always take a “buyer beware” attitude when it comes to advice-giving, regardless. That’s not to say that we should let monsters like Cornelius P. Rhoads off the hook, but what he did went way beyond merely giving bad advice.

It’s not like I have to go to a conspiracy theorist or an alternative health practitioner to get bad information. I could go to a doctor’s office or the World Health Organization and get bad information there.

See for example “Report: World Health Organization ignored Taiwan’s coronavirus warnings to cover for China” by Chris Enloe on The Blaze.

https://www.theblaze.com/news/report-world-health-organization-ignored-taiwans-coronavirus-warnings-to-cover-for-china

“Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen revealed last month that his country warned the World Health Organization in late December that China was lying about the novel coronavirus. China had said the virus was not transmittable by human-to-human contact, and the WHO disseminated that lie in mid-January.”

“In fact, Chen claimed the WHO ignored Taiwan’s warnings in order to maintain its relationship with China, whose communist government demands the international community not acknowledge Taiwan’s sovereignty.”

• random person says:

Also see “Purdue infiltrated WHO, manipulated opioid policies to boost sales, report finds: Congressional report alleges Purdue corrupted WHO to boost international sales” by Beth Mole on Ars Technica.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/05/world-health-organization-parroted-purdues-deceptive-opioid-claims-report-says/

“The Congressional report found other problems in a second WHO document, a 2012 guidance titled “Pharmacological Treatment of Persisting Pain in Children with Medical Illnesses.” In it, the WHO uses the industry-coined term “opiophobia,” which describes doctors who have an “unreasonable fear” of prescribing opioids. It also suggested that there is no maximum dosage for children, despite mounting evidence that higher dosages were not more effective and had higher risks of addiction. Last, the guidance ditched a recommendation for intermediate pain management in children with moderate to severe pain. Instead, it recommended doctors go right from trying non-opioids, such as Tylenol, to strong opioids, such as OxyContin. “Purdue could not have hoped for a better outcome,” the report concluded.”

• random person says:

Also see, “Her cancer surgery was a success. Then a genetic condition let a chemo drug ravage her body” by Lindy Washburn on NorthJersey.

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/health/2019/10/29/after-cancer-surgery-genetic-mutation-let-a-chemo-drug-ravage-her-body/2233817001/

“DPD deficiency — shorthand for dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency — is found in 3 to 5% of the population. It usually has no symptoms other than an inability to break down fluorouracil drugs. People who have DPD deficiency lack some or all of the enzyme needed to process the drug, so it stays active, destroying the body’s rapidly dividing cells.”

“Most people, like Kerrie, haven’t been tested for the mutation and don’t know they have DPD deficiency until after they receive their first dose of 5-FU or capecitabine, a related cancer-treatment drug. For some, that is too late.”

• random person says:

Also see, “Chemotherapy warning as hundreds die from cancer-fighting drugs” by Sarah Knapton.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/08/30/chemotherapy-warning-as-hundreds-die-from-cancer-fighting-drugs/

“The study by Public Health England and Cancer Research UK found that across England around 8.4 per cent of patients with lung cancer, and 2.4 per cent of breast cancer patients died within a month.”

““I think it’s important to make patients aware that there are potentially life threatening downsides to chemotherapy. And doctors should be more careful about who they treat with chemotherapy.””

• random person says:

Additionally, in spite of a growing recognition that approximately 95% of diets fail, and can actually make people even more unhealthy, many doctors continue to prescribe diets anyway. Further information can be found in “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works” by Evelyn Tribole. Alternatively, see her “Intuitive Eating: Make Peace with Food, Mind & Body Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD” lecture on youtube.

Being that I can get bad information from anywhere anyway, I would at least rather make my own choice about what drugs, teas, spices, foods, or other weird stuff I want to try, so that if I am harmed, at least it was my own choice and not something that was pushed on me. It would be hypocritical of me not to respect the right of people to turn off their cell phones, if they wish, to the same extent that I should hope they respect my decision to make tea out of peppermint obtained in some ethical manner.

• random person says:

Incidentally, according to the Scientific American, snake oil might not be quite as bad as its reputation would suggest.

“Snake Oil Salesmen Were on to Something: Snake oil really is a cure for what ails you, if that happens to be arthritis, heart disease or maybe even depression” by Cynthia Graber
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/snake-oil-salesmen-knew-something/

“Richard Kunin, a California psychiatrist with a background in neurophysiology research, became intrigued with the idea of snake oil in the 1980s. He had been following early research on the importance of omega-3 fatty acids for health and it dawned on him that the much maligned snake oil might be a particularly rich source. Omega-3’s proliferate in cold-blooded creatures that live primarily in cooler environments because the fats don’t harden in chilly water like omega-6 fatty acids do (hence, the high level of omega-3’s in cold-water fish such as salmon). “Snakes and fish share one thing, they’re both cold-blooded animals,” Kunin says.”

“According to his 1989 analysis published in the Western Journal of Medicine, Chinese water-snake oil contains 20 percent eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one of the two types of omega-3 fatty acids most readily used by our bodies.”

“Of course, most 19th-century snake oil salesmen did not, in fact, sell this particular product. Even those hucksters who did sell actual snake oil would likely have sold the rattlesnake variety, nearly useless for any ache-relieving medicinal purpose. But the original Chinese purveyors of snake oil offered something that probably did exactly what they claimed it would do: help fellow workers relieve the pain of their labors.”

• random person says:

The case where someone accused me of spreading disinformation for suggesting that there was a chance that peppermint (and certain other herbs) might possibly be of some benefit had to do with a study I found regarding the treatment of an avian coronavirus. Even though I immediately and repeatedly stated that the coronavirus in question in the study was not the same as COVID-19, the person freaked out that I was allegedly spreading disinformation because some people, including him apparently, might not be literate enough to understand a disclaimer stating that an avian coronavirus is not the same as COVID-19, and might therefore think that a cure had been found. (Nevermind that if he’d read the article, it didn’t include the word “cure” anywhere, and instead used phrases like “antiviral activity”, which would suggest perhaps some level of symptom relief, not a cure.)

Incidentally, the article was “In vitro antiviral activity of fifteen plant extracts against avian infectious bronchitis virus”
https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-019-1925-6

It seems to me that this level of panic regarding the possibility of someone suggesting that plant extracts which showed some antiviral activity (again, antiviral activity does not equal cure) against a different coronavirus — including a number of plants that many people can find in their kitchens already because they are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) — might be worth looking into regarding their potential against COVID-19, is the sort of panic that is likely to stifle discussion that might eventually lead to better ways of fighting COVID-19. Science doesn’t start with the publication of a double blind study. People generally come up with ideas, talk about things, maybe perform some lower quality experiments, before moving on to the double blind study. For example, if there were an online forum / support group for people who had COVID-19 or believed they did, and a number of the reported that they believed some herbal tea or essential-oil-treatment provided symptom relief to them, this would be useful data, even if it didn’t rise to the level of a double blind study. It might even lead to a double blind study eventually being performed. But it’s hard to even have such conversations if people are terrified of being accused of spreading disinformation. Even if you never use the word “cure”, and instead stick to less enthusiatic suggestions like, “worth looking into to see if it may have some antiviral activity”, people will be like, “OMG DON’T TALK ABOUT FAKE CURES THAT IS DISINFORMATION!”

• random person says:

And it’s important to remember that the social distancing idea, especially extreme versions of it, could itself be bad information. For example, see
“Coronavirus could double number of people going hungry: Exclusive: multinationals write to G7 and G20 urging leaders to keep borders open to trade and avert global food crisis” by Fiona Harvey on the Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/09/coronavirus-could-double-number-of-people-going-hungry

• random person says:

Also see “Why Severe Social Distancing Might Actually Result In More Coronavirus Deaths: What the media and policymakers are not telling us is that the longer we delay the development of herd immunity, the more elderly or high-risk people will become infected and die” on the Federalist.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/04/03/why-severe-social-distancing-might-actually-result-in-more-coronavirus-deaths/

• random person says:

And also this One America News video on youtube discussing the article on the Federalist.

If social distancing recommendations turn out to be bad information (and they very likely are bad information for at least some people, for example, those most at risk of hunger and homelessness), then saying that some theory is harmful merely because it might discourage social distancing just isn’t a very strong argument. You yourself acknowledge that the risk of losing a job might be a “very good reason” to avoid social isolation. Certainly, I should think this should be the case for people already at risk of hunger or homelessness. Imagine of people had said Louis-Daniel Beauperthuy’s mosquito theory (along with whatever other competing ideas on how to deal with yellow fever where floating around at the time) was disinformation that needed to be suppressed, merely because it might have discouraged quarantines.

Now, supposing, for the sake of argument, there’s something out there that could work better than social distancing at reducing deaths — and there probably is something, given what social distancing is likely to do the the food supply chain — or at least likely to work better for some people (say, those people most at risk of starvation or homelessness), then suppressing discussion, research, etc into finding that “something better” (for at least some people) is itself harmful. Certainly, the possibility that such discussion might discourage people from social distancing is insufficient to call it harmful, if we are willing to acknowledge that social distancing could result in ills like starvation and hunger if applied particularly aggressively.

• random person says:

Also, Mercola is now talking about one of the COVID-19/5G theories. He seems to consider it unproven, but interesting enough to be worthy of discussion. Mercola is fringe, but not generally considered a radical conspiracy theorist (although hardcore mainstream medicine only type folks may disagree). The version of the theory discussed by Mercoa is that 5G does not spread infection and is not a vector of infection, but may lower “your natural immune defenses and [cause] chronic inflammation”, thus “likely impairing your innate immune system’s ability to fight off the coronavirus.”

See “Can EMF Make Us More Susceptible to Coronavirus Infection?” by Joseph Mercola

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/04/12/why-is-the-world-more-vulnerable-to-a-global-pandemic.aspx

• Harold says:

“The case where someone accused me of spreading disinformation for suggesting that there was a chance that peppermint (and certain other herbs) might possibly be of some benefit…”

I don’t know about that case. Many of our drugs are based on plant metabolites. One problem is that plants cannot be patented so it is not possible to get your money back from a very expensive clinical trial based on plants.

Edzard Ernst was professor of alternative medicine at Exeter University. He said there should be no such term as alternative medicine, but effective and not effective. He wished for effective treatments to be incorporated into “medicine.”

He retired early after he possibly broke a confidentiality agreement with Prince Charles and funding dried up.

According to Wikipedia “In a 2008 publication in the British Journal of General Practice, his listed treatments that “demonstrably generate more good than harm” was limited to acupuncture for nausea and osteoarthritis; aromatherapy as a palliative treatment for cancer; hypnosis for labour pain; massage, music therapy, relaxation therapy for anxiety and insomnia; and some plant extracts such as St John’s wort for depression; hawthorn for congestive heart failure; guar gum for diabetes.”

However, many treatments simply did not have enough evidence to make conclusions – trials are expensive.

Typical is the use of Fever-few for migraine. He found that a recent study suggested a reduction of 0.6 attacks per month (original 4.8), but the data was not good enough to draw certain conclusions. What is needed is a much larger study, but who will pay for it? Pharma is not interested unless they can tweak the active chemical and get a patent. Nobody makes enough enough money by prescribing celery for high blood pressure. Maybe it is time for Big Celery!

Ernst commented

“So, good or bad news for migraine sufferers? I suppose it depends on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. I would say that, considering the mostly bad news about alternative medicine for migraine, it is relative good news: patients who want to try something ‘natural’ could do so, particularly in view of the lack of serious risks.”

His blog section on herbal remedies here.

https://edzardernst.com/tag/herbal-medicine/

• guest says:

Harold said:

“There is a difference between scientific and political conspiracy theories. The scientists have little reason to make it up.

In my best “Nelson” laugh (from the Simpsons): “Ha, ha!”:

Osterholm: Scientists Backed Off of Lab Leak Theory Because Supporting It Was Perceived as Supporting Trump
[www]https://www.breitbart.com/clips/2021/06/02/osterholm-scientists-backed-off-of-lab-leak-theory-because-supporting-it-was-perceived-as-supporting-trump/

New York Times COVID Reporter Says It’s “Racist” To Discuss Wuhan Lab Leak Theory
[www]https://www.zerohedge.com/covid-19/new-york-times-covid-reporter-says-its-racist-discuss-wuhan-lab-leak-theory

That Didn’t Age Well: Wuhan Propaganda From MSM Laid Bare
[www]https://www.zerohedge.com/covid-19/didnt-age-well-wuhan-propaganda-msm-laid-bare

But also this:

• Harold says:

I have not seen an actual hypothesis how the lab leak might have worked. Like many “alternative” theories, there does not seem to be an actual model.

If the virus was created by genetic manipulation, we would be able to see it. The virus does not fit that model.

If the virus was created by serial passage, it may be harder to detect, but nobody has suggested what may have actually been done. What intermediate? What selection? These would also leave traces, but I have not seen a hypothesis yet.

If it was a natural virus that happened to escape from the lab, then it is essentially a natural virus.

I don’t dismiss the lab origin, but have low confidence because there is as yet no model I have seen. Nobody has said “This is how it might have been done, and this is the evidence we should look for.” It seems like the flood story, sounds good on generalities but falls down on the detail.

Maybe you know of an actual hypothesis, which I would be grateful for seeing.

• random person says:

Incidentally, they are now saying they were wrong about it mostly targeting old people.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/stephaniemlee/coronavirus-young-age-severe-cases

“The Coronavirus Is Sending Lots Of Younger People To The Hospital”

“It’s increasingly clear that early data out of China was an anomaly:
The coronavirus is severely harming substantial numbers of people
under 50, too.”

“But as the pandemic ratchets up, with 417,000 cases and counting
worldwide as of Tuesday, it’s increasingly clear that the coronavirus
is severely harming substantial numbers of people under 50.”

“In New York City, health officials said Friday that of 1,160 people
hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms, one in four were between ages 18
and 49. That squares with what appears to be happening nationwide:
Across the United States, about 38% of coronavirus patients sick
enough to be hospitalized were ages 20 to 54, the CDC reported last
week.”

“Young people outside the US have also been severely affected. In
Spain, about 18% of hospitalized patients are under 50, according to
the latest data. And in South Korea, more than half of confirmed cases
are under 50, with the ages 20–29 being the largest age group. (The
government doesn’t break down how many of those cases required
hospitalization.) Anecdotal data out of the UK, where demographic data
on patient ages has yet to be released by the government, also
suggests that young people have needed intensive care in hospitals.”

• random person says:

And rather than mostly I should have said, “to the extent they originally believed.”

• Harold says:

My incomplete understanding is that our understanding of the impact on different ages has not changed that much. It is just that a case fatality rate of 0.3% for 20-50 year olds is higher than for flu overall, which mainly kills old people as well. We may expect more “young” people to die of this than old people die of flu in a normal, or even a really bad flu season. It is not so much that the scientific understanding has changed, but that what that means is becoming apparent to everybody.

I may be wrong about that, but I hope I am not.

There is confusion between case fatality rate, which is based on confirmed cases, and the infection fatality rate based on total infections. The infection fatality rate for 20-50 year olds is estimated as about the same as case fatality rate for flu for all ages. Infection fatality rate will always be lower than the case fatality rate.

• Tel says:

In order to maintain a sense of urgency, suddenly all of the supposedly independent media outlets are suddenly full of stories about the danger to young people. Now I’m not saying this is “safe” but young people don’t have a whole lot to worry about. Going surfing can also get you killed.

The Coronavirus Is Sending Lots Of Younger People To The Hospital

So they go to hospital, feel sick for a few days and recover. Point is not that you can’t get sick at all, but it doesn’t kill hardly any young people and in the cases where it does there is usually some other factor (e.g. high blood pressure).

And in South Korea, more than half of confirmed cases
are under 50, with the ages 20–29 being the largest age group. (The
government doesn’t break down how many of those cases required
hospitalization.)

So what? This just means these people tested positive, that’s a “confirmed case”. No one said you become magically immune by age. This is beatup stuff. They claim “severely effected” but the evidence presented does not match the claim.

Even statements like, “sick enough to be hospitalized” don’t mean a whole lot because if you show up with ANY symptoms and you test positive they will hang onto you and stick you into an isolation ward. They sure as heck won’t send you home again.

• random person says:

I agree there’s something seriously creepy about the way the media is covering this. It’s as if people have forgotten that they can still die of things other than COVID-19. I even heard a someone talking about how the government should just lock everyone in our houses and have the military deliver food (as if the virus can’t live on the food packaging?)… like, nevermind about homeless people who don’t have a home to be locked inside of; people experiencing domestic violence; production and distribution of food and other necessities (do we really believe the military has the skills or even the raw manpower to take care of all of that?); people who are sick (not necessarily from COVID-19), disabled, or elderly who may need caretakers to be able to visit them; if there are environmental factors to COVID-19, locking people up could potentially make things worse, preventing them from escaping said environmental factors; people facing evictions (even eviction moratoriums would at most delay this issue); not to mention the sudden, rather inexplicable lack of concern for human rights/civil liberties such as freedom of movement, assembly, speech, etc. Just a few weeks ago, that same person was joking about how COVID-19 was no big deal.

Even so it’s interesting how they tell us not to spread disinformation, debunk supposed “myths”, and then we later find out that some of those supposed “myths” had at least some truth in them, and the people debunking them were spreading disinformation too.

• random person says:

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/04/04/covid-19s-death-toll-appears-higher-than-official-figures-suggest

“Covid-19’s death toll appears higher than official figures suggest: Measuring the total number of deaths tells a grimmer tale”

“The increases in total mortality in these areas [Bergamo, Italy, Castile & Leon, Spain, Castile-La Mancha, Spain, Haut-Rhin, France, and Madrid, Spain] were more than twice the number of deaths officially attributed to covid-19.”

“THE SPREAD of covid-19 is most often measured by two numbers: how many people are infected, and how many have died. The first is very uncertain. Some carriers show no symptoms, and most countries do not test people who seem healthy. Because data on infections are unreliable, researchers have focused on deaths. Yet new statistics suggest that current fatality numbers may also understate the damage.”

“Official death tolls for covid-19 may exclude people who died before they could be tested. They also ignore people who succumbed to other causes, perhaps because hospitals had no room to treat them. The latter group has been large in other disasters. For example, when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, America recorded only 64 deaths. A study later found that the surge in total deaths was close to 3,000. Many occurred in hospitals that lost power.”

“However, journalists and scholars have crunched their own numbers. L’Eco di Bergamo, a newspaper, has obtained data from 82 localities in Italy’s Bergamo province. In March these places had 2,420 more deaths than in March 2019. Just 1,140, less than half of the increase, were attributed to covid-19. “The data is the tip of the iceberg,” Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo’s capital, told L’Eco. “Too many victims are not included in the reports because they die at home.””

“Comparable figures can be found across Europe. In Spain El País, a newspaper, has published the results of a study by the government’s health research centre, showing that “excess” deaths in the Castile-La Mancha region were double the number attributed to covid-19. Jean-Marc Manach, a French reporter, has found a similar disparity in the department of Haut-Rhin.”

• random person says:

Trying to think of different ways this could be explained:

* There are people dying of COVID-19 who haven’t actually been diagnosed with COVID-19.
* People dying of other causes, but the hospitals didn’t have room for them, as the article suggests.
* People could be dying from the response to COVID-19 itself; that is, the quarantines, social distancing, trade shutdowns, etc. could themselves be killing people.
* Some unknown environmental factor that can both make people more likely to die from COVID-19 but also kill people in other ways.
* Other stuff I haven’t thought of.
* Some combination of the above.

• random person says:

1 death out of 1397 in a person aged 17 or under

80/1397 = about 5.7% of the deaths are in people aged 18-44.

342/1397 = about 24.5% of the deaths are in people aged 45-64

339/1397 = about 24.3% of the deaths are in people aged 65-74

635/1397 = about 45.5% of the deaths are in people aged 75+

• random person says:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-51362772

“Two officials in China have been removed from their posts after a teenager with cerebral palsy died when his father – and sole carer – was quarantined for suspected coronavirus. Yan Cheng, 16, was found dead on Wednesday, a week after his father and brother were placed in quarantine.”

• random person says:

https://time.com/5803887/coronavirus-domestic-violence-victims/

““I spoke to a female caller in California that is self-quarantining for protection from COVID-19 due to having asthma,” an advocate at the National Domestic Violence Hotline wrote in the organization’s log book. “Her partner strangled her tonight. While talking to her, it sounded like she has some really serious injuries. She is scared to go to the ER due to fear around catching COVID-19.””

• random person says:

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30116-8/fulltext

“We therefore hypothesise that diabetes and hypertension treatment with ACE2-stimulating drugs increases the risk of developing severe and fatal COVID-19”

“If this hypothesis were to be confirmed, it could lead to a conflict regarding treatment because ACE2 reduces inflammation and has been suggested as a potential new therapy for inflammatory lung diseases, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. A further aspect that should be investigated is the genetic predisposition for an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which might be due to ACE2 polymorphisms that have been linked to diabetes mellitus, cerebral stroke, and hypertension, specifically in Asian populations. Summarising this information, the sensitivity of an individual might result from a combination of both therapy and ACE2 polymorphism.”

• random person says:

Washington State deaths, February 26-March 29, with map.

https://www.kuow.org/stories/deaths-from-coronavirus-covid-19-in-washington-state

• random person says:

“Facing eviction as millions shelter in place: Renters are at risk of being forced out of their homes in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/03/22/evictions-coronavirus-renters-shelter-in-place/

“In Congress, lawmakers are beginning to take note of the mass layoffs happening across industries — in restaurants, hotels and retail — that will worsen in coming weeks.”

“Property owners whose ability to pay their own bills depends on their rental income debated how much of a break they could give their tenants.”

“Adair worked in the stockroom at a Dollar General until she was laid off last year while pregnant. Her fiance was a prep cook at a local university until the school shut down because of the coronavirus. Now she fears their family of five, including an 8-month-old daughter and two teenagers, will soon be homeless. They have been there before — they were evicted last July, days after she gave birth.”

“In Nevada, where the shutdown of casinos and the tourism industry has crippled the economy, at least one judge ordered the eviction process continue through e-filings and phone hearings.”

*sarcasm* Because, clearly, in an economy where many people have to pay rent in order to avoid eviction, the way to make people remain in their homes is to ban their sources of income. *end sarcasm*

• random person says:

“Airlines are flying empty planes to keep slots during the coronavirus crisis”

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/airlines-are-flying-empty-planes-to-keep-slots-during-the-coronavirus-crisis-c8w33vzqg

“British airlines are being forced to operate empty “ghost” flights during the coronavirus outbreak or risk losing airport landing slots, The Times has learnt.”

“Carriers are flying some jets without any passengers at all because of controversial “use it or lose it” rules governing space at European airports.”

*sarcasm* Ah yes, stay home for all non-essential economic activity during coronavirus, we wouldn’t want it to spread, unless of course you are an airplane pilot flying an empty plane without passengers, because if you don’t, your company might lose their flight slots! *end sarcasm*

• random person says:

“NYC doctor says high ventilator settings damage coronavirus patients’ lungs”

By Lorena Mongelli, Jackie Salo and Bruce Golding

https://nypost.com/2020/04/06/nyc-doctor-says-coronavirus-ventilator-settings-are-too-high/

““I’ve talked to doctors all around the country and it is becoming increasingly clear that the pressure we’re providing may be hurting their lungs, that it is highly likely that the high pressures we’re using are damaging the lungs of the patients we are putting the breathing tubes in,” he said in a two-minute video he posted Wednesday.”

““COVID-positive patients need oxygen. They do not need pressure,” he said.”

““They will need ventilators — but they must be programmed differently.””

7. Harold says:

Forgot to put name in box again – my comment will probably appear soon as anonymous.

8. Tel says:

The 4G network is a communication, tracking and surveillance network.

The 5G network is somewhat better at doing all of those things: communication, tracking and surveillance.

You might just happen to notice that during times of crisis (pretty much any crisis but particularly a virus) the citizens start using a lot more communications, and the governments start getting very interested in tracking and surveillance.

In terms of 4G to 5G upgrades, those cost money for capital but they make money on selling a better, and more efficient service. Thus, you have an upfront capital expense followed by a stream of income and the typical best profit is going to come from the highest population density areas, and that’s exactly the place a virus would spread.

• random person says:

Good point about the tracking and surveillance.

“COVID-19 Phone Location Tracking: Yes, It’s Happening Now—Here’s What You Should Know” by Zak Doffman on Forbes.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2020/03/27/covid-19-phone-location-tracking-its-moving-fast-this-is-whats-happening-now/#2dc6189511d3

“It’s spreading quickly now—governments around the world latching onto our smartphone locations as a proxy for where we all are, when and for how long. The data forms a map of population tracking to report on density and social distancing as well as anonymized travel patterns. Some governments are a level beyond, exploring movement tracking, contact tracing, quarantine enforcement.”

• random person says:

““My phone had run out of battery for about 15 minutes, and when I turned it on, I saw these warning messages.” That was a Taiwanese citizen, whose quote was shared in multiple media outlets. Police officers had checked up on him, to verify that he had not violated the mandatory 14-day quarantine.”

“Taiwan’s vast tracking apparatus is monitoring some 55,000 people. It is just one of the many countries using cell phone location data to monitor the location and movements of people in the midst of a global pandemic.”

I wonder if the overreactions towards COVID-19/5G theories that we are seeing from the UK government/media (and some others) are some sort of preemptive attack against people who might want to opt out of being tracked by cell phones, for whatever reason, whether because they are afraid of radiofrequencies, have privacy concerns, or simply feel they are adequately served by a landline phone and don’t want to pay for a cell phone.

• random person says:

“The country [Taiwan] uses mandatory phone-location tracking to enforce quarantines, sending texts to people who stray beyond their lockdown range, directing them to call the police immediately or face a \$33,000 fine. People who don’t have a GPS-enabled phone are issued a government-provided phone for the full length of the quarantine.”

“Government efforts to track virus through phone location data complicated by privacy concerns”
by Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/03/19/privacy-coronavirus-phone-data/

• random person says:

“Privacy vs pandemic: government tracking of mobile phones could be a potent weapon against COVID-19” by Patrick Fair
https://theconversation.com/privacy-vs-pandemic-government-tracking-of-mobile-phones-could-be-a-potent-weapon-against-covid-19-134895

“All mobile service providers in Australia are required to hold two years of data relating to the use of each mobile phone on their network, including location information.”

“For anyone who tests positive with COVID-19, this data could be used to list every location where they (or, more accurately, their phone) had been over the preceding few weeks. Using that list, it would then be possible to identify every phone that had been in close proximity to the person’s phone during that time. The owners of those phones could then be tested, even though they may not necessarily have developed symptoms or suspected that they had come into contact with the coronavirus.”

• random person says:

“South Koreans have broadly accepted the loss of privacy as a
another app, which alerts officials if a patient ventures out of
isolation. Fines for violations can reach \$2,500.”

“How South Korea Flattened the Curve.”
by Max Fisher and Choe Sang-Hun
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/world/asia/coronavirus-south-korea-flatten-curve.html

• random person says:

“5G and Coronavirus: Popular Petition to Block Roll Out Due to Health Conspiracy Deleted To Stop Spread of Misinformation: Fake claims amplified by celebrities helped petition spread across social media before Change.org removed it due to ‘misinformation'”
by Anthony Cuthbertson

“An online petition claiming that 5G is responsible for the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has been removed after receiving more than 100,000 signatures.”

This is just incredibly weird. True, the petitioners can technically go make their own website to put the their petition on, but it’s weird, because hypothetically speaking, the purpose of petition websites like Change.org is to facilitate free speech.

I checked the Change.org community guidelines, and there are rules listed there, so they establish that they don’t allow unlimited free speech on their website, but I don’t see anything in the community guidelines prohibiting misinformation.

If anything, their community guidelines seems to suggest they embrace misinformation (subject to specific limitations, such as “no hate speech”).

According to the Change.org Community Guidelines:
“Over 200 million people with a vast diversity of perspectives use Change.org in 196 countries. This diversity is a virtue, but it also means you’ll almost certainly find content with which you passionately disagree. We believe in the power of free speech on the Internet, which means we won’t censor content that doesn’t violate these Guidelines or our Terms of Service, even if it shocks or offends.”

• random person says:

“Stop 5G Petition Removed For Spreading Misinformation”

by Jasmine Motti