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An insight into a not uncommon view of the crisis in other parts… April 7, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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A fairly stunning piece this from the New Yorker, an interview with one of those holding the view that the virulence and severity of the current crisis and the virus was overstated – a view that according to the article circulated all the way to the Trump White House. A view, almost needless that dovetails with the political right, albeit in this instance from the libertarian conservative right. But perhaps the most interesting aspect is about two-thirds the way in when in instance after instance the actual factual basis of the assertions being made are questioned and yet the person making them takes great umbrage at any criticism. And yet, and I am open to correction, I look in vain for any expertise in matters epidemiological.

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1. makedoanmend - April 7, 2020

A somewhat amusing ancedote. When walking to work (solo worker) at 6 am I was about to pass by a fellow worker on the street when he let out a sneeze without in any way attempting to cover his mouth. It frooze me in my path. Confused, I decided to reverse course and await for him to get in his van and drive away. The amusing part was the look he drew me for avoiding his personal space – or I found it kind of amusing for both my immediate reaction and then his reaction.

It really doesn’t take much change in daily routines for people to begin draw different conclusions about social interactions.

And I can’t help wondering if we were hit with a more virulent virus, one that had a more exponential infection rate, what would happen to the very fabric of our societies.

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2020

Nothing good.

That’s interesting your anecdote. Seen a bit of that too. People’s responses are odd. Back around the week before St. Patrick’s Day I was at a meeting and there was a guy there I didn’t know and he made to shake my hand. I smiled but said, probably best not to. And he was kind of okay but you could see he kind of wasn’t.

What’s even madder is the week before that I had a fair few meetings with people who had no hesitation in shaking hands.

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2. Bartholomew - April 7, 2020

From the interview, on modellers of epidemics:

‘Their great weakness is understanding general-equilibrium theory.’

Ah yes, of course. He thinks that without intervention, an equilibrium will be reached between the virus and the human hosts, that that will happen in a matter of months, and that we should allow that to happen. Historically, that’s not at all the case, most diseases were eliminated or contained through human action. The equilibrium is the same equilibrium that is reached between people and food in a famine – after everybody’s dead of course.

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2020

+1

It’s amazing how happy he is to give not just opinions but assertions of what he purports to be fact in areas that others clearly indicate he is not well positioned to do so.

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makedoanmend - April 7, 2020

That quote about you cite about equilibrium is what depresses me most right now. Yesterday I was trying to express just this departure between the policies forwarded by the dominant political-economic pundits versus the hard science that needs to be practiced based upon advice from epidemiologists and health officials, but I really couldn’t express myself well.

We as a species have a very good grasp of epidemiology with regard to contagion identification, vector identification, estimating growth rates and proposing concrete steps like quarantining. However, science does not have perfect information, so therefore can’t tailor a specific response to every specific viral outbreak. We certainly do not have near enough information about viral mutation or how it might lay dormant within populations. Animal physiology combined with the complexities of contagions make for far too many permutations to be simplified with something as asinine as equilibrium theory. When we add in the sheer complexity of human interaction in our deeply integrated economies and all the multiplicity inherent in points of contact, we have to wonder why someone would try to simply the complexity with such theoretical rubbish. Jaysus wept.

I wonder if this is not a wake up call to us as a species. I suspect that something like the WHO needs to become more prominent with inputs from every national government on earth with reference to resources and distribution of information.

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2020

+1. There really needs to be a clear cut approach to these sort of outbreaks that can deal with them much earlier, where national considerations (in terms of pride etc) are put to one side, and that the medical approach is placed front and centre.

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3. CL - April 7, 2020

‘General equilibrium theory’ is a notion derived from neoclassical economics, which in turn derived it from physics in an effort to appear ‘scientific’.
General equilibrium can be shown to exist mathematically; this is then taken to represent economic reality. Philosophically, this the ‘fallacy of misplaced concreteness.’
Teleological tendencies towards equilibrium are incompatible with Veblenian evolutionary economics.

The worldwide lockdown is having an effect, the curve does appear to be flattening. If it turns out that covid-19 is not as bad as predicted, then libertarian crackpots such as Posner will say they were correct, ignoring that the curtailment of the virus is due to the very suppression measures which they opposed.

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2020

So true CL. There are some positive indications but Christ, to have to go through what has happened in Italy, Spain and very likely the UK to get there… it’s appalling. And I’m not forgetting China, which people clearly didn’t register the enormity of the outbreak there.

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4. Sean Munger - April 7, 2020

The clue that this guy is dangerously wrong about everything is in one of the first paragraphs: he’s a climate change denier. Because of that, anything he says purporting to be fact or science should be automatically assumed to be completely wrong. This is astonishing.

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5. roddy - April 7, 2020

Any scientists on here? The nature of my job entails a lot of hand washing( at this time anyway.Normally my hands would have ingrained oil and grease!) I carry a bottle of hand sanitiser in my work vehicle now but cheap it is not.I have been informed that poteen would do the same job and am wondering is their any scientific basis for this.I am only asking a hypothetical question as purchasing or possessing poteen is against the law and also my local area has such a long history of adhering to the rule of law,my neighbours would be outraged at such behaviour!

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Joe - April 7, 2020

Genuinely LoL. Indeed Rotflmao. Fair play Roddy. Brilliant :).

I’m not a scientist. Indeed, as you are well aware, I know shit about shit. But, hey, when has that stopped anyone on here from throwing in their tuppenceworth.
I say yes, the poteen, if you can get it, will protect fully against the virus and you get the bonus of strong protection against rheumatism in the fingers too.

Liked by 1 person

benmadigan - April 7, 2020

what about carrying soap and water in your vehicle?

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tafkaGW - April 7, 2020

If the poteen is 60% proof it’ll kill the beasty, Roddy.

We use cheap vodka but it isn’t really strong enough for the job, medics tell me.

This disease is at least 90%, probably a lot more, transmitted by droplets that people breath, cough and talk out. The surfaces thing is a minor danger compared with coming too close to someone who is infectious.

Same some of the non-existent poteen for us when this thing is over!

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6. roddy - April 7, 2020

As Christy Moore sang, “McElhatton you blirt where are you?”

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7. roddy - April 7, 2020

Too complicated Ben.

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8. tafkaGW - April 7, 2020

Capital can live with the deaths of millions of ‘unproductive’ people. It has before. What it can’t live with is labour not going to work and consumers not buying.

That’s why they and their tame journos keep banging the drum and making specious arguments for an early ‘restart’ of *their* economy.

Liked by 1 person

9. roddy - April 7, 2020

tafkaGW, I asked my non existent contact about the non existent poteen and he told me a non existent 10 glass bottle would cost a non existent tenner!

Liked by 2 people


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