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Coronavirus and Credibility(paulgraham.com)

724 pointsRerarom posted 2 months ago967 Comments
967 Comments:
crusso said 2 months ago:

Do people appreciate that denial of the severity of this virus came from all political quarters?

Here's one showing the mistakes of left-leaning media I found in 2 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=36&v=wVDPVBZF2Xg

It's just as easy to find supercuts of Pelosi, DeBlasio, and other prominent Democrats telling people that they didn't need to start social distancing or that the virus wasn't airborne contagious.

Bad judgement is a human failing that cuts across party lines. To think that this is a long-term credibility problem for only some people shows a lack of a healthy diversity of news sources. At the end of this, everyone will go back to their teams' dugouts and prepare for the next political battle. Nothing will have been learned about credibility.

javagram said 2 months ago:

It did come from all political quarters, however one political quarter stayed in denial much longer. Notice how many of the clips from your video are from January or early February.

The POTUS was still publicly pushing the coronavirus = flu comparison in early March even after we saw what happened in Iran and Italy. Remember, he said on February 28 that being worried about the coronavirus was “their new hoax” from the media and his political opponents, so he himself recognized his political opponents were pointing out the severity by late February.

Edit: i don’t want to get too deep in the politics with this, I do agree with your ultimate point that most won’t learn from this and will simply return to their team’s side regardless of who got this one more right.

crusso said 2 months ago:

however one political quarter stayed in denial much longer

Now you're splitting hairs. You know who the first politician in the USA who was banging the drums in alarm about Wuhan and the coronavirus? Tom Cotton. Republican Senator. Do you support him now? Does his early conviction of the severity of this event put you behind him and everyone who echoed his concerns? Are you likewise now opposed to the people who were ridiculing him as a conspiracy theorist and fear-monger?

javagram said 2 months ago:

Tom Cotton was one of the people who were on this and warning of it early. So was Steve Bannon. There are others. Just because someone has an R by their name doesn’t mean they’re a homogeneous blob.

I think that’s great, I don’t agree with all their politics but they didn’t let themselves be blinded by optimism and looked at what was actually going on here. And the theory that the virus may have accidentally escaped from the lab where they were studying bat coronaviruses always seemed credible to me (Reminder, the 1977 flu likely escaped from a Russian or Chinese lab but this was never admitted either).

The political quarter that was in denial was mainly the POTUS and those who simply follow whatever the POTUS is doing without independent thought (Hannity, etc.) Edit: again, he was calling it “their new hoax” so you really can’t deny that he was behind on this one :-)

jeffdavis said 2 months ago:

"The political quarter that was in denial was mainly the POTUS and those who simply follow whatever the POTUS is doing without independent thought"

How did you come to that conclusion? What about the Democrats in New York, which is the epicenter of the virus outbreak right now (certainly the US and probably the world)? I remember hearing someone on TV (probably DeBlasio or Cuomo) saying that public schools were not going to close.

alpha_squared said 2 months ago:

> ...someone on TV (probably DeBlasio or Cuomo) saying that public schools were not going to close.

This was specifically because many of those students would go hungry since they rely on food programs at school. Without those programs, many students have little to eat at home. It's a little disingenuous to represent it in another light. If anything, it highlights yet another weakness in our society.

jeffdavis said 2 months ago:

Yes, of course they had reasons. It's not obvious what to do in a disaster.

But did people die because of that decision? Probably. Maybe a lot.

Tough calls. It comes down to who made those tough calls earlier. And that's not a partisan thing, or a smart/dumb thing.

Plenty of bad decisions to go around, but we probably shouldn't lay the blame to thick anywhere. Because it's chaos and people are adapting and changing in real time.

Look at someone like Newsom. One minute he's the mayor of SF, the next he's the governor of 40M people and he has to shut down the state to slow down the virus. I guarantee he's going to be a different person in 12 months.

dragonwriter said 2 months ago:

> Look at someone like Newsom. One minute he's the mayor of SF, the next he's the governor of 40M people

“The next minute” is off by something more than 6 orders of magnitude.

You kind of skipped over ~4.2 million minutes he spent as Lieutenant Governor between those jobs.

jeffdavis said 2 months ago:

Wow. Time flies when I'm paying attention to other stuff ;-)

dragonwriter said 2 months ago:

> This was specifically because many of those students would go hungry since they rely on food programs at school.

California schools pretty much immediately set up daily meal pickup when they closed (often, for anyone under 18 at any school site.) And this was already happening when they said that.

said 2 months ago:
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JPKab said 2 months ago:

The weakness is that those kids are still being raised by losers who can't bother to feed their offspring.

Food is dirt cheap. Grew up in poor schools with mostly free lunch recipients. Parents were mostly shit bags who spent money on typical crap you'd expect.

The idea that it's anything more structural than culturally dysfunctional idiots not investing time in cooking for their kids because it's less work to let the school do it is wishful thinking.

jsnk said 2 months ago:

I'm glad you brought Tom Cotton up here. He was one of the few individuals who was able to ask the right questions at the right time. And yet, when he did that, all kinds of mainstream media including WaPo came out saying he was repeating a "coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked". https://archive.vn/TG8zN#selection-999.29-999.84 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/17/business/media/coronaviru... https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-conspiracy-theories/ https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/483354-sen-cotton-repeat... https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/02/republican-senat... https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/18/politics/tom-cotton-coronavir... https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tom-cotton-coronavirus-china_... https://www.factcheck.org/2020/02/baseless-conspiracy-theori...

Now WaPo seems to be admitting that we should at least consider the possibility that the virus may have originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. https://archive.vn/UP6dx#selection-1801.148-1801.176

nl said 2 months ago:

The theories which are explored in the Washington Post article (around the idea that someone Wuhan Institute of Virology might have been accidentally infected with the virus while studying bats) are completely different to the claim the it's an engineered bio-weapon that came from those labs.

(To be clear, Tom Cotton himself says the bio-weapon thing was just a hypothesis[1].)

[1] https://twitter.com/SenTomCotton/status/1229202134048133126

javagram said 2 months ago:

There’s a mix there, AFAIK there’s no reason to believe the virus is a bioweapon.

On the other hand the fact that they were researching bat coronaviruses in the lab in the city where the outbreak began certainly is suggestive of a possible lab accident. I doubt we’ll ever find certainty of this though just like the 1977 outbreak of H1N1. Not impossible it’s just a coincidence either (after all SARS and MERS jumped to humans without any help).

jeffdavis said 2 months ago:

Your last link seems broken, but here's another:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/how-...

pvg said 2 months ago:

I think you're misreading this - it's an opinion piece and it includes some speculation about how the virus ended up infecting people. It does not say the virus 'originated' in a lab and it's not 'WaPo admitting' anything.

csense said 2 months ago:

Some HN readers who seem to be knowledgeable about genetics were discussing the spread 73 days ago [1]. If you don't want to read the whole thread, I'll also link to a couple specific sub-threads [2] [3].

However, I will note that a colleague of mine saw the virology institute's location change on Google Maps around this time. Free software legend Eric S Raymond mentioned this on his blog as well [4].

I'm pretty sure the Google Maps thing is a sign that the Chinese leadership heard these bioweapon rumors, and figured the best way to combat them was to require Google to lie about the institute's reported location.

There are plenty of ridiculous rumors on the Internet, why would the Chinese government react so strongly to this particular one?

It could be because the Chinese leadership has something they're trying to hide. But in China things are often censored all over the place with little rhyme or reason as well. "We know this rumor's false and ridiculous, any serious scientist knows it came from some country bumpkin eating an improperly cooked bat, but this rumor could potentially be destabilizing, so let's force Google to tell this lie for us" is certainly a way the Chinese government might think.

Is it created in a lab?

The Google maps thing is pretty weak evidence. It could be explained by the "oh crap people are catching on, we'd better make Google help with the coverup" hypothesis, but it's equally well explained by the "we know it's false, but we'll censor things willy-nilly because we're China and that's what we do" hypothesis.

I don't know enough about mol bio to really understand the genetic sequences.

To summarize: The evidence seems to be inconclusive, but certainly consistent with the possibility the virus is a Chinese bio-weapon. "Coronavirus is a Chinese bio-weapon that somehow accidentally escaped" is a possibly true hypothesis. There's not nearly enough evidence to say for sure. But it's a reasonable possibility, not tin-foil hat territory.

Suggesting it was let out on purpose probably does get pretty close to tin-foil hat territory; it seems hard to figure out a sane and reasonable motive for unleashing this on the world, without also requiring some much bigger, more complex conspiracy (which greatly weakens the prior probability of the hypothesis).

If it is lab-created, it probably escaped by a mistake, or someone not following the rules (e.g. the janitor who's supposed to burn the dead infected research bats sold them to a market instead to make an extra buck).

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22146446

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22147320

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22147369

[4] http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=8587

op03 said 2 months ago:

> Why would the Chinese govt react so strongly

They react to all kinds of irrelevant bullshit strongly all the time. It's a gigantic unimaginative bureaucracy. It could very well be some peon 18 levels down doing something done 200 times prior, in response to some news article some other peon has classified as western propaganda.

Are they going to come out and admit that?

anoraca said 2 months ago:

His "banging of the drums" was literally spreading conspiracy theories. I think that it is fair to criticize him for unscientific fear mongering. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/17/business/media/coronaviru...

neycoda said 2 months ago:

Is this about whether Republican s or Democrats are better, or about how our politicians dropped the ball and the top one stayed in denial the longest?

InfiniteBeing said 2 months ago:

Democrats were upset about Trump's travel restrictions.

The epicenter in the United States in in New York.

This is what was happening in NY.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_uNKatrJgw&feature=emb_logo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emyNXZ8v8sY&feature=emb_logo

nswest23 said 2 months ago:

I watched that video and no one on the left was making a joke of the coronavirus. They were all stating that the flu is more dangerous which while being clearly a miscalculation, not the same as calling it a left wing hoax so save your moral equivalence for another day.

throwaway32120 said 2 months ago:

That's one of the issues with hyperpartisanship. Everyone thinks that people need to be held accountable - as long as it's people they already decided were terrible. The truth is the response to this pandemic has been poor across the board. Go back and read what people were saying in February to see how unprepared everyone was.

Bill Gates, for example, is held up as someone who saw this coming. However, if you read what he wrote at the end of February about what needs to be done to stop the Coronavirus, you'll he didn't raise any issues about the way it was being handled within the United States, and viewed the main problem being the difficulties that poor countries would have handling it. Even a few days ago there were almost no leaders calling for mass use of face coverings. And there still seem to be very few (if any) calling for an implementation of measures like those that are successfully combating the virus in South Korea.

kyuudou said 2 months ago:

It's also one of the issues with a bipartisan system designed to stay that way - one side eternally blames the other for being evil incarnate and how their side's excrement has no olfactory emission. It's conducive to this hyperpartisanship and I really agree with some of the founding fathers of the US that political parties should be forbidden because of the types of dramatic intrigue that result, which hurt people the most during times such as now. I just call them both the War Party now because that's what they are.

burke_holland said 2 months ago:

I had this same thought. Here's Pelosi encouraging people to come to Chinatown.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFCzoXhNM6c

Also, we should be careful about how much we eviscerate people on both sides politically during this time. If our leaders are too afraid of repercussions to make difficult decisions, they may make bad decisions instead.

I'm calling for moratorium on partisan finger-pointing. I think we're all in this together, and that's the only way we're getting out of it.

Zenbit_UX said 2 months ago:

Your link is a bit different, she was in Chinatown to show people that not all Chinese people have the virus. Seems there businesses were stagnating due to xenophobia. She was wrong to encourage people to go out and shop in general but she was not wrong to try to stop the rumors surrounding Chinese Americans.

SZJX said 2 months ago:

Not sure what that has to do with denial of the severity of the virus. Not to mention NYT just published a report confirming that the virus strain in the US mostly came from European sources, instead of Asian ones. Are you equating "avoiding Chinatown" with "preventing the spread of the virus"? That sounds extremely worrisome, to be polite.

anoraca said 2 months ago:

That was on February 24th, a full week before there was a single case in NYC. Promoting local commerce before the virus reached that area seems pretty far from denying the level of risk presented by COVID-19 on a global scale.

jmckib said 2 months ago:

You can cherry-pick different opinions from all over the spectrum. For example, Tucker Carlson took the virus pretty seriously early on, but he was one of the only voices on Fox News to do so. Views on the left have been more mixed.

At least that's been my observation, but I don't watch TV news; I just read about what's on it. I've been getting my news from WaPo and WSJ, both of which took the virus seriously from the beginning.

jeffdavis said 2 months ago:

Not enough is said about people who saw it before it came. Relying on someone to do the right thing in the middle of chaos is unreliable. You really don't need to cherry pick to find examples on both sides.

George W Bush laid out a major pandemic strategy, for instance: https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/homeland/pandemi...

Too bad it fell apart in subsequent administrations.

nl said 2 months ago:

Yes - it seems like Tucker Carlson was the person who convinced Trump to change his mind[1] and he deserves credit for it.

I wonder what it was that convinced him when many of the people he deals with day-to-day were of the complete opposite view?

[1] https://www.thedailybeast.com/tucker-carlsons-monologue-prom...

jmckib said 2 months ago:

As much as I disagree with almost everything Carlson says, I have to give him credit for going against the grain on this and a few other issues in the past. Lindsey Graham also deserves some credit for calling up Trump and trying to convince him to take this situation more seriously. There's something to be said for the strategy of kowtowing to Trump most of the time so that he will still listen to you when it really counts. That strategy shouldn't be necessary with a competent leader, but here we are.

neop1x said 2 months ago:

Here is a video of horrendous New York situation with "overrun" Queens hospital https://video.fprg2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/l/t42.9040-2/92262469_...

Here a similar one from Begamo, Italy https://youtu.be/lcK2mzuO6MU

And now, where is the truth? I would like not to be infected. I try to avoid being infected by flu as well. But maybe we really are overreacting. We don't have immune system trained for this - that is problematic. Elderly people and people with health conditions should be isolated. But that's probably it. Once the population has enough people with trained immune system, it will be "like a flu" or won't it? Who to trust?

SZJX said 2 months ago:

I don't think the point is about an apocalyptic image of people cogging up and dying in the corridors or whatnot. It's the lack of equipments like ventilators. Also it's confirmed from many sources that the medical workers are all stretched to their limits and some of them even died from overexertion. That's probably much more convincing than some random videos.

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

Being wrong and being in charge are different than just being wrong. Responsibility should come at a price.

crusso said 2 months ago:

I'd be all for holding politicians in charge accountable, but that's where everyone gets squishy depending upon who they support?

One guy's being wrong becomes another guy's "not that big of a deal".

By what metric will you measure "being wrong" for this COVID-19 pandemic? A super cut of video clips showing a reluctance to believe uncertain information coming out of China? Death rate compared to other OECD countries? Whether or not the great Hydroxychloroquine efficacy debate goes one way or another? Whether or not the ban of flights to/from China were effective?

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

When you are not in charge you can say whatever you want, it won't kill people. So that's why it matters. It's not about who you support. "The Buck Stops Here".

crusso said 2 months ago:

People will die of this in every country on earth. Are all in charge responsible for every death in the country over which they preside?

squiggleblaz said 2 months ago:

"With great power comes great responsibility"

it's an ideal, not a metaphysical necessity. But we need to enforce the ideal because otherwise the powerful use their power to their interest and against their detractors. It is absolutely essential to hold them responsible for their decision making process if we value life in a liberal democracy or a classical republic. They cannot get every decision right, but they must at least get them wrong for a fair reason.

Otherwise it's just "personal responsibility for the many, riches and fiefdoms for the few"

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

Depends on what they did to avert it. In many cases the answer is 'too little'.

godelski said 2 months ago:

It probably depends who you are taking your information from. For example, here is an expert saying that it is just like the flu[0] (Linkedin [1]).

The other part, is that we shouldn't expect consensus in something like this. Why? Because data is evolving and changing. This is in contrast to something like Climate Change where we have a large amount of post hoc data/analysis. Here the analysis is being done in situ and that is much more difficult. It should be unsurprising that opinions change as information changes.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGC5sGdz4kg

[1] https://www.linkedin.com/in/knutmwittkowski

bduerst said 2 months ago:

The video snippet you linked is from January. You can tell because it talks about the upcoming Iowa caucus.

This is approximately the time that the first patient tested positive in the U.S. The video that OP references goes into February and March, so I don't think these are equivalent.

stevetursi said 2 months ago:

It's true, both were wrong.

It's also true that both sides presume the worst intentions when they say the other side was wrong.

I can't get over the fact, however, that only one side was (and still is) in a position to do something about it. Moreover that one side had access to better intelligence about the severity of the situation, and that one side sowed the seeds of their awful response over the past three years with the various cuts they made.

Uhhrrr said 2 months ago:

Fortunately good judgement is an occasional human virtue which also cuts across party lines.

INGELRII said 2 months ago:

> They didn't realize there was any danger in making false predictions.

Is there any danger for them? PG seems to have very idealistic view of politics.

As far as I know, any amount of fact checking in politics don't change political views.

Will Fox News lose any viewers over this? Politicians may lose jobs because bad economy, but will they lose votes because they were wrong and ignorant?

H. L. Mencken wrote:

> No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. The mistake that is made always runs the other way. Because the plain people are able to speak and understand, and even, in many cases, to read and write, it is assumed that they have ideas in their heads, and an appetite for more. This assumption is a folly.

I think there is great Mencken experiment going on. Always underestimate public and see how far you can go.

basch said 2 months ago:

>any amount of fact checking in politics don't change political views.

That is what I was thinking.

Paul is writing as if credibility stems from reality. When in reality, the reverse its true. Fox news is credible, its viewers believe that, and whatever those credible people say, is reality. As long as people keep tuned in only to Fox News, that reality wont shatter. Their credibility exists because of their reach, its strength in numbers, its entertainment factor. Calling Fox News news and not entertainment is quite a leap. Most of what they have to say exists to keep people hooked, not to educate them into being more capable of performing civic duties. Fox News wants people to vote in a way that benefits Fox News, not the voter, and the same principal applies to all their coverage of everything. Coronavirus skeptic was a contrarian position to take, it divided their people from other people. Now that they are divided, they can switch sides and still maintain the artificial divide, and keep their viewers isolated from "alternate" realities.

This was a really good article by Kara Swisher of ReCode, who at the end finally convinces her mom to heed medical warnings about being out and about, cant convince her to turn off Fox.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/opinion/coronavirus-fox-n...

They can flip a 180 overnight, and the viewers will see it as people with "updated information" and continue to cheer them on.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/fox-news-stars-sean-hannity-an...

There is the sad irony too, that the demographic who watches Fox news is already the most likely to be at risk (age, faith over evidence, distrusting of established medicine and government) denial not withstanding. Add denial to the mix, and youve got a real bad stew.

amanaplanacanal said 2 months ago:

The problem is that the channel is named "fox news", but they have both news shows (which are actually not bad), and opinion programming, which is pretty terrible. I suspect most people don't really make a distinction between the two.

seppin said 2 months ago:

Why would you assume they want to? Opinion shows are the only thing watched on Fox News, they are the primetime lineup. Everything else is filler.

ryandrake said 2 months ago:

This is a deliberately built political philosophy, one of the results of Karl Rove's "reality-based community" [1] idea, from over 15 years ago. Whether or not the label was actually coined by Rove is debated, but essentially this idea is that some people lived in a world that was "reality-based" and that others were not limited by reality and thus were better/stronger politicians. In practice, what this means is the Bush administration did not have to believe in and be bound by this thing called reality, they created reality when they acted.

President Trump is just continuing this idea through today. Unlike GWB and cronies, Trump and team don't even have to act to "create reality", they merely talk and reality instantly changes for their followers. It's a powerful tool and like him or hate him, his administration is using it skillfully.

1: https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/faith-certainty-...

AzzieElbab said 2 months ago:

to an outsider, americas left vs right hostility and mutual disrespect are becoming painful to watch. lets make a counter example to they one you provided, does the nyt "create reality" for their readers? they did publish their fare share of dangerously incorrect material about the virus, pandemic, the countermeasures,you name it.

nabla9 said 2 months ago:

This is false equivalency.

When you have to seek to find bad examples from other side, and it's the every day modus operandi the other side there is no comparison.

AmericanChopper said 2 months ago:

You could show this comment to anybody from either of the general left/right tribes, and they’d think it was true. Whether you’d use this reasoning to deride Fox News, or CNN (or pretty much any other ‘news’ organisation), would boil down entirely to your tribal affiliation. When I was younger, having “critical thinker” or “anti-establishment” views would generally lead to the conclusion that politicians and mass-media tend to lie/mislead to promote whatever their agenda is. Now, those same views seem to lead to the conclusion that “the politicians and mass-media of the other side tend to lie/mislead to promote their agenda, but the politicians and mass-media of my side are generally pretty good”. I think that’s pretty sad. But perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps things have always been this way, and my perspective has simply changed. That said, I don’t remember any counter-culture icons coming out to endorse career politicians who’d accepted millions of dollars from big business interests when I was a kid.

RonanTheGrey said 2 months ago:

The downvotes on your post demonstrate the left-leaning nature of this site. It's discouraging frankly. The thousands of conversations that occur daily on this site, without emotion or incident; but insult "the other side"'s politicians or news outlets as being biased? Downvote hell

Yes, CNN and the like are just as bad as Fox news. The sooner you folks recognize that, the sooner we can have decent conversations about emotional issues. Both sides are bad. Neither is better. No, they aren't. Stop it. Blame them BOTH for getting us to this point so that we can leave them in the dark past, and we all over here can talk like adults while they sit over there and bicker, mutually accusing each other of racism and Nazism or whatever today's 5 minute hate happens to be.

WE DO NOT NEED THEM! Either of them! There is a whole universe of conversation that is not occurring because BOTH SIDES are refusing to engage in it, because if you did, you would realize -- tada -- you don't need them. And they can't have that. Viewership and income would drop.

Neither is incentivized with your best interest. And the sooner we collectively start to see it the better.

augustt said 2 months ago:

The "both sides bad" mantra is really just lazy. The false equivalence between the validity of whatever DJT says and what critics say have let even basic decency be thrown out the window, let alone facts.

AmericanChopper said 2 months ago:

You must have a reasonably short memory, because people said exactly the same sort of sensational things about Obama, and Bush Jr, and Clinton, and Bush Sr, and Reagan... There’s not really any truth or insight in what you just said. It’s simply an impassioned judgement about a politician you don’t like/disagree with/don’t trust/whatever...

The truth is that most politicians are corrupt on some level, most politicians are unduly influenced by lobbyists, few politicians truly care about their constituents, mass media doesn’t care about the truth, even though some of their employees might, they just care about revenue, for any political perspective you can think of, you’ll find a media outlet willing to pander to it.

I don’t think any of that is particularly controversial (or even insightful for that matter). I’d wager that most people would agree with that sentiment on some level. But they’ll tend to lose sight of reason when you suggest that “yes, that includes the politicians you like, and the media outlets that share your opinions”.

Any public figure of any significance is going to attract a tribe of impassioned haters. They tend to have no greater connection with the truth than that same persons tribe of fervent fans will.

MaysonL said 2 months ago:

But DJT lies a lot more than any of his predecessors, and hires a lot more incompetents, and fires a lot more competents, than any of his predecessors.

AmericanChopper said 2 months ago:

You must have a reasonably short memory, because people said exactly the same sort of sensational things about Obama, and Bush Jr, and Clinton, and Bush Sr, and Reagan...

MaysonL said 2 months ago:

But when (if) they said those things about Obama, the Bushes, Clinton, and Reagan, those were lies like Trump's.

AmericanChopper said 2 months ago:

Perhaps what you’re saying right now is a lie.

In general, I’m quite fond of being incredibly sceptical of the government and all of its agents. They should be scrutinized thoroughly. But this isn’t honest or productive scrutiny. The truth is all of those politicians lied, and all of them exaggerated details, and misrepresented facts (though trying to measure how much would be reasonably subjective). They also all did good work (again open to some subjective interpretation). But your commentary boils down to an incredibly black and white view, which ignores the sins of one group, and exaggerates the sins of another. It almost exclusively reflects your own biases over the actual conduct of any president.

RonanTheGrey said 2 months ago:

> The "both sides bad" mantra is really just lazy.

"Fox News is TEH EVILZZ AND CNN/CBS/NBC/MY HOLY LOVE ARE TEH ANGELZZ" is really lazy. Refusing to recognize how the other news outlets aren't bastions of honorable reporting is really lazy. Refusing to recognize that none of them -- any of them, not one -- have the public's (e.g. YOUR) best interest in mind, is really lazy.

Somewhere deep down you know that but there's some emotional need you're trying to satisfy that prevents you from recognizing it. You NEED something like Fox to be evil so that your views feel justified.

So a few days ago CBS trumpeted this crying nurse from NYC complaining about lack of masks and people dying and blah blah blah. Turns out? Never happened.

The hilarious part? I despise Fox News. I just equally despise all the others. They're all complicit in fascism and the march toward corporatist dictatorship.

hota_mazi said 2 months ago:

> "Fox News is TEH EVILZZ AND CNN/CBS/NBC/MY HOLY LOVE ARE TEH ANGELZZ" is really lazy.

Now you are being downright dishonest. Nobody said either of these things but it's demonstrably true that Fox News often publishes unverified propaganda while CNN routinely has scientists and solid source surveys to support their points.

RonanTheGrey said 2 months ago:

It's interesting how you refuse to answer anything I'm saying. You're simply proving my point.

And you know full well what it is. You don't need any of them. They're all dishonest. We'd be better off having honest conversations with each other rather than tribally organizing behind ANY mainstream media (colloquially called news, but they aren't).

And yet the only thing you can focus on is attacking your perceived enemy, ignoring the enemy you choose not to see.

hota_mazi said 2 months ago:

The world is a lot more nuanced than your manichean view is making you see.

RonanTheGrey said 2 months ago:

Yes it is, and that's exactly the problem I have with defending any news outlets. None of them have those complex conversations, and they prevent us from doing so. It's important we have them. Until that massive blinder is removed, they will be overjoyed for us to bicker about which news outlet is best, because it means we aren't looking square at them and everything we miss because they never talk about it.

We are better than the world they've given us.

MaysonL said 2 months ago:

You want complex conversations? Try listening to Ezra Klein's podcasts, Kara Swisher's podcasts, Lawfare's podcasts, PopeHat's podcasts, and there are many more.

AmericanChopper said 2 months ago:

The founder of Vox, the editor of a Vox subsidiary, and two law blogs that have become devoted almost entirely to trying to impeach Trump. That sure is a diverse group of perspectives you’re exposing yourself to. You can be glad you don’t exist in some sort of echo chamber.

AmericanChopper said 2 months ago:

Perhaps even more nuanced than the comment you made immediately preceding this one.

kazinator said 2 months ago:

> The downvotes on your post demonstrate the left-leaning nature of this site.

Not really. If you post something that certain people dislike for whatever reason, but which is unremarkable to others, the votes will never break even; you will not get enough upvotes from the latter group to make up for the former. (Even given the fact that not everyone can downvote.)

Whichever group's buttons you push then makes it seem like the site is overrun with that group. E.g. an atheistic comment might enrage theists, but to atheists it might just be "meh". Gee, what's with the downvotes? Boy, this site is just a haven for religious zealots!

I can't even begin to speculate about the grandparent comment. Maybe some users simply found it insubstantial? Shrug.

AmericanChopper said 2 months ago:

Criticizing the impact of political tribalism (as I have done above) is likely to irritate anybody with politically tribal views. When it comes to things like Fox News vs CNN (or MSNBC, or whoever else...), I’d consider them all to be on approximately even footing in regards to journalistic integrity (as in, a rather low footing). It’s easy to see how an opinion like that would trigger anybody who had strong tribal affiliation with any of those organisations (whether they viewed it as tribalism or not, people don’t tend to scrutinize their own views in that way, as far as I can tell).

That said, you can just read the thread and come up with a rather decent guess as to which side of that paradigm I likely upset.

RonanTheGrey said 2 months ago:

Logically speaking what you say is true and is worth recognizing. My comment is based more on trends I have observed over the years (and HN is no more immune to the moving window than any other social media site, it's just slower here).

AzzieElbab said 2 months ago:

the two outlets are absolutely equal when it comes to making half of the americans view the other half as raging lunatics. it is basically this https://youtu.be/aFQFB5YpDZE

seppin said 2 months ago:

Trump is a lunatic, literally. Obama was a smart, measured person people didn't like.

There's a difference.

axguscbklp said 2 months ago:

Obama killed civilians overseas and presided over massive NSA surveillance of US citizens. Trump also kills civilians overseas and presides over massive NSA surveillance of US citizens, but that doesn't make it any better that Obama did it.

seppin said 2 months ago:

"Obama carried out the duties of being President" - yes he did, one of those duties is killing people. You'd have to go out of your way, almost to the point of ignoring and not acting on threats, to not kill anyone as POTUS.

Nice straw man, the above has nothing to do with my statement.

iron0013 said 2 months ago:

I’m not sure that’s true. Some objective “truth” exists in the world whether it’s noticed and reported correctly or not (the tree falling in the woods), and some news outlets (NYT) report this truth more accurately than others (Fox News). It’s misleading to insist on “both siding” to make a mountain of untruths from one outlet seem to be the same size as a molehill of untruths from the other.

jeremyjh said 2 months ago:

Bothsiding feels so mature though. Look at those petty little onesiders! Don't they know bothsides are the same!?

squarefoot said 2 months ago:

"like him or hate him, his administration is using it skillfully"

I couldn't agree more.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-havin...

Not many people could survive this, then become president.

jcadam said 2 months ago:

Politicians have survived worse.

distant_hat said 2 months ago:

When I heard it first I thought Trump had clinched the presidency. People publicly rail against this kind of talk but emotionally look up to people who can not just talk but behave like that. I distinctly noticed women talking more positively about him after it came out.

zentiggr said 2 months ago:

I think the factor you missed in relating anything prior to the Trump era is the fact that Trump is an obvious, completely symptomatic Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

When he is back out of politics, watch for the other appointees to not just be replaced due to the change of president, but actively canned because they are all cronies appointed as a personality cult, and/or as favors to his worshipers.

And yes, I'm morbidly curious to imagine what the Trump presidential library might wind up containing. I snarkily predict that nothing will be approved except autobiographies.

cortesoft said 2 months ago:

Right, but this might change as people they know start dying. It is easy to lie about things happening that don’t directly affect the people being lied to, but if you personally know multiple people killed by the virus, it will be hard to lie about it.

Yhippa said 2 months ago:

This is the only thing I can think of that could change their minds. And even then.

arkades said 2 months ago:

I think you misread the passage that you quote as supporting idealism. The full passage is:

"The answer, I realized, is that they didn't think they could get caught. They didn't realize there was any danger in making false predictions. These people constantly make false predictions, and get away with it, because the things they make predictions about either have mushy enough outcomes that they can bluster their way out of trouble, or happen so far in the future that few remember what they said."

Making a false prediction on the premise that you can bluster your way out of it doesn't indicate that they think the false prediction doesn't have consequences - it indicates that they think the false prediction doesn't have consequences for them. That they can get away with it. It's "I can say what I want, because nothing bad will happen to me personally for lying."

I wouldn't call that idealism.

AndrewBissell said 2 months ago:

Bear in mind it's not just Fox News which got this pandemic wrong. "It's no worse than the flu," "this won't be a global pandemic," "you don't need to wear a mask unless you are symptomatic or caring for someone who is," and other 100% wrong takes were also pushed by Vox, NYT, WaPo, and even WHO & CDC long past when they should have been.

abnry said 2 months ago:

Which is one of the reasons why I wish we, collectively as a society, would stop blaming the blame game in this crisis. Almost everyone got this wrong.

notahacker said 2 months ago:

When and why people got things wrong is also important. People who underestimated COVID-19 in January because evidence of its lethality and r0 were scant are somewhat different from people who downplayed the virus in March because it aligned them with a particular political figure. Similarly, it's a lot easier to sympathise with the epidemiologists who will turn out to have massively overestimated casualties because we took unprecedented action to shut down society to avoid them than the people still organising mass events or the people who have concluded that the disease is best stopped by attacking 5G masts.

maps7 said 2 months ago:

But they should not have got any of this wrong! Check out the TED talk by Bill Gates in 2015. How could any journalist worth anything not have had that video in their research before publishing articles. Look at how Asian countries wear masks. Did the people working in the WHO think that was for fashion? The people in spokesperson positions have been caught out big time. It's a issue with how people are promoted to these positions and an example of how society favouring extroverts over introverts is a bad idea.

AndrewBissell said 2 months ago:

I look at it a bit differently. If someone's pushing the line "just listen to the experts," then it should be acknowledged that experts do get it wrong and have massively dropped the ball on COVID-19. The signs of how lethal and contagious the virus is were there in China for anyone to read by early January.

Of course, "experts (in particular our experts) don't know what they're doing" is different from "... and therefore you should listen to any yahoo who says it's 5G."

gamblor956 said 2 months ago:

In hindsight, it is obvious that COVID19 was worse than SARS or MERS.

But at the time, especially given China's clampdown on information outflow, it didn't appear to be significantly different from SARS, which didn't effect the West much, or MERS, which had almost no impact outside of the Middle East.

But as another commenter noted, the timing matters a lot.

Everyone except Fox News thought back in January that COVID19 was going to be big, but based on prior coronaviruses not something that would significantly impact the West. They've all done 180s and are pulling out the stops to fix their earlier error.

Fox News is still saying that today (i.e., April 6). One of their talking heads just said that COVID19 is overblown just a few minutes ago.

AndrewBissell said 2 months ago:

"especially given China's clampdown on information outflow"

Come on. By late December, China's response was so drastic (including when measured against all previous coronavirus outbreaks) that the question of "suppressing" information about it was completely moot.

The CDC completely dropped the ball on this. Yes, in part because Trump slashed their pandemic response budget, but they did a piss-poor job even for the resources at their disposal.

Fox News and Trump being a source of constant disinformation and incompetence is, to me, kind of a constant of the universe. The same ought not to be true of the rest of our institutions, and yet it seems that it is.

gamblor956 said 2 months ago:

Your memory is highly selective and simply wrong.

On Dec 31, China informed WHO about a mysterious cluster of respiratory ailments clustered around a seafood market in Wuhan. China didn't even close the seafood restaurant until 2020. The first confirmed death wasn't reported until January 11. China didn't begin a lockdown of Wuhan until January 23.

Yes, the CDC dropped the ball, but evidence coming out in March indicates that China knew about COVID19 in early December and didn't bother to tell the rest of the world about it for another month, and even then downplayed the seriousness of the virus until the end of January.

To this day China is still blocking the release of information about the severity of COVID19. WaPo reported last week that there may have been more than 40,000 COVID19 fatalities in Wuhan alone (based on manually counting the number of urns distributed by morticians) which is at more than 13x the official number of deaths reported for the entire country.

https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-pandemic-timelin...

Khaine said 2 months ago:

I'm sorry, its not even in hindsight. All you needed to do is look at what China was doing. It became very apparent that there was a major viral outbreak on-going in china around Luna New Year

acqq said 2 months ago:

> but based on prior coronaviruses not something that would significantly impact the West.

If we talk about a lot of media, they simply had the priority of making Chinese look bad in any possible way, including blaming them for "misinterpreting numbers" and ridiculing them for implementing lockdowns or wearing masks.

Which just shows how stupid some global agendas are. Media don't do that in vaccuum, but they are the reflection of the power of the interest groups that want to push the agenda.

gamblor956 said 2 months ago:

If we talk about a lot of media, they simply had the priority of making Chinese look bad in any possible way, including blaming them for "misinterpreting numbers" and ridiculing them for implementing lockdowns or wearing masks.

Amazing how apparently all of the media around the world was united in a conspiracy to make China look bad, especially when much of the reporting was commenting on how much worse the situation must actually be compared to what was being reported by China, given the severity of China's response.

acqq said 2 months ago:

> all of the media around the world was united in a conspiracy to make China look bad

It's like 'memes': very little journalists today do their own research. I can see that whatever Trump says today then follows the "echo" of "media around world" (those that have U.S. sources) that last weeks.

It's a total disaster of false information, and a lot could be traced directly to Trump or the U.S. in general (there are other "sources" that are establishment but produce falsehoods, it's not that he's alone).

But enough people remain confused believing it is true, including people very close to me.

landryraccoon said 2 months ago:

But not everyone, and that’s key. Some people and some entire countries got it right.

seppin said 2 months ago:

Fox News is the only organization that continue to let their opinion anchors downplay and politicize the virus well after it was clear it was deadly and inevitable.

natmaka said 2 months ago:

Isn't tied to the size of the 'public' (crowd)?

Too few members in the crowd, and the probability for one to understand and explain to others remains too low.

Too many of them and the Big Chiefs control the media, and also live so high in the Sky nobody seems credible when it comes to criticize, moreover all non-official messages are diluted into other ones to the point of many being not even emitted because the ones understanding the situation know that they will not be heard.

dillonmckay said 2 months ago:

Votes will be lost, because people are unnecessarily putting themselves and others at risk, and some will die.

tertius said 2 months ago:

What you're saying is that votes should be lost. Claiming that they will be is a stretch.

a1369209993 said 2 months ago:

Actually, I think what they're saying is that voters will die, and therefore reduce the number of available votes.

Edit: and, of course, that this effect will dispropotionately affect political tribes whose propagandists under-, rather than over-, estimated the dangers of covid-19.

dillonmckay said 2 months ago:

Exactly this.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
zJayv said 2 months ago:

From what Mencken book/essay is this quote?

x509fan said 2 months ago:

'Notes on Journalism' in the Chicago Tribune (19.09.1926) https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/myl/MenckenNotes.pdf

endorphone said 2 months ago:

"Is there any danger for them?"

Fox news dumped Laura Ingraham and Trish Regan. Both were at the forefront of claiming it was all a hoax. Dr. Drew has gone on a reputation rehabilitation tour apologizing for his prior claims.

But those dismissals are a canary in a coal mine. They demonstrate that even Fox News has limits.

It is outrageous that anyone -- outside of scam prosperity preachers -- advertise on Fox News.

at_a_remove said 2 months ago:

Dr. Drew has apparently also gone on a copyright claim kick trying to remove the evidence [1]. He has a now-deleted Tweet [2] about people infringing on copyright.

So, I am thinking his rehabilitation tour is perhaps not as forthright as it could be.

1: https://reclaimthenet.org/dr-drew-apologizes-coronavirus-dmc...

2: https://i.imgur.com/R8wxtot.jpg

xkapastel said 2 months ago:

Did Fox News actually dump Laura Ingraham? I've never heard about this. She still seems to be on TV.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
meragrin_ said 2 months ago:

Why are you picking on Fox News? CNN, MSNBC, and others were chastising Trump over the China travel ban. They were saying he was creating hysteria over nothing. They were dismissing the virus at that point.

endorphone said 2 months ago:

This is the sort of false equivalency that leads to claims that they all lie, so it's okay if Fox egregiously lies. We see this on HN all the time where someone stomps their feet and cries about a news headline that they think doesn't convey just the right slant that they want, ergo it's the same as the guy inventing bullshit conspiracy theories on his blog.

No, they weren't "chastising" Trump over the China travel ban because there was no China travel ban. There was a Wuhan restriction only applicable to foreigners. Thousands of Americans were going and coming with no restrictions whatsoever. Fly into Wuhan, lick the toilet seats, fly back home. Do it the next day.

There was zero screening. Zero containment. Zero listening to the pandemic experts.

No, they aren't the same. This revisionist "they were dismissing the virus" nonsense is utter horseshit of the worst kind. It is a lie of profound ignorance and gullibility, or an intentional lie, and both are just as obnoxious.

AndrewBissell said 2 months ago:

The equivalency being drawn by the parent may be wrong, but mainstream sources outside Fox News absolutely downplayed the seriousness of the virus and helped push the "it's not a big deal" perception that we are all now rowing against.

dmode said 2 months ago:

Completely disagree. The Fox news and related contingent and their response was drastically different than the other side. For example, SF declared an emergency in February and everyone was working from home since early March. While Florida had no such order till last week

dragonwriter said 2 months ago:

> but mainstream sources outside Fox News absolutely downplayed the seriousness of the virus

That's true, I guess, if you consider OANN to have reached the status of “mainstream” with the boost they've gotten with their attachment to the current US administration.

But, otherwise, show me some specific examples.

fourmyle said 2 months ago:

You can look on Youtube yourself and see countless examples o MSNBC and CNN criticizing the travel ban on China because the virus wasn't any more dangerous than the flu.

dragonwriter said 2 months ago:

I actually followed the coverage the first time, and where the ban was criticized it was almost entirely for being too late for that response to be useful, not unwarranted by the severity of the disease. Of course, if there really are “countless” examples supporting your characterization, it will be easy for you to cite some.

fourmyle said 2 months ago:

Looks someone else already found a few great examples.

endorphone said 2 months ago:

You claimed that there were countless videos of "MSNBC and CNN criticizing the travel ban on China because the virus wasn't any more dangerous than the flu." Which of course isn't accurate.

You seek your redemption in some guy[1] listing a tiny selection of articles, having nothing to do with the partial travel restriction, arguing about the social effects. He links either contrarian articles, or articles talking about the psychology/sociology.

That you think this proves the case is astonishing. I am going to say again that you are either so profoundly partisan that the truth doesn't matter, or you are logically broken.

It's the classic deflection, and it's absolutely amazing. Fox was literally at war with what they saw as the "mainstream media hoax" (in lockstep with Trump, of course, because they are his state media), claiming that they were fear-mongering about the virus. Oh but now, the mainstream media actually wasn't at all. They were understating it. The cognitive deficiency to seriously argue this...

[1] That guy whose post history is littered with claims that the response to SARS-CoV-2 is "fear-mongering", and who a month ago seriously said that the US response was and is the best, of anyone. Their single example being that Trump limited air travel from a single region...for non-Americans...long after the horse was out of the barn.

Then again, your history has continual COVID denial, such as your claim that no hospitals are over capacity. You guys are really trying to argue everything simultaneously and it must be exhausting.

fourmyle said 2 months ago:

None of your ad hominem counters the articles the other poster found.

fourmyle said 2 months ago:

Did the news about the death counts flattening and missing projections by a lot today bum you out? I can’t imagine having my identity so wrapped in Trump losing the election that I would be hoping for hundreds of thousand dead and the failure of the American health care system. Enjoy the next 4 years of the Trump administration.

endorphone said 2 months ago:

"I can’t imagine having my identity so wrapped in Trump losing the election that I would be hoping for hundreds of thousand dead and the failure of the American health care system"

No one celebrates the extraordinary and unending failures of this administration. We protest it. We argue against it. We see a horrendous rise of idiocracy as people celebrate their own incredible ignorance and hate.

That it's bad for you doesn't make it "good" for us.

If a miracle cure was discovered today and not a single extra person died, that will never undo the raw criminality, and total, complete incompetence of the Trump administration.

That Jared Kushner has a role greater than mail room is a fucking travesty. Hey, but what about her emails, right?

"Did the news about the death counts flattening and missing projections by a lot today bum you out?"

Social distancing works. This surprises positively no one. Your orange buffoon, however, wants to stop social distancing. Maybe there's some miracle snake oil he can pitch and everything will be great again.

Go back to Twitter. Go back to your insular echo chamber. Your trolling, copy-paste noise just makes you look like a clown here.

fourmyle said 2 months ago:

Im glad I scrubbed my HN profile I am sure you are the kind of human garbage that would try to Dox me over having a different opinion than you.

s_y_n_t_a_x said 2 months ago:

The China travel ban was ordered on Jan 28th and active on Feb 3rd.

The WHO didn't confirm human transmission until Jan 25th...

Some of many examples of the media in Jan and Feb:

https://twitter.com/LizRNC/status/1245478539018805251?s=20

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/01/31/how-our-br...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/18/world/europe/coronavirus-...

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/03/the-flu-has-already-killed-1...

https://twitter.com/thedailybeast/status/1225937322694381568

https://twitter.com/washingtonpost/status/122367623706063667...

https://i.imgur.com/43n4HWK.png

EDIT: the mental gymnastics below is real, I'll add more examples as I find them, you can choose how wrong they got it and if Fox is worse, or when or how each individual should apologize... P.S. you guys are nuts, everyone was saying "it's less than 2%!!!"

But yeah, us conservatives and the only conservative mainstream news channel and our conservative President are the source of all of your problems. /s

No it's a tacky political attack in the middle of a crisis. Real classy.

gamblor956 said 2 months ago:

If you would have actually read those articles, you would see that the WaPo opinion piece does not actually downplay the coronavirus threat at all; it discusses the psychology of social panic. The NYT piece discusses how fear of coronavirus spread faster than the virus itself without any comment on the seriousness of the disease.

The CNBC article does compare the flu to the coronavirus and does note the flu has already killed more across the US on an absolute basis, but also notes that the coronavirus is significantly deadlier than the flu on a relative basis. Lenny Bernstein, the opinionist behind the second WaPo opinion piece you linked, apologized for his cavalier dismissal of the coronavirus in a followup opinion piece.

To date, only one person in the entire Fox News organization has apologized for getting it wrong on coronavirus. Every single other talking head has doubled down on downplaying coranavirus, and Fox and Friends is still implying that it's all just a second impeachment effort.

fourmyle said 2 months ago:

I'm sure you read all the articles in 5 minutes but either way the mental gymnastics you are going through to get around the headlines reading "How our brains make coronavirus seem scarier than it is" etc is truly impressive.

mellow2020 said 2 months ago:

> The CNBC article does compare the flu to the coronavirus and does note the flu has already killed more across the US on an absolute basis, but also notes that the coronavirus is significantly deadlier than the flu on a relative basis.

The flu has already killed 10,000 across US as world frets over coronavirus

The flu remains a higher threat to U.S. public health than the new coronavirus.

This very clearly downplaying. One example was asked for, at least one was provided. Now we have examples of the downplaying being downplayed, because the "right guys" did it.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
fourmyle said 2 months ago:

It's worth pointing out that Trump gave this order the day after or during the impeachment trial when it was risky for him to do so.

edit: None of this matters though because orange man bad.

endorphone said 2 months ago:

Wait, wasn't your "but orange man bad" classic twitter response good enough? Why'd you edit it?

"When it was risky for him to do so."

Trump just got a get out of jail free card and absolute impunity and immunity to do anything he wanted. Since he's fired a number of people in the most brazen display of corruption in US history. Risky? There was zero risk.

Yes, orange man is bad. He's historically bad. He is a thin-skinned grifter who is positively the worst possible person to be in this position.

Oh but look he did an easy, lazy partial, regional restriction that accomplished positively nothing. What a savior.

fourmyle said 2 months ago:

So you don't think travel from China should have been shutdown until later?

dmode said 2 months ago:

What travel ban ? 400k people traveled from China after the ban. Trump said as of 2 weeks back that everything will be open by Easter. Everyday he downplays the virus and peddle misinformation. How anyone can define a completely unhinged and unethical person, whose direct actions is resulting in thousands of deaths is beyond me

fourmyle said 2 months ago:

Obama didn’t replenish the stockpile of medical supplies used after H1N1 do you blame him too? How far are we going to be under projected death counts for Covid? A factor of 1000? Either what this administration did worked or it was a hoax you pick. You might want to look into mental help early in anticipation for Trump carrying 48 states in November. Maybe actually move to Canada this time?

dmode said 2 months ago:

We have already seen 13k deaths in 2 weeks, with unprecedented lockdowns. According to president genius we should have been at zero cases and shouldn't be shutting down the economy. If we treated this like a regular flu, I won't be surprised if we saw numbers at the high end of the projection. And lol, 48 states ? He won barely by 70k votes and lost by what 3mn in 2016 against the most hated candidate, with Russian help, and with FBI meddling 7 days before the election. Look how we lost what 400 seats in 2018. If indeed America elects this incompetent and malicious imbecile, who trades American lives based on which states have sucked up to him, thinks his ratings are more important than 1000s of people dying, then we truly are lost. But I will not be moving to Canada, but fighting everyday to keep our democracy which is threatened everyday by this man in office

endorphone said 2 months ago:

"How far are we going to be under projected death counts for Covid? A factor of 1000?"

What do you think the projection was?

The US has tragically seen 12,242 deaths (which is an undercount, but it's the authoritative number right now). There are over a thousand deaths a day adding onto that.

Did someone predict 12 million deaths? No, they didn't.

The absolute worst-case projection was 2 million deaths if there were zero reduction steps taken. Maybe you haven't noticed, but society is basically shut down. The spread has dramatically slowed. With extreme social distancing the US is on target for 100,000-200,000 deaths. This is a good thing relative to much more dire outcomes possible. Note that this happened at the state level with zero federal leadership. Quite contrary, with constant federal pushback.

Not sure where your "factor of 1000" nonsense comes from. I assume from the echo chambers where you're fed your pablum.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

I'm ideologically opposed to political conservativism, but I sympathize with you. Regarding ideological bias, CNN is worse than Fox, but in left leaning communities Fox is demonized while CNN gets a pass. Hivemind mentalities are frustrating regardless of which group engages in it.

dragonwriter said 2 months ago:

> Regarding ideological bias, CNN is worse than Fox,

No, it's not, though it's pretty bad.

> in left leaning communities Fox is demonized while CNN gets a pass.

No, CNN’s (and most of the institutional media that isn't hard right) center-right pro-corporate bias is nearly as frequently pointed to by left-leaning folks as Fox’s hard-right bias.

You may be confusing the pro-corporate center-right wing of the Democratic Party with the left, though, which would make this statement understandable.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

CNN'S pro-corporate bias barely scratches the surface of CNN's hostility to journalistic integrity.

endorphone said 2 months ago:

but mainstream sources outside Fox News absolutely downplayed the seriousness of the virus and helped push the "it's not a big deal" perception that we are all now rowing against.

Yet many, including right here on HN, were claiming exactly the opposite: That they were fear mongering, inciting panic, etc. It can't be both.

Here's the NYT from February 2nd - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/02/health/coronavirus-pandem...

Feb 9th - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/world/asia/china-coronavi...

Zero "downplaying". I recall being quite concerned, seeing the argument that is was overblown and just a flu, etc, and discounting that as nonsense.

Can you find an article on the NYTimes, MSNBC or something that compares it to the flu or the like? Absolutely. Those mediums have varied voices with different perspectives, quite unlike Fox where the entire organization is given marching orders and a narrative they must push. The overall perspective among the non-Fox mainstream media was very concerned.

When the sea level rises and floods lower Manhattan, I'm sure there'll be people saying "Why didn't the media warn us? They downplayed the risk!"

jshevek said 2 months ago:

Of course it could be both, at different points in time.

Edit: as well as different people within the organization.

s_y_n_t_a_x said 2 months ago:

> quite unlike Fox where the entire organization is given marching orders and a narrative they must push.

Honestly that seems more like the NYTimes or something. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/08/new-york-times-m...

Do you have proof Fox is like this and other media organizations aren't? I'd honestly would like to see it.

We all have access to wikileaks so we should all know which organizations were in bed with the DNC (thanks dkim!).

btilly said 2 months ago:

There is nothing about what has happened that should surprise anyone who has read the book Superforecasting.

It explains that we naturally trust people who sound smart, well-informed, and CONFIDENT. We don't want to hear uncertainty, probabilities, or the other signs of someone who thinks in a careful quantitative way. We want to accept a cognitively simple answer, then move on. This is what we find comfortable.

However this is a good way to select people who are terrible at making actual predictions. They appear to predict, but often with sufficient weasel words that it is hard afterwards to say whether it was violated. (The book gives real examples.) But if you put them in a setting where they can be tested, they perform worse than uninformed monkeys. And the part of the future that they are worst at predicting is exactly what they were supposed to be experts at!

The book Superforecasting walks through how this was demonstrated, and the discovery that there are people you will never see on CNN or Fox news who are really good at forecasting. A fact that is extremely interesting to various TLA agencies (one of whom paid for the research in question).

The long and short of it? Bayes' Theorem actually works in the real world. The revolution that started with quants on wall street, analytics in baseball and Nate Silver in politics is still ongoing.

When you are done with the book and have processed it, hopefully you will understand why the author said in response to an audience question after a talk, Here’s my long-term prediction for Long Now. When the Long Now audience of 2515 looks back on the audience of 2015, their level of contempt for how we go about judging political debate will be roughly comparable to the level of contempt we have for the 1692 Salem witch trials.

Hopefully the contempt that some of us have for how talking heads in January and February of 2020 dismissed Coronavirus is a step on the path to that future.

divbzero said 2 months ago:

> It explains that we naturally trust people who sound smart, well-informed, and CONFIDENT. We don't want to hear uncertainty, probabilities, or the other signs of someone who thinks in a careful quantitative way. We want to accept a cognitively simple answer, then move on. This is what we find comfortable.

Almost any interview with Robert Shiller is a striking counter example to these smart confident sounding people who aren’t actually good at making predictions. When speaking Shiller does not sound very confident at all and you need to know his background and history and remind yourself to pay attention to what he’s saying.

bo1024 said 2 months ago:

There is some really interesting interplay here between forecasting and decisionmaking. (Taleb would have a lot to say here, along the lines of "forecasters are poor.") Maybe it makes sense that forecasts should be measured, but decisions should be, well, decisive.

A good Bayesian should be able to make confident decisions based on information available at the moment, while acknowledging that lack of information is leading to suboptimal decisions.

For example, a leader can be absolutely confident that shelter-in-place is the best decision based on the available information, while acknowledging that there is missing information that would drastically change this assessment.

btilly said 2 months ago:

A good Bayesian should be able to make confident decisions based on information available at the moment...

No.

A good Bayesian should be able to come to decisions like, "I am 70% confident that Osama bin Laden is in that compound." While the Bayesian next says, "I am only 50% confident that Osama bin Laden is in that compound." With both knowing that there is a difference of opinion, but no disagreement on basic facts or reasoning method.

It is very rare for a good Bayesian to be absolutely confident of any prediction. And if you are often so confident, you're probably not thinking very well. I mean that quite literally - the process of analyzing probabilities well requires being able to make the case both for what you think will happen, and what you think won't. Because only then can you start putting probabilities on the key assumptions.

For example, a leader can be absolutely confident that shelter-in-place is the best decision based on the available information, while acknowledging that there is missing information that would drastically change this assessment.

Really?

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22750790 is a discussion that I was in recently about whether on a cost benefit analysis it is better to crash the economy by shutting things down, or to keep things open and let lots of people die.

The decision wasn't nearly as clear in the end as I would have expected it to be. (That all options are horrible was clear. But we knew that.)

bo1024 said 2 months ago:

> No. A good Bayesian should be able to come to decisions like, "I am 70% confident that Osama bin Laden is in that compound."

That's not a decision though. That's an assessment, what I would put in the same category as predictions. A decision would be whether or not to bomb the compound.

Your post seems to miss my point, that predictions and decisions are very different and one can be uncertain about predictions while being certain about decisions. For example, I completely agree with this:

> It is very rare for a good Bayesian to be absolutely confident of any prediction.

Here's a simple example to think through the difference. You have a sophisticated weather model that predicts 40% chance of rain today. You hate getting wet, so you take your umbrella. In fact, you would take your umbrella even if the chance were only 10%.

So you are really uncertain about whether it's going to rain (your forecast), but absolutely certain that taking your umbrella is the optimal decision given the information at hand.

btilly said 2 months ago:

You are right that I had not paid close attention to decisions.

I see no particular reason why Bayesians should be better at being decisive. They should make better judgments given the available information. But they are not necessarily any better at making decisions and moving on.

btilly said 2 months ago:

Expanding on this, the skill of figuring out the odds of bin Laden being in the compound is unrelated to the skill of figuring out how to handle both outcomes, and whether that is a worthwhile risk to take.

So a good Bayesian can inform a good decision maker, but the Bayesian is not necessarily a good decision maker.

Similarly in the book, one of the superforecasters made the point that listening to well-informed experts who might be bad at making decisions was very useful. Because the expert really did have a good grasp of the current situation and could explain it clearly, which was a great starting place for the Bayesian who lacked background. Preparing background and making predictions are both required, but the combination of skills need not start in the same brain.

pjscott said 2 months ago:

Fundamentally, decision-making is what predictions are for. We mainly care about information to guide our actions. There are some interesting implications of this for how we should do research.

https://www.gwern.net/Research-criticism#beliefs-are-for-act...

A recent example: people have been talking about clinical trials for coronavirus vaccine candidates. In those you want to minimize the bad things that happen to the people in the study, and also get a working vaccine rolled out to the world as quickly as possible. Therefore you might want to accept unusually low levels of certainty that the vaccine is safe, or ramp up trial size faster than usual, because the world is on fire and every day of delay is terrible. For other vaccines with smaller expected benefits, slow-and-cautious might be the way to go. In both cases it's a matter of balancing expected risks with rewards as your probability estimates change over time.

bo1024 said 2 months ago:

Yes, exactly. For example, I would think there would be immense value right now in sampling totally random subsets of the population and testing whether they've had COVID-19 in the past. This is the kind of information that could radically change decisions about when to release stay-at-home orders.

btilly said 2 months ago:

I disagree on that.

The purposes of sampling are to find out how deadly the disease is, and to find out if herd immunity exists. But we have good evidence that it is likely to be deadly enough to justify stay-at-home orders while community spread exists. And have strong circumstantial evidence that only a small fraction of the population has had it.

Therefore breaking quarantine for a random subset of the population is unlikely to change actionable decisions. But it will be likely to spread the disease. I would love to know the answer to the question raised. But it isn't worth human lives to answer it sooner than it will otherwise be answered.

csomar said 2 months ago:

> But we have good evidence that it is likely to be deadly enough to justify stay-at-home orders while community spread exists.

I don't think we agree on that and it's relative. Not all people agree on stay-at-home/confinement orders. I personally see them as an authoritarian measure and I think everyone should judge for himself whether he wants to expose himself to COVID-19 risks or not.

As to the point of determining if COVID-19 is deadly enough or not, I don't see how we can do that without sampling the society. It's not clear, right now, if the only cases are the ones that are diagnosed or 50% of society.

btilly said 2 months ago:

I don't think we agree on that and it's relative. Not all people agree on stay-at-home/confinement orders. I personally see them as an authoritarian measure and I think everyone should judge for himself whether he wants to expose himself to COVID-19 risks or not.

It is in the nature of public health that "everyone should judge for himself" guarantees epidemics. Because like it or not, the choices that you make for yourself affect me. You may decide that you'll survive so you don't alter your behavior. But that spreads the disease and makes it more likely that my immunocompromised sister dies.

The result is that public health provides the most clear-cut cases where we have to choose between individual rights and the public good. But we are loathe to make that choice. Therefore it presents us with a series of easily debated moral quandaries.

See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2267241/ for some of the relevant history.

As to the point of determining if COVID-19 is deadly enough or not, I don't see how we can do that without sampling the society. It's not clear, right now, if the only cases are the ones that are diagnosed or 50% of society.

Both extreme statements are exceedingly unlikely.

I had based my comment on published articles estimating an infection fatality rate of 0.4%-1.4% with a best estimate around 0.66%. But the full story is complicated. Work your way through https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/global-covid-19-case-fatality-... to understand the current data, estimates, limitations of various research and so on. It is..messy.

maps7 said 2 months ago:

Based on your comment I went to buy Superforecasting on Audible. When I browsed to it I saw I already bought it on 29-04-19. Time to listen to it.

thoughtstheseus said 2 months ago:

Great book. Also check out The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver.

renewiltord said 2 months ago:

This is why these last few weeks on the market have been wonderful. If you can predict (including accounting for the supposed irrationality) then you make money. Otherwise you lose money.

If you had a prediction of how things would get hit w/ virus, there was so much money to be made. I watched but my timing was a bit off and I did not commit the majority of my wealth. That's a pity and speaks to my true estimate of the danger whereas a friend of mine pulled out completely of all long-term holdings in mid Feb so we know he believed.

drocer88 said 2 months ago:

If you're getting your "news" from CNN/Fox/MSNBC, or "gathering evidence" to promote one the two permitted narratives, that's your problem. This is stuff is low effort "Presidential Level Politics" 24x7. Real news died when reporters stopped having to craft a story so that the Associated Press or United Press International picked it up and made it available to the varied local newspapers of America, both liberal and conservative. The old CNN that actually did news, not talk show shenanigans reminiscent of old school Howard Stern, is missed.

garraeth said 2 months ago:

Agreed. Unfortunately now it's more like picking a sport team ("Team CNN" or "Team Fox"), or Apple vs/ Google vs/ Microsoft than actually finding, or learning about, facts. Tribalism at it's finest.

The only alternative I've found (I'm open to helpful suggestions) is to ignore that noise and read actual briefings and original sources.

But, that defeats the point of news being an honest and straight forward source of a summary. And it takes a lot of time. And doesn't always end in rewarding information (lies/bias in original sources exist too - eg: watching hours upon hours of live impeachment hearings was full of lies/half-truths/obfuscation coming from all sides).

hhs said 2 months ago:

> Unfortunately now it's more like picking a sport team

Indeed, what’s being provided is infotainment / soft news. [0]

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infotainment

AndrewBissell said 2 months ago:

I've found a well-curated Twitter feed of smart sources from various ideological and media camps helps to find interesting and informative info which would otherwise take a great deal of time to find. You do get misinfo and bad takes sometimes, but if you set it up right it's no worse than mainstream sources. Lists are useful as well to avoid Twitter's feed curation algos.

Just specifically for COVID-19, this led me to:

- Pay closer attention to the pandemic in China and request testing for my daughter when she had flu symptoms in late January while traveling (the CDC had no tests, of course)

- Begin using masks and gloves while going to groceries and other stores long before it was in common use and the value of masks had been acknowledged

- Mentally and materially prepare my family for an extended quarantine period long ahead of when the necessity was broadly acknowledged

alexilliamson said 2 months ago:

It sometimes feels like there is the perception that twitter is worthless and devoid of meaningful information, but like you I've been increasingly relying on it for news. I'm not sure where else you can collect so many different perspectives on any given piece of news. Overtime, you learn how many grains of salt to take with each person in your timeline, and you get a sense of their personal biases. And if you can brush off the trolls, it's instructive to read the arguments that happen in the replies.

The way I use twitter, it serves the same purpose as hacker news, but with a much broader scope.

smsm42 said 2 months ago:

> It sometimes feels like there is the perception that twitter is worthless and devoid of meaningful information

My feeling has been there are nuggets of really good and really up-to-date information there, and there are some threads that are extremely informative, but signal-to-noise ratio is in general extremely close to zero and the hostility of the surrounding environment is unbelievably terrible.

throwaway294 said 2 months ago:

A BIG advantage of Twitter is that get to hear from the persons themselves totally without filtering by the media. Maybe you do or don't like what some public figure who posts on Twitter says, but at least DO get just what THEY said.

Fjolsvith said 2 months ago:

This. The slanted editorializing and purposefully misconstrued out-of-context quoting by the media long ago turned me off.

throwaway294 said 2 months ago:

My response some years ago was just to turn the mainstream media (MSM) off. On paper they can't compete with Charmin, and on the Internet they are useless for wrapping dead fish heads. Some of their material is worse than just misleading and down to manipulative, deceptive, dangerous, and even destructive. I don't want even to hear the MSM and, then, have to debunk them or risk being influenced. I hope the Internet enables some replacements, many more outlets but focused on smaller audiences.

dewy said 2 months ago:

I've resisted Twitter for a long time, but this would be the only reason I could see myself becoming a user.

In the past I've had a hard time finding people to follow with a high enough signal to noise ratio (or who don't flood my feed with a new tweet about their cat every 5 mins). Do you have any tips for picking sources? Or choosing when to fill them? And how do you stay on top of the flood of information?

raphlinus said 2 months ago:

For covid-19 I've curated this list:

https://twitter.com/i/lists/1239639611694911489

All the people on it are serious experts. I've also left out some people who are worth listening to, but have a political bias or express a lot of emotion (it's hard not to be angry).

I spend way too much time getting up to speed, but (a) there's a lot of stuff I find interesting (I studied molecular and cell bio a bit during my Masters), and (b) would rather err on the side of over-learning than being misinformed.

If you want secondary sources rather than primary, try STAT news. They've been excellent.

The quality of discussion in other fora (including HN) has been quite disappointing.

travisporter said 2 months ago:

Thank you so much for this! I recently got into Twitter and following local news in an effort to stay informed but boy do the comments enrage/scare me. It’s just crazy how tribal things have gotten. Is there any end of this sort of division in sight? Every year I think it will get better but it doesn’t.

jliptzin said 2 months ago:

Would you mind sharing the twitter handles you recommend following?

sroussey said 2 months ago:

Agreed. I’d also add selling stocks when they were hitting highs.

mrfusion said 2 months ago:

I’ve been sorting reddit comments by controversial. There’s a lot of junk sure, but it’s you also get away from people parroting the standard lines and sometimes get some unique insight.

aexl said 2 months ago:

That's an interesting idea. I need to try this too!

squiggleblaz said 2 months ago:

Oh I didn't know you could do that! In the old days when I used to visit another site, I gave bonus points to Flamebait and read at +4. As other p said, a lot of crap, but also a lot of insight. (I also took a point off "Insightful", since +4 Insightful was usually more like "a good but well known perspective which you have probably encountered before". The genuine insightful stuff was always +5.)

I kinda miss the ability to make my own comment thread. My social media was much more efficient back then.

xenyal said 2 months ago:

Out of curiosity, and because I'm a Canadian out of the loop with respect to American news networks, how can there be news being at ends with each other? That's something I have difficulty putting into perspective (referring to the Team CNN vs Team Fox comparison)

eric-hu said 2 months ago:

This is just my hypothesis: news networks discovered that they can cater to 30% of the population with an extreme message and get more viewership than they would have catering to 50% or 100%. A side effect is that the permissible extremity increases over time as radical becomes the new norm. Both sides can play off each other's increasingly radical messages.

lucretian said 2 months ago:

two comments:

1) the american TV news industry has slowly blurred, then obliterated, the line between straight news and editorial opinion. they're now often intermixed, with slanted analysis weaved throughout reporting. things like those news panel shows are particularly bad about this.

many people don't like to admit it because it challenges their centrist pretensions, but in the modern era, fox news started it and the remaining TV news outlets followed suit over the years.

2) but more fundamentally, there is probably no such thing as truly unbiased straight news reporting. the choosing of which facts to present is itself still an editorial process subject to human prejudice.

Zenbit_UX said 2 months ago:

You're forgetting the most important point. There's no law requiring a "news" agency to report the facts. In fact there's no laws requiring them to not lie about everything they say. It seems crazy to admit, because news is suppose to be useful and factual information surrounding current events, but in America it doesn't have to be and it stopped being that way when they realize that sensational and entertaining stories got better ratings.

visiblink said 2 months ago:

If you read the Globe and Mail (Liberal) and National Post (Conservative), you'll see a similar -- though not quite as extreme -- phenomenon.

gred said 2 months ago:

My approach is to include one or two news sources from the "other team" in my daily news diet.

It adds a nice grain of salt for when I read "my team's" news.

throwaway5752 said 2 months ago:

I think the Tory/Labor division that existed in the newspapers, and the way that dynamic changed in the Rupert Murdoch era (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Murdoch#Activities_in_t...) should be studied in light of emerging polarization you're discussing in the US. Creates a self-reinforcing news duopoly that is very persistent and harmful. I suspect that as people look back on the end of Great Britain that we are living through and how it has fallen as a global power it will be interesting to see how media driven internal division was a factor.

JeremyNT said 2 months ago:

There are still plenty of real news outlets, they just aren't on TV. You can pull up the Reuters web site, spend a few minutes reading the front page, and come out with more actual information than somebody who spent all day watching CNN.

surround said 2 months ago:

I don’t think “real news” has ever died - it was always dead. The term “Yellow Journalism” has been around since the late 1800s.

I don’t think news that tries to push a narrative is useless. You just have to understand the viewpoint that they’re providing. By reading several different conflicting sources, and trying to understand each viewpoint and why they disagree, you can become informed on the issue.

The problem is, many people would rather take the easy route and treat every issue as if it were black and white. This opinion is right, that opinion is wrong. This news outlet is right, this news outlet is wrong.

concordDance said 2 months ago:

Reading different sources doesn't help if all news is biased towards trying to report a coherent and easily understood narrative if the world is complicated and nuanced. In which case all you'll get is, to steal an expression, "the nearest common cliche" to the truth.

asciimike said 2 months ago:

WaitButWhy's "The Story of Us" (https://waitbutwhy.com/2019/08/story-of-us.html), in particular "The Sick Giant" (https://waitbutwhy.com/2020/01/sick-giant.html), provides a really good explanation of what might be going on here.

kingaillas said 2 months ago:

It's the effects of the free market on journalism. The drive for profit means boosting ad revenue which in turns requires drawing an audience... actual journalism isn't profitable enough.

Animats said 2 months ago:

Each day, you have to read CNN, Fox, Reuters, the Economist, the Center for Disease Control, and some of the better local newspaper sites to figure out what's going on. Ignore what they choose to put on the home page. Even Fox News is not totally out of touch with reality once you get off the home page and ignore the opinion section.

cbHXBY1D said 2 months ago:

Even Noam Chomsky, who co-authored Manufacturing Consent, practices this method. Read and dissect a wide range of sources.

titzer said 2 months ago:

> Real news died when reporters stopped having to craft a story

Or stopped fact-checking--you know, doing your homework. Real journalists used to interview one person at a time, ask them direct questions, call them on their bullshit, and fact check them in real-time. Nowadays what passes as journalism is to put two people from different "sides" on at the same time and watch them fling crap at each other. Or put two people from the same "side" on to have them take turns ripping someone else to shreds.

Frankly, it's disgusting. I have literally felt myself close to vomiting while watching TV these days. The fact the people on TV new wears suits and business attire is the worst irony; all they do is fling mudwrestling now. Just another one of the present debasement of all things past good and wholesome.

zelon88 said 2 months ago:

If anything, with the rise of targeted advertising and paywalls, this kind of thing was encouraged. Why write articles hoping they get picked up on their merits when you can just pitch partisan articles to partisan people and get the desired home-run every single time?

enraged_camel said 2 months ago:

>> CNN/Fox/MSNBC

One of those is not like the other two.

CNN and MSNBC may not be as high quality as WaPo/NYTimes in terms of depth and quality of journalism, but they also don't maliciously and cynically and shamelessly lie to their viewers.

BeetleB said 2 months ago:

I'm a Pepsi guy. It always annoys me when someone offers me a Pepsi and then gives me Coke. I can tell, and I don't drink it.

People don't get my attitude. "How can you even tell the difference?" they say. "It's pretty much the same!"

This is because when your favorite soda is Mountain Dew, you can barely tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi. They're both a heck of a lot different from Mtn Dew, and there's only the tiniest difference between Pepsi and Coke when you contrast with Fanta, Mtn Dew, Sprite, 7Up, etc.

(I'm not making this up merely as an argument - the above is my reality, and yes, people do say that to me).

When you get accustomed to good quality journalism (which WaPo isn't), the differences between CNN and Fox are miniscule. When you consider all the news topics out there, and all the diverse perspectives on them out there, you'll see that CNN and Fox more or less cover the same tiny fraction of topics. Sure, if your world consists of only that tiny fraction, then the differences between CNN and Fox seem stark.

I think a more concise way to put it is: If you assign 100% to the universal set of topics/opinions, then perhaps Fox is at 2% and CNN at 3%. Sure, CNN is 50% better than Fox, but from a whole picture standpoint it's really only a 1% delta between the two.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
nyczomg said 2 months ago:

LOL.

I don't have time to compile the numerous examples of CNN maliciously, cynically, and shamelessly to their users, so I'll just post my favorite example:

https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/787749117502119936?lang...

Chris Cuomo looking into the camera, and telling America it is illegal for them to go to wikileaks. But it's ok, the media is exempted from that and they'll make sure to tell you ALL of the important information you need to know.

Sorry, but give me a break. Not only do they lie, they try to scare you into not informing yourself.

pacomerh said 2 months ago:

I don't disagree with your CNN comment, but the severity, consistency and magnitude of F-NEWS's lies doesn't compete with anyone tbh. They're on their own category.

augustt said 2 months ago:

Exactly - I'm not sure how anyone can say with a straight face that the Dijon-mustard-tan-suit-latte-salute network has ever been anything but the #1 producer of bullshit on TV.

nyczomg said 2 months ago:

Fair. I should have clarified that I wasn’t nominating CNN for first place. But just because they are not the worst doesn’t mean you can let your guard down while watching CNN. In a way it’s more dangerous at least for people like me. I can watch Fox News to see what the other side is saying, but I roll my eyes enough to remind myself to take everything with a big grain of salt. It’s easier to be lulled into being less skeptical while watching CNN, MSNBC, etc.

Reedx said 2 months ago:

Do you think the Red Sox are not like the Yankees?

They're just different teams playing the same game.

Fans always defend their team and vilify the other. Always. With every dispute they're able to convince themselves it's the other side that are the cheaters. They can't both be right, but yet each side feels equally certain of their position.

pgsbathhouse2 said 2 months ago:

"I'm the most correct because I don't care about anything and trivialize important matters to just differences of opinion!"

LiquidSky said 2 months ago:

>They can't both be right

But that also doesn't mean, as you and so many imply with these kind of statements, that both sides are wrong. It can be the case that one side is, in fact, correct, or less at fault than the other.

It's a fallacy that in a dispute both sides are always equally wrong, or that the answer is always exactly in the middle.

Reedx said 2 months ago:

Yes, that's not what I was implying though (or at least didn't mean to). I meant they can't both be right all the time. The point being that fans think their side is always right and the other always wrong. When the reality is their side is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.

Certainly in any specific dispute one may be correct. Or both partially correct. Or both wrong. And one may be better or worse than the other in sum.

enraged_camel said 2 months ago:

On the contrary, not only is this type of "both sideism" incredibly harmful to healthy political discourse (because it discourages engagement and breeds cynicism), both sides are not in fact equal, or even similar.

There are always bad apples, but you just need to look at how they are treated (e.g. whether they are rewarded or punished).

Reedx said 2 months ago:

Dismissing it as "both sideism" just allows mediocrity to thrive. On both sides, as it happens. It's an endless loop of "they're the problem, not us". Deflecting any responsibility and avoiding self-reflection. Nothing changes or improves as a result.

Why not demand better on all fronts? None of the aforementioned media are doing grade A work.

snickerbockers said 2 months ago:

CNN's website spent weeks running the "you should be more worried about the flu" lie.

9HZZRfNlpR said 2 months ago:

I'm not an American and far from Trumps target audience but the CNN is bad as Fox. I have them both on TV. It truly is a kettle and pot situation, I believe so many Americans have grown so deeply into either culture that unfortunately you can't comprehend it anymore.

mapgrep said 2 months ago:

Every single journalist in the video Paul Graham linked was on Fox News/Fox Business.

jcadam said 2 months ago:

The video appears that it was put together by the folks at The Daily Show. You really think they went looking for clips from the "other side?"

kingaillas said 2 months ago:

Is the a similar video with other news stations and their similarly incorrect reporting?

bduerst said 2 months ago:

Should be easy to do if it's as equivalent as you're assuming, no?

kube-system said 2 months ago:

Late-night satire shows are not politically unbiased, nor do they attempt to be. They cater to their audience, the same way those who they satirize do.

9HZZRfNlpR said 2 months ago:

Right, but I expressed my opinion on your political divide and newspapers, not PG's links.

s_y_n_t_a_x said 2 months ago:
cvlasdkv said 2 months ago:

I'm curious as to why you think China is to blame for American politicians ignoring precautions and prioritizing their own wealth over the well-being of their citizens?

s_y_n_t_a_x said 2 months ago:

Because China covered it up and misled the experts.

xenyal said 2 months ago:

Actually, China was thought to have covered it up because the whistleblower originally sent a message[1] to a WeChat group of his, telling group members that 7 people from the wet markets had been diagnosed with SARS. The government had no idea what it was and I'm sure nobody in the world knew what it was at the time, hence how it's a novel virus.

[1]: https://mmbiz.qpic.cn/mmbiz_jpg/jvumSxUR3OrjfcgXFibaich6y6Z6...

s_y_n_t_a_x said 2 months ago:
xenyal said 2 months ago:

Thanks for the links. It seems that the response went along the following timeline according to my understanding:

  1. Dec. 30 - Doctors from the first few cases have analyzed the samples and discover how similar the new virus is to SARS. Officials tell them not to spread information to the public about the virus.

  2. Dec. 31 - China tells WHO about new virus (not that they know much at this point)

  3. Jan. 1 - Provincial health committee orders provincial labs to destroy samples, samples are transported to larger state facility to do testing there. The reason for this is due to the samples being considered "highly pathogenic microorganisms", and that only approved facilities should test it. (I'm guessing due to the risk of acting on the sample and contracting it?)

  4. Jan. 2nd - State approved facilities map the genetic sequence but an official national statement doesn't get made until a week later, Jan. 9th.
So from lab work, until international statement, that's two weeks. During that time, wouldn't it make sense for the doctors and researchers to keep their results hidden until it can be verified lest they risk causing unwarranted panic? Considering how carriers of COVID19 can be asymptomatic [1], it does take time for verification to be done on whatever discovery a nation makes on the world stage. In hindsight, it's easy to say that they should have jumped the gun and done exactly that on whatever communications platform were available to them. However, had COVID-19 turn out to be a minor disease, that'd mark the end of all their careers.

[1]: https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/14/health/coronavirus-asymptomat...

s_y_n_t_a_x said 2 months ago:

The parts that matter are Jan 11th to the 30th.

> Jan. 11–17: Important prescheduled CCP meeting held in Wuhan. During that time, the Wuhan Health Commission insists there are no new cases.

> Jan. 14: WHO announces Chinese authorities have seen "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus."

> Jan. 20: The first case announced in South Korea. Zhong Nanshan, a top Chinese doctor who is helping to coordinate the coronavirus response, announces the virus can be passed between people.

> Jan. 23: Wuhan and three other cities are put on lockdown. Right around this time, approximately 5 million people leave the city without being screened for the illness.

> Jan. 24–30: China celebrates the Lunar New Year holiday. Hundreds of millions of people are in transit around the country as they visit relatives.

xenyal said 2 months ago:

Where in this timeline do you see evidence that information their healthcare system had suggesting how severe COVID-19 was, was being intentionally covered up? I just see how unfortunate it is that they realized COVID-19's severity too late, else the Wuhan residents who left prior to the lockdown would not have been able to travel as freely as they did.

s_y_n_t_a_x said 2 months ago:

They knew how bad it was and downplayed it until it spread to the world.

Dr. Birx confirmed that they misled the experts:

https://twitter.com/RealSaavedra/status/1245138898772045824?...

> I think the medical community interpreted the Chinese data as that this was serious but smaller than anyone expected,

> Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data.

nl said 2 months ago:

I think that shows exactly that China didn't realize how bad this was. For example, from the NPR link:

Jan 18: Wuhan hosts a holiday banquet for 40,000 attendees, despite reports of a contagious viral pneumonia.

We've seen similar things in so many countries - people don't understand how bad it is until lots of people start dying. China put 21 million people on lock-down when there were only 619 confirmed cases - compare that to elsewhere.

nl said 2 months ago:

China notified the WHO on December 31. Anything after that date should be blamed on China.

If you want to argue really hard, then January 23 when the Wuhan quarantine was announced is the last possible date that a country could argue that China was covering up the extent. At that date countries like Australia started screening passengers (and by 31 Jan had announced isolation requirements for travellers from China).

exo762 said 2 months ago:

Could that be caused by the fact that compilation authors are clearly on Dem side? Trump's travel ban was called racist by whom?

(I'm also an outsider.)

twomoretime said 2 months ago:

You're right. And I'd add that modern journalism has effectively become activist journalism across the board. Modern journalists are primarily ideologues - and that is the origin of the partisan spin on almost every single news outlet, especially online.

This is also why credibility in media is at all time lows. Most people are politically moderate and they're waking up to the inescapable spin. This behavior is also dangerous because it provides some justification for the infamous "enemy of the people" quote. But I think partisan reporting has become so commonplace in the industry that most journalists don't realise what they're doing - either that or they believe the end justifies the means. But when the means back away at the credibility that reporting must be based on, you are destroying your institution and possibly taking society with you.

nxp said 2 months ago:

Yes Minister, on how to respond to a crisis:

  Sir Richard Wharton: “In stage one, we say nothing is going to happen.”

  Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Stage two, we say something may be about to happen,
                         but we should do nothing about it.”

  Sir Richard Wharton: “In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it,
                        but there’s nothing we can do.”

  Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done,
                         but it’s too late now.”

Remember that Yes Minister is a manual for politicians, not a comedy.
rahidz said 2 months ago:

Stage four requires admitting guilt, it should be "We've always known we should've done something about it, but (opposing political party) didn't let us!"

nickff said 2 months ago:

That back-and-forth is between two bureaucrats, who are talking about how to obstruct politicians. One of the core premises of "Yes Minister" is that the bureaucracy holds the real power in government, somewhat similar to the idea of a 'deep state', though the show existed long before that phrase was coined.

AlexandrB said 2 months ago:

This seems to undermine the point at the end of the GP comment:

> Remember that Yes Minister is a manual for politicians, not a comedy.

It seems like the deep state was (more) right on this one and the politicians are/were the ones trying to downplay the danger and generally mislead.

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

The proper name for the deep state is civil service employees and they generally tend to be right on a lot of stuff because they've been at it for decades rather than a couple of weeks to months. The whole idea that some politician lands in a chair and starts making policy by their lonesome is laughable.

dmix said 2 months ago:

> The proper name for the deep state is civil service employees

It's funny how that has become the new explanation/softer excuse. I remember when "Deep State" was used to describe groups like the Koch Brothers and similar power brokers well before it was adopted by the right-leaning popular media to describe the puppet masters of the 'establishment' on the other side. Now it's spun as an attack on simple 'civil servants'...

I guess it means whatever people want it to mean, depending on the context of your ideology or position on the matter.

Symbiote said 2 months ago:

The episode in question is episode 6 of series 1 of Yes, Prime Minister "A Victory for Democracy". Highly recommended!

bigfudge said 2 months ago:

The point of YM is that civil servants and ministers are interdependent, rather than a 'deep state' in the trumpian conspiracy theory sense.

djaychela said 2 months ago:

From what I'm reading, I think there are still a significant minority of people who think this isn't an issue. I've had to learn to just walk away from comments on a variety of media where comments such as 'psychosomatic', 'less dangerous than the flu that kills 50,000 each year', 'patented by the illuminati', 'caused by 5G masts', and so on. I ended up deleting my twitter account as I dared try to engage with one UK-based journalist who was saying that 'they' were destroying the economy to serve their own foul needs (everyone under house arrest, total control of society, etc). For me, it's just not worth doing this - it's hard enough being separated from the people I care about, without filling the void with attempts to have a rational discussion with people who seem to be divorced from everyday fact.

You would think this would be the reality check that was needed, but it's not the case for everyone. I guess that is human pyschology writ large, but I'm finding that I just have to watch videos and not even look in the comments as it's just a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and people being just plain wrong in a lot of places.

bsaul said 2 months ago:

i've been saying "not more dangerous than the flu" before it started really going to shxt in europe, because to be honest, the epidemic doesn't look that dangerous if you're in general good health, just by looking at the numbers from a distance.

The fact that most people seem to not have anything worse than a few days of fever (some having even nothing at all), while at the same time others simply die very quickly to it makes it a very peculiar epidemic. And i think this is the reason why even amongst the medical professional i've talked to, they first seemed not too worried at all.

As for the number of death, let's not forget the flu kills hundreds of thousands of people each year, and that is with people getting vaccinated. It made me realize how getting vaccinated for the flu as soon as you reach 50 may actually be a pretty good idea..

Another thing that i haven't read a lot, is that the WHO have been alarming people in the past with previous epidemic (srars, mers, ebola, etc), and nothing "special" happened (i suppose partly because people correctly dealt with it, but also because of the nature of the virus). It actually made me realize how the whole world has been completely desensitized to catastrophic predictions.

nullc said 2 months ago:

Just goes to show that people will continue to ignore an exponential trend until it eats their lunch personally.

FWIW, totally aside from that, CDC numbers for the "flu" are actually a combined "flu and pneumonia", and according to the NHS in the UK-- which doesn't bin the same way-- no more than 1/3rds of those deaths are due to the flu. Other estimates have put the flu well under 10% of flu+pneumonia, though with substantial year to year variation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827586/

Even if you steadfastly refuse to accept the obvious exponential dynamics of contagion in a naive population, perhaps the fact that the figures you are reasoning from are off by a constant factor of 3 to >10 might cause you to reconsider your level of confidence?

MrBuddyCasino said 2 months ago:

> Just goes to show that people will continue to ignore an exponential trend until it eats their lunch personally.

This. It seems most people are incapable of making decisions purely based on what their mind or the math says. I kind of get it, it didn't "feel real" in the beginning, it was just the mind that went "omg we need to act NOW", not the stomach. I suspect this is why the Silicon Valley Crowd was so far ahead of the curve - they deal with exponential growth more often, and are used to listen to just their brains, for better or worse.

michaelt said 2 months ago:

> it didn't "feel real" in the beginning

Plus, a lot of the interventions don't really make much sense if you're the only one doing them.

For example, imagine I'm not worried about my own safety, but I am for the safety of others. Staying home and self-isolating will help with this if almost everyone else does it - but if I start a month early, doing it on my own? Negligible benefit.

And of course, much easier to get to work from home at an otherwise-non-WFH company once your boss and their boss are thinking the same way as you, and they've heard Google and Apple are doing the same...

Juliate said 2 months ago:

Or they work with remote teams around the world, including China & Europe, and saw first-hand what was coming.

jannes said 2 months ago:

Every major bank in NYC has trading desks across the world, including Asian markets. Shouldn't they have seen it coming as well?

zentiggr said 2 months ago:

Not if their salaries depended on not understanding...

ryandrake said 2 months ago:

You can tell that, even today, people (especially the media) still don't understand the nature of exponential growth.

Every day, there's an article describing the new cases or deaths as a "surge". Look for that word: Surge. This word implies that the growth is somehow sudden or unexpected, whereas every day's actual day-to-day growth was predicted pretty accurately months ago. But, if you read the news, every day is described as some surprising "surge". I wish the media would stop calling every day's number a "surge" and start reporting "New coronavirus cases grew at (or above or below) the expected rate, doubling every N days."

dboreham said 2 months ago:

Yes, if you click "log scale" on any of the many graph sites for almost any region, you see a line that's better straight than I could draw freehand.

vkou said 2 months ago:

Actually, the log scale for infections in pretty much every polity has started bending downwards, about a week and a half after the lockdowns were put in place.

isbadawi said 2 months ago:

I've always read "a surge" as synonymous with "an increase", which could be expected or unexpected depending on the context.

matwood said 2 months ago:

> Just goes to show that people will continue to ignore an exponential trend until it eats their lunch personally.

Non-math/cs people typically haven't been directly exposed to exponential growth. Which, to be fair, can be an intuitively hard concept until someone sits down and thinks it through. The classic lily pad example is my usual go-to way of explaining exponential growth to someone.

I also think a large part of this problem is societies overall rejection of science, but that's a different discussion.

bsaul said 2 months ago:

I don't think people feared catching the virus at all. Exponential dynamics doesn't change anything in your response in that situation. I think every winter viruses have exponential dynamics as well, and they're not a big deal. You catch it, and you get over it..

Actually that's why most public communication for staying at home doesn't say "protect yourself", but rather emphasis on protecting "others" (aka : people vulnerable). The virus is extremely dangerous, but only for a (not that small) minority of people. That's a weird one.

nullc said 2 months ago:

It's still making a large portion of the people who aren't dying extremely ill.

I think one of the biggest public health communication disasters of covid19 is the reliance on mortality as the communication endpoint.

It's acceptable for other threats-- like automotive accidents-- to speak in terms of mortality because there isn't a huge population which is much less exposed to dying but still exposed to serious illness. Automotive accidents also seriously injure many more people than they kill, but not in a way that lends itself to a false impression of immunity.

"Death" makes a nice clear warning for the risks of driving, and other very bad but not death outcomes are just some factor of the death outcomes... it isn't like the audience is comparing death rates to population numbers then deciding that the death from driving isn't worth worrying about just because we didn't also include maimed-for-life.

For covid19 we've ended up making many 20 and 30 year olds believe that it doesn't threaten them. It does. They may not be dying in especially large numbers-- especially where either hospitals are not overloaded or where they're engaging in the ethically dubious practice of triaging younger people ahead of others based purely on their age rather than, e.g. response to treatment--, but they are still becoming seriously and painfully ill and ending up with severe immune system damage -- which takes a long time will recover and will result in latent mortality --, and for many likely lifelong injury in the form of extensive lung scaring.

Infections like influenza are much less contagious-- with an R0 of 1.3 vs 2 to 3 (an enormous difference)--, less deadly, face a population which is at least somewhat resistant (in part due to heroic vaccination efforts) and which knows how to rapidly create new and effective vaccines against it. It's not really that comparable.

amenod said 2 months ago:

Curious: what are you basing this on? Do you have some statistical data that shows hospitalization rates of young people _because of_ (instead of just _with_) corona virus?

I myself haven't yet seen any data that would make this virus any worse than the flu (which means it's still dangerous, just maybe not "everybody-hide-under-the-rock" dangerous). Even data from Italy doesn't show mortality any higher than previous years.

Do you have links to data that supports what you wrote?

I agree it is a communication disaster though. If I see another chart with red line, logarithmic scale, not starting from zero or with some approximated (red) curve that doesn't specify the formula... :-/

rjtavares said 2 months ago:

> Do you have some statistical data that shows hospitalization rates of young people _because of_ (instead of just _with_) corona virus?

Doesn't that require a study after the fact? So your proposal is to just wait and see?

BTW, how do you explain the unprecedented hospitalization and ICU rates in Northern Italy?

As an example, this report from European Society of Anaesthesiology[1] mentions:

> The number of intensive care beds in Italy continues to change. Initially, there were 500 public intensive care (ICU) beds in Lombardy, and 140 private ICU beds. However, now there are more than 900.

[1]: https://www.esahq.org/esa-news/analysis-of-covid-19-data-on-...

lbeltrame said 2 months ago:

> BTW, how do you explain the unprecedented hospitalization and ICU rates in Northern Italy?

A lot of people aren't tested unless they are severely sick, they're just told to stay at home.

When they arrive in the hospital they're already in a pretty bad condition, and only then tested. Which means that no therapeutic actions are made until patients are admitted, with the exception of self-administration of paracetamol.

> The number of intensive care beds in Italy continues to change. Initially, there were 500 public intensive care (ICU) beds in Lombardy, and 140 private ICU beds. However, now there are more than 900.

But a lot of ICU beds were slashed in the past 10 years due to budget cuts, and we were at 80% capacity when the virus hit. If the testing keeps on like this, and we can't even palliatively treat patients until they start suffering respiratory problems, these problems will continue.

DanBC said 2 months ago:

> hospitalization rates of young people _because of_ (instead of just _with_) corona virus?

What do you think the mechanism is here? Why are people being hospitalised with covid-19, if it's not covid-19 causing the hospitalisation?

People under 50 don't spend much time in ITUs on ventilators, until covid-19 happens and now the ITUs are full of people with covid-19 having air pumped into their lungs to push the fluid out.

What's causing that if not covid-19?

thu2111 said 2 months ago:

That's already well understood.

People are counted in the stats produced by hospitals if they have the virus, not if they've been hospitalised because of the virus. Literally if someone breaks their arm and they're tested positive, that goes into the stats for "COVID-19 cases". This is also true if someone dies of anything whilst having the virus; they're recorded as a "COVID-19 death".

The statistics here don't tell us what they sound like they're telling us. We'd see exactly the same pattern if the rules were suddenly changed to require every hospital admission to be tested for the common cold in a regular year - the number of "cases" and "deaths" would increase dramatically every day.

People under 50 don't spend much time in ITUs on ventilators

That statement is far too vague. People of all ages spend time on ventilators every years, especially during a flu outbreak. This is especially true of young children (under 5) whom COVID-19 doesn't affect at all! And COVID-19 is known to affect very few under 50s; the numbers here are so tiny the media can literally write entire stories about individual cases.

So what does "people" and "much time" mean in this sentence?

You can see some data on deaths from pneumonia by age group here:

https://ourworldindata.org/pneumonia#pneumonia-mortality-rat...

Of course deaths isn't the same thing as hospitalisation as the young are more likely to recover than the old. So this data isn't exactly what you're talking about, but it's at least quantifiable.

It's not safe to make a claim about this virus without comparing it to known values from prior years or outbreaks, when comparing the same thing. Every single number we're being presented with is presented without context and it leads to catastrophic mistakes of understanding. Number of positive test increases is shown without the number of negative test increases as well (i.e. an exponential increase in testing looks like an exponential increase in cases), deaths are counted without any investigation to decide what caused that death and so on.

It's very easy to get a totally misleading impression of what's going on. This is likely why in so many parts of the world hospitals are now reporting themselves as empty for weeks, despite the supposed "exponential growth" that should have overwhelmed them by now. In fact in Switzerland hospitals are needing to apply for emergency funding because the huge drop in patient numbers has caused their revenue to dry up.

watwut said 2 months ago:

Your theory is that there is surge of broken hands and unrelated health issues, but all those people also happen to have covid so covid gets blamed? Like, New York and Italia and France have to build make-shift hospitals cause of broken hands epidemic?

thu2111 said 2 months ago:

No.

There's clearly a virus spreading. It sends some people to hospital. Quite a few viruses do that.

Unlike those, this virus is different in one key way - governments have decreed that any death where the virus is present is counted as a "virus death", and have decreed mass testing to find infections. Consider a virus that is not really dangerous but highly infectious, like any common cold or flu. Then many people will turn up at hospital with it, but in reality their problem is something else. With our current data that would look like hospitals being flooded in a way never seen before, but it'd be a data artifact, not something real.

As for countries having to build makeshift hospitals, two things:

1. Local overloads happen during bad flu seasons too. You can find many reports in the past about wards being converted, tents being constructed to hold patients on the streets from earlier flu pandemics. Arguably making quick hospitals to handle that sort of bad flu season should be a more common practice.

2. No country anywhere is experiencing general overload. Even in Italy, a few days ago a politician was publicly asking why they're sending patients to Germany when in nearby Veneto there are hospitals that are 2/3rds empty.

Projections of mass death requiring everyone to shelter-in-place are based on the belief that everywhere will "go Bergamo" simultaneously at once. That isn't happening, it's not even close to happening.

Go investigate and you can find stories of deserted hospitals all over the world right now. They've been cleared out in anticipation of an imminent surge that isn't appearing. That's why Germany and Switzerland can take in patients from neighbouring countries - not only are there no makeshift hospitals but hospitals need financial bailouts because they've having to pay so many staff who are basically idled, like many other businesses.

Clearly there's a huge mismatch between the global view and a small number of local hotspots, and our understanding of what's happening is heavily coloured by the press.

JoeAltmaier said 2 months ago:

Thanks for describing exactly what it looks like when preparing for a major outbreak. Its measurable, growing geometrically without breaking stride, and 6X-10X more deadly than anything we can name.

If we succeed at slowing the growth, even stopping it, then thank god those hospitals will remain empty.

thu2111 said 2 months ago:

It is not growing geometrically (or only with a tiny multiplier if so). If the feared scenario of exponential growth were the case then we'd see the proportion of positive test cases doubling, not just the raw number. Right now what's being seen is that if you increase testing 10x you find 10x more cases, which is consistent with finding something that's at a somewhat steady background level.

e.g. here's German data:

https://swprs.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/infizierte-pro-tes...

and US data:

https://twitter.com/FScholkmann/status/1246122535793680386

It looks like it doubles every few days because of the rapid increase in testing.

Moreover these hospitals are now entering their second week of being idled. They should be very busy by now if the sick were really growing exponentially - they're still mostly empty.

Even in New York you see this:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8173563/Elmhurst-ta...

"New York City's Elmhurst hospital - the 'epicenter of the epicenter' - is now receiving fewer patients but they are arriving sicker, doctor warns, as he says some come in with no symptoms other than diarrhea then test positive"

"He said testing was surprising and that some people show up with a fever and cough but test negative. Others who are there for different ailments - like car accident victims - end up testing positive."

New York is supposed to be the epicentre of the outbreak yet the most overloaded hospital is now seeing fewer patients arrive than before. That's not consistent with being at the start of a very long exponential growth phase (it obviously can't grow exponentially forever so this discussion is only about how long it lasts in that phase and where the peak is).

Edit: got throttled, will reply to Joe here

Many sources show only the number of positive cases and deaths. Here's one that shows total tests performed in the USA:

https://covidtracking.com/data/us-daily

On the 5th April 2020 there were 332,308 positive cases in the USA. So the halving point was between 29th and 30th March (139,061 and 160,530 cases respectively). It took about 5 days to double.

On the 5th April 2020 there were 1.42 million negative cases. On 29th March 2020 there were 692,290 negatives or 48% of the figure today. It took exactly the same amount of time to double.

So we can see that number of tests doubled in that time. Total tests went from 831,351 (47%) to 1,762,032.

The proportion of positive to negative cases is 18% today. On the 29th March it was 16%. A 2% rise, nothing even close to doubling. The graph in the tweet I linked to shows this visually - a fairly smooth and slow increase over time. We think it's spreading exponentially because of misuse of data, but all that's actually growing exponentially is testing. And yes - that's probably why there are now global shortages of reagents and other ingredients for tests. You can't keep globally doubling demand for tests without eventually hitting production limits!

JoeAltmaier said 2 months ago:

That's pretty glib - its just testing that's increasing? Geometrically? With scarcity of test resources in the news daily?

Look at the worldwide data, then at the data for pretty much every country: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.h...

Its geometric growth pretty much any place you look. Now, unless testing were proceeding completely uniformly across the board, its hard to imagine that explains any of this.

mannykannot said 2 months ago:

> That's not consistent with being at the start of a very long exponential growth phase.

This is an example of how you are making straw man arguments. No-one is arguing that the growth rate will continue to be exponential in the face of effective mitigation.

JoeAltmaier said 2 months ago:

Let me reply to the edited comment.

We're not testing the general population. Its testing of folks coming to a hospital? Folks who aren't having hospitalizing symptoms are not tested at all, and sent home to quarantine.

So if tests doubled that means that folks are feeling bad at an increased rate. Showing up at a hospital with alarming symptoms.

You can finagle the statistics both ways - by ignoring what the 'test sample' is and assuming its uniform for instance.

thu2111 said 2 months ago:

The stable proportion is seen around the world, including in places like Germany where they are doing tons of testing and certainly far more than just those who turn up to hospital.

You're right that it's not a uniform sample, but the consistency across the world is very suggestive. Not everywhere has test shortages.

watwut said 2 months ago:

Frankly, you lie about Italy. Also, we are actually closing schools when there is outbreak of flu - few schools is enough to get flu under control.

DanBC said 2 months ago:

To answer your question ("do people die with covid-19, or of it?") with data you might want to read this twitter thread. https://twitter.com/ActuaryByDay/status/1246866119597621248

It links to a document from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre.

The evidence from actual covid treatment doesn't support the "they die with, not of, covid" argument.

diryawish said 2 months ago:

Isn’t all flu growth exponential over the season then dies down? Apparently Australia had a bad flu season last year: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7148553/Horror-grap...

alacombe said 2 months ago:

Yes, seasonal flu starts exponentially, but people don't understand exponential growth and its limits.

FartyMcFarter said 2 months ago:

There's a vaccine for the flu. That makes a huge difference, even if the diseases were otherwise just as bad as each other.

akvadrako said 2 months ago:

> CDC numbers for the "flu" are actually a combined "flu and pneumonia"

That's just like Covid though - they are counting everyone who dies with the virus even though most have other conditions.

nullc said 2 months ago:

That argument no longer works when we're seeing highly infected regions with significant increases in their _all cause_ mortality rate, e.g. https://reason.com/2020/03/17/italian-daily-death-rate-up-20... https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/04/01/virus-deaths-...

diryawish said 2 months ago:

Italy’s death rates are up 20% when comparing this year’s average to a typical year’s whole average. This way of comparing averages may skew the information. In America, we have more average daily deaths in the beginning of the year than in the middle and end until December. The average of January through March will always be higher than the yearly average.

amenod said 2 months ago:

This!

This is the latest data published by the Italian Ministry of Health. Looking at the chart on the second page, try to ignore the lines (we all know there is an infinite amount of ways one can approximate a curve to the dots) and just observe the dots. Does this seem like a bad year to you? Compared to winter 2016/17?

http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/caldo/SISMG_sintesi_ULTIMO....

Also note that all the charts are misleading since they don't start with 0 (the effect is exaggerated).

kgwgk said 2 months ago:

"What the official figures don’t say. They don’t say that in March 2020 more than 5.400 people have died in Bergamo province, 4.500 of which due to coronavirus. Six times more than the previous year."

https://www.ecodibergamo.it/stories/bergamo-citta/coronaviru...

Doesn't that seem like a bad year to you?

takeda said 2 months ago:

What are you talking about? The spike started in mid March, that's just a single data point on that graph.

akvadrako said 2 months ago:

It does because regional fluctuations don't warrant a widespread overreaction.

Overall mortality for Europe is lower than during most flu seasons:

https://www.euromomo.eu/

graeme said 2 months ago:

That’s for week 13. I expect france would be higher now.

Week 13 is march 22-28 if I counted right. Deaths lag cases. French Coronavirus deaths went from 674 on the 22nd, to 2314 on the 28th, to 8078 yesterday april 5th.

I would say your comment is premature.

takeda said 2 months ago:

Because if no coronavirus this would be rather a good year. The December-February looked better than on average.

The thing you are missing though is that crisis started mid March. It feels like forever (because of shelter at home), but it is a very short time and every few days the number of cases doubles. Most of that doesn't register on graphs that spans multiple years (look at the dates).

creaghpatr said 2 months ago:

If you lose your job, your lunch is being eaten.

redis_mlc said 2 months ago:

> people will continue to ignore an exponential trend

Every cold and flu grow exponentially.

Not sure what the fixation of HN readers is on the work exponential. Although true, using it doesn't add anything to analysis of corona virus specifically.

I'd rather talk about the false hope in ventilators, and the futility and destruction to our economy by lockdown.

mannykannot said 2 months ago:

> Although true, using it doesn't add anything to analysis of corona virus specifically.

The issue of exponential growth is of relevance in response to those saying that the number of deaths (insert the inplicit 'so far' here) is much less than from infuenza (annually.) It is not a 'fixation' to expose the irrelevance of that line of thinking.

More generally, the issue is a combination of the facts that this virus is significantly more dangerous, for all age groups, than at least post- Spanish Flu infuenza; it is very readily transmitted; and there is no (or much less) herd immunity. When you combine these fact with the math of exponential growth, and have establshed the doubling rate, you can do some scientific prediction that goes beyond "so far it has not been as bad as the flu", which is true just so long as it is, and no longer. To do that, however, you have to hold more than one idea at a time in your head.

thu2111 said 2 months ago:

The idea that viruses always grow exponentially until they reach total saturation of the population comes from mathematical models that have never successfully modelled any real epidemic, ever. It doesn't come from experience of real diseases in nature, many of which were predicted by epidemiologists to grow to enormous proportions and yet - even in the absence of control measures - that isn't what happens.

It seems there are a ton of people right now who are enjoying thinking of themselves as intellectually and even morally superior to people who are just pointing out facts about the statistics gathered so far (which point to flu-like levels of danger and properties). I think the HN community is especially prone to this because it's full of computer programmers who are used to thinking in powers of two; some seem tempted to ascribe near-magical wisdom to this familiarity. But nature isn't a computer and just saying "exponential growth" over and over will eventually make fools of a lot of people, because it isn't there.

If this virus was really spreading exponentially, you'd expect to see the proportion of positive tests going up exponentially as well. But that isn't what is seen. In places that report the total number of tests administered (some places don't), the proportion of positive tests increases sub-exponentially or even hardly at all, coming to rest at about 15%, which is roughly the background level of coronavirus infections in the population during normal times.

It's especially disappointing to see PG fall into the trap of blaming politicians. Politicians have in the blink of an eye ceded power to a tiny cabal of (primarily) epidemiologists. So far they by and large aren't asking questions, instead simply doing whatever they're told even if it makes little sense.

But we really need people to start asking those scientists difficult questions. Citizens can do it but ultimately it only matters when politicians do it. Epidemiologists have a track record of absolute failure. They failed with Zika, they failed with foot and mouth disease, they're failing with CV. Go look at the models they produce and weep; some are invalidated the day they're published!

This guy is doing a good job of pointing out the many errors of modellers:

https://twitter.com/AlexBerenson

There's also some background here:

https://blog.plan99.net/is-epidemiology-useful-a4ec54e59569

michaelmrose said 2 months ago:

Nobody is able to test all or even most of their population with tests overwhelmingly concentrated among those either likely to be infected or at least exposed one would expect the proportion of positive tests to be a function of the testing methodology rather than a fiction of its prevalence in the population. If for example a group is only testing those already experiencing severe symptoms and had a 93% positive rate what would it even mean for the proportion of positive tests to increase exponentially?

What we are supposing is instead that the number of people who are presently infected will increase exponentially IF we don't adopt measures to decrease the spread. This is actually what you saw in the initial period and what you would be seeing now if we did nothing extraordinary to decrease the spread. If you look at the 1918 flu epidemic it ultimately infected 1/3 of the population. It is utterly unclear to me why you imagine your understanding is better than that of the experts. It would seem you yourself are guilty of the same sin you ascribe to programmers? From your animus towards the profession are you perhaps a manager of same? If so you seem to have contracted at least one of their faults.

> politicians have in the blink of an eye ceded power to a tiny cabal of (primarily) epidemiologists.

This literally isn't real.

The politicians are indeed at fault for the poor response. We cede to them substantial funds and powers to both prepare for and response to situations just like this. In fact the pentagon prepared a report on literally just this exact crisis in 2017 that called out among other things a lack of supplies. We opted to do nothing of import between now and today. In the crucial early days of this crisis instead of instituting effective measures we were busy first ignoring reports of it and then publicly claiming it is a hoax. If we aren't brave and clear sighted enough to even ascribe blame how are we to do better next time?

thu2111 said 2 months ago:

with tests overwhelmingly concentrated among those either likely to be infected

Even the highest positive rates I've seen (in the UK where the testing situation is dire) are only 30%. In other countries with more tests it's around 15% and stable over long periods.

If the number of infected were truly growing that fast, then you'd see the proportion of positive tests go up and up until negative tests were hardly happening, but that isn't close to what's seen on the ground.

What we are supposing is instead that the number of people who are presently infected will increase exponentially IF we don't adopt measures to decrease the spread

That's not what policymakers are supposing. If that were true there wouldn't be a global run on ventilators, which assumes enormous growth over case load today.

This literally isn't real.

That's not much of a response. Where are there politicians not saying their decisions are just guided by the science? The only places where politicians even pushed back slightly on epidemiologists are Brazil and - briefly - the USA.

At this time what epidemiologists say should be done, is done, no questions asked. In Denmark they are even restricting speech to stop people criticising the adopted measures, or so it's said. Look at what happened to my post above - even investigating or criticising those currently making the decisions is suddenly penalised.

A tiny number of academics with no track record of accuracy have obtained enormous power now. If they say lock down, countries lock down. If they say close the borders, the borders are closed. If they say open up, countries open up.

It's right and proper that such people be subject to the same scrutiny as normal politicians are.

As for politicians having done nothing, I don't think that's fair. Does the USA not have large stockpiles of ventilators and masks? Perhaps unusable in the end, but that level of detail is not for politicians, only civil servants. As for beds, well, even assuming the modellers are right no healthcare system in the world can have tens of thousands of ICU beds empty, sitting for a once in a century pandemic. Politicians who tried to have such levels of slack would soon be replaced by others who cared more about utilisation. I don't think there's much to say about them at this time; for better or worse they've taken a back seat.

mannykannot said 2 months ago:

You can get the numbers and do the math yourself, and prior to effective mitigation, the growth is exponential. There are policies that do have a mitigating effect, and that is the point. The mitigation of an effect does not mean either that it did not exist in the first place, or that it is not relevant.

nullc said 2 months ago:

Like soylent green the economy is made of people.

If people are doing well, the economy will likely catch up-- weak businesses will fail, new ones will be created. It may hurt, may hurt for a while-- but from a purely economic perspective this might turn out to be a useful reboot. There are going to be a lot of phenomenal opportunities in the coming year.

But the economy cannot do well if the people are not.

For a thought experiment, imagine for a moment that we didn't need to keep delivering food and power and whatnot. It would be possible to simply pause the entire economy-- just like contracts that don't consider weekends business days-- in this fictional world we could freeze all accounts and all debts and whatnot for a year and then do "2020" over again. We can't do this because we need to keep a lot of people working to keep food and medical care flowing-- but I think the crazy idea is a useful illumination that the economy is a shared delusion. Whats going on now is only as devastating as we allow it to be, but the deaths of millions would be devastating (economically and otherwise) regardless of what we otherwise want.

sorisos said 2 months ago:

I wish and hope just pausing the economy is as easy as you say. I'm worried though, as the last decades the Economy appears to be this unpredictable daemon that affects everything and everyone but no one knows how to please it.

belltaco said 2 months ago:

>Every cold and flu grow exponentially.

No, that's true only if it's brand new. Immunity for a certain strain lasts several years, which means there's a level of herd immunity that constraints infection from even reaching some of the non-immune folks, hence it's hard for it to be exponential.

This is not the case with the 'novel' coronavirus. There is no large scale immunity among the population.

watwut said 2 months ago:

> Every cold and flu grow exponentially.

When it is growing exponentially, they close a few schools here and there or stop visits in hospitals. That is enough to stop spread, get the R below 1 and making it not exponential.

It is simply not true that every cold and flu grows exponentially.

matwood said 2 months ago:

> Although true, using it doesn't add anything to analysis of corona virus specifically.

For many layperson, this is their first experience when it really matters. My mom isn't sitting around thinking about exponential spread when she gets a cold.

> I'd rather talk about the false hope in ventilators

I agree. Something like 80% of the people who end up on a ventilator die. Of course those other 20% are happy one was available, but by the time ventilators are being discussed it's really too late. Prevention is key.

> futility and destruction to our economy by lockdown

Depends. The economy was going to be hit hard regardless. Even if nothing was ever forced closed, the number of people sick and the number of overwhelmed hospitals would have killed the economy. For example, even before there were any official lockdowns in the US, companies I work with were already stopping all travel (late February timeframe).

saalweachter said 2 months ago:

We also do take notice when more mundane exponential threats crop up -- for instance, the R0 of measles is something like 12-18 (compared to a "measly" 2-2.5 for the novel coronavirus, or 1.28 for the typical seasonal flu), and when it got out of control in a few cities in the US last year, it was a Big Deal even though most people are vaccinated for it.

heimidal said 2 months ago:

The part of that most people, including you, seen to miss is that this goes way beyond those sick with the virus. The strain this virus is putting on healthcare is unlike anything the flu does in any given year, even during epidemics in the past several decades. That means it will kill people who are sick with something else. Pray you don't have a need for an ICU bed any time soon.

In the US, the flu kills between 12,000 and 61,000 people each year depending on the season. COVID-19 will almost certainly reach the low end of that range in between two and three days. It went from 100 to more than 9,000 deaths in only three weeks.

It's not the flu.

P.S. everyone who can get a flu shot should, every year, regardless of age. Herd immunity assists in protecting the entire population.

gpderetta said 2 months ago:

Yes. In Italy it has already killed twice as many people as a normal influenza season.

krn320 said 2 months ago:

Looking at this shows completely different story: https://www.euromomo.eu/

January 2017 was much worse overall in Europe, it's not even comparable.

gpderetta said 2 months ago:

That's interesting, it shows how misleading an average can be (the average 8000 dead for the flu that I quoted).

Still, if you focus on Italy, which is the most ahead in Europe, by March 28th (the time that report was updated), the number of deaths was already matching the 2017 peak (and in about 2/3 of the time). Since then the death count went up 70%.

edit: also note the caution about the uncertainty due to delayed registration.

gpderetta said 2 months ago:

It seems that the website was updated a few minutes ago with data for week 14. Italy is looking much worse than 2017. England is also very scary.

The data is still lagging by a few days, but it seems that the numbers are starting to trend down.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
watwut said 2 months ago:

> i've been saying "not more dangerous than the flu" before it started really going to shxt in europe, because to be honest, the epidemic doesn't look that dangerous if you're in general good health, just by looking at the numbers from a distance.

It looks like flu, among other reasons, because popular comparison at the time compared all-ages mortality for flu (e.g. including old and sick) with healthy-young-person mortality of the covid. This very same comparison also ignores asymptomatic covid people and does not ignore asymptomatic people with flu. So it is twisted in all kind of ways.

jimbokun said 2 months ago:

The differences with this coronavirus, as I understand it:

1. People are often contagious well before showing symptoms, making it much harder to track and isolate the people who have it.

2. It is about 10x more deadly than the flu. Could be more than that, as it's difficult to extrapolate from the current messy data. But I think it's safe to say it is much more deadly than the seasonal flu.

So far more people getting it, in a very short period of time, and a much higher percentage dying or requiring hospitalization, giving us the results we see. Overwhelmed health care systems, and death counts that will be much higher than seasonal flu without large scale mitigations in place.

pm90 said 2 months ago:

I had a similar experience but I was ignorant about how rapid infection rates could overwhelm hospitals and lead to much higher mortality rates. In part probably because this stuff has never been explained in so much detail before.

imgabe said 2 months ago:

Comparing annual death totals for the flu to coronavirus deaths over a couple of months is mistake number 1.

Comparing a number that is static from year to year to one that is growing exponentially is mistake number 2.

alacombe said 2 months ago:

and comparing "estimated contamination cases vs associated death" to "a known-positive cases vs. associated death" is mistake number 3.

CDC data shows 220k known-tested-positive case and 22k associated death. The 36 millions case is pulled out of a hat. As per these number, seasonal flu kills 10% of the known-positive cases.

luis12 said 2 months ago:

.

bcrosby95 said 2 months ago:

> And i think this is the reason why even amongst the medical professional i've talked to, they first seemed not too worried at all.

Medical professionals aren't professionals in everything. You may have been asking the equivalent a frontend developer for advice on writing COBOL for z/OS.

michaelmrose said 2 months ago:

To a degree we deal with catastrophic threats aptly without having our responses deadened by past fears never having come to fruition regularly. For example we swim knowing that if we stop moving we will sink and drown, we drive knowing that a slip up we could well die.

We are collectively guilty of many errors in judgement but on the whole we show on average not only are we able to mostly behave competently in complex situations individually we are able collectively to make some systemic changes to decrease mortality over the years.

This gives me hope that we take the correct lesson from this terrible experience and adjust our individual and collective behavior to avoid a re occurrence.

pritovido said 2 months ago:

I probably had covid19 in February(in Asia), only in retrospect I could differentiate it from the flu.

The main difference was it took the superior part of the throat instead of the inferior. Talking with doctors they tell me I had all the symptoms.

The problem with it is that at first it is "benign"(I had high fever for "just" two days) if your body stops it before getting into the lungs. Once it gets there it could be nasty(as it produces cytokine storm syndrome there) very fast.

So it is very easy to get confident.

Even the flu could get very dangerous is you get it combined with something else like a bacteria at the same time.

azeirah said 2 months ago:

Do you have a source for corona infecting the inferior part of your throat rather than the inferior part? I know you spoke to doctors, but I find it incredibly difficult to find credible sources other than either

incredibly simplified accessible articles on mainstream health websites, stating that a symptom is "throat pain"

or having to go through 20 pages of medical research which I understand basically nothing of.

rconti said 2 months ago:

>i've been saying "not more dangerous than the flu" before it started really going to shxt in europe

Have you stopped saying that, or are you still saying it for some reason?

>It made me realize how getting vaccinated for the flu as soon as you reach 50 may actually be a pretty good idea..

Do you realize, you can, and probably should, get vaccinated for the flu each year? And that these vaccines are only a 'best guess' for that particular year, so you should get on each year?

>It actually made me realize how the whole world has been completely desensitized to catastrophic predictions.

I suppose the alternative is to not warn people about pandemics and just let them all run wild? I'm sorry if people choose to get "desensitized", but these organizations are not interested in the politics of whether or not the general public will be able to appropriately digest their messages, and hence don't ration warnings based on how much we can "handle".

GistNoesis said 2 months ago:

>the epidemic doesn't look that dangerous if you're in general good health

I'm not so confident yet. What is still worrying me, is that it is not clear about the importance of the initial dose with respect to the severity of the outcome.

The disease having a quite slow progression, may mean that if you let it spread wildly, suddenly there is a large percentage of the population exposed, and this mean that when people gets contaminated they receive a high inoculum which may bring down even healthy individuals.

Juliate said 2 months ago:

The flu, even with vaccines, does not overwhelm medical personel, facilities and logistics as this does.

And the total death toll, given the current dynamics, is already going way way worse than the flu.

casefields said 2 months ago:

Yes it does.

2018: Flu stomps the nation, overwhelming ERs and leaving 20 children dead: https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/12/health/flu-surveillance-cdc/i...

2013: Flu Outbreak Overwhelms Hospitals: https://fox8.com/news/flu-outbreak-overwhelms-area-hospitals...

2017: Hospitals Overwhelmed by Flu Patients Are Treating Them in Tents: https://time.com/5107984/hospitals-handling-burden-flu-patie...

I still have yet to hear from the medical and nursing schools about increasing the number of students for the future.

Lewton said 2 months ago:

Those articles do not in anyway describe situations that are close to what we're seeing now in new york, italy, france and spain

The flu is still terrible, btw. And I hope this situation will increase the vaccination rates for the flu

Juliate said 2 months ago:

I don't think you picture yet the scale at which we are all hit right now...

bsaul said 2 months ago:

Agreed, and that's why i changed my mind since i saw what's going on in europe.

I just wanted to explain my initial reaction, based on what happened in china and by reading various medical people give their opinion.

ShorsHammer said 2 months ago:

> the total death toll, given the current dynamics, is already going way way worse than the flu

Fully aware of the types that will come out of the woodwork for simply saying this, however: no, it's currently still not on track for even a mild flu year yet alone a bad one.

A bad year for influenza is about 650,000 deaths worldwide, pneumonia deaths are often an aftereffect of the flu and it kills 2.5 million on average each year.

SARS-COV-2 has killed 60,000 in 5 months despite having no vaccine or known medicinal treatment, mainly due to locally overstretched medical resources more than anything else.

It's not even close to being equivalent to a bad flu year yet, and that's ignoring the secondary deaths.

nullc said 2 months ago:

> A bad year for influenza is about

Maybe about tenth your figure, once you exclude non-flu pneumonia-- which is about where we are now for covid19. Flu death figures are Flu+Pneumonia because they usually don't check. Efforts to separate flu from flu + pneumonia all result in flu being a small fraction of the total ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827586/ ).

xscott said 2 months ago:

The point still holds to compare Covid vs flu+pneumonia then. This is some weird No True Scotsman argument you're making where it's not the "True Flu" if they had pneumonia as well... (likely getting pneumonia because of the flu) I doubt the dead people would be comforted by such a subtle distinction.

KMag said 2 months ago:

The plus operator here is "and/or" not "and", but I presume you must have understood this. The GP's point is that flu+pnumonia = (flu) U (non-flu pneumonia). Nobody is denying that flu with pneumonia is flu.

xscott said 2 months ago:

What's really happening is that some people are trying to compare deaths from Covid-19 to deaths from the typical flu/pneumonia season. Nitpicking about what is or isn't the flu really doesn't matter, what matters (to me at least) is how many more deaths Covid-19 is causing than normal "flu/common cold/pneumonia/whatever" deaths which happen every year.

nullc said 2 months ago:

The CDC's figure is "flu or pneumonia" (non-exclusive). The majority of the moralities included in it do not have influenza.

xscott said 2 months ago:

I really don't understand your intent. Are you trying to say more people have died so far from Covid-19 than die from a bad flu or pneumonia season?

TechBro8615 said 2 months ago:

What's amusing to be is how anyone can look at the incompetence of governments across the world, and conclude they'd be capable of any kind of organized conspiracy against the general population.

david_w said 2 months ago:

"What's amusing to be is how anyone can look at the incompetence of governments across the world, and conclude they'd be capable of any kind of organized conspiracy against the general population."

Tell that to the Jews in Deutchland circa 1931...

Tell that to the Kulaks in the Ukraine in 1930 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor,

Tell that to the educated classes in China under Mao;https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/china/mao-murd...

You see conspiratorial thinking as some kind of bug in the thinking of insuffciently skeptical and analytical minds; a branch of stupidity. But it's not. It's a self-defense mechanism which, like other things considered antiquated and ineffcient like borders and control over immigration saves people from mass death.

These things don't exist because people are stupid and can't reason. They exist because people aren't stupid and do reason and then believe in their own mind's creations.

No matter how smart or sophisticated or computer-aided your reasoning is, no matter how big your data set becomes, you will only match and elucidate upon, but not beat, instincts which evolved under real Darwinian pressures which make you aware and wary of things which kill en masse.

AlexandrB said 2 months ago:

The listed examples are conspiracies by the dictionary definition - "a group of people acting in harmony to a common, illegal end" - but I don't think they're the same thing the parent poster was referring to. Conspiracy theories generally revolve around some secret action by the government or other large organizations, not open slaughter. A better example might be COINTELPRO.

zzzcpan said 2 months ago:

Technically the government itself is a form of conspiracy against the general population. But people don't know that, even educated people, because political science isn't mandatory in higher education. But labeling something as conspiracy theory is a useful tool to silence discussions about all the evil governments and large organizations do.

the_af said 2 months ago:

> Technically the government itself is a form of conspiracy against the general population

"Technically" in which sense? Which political science course taught you that? Or are you referring to some specific government?

david_w said 2 months ago:

Right. Conspiracies happen all the time because there are plans, which if understood by those upon whom the planners wish to enact them, would be rejected by their targets.

That describes most plans people have.

So the planners deceive and dissemble. That is how the world has always worked.

What's more, it's instinctive knowledge that this is happening all the time. Suspicion of those in power is a human instinct which, like all instincts, optimizes our survival chances under the conditions for which it evolved. WRT to political conspiracies, those conditions still hold today.

The way to think about conspiracy theories is the same way you think about inventors and inventions.

Nature produces inventors (conspiracy minded individuals) many of whom produce only harebrained inventions ("conspiracy theories" so called) some more who produce hit and miss inventions and a few which produce inventions which are overwhelming important and matter to survival ("Hitler is going to kills us all, we must flee right now!" - spoken by a Jew in 1933 Munich).

What this mapping between domains, inventions and conspiracies, also implies is that just because someone was wrong about one conspiracy doesn't mean they are wrong about all conspiracies and their credibility should not be automatically bankrupted if they believe one or two false conspiracy theories.

I do read some conspiracy theory sites and like to hear plausible (non-alien/ lizard people) ones because I want my mind to at least entertain the idea. It's like panning for gold. Most of it is nothing. Once in a while, maybe a little taste of something and I retain it dimly awaiting future possible supporting evidence.

For example, the "desperate labor shortage" and "Americans don't like STEM" meme is a clear conspiracy amongst employers and attorneys and their clients to control engineering wages and have more of the profits go to business owners. I used to not know about that "conspiracy theory" then I heard it and wondered if it could be true then over time the evidence for it became incontravertible.

Just to give one example.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
analyst74 said 2 months ago:

I used to think conspiracy theories are unrealistic, the image of a group of people sitting in a dark room conspiring against others just seems ridiculous.

But the older I get, and the more understanding I have over how large organizations are ran, the more I realize that conspiracies actually do happen, but in much more subtle ways.

What actually happens is that over a long periods of time, people collaborate with and promote those who think like them, with similar biases and incentives. Then when a major decision needs to be made, everyone at the table think the same way and agree on the same solution. This works even across organizations, as people's career are made through networks and relationships transcending organizational boundaries.

It is difficult to get a group of people to understand something when all their salaries depends upon them not understanding it.

ben_w said 2 months ago:

Isn’t that called “cronyism” (or “old boys club”) rather than “conspiracy”?

analyst74 said 2 months ago:

True, although the term cronyism and old boys club focus on the exclusivity of those "elite" circles, rather than the impact of their decisions, which looks a lot like conspiracy from outside.

Some people end up coming up with conspiracy theories based on their outsider observations.

notahacker said 2 months ago:

Yep. Actual conspiracies are comparatively banal, and often more to do with covering up incompetence than establishing new world orders with incredible technological advances. To bring up famous examples from the not too distant past, the same administration supposedly capable of secretly planting demolition charges in busy NYC offices without anyone noticing apparently saw it as too risky to secretly plant chemical weapons needed to be 'discovered' somewhere in an entire country under the control of its military.

smolder said 2 months ago:

Not in order to give credibility to the idea, but I do think it would be easier for a group of conspirators based in the US to pull off secret demolition charges than for them to plant weapons in a foreign country unnoticed.

notahacker said 2 months ago:

One theoretical conspiracy involves personnel carrying around large explosive charges and drilling holes in strategically placed beams on every floor of a permanently occupied and secure office building unnoticed by any one of thousands of surviving workers. The other involves a truck in an area the US is known to be conducting military operations unloading stuff at an abandoned remote facility and then calling in non-conspirators to validate their 'find', and accusing any Iraqi who argues the facility had other purposes of lying. Not saying there aren't reasons the second wouldn't go wrong - from getting ambushed or inspected en route to UN weapons inspectors concluding the material is unlikely to be of Iraqi origin - but it's not more difficult to plant stuff in a remote location than secretly prepare for a controlled demolition of a heavily occupied skyscraper.

catalogia said 2 months ago:

All theories about what happened on 9/11/2001, including the official 9/11 Commission Report, are conspiracy theories. They disagree on who the conspirators were, but every last theory about it is a conspiracy theory.

thombat said 2 months ago:

Like the endless YouTube conspiracy-oriented channels which rant about the vast Illuminati/Jewish/Deep-State/whatever conspiracy that holds our world in thrall and assassinates with impunity, yet somehow can't manage to file a few bogus DMCA claims to get the YouTube channels shutdown.

Of course if one tries pointing this out the response is sometimes "oh, they're so powerful that they like to mock us", but more commonly just to accuse you of being a shill/deep-state-agent/whatever.

catalogia said 2 months ago:

Supposing for the sake of argument that the Illuminati were real and you were in charge of it. You know a bunch of weirdos on youtube know the truth and are generally regarded as cranks. Would you bother concerning yourself with them, or would you ignore them since they're pathetic and powerless? I'd ignore them.

To be clear, I don't think the Illuminati are real, but I don't think your reasoning is sound either.

thombat said 2 months ago:

An all-encompassing conspiracy orchestrating events across the globe, sparing no effort or expense to weave us all into an inescable spider's web of connected threads, that then says "eh, probably nobody is even going to listen to those guys, let's not bother with having the intern fire off a few boilerplate take-downs"?

catalogia said 2 months ago:

Sure, why not? It's obvious "probably nobody is even going to listen to those guys" is true...

thombat said 2 months ago:

Why not? Because what evil puppet-master settles for "probably ok" when a slight extra effort buys certainty.

catalogia said 2 months ago:

One that isn't totally neurotic, presumably. Just to reiterate, I don't believe such an organization exists. But when trying to understand the plausible actions of even fictional characters or organizations, I try to imagine myself in their shoes. If I were in their fictional shoes, I would ignore the people who say I rule the world if those people are widely mocked and derided as insane by the general public. To do anything other than ignore them would be to risk giving them a sliver of credibility.

distances said 2 months ago:

Indeed! Every time someone mentions "them" running whatever conspiracy I'm reminded of the quote "Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?"

Looks like it's already centuries old even, from 1600s Sweden: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axel_Oxenstierna#Quotation

pm90 said 2 months ago:

Yes exactly. Most people don’t know or care about how Governments and Corporations really work. All they see are memes and conspiracy theories and latch on to them.

claudeganon said 2 months ago:

People can be capable of organizing conspiracies for their own self-interest and quite poor (or simply disinterested) in coordinating effective action otherwise. This is the story of every corrupt institution in history. You have to think beyond binary frames.

Kaiyou said 2 months ago:

It's always about benefits. Incompetence doesn't cost government benefits, so nobody cares. However, if there are benefits to be had by organizing a conspiracy against whomever, you can bet your money that this will be done. Nobody cares for "the greater good" or whatever. It's always about personal benefits.

jrd259 said 2 months ago:

I only wish it was only about benefits, because then it would be rational agent. What (economic) benefit does the Republican party of the US gain by suppressing gay rights or abortion? I can understand wanting to quash unions, prevent minorities from voting, remove environmental controls (in the short run anyway), or cast doubt on opposition media. But who actually gains when e.g. a gay couple can't buy a cake?

Kaiyou said 2 months ago:

Benefits do not have to be economic. It means getting the things you want.

a_tractor said 2 months ago:

>But who actually gains when e.g. a gay couple can't buy a cake?

The Christian baker who did not want to bake them a cake, but who was being compelled by the state to act against his personal religious beliefs?

Who loses when the gay couple can just go to another baker, one who doesn't let his/her religious beliefs get in the way of business? What did they hope to gain by ignoring every other baker in town who was willing to bake their cake, shopping around until they found a baker who refused them? Was it ever about a cake or rather about using gay rights as weapon to attack Christians?

smolder said 2 months ago:

The sorts of incentives for organized conspiracy would naturally be bigger than the incentives for competence in executing ordinary matters of government. However the rareness of uncovering organized conspiracies suggests they are rarely attempted more than it suggests some hypercompetent class of conspirators.

Kaiyou said 2 months ago:

Define "rare". Based on the ones I know were admitted alone, I'd think they are rather common.

XorNot said 2 months ago:

Its because they're not what people want to imagine (hypercompetent ubermenchen who they're outsmarting) but just covering up "mundane" though still devestating crimes.

Kaiyou said 2 months ago:

I wouldn't classify putting LSD in the water supply to be "mundane".

Neither would I classify MK-Ulta that way: "Techniques included the covert administration of high doses of psychoactive drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals, electroshocks, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as other forms of torture."

Or the releasing of biological weapons (MK-Naomi): "at least three covert techniques for attacking and poisoning crops that had been examined under field conditions."

Or Operation Notherwoods: "to both stage and actually commit acts of terrorism against American military and civilian targets, blaming them on the Cuban government, and using it to justify a war against Cuba."

Or the Tuskegee experiment: "The purpose of this study was to observe the natural history of untreated syphilis; the African American men in the study were only told they were receiving free health care from the Federal government of the United States."

The list goes on and on and on and on.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
cool_dude85 said 2 months ago:

Things like wholesale NSA data collection were organized conspiracies against the population. There are plenty of examples, even just considering the US.

axguscbklp said 2 months ago:

Strange that you got downvoted. NSA collection of American data fits any reasonable definition of "conspiracy against the population" that I can think of.

jordanpg said 2 months ago:

I think that at least US governments have done a poor job explaining the motivation behind the drastic precautionary orders. For a brief period, there was much talk of "flattening the curve" but I doubt that many people understand how that gets us to "deliberately wreck the economy."

This is what people who say it's just flu++ are missing, and I am trying to be sympathetic to their lack of knowledge of exponential math and how medical services plan and allocate their resources. It is the government's job to explain how this is very different from the flu and they are utterly failing to do so in many cases.

In fact, I suspect that most people believe that the isolation policies are to protect individuals' health, ie. to prevent even young and healthy people from contracting the virus. And based on this false premise, they are right to be annoyed with the lockdowns.

This is important because in a week or two, when the grocery stores start to empty and the lights start to flicker, the rugged individualist-types in the United States are going to start asking "why are we doing this, exactly?" And there is born civil unrest.

It is the role of state and national governments to answer this question and they have not been effective in doing so. We are doing this because there are O(10^6) preventable deaths in our future. Not because of the danger to any one young healthy person.

yodsanklai said 2 months ago:

> This is what people who say it's just flu++ are missing, and I am trying to be sympathetic to their lack of knowledge

This is very condescending. There are still a lot of unknowns, and there are smart people (for instance [1]) out there who think the cure may be worth than the disease. We urgently need more data.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUvWaxuurzQ

jordanpg said 2 months ago:

Reasonable people can certainly disagree about whether the cure is worse than the disease.

That said, the world's governments have made a decision to react in a certain way, and I maintain that my intuition tells me that most people don't understand the real reason for the lockdowns.

They think it is to prevent them personally from getting sick. That's not really true. The point is to prevent the medical infrastructure from becoming overwhelmed so that if and when people do become sick, they can be given their best shot at recovery.

yodsanklai said 2 months ago:

> The point is to prevent the medical infrastructure from becoming overwhelmed

I think this is clear for most people. I'm not American but I've watched Trump recent talk and they explained this clearly in a way everybody could understand.

What they didn't explain though is the post-lockdown strategy.

Most likely, in a few weeks, only a small fraction of the US population will be immune, and the problem won't be solved anymore than it was before the lockdown (except that the country is stalled). The virus will still be there, and there won't be any vaccine. I'd like them to think a few steps ahead and tell us what will be their plan.

takeda said 2 months ago:

The people who are currently sick will either recover or die. Lock down can make the effective R0 below 1. When it is below 1 the disease will die on its own. Of course we would have to be locked for a very long time, but even if we won't wait that long the active infection curve will go down and buy us some time.

s1artibartfast said 2 months ago:

The disease will never die out on its own. The question raised is hat are we waiting for and how long are we willing to wait for it.

If the answer is that we are waiting for nothing, perhaps we shouldn't.

If the answer is that we are waiting in lock-down 1-2 years for a vaccine and vaccinations, maybe we shouldn't.

redis_mlc said 2 months ago:

> We are doing this because there are O(10^6) preventable deaths

That doesn't appear to be true. Almost everybody who goes on a ventilator dies. Corona virus will infect as many people as any other flu or cold.

So it's a valid question - why do we still have a lockdown?

Juliate said 2 months ago:

To slow down the spread and ultimately reduce the number of people that will get to go in ICUs, go on a ventilator and/or die.

Because those _are_ preventable, if they don't get infected.

That, in turn, buys time to medical research & practice to mitigate and cure the disease, so that, later, when someone vulnerable is infected, we'll know better how to take care of them.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
lbeltrame said 2 months ago:

> Almost everybody who goes on a ventilator dies.

That wouldn't be a problem if so, to be honest. The problem is that a patient usually survives, but it takes 3 weeks in the ICU to do so.

takeda said 2 months ago:

Flu doesn't spread as well, because large number of people take a vaccine.

The reason for lockdown is to slow things down, so we don't get to the point where doctors have to decide who to help or who not. Also a lot of people can't connect in their mind that when hospitals are full, it also affects people who didn't even get the virus.

lbeltrame said 2 months ago:

> The reason for lockdown is to slow things down, so we don't get to the point where doctors have to decide who to help or who not.

But one must think that this can't go on indefinitely or for very long time frames. It buys time to reduce the number of "active" cases, but only to ensure that once lockdown is lifted one is able to do tracing and isolation for new cases.

Realistically, we'll have to live with this virus (and the associated risk) for quite a while. The time frames for a "cure" if it is found vary from months for drugs (if those in current trials prove to be useful) to years for a vaccine (which like the drugs may not be effective).

You can keep people holed up for a few months at best. You won't be able to do so for one or more years, unless you want to face severe consequences (and I'm not talking about the economy, I'm talking of long-term psychological effects).

martinko said 2 months ago:

Of all the conspiracy theories out there, the 'caused by 5G masts' is the one that confuses me the most. I get the possible aversion to 5G, but how does one make the leap from that to it causing COVID?

jpxw said 2 months ago:

I’ve tried to understand them, their rationale appears include:

- 5G occurred at the same time as corona - This is therefore “too much of a coincidence”

- 5G kills off things that naturally kill coronavirus

- 5G makes our immune systems weaker

All of which are unfounded of course. But it’s important not to just reject people’s ideas out-of-hand, or to suppress them.

mindslight said 2 months ago:

My aunt sent me a video asking my opinion (yay?), and I've been hearing ominous FUD about "5G" long enough that I wanted to see where it was actually coming from. So I watched it.

The bit I gleaned was the claim that since 60GHz is absorbed by oxygen (haven't checked this, but I'd assume similar to 2.4GHz being absorbed by water), it therefore interferes with your lungs' ability to intake oxygen. (my low-effort analysis: the radio waves won't penetrate your skin by more than a few millimeters, and therefore could in no way act in your lungs)

The whole narrative was much jumping around making connections that would seem plausible if you don't know or try to investigate technical details. For example - a defense contractor worked on 60GHz gear as well as communications for cruise ships -> smoking gun!

I'm sure there was plenty of innuendo that rolled right off my back, but makes an emotional impression. My aunt had gotten the impression that 5G is 50-60 times the power of a microwave oven. I couldn't bring myself to watch the video again to find what could possibly be interpreted this way, but I'm guessing it was talking about the frequency while implying magnitude.

technion said 2 months ago:

The argument all over my facebook feed is that Africa is both the only country with no Coronavirus and the only country with no 5G. But really, these are the same friends arguing for flat earth in a lot of cases.

ldrndll said 2 months ago:

The number of things wrong with this makes me despair.

1. Africa is a continent, not a country. 2. Some countries in Africa DO have 5G deployments, including my home country of South Africa. In the news recently is a possible link between BCG vaccinations and reduced fatality rates from Covid-19. South Africa has fairly high BCG vaccination rates due to the prevalence of TB 3. Iran has a severe problem with Covid-19, but no 5G deployments.

But as you say, this comes from the same type of crowd that believes in all the other bullshit (flat earth, vaccinations give you autism, etc.) so you can hardly expect an informed response to this.

Beltiras said 2 months ago:

For every reasoned answer you give them an avalanche of utter bullshit flows forth. This might be one of those rare occasions where the solution to bad speech is not more speech. The mind of the conspiracy believers is just too darned efficient at justifying bad reasoning.

Kaiyou said 2 months ago:

Alternatively your reasoned answer wasn't as good as you think it was.

Beltiras said 2 months ago:

To the conspiracy minded no answer is good enough.

filoleg said 2 months ago:

Yes, but to those who are undecided and are on the edge, a good answer might pull them to the right side. I know for a fact that it happened to me multiple times, when I saw a heated argument between two people (mostly on technical topics though, not something like corona).

Kaiyou said 2 months ago:

@Beltiras Or maybe that's just your excuse to not even try.

Kaiyou said 2 months ago:

Maybe unfounded but it's no like I can't see where they are coming from. Neither do I have the ability to refute any of those points.

jl6 said 2 months ago:

Your mistake is assuming people are using reason to come up with that theory :)

klmadfejno said 2 months ago:

Conspiracy theorists have long been depicted as just weirdos who think they're smart. They're actually generally people who have experienced trauma and are suffering from paranoia. Conspiracies validate feelings of distrust. More sad than funny.

rmu09 said 2 months ago:

IMO this is deliberate mis-information, some type of info-guerilla, to stir and channel anger against the establishment.

takeda said 2 months ago:

Yep, this also comes packaged with NWO, there is one country that actively works on spreading this crap on social media, I believe the goal is to weaken Western countries by setting up their citizens against their own government.

TwoNineFive said 2 months ago:

I'll clue you in: While some actually believe in the nutty conspiracy crap, it's mostly being pushed by anti-Chinese racists/nationalists/tribalists. Remember how that 5G tower gear is mostly made by Huawei? This is an excuse to attack them and how to get others to do it for them. You need to understand how plausible deniability is so often used by JAQoff deplorables.

ForHackernews said 2 months ago:

5G comes from China; coronavirus comes from China.

REALLY JUST A COINCIDENCE!? /s

MadSudaca said 2 months ago:

Some humans won’t change their mind regardless of how much soft evidence they’re presented with. This is good because we need variability. Evidence might be wrong, or it could be right, but following it could turn out to be worse a posteriori.

This idea helps me provide a plausible explanation to some behavior I find counterintuitive.

lozf said 2 months ago:

Perhaps they'd all been watching Dr. Drew, who is apparently trying to use the DMCA to remove this[0] compilation of him downplaying the Coronavirus.

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKlJlQadZtE

mercer said 2 months ago:

What's different, I suppose, is that certain types of people have a huge platform in the US via Fox News and the like.

In my country, The Netherlands, for the most part people didn't really seem to take things seriously, even when our PM told us to. All the same kinds of talking points (similar to flu, lots of people die from car accidents, etc.).

And so in the first weekend, with some restrictions already in place and Italy being in deep trouble, we all went to sit in parks and socialize like nothing was wrong.

It was only the week after that things changed. The government didn't suddenly enforce a full-on lockdown, but rather it was a combination of 1) our PM imploring everyone to change their behavior, 2) partial social distancing measures that were noticeable (events cancelled, restaurants closed for anything but take-out/pick-up), and perhaps 3) a sinking-in of how bad things were going elsewhere.

I've been 'immersing' myself in how the media reports things, the political debates and press conferences, and the way my social circles and people on the streets respond, and so far my impression is that there are two crucial factors that have resulted in 'proper' behaviour around here, despite the great weather: First, as it becomes clear that actual things change (limited no. of people in a supermarket, restaurants closed, specific public spaces closed when necessary), people realize it's not just abstract, and 2) while we are an individualist, recalcitrant bunch, we do ultimately have a lot of trust in the expertise of our government (whether justified or not).

I'm very interested to see how things develop in the US, and quite concerned in particular when it comes to 2.

EDIT: I'll add that personally I think at least initially our government was way too laissez-faire about this, and probably more so than many other countries in Europe other than the UK (and Sweden?). Our PM was/is perhaps too torn between taking things seriously and keeping the economy going. Which I suppose is exactly what he should be doing as a center-right politician.

rconti said 2 months ago:

You need to walk away from these people entirely. Get rid of the conspiracy theorists in your life.

The Twitterverse that generates fake news feeds on the controversy generated by stupid opinions. It ascribes value to the clicks and responses intentionally stupid content, shouted loudly, acquire.

When stupid people only talked to other stupid people IRL, the blast radius was limited. When I had a taxi driver spouting conspiracy theories, I didn't then take him with me to a party, and make all my friends listen to what he said.

abstractbarista said 2 months ago:

The flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 per year worldwide according to WHO. Today we're still <80k for Corona, and new cases are slowing.

thebruce87m said 2 months ago:

It’s not slowing down naturally - we are all on lockdown in order to slow it.

jpxw said 2 months ago:

I’ve also had this issue and I’ve decided to simply give up on these people. In three weeks time, they are going to be eating their words anyway.

zapttt said 2 months ago:

my hot take: this is all because we are engineers designing social networks.

think about it. email, twitter, etc. it all works like any network protocol meant for machines. it is cheap to spam. there is no middle ground between anonymity and spam. each node must handle their own peers. etc.

what if it was designed by actual sociologists or people that actually deal with human, instead of engineer. one would hope in such world tweeter would reduce exposition to all those accounts, because people around me that I trust do not engage with or outright block them. also I could have means to benefit of all that network without rendering all my information to the service. etc.

in summary, we are to blame for most of it.

akvadrako said 2 months ago:

Maybe you should try to explain why something that kills on average 450k every year is less serious then something that has only ever killed 70k. And not just less serious, but warranting several orders of magnitude fewer resources.

It's you who need a reality check.

elorant said 2 months ago:

I think that a lot of the people who are deniers are afraid of the economical consequences from the lockdown because they will be hit harder than others. So in their mind they choose to underplay the epidemic in order to justify their insecurity.

nullc said 2 months ago:

Meh. I'm extremely dubious, often in politics we often see the public arguing against their own economic self-interest. Why should this be any different?

It's tempting to give ignorance and fear a complicated explanation couched in the suspicion of greedy forces. It's not parsimonious. Plain ignorance and distrust is sufficient.

smsm42 said 2 months ago:

I agree that we have huge amount of talking heads around with zero skin in the game and zero consequences when they are wrong, but I disagree covid-19 pandemics changed anything. There are literally dozens of politicians who have been disastrously wrong and gave advice in public which is diametrically opposite to what should have been, and suffered absolutely no consequences. And everybody's reaction to this is as tribal as it has ever been - if it's my tribe, "he may be wrong this once but it's an understandable mistake", if it's the opposing tribe, "yet another proof these vile creatures is literally the worst scum of humanity". Nothing changed. All tribes of American politics, at least, that I can see, are happily turning the epidemics into the fodder for their tribal causes, as they did with everything else before that.

rayuela said 2 months ago:

Totally agree with this. This is something you can clearly see in Trump's approval rating, which just reached the highest levels of his entire tenure [1]. Things are only getting more polarizing, but the really scary thing is that this admin's approval rating climbs the worse things get and it is worrying to see this incentive structure :(

standardUser said 2 months ago:

There has been a lot written on this in the last week. The consensus is that Trump has received a historically tiny increase in approval rating when compared to other presidents in moments of crisis, and that this bump has all but disappeared already. Trump's post inauguration "bump" was similarly brief and mild.

chickenpotpie said 2 months ago:

Comparing this to 9/11, which in the end will most likely taken far less American lives, it really is a tiny increase. George Bush's approval rating went up about 30%. Trump's moved a single digit amount.

jonnycoder said 2 months ago:

I don't agree with you that it's scary that the admin's approval rating climbs. If anything it's positive news. People close to me, particularly females, who previously were anti-Trump have been changing their tune and some are considering voting for him in upcoming election for the level of leadership and openness since the covid19 stuff started. That's the opposite of polarization, at least anecdotally.

tekkk said 2 months ago:

That's insane. Shouldn't it be the opposite as he famously called it a hoax and so on? Disregarding whatever nonsense he has said on many past occasions. Oh well. In this case I'd only quote George Carlin here: "The public sucks".

smsm42 said 2 months ago:

> he famously called it a hoax

He did not. If you read it in some news article, please do yourself a favor and do not use this news source anymore. If somebody of your friends told you that, please keep loving them as friends but accept anything they say with a grain of salt as they may be more gullible than you thought.

What Trump actually said is that his opponents suggestion that he doesn't do enough to counter the epidemic is the next hoax (previous one obviously being, in his opinion, the impeachment proceedings). This is somewhat unusual application of word "hoax", as "hoax" usually refers to false statement of fact, and whether Trump is doing a good job is not a fact but an opinion, which you can disagree with but it can't be "hoax". What he obviously meant is that his opponents unjustifiedly accuse him of doing poor job, and he expressed it in the usual Trumpian manner, sacrificing precision for expressiveness. What he didn't ever say is that the epidemic itself is a "hoax" and everybody that told you he did, unfortunately, lied to you, either knowingly (because they hate Trump and think it's ok to sacrifice the truth for the noble goal of getting rid of Trump, somehow thinking when they do it, as opposed to Trump doing it, it's ok) or unknowingly (being deceived by the former kind).

This is one of the examples of how tribal things are. All Trump says is available in transcripts. Not many - especially from the opposing tribe - bother to read them and actually know what he says before forming (or, rather, confirming the pre-existing) opinion on the matter.

You can get the words e.g. here: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-coronavirus-rally-re... - I choose a source that is not in Trump's tribe so that there was no doubt their conclusion that Trump didn't say coronavirus is a hoax is not tribally motivated.

tekkk said 2 months ago:

I see. It feels quite funny though to be so specific about the ramblings of a man, who clearly says whatever comes to his mind without further thought. He might as well have said it and nothing would change. Definitely though there is a difference, and I should have probably worded myself a little differently. But it's quite hard to adhere to a high level of truthfulness when the other side clearly has no regard for it.

And just to be clear: I'm not very biased person to either sides, and I think it's amusing to see Americans get so riled by their opposing political side. I treat all of the US media to be biased in some direction, and never to reach the level of objectivity I myself would enjoy. It would be nice though that they would, I agree, but this is the reality of the current world I guess. If I could decide, I would just break apart the whole two-party system and give people actual options in voting. Perhaps then at least those who can think for themselves could vote for a candidate they believed in, instead of just voting the "least-worst" candidate.

smsm42 said 2 months ago:

> It feels quite funny though to be so specific about the ramblings of a man,

He either said it's a hoax or he didn't. In this case, he didn't. If you don't care what he rambles about, that's fine, but then don't say he said something he didn't as a proof to some point, as if it were a well-known fact.

> He might as well have said it and nothing would change

But he did not. So don't say he did. It's a lie. It's not ok for Trump to lie, why it's ok for somebody else to lie about Trump?

> But it's quite hard to adhere to a high level of truthfulness when the other side clearly has no regard for it.

So far the side that says the facts don't actually matter and whether he said what you claim he said or not is immaterial seems to be you. I think allowing yourself to disregard the truth because "the other side is doing it anyway" is not a right way to do things.

tekkk said 2 months ago:

Well I just noted your reply, 2 days later, but I'll still reply just because I feel annoyed.

Oh please, you are fighting windmills here. How I was phrasing myself in my opinion was vague enough to let the reader know, that I was not really sharing scientifically exact information. I expected somebody to write a short reply to correct me had I been wrong, not get so worked up on this.

Eg "If somebody of your friends told you that, please keep loving them as friends but accept anything they say with a grain of salt as they may be more gullible than you thought." What? I think you have overdosed on political zealousness as that's not something I would really care about. But perhaps as a European it's impossible for me to understand. And if I did care enough to correct them, I could just tell them and they wouldn't get upset. Unless you do it a like a nit-picking asshole that is.

It's nice you are trying the right the wrong, but seriously a less passive-aggressive reply would have been enough. Bless your heart.

smsm42 said 2 months ago:

> How I was phrasing myself in my opinion was vague enough to let the reader know, that I was not really sharing scientifically exact information.

You were not sharing scientific information. The problem is not that your information was unscientific, it's that it was a lie. And instead of saying "well, sorry, my bad, I goofed up, should have checked my sources better, will do better in the future" you still are trying to prove it's somehow OK to tell untruth and I was unreasonable ("a nit-picking asshole") for calling you out on telling a falsity, and somehow now me "getting worked up" (you must be really psychic knowing that via the internet! maybe you should make billions betting on stocks instead?) is the problem, not telling false things. I don't think this has much to do with being a European. I myself have been born in Europe, and I have many European friends, and I know in Europe truth means the same as everywhere else in the world.

Pils said 2 months ago:

Here's the quote from the Snopes article:

> Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa, they can’t even count. No they can’t. They can’t count their votes.

> One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over, they’ve been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning, they lost, it’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax. But you know, we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We’re 15 people [cases of coronavirus infection] in this massive country. And because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could have had a lot more than that.

Here is what you extracted from the quote: - "What Trump actually said is that his opponents suggestion that he doesn't do enough to counter the epidemic is the next hoax"

But you condition this statement on a novel understanding of the word "hoax"

"This is somewhat unusual application of word "hoax", as "hoax" usually refers to false statement of fact, and whether Trump is doing a good job is not a fact but an opinion, which you can disagree with but it can't be "hoax"."

Of course, you spotted right away that he was "sacrificing precision for expressiveness."

To steelman the other side: given the unreliability of natural language, there is a tendency to construct your own interpretation and then work backwards, which I think you did there. in the quotation, he uses "hoax" to describe another event:

>They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation.

versus

> And this is their new hoax. But you know, we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We’re 15 people in this massive country. And because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could have had a lot more than that.

Given the structural similarity and proximity of these two quotes, it seems clear what Trump is trying to do is to compare to these two instances and the similarity of the response from the Dems. In both, he very clearly says that his conversation with the Ukrainian President and the Coronavirus situation are both similarly germane. At the very least, it should be beyond question that Trump is downplaying the severity of the coronavirus in the last few sentences. It follows that the "hoax" is referring to the opposition party making a mountain out of molehill.

But I digress. The most important thing is that you have strong opinions on tribal politics and an apparent distrust of media. Which is fine and good! But it is also important to recognize that your interpretation could be different from someone else's, and that doesn't mean that they lied "because they hate Trump and think it's ok to sacrifice the truth for the noble goal of getting rid of Trump, somehow thinking when they do it, as opposed to Trump doing it, it's ok". You cannot assume all statements contrary to your own are made in bad faith.

smsm42 said 2 months ago:

> it should be beyond question that Trump is downplaying the severity of the coronavirus in the last few sentences.

He may have downplayed the severity, but it's light years away from claiming it's a "hoax". One can reasonably debate whether he did the former, but the latter is flat out lie. It's not ok to lie, even about Trump. There's a huge difference between choosing how to react to coronavirus (a lot of people were unsure initially how severe it is) and flatly denying it is happening. It's OK to argue that Trump was wrong on his chosen reaction, but it's not ok to lie that he called it a "hoax".

> It follows that the "hoax" is referring to the opposition party making a mountain out of molehill.

The "hoax" was about the claim that he did poor job handling the coronavirus. He thinks he did great job and his opponents are wrong. Not about that coronavirus epidemics doesn't exist.

> Which is fine and good!

What is not fine and not good is that people are ok with lying as long as it hurts the other tribe and helps theirs. Not ok at all. It's not a matter of "interpretation", it's a matter of twisting facts to the point where it becomes outright falsity.

Pils said 2 months ago:

You literally made a new definition of "hoax" on the fly to fit your truth model. You steamrolled over a contradiction in your logic and then go accusing people of lying for not doing the same!

belorn said 2 months ago:

Lets go directly to polifact then:

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/17/instagram-...

"The video makes it seem like Trump is calling the disease itself a hoax, which he hasn’t done. The words are Trump’s, but the editing is Biden’s."

"Trump’s comments feed into a conspiracy theory that claims Democrats and the media are fabricating the threat of COVID-19 to hurt the economy and, by extension, the president’s re-election chances. And the president appeared to downplay the threat of the virus at several points in recent weeks.

But the Biden campaign’s ad is misleading. It’s an example of what the Washington Post calls "splicing," or "editing together disparate videos" that "fundamentally alters the story that is being told."

Pils said 2 months ago:

What does a factcheck of spliced Biden campaign video have to do with the issue at hand? The quotes I pulled were directly from the transcript.

maxerickson said 2 months ago:

Yeah, this "oh wow, look at that" reaction to the particular media personalities in the clip is borderline hilarious.

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

Paul is off by a mile and a half on this one. They weren't worried about getting caught. At all. The thing they would be worried about is whether or not getting caught would have consequences. And if there is anything that you could have learned from the last three years then it is that lying to the public carries no consequences at all.

banads said 2 months ago:

>if there is anything that you could have learned from the last three years then it is that lying to the public carries no consequences at al

If you study history, you realize thats been a thing for much more than just 3 years...

https://youtu.be/VGdWIwiVMF4

andruby said 2 months ago:

At least Regan was able to admit that he was wrong (even if he didn’t admit he was lying). I wonder if Trump has ever admitted to being wrong.

maps7 said 2 months ago:

I don't think the author is off at all. Sounds spot on to me.

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

Here is the relevant passage:

"The answer, I realized, is that they didn't think they could get caught. They didn't realize there was any danger in making false predictions. These people constantly make false predictions, and get away with it, because the things they make predictions about either have mushy enough outcomes that they can bluster their way out of trouble, or happen so far in the future that few remember what they said.

An epidemic is different. It falsifies your predictions rapidly and unequivocally."

Paul believes that this is all about the quality of the predictions, and about the perps getting caught. That's nonsense. Nobody, and I really mean that, nobody has been held accountable for the longest time about the quality of their predictions. Or even the quality of their work. Mushy, exact or otherwise. These people have absolutely nothing to fear from the quality of their work product, and their hand in that, being held accountable. It just won't happen.

We have 100's of miles of video tape by now documenting falsehoods spoken by officials. The consequences: nil. Nothing. Zip, Nada, etc.

And as long as that is the case, as long as there are no consequences this shit will continue.

maps7 said 2 months ago:

The article doesn't disagree with that. Here's the relevant parts:

"An event like this is thus a uniquely powerful way of taking people's measure."

and

"Now that we've seen the results, let's remember what we saw, because this is the most accurate test of credibility we're ever likely to have. I hope."

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

Sorry, but no. There have been thousands if not tens of thousands of such testable events over the last couple of years and in not even a single case has this led to repercussions against those that lied. Nobody's measure has been taken in a way that they cared about.

We can record this one and likely it won't make any difference either. It's just whose team you are on now, not about whether there is anything truthful being said.

maps7 said 2 months ago:

What are you apologizing for? You could list some of the testable events if you want. When you have them listed reread the article and compare against it. Let me know how you get on.

jjtheblunt said 2 months ago:

Daringfireball holds people accountable all the time, in particular for wrong prognostications. It's semi hilarious, in that it's relieving.

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

And what consquences does that have? As in, did anybody lose their job, go to jail or faced some other stiff penalty? If not then it doesn't count.

In NL a minister resigned because he got caught in a lie. Imagine that. It wasn't even a big one, it is just that that is unacceptable here. I'm sure they lie all the time, it is just that getting caught is enough to do you in. So not a perfect system by a long shot but it does the job.

jjtheblunt said 2 months ago:

Totally agree with the question. _Maybe_ the discredited journalists get less prominent as they are discredited, but I wonder the same as you asked.

exo762 said 2 months ago:

They were on a good trajectory of being put of the business by Youtube. But than "authoritative sources" came.

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

"Group captain, I'm afraid I can't follow your banter, sir"

"Bally Jerry...pranged his kite right in the how's yer father...hairy blighter, dicky-birdied, feathered back on his Sammy, took a waspy, flipped over on his Betty Harper's and caught his can in the Bertie."

lazyjones said 2 months ago:

Does pg never watch the news? Or did he just forget that "no worse than the flu" was the general tone until late February in pretty much all 'western' media and even MDs?

E.g.

https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronav...

https://www.mdmag.com/medical-news/the-fear-of-the-corona-vi... (kudos for correcting/updating later...)

Seems a bit one-sided to get so excited about wrong predictions by the Fox/alt-right/MAGA bubble on account of one viral video.

maest said 2 months ago:

Not "western", but "American". Both your sources are US based (and cite the CDC).

The WHO has been warning about the coronavirus for ages.

lazyjones said 2 months ago:

I live in Europe and can confirm that it was similar here. E.g. German state media quoting a head physician: https://www.br.de/nachrichten/bayern/schwabinger-chefarzt-co...

(literally saying in the title it's not more dangerous than the flu)

Also, the WHO posted this on Twitter in January, draw your own conclusions: https://twitter.com/WHO/status/1217043229427761152

thombat said 2 months ago:

When WHO relayed the Chinese belief/hope of "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission" (Jan 14) there were only 40 identified cases, mostly with plausible links to the presumed origin at the market. It should be read as "widespread action not yet justified" rather than "no need to worry at all, ever"

jshevek said 2 months ago:

The WHO emphasized the lack of evidence for human-human transmission on Jan 14.

s_y_n_t_a_x said 2 months ago:

And didn't confirm transmission until Jan 25th.

paulgb said 2 months ago:

There's a difference between health writers writing in nuanced tones about the unknowns back in February (and sure, they got some things wrong, but they were going on the best information at the time), and talking heads on TV going on nothing but their own self-confidence and prior political beliefs telling people they'd be fine.

mehrdadn said 2 months ago:

Since this is about watching the news, it'd be nice if you could share clips from (say) CNN or MSNBC carrying a similar message, confidence, and tone.

lazyjones said 2 months ago:

Here's the Guardian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aerq4byr7ps

... just older people with underlying conditions dying ... etc.

mehrdadn said 2 months ago:

Are you joking? She says a heck of a lot more than that. Her tone is extremely cautious and she's extremely clear that we know very little about this virus, she's describing the current situation of who is dying rather than making baseless predictions about who will die in the future, and all she's saying in that one sentence is that for the current situation, "you have to put it into context". Meanwhile you have snarky Fox News folks spewing "the media mob is telling you the sky is falling down" and "at worst this is like the flu" and "this is the best time to fly" etc. And she even literally tells you "this one is scary..." and tries to explain what about it is scary. Are these glaring difference not obvious or do you just ignore everything except the 1 sentence you can cherry-pick out of context?

lazyjones said 2 months ago:

You should look at the video again. Her tone is calming and reassuring and she is saying it's scary because it is NEW. Are you deliberately trying to misinterpret it?

mehrdadn said 2 months ago:

No, I'm trying to point out everything you're ignoring, which fundamentally affects the meaning of the message coming across. Like right now when you just ignored the rest of my comment. I'm not gonna put more effort into this though, since it's clear you're not going to see what you don't intend to see.

lazyjones said 2 months ago:

I'm only ignoring the fact that you're more obsessed with Fox News' well-known snarkiness and presentation than with the fact that at the time, considering Coronavirus relatively harmless was not a lie or even uncommon opinion among most media, all along the spectrum.

qqqwerty said 2 months ago:

This video was published on January 23rd. At that point, China had less than 1k confirmed cases and less than 30 deaths. I agree with the sibling commenter, this was a very reasoned and factual video, especially considering the information that was public at the time.

robocat said 2 months ago:

That is from Jan 23, 2020... when everyone was clueless as to the consequences so she didn’t predict those.

Everything else is spot on, and it is still mostly older people with underlying conditions dying. She says the death rate is 2%: no pretending that it would be like a normal flu season.

I just can’t see how you can cherry-pick a single thing out of that reporting to criticise, even given it was done on January 23rd!

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

I don't know if he was watching the news or not but here on HN that was the predominant spirit and some incorrigibles still hold to that mantra.

buboard said 2 months ago:

There were sober voices on twitter, no neef to follow the mainstream. Thanks to @balajis, some of us were well prepared

flr03 said 2 months ago:

If it was not Paul Graham this would never has made it to HN front page, but ok... One of his point is that people should not talk about things they don't know about. So maybe he should start applying that to himself first (and maybe this to myself right now). The question is, how do you define the threshold of expertise require before you start talking about a subject?

The concepts of truth, credibility, ethics, deontology that he vaguely puts the finger onto. Those are complex topics, still being studied and will be forever.

Blaming journalist and politics, why not, I guess some of them deserve it, but my neighbour could have done the same analysis after couple of pints at the pub.

ag56 said 2 months ago:

No, his point was people shouldn't talk with _absolute confidence_ about things they don't know about.

Usually in everyday life we hint at our confidence level with the language we use: 'might', 'probably', etc. These people have trained themselves not to do that, which they previously have gotten away with.

tertius said 2 months ago:

As an immigrant, and I'm sure many foreigners would agree, this is extremely American.

People, gentile people, who use "might" and "probably" are weak intellectuals by American standards. They are cast aside, especially in media, because they cannot give definite answers. This is science and science doesn't sell.

Politicians and media types are sales-people.

This really depends on the family and milieu you grew up around and are engaged with generally in life.

swiley said 2 months ago:

This is actually career advice I was given as a kid by an engineer at a nuclear power plant: “don’t give the impression that you’re uncertain during discussions even if you are.” I remember thinking “isn’t it literally your job to be uncertain?” That really bothered me and I’m reasonably sure I wasn’t wrong to be bothered.

rsynnott said 2 months ago:

Three Mile Island?

vernie said 2 months ago:

That absolute confidence is what makes them popular with their audience and they will suffer no consequences as a result.

danans said 2 months ago:

> Blaming journalist and politics, why not, I guess some of them deserve it, but my neighbour could have done the same analysis after couple of pints at the pub.

They absolutely deserve the blame more than your neighbor, because they have a power of influence ~10e6 times greater than your neighbor at the pub. They chose to use that influence to back a narrative to support their political inclinations amid an emergency. The responsible thing to have said is: "We don't know what the severity of this will be, but we'll report things as we find out from authorities."

brain5ide said 2 months ago:

What needs to be noted clearly here I think is that he says it's something more than Dunning Kruger overconfidence but rather an absolute con-man level gamble they are taking as they don't seem to have a downside on this bet. And I guess we have a perfect moment to start providing that downside.

ugh123 said 2 months ago:

Its easy to focus on foxnews and pull all sorts of terrible content like that, but a more serious task is to look at a lot of the statements and confidence from the medical and scientific community early on - things around wearing masks in public and its inability to prevent spread, or UV light from the Sun and its ability to kill the virus (a popular statement projected by several doctors within the media), and several others.

There has been confidence all around from seemingly credible sources - acting on too early and thin data about what measures were effective or non-effective, many of which have been reversed in the last couple of weeks. A lot of this can be attributed to all sorts of news organizations (across the spectrum) and their push to get both positive and negative coverage out as fast as possible at the right time.

jmull said 2 months ago:

This "everyone is bad" is really off-the-mark.

If, in a fast moving situation, someone tells you something based on the best information available at the time coming from leading experts, which later turns out to be wrong, that's unfortunate.

If someone ignores the leadings experts and the best information available at the time and instead tells you what they want you to believe for their own political advantage, that's despicable.

Drawing those as equivalent just doesn't make sense. No one is perfect anywhere on the spectrum, and you can find people who are wrong, stupid, or disingenuous everywhere. But on one side we have most organizations generally trying to get it right for the most part, and on the other, we have organizations trying their best to con people, regardless of the consequences.

seppin said 2 months ago:

> This "everyone is bad" is really off-the-mark.

It's the worst take because it defeats the ability to find a solution in the future, if nothing can be trusted nothing can be implemented.

a_tractor said 2 months ago:

Your argument against this valid criticism that the current consensus is wrong about what sources can be trusted to be authoritative is an appeal to consequences which relies entirely on reductio ad absurdum.

The alternative to "something we thought we could trust and rely on but wow they really got it wrong and won't admit it" isn't "now we have nothing", its "now we need to hold these people accountable or find something else." It means that blind, unthinking trust in authority is what got us here. It means reevaluating your assumptions, not the end of the world. Doubling down simply because you can't imagine what the world would be like without CNN or the NYT is ridiculous.

gamblor956 said 2 months ago:

If experts in the field are getting it wrong, how do you expect journalists to get it right?

You're holding them up to unreasonably high standards.

It's simply unfair to compare news organizations like CNN which are at least trying to present accurate information (to the best of their knowledge) vs channels like Fox News that are active and avowed political propaganda engines that have admitted to deliberately deceiving their audience for views and political gain.

pbourke said 2 months ago:

> There has been confidence all around from seemingly credible sources - acting on too early and thin data about what measures were effective or non-effective, many of which have been reversed in the last couple of weeks.

This is true. In late February/early March there was a medical doctor who appeared in several local news segments here in Seattle. This doctor quoted a very misleading statistic about your chance of catching it ("you have a 0.5% chance of catching the virus").

I was intrigued by this obvious falsehood, and saw that it was also featured in a memo from one of our local hospital systems. Where did they get it from? A CDC study.

That CDC study looked at the first handful of patients to have confirmed COVID-19 in the US (all travel related) and traced their confirmed contacts. Sure enough - 0.5% of the contacts traced within this group acquired the virus.

Extrapolating this study to suggest that one's chance of catching the virus in the community, 6 weeks after the study was 0.5% was just a monstrous abdication of responsible communication.

Daishiman said 2 months ago:

This complete and utter BS.

There's a difference between getting into 2nd degree minutiae like the effectiveness of masks, seasonality, and other factors, and then there's plain and outright denial of established facts about the class of virus this was as the news of the situation in Wuhan began to circulate.

The most effective measures we have taken - social distancing, washing hands, closing schools, WFH - are the ones that were know to be effective over two decades ago, to the surprise of no one who kept tabs on the topic.

Mask wearing is, as of now, still a hotly disputed topic.

pbourke said 2 months ago:

> Mask wearing is, as of now, still a hotly disputed topic.

It isn't disputed in many countries in Asia.

crusso said 2 months ago:

The early talk about wearing masks struck me as particularly egregious. We were told: they don't help, you won't put it on properly, you'll just get yourself sick using it, you'll have a false sense of confidence.

That's what I kept seeing from the experts.

javagram said 2 months ago:

The advice (CDC/WHO) usually did include a statement that someone who was sick should wear a mask.

Of course it doesn’t make sense to tell people not to buy a box of masks if they aren’t sick because then how do you get a mask when you wake up coughing without going into the pharmacy and spreading it? And all the while through February and March evidence was growing that people might be infectious for a week or more before they got a cough.

anthony_r said 2 months ago:

It's very simple - skin in the game. Good that PG discovered this older-than-humanity principle of evolution.

Heads should be rolling after a large failure like this (not necessarily literal heads).

Don't tell me what you think, show me your portfolio.

FartyMcFarter said 2 months ago:

Boris Johnson has quite a lot of skin in the game now; he boasted about shaking hands with coronavirus patients a few weeks ago and is now in the hospital.

jpxw said 2 months ago:

He acquired the infection weeks after the handshake comment. It seems unlikely the two events are linked.

polack said 2 months ago:

How do you come to that conclusion? He literally said he would _continue_ to shake hands, so why is it unlikely that he contained it from shaking hands?

The point is also that if you continue to shake hands it doesn't make sense to be careful regarding other ways of getting it either. His attitude towards the whole thing would make him a prime candidate to the Darwin award if he ends up dying.

Lewton said 2 months ago:

The incubation period can be two weeks and time to hospital is also usually a couple of days after symptom onset. So saying it's unlikely seems weird

jpxw said 2 months ago:

Even “reputable” sources like the Financial Times have been putting out utter rubbish: https://www.ft.com/content/5ff6469a-6dd8-11ea-89df-41bea0557...

My current theory is that we are seeing denial on a mass scale as a coping mechanism.

xiphias2 said 2 months ago:

The problem is that the WHO was lying multiple times, and other organizations parroted those lies as they were afraid of confronting the WHO.

Now we are in a stage where there's no good information source (except HN comments, though even there we must be selective).

the_af said 2 months ago:

The WHO was lying? How so?

e2021 said 2 months ago:

WHO was saying almost until the point that China locked down that there was no evidence of human to human transmission, even though Taiwan has warned them that had strong evidence of this on December 31st 2019.

the_af said 2 months ago:

That could be a mistake or maybe they considered the prior evidence unreliable. "Lying" implies means conscious intent to deceive. Why would the WHO intentionally lie?

est said 2 months ago:

hypothetically WHO announced H2H transmission back in Dec, China enters lockdown in Dec, would this change any outcome?

buboard said 2 months ago:

As with any model, start with “all models are wrong”

jshevek said 2 months ago:

This appears paywalled, what did they say? (Is it the "half of UK" which is rubbish?)

gadders said 2 months ago:

Why is that rubbish? It was created by a team just as credible as that at Imperial College.

jpxw said 2 months ago:

The Oxford study is based on blatantly, and easily demonstrably, bad data. For example it relies on only 1 out of every 1000 infections needing hospitalisation. This is not supported by any current evidence.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/coronavirus-infections-oxfor...

taipan100 said 2 months ago:

To call the Oxford study "utter rubbish" is foolish.

Your "example" of bad data is the only quoted data in that article and it doesn't even mean anything since the implicit assumption of the Gupta model is that we do not know how many asymptomatic cases of COVID exist (even WIRED concede this point). Testing in Italy is insufficient to tell us this. 1 in 1000 infections requiring hospitalisation could be a realistic number if a high percentage of infections are asymptomatic.

> we just won’t know the true proportion of people who have contracted the disease without showing any symptoms, but it is likely a much lower number than the Oxford study assumes.

Epidemiology is not done by "it is likely much lower than the study assumes" since that is pure guess work without the tests.

What the Oxford study offers is a strong argument that antibody testing is vitally important and nobody is doing it.

As I say this is a very long way from utter rubbish.

jsnell said 2 months ago:

1/1000 was not realistic when the preprint was published, let alone now. It showed that one could fit a bunch of curves onto 14 days of data on deaths. Which is true, but also utterly unintersting. The reason that sorry excuse of a model got so much attention is that the authors did not stop there.

They also made the totally unsupported assumption that one of the lower end curves matched reality. (That's right. They actually made exactly the kind of assumptions you're accusing others of, rather than just argue for antibody testing).

The problem is that when the study was made, there was a lot more data available than just that 14 days of deaths from two countries. And a ton of it was totally incompatible with their modeling.

Here's some of the conflicting data points as of ten days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22698584

kgwgk said 2 months ago:

> Testing in Italy is insufficient to tell us this.

It's not about "testing in Italy":

"In Lombardy – despite the region being under lockdown since March 9 – more than one in every 1,000 of the entire population have already been hospitalised due to coronavirus."

lbeltrame said 2 months ago:

But we don't know the actual amount of people which were infected in Italy, because some of these (a sizable percentage) only reported fevers, and perhaps didn't even think about having SARS-CoV-2 in their bodies.

An acquaintance's partner suspects having got it, because after two days (two days, not weeks) of very mild fever (~37.5C) he was hit by anosmia. An ex-coworker also mentioned "a horribly strong fever" with respiratory difficulties which lasted just a few days. Yes, anecdata, but shows that you can easily miss a large part of the infected cases if you only test those hospitalized.

kgwgk said 2 months ago:

You’re missing the point. We know for sure that in Lombardy the hospitalisation rate was higher than 1 in 1000 people infected.

taipan100 said 2 months ago:

We do not know the Lombardy hospitalisation rate because we do not have an accurate count of how many people have been infected in Lombardy.

To get such a count we would need 100% serological testing which has not been done. We know how many were infected at the time of testing but the whole point of the Oxford model is that we do not know how many have been infected, not shown symptoms, and recovered.

Once again, the core point of the Oxford model was to emphasise the need for serological testing.

kgwgk said 2 months ago:

We don’t know the Lombardy hospitalisation rate.

We definitely know it’s higher than 1 in 1000.

Unless you all think that the number of people infected may be higher than the number of people.

gadders said 2 months ago:

Conversely, the lead on the Imperial Study was also in charge of modelling for the UK foot and mouth epidemic which was found not fit for purpose and resulted in lots of livestock being slaughtered unnecessarily. And this is the one the UK and other governments seem to be basing their approach on.

"He was behind disputed research that sparked the mass culling of farm animals during the 2001 epidemic of foot and mouth disease, a crisis which cost the country billions of pounds.

And separately he also predicted that up to 150,000 people could die from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or ‘mad cow disease’) and its equivalent in sheep if it made the leap to humans. To date there have been fewer than 200 deaths from the human form of BSE and none resulting from sheep to human transmission."

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/03/28/neil-ferguson-sc...

2bitencryption said 2 months ago:

One thing I've had trouble reconciling is the fact that the CDC estimates 24k-63k deaths from the flu this flu season[0]

We just passed 10k from covid-19. Only last week a "low" estimation of covid deaths this year was 200k. So it seems the expectation is there will be many, many more, and we're just at the start of all this.

On the other hand, it also seems this week like the infamous curve is beginning to flatten, and the epidemic is slowing down. Does this contradict the "low" 200k number? Or does the 200k number factor this in, and indicates that the "long tail" of the disease will be very long and damaging indeed?

Some of the clips show in the video referenced in the article actually seem pretty "sane" to me - the one guy saying "I'm not worried about getting this illness", another saying for most people it will seem just like the flu. Those two statements, as far as we know, are not that outlandish, right? I'm certainly not worried about myself, and for many people it does seem to be mild or asymptomatic?

I don't want to have an "opinion" on this matter, I want to interpret the data and understand the truth, Fauci-style.

[0] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-e...

defen said 2 months ago:

The "official" 200k estimate (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.27.20043752v...) assumes that China isn't lying about their numbers, that Italy's official numbers are correct (Even though the death rate in some places there is 5-10x higher than normal), that the US will be able to implement "lockdowns" as effectively as China did, and that the rate of decline of new cases of COVID-19 will match the rate of increase before the peak.

I'm not sure any of those assumptions are warranted.

adjkant said 2 months ago:

The thing missing here is that you're looking at deaths without looking at number of cases of each. The flu causes the number of deaths it does because it infects tens of millions of people a year[0]. The death rate is an order of magnitude lower than with COVID-19 across every single age bracket. [2]

So when people say things like:

> "I'm not worried about getting this illness"

They are likely not considering that even the younger are taking as much as a 1% risk of their life, which is incredibly high. Depending on factors like the load on the medical community at the time and others, it can get as high as 5% or more quite easily as we have seen around the world. Currently using only napkin math from the numbers here[1], the death rate is currently at just under 4% over all age groups in the US.

Additionally, it is not considering the danger they are putting others in by getting it. With the flu at a death rate of 0.2% or lower, causing deaths by infecting people is a very small risk. Passing it to one person here significantly ups the chances of you causing someone else to die.

Finally, flu deaths almost exclusively happen in the immunocompromised and elderly, while COVID-19 affects younger people a LOT more.[2]

[0] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-c...

[2] https://i.insider.com/5e81f6460c2a6261b1771b05?width=600&for...

2bitencryption said 2 months ago:

> They are likely not considering that even the younger are taking as much as a 1% risk of their life

I know the numbers are still super fuzzy and it depends on who you ask, but at least according to Wikipedia, the US fatality rate for ages 20-44 is 0.1-0.2%, not near 1% (though certainly at-risk individuals would be higher than the average...)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus_disease_2019#Progn...

adjkant said 2 months ago:

That "as much as" was attempting to account for overloaded medical conditions which will raise the rate, though for 20-44 it'd be unclear by how much. If we go by that table using a 2.3% death rate, that'd already be .3% using a naive literal scaling to the death rate for that age group for the US currently. But yeah, fuzzy numbers and napkin math warning is certainly warranted, I'm nowhere near an expert on this.

As mentioned, the flu death rate of 0.1% is overall as well - for younger people it is also significantly lower, so the increased risk still holds for younger folks. Source [2] shows that well.

usaar333 said 2 months ago:

> They are likely not considering that even the younger are taking as much as a 1% risk of their life, which is incredibly high. Depending on factors like the load on the medical community at the time and others, it can get as high as 5% or more quite easily as we have seen around the world. Currently using only napkin math from the numbers here[1], the death rate is currently at just under 4% over all age groups in the US.

Those are pretty high numbers. Using a Lancet study (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3...), IFR is just under 0.1% for a 30 something year old. Hospitalization rates are at 3.5% (2-7% confidence), so a death rate (for 30 year olds) even under a collapsing medical systems for younger people is highly unlikely to get close to 5%.

All said, a 0.1% death rate is still pretty dangerous and catching the disease is something like raising your risk of death by 50% in a given year. Lockdowns are still justified under those numbers.

> Finally, flu deaths almost exclusively happen in the immunocompromised and elderly, while COVID-19 affects younger people a LOT more.

Well, and old people even more. Are the relative risk ratios actually different for covid vs. flu - or are we just seeing the effect of a disease that is 7xish a really bad flu season?

(For young children actually, I believe covid outcomes are better than flu.)

umvi said 2 months ago:

> Lockdowns are still justified under those numbers.

And what if the effects of an extended lockdown is a tanked ecomony with a 3x increase in suicides for the next decade? Is it still justified? Lockdowns are only justified if the only variable you are optimizing for is "number of covid-19 deaths". Yet there are hundreds of other variables that we are ignoring in our quest to minimize that one variable. Impossible to tell now, but tanking the economy to flatten the curve may end up indirectly killing even more people in the long run.

usaar333 said 2 months ago:

Fair point. In some sense, I share your feelings a bit (in a lighter sense). The park closings some Bay Area counties are doing (e.g. San Mateo) feel not justified; I'm also not sure why the SIP was extended all the way into May given the existing downward trajectory. [Looking at both Seattle and Iceland, you don't need full-on SIP to keep R at 1]

aianus said 2 months ago:

> All said, a 0.1% death rate is still pretty dangerous and catching the disease is something like raising your risk of death by 50% in a given year. Lockdowns are still justified under those numbers.

0.1% of the rest of my life is ~3 weeks. The lockdown has already cost me more of my life than a confirmed case of COVID-19 would (on average).

And the math doesn't get much better the older you get, an 85 year old has the same chance of dying of natural causes during a 12 month lockdown as he has from actually contracting COVID-19.

usaar333 said 2 months ago:

That is an interesting point and I'm not sure how public health officials are treating it. I'm in tech WFH so I don't see even half my life being lost from the lockdown (maybe 20%), but YMMV.

umvi said 2 months ago:

I simply do not believe those figures at all.

How can you even claim an "average death rate" when you don't even know how many people were infected, had mild symptoms, and recovered without reporting it to anyone?

Of course the numbers will look scary when you only count hospitalized people as infected.

Non24Throw said 2 months ago:

You’re touching on what this whole thing is.

It’s rushed and woefully incomplete data enabling media companies to write apocalyptic headlines without exposing themselves to any legal liability. They have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders, so that’s what they’re doing.

I think to most people with a background in statistics it’s very easy to tell how bad the data is at a glance. It’s downright blatant. They don’t have a platform though, because in this media climate your platform is only as big as your level of sensationalism and hysteria.

There are multiple factors skewing the data toward coronavirus appearing more deadly than it actually is. It’s new and sudden, so there wasn’t a lot of infrastructure in place for testing. It’s causing a rush on hospitals. Combine those and you have one massive shortage of testing. You obviously want to care for the most critically ill first, so globally, only the most sick get tested, and only the cases most likely to be fatal are even represented in these numbers everyone is seeing.

Then they take wildly differing medical, economic and political environments all over the world, and merge all the data as if it’s equal. In many cases, in addition to the inadequate testing, that data is only as accurate as their governing bodies want it to be.

Do we really believe there are 5x as many cases in the US as in China?

Do we really believe there were only 5,000 cases in India?

Do we really believe the virus is 10x as likely to be fatal in Italy as compared to Germany?

Take the “confirmed cases” number and just add a zero, and you might be closer to the reality of what’s going on out there.

People are simply blind to the difference between “confirmed cases” and “cases”.

It’s very unfortunate that this nomenclature has a natural tendency to make “confirmed cases” feel like it must be more accurate, and also unfortunate that the term “cases” could only ever be an approximation. But those labels were chosen carefully and for a good reason, and they represent very, very different things.

adjkant said 2 months ago:

> How can you even claim an "average death rate" when you don't even know how many people were infected, had mild symptoms, and recovered without reporting it to anyone?

We can either throw our hands up and give up or we can do the best with what we have. So, what percentage of cases do you think are unconfirmed? You can adjust my math with that and see what those rates are. Those numbers still stay scary unless you assume a 90% unconfirmed rate, at which it equalizes for young people compared to the flu but is still 10x or more for some age groups. The point being, even accounting for underreporting this is still much more deadly and allowing it to spread like the flu would result in many more deaths.

I haven't seen any reliable numbers given about the underreporting rate, so if you have seen any that would be interesting!

concordDance said 2 months ago:

See the report by Imperial: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/m...

Looks like Spain had 6 million infections but only 140 thousand cases. So the actual uncomfirmed rate could be 97%.

abstractbarista said 2 months ago:

Those % you are citing are highly misleading. Because they are % of tested positive cases. There's likely an order of magnitude more actual positive cases which have not been captured.

itronitron said 2 months ago:

The low 200k fatality estimate probably factors in the that the curve is flattening.

The current estimate is that 300k people are infected in the US. If the number of people infected by Covid-19 doubles every week, then in 10 weeks there will be 300 million infected in the US. Assuming 1% mortality puts you at 3 million dead.

cortesoft said 2 months ago:

Doubling each week is not how it happens... as a higher percentage of people have or have had the virus, the growth rate decreases because there are less people available to infect. That is why infection percentage is an s shaped curve.

analog31 said 2 months ago:

It's an s shaped curve, but we don't know the upper magnitude of that curve. A large percentage of the population would have to get infected in order to run the COVID out of new recruits. If it tops out at 50% of the population, that's a disaster.

Forcing the doubling rate to decrease short of hitting that point requires something else to happen. South Korea clearly did something other than running itself out of cannon fodder.

aledalgrande said 2 months ago:

> as a higher percentage of people have or have had the virus, the growth rate decreases because there are less people available to infect

That is what you would call "herd immunity" and no, current numbers of recovered patients are not even close to have it. It doesn't happen like magic like some politician wants to make people believe, and current estimations for COVID _herd immunity threshold_ are 29%-74% of the community [1]. Make a count of that on the US population.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity#Mechanics

cortesoft said 2 months ago:

Sure, but the comment I was replying to was suggesting that in 10 weeks, 300 million Americans would be infected... that is 91% of the population of the United States. We aren't going to hit that number.

aledalgrande said 2 months ago:

The growth is not going to be that much, sure, but because we slow it down with isolation, not because the immune people stop it from spreading.

cortesoft said 2 months ago:

Yes... but even if we did nothing, we are unlikely to hit 90% infected... 60 to 70% yes, but not 90%.

I am not saying that is ok, or that we should just let it run its course... just that saying we will hit 90% infection is unrealistic.

itronitron said 2 months ago:

I already baked that in by starting with a low infection rate (2x per week instead of 2x every 3 days).

cortesoft said 2 months ago:

Yes, but 90% is an unrealistic infection number no matter what you start with. I think most experts had it at around 60-70% if we do nothing.

That is not acceptable, either, given the fatality rate and the strain it would put on hospitals... but I think it is important we try to be accurate.

analog31 said 2 months ago:

One issue to consider is that the COVID wipes out our ability to treat serious flu cases by swamping the hospitals.

maps said 2 months ago:

>Some of the clips show in the video referenced in the article actually seem pretty "sane" to me - the one guy saying "I'm not worried about getting this illness", another saying for most people it will seem just like the flu. Those two statements, as far as we know, are not that outlandish, right? I'm certainly not worried about myself, and for many people it does seem to be mild or asymptomatic?

The flu season is 6 months for ~ 40k deaths.

We are at 10k deaths of covid in the USA. Depending on how you measure the 'season' it could be as little as a month in. If we keep with these numbers it will surely pass the flu death toll for the same time period.

Now also consider that unlike flu, we have no vaccine and the virus kills people in the prime of their life just as much as the elderly. We also have no idea on the way this virus works. We are making assumptions that it will work like a normal flu virus. There is anecdotal evidence it resides in people even after they have 'recovered', which isn't the same as a normal flu or cold. It is certainly something to be concerned with.

lbeltrame said 2 months ago:

> Now also consider that unlike flu, we have no vaccine and the virus kills people in the prime of their life just as much as the elderly.

Not with the same rates. This should be kept into account, because when lockdowns will be lifted (you will have to at some point, even if it's just to prevent people from becoming insane), you won't have a risk of 0, so letting the lowest-risk population out first is a goood bet.

> Now also consider that unlike flu, we have no vaccine

But there are drugs in development and in trial. None will work miracles, some will not work at all, some will have marginal impact, some will have a little more impact. Those are the best bets at this point in time.

Waiting out for a vaccine, like many governments are hoping for, is irrational IMO, because there's no guarantee that a working one will be found - and you can't lock up your population for 18 months, even if you don't factor the economy in, because people will be destroyed psychologically.

GregarianChild said 2 months ago:

G. Orwell, In Front Of Your Nose [1]:

"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle. One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one's opinions about important events. Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it. Political predictions are usually wrong. But even when one makes a correct one, to discover why one was right can be very illuminating. In general, one is only right when either wish or fear coincides with reality."

[1] https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-foundation/orwel...

throwaway5752 said 2 months ago:

In the background global warming is a much greater threat to human life and has the exact same dynamic with the exact same players. There is also zero introspection - the people who were wrong about covid-19 are simply denying they said what they said. The truly scary part is they are getting away with it in real time, and changing a large populations' memory of contemporary events. I realize it's hard to remember further back with the enormous amount of information we're all bombarded with, but you can just go back to 2005 and see Larry Kudlow (Dir. NEC) just as wrong about economic policy and the depth of the financial crisis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Kudlow#Economy) but here he is again. Consider Navarro vis a vis trade. I don't think anyone will learn anything, and for smart enough people, that needs to be the lesson.

runeks said 2 months ago:

> In the background global warming is a much greater threat to human life and has the exact same dynamic with the exact same players.

No, global warming has a very different dynamic. With a virus, if you do the right thing and protect yourself, you’re more likely to survive. With global warming, if you get a lot of people to emit less CO2, you might just end up making CO2 emissions cheaper for everyone else.

VWWHFSfQ said 2 months ago:

That's a very reductive and defeatist way to view the problem, and potential solution. The reality is there is no silver bullet. Emissions have to be reduced by means of an energy revolution. Sure, some will benefit in the short term. But everyone will benefit in the long term.

hanoz said 2 months ago:

It's not reductive and defeatist to point out that the global warming issue has a tragedy of the commons aspect, on both personal and national levels, which could hardly be more different to the current pandemic.

marcosdumay said 2 months ago:

Hum... The GP seems to be talking about Global Warming denialists, and the dynamics of how they communicate with people. This one is the same.

But yes, Global Warming has the bad quality that it is completely not obvious how to solve it. There is an entirely different dynamic at the side that accepts it for settling on a solution... and what is more disturbing, R&D and science are mostly neglected there too, even by the academics so prone on applying science to predict the problem.

lutorm said 2 months ago:

It's entirely not obvious how to best solve the coronavirus situation either, though.

marcosdumay said 2 months ago:

On the short term, I will disagree. And we are all living on the short term now. The only thing that works is isolating people.

On the long term, it's even worse, nobody seems to have any idea what to do. But we are doing the opposite than we are doing with Global Warming, we are heavily funding the kinds of research that may solve the problem. All of those kinds.

sjg007 said 2 months ago:

Umm it is pretty obvious how you “solve” global warming and that is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

dagurp said 2 months ago:

It's not obvious how to do that

mwarkentin said 2 months ago:

Apparently with a global pandemic. /s

hanspeter said 2 months ago:

Not on a global scale but on a national it's very obvious.

marcosdumay said 2 months ago:

The only thing that matters is the global result, and the only policies that we know how they work at global scale are the ones that we know that they do not work.

There is an incredible lack of actual social and political scientists discussing those policies, and the few economists that are there seem focused on hitting known bad policies (what is easy to understand, since politicians keep pushing them).

hedora said 2 months ago:

If you catch coronavirus, you’re roughly twice as likely to die this year as if you didn’t (this is true for most age groups).

Most people have a vanishingly low probability of dying in the next 12 months. They shouldn’t care much if they get it or not, unless they’re worried about the welfare of others.

This seems very similar to CO2 to me, except that global warming affects younger people more, and coronavirus primarily affects older people.

It saddens me that our leaders won’t act to prevent a planetary disaster that will that affect their children and all future generations, but are willing many more times the resources on a comparatively minor crisis that will last at most a year.

Tepix said 2 months ago:

That‘s statistics. In reality there are many factors that make COVID-19 much more dangerous for a lot of people. Besides, i don‘t feel like taking an extea 2 in 1000 chance of dying, thank you very much.

smichel17 said 2 months ago:

If I do the right thing and protect myself, I reduce strain on hospitals, allowing the careless to receive better care. But enough people being careless will overload the healthcare system all the same, reducing its ability to serve me.

cortesoft said 2 months ago:

So what should we do?

vkou said 2 months ago:

Carbon taxes, and protectionist trade tariffs against countries who don't adopt carbon taxes.

Make non-compliance painful enough, and the defectors will fall in line.

banads said 2 months ago:

>Make non-compliance painful enough, and the defectors will fall in line.

Maybe they don't, or maybe in the end that's all too little too late, which is why I'd suggest adding adaptation initiatives to your list.

vkou said 2 months ago:

We're going to have to turn to adaptation initiatives even if we go net-zero-carbon tomorrow - that's kind of baked into our future planning at this point.

mirimir said 2 months ago:

What if the defectors have more nukes than you do?

e9 said 2 months ago:

For a lot of countries it’s either emit pollution and feed people or don’t and let lots of people starve. Do you think your privileged life worth more than someone from third world who can barely afford to eat?

Rexxar said 2 months ago:

Buy carbon and store it somewhere.

jfrankamp said 2 months ago:

The United States military could best be used to fight this by destroying (with warning) global fossil fuel infrastructure that wasn't voluntarily closed, bit by bit with a decade long schedule. The announcement alone would prompt a massive shift in energy production, use, investment etc. Our own legacy infrastructure would also have to be on the list. Call it a Paris accord with teeth.

It will never happen, because collectively we don't believe the cost of climate change is greater than the cost of leveling the landscape of incentives to reduce emissions + reducing emissions. The US could unilaterally leverage its remaining military lead to enact global change.

mnl said 2 months ago:

Wow... So the military of the state that has contributed most to the global cumulative CO2 emissions (25%) can "solve" the problem with indiscriminate attacks and war crimes everywhere else now. Fascinating. Are people forgetting about this practice of thinking about their idea at least for 30 seconds before starting to type?

jfrankamp said 2 months ago:

Targeting unoccupied fossil fuel infrastructure on an announced schedule is indiscriminate? War crimes for killing an oil derrick?

That is fascinating to me. We know the Paris accord cannot work without enforcement. It is economically disadvantageous to go first. As I said, it will never happen. We don't take the threat seriously, we don't believe it is an existential threat.

mnl said 2 months ago:

Well, it happens to be both things. I have no doubt that you will find international criminal law fascinating, you just have to google it.

tlrobinson said 2 months ago:

That sounds like a good way to start World War III. The top oil producing countries after the US are:

Saudi Arabia, Russia, Canada, China, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Iran, Kuwait

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=709&t=6

Mountain_Skies said 2 months ago:

Nuclear winter would solve global warming though it still would count as climate change, so maybe it's a wash.

jfrankamp said 2 months ago:

All signatories of the Paris accord. All are nominally thought to be rapidly transforming their economies in response to an existential crisis.

"including high polluters such as China, the US, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Indonesia and Mexico, which generate more than half the world's greenhouse gas emissions, will somehow drive down their carbon pollution voluntarily and assiduously without any binding enforcement mechanism"

What is the binding enforcement mechanism?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Agreement

mirimir said 2 months ago:

Well, Russia doesn't seem so happy about global warming. I gather that melting permafrost screws up gas production. So maybe they'd want to work with the US.

jchook said 2 months ago:

The US is well versed in "the lesser of two evils"

malandrew said 2 months ago:

Can militaries around the world even operate without fossil fuels? Some of the larger ships and submarines are nuclear, but pretty much everything else is fossil fuel dependent AFAIK.

kaikai said 2 months ago:

The US military is a leading source of carbon emissions

klenwell said 2 months ago:

This is a topic near and dear to Philip Tetlock's heart and something he pragmatically tries to address in books like Superforecasting and the Good Judgment Open project (which unfortunately seems to be becoming less open over time). It's also a preoccupation of his Twitter feed:

https://twitter.com/PTetlock

On the subject of predictions and credibility, when the question "what's your brilliant startup idea" comes up, one of my half-joking responses: an ESPN site for CNBC and other cable news sites where talking heads spend all data talking about the prediction performance of other talking heads and making predictions about future prediction performance of those talking heads.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> In the background global warming is a much greater threat to human life

Before making such a confident statement, I would recommend re-reading this particular statement in pg's essay...

"These people constantly make false predictions, and get away with it, because the things they make predictions about either have mushy enough outcomes that they can bluster their way out of trouble, or happen so far in the future that few remember what they said."

...and consider how it applies to all the people who have made confident predictions over the years regarding global warming.

FabHK said 2 months ago:

Your response is quite remarkable. PG's article contrasts 1) the careful predictions of experts, who study an issue in depth their entire life and pronounce on it carefully based on scientific models, with 2) the remarks of politically motivated hacks that seek to distract from the consensus for their own political agenda, often with remarkable (but unjustified) confidence.

PG warns against 2), the hacks, and points out that here we can see how utterly wrong they are, because the time frame is so short.

Now, GP points out that something similar happens regarding climate change, with 1') climate scientists and 2') climate change denial, and you take PG's warning against facile hacks (ie 2') and apply it to 1'), the climate scientists and experts? That's quite some nerve.

leereeves said 2 months ago:

You're misrepresenting what GP said. They didn't say "experts", they said:

> all the people who have made confident predictions over the years regarding global warming.

You can't deny that most of the people speaking publicly, and by far the loudest people, are not experts, they are politicians, journalists, and filmmakers. (And tech entrepreneurs...) Many of those have predicted disasters that never happened.

But judging by the downvotes, I guess that's an inconvenient truth.

bad_user said 2 months ago:

No, it is the scientists that have predicted the disaster, with an overwhelming consensus, hence the downvotes.

leereeves said 2 months ago:

No, journalists and politicians are misrepresenting what the IPCC says. The IPCC are not alarmists, and they aren't predicting "The world is going to end in 12 years."

The actual report is far more balanced. Yes, they are predicting some negative consequences, alongside potential benefits and measures for adapation and mitigation.

https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ar5_wgII_spm...

nl said 2 months ago:

Why would you link to the fifth edition of the report instead of the (complete) sixth edition or the in progress work now?[1]

Of course the IPCC doesn't predict the world is going to end in 12 years. That's a strawman - I'm sure you can find someone who has predicted the world will end in 12 years, but that isn't the disaster people are concerned about.

Instead, they collect five key "reasons for concern" by "using the following specific criteria: large magnitude, high probability, or irreversibility of impacts; timing of impacts; persistent vulnerability or exposure contributing to risks; or limited potential to reduce risks through adaptation or mitigation." [2]

Some of the risks associated with these include:

Risk of death, injury, ill-health, or disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states and other smallislands, due to storm surges, coastal flooding, and sea level rise.

...

Risk of food insecurity and the breakdown of food systems linked to warming, drought, flooding, and precipitation variability and extremes,particularly for poorer populations in urban and rural settings.

[1] https://www.ipcc.ch/reports/ (click "Assessment Reports")

[2] Pg 12, https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ar5_wgII_spm...

leereeves said 2 months ago:

I don't think the sixth edition of the assessment report is complete. It's "AR6 Climate Change 2021" so I assume it will be released next year. But if it's available somewhere, let me know.

"The world is going to end in 12 years..." is a recent famous quote by a prominent Democrat. I'm surprised you haven't heard it.

Personally, I bought into the climate alarmism about 30 years ago, and my skepticism is based on seeing so many things I've heard and read (even from scientists) turn out to be exaggerated.

moultano said 2 months ago:

>The world is going to end in 12 years..." " is a recent famous quote by a prominent Democrat.

This isn't true, and you should probably cut whatever source told it to you out of your life. The world is going to end if we don't take action within 12 years, which is the gist of what the IPCC report says.

leereeves said 2 months ago:

My quote is literally what she said. (She later claimed it was "dry humor plus sarcasm")[1]. Perhaps she meant something more like what you said.

It doesn't matter.

"The world is going to end if we don't take action within 12 years" is also false, and not at all what the IPCC report says. When O'Rourke said something similar, the AP fact checked the claim:[2]

> THE FACTS: There is no scientific consensus, much less unanimity, that the planet only has 12 years to fix the problem.

> “This has been a persistent source of confusion,” agreed Kristie L. Ebi, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington in Seattle. “The report never said we only have 12 years left.”

And no, I'm not going to cut the AP and PBS out of my life just because some alarmists are delusional.

1: https://apnews.com/1c663bcb294c1752573f45fc5bf5e0f9/

2: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/ap-fact-check-orourke-...

moultano said 2 months ago:

You don't appear to have read the things you linked. The argument Ebi is making is that we shouldn't give up if we don't hit that 12 year deadline, because it's continuous, and things keep getting even worse. She's trying to communicate that there are worse things than 1.5C that we could still prevent.

leereeves said 2 months ago:

There are worse things than 1.5C that we could still prevent because 1.5C isn't the "end of the world".

moultano said 2 months ago:

If your quibble is with the precise definition of "the end of the world" and not with the rest of the statement then I think we're well outside of what concrete facts can resolve. The impacts of 1.5C are going to be horrific. The fact that the impacts of 2, 3, 5, 5C are more horrific doesn't change that.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> journalists and politicians are misrepresenting what the IPCC says.

And the IPCC Summary for Policymakers itself misrepresents what the actual science says. All of the caveats, disclaimers, hedges, and so forth in the scientific working group reports (and even more so the caveats, disclaimers, hedges, etc. in the actual peer-reviewed papers on which the working group reports are based) are ignored in the Summary for Policymakers. The policy recommendations are already determined and published before the scientific working group reports are released.

So there are actually three levels of misrepresentation involved: first the IPCC WG reports misrepresent the actual primary sources; then the IPCC SPM misrepresents the WG reports; then journalists and politicians misrepresent the IPCC SPM. At each stage the predictions get more alarmist and the recommendations get more draconian.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> it is the scientists that have predicted the disaster, with an overwhelming consensus

No, they haven't. The IPCC reports are political documents, not scientific documents. One key fact that shows this: the Summary for Policymakers is written and published before any of the Working Group reports, and the Working Group reports then have to be edited and massaged to be consistent with what the Summary for Policymakers says. A true scientific report with scientific predictions would be the other way around: first you would write, review, and publish the scientific analysis and predictions, and then you would write, review, and publish the policy recommendations.

roenxi said 2 months ago:

GP was incorrect in taking a position that global warming was not a threat. The actual threat of COVID is going to be much lower than global warming, COVID is either going to be temporary or in the long term settle to look a lot like all the other diseases we put up with. Climate change could be a legitimate crisis at some point.

However, directionally speaking, they have an excellent point that people who predict the future are very common in the climate lobby; and within that group people who correctly predict the future are going to be rare. It is not a lobby made up of scientists because there aren't that many.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> The actual threat of COVID is going to be much lower than global warming, COVID is either going to be temporary or in the long term settle to look a lot like all the other diseases we put up with. Climate change could be a legitimate crisis at some point.

I think you are conflating two different possible meanings of the term "threat".

Climate change is likely to be much more of a "threat" than COVID-19 in the sense that we are likely going to have to be dealing with it for a much longer time. But humanity has already been dealing with climate change through all of human history, so having to deal with it for the indefinite future is nothing new. It's only more of a "threat" in the sense of it being a long-term thing we need to factor into our planning, as opposed to COVID-19 being (hopefully) a short-term crisis that we weather and then move on.

Climate change is not more of a "threat" than COVID-19 in the sense of causing more disruption to our society; COVID-19 has already caused far more disruption in a few months than climate change has caused over decades, if not centuries, and also far more than climate change is likely to cause in the future. Time frames matter. Having to restructure the global economy over a century is one thing; that's already been done multiple times in the past, and happens as a natural result of people gradually changing the way they live and work in response to other changes. Having to restructure it in a few months is a very, very different (and much, much more difficult) problem. In that sense COVID-19 is a far worse threat than climate change.

TheOtherHobbes said 2 months ago:

You're conflating a lot of different points there.

Most obvious is the definition of "deal with." During the ice age transitions "deal with" more or less meant "survive - barely."

If you're happy for humanity to "survive - barely" for the next couple of centuries, then perhaps you have a point.

But our definition of humanity is much richer and more interesting than it was at the end of the Younger Dryas some 14,000 years ago.

Now a reasonable definition of "deal with" is "survive without losing significant acquired knowledge or skill."

That's a much bigger ask when survival-critical choke points are all on the line, which include food production, water supply, and the loss of key living and working space on the coastlines are all on the line. And that's not even considering the general inhabitability of inland areas that will become increasingly prone to storms, floods, forest fires, tornadoes, and so on.

We can already see this happening. Denying it is a form of delusion, in very stark and literal terms.

In fact the political problem we're dealing with is a cult-like mindset that considers "the economy" more real than the physical environment it exists in.

The bottom line is that "the economy" is a quasi-religious political construct, while the real world is... the real world. The economy needs to change, because otherwise reality will kick its ass whether it likes it or not.

The change can be planned and strategised intelligently as an immediate priority, or it can be suicidally chaotic, with huge unplanned loss of acquired knowledge and future potential.

Those are the two extremes on offer. There are no others.

COVID-19 is a handy dry run. We'll see how we do.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> During the ice age transitions "deal with" more or less meant "survive - barely."

That's how humans have lived for almost all of human history; only in the last couple of centuries have a significant number of humans been able to have a standard of living much above bare subsistence.

> The economy needs to change

The economy is always changing, just like the climate. We certainly need people to be inventing new technologies and creating wealth; that's how the economy changes in response to changing conditions and changing needs.

What we do not need is a bunch of draconian centrally controlled policies that will do more harm than good, based on invalid alarmist predictions.

> The change can be planned and strategised intelligently

Nobody knows how to do that on a global scale. No such planning and strategizing has succeeded in the past. To use your phrase, reality has always kicked the ass of such planning and strategizing.

Fortunately, we do not need a central authority planning and strategizing everything. What we need is to do common sense things to make our society and economy more robust, and give people the tools they need to adapt to change in whatever way seems best to them given the unique conditions of their own lives, instead of having policies dictated to them from the top down.

There's a story that a Soviet minister of something or other was visiting London and asked some UK government official who was in charge of the daily supply of bread to the city. He was utterly unable to fathom the answer, which was "nobody". Central planners just can't get it through their heads that central planning doesn't work.

mirimir said 2 months ago:

Hey, wait until the US midwest goes dust bowl.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> PG's article contrasts 1) the careful predictions of experts, who study an issue in depth their entire life and pronounce on it carefully based on scientific models, with 2) the remarks of politically motivated hacks that seek to distract from the consensus for their own political agenda, often with remarkable (but unjustified) confidence.

To the extent your 1) and 2) are reasonable categories, I don't see PG giving any examples of 1). I see him giving examples of 2) trying to pass themselves off as 1). Which is what I see happening with claims of catastrophe related to climate change.

throwaway5752 said 2 months ago:

Central America (https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/eye-of-the-storm/fifth-...), Syria (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096262981...), Australia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2%80%9320_Australian_bus...), and Alaska https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/sockeye-salmon-and-cli... might beg to differ, among others.

It is happening now. It's happening in line with predictions by IPCC. It gets pretty bad. I can't help what people have said that has been wrong, but the world is measurably and visibly warming and that itself was denied for a long time. Very nearly 100% of experts in this field agree it's happening, have agreed for quite a while, and think the impact will be dire and potentially irreversible in the timeframe of human lifetimes. It feels like the zoonotic coronavirus situation played out over 50 years, rather than the 15 or so since SARS. Epidemiologists told everyone for a decade and a half this would happen, but here we are. A large group of experts in another field is telling us a similar thing with similar urgency. That's my only point.

d_burfoot said 2 months ago:

Do you even read these papers before posting? Here's what the Syria paper actually concludes:

> In light of the above we can now return to our main questions: is there clear and reliable evidence that climate change-related drought in Syria was a contributory factor in the onset of the country's civil war?; and, if and where yes, was it as significant a contributory factor as is claimed in the existing academic and expert literature? On each step of the claimed causal chain, our answers are no. We find that there is no clear and reliable evidence that anthropogenic climate change was a factor in northeast Syria's 2006/07–2008/09 drought; we find that, while the 2006/07–2008/09 drought in northeast Syria will have contributed to migration, this migration was not on the scale claimed in the existing literature, and was, in all probability, more caused by economic liberalisation than drought; and we find that there is no clear and reliable evidence that drought-related migration was a contributory factor in civil war onset. In our assessment, there is thus no good evidence to conclude that global climate change-related drought in Syria was a contributory causal factor in the country's civil war.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

Your reply, while valid in isolation, isn't a meaningful response to the parent post. There is no single "global warming prediction", there have been thousands. The parent was speaking to those, not whichever one ends up being closest to the truth.

>>consider how it applies to all the people who have made confident predictions over the years regarding global warming.

mempko said 2 months ago:

There have been thousands of predictions, but only a subset of them have consensus. The IPCC is that consensus across varying stakeholders. It's looking like the consensus has been too conservative with it's predictions and that's the scary part.

shakermakr said 2 months ago:

Science and proof is not based on consensus. It’s not a vote. A best bet. Until then we should of course act towards the most probable act and cause but remain healthy in our skepticism of the effect of global warming and our faith in computer modeling of inherently chaotic systems.

rriepe said 2 months ago:

I see this sentiment a lot. It seems really obvious to me that no, science is actually about consensus now. If you disagree, you're shunned and labeled "dangerous."

Maybe this is in conflict with what science should be. But it's also definitely what science is now.

shakermakr said 2 months ago:

Science isn’t consensus! Proof isn’t determined by “very nearly 100% of scientists agree”. Just ask Copernicus.

We don’t vote on scientific proof. Yes evidence leads us to believe climate change is happening, but why and predicting it’s trajectory and effect should be met with scientific standards not scaremongering and “CLIMATE DENIER” hyperbole.

If the pursuit of scientific rigour and fact has taught us anything over our history it’s that skepticism and challenging the status quo is necessary and should be welcomed. In today’s climate debate it it’s nothing but derided.

sfkdjf9j3j said 2 months ago:

I think you're not reading his comment in good faith. He's clearly not suggesting that whether or not something is true is decided by a vote of scientists. He's saying that the people who are most familiar with the science overwhelmingly believe that the evidence suggests that global warming is in fact real.

Further, people are wise to be skeptical or even dismissive of climate denialist claims because there is a long history of politically motivated people making deliberately but subtly specious arguments for it. Given both the overwhelming consensus and the glut of misinformation, it makes sense to filter it with a very high bar.

throwaway5752 said 2 months ago:

You are right. It is decided because not only do almost 100% of climate scientists agree, but there in indisputable proof of the basic method of action (CO2, CH4, H20 greenhouse effects) and we can measure that effect in the lab and then correlated it to measured climate change that normalized for various known climate cycles. The consensus in the fields is driven by the overwhelming evidence of the multidisciplinary field results, experiments, and modeling.

The benefit of science (reproducibility, falsifiability) has been hacked by commercial interests. This isn't even in dispute (Heartland, IER, many others). Groups that dispute climate change are all funded by CO2 emitters and the results are coordinated by enormous lobbying and donation campaigns.

Flat earth proponents are not operating within a scientific framework of doubt and proof, and neither are climate change deniers.

shakermakr said 2 months ago:

You just completely prove my point.

First there’s the “almost 100%” of scientists agree argument again. Sorry, that’s not a valid argument for saying something is true!

Second. Models aren’t proof. They’re models. Yes we can measure gas quantities and determine correlations. But we haven’t scientifically proven it. We’re dealing with chaotic systems. Until we can, we need to remain skeptical and open to other ideas. That’s my point. Not that it isn’t happening.

Third. Then you bring politics into it. Oh the 1% are funded by Big Oil. Oh and the 99% aren’t funded by politically motivated players either? See point (1), scientific fact isn’t determined by who agrees with it or not. Until it’s proven, it may be unproven.

And fourth. Flat earth, again, the relationship to climate deniers...you don’t need scientists to agree the world isn’t flat. It’s proven. Scientifically. See the difference?

Thanks for eloquently providing examples to exactly what I was saying

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> but there in indisputable proof of the basic method of action (CO2, CH4, H20 greenhouse effects) and we can measure that effect in the lab

Yes, and those measurements tell us that without a large amount of positive feedback, the effect of greenhouse gases alone is too small to worry about.

> and then correlated it to measured climate change that normalized for various known climate cycles

Nope, this has not been done. The climate models cannot reproduce the data at all with just the measured greenhouse effect of the various greenhouse gases. They have to dial in a large amount of positive feedback, and even then the only period of time for which they reproduce the data tolerably well is the latter half of the 20th century. The model outputs don't match the early 20th century warming, they don't match the mid 20th century cooling, and they don't match the early 21st century pause.

The correct, honest scientific conclusion from all of this is that the models are simply not good enough at this point, i.e., we don't understand how the climate works well enough at this point, to support multi-trillion dollar policy decisions.

101404 said 2 months ago:

As long as everybody who has even a question about the topic is publicly yelled at and insulted, there will be many people who will simply ignore the topic.

The main reason global warming isn't taken more seriously is because of the way it is discussed.

lliamander said 2 months ago:

> Very nearly 100% of experts in this field agree it's happening, have agreed for quite a while, and think the impact will be dire and potentially irreversible in the timeframe of human lifetimes.

The consensus regarding climate change (and human's role in it) has been exagerated[0]

[0]https://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2014/02/a-climate-falseh...

admax88q said 2 months ago:

Your source is a random blogspot.com who claims that there's ambiguity because they consider the term "caused by" to be ambiguous.

I stopped reading there.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
lliamander said 2 months ago:

David Friedman is an economist at Santa Clara University.

The argument relates not to climate science itself, but to the methodology on study measuring the consensus of climate scientists. It's pretty easy to follow.

PaulDavisThe1st said 2 months ago:

David Friedman is a well known libertarian and sometime anarchocapitalist whose moral and political philosophy is notably at odds with the concepts invoked by those who call for large action to tackle climate change.

The fact that he's smart doesn't change the conflict of outlooks.

lliamander said 2 months ago:

He happens to believe (or accepts) the IPCC findings, he just disagrees about the economic implications, which is his prerogative.

PaulDavisThe1st said 2 months ago:

That's not at odds with what I wrote.

What mattered was the original description of him as "an economist at ..." which effectively neuters his very public positions on things like coordinated action w.r.t. climate change. He's absolutely entitled to his beliefs, but shouldn't be cited as if "oh wow, an ECONOMIST at SANTA CLARA says this, so ..."

lliamander said 2 months ago:

The fact that he's an economist at a respectable institution means that he's eminently qualified to comment the economic impacts of climate policy.

But of course, this has nothing to do with the subject of the blog post, which is whether Cook paper asserting that "97% agree that humans are the primary cause of global warming" is at best a misleading application of statistics.

There is no need to have a particular background in climatology to understand whether the Cook paper was methodological sound, just a background in statistics. The argument Friedman advances is quite straight-forward, and you are welcome address the argument rather than try to disqualify him as a source.

PaulDavisThe1st said 2 months ago:

I don't want to discredit him as a source.

I want him acknowledged as a source with a pre-determined axe to grind. He's smart, he's clever, he's sometimes right. But he's not J. Random "Economist from Somewhere University".

lliamander said 2 months ago:

OK. I acknowledge that he has a bias that stems from his anarcho-capitalism.

My point is stating that he was an economist at a respectable university was not to disguise his bias, but to emphasize that he wasn't just some random blogger, which was apparently a barrier for some people when it came to assessing his argument.

yardie said 2 months ago:

You really posted a link to some random blog post, not a peer reviewed journal, not even an expert on the subject? In the year 2020? I'm not even sure where to start because there is just... not enough here to even.. oh forget it.

lliamander said 2 months ago:

Here you go pal[0]

[0]https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9

edit: added missing word.

tfehring said 2 months ago:

Here's the passage from that paper that explains the 0.3% figure from the abstract:

From publication and citation data, Anderegg et al. (2010) selected 908 of 1,372 climate researchers, defined as scientists who had published at least twenty climate papers and had either signed petitions opposing or supporting the IPCC’s positions or had co-authored IPCC reports. Of these, 97–98 % endorsed the standard definition that ‘‘anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for ‘most’ of the ‘unequivocal’ warming of the Earth’s average global temperature over the second half of the twentieth century’’(p. 12107). The standard definition of the consensus in Anderegg et al. (2010) is less imprecise than that of Cook et al. (2013). Yet, like Cook et al. (2013), Anderegg et al.(2010) did not seek to determine how many researchers considered this global warming to be actually or potentially damaging enough to require a climate policy.

Such surveys are often cited as demonstrating a near-unanimous scientific consensus infavor of a climate policy, when they never ask any question about whether and to what extent the anthropogenic component in recent warming might be dangerous or about whether a ‘‘climate policy’’ should be adopted in attempted mitigation of future warming. Nevertheless, Cook et al. (2013), after a subjective review of only the abstracts of 11,944 papers on climate change which ‘‘matched the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’’’ (p. 1), conclude that 97.1 % of those that expressed an opinion endorsed the hypothesis as defined in their introduction (i.e.,the standard definition). However, 66.4 % percent of the abstracts had expressed no position. Thus, 32.6 % of the entire sample, or 97.1 % of the 33.6 % who had expressed an opinion, were said to be in agreement with the standard definition. However, inspection of the authors’ own data file showed that they had themselves categorized only 64 abstracts, just 0.5 % of the sample, as endorsing the standard definition. Inspection shows only 41 of the 64 papers, or 0.3 % of the sample of 11,944 papers, actually endorsed that definition.

I had a little bit of trouble parsing that text alone, but the underlying data was easier to digest - here's the breakdown of analyzed papers by "level of endorsement of the climate consensus", from Table 1 of that same paper:

    Endorsement level                                                   Abstracts % of All Abstracts
    ------------------------------------------------------------------- --------- ------------------
    Explicit, quantified endorsement (standard definition of consensus)        64              0.54%
        Actually endorsing the standard definition upon inspection             41              0.34%
    Explicit, unquantified endorsement                                        922              7.72%
    Implicit endorsement                                                     2910             24.36%
    No Position                                                              7930             66.39%
    Expression of uncertainty                                                  40              0.33%
    Implicit rejection                                                         54              0.45%
    Explicit, unquantified rejection                                           15              0.13%
    Explicit, quantified rejection                                              9              0.08%
    Total                                                                   11944            100.00%
The 0.3% from the abstract refers to the 0.34% of papers that provide "explicit, quantified" endorsement of the consensus that "anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for ‘most’ of the ‘unequivocal’ warming of the Earth’s average global temperature over the second half of the twentieth century". But the majority of abstracts neither endorsed nor rejected that consensus, while the vast majority (97.1%) of those expressing an opinion either explicitly or implicitly endorsed the consensus view.

This doesn't strike me as a particularly strong refutation to throwaway5752's claim.

rsanek said 2 months ago:

Thank you for the well-written reply & inclusion of the table. I think my question from here would be, what does a paper taking 'no position' really mean? I perceive there to be a significant difference between, we have considered both sides but at this time will not endorse nor reject vs. we didn't even consider taking a position because it was irrelevant to what we are studying.

I think the implication in your reply is that it's more of the latter, but if it turns out to be more of the former, I think there needs to be a huge asterisk attached to the 97% number.

lliamander said 2 months ago:

The question here is whether that 97% accept that humans are the main cause of global warming, which is arguably not supported by the evidence presented in the Cook paper.

To quote Friedman in a follow-up post:

> My objection was that the 97% figure lumped together categories 1-3, when only category 1 fitted Cook's "main cause." Categories 2 and 3 were papers saying or implying that human action was a cause—"contributed to" in the language of the example. Category 1 contained 64 papers, or 1.6%, not 97%.[0]

Which does not mean that there isn't a large consensus that humans are the primary cause of global warming. What we can infer is:

1. The Cook paper is not evidence of that consensus

2. That Cook himself is perhaps not a reliable source.

[0]https://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2014/03/john-cooks-respo...

yardie said 2 months ago:

Well don't hold back now. If you read the article, I can't because it's paywalled, then present the evidence here, in this forum.

leereeves said 2 months ago:

Searching for the title will usually find a free copy.

https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~wsoon/myownPapers-d/LegatesSoon...

yardie said 2 months ago:

I got this instead https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveys_of_scientists%27_views...

Which points to a 2016 study [0] refuting Tol's claim that the majority of climate scientists have not reached a consensus.

[0] https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/04...

lliamander said 2 months ago:

That's exactly what the Friedman blog post was for. If you weren't willing to read it there I see no reason to think you would read it here.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> Very nearly 100% of experts in this field agree it's happening

None of these "experts" have a track record of correct predictions that justifies taking their current predictions seriously. Remember we are not talking about the fact that the climate changes: yes, it does, it always has, and it always will (unless at some point in the distant future we learn how to control it accurately). We are talking about the dire predictions of catastrophe that have been made to try to justify spending many trillions of dollars on CO2 mitigation. Those predictions have never come true.

> Epidemiologists told everyone for a decade and a half this would happen, but here we are.

To know whether these were useful predictions, we would need to know more details. Did they predict when it would happen? Did they predict how it would spread? A prediction that "this will happen, some time in the future" is not very useful. AFAIK no epidemiologists were making predictions much more precise than that.

Looking at the actual frequency of epidemics of various sizes in the past, we might very roughly estimate that we will have one serious enough to involve a significant portion of health care resources once every decade or so. But you don't have to be an epidemiologist to do that; you just have to do the simplest possible extrapolation of the data. We had H1N1 about 10 years ago, and SARS about 18 years ago. That's still not a very strong prediction, but it would seem to be as good a basis for public policy discussion (which is to say, a fairly weak one but not negligible) as anything more complicated that has come from epidemiologists.

torpfactory said 2 months ago:

Just a friendly reminder that the consensus estimates about climate change have been reasonably accurate. Not perfect but decent enough as decision making tools. See for example the IPCC report from 1990:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPCC_First_Assessment_Report

There have certainly been very dramatic (all overly well reported) warnings representing a minority of researchers which have not been accurate. These should not invalidate the whole lot of predictions.

SpicyLemonZest said 2 months ago:

Sure. And while opinion polls are lagging, almost everyone in decision-making positions is on board with the minimal predictions in this report. (Even a lot of people normally considered climate change deniers are on board - according to Wikipedia, the report doesn't rule out that climate change is largely driven by natural variability!)

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> the minimal predictions in this report

Those minimal predictions don't justify spending trillions of dollars on CO2 mitigation. They basically say "the climate is going to change, so be ready to deal with it".

chimprich said 2 months ago:

This is a false economy. Several studies have demonstrated that it is cheaper to avert climate change than to deal with the effects.

Switching to low- and zero-carbon fuels, achieving greater efficiencies and so on, is expensive, but still a lot cheaper than e.g. moving coastal cities or engineering mega-projects to combat flooding, dealing with huge numbers of migrants, dealing with massive changes in agriculture, worse natural disasters, and so on.

Plus even if you deal with the effects for decades, your problem has not gone away. The situation is worse, and the planet is still heating.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> Several studies have demonstrated that it is cheaper to avert climate change than to deal with the effects.

Studies based on climate models that are overpredicting warming, plus economic and sociological models that have even less predictive power.

> moving coastal cities or engineering mega-projects to combat flooding

If your coastal city has a problem with sea level rising a couple of feet, your coastal city has already had a problem for a century or more, and you ignored it. How is that all of a sudden a climate emergency?

> your problem has not gone away

I've already said climate change is something we're always going to have to deal with, just as humans have had to deal with it during all of human history. The idea that we can magically stop the climate from changing ever again is ridiculous.

chimprich said 2 months ago:

> Studies based on climate models that are overpredicting warming

Models in general haven't overpredicted warming, as several people in this discussion have tried to educate you.

> If your coastal city has a problem with sea level rising a couple of feet, your coastal city has already had a problem for a century or more, and you ignored it.

I'm not at all clear what your point is here. It looks like you're arguing that because something is changing over the course of several decades it's not as much as a problem. Surely that can't be it though, because that makes no logical sense. From an economic sense it's just as expensive.

> The idea that we can magically stop the climate from changing ever again is ridiculous.

A strawman argument. That is not what I wrote.

The climate is changing faster by far than it has in all human history, and probably in the history of our planet.

Dealing with the effects is also much more difficult now compared to most of human history. When you have 7 or 8 billion people living on the planet, largely in huge cities, it's far more challenging.

It's just a lot easier and cheaper to avoid breaking something in the first place than it is to try to fix it afterwards.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> Models in general haven't overpredicted warming

Yes, they have. We're obviously not going to agree on this point.

> It looks like you're arguing that because something is changing over the course of several decades it's not as much as a problem.

No, I'm arguing that the problem is not new, and it's not a climate problem. It's a problem of misgovernment and has been around for quite a while. But that doesn't stop cities and countries to try to get the rest of us to pay for fixing it by trying to claim that it's a cimate problem.

> The climate is changing faster by far than it has in all human history, and probably in the history of our planet.

This is ludicrous. Nobody has the data to back this up, and there is plenty of data contradicting it.

> When you have 7 or 8 billion people living on the planet, largely in huge cities, it's far more challenging.

When the "problem" you're talking about is a degree of so of temperature rise and a foot or two of sea level rise over the course of a century, to call dealing with it "challenging" is an egregious misuse of language. This is simply not that big a deal compared to all the other things we humans have to deal with. And the things we will need to do anyway to deal with those far more challenging problems--like how to bring billions of people out of poverty and how to make our infrastructure more robust--will end up adapting us to the change anyway. If we're going to spend trillions of dollars on something, let's at least spend it on something that benefits everybody regardless of what happens with the climate, instead of on a huge CO2 mitigation boondoggle that will transfer a lot of money from your and my pockets to the pockets of politicians and "green" business executives, but won't actually help much of anything.

chimprich said 2 months ago:

> This is ludicrous. Nobody has the data to back this up, and there is plenty of data contradicting it.

The data on this are so clear I don't really know where to start if you don't believe it. I feel your opposition on this issue is ideological, and there's no data that will change your mind.

> If we're going to spend trillions of dollars on something, let's at least spend it on something that benefits everybody

Given I think there's no arguing data with you, I'll try some arguments that might be more in line with what I guess your beliefs are.

Switching from fossil fuels brings huge benefits. Solar, wind, hydro, small nuclear plants etc. are much better for society.

Energy security increases if energy is produced locally. Democracies have less pressure to prop up dictatorships. Smaller countries are less at risk of getting bullied by larger countries.

Decentralisation of energy production makes the world more stable, less fragile. Energy policy can be set locally rather than centrally. Regions, communities, even individuals, can decide for themselves how to source their power. You can do that with e.g. solar power, but you can't do that with huge gas- or oil-powered plants.

Renewables are actually getting more cost-effective to use than fossil fuels. Government subsidies, direct and indirect, are distorting the market. End government support for fossil fuels and let the market free. There are huge opportunities for private enterprise in switching society to use the better technologies.

Air pollution is a huge killer. A study I saw yesterday showed dramatic increases in death from COVID-19 where air pollution was worse. Even in normal times, life expectancy and health quality is adversely affected by air pollution.

A switch to electric transport improves air pollution massively. There are also technical advantages to electric vehicles, such as improved reliability.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> The data on this are so clear

No, they're not. The data are a mess. Temperature records have been "adjusted" and the original raw data thrown away all over the place. I understand you don't believe this; I'm simply stating what I believe for the record. As I said, we're clearly not going to agree.

> I feel your opposition on this issue is ideological, and there's no data that will change your mind.

I have spent two decades now closely following the global warming/climate change alarmism issue. What I'm basing my statements on here is not ideological opposition to anything: it's the result of two decades of watching a long con in operation. And note carefully that this does not mean that I don't think the climate is changing or that I don't think we will need to do things to deal with climate change. It simply means that I do not trust the people or the institutions that are clamoring about catastrophe if we don't spend trillions of dollars to stop CO2 emissions now. Those people and institutions have no credibility with me after what I've seen them do for the past two decades, and what I've gone back and found out about what they did further back than that.

> Switching from fossil fuels brings huge benefits.

Agreed. But we don't have to spend trillions of dollars on CO2 mitigation to do that. We just have to, you know, switch. Spending money on CO2 mitigation (unless by "CO2 mitigation" you just mean "build more non-CO2 emitting power plants") hinders that, it doesn't help it.

I mostly agree with your points on energy security, decentralization, removing government distortions of the market (I think this is a good idea in every sphere, not just energy), and air pollution. Kudos to you for including small nuclear plants, btw; most people don't. The only caveats I would make are:

Decentralized power from solar or wind won't provide reliable base load power in many places, at least not without a solution to the energy storage problem that currently doesn't exist except for very small loads. You need small nuclear plants. Hydro by itself can't really be decentralized, since there are only a limited number of good locations for it and basically all of them are already developed. (Hydro in the form of pumped storage powered by solar or wind is a different matter; for many small scale needs that might be a viable solution to the energy storage problem.)

Electric transport is great, except for one mode: airplanes. I just don't see a viable alternative to liquid chemical fuels for airplanes any time soon. But that can be dealt with by using other energy sources to make liquid fuels, either by directly powering chemical reactions or by using living organisms like algae.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
pdonis said 2 months ago:

> the IPCC report from 1990

Which overpredicted the warming that has occurred from 1990 to now (though its predictions overall were certainly much milder than the catastrophic ones that are being trumpeted as reasons to spend trillions of dollars on CO2 mitigation).

Not to mention that there have been four more assessment reports since then (and the sixth is in the works now), and the more alarmist ones (in particular the third and fourth) are the ones that climate change alarmists are basing their predictions of catastrophe on. (Even though the fifth report actually backed off in some respects, particularly in admitting--though as obliquely as possible--that the climate model predictions were not matching the data.)

torpfactory said 2 months ago:

Yes, but it's not like the 1990 model was massively wrong or something. The (now historical) observations are riding the lower end of the predicted range from 1990, but even the low estimates still predict a 3C temperature rise by the end of the century. All models are wrong and some are useful. Even a 3C rise would be pretty bad. Just because some of the 6 or 7C predictions (high end of range) don't appear to be coming true we should just ignore the rest of the models?

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> The (now historical) observations are riding the lower end of the predicted range from 1990

No, they're lower than the low end of the predicted range. Plus, the low end of the predicted range was based on assumed CO2 emissions that were significantly lower than what has actually occurred since then. So we have more CO2 than predicted and less warming than predicted even from the lower than actual CO2.

> even the low estimates still predict a 3C temperature rise by the end of the century

That's not 3C rise from where we are now. It's not even 3C rise from where we were in 1990. It's 3C rise from the "pre-industrial" temperature, i.e., the mid to late 1700s, i.e., in the middle of the Little Ice Age. Temperatures have already risen (largely due simply to coming out of the Little Ice Age) by about 1.6C since then, so that low estimate is about 1.4C rise from now to 2100. And, as noted, actual temperature rise is running below the low end estimate. We're looking at roughly a degree C rise in a century. The idea that humans cannot adapt to that so we have to spend trillions of dollars to stop emitting CO2 right now is laughable.

> Just because some of the 6 or 7C predictions (high end of range) don't appear to be coming true we should just ignore the rest of the models?

We should not be using the models to drive public policy decisions with multi-trillion dollar costs. They're simply not good enough for that.

MattRix said 2 months ago:

>A prediction that "this will happen, some time in the future" is not very useful

Yes it is, if taken seriously.

pdonis said 2 months ago:

What does "taken seriously" mean? We don't even know that from a prediction that vague.

If the prediction is "we can expect a serious epidemic once every 10 years", then we have something definite that we can plan for, or at least discuss the costs of planning for. There's no way to discuss the costs of planning for "this will happen, some time in the future" without more detail.

majormajor said 2 months ago:

Seems like the only correct response to that level of prediction is increasing investment in studying the problem.

Which has largely happened in a lot of areas...

except for the people who think the correct response is to ignore any prediction that isn't perfectly specific?

pdonis said 2 months ago:

> increasing investment in studying the problem.

That would be nice, yes.

> except for the people who think the correct response is to ignore any prediction that isn't perfectly specific?

If a prediction isn't giving you any useful, actionable information, you can't act on it.

That doesn't necessarily mean you do nothing. If our public policy decision is "well, we don't really know how often epidemics like this will occur, but just to ballpark, let's plan on one every 10 years and see what we would need to do to prepare", that's fine. Just don't say we need to do that because the experts made a prediction. It's just a best judgment call based on very incomplete information.

yongjik said 2 months ago:

These days, I consider anyone saying "[the climate] always has [changed], and it always will" as immediately disqualified for having any worthwhile opinion on the climate.

Climate is a serious issue. It's time we stopped entertaining these people.

div said 2 months ago:

The only sensible stance to take. All these trolls have to do is be obstructionist, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchants_of_Doubt

moultano said 2 months ago:

If you actually look at what those predictions have been, you'll find that they're pretty consistently on the mark. https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-how-well-have-climate-m...

balnaphone said 2 months ago:

There is no quantification of the predictive power of any of these models presented in the linked-to article.

In fact it appears highly misleading, since they directly contrast (a) data from 1970-2017, with (b) a model written in 1973 predicting out to 2016, and (c) a model written in 2013 that can be compared to the data up until 2017.

So for this "pretty consistently on the mark" model, it only encompasses predictions for the years 2014-2017, based on observations from 2013. Many ARMA-type regression models do that well, since on average each year is mostly similar to the previous one.

In short, this doesn't support the credibility of this body of work.

moultano said 2 months ago:

You aren't giving any indication in what you've written that you've read and understood the article.

moosey said 2 months ago:

You are comparing subjective predictions and mathematically modeled predictions. They are not the same thing.

We have enormous amounts of mathematical modelling and a vast history of information about our atmospheric history. Using this, we can make inferences about what is likely to happen due to climate change.

If I were to just make a rando statement about what will happen when climate change comes, that's different.

Learning to separate the two is an important tool.

avip said 2 months ago:

Could you share some of these confident predictions regarding global warming?

ggreer said 2 months ago:

Here's an AP article from 31 years ago[1].

> A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.

...

> The most conservative scientific estimate that the Earth’s temperature will rise 1 to 7 degrees in the next 30 years, said Brown.

Since that article was published, atmospheric CO2 has gone from 355ppm to 410ppm (a 15% increase). Global surface temperature has risen 0.6°C since 1989 (1.1°F). Sea level has risen by 8 centimeters.

I realize the UN official wasn't a scientist or an expert, but neither are many of the people quoted in articles about climate change today. Global warming is a bad thing, but it's not as bad as a lot of media & activists are portraying it. It's not an existential risk.

1. https://apnews.com/bd45c372caf118ec99964ea547880cd0

int_19h said 2 months ago:

This sounds like it refers to various island nations in the Pacific, which are, indeed, under existential thread from global warming and the associated sea level rise.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

Here is a decent place to start [for anyone truly unaware of the history of bad climate predictions]:

https://www.bing.com/search?q=bad%20climate%20predictions

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
lliamander said 2 months ago:

Confident predictions regarding climate change over the past 100 or so years[0]

[0] https://tofspot.blogspot.com/2010/10/goosey-goosey-gander.ht...

avip said 2 months ago:

I see one prediction from an actual modern climate scientist. It reads:

"So the climate will continue to change, even if we make maximum effort to slow the growth of carbon dioxide. Arctic sea ice will melt away in the summer season within the next few decades. Mountain glaciers, providing fresh water for rivers that supply hundreds of millions of people, will disappear - practically all of the glaciers could be gone within 50 years. . . Clearly, if we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the planet we know . . . We would set the planet on a course to the ice-free state, with sea level 75 metres higher. Climatic disasters would occur continually."

jshevek said 2 months ago:

>I see one prediction from an actual modern climate scientist.

The original conversation was regarding all public statements, not scientists. This is more about journalists than scientists.

>...and consider how it applies to all the people who have made confident predictions over the years regarding global warming.

avip said 2 months ago:

Who cares what journalists say? IPCC and nasa reports are publicly available and use plain language anyone can read.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

> Who cares what journalists say? IPCC and nasa reports are publicly available and use plain language anyone can read.

Investigating geological or ecological truth is one thing, investigating causes and consequences for widespread ignorance and bad policy decisions is another. You and I are approaching this from different angles. Unfortunately, journalists have power to shape our society. I would argue that as a group, they have more power than scientists.

cies said 2 months ago:

Sadly journalists seem even more in the pocket of big biz than scientists.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

> Sadly journalists seem even more in the pocket of big biz than scientists.

I think you may be suggesting that there have been journalists who push climate denialism at the behest of the oil industry? My apologies if I misunderstood, but I would agree emphatically.

There are also other jouranlists who push climate alarmism because alarmism sells.

lliamander said 2 months ago:

> I see one prediction from an actual modern climate scientist.

That's a nice "No True Scotsman" right there. Unless, of course, you can give me a non-arbitrary reason why Dr. David Barber of the University of Manitoba speaking in 2008 is a "pre-modern" climate scientist, whereas Dr. James Hansen of NASA writing in 2009 is a "modern" climate scientist.

outworlder said 2 months ago:

I've seen this game played countless times.

"Sources?"

Then you do the job of googling for them. Retrieve a few relevant sources.

And they proceed to shoot them down, even moving goalposts if necessary. They might come back with their own confirmation biased sources.

This instance is even more egregious. There is a growing mountain of evidence for climate change. Multiple books, across multiple disciplines, can and have been written. Numerous peer reviewed papers.

What's more infuriating is that you don't need climate scientists to corroborate climate change. Because it's not a prediction anymore, climate has been changing already. Disciplines as diverse as geology and biology can detect the effects. If you want to do projections, sure, biologists may not be able to help. But if you want to see the effects today, they certainly can.

With such an enormous pile of data, I can't believe this is a legitimate discussion.

tstrimple said 2 months ago:

> With such an enormous pile of data, I can't believe this is a legitimate discussion.

Much like flat earthers, climate deniers seem to have attached their identity to this claim rather than viewing the data with any objectivity.

moultano said 2 months ago:

Sure, David Barber was off by a bit in that particular sentence, but arctic sea ice minima are now half of their historical values, and dropping. It is true, that in complex dynamic systems, predictions have to have wide error bars, but he was way less wrong than the charlatans who claim this isn't a problem or isn't a trend.

https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/arctic-sea-ice/

lliamander said 2 months ago:

I have every confidence that David Barber is an honest scientist doing his best to apply rigorous science to an inherently complicated system.

The objection here is that we live in a media environment which continually emphasizes one end of that error bar. So long as we live in that sort of environment claims of catastrophic consequences are going to be taken with a degree of skepticism.

moultano said 2 months ago:

Why would your beliefs about the "media environment" influence your view of the reports from scientific bodies? The claims of catastrophic consequences are coming straight from the literature. You can't explain those away by waving your hands and saying "the media."

lliamander said 2 months ago:

> Why would your beliefs about the "media environment" influence your view of the reports from scientific bodies?

If the media present bold predictions intended to reflect the views of scientific bodies, and those predictions fail to come to pass, then we have reason to doubt at least one node in the flow of information. It could be that the media incorrectly portrayed scientific results, or it could be that the scientific model upon which the prediction was based was flawed.

For instance, when the NYT says in 1978:

> An international team of specialists has concluded from eight indexes of climate that there is no end in sight to the cooling trend of the last 30 years, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.

Clearly the statement has been proven false. But why was this false statement made? Is the problem with the NYT, or the international team of specialists?

That's the problem with the media environment, because it's not always clear (certainly not to the lay person) when the media is representing their sources faithfully.

> The claims of catastrophic consequences are coming straight from the literature.

There are a few things one needs to sort out:

1. What are the actual expected range of consequences stated in the literature?

2. What is the confidence with which the literature expects these consequences?

3. What are the necessary interventions to prevent these consequences (if they can be prevented)?

4. How do the costs of the interventions compare with the consequences?

It's actually quite hard for a lay-person to sort out. The IPCC reports are a good place to start, but still very dense for most people. Also, every seemingly erudite critic of those reports is viciously attacked as a bad faith actor.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

That's a good point. The conversation is about a history of irresponsible public statements, but the evidence for this history is dismissed with:

>actual modern climate scientist

With this rhetorical technique, it could be impossible to provide evidence. Who gets to decide what makes a climate scientist 'modern'? Disregarding alleged 'non-modern' climate scientists is the last thing we should do when discussing prior decades of alarmism.

avip said 2 months ago:

The quote's from a newspaper. However, I did your job (again) digging into that man's actual predictions, and he was wrong not once.

lliamander said 2 months ago:

> The quote's from a newspaper.

Is the quote a fabrication?

> However, I did your job (again) digging into that man's actual predictions, and he was wrong not once.

How magnanimous of you. Care to provide a link since you already did the work?

Also, you've failed to provide a clarification for what you mean by "modern" scientist.

You put the sole blame for these false predictions in the lap of journalists if you want, but is it still a problem? If not, what changed? And if the bright folks at NYT and National Geographic can get it so wrong, what hope do the rest of us have?

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
graeme said 2 months ago:

This happened over a longer timescale with the Iraq War too. Pretty much everyone who was right remained marginal. Those who were prominently wrong became more prominent.

nradov said 2 months ago:

Barack Obama wasn't exactly marginal.

AndrewBissell said 2 months ago:

Obama lucked out that he didn't have to cast an actual vote on the Iraq War due to vicissitudes of his congressional career; based on how he actually governed and the allegiances he has demonstrated, we can reasonably guess he would have voted in favor. He also cemented our endless imperial interventionism in the broader Middle East including with an absolutely disastrous campaign in Libya. And, just like George W. Bush and his lackeys, paid zero price for it.

graeme said 2 months ago:

The post was specifically talking about media commentators.

I do agree that Obama’s position helped him in 2008 re: clinton. But politicians are judged on deeds as well as written opinion. But in the media sphere, most of the prominently wrong got promoted.

fsagx said 2 months ago:

It is true that Obama was not yet in the senate for the original Iraq war vote, so we can only speculate what his vote would have been.

Support for the war among his peer moderate Democrats in the senate was near unanimous: Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry all voted in favor. It's not unfair to assume he would have as well. https://progressive.org/op-eds/clinton-s-iraq-war-vote-still...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2013/09/...

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/17/joe-bi...

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/joe-lieberman-iraq-war

His withdrawal of forces from Iraq for which many give him credit was on the schedule of the Status of Forces Agreement negotiated by the Bush Administration before he took office. It would likely have happened the same under a McCain administration.

He bears 100% of the responsibility for the shit-show that happened in Libya.

The US policies that prolonged and worsened the Syrian civil war were birthed under his watch as well. The "we're fighting ISIS" while simultaneously arming anti-government Al-Qaeda-aligned groups was a recipe for disaster.

Obama "surged" to double US troop levels in Afghanistan shortly after taking office. Also from this era: The drone assassination program. Lots of extra killing, to no lasting effect.

https://www.wired.com/2012/09/surge-report-card/

https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-17/oba...

Let's not pretend that Obama was in any way but rhetorically anti-war.

sgt101 said 2 months ago:

There's a really nasty that is looming in my nightmares. Hurricane season is coming earlier now, due to warming, and the Hurricanes are bigger. And The South is going to be in the thick of the epidemic in mid to late may.

nradov said 2 months ago:

Yes that's a real risk. The current consensus forecast is for a slightly above average hurricane season. In a few months we may have thousands of people evacuated into shelters.

sgt101 said 2 months ago:

Obviously the US Administration is urgently planning and preparing for this?

lliamander said 2 months ago:

So what do we do about all of the doom and gloom climate predictions of the past that failed to materialize[0]?

If something has changed about either the science or the media reporting of scientific results, what evidence do lay folk have that this is the case?

[0] https://tofspot.blogspot.com/2010/10/goosey-goosey-gander.ht...

moultano said 2 months ago:

How about you look at what they actually predicted? https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-how-well-have-climate-m...

lliamander said 2 months ago:

That's a useful start. I'll definitely dig into this.

The question still stands as to why, even if the problem lay with journalists/media rather than scientists, is why did they get it so wrong?

Also, if I as lay person am going to be getting my information from sources like NYT and National Geographic instead of IPCC reports directly, have they fixed the problems that led to the erroneous reporting?

acqq said 2 months ago:

> if I as lay person am going to be getting my information from sources like NYT and National Geographic

If you'd like to have better understanding of any topic you have to learn to improve your critical thinking capabilities. The media simply print different "opinions" and "statements" and even mark them as such. You have to learn that the media never reflect the truth, the way they are used to cover almost any topic. They are simply the reflections of the power of those who do the influence. Big corporations (or organizations having immense funding) have big influence even when it is not obvious to the "lay person".

From the media side, how it typically work is that the "debate" and the "controversy" sell (more ads, more readers, more viewers). So very often they would give as much attention to one person representing the conclusion 95% of all world scientist as to another person representing a set of fringe "contrarians" financed by some NGO's which are actually financed by some corporations whose interest is to promote that view:

https://www.amazon.com/Merchants-Doubt-Handful-Scientists-Ob...

moultano said 2 months ago:

A list of cherry picked quotes from a motivated contrarian is not evidence that they "got it so wrong."

lliamander said 2 months ago:

That the media have (with some regularity) promoted the most catastrophic predictions, predictions that were subsequently falsified, is not exactly news.

moultano said 2 months ago:

If your only experience of how the media has covered climate change is through posts like the one you linked, then you'll naturally come to that conclusion, but I don't think it has any basis in reality.

spaced-out said 2 months ago:

So you're going to ignore actual climate experts because you don't like how the media has portrayed the issue?

lliamander said 2 months ago:

No, that's not the argument.

Again, my root question is "why have there been so many prominent predictions of climate disaster that have failed to materialize?"

The sources for these predictions have largely been the media, but the sources are generally respected institutions or individuals, and the articles have claimed the backing of scientific authority. To what extent have these failed predictions stemmed from the media, and to what extent have they stemmed from the scientific authorities themselves?

A good part of the blame certainly rests with media. The media is motivated by what is advertiser friendly, and fear sells. However, I do not think the scientific establishment is without fault here.

No doubt part of the problem is the sheer complexity of the system they are studying, and perhaps premature confidence in the methodology of using computer models in the study of complex systems. But it also seems that a bias towards certain policy measures has led some scientists to overstate the confidence, severity, or urgency of predictions.

I do not mean to imply some sort of conspiracy theory here. I simply think that, psychologically, scientists tend to be a of a sort more attuned to "far problems". This tendency allows scientists to sometimes correctly anticipate threats, such as those from a global pandemic, but can also lead to a false equivalence between future uncertain costs and present certain ones.

I am not ignoring experts, nor am I claiming that they are completely wrong about global warming. I would more consider myself in the company of folks such as economist David Friedman or climatologist Judith Curry (neither of whom are in the employ of Big Oil) who both express doubts about the degree of consensus[0] and the severity and certainty of the warming and the value of drastic action in the present[1].

[0]https://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2014/02/a-climate-falseh... [1]https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/curry-testimony-...

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
mirimir said 2 months ago:

Yes, for sure. You have experts who admit that they aren't sure, and then say what the evidence seems to show. And you have bloviators who spew BS, based on some more or less hidden agenda.

But about global climate change, it's crucial to keep in mind that it's just one aspect of human population growth and "economic development". Another huge impact is increasingly intensive and extensive land use, plus pollution with excess nutrients and toxic chemicals, which leads to loss of biodiversity and species extinctions.

Indeed, it's possible that COVID-19 and other zoonotic diseases, such as HIV and ebola virus disease (EVD), are also consequences of increasingly intensive and extensive land use. That might seem ironic, but it's just how ecosystems work.

eanzenberg said 2 months ago:

And they both use the same scare statistics. (covid) 2 million Americans will die. (global warming) If we don't stop emitting CO2 the world will collapse by 2030.

jnbiche said 2 months ago:

Two million was at the very high end of only a very few models (one?).

That said, Italy is at the top of their curve (hopefully, apparently) with 16,000 deaths. However, their excess deaths this past month (compared to baseline for March) are extremely high, and equal almost as many deaths as the official Covid-19 death toll. According to at least some Italian demographers and epidemiologists, it's likely most of those deaths are due to Covid-19 and were uncounted. But let's say that only half of those deaths were Covid-19, and that the curve turns out to be relatively balanced, as with most epidemics that don't come in waves. If that's the case, Italy will see around 50,000 deaths from Covid-19. Spain will likely see around the same proportion of Covid deaths.

If the US were to experience a similar proportion of deaths, we'd be at around 500,000 deaths. I don't think we'll see nearly so many deaths from Covid-19 now but in early March, it just wasn't clear. It's not 2 million, but my point here is that this was a model that likely turned out high, but it was within the same order of magnitude. And again, I'm using the actual deaths that have occurred in Italy at the top of the curve to make that estimate. It's possible that both the curve will suddenly drop precipitously, and that most of those excess deaths were caused by some other phenomenon, but it's highly unlikely based on behavior of past respiratory pandemics.

Many more models people have discussed have predicted anywhere from 48,000 to (most commonly) around 200,000 deaths in the US from Covid-19. I think we'll probably end up around the 50,000 death figure, and that's with us shutting down our economy. I think it could have easily been much, much more (although probably nowhere near 2 million) if we had carried on business as usual (and could still end up like that if we're not careful).

So complain that the media latched on to the most dire model, that's OK. I agree the media sensationalizes. "If it bleeds, it leads".

But don't complain about the model itself. Those papers are always very clear about the degree of uncertainty.

I don't know of any serious scientist who is predicting global collapse by 2030 from global warming. Do you have someone specific in mind?

thelean12 said 2 months ago:

You're exaggerating, which is just as bad.

NYT reported that "200,000 to 1.7 million" people could die on March 13th [1]. Most of those calculations had to do with the fact that the hospital system would get overwhelmed at some point, compounding the deaths.

None of that is "scare statistics". It's useful modeling.

I think what you consider to be "scare statistics" is more lack of education. Similar to how people saw the Trump win as meaning "The media/polls were wrong! They had Clinton winning at 85%! They can't be trusted!". When in reality, flipping a coin and getting 3 heads in a row is all it takes for Trump to win. Or rolling a standard 6-sided die and correctly guessing the number once. It suddenly doesn't sound outlandish.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/us/coronavirus-deaths-est...

Edit: The downvotes are concerning. If you have a problem with my argument, please respond.

jnbiche said 2 months ago:

Exactly. Both the media and the anti-media/anti-expert crowd both have a poor understanding of probability and confidence intervals.

With the media, I think it's sometimes intentional and not ignorance, as a ploy to get clicks.

With the anti-media, anti-expert crowd, I have to believe it's usually simple ignorance.

thelean12 said 2 months ago:

Mostly agree. Some media is certainly better than others. The NYT article I linked has a very responsible title (IMO) of "Worst-Case Estimates for U.S. Coronavirus Deaths".

It clearly says that the estimates they're about to talk about are worst-case and estimates.

jnbiche said 2 months ago:

True, I should have qualified that with "most" or "much" media. I agree there are still some responsible outlets out there.

alacombe said 2 months ago:

Do you realize that if the media write "could die", readers will interpret it as "will die" ?

thelean12 said 2 months ago:

If you actually read the NYT article, it's really hard to come out of it thinking "1.7 million people will die". This is because of a few reasons:

1. They have a good, responsible title.

2. They bury the 1.7 million number a bit so you're forced to at least understand some of it.

3. They talk about how and why the estimates will change over time:

>“When people change their behavior," said Lauren Gardner, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering who models epidemics, “those model parameters are no longer applicable,” so short-term forecasts are likely to be more accurate. “There is a lot of room for improvement if we act appropriately.”

I see no reason why this article shouldn't have been posted in its current form.

Of course, as you get further away from good sources of news, you're going to get less responsible reporting. NYT is an example of very high quality reporting.

CNN at the time probably had a breaking news line item on TV of "1.7 million could die". This would be irresponsible.

Fox News at the time probably had a breaking news line item on TV of "It's just the flu". This would be irresponsible.

And that's certainly a problem.

pishpash said 2 months ago:

That's the so-called free media's fault. You can very easily discredit these people by deep-diving into their performance during nightly news or some program after, but the media actively avoids that in favor of infotainment and propaganda. You can even argue that the contemporary age is devoid of substance and there is no true mass news organization in existence. It is characterized by a high degree of anti-intellectualism and thought control.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
lliamander said 2 months ago:

> exact same dynamic with the exact same players.

There are some who might be in the climate skeptics/deniers camp who were concerned about coronavirus[0]

[0] https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/03/why-some-early-maga-...

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
maps7 said 2 months ago:

> but here he is again

what do you mean by this?

yters said 2 months ago:

I like how all our problems get tied to global warming these days. Certainly boosts the theory's credibility.

throwaway294 said 2 months ago:

PARTITION I OF II

It's time to drive a stake through the heart of this climate change alarmism, to kill off this dangerous monster forever. We can do a good job just in this little post.

Everything here is from just common sense or good references.

Overview

There is:

>ALARMIST CLAIM: Extra CO2 from current human activities will soon cause significant extra warming and, thus, climate change, a climate crisis, etc.

In one word, this claim is nonsense.

In simple terms:

(A) There is no serious evidence that CO2 from human activities at anything like probable concentrations will have any significant effect on the temperature or climate of the earth.

(B) The warming of maybe 0.9 F since year 1900 cannot have been caused by CO2.

(C) Human life was long burdened with nonsense from bad information, superstition, ignorance, and fear, but slowly science provided high quality information and means to reject the nonsense. The ALARMIST CLAIM is taking us back to the nonsense.

(D) Proposed efforts to respond to the ALARMIST CLAIM by reducing CO2 are from massively wasteful, strongly destructive, a shot in the gut of standards of living, economic contraction, and maybe to disasterous world wide economic depression and global nuclear WWIII.

There is some very good news:

>To respond to the ALARMIST CLAIM, there is NOTHING to do. NOTHING.

In music, the easiest note to play is just the rest -- make no sound. For responding to the ALARMIST CLAIM, the situation is similar: Do NOTHING and because there is nothing good to do.

The rest of this note is in three parts:

(I) Debunking

(II) Additional Points

(III) Alarmist Threats

(I) Debunking

Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but it is a long logical path from there to any claims of a significant effect.

We can debunk the ALARMIST CLAIM in just two easy steps, (I.1) from the historical data and (I.2) from the physics, next:

(I.1) Data from History

There is NOTHING in the climate history from the present back to about 1 million years ago that supports the ALARMIST CLAIM; there is NOTHING in that history that can support a claim that anything like realistic concentrations of CO2 from human activities will have any significant effect on temperatures. NOTHING. Here we give details in (i) -- (iii):

(i) For the ice core records going back ~1 million years, yes, both temperatures and CO2 concentrations went both up and down.

BUT, if we just look carefully at the big graph of that ice core record in Al Gore's movie (I assume the graph is essentially correct) and other graphs of that ice core data elsewhere, with high irony that graph totally destroys the ALARMIST CLAIM and Gore's claim from that graph: Gore badly misread the graph. The main point is that in the graph there is an 800 year delay; CO2 concentrations changed 800 years AFTER the temperature changes, from whatever cause.

Specifically: (a) When temperatures started increasing, from whatever cause, CO2 concentrations were LOW, not high. (b) About 800 years later CO2 concentrations were HIGH, from increased biological activity from the higher temperatures. (c) When temperatures started to fall, from whatever cause, CO2 concentrations were still HIGH, not low. (d) The HIGH CO2 concentrations did not keep the temperatures from falling. (e) Once the temperatures fell, about 800 years later so did CO2 concentrations. Net, CO2 did not cause the higher temperatures or keep the higher temperatures from falling.

(ii) In the last 2000 years we had the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, and there is not even a suggestion that CO2 concentration changes caused either.

(iii) Starting in the 1940s and through about 1970, we actually had some significant cooling, but in those years CO2 from human activities -- WWII, pulling out of the Great Depression, and the economic boom after WWII -- increased. So, with the additional CO2 from human activities, we got COOLING, not warming.

Net, there is NO data from the historical record that supports the claim that higher concentrations of CO2 will cause higher temperatures.

(I.2) Theory from Physics

Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The absorption spectrum is at

https://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/cbook.cgi?Spec=C124389&Index=0&...

So, CO2 absorbs in three narrow bands, one for each of bending, stretching, and twisting of the molecule, out in the infrared.

No, Tom Friedman of the NYT: CO2 does not absorb sunlight, and anyone can confirm this by looking at a source of CO2, e.g., exhaling or the bubbles from soda pop, and simply observing that the CO2 is not visible and does not cast a shadow.

Since the historical record can't support the ALARMIST CLAIM, to support the claim we would have to rely on the theory from physics, the absorption spectrum of CO2, and computation.

Well, the computations were done by dozens of teams, and the results are summarized in

http://www.energyadvocate.com/gc1.jpg

Net, as in this graph, nearly all the results predicted rapid, significant increases in temperatures soon. Well, the time of predicted increases came and went years ago with no sign of anything like the predicted increases.

In science, when predictions are made and found to be false, we junk the science.

No doubt, the failures in that graph are some of the worst in all the history of science. GOOD science, e.g., the hunt for and finding the Higgs boson at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), the observations that confirmed the predictions of black holes, many other confirmed predictions of special and general relativity, the A-bomb, the H-bomb, the design of the Hubble telescope, to the quantum mechanics in semi-conductors that are the core of current digital electronics, the science was just rock solid.

We are just awash in super solid science, and the global warming computations in that graph are just a humiliation as anything scientific and just sick.

In summary of (I.1) -- (I.2):

> For the ALARMIST CLAIM, there is no scientific support.

(II) Additional Points

There is the video documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52Mx0_8YEtg

(II.1) Big Changes Since 2000 Years Ago

That documentary argues that the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age were caused by variations in the rates of sun spots. More sun spots increase the solar wind which, from more links in a causal chain, in the end slows cloud formation and has a net warming effect.

Similarly, fewer sun spots can cause cooling.

(II.2) Warming Since Year 1900

In the video we can see the remarks of MIT Professor R. Lindzen that from "good theoretical reasons" any warming we might be getting now, e.g., maybe an increase in temperature of 0.9 F from year 1900 to the present, cannot be from CO2.

(II.3) Too Many Climate Scientists

Professor Lindzen also explains that there was suddenly an increase in funding for climate science from a hundred or so million dollars a year to over one billion dollars a year, funding that didn't just buy off the climate scientists but HIRED climate alarmists pretending to be climate scientists, maybe 10 times more alarmists than real scientists.

throwaway294 said 2 months ago:

PARTITION II OF II

(III) Alarmist Threats

The alarmists are proposing actions that are severe threats:

(III.1) Big Mistakes

For the issue of the ALARMIST CLAIM and quite generally, if we are willing to go forward with big disruptive, risky changes without good evidence, then we are leaving ourselves open to nonsense from bad information, superstition, ignorance, and fear and neglecting the science that provided high quality information and means to reject the nonsense, leaving ourselves open to some of the biggest mistakes in all of civilization.

Here we mention two such mistakes:

(III.1.1) Chinese Medicine

A current example of such mistakes is killing off the rhinoceroses to get their horns for use in Chinese medicine.

(III.1.2) Bloody Mayan Charlatans

Another such mistake is from page 76 of

Susan Milbrath, Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars (The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies), ISBN-13 978-0292752269, University of Texas Press, 2000.

with

> Indeed, blood sacrifice is required for the sun to move, according to Aztec cosmology (Durian 1971:179; Sahaguin 1950 - 1982, 7:8).

That is, the Mayan charlatans killed people to pour their blood on a rock to keep the sun moving across the sky. No doubt the sun actually did keep moving across the sky.

If from the ALARMIST CLAIM we go forward with the alarmist proposals (see below), then we will be making a mistake as big, dangerous, and irrational as in (III.1.1) the Chinese medicine and (III.1.2) the Mayans.

(III.2) Costs

(III.2.1) Replacing Current Fossil Fueled Equipment

The climate alarmists would force us to replace fossil fueled vehicles and to replace building heating with electric powered equipment.

The vehicles they would force us to replace include cars, trucks, farm tractors, big earth moving equipment, locomotives, and ships.

The climate alarmists would force us to replace fossil fueled electric power generation with wind, solar, etc.

Emergency electric generators are most easily powered with fossil fuels -- natural gas, gasoline, or Diesel oil -- and would be difficult and expensive to replace with anything that would please the climate alarmists.

(III.2.2) Unreliable Renewables

Electric power from wind and solar needs huge, expensive batteries and can still be unreliable and cause power instabilities on an electric grid. The instabilities and protecting against them would be expensive. Electric rates would stand to go up significantly.

(III.2.3) Green New Deal

As in

https://cei.org/blog/how-much-will-green-new-deal-cost-your-...

the Green New Deal is estimated to cost $90+ trillion.

That much spending would massively disrupt the whole US economy and, indirectly but significantly, nearly all the economies of the world.

(III.3) Standard of Living

The costs of the proposals of the climate alarmists would devastate the standard of living in the US.

As in the video documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, the effects on poor countries, e.g., essentially all of Africa trying to develop their economies, would stop their progress and push them back in time.

(III.4) World Economic Stability

The proposals of the climate alarmists would so disrupt the economies of the world so strongly that the world economy could go unstable leading to WWIII and, then, global nuclear war.

Warning

It appears that now the sun is entering the part of the 11 year or so sunspot cycle with fewer sun spots. So, we are in line for a few years of cooling. So, don't believe a claim of the global warming alarmists that their efforts caused the cooling.

Main Conclusion

At this point, continuing with entertaining the ALARMIST CLAIM is just nonsense, expensive, destructive, dangerous nonsense.

umvi said 2 months ago:

Heck, tobacco is a greater threat to human life than covid-19. How many millions die every year, year after year, because of tobacco?

ed_balls said 2 months ago:

vehicles killed more than WW2. Coal kills more than Chernobyl, but our instincts are bad in assessing risks like that.

concordDance said 2 months ago:

COVID-19 just isn't that important on the global scale.

Car accidents last year almost certainly cost way more QALYs* than COVID-19 will this year (particularly if Imperial College in their 13th report is right about how badly undercounted the case numbers are).

* Car accidents affect most ages and health levels relatively equally, while COVID-19 mostly kills the old and infirm who are unhealthy, with poor quality of life and have few years left.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
ryguytilidie said 2 months ago:

You guys are still doing this..?

concordDance said 2 months ago:

1.3 million people a year killed by car crashes, biased moderately towards the young (around 3 to 1 is comparing a 30 year old and a 60 year old).

In contrast, COVID-19 has a fatality rate that looks roughly like the normal yearly death rate for the UK (so you'd expect as many people to die at least partially of COVID-19 as of every other cause combined this year)... Making it around 50 million people killed if everyone got it (many won't) and if the world age distribution matched the UK.

But the average person killed by COVID-19 is a lot closer to death. Even if you just go by age the actuarial tables put for remaining life years, those killed will average a fifth as many years as those killed by car accidents.

Hmm

Ok, maybe COVID-19 WILL cause more QALY loss after all. But it's certainly not entirely clearcut.

Particularly if Imperial is right about >15% of Spain having already been infected (which would imply a MUCH lower death rate than that commonly reported given that Spain has only recorded 13 thousand deaths and has already passed their peak), in which case cars last year might still "win".

rpiguy said 2 months ago:

Being rational? Yes. This is not smallpox. This isn’t even MERS from a mortality perspective. It’s real, rapid-spreading, and terrifying in how it kills those few who succumb, but people need balanced perspective. All they are getting is impending doom reported on television 24/7 and it’s nothing but.

The future is bright. The 1918 Spanish Flu was followed by the roaring 20s!

ben_w said 2 months ago:

At best, that’s “straw Vulcan” rationality. The emotional reaction of a crowd is an important part of any world model.

At worst, without all the anxiety you’re opposing, too many people catch it at the same time and the death rate rises to match the hospitalisation rate. When that happens you’re not talking 75 million dead, you’re talking 375 million to 2.25 billion dead depending on which of the enormous range of hospitalisation estimates I look at.

concordDance said 2 months ago:

5% to 30% of the world dying?

Yeah, that's bollocks.

At least 80% of people don't even notice they have it (so the BBC has told me today).

Only 5% of cases require ICU, let alone 5% of infections (and if Imperial modelling is right that number is far lower). ICU saves at most half of the people who go in based on CDC numbers.

I have not seen any modelling by any source of even the slightest repute suggesting a 2 billion dead number is even possible. This alarmism makes people roll their eyes at all things COVID-19 and violate lockdowns, stick to the facts, they're bad enough.

ben_w said 2 months ago:

The ICU is fine (fsvo) if, and only if, everyone doesn’t get it all at the same time.

"""Mississippi currently has the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rate in the nation, at 31 percent, according to states’ health department data gathered by The COVID Tracking Project. """ - https://mississippitoday.org/2020/04/01/mississippi-has-nati...

rpiguy said 2 months ago:

The hospitalization rate is dependent on the denominator, how many people you test.

Even NYC is doing just fine. Number of beds needed was overestimated, Cuomo himself said they have enough respirators, and the hospital ship has a handful of patients on it.

The unnecessary panic diverts attention away from real problems like lack of PPE. We ordered GM to make respirators when what we really need, even in NYC, is PPE.

rpiguy said 2 months ago:

Have you noticed that the same statisticians who claim that 80% of people don’t know they have it fail to multiply the denominator when reporting statistics like mortality rate?

For example here in NJ we have about 40000 confirmed and tested cases and 1000 deaths. The mortality rate for our state is about 2%.

But if 80% of cases have no symptoms and are not tested, then the denominator should be 5x higher.

The real mortality rate is .4%

The same as a bad flu, but less than many flu seasons.

WalterBright said 2 months ago:

Trying to retroactively excoriate people for under reacting to a crisis is a little unfair. Nobody knew how this would play out, and going off half-cocked at every threat that appears, and there are a lot of them, is destructive.

Nobody likes to be wrong, and people always try to rewrite history so they were right all along. Rush Limbaugh made hay by hanging democrats with clips of their previous statements, and Jon Stewart made hay by doing the same thing to republicans.

lemming said 2 months ago:

Nobody knew how this would play out

Yes they did, because most of the people we're talking about had real time examples going on while they were denying there was a problem. In Italy, they could have looked at what happened in China, but chose not to. You could perhaps forgive that, possibly they thought that population density, smoking rates or other demographics made a huge difference. But Spain has no excuse at all because they literally had an example of an (for all intents an purposes) identical country right on their doorstep and still chose to ignore it. My wife is Spanish so I followed a lot of the reactions there and they were flat out ridiculous. Similarly with the e.g. the US - did they really think the virus was going to act differently there than in other parts of the world?

WalterBright said 2 months ago:

> Yes they did

If it was all so obvious, the stock market would have dumped weeks before it did.

Did you sell in early February? Did you take out shorts on the market? Why not?

lemming said 2 months ago:

I'm a passive investor, I don't try to make money by playing the market. But yes, in mid-Feb I moved all my investments from growth funds into conservative ones, and avoided a major haircut.

WalterBright said 2 months ago:

Congratulations, you are smarter than I am and smarter than Wall Street.

But my point still stands - if it was obvious to people, the market would have dumped earlier than mid-Feb.

lemming said 2 months ago:

I don't claim to be smarter than anyone, I'm just some guy. I just think the "no-one could have seen this coming" is obviously bogus when it was literally occurring at the time, just in different regions.

robomartin said 2 months ago:

> In the background global warming is a much greater threat to human life and has the exact same dynamic with the exact same players

Oh, please, enough already!

Global warming is nowhere near to what a virus can do. This thing could have killed half the population of this planet in weeks had nobody done a thing about it.

The comparison is nonsensical on many fronts. Perhaps the most significant of them is the reality of climate change: We cannot do a thing about it. Period. We cannot change it. We cannot reverse it. We cannot magically fix it in fifty years.

This is already well understand by the scientific community. Researchers don't get out there and expose it because they would instantly destroy their careers, lose grants and generally ruin their lives. It's a truly dishonest and damaging feedback loop driven by ideology, money and politics.

All you need to do in order to understand this reality is analyze ice core atmospheric sample data. That's it. It's that simple. Calculate the rate of change with CO2 increasing and decreasing. Write down those numbers.

Then realize this is what would happen if humanity left earth next Monday. It would take somewhere around 50,000 years for CO2 to decrease by 100 ppm.

We cannot accelerate this rate of change by 1000x without likely killing all life on earth. We can't. It would require such vast amounts of energy and resources that it might even be beyond what's available on this planet.

In other words, everyone is lying: Climate change deniers are nuts and those who claim we can fix it within even a few generations and just as crazy. The entire thing has become politicized beyond all comprehension. Science has left the building.

So, no. Let's focus on pandemics, they are far more likely to wipe us out than the entire "save the planet" fantasy.

Trasmatta said 2 months ago:

> This thing could have killed half the population of this planet in weeks had nobody done a thing about it.

What? No, there's not a single credible model that predicts that this virus could have wiped out half the population, even with 0 mitigation efforts. Such a virus is a possibility, but it certainly wasn't this one.

robomartin said 2 months ago:

You clearly haven't done the math.

EDIT 1: Even if my statement is off and the number is 10% to 25% --pick a number, any number-- it is still more serious than the fantasies we have been choosing to focus on.

The calculation must also include the massive mortality rate that would result from the collapse of all supply chains, medical systems, transportation, etc. People with "minor" medical conditions would die on the streets everywhere. The virus would kill indirectly by destroying society. Think it through. If the world did nothing the loss of life would be massive.

EDIT 2: Imagine a world without hospitals (at scale), doctors, nurses, transportation, factories, food, water, medicine, power, gas, petroleum.

You are focusing on direct mortality from the virus while ignoring that, without any mitigation at all, it would absolutely destroy society.

Look at what happened in Italy. Now shut down all hospitals and remove all mitigation. Get the picture? Now, go do the math on that scenario. A scenario where people die from strokes, heart attacks, infections from cuts, appendicitis, diabetes (no drugs), hypertension, tooth infections, etc.

mooneater said 2 months ago:

We as a society are in need of a long-term, detailed collective memory of evidence of credibility.

But that is only useful if credibility is highly valued.

Neither are true of our society today. People both forget what someone said yesterday, or if they remember then they decide it didn't matter that much they were wrong.

drummer said 2 months ago:

Roussel et al., “SARS-CoV-2: fear versus data.”, Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2020 Mar 19:105947,

    “Under these conditions, there does not seem to be a significant difference between the mortality rate of SARS-CoV-2 in OECD countries and that of common coronaviruses (χ2 test, P=0.11). Of course, the major flaw in this study is that the percentage of deaths attributable to the virus is not determined, but this is the case for all studies reporting respiratory virus infections, including SARS-CoV-2.”

    “Under these conditions, and all other things being equal, SARS-CoV-2 infection cannot be described as being statistically more severe than infection with other coronaviruses in common circulation.”

    “Finally, in OECD countries, SARS-CoV-2 does not seem to be deadlier than other circulating viruses.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32201354
jshevek said 2 months ago:

That style of quotation renders terribly on mobile. Preserving line width isn't helpful for non-code quotes. You can use ">" and wrap the quoted text with italicizing asterisks.

vonmoltke said 2 months ago:

This particular quote renders badly on the desktop as well.

drummer said 2 months ago:

I'm sorry guys but it seems HN styled the quotes like that by itself. I did not add any markup.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

The markup which causes that formatting is easy to do on accident, as it is just whitespace:

Text after a blank line that is indented by two or more spaces is reproduced verbatim. (This is intended for code.)

https://news.ycombinator.com/formatdoc

Theodores said 2 months ago:

Victim blaming!

We need to tell our HN moderator what CSS rules need to be changed to get this to work on all devices. Plus when adding a comment the syntax for the markdown should be given.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

My intention is to inform, not to blame. :)

Otherwise, I agree with your suggestion [of providing more guidance on the reply screen] Until a better solution is implemented, would you help spread the word when you see code quotes used this way?

Edit: I'm not sure that modifying the presentation of code quotes fully solves the problem, as we still benefit from having two types of quotes, wrap and nowrap.

leetcrew said 2 months ago:

it's for code, not block quotes of english. wrapping is off by design.

jmull said 2 months ago:

Please everyone disregard this quite disingenuous misinformation.

This paper does simple math: attributed deaths / "confirmed cases" in "OECD" countries (not China) from January 1 to March 2. It includes such happy data points a "Spain: 123 confirmed cases, 0 deaths", which is horrifically, horrifically misleading. Johns Hopkins has Spain as 136,675 cases and 13,341 deaths at the time I write this.

For the sake of the poster's soul I hope this is a bot gone unintentionally awry and not a real person posting this.

lbeltrame said 2 months ago:

Note that this study is from Didier Raoult's group, the same doctor who brought out the (controversial, because not enough data at this point) claims on cloroquine - while I have no interest in defending or criticizing the work, some may want to keep this in mind.

thaunatos said 2 months ago:

> “Under these conditions, there does not seem to be a significant difference between the mortality rate of SARS-CoV-2 in OECD countries and that of common coronaviruses (χ2 test, P=0.11). Of course, the major flaw in this study is that the percentage of deaths attributable to the virus is not determined, but this is the case for all studies reporting respiratory virus infections, including SARS-CoV-2.”

> “Under these conditions, and all other things being equal, SARS-CoV-2 infection cannot be described as being statistically more severe than infection with other coronaviruses in common circulation.”

> “Finally, in OECD countries, SARS-CoV-2 does not seem to be deadlier than other circulating viruses.”

lone_haxx0r said 2 months ago:

When mainstream media has been pushing pernicious narratives and outright lies for many years, I see why people would be skeptic about their claims.

Unfortunately, most people don't have the means (technical knowledge, time) to appropriately asses the real danger of this situation, so they have two options:

- Believe the liars.

- Don't believe the liars.

It turns out, the liars weren't lying this time.

Cookingboy said 2 months ago:

>most people don't have the means (technical knowledge, time) to appropriately asses the real danger of this situation,

That's only part of the problem. The real problem is that they don't want to do due diligence. It feels much better to believe/disbelieve things based on whether they want them too be true or not, rather than actually finding out they are true or not.

Juliate said 2 months ago:

Well, it doesn't help much either to put a mainstream entertainment persona as the president of the USA.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
argonaut said 2 months ago:

While this does seem like an attack on those who claim Covid-19 is not going to be as bad as the prevailing sentiment and the prevailing media view, let's not forget that the prevailing sentiment 1-2 months ago was that Covid-19 would not be a big deal (in the West). I'm seeing many of the same people who pronounced Covid-19 would not be a big deal, doing a full 180 and attacking those who are pronouncing Covid-19 to be less dangerous than expected.

michaelt said 2 months ago:

Shouldn't 'prevailing media sentiment' be an output of the journalism process, rather than an input?

chvid said 2 months ago:

"No worse than the flu." How could they feel safe saying such things?

Because in most health scares historically this has been correct. That the danger had been wildly overestimated.

And even now, it is not clear that "we" have a correct estimation of the danger.

Recently I read an estimate that 50% of the infected have no symptons. I even read another estimate that 90% have no symptons. Should the latter be correct then we are overestimating the danger and wildly overreacting.

Retric said 2 months ago:

Anyone saying 90% have no symptoms is simply lying.

China’s case fatality rate is over 4% which is likely inflated. Dimond Princess tested everyone and has a 12/712 or 1.7% case fatality rate with many still in critical condition and the majority of positive results showing symptoms and a high percentage needing hospitalization.

A wildly optimistic estimate of 1 death per 200 cases x 70% infections is over 1 million dead Americans. And that’s assuming we could provide care for millions of people in critical condition.

watwut said 2 months ago:

I think that I would want to see source for "most health scares are exaggerated". Because I don't recall that many health scares touted by scientists as much as this one and I am not young.

The 50% of cases being asymptomatic is what makes it spread so easily and overwhelm our healthcare system. It is good news with regards to mortality, but the asymptomatic cases were predicted to be there by scientists already when it was in China only. If you read the reports, the models suggested the asymptomatic cases must be there long time ago.

underdeserver said 2 months ago:

Remembering predictions and revisiting them is a superpower in risk management and decision making.

Superforecasting by Tetlock and Gardner is a good starting point if you want to learn this power.

watwut said 2 months ago:

Yep. But I think the same happen with all kind of crisises. The past history shows, that lying or being incredibly wrong does not have any negative impact on a pundit or or politician or whole classes of commentary journalist.

It seem to be more of systematic issue then just individual.

mellosouls said 2 months ago:

The article seems to be taking a shot at a reasonably easy target.

Almost all the talking heads are late Feb/early March. While it was clear something was happening "over there", and the fear was growing, it wasn't unreasonable at that point to not expect the unprecedented situation we are now in - and these people are not paid to offer nuance.

I'm not sure this easy soapbox judgement is much more constructive than the hacks it pillories.

Robotbeat said 2 months ago:

It was unreasonable at that point. I'm no epidemiologist, but I understood exponential growth at that point to know that, because it wasn't being contained (no measures with a reasonable chance of containment were being taken at exactly the time when they really had to be taken), there was no stopping the exponential growth in the near term in the US. And especially once it was spreading in Italy, there was just not a credible reason to say "it cannot happen here." You should mistrust people's judgement in the future on similar such topics if they were dismissive of the possibility of this happening.

You should update your Bayesian priors about the credibility and judgement of those people on topics such as this. And that IS constructive.

Doesn't mean that those people are useless, but unless you've seen a mea culpa from them, you should look warily on future such predictions. You should note to yourself "this person may be prone to downplaying some risks and interpreting things over-optimistically, with some amount of wishful thinking."

mellosouls said 2 months ago:

To be clear, these people have no credibility with me already - but your confidence in hindsight as to the obviousness of the current predicament in late Feb/early March is not one I share.

Robotbeat said 2 months ago:

It was clear to me around February 20-22nd or so that we had a significant chance of a Wuhan-like situation. I put my money where my mouth was by going to the store and buying (a single but large container of) hand sanitizer and non-perishable food at that time (I didn’t hoard, but did buy ahead of time... before everyone else, thus giving the logistics system time to restock for everyone else). It’s not mere hindsight.

mellosouls said 2 months ago:

Good for you - but it wasn't to me, and I'm not daft; neither was it clear to the leaders of most countries (going by their actions), and I'm sure many other people - including those criticised in the original blog post.

unreal37 said 2 months ago:

There are two valid points in there, despite how easy a target "the media" is.

- People saying things with confidence that they didn't know to be true

- This happens all the time but with Coronavirus, the facts came to light within days of them saying this

I get what Paul Graham is saying here.

mellosouls said 2 months ago:

Agree, but it's all pretty obvious the first point. It's what they are paid to do. There's no insight there and no credit for originality in writing an article pointing that out.

I'd be more impressed if he proposed a workable mechanism for actually holding them to account.

tigershark said 2 months ago:

Italy was in full lockdown on the 9th of March, and half the country on the 8th. And a lot of politicians were still downplaying the virus after that.

beepboopbeep said 2 months ago:

I'm not sure I understand your point. Are you implying that those talking heads are not responsible for the statements they made and the repercussions there of?

mellosouls said 2 months ago:

No, I believe that's obvious, that people with good sense already know these paid opinion-shouters are to be taken with a pinch of salt at best, and that it doesn't help to attack them on a point at which (for once), they might be given some leeway for lacking insight.

collyw said 2 months ago:

Wasn't Elon Musk going to make a website that rated the credibility of journalism somehow? What happened to that?

Lewton said 2 months ago:

Musk is still actively downplaying the severity of the situation. Recently he's been signal boosting the idea that many more people are infected than we think and therefore the alarmism is unwarranted

collyw said 2 months ago:

Considering the amount of testing that is actually being done, no one has much ideas of the real number of cases. With any luck he will be right but no one really knows.

danans said 2 months ago:

> With any luck he will be right but no one really knows.

Even he doesn't know if he's right, but apparently that doesn't stop him from using his influence to push his hot take.

At this point, the only thing that can be claimed with confidence is our global ignorance of this pandemic, and how much more we have to learn about it.

lazyjones said 2 months ago:

So what exactly are you saying? 1) he is evil, 2) he is wrong?

For 1), it's up to you to judge him based on your perceptions (I'd disagree), for 2) you'd need a little more than your gut feeling to call him wrong. Germany is testing extensively and resulting current estimates are around 1% mortality (WHO estimate: 3,4%).

Lewton said 2 months ago:

He's wrong.

More people being asymptomatic is not a cause for reacting less strictly, which is the view being promoted. If more people are asymptomatic, that's great news, but it does not impact how severely you should lockdown society as the DDOS'ing of the health sector is still clearly a problem to avoid looking at france, spain and italy. It only means that you'll be able to end the lockdown sooner than expected

lazyjones said 2 months ago:

We'll see how Sweden fares in the end. I'm not promoting their methods of dealing with the pandemic, but I believe the different health systems affect the outcome more. Italy has around 1/3 to 1/4 the hospital beds per capita of Austria, Germany, South Korea but more than Sweden and the USA.

Lewton said 2 months ago:

Comparing Denmark vs Sweden, it looks like we're beginning to see the difference in outcome on the death toll and hospitalization rates. Denmarks death toll is stabilizing (or at the very least only growing linearly) and the amount of people in hospitals with covid-19 has been stable for a week [0] (and no not because the hospitals are packed)

While Sweden is seemingly continuing the exponential trend in both over the past 4-5 days

[0] https://www.sst.dk/da/corona/tal-og-overvaagning the chart say "Indlagte patienter med bekræftet COVID-19 pr. dag "

lazyjones said 2 months ago:

It may be a bit early to say. Social distancing delays the infections. It's possible that it kills the virus, but unlikely, so people will be infected and possibly die later if they aren't immune already. Sweden is not able to stop infections at all, their health system is guaranteed to be overwhelmed, but survivors will most likely be immune and it will be over quickly, one way or another, when everyone has been exposed to the virus.

Lewton said 2 months ago:

Do you think they’ll have the stomach to continue with the plan once their hospitals are overwhelmed? I’m extremely skeptical they won’t eventually have to lock down harder than Denmark

lazyjones said 2 months ago:

I am not sure - there's still a chance that we won't reach the claimed 50-70% infections for some unknown reason, like the weather or some people being more resistant. Our (Austrian) chancellor said recently (~2 weeks ago) that he expects all health systems in the EU to become overwhelmed, though currently the outlook seems much better (even Italy has been sounding more optimistic lately). I don't know what to conclude from this other than that the worst possible outcome might not be as dramatic as previously thought, so Sweden might just pull through with it.

watwut said 2 months ago:

His idea of credibity and mine are not the same. At minimum, he himself is not trustworthy.

collyw said 2 months ago:

That doesn't mean that the concept is a bad idea, or that he won't come up with something that can be demonstarted to be trustworthy.

aantthony said 2 months ago:

Haven’t heard if that’s going ahead.

But I’m working on a similar concept: https://verifact.io which will be launching soon

clouddrover said 2 months ago:

Musk himself has no credibility when it comes to coronavirus. He's spent three months demonstrating that he knows nothing about it:

https://jalopnik.com/elon-musk-has-played-an-extremely-dange...

catalogia said 2 months ago:

I thought that was a joke. The name he proposed for it ('Pravda') was certainly a joke.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pravda

m0zg said 2 months ago:

Well, if that's the standard now, then the entirety of the US press is not credible: https://i.imgur.com/HGcoZco.png

zzzcpan said 2 months ago:

Mass media doesn't emphasize credentials of journalists or any credibility for that matter, in other words it is never credible. It's better understood in terms of propaganda, like your link is an example of manufactured consent.

Jugurtha said 2 months ago:

Not enough to remember. The shit we have seen must end careers and throw to jail.

We could be more tolerant if said "predictions" were in late December or early January. Persisting mid March? That's a threat to national security, endangering the health and economy of a nation. This should be up there considering the scale of the misinformation encouraging people to be a danger.

Terrorism is the use of violence to instore a climate of fear, sap morale, and win especially when inferior in number and means.

This is symmetrical: the use of words to instore a climate of confidence, boost morale and conduct to imprudence by using vastly superior media means to shape the behavior of people.

Someone should count all the damage this has done in terms of lives, of livelihoods, of GDP, of wasted resources, and make them pay. People get to pull this shit because there are no consequences for a catch phrase on Fox news, and all the braggadocio and tough guy talk must be accounted for.

One of the cases where being or feigning to be an idiot shouldn't save someone.

yibg said 2 months ago:

I think one of the issues here is incentive. Politicians' incentives don't always align with those of the population. In this case they can put out a strong warning and start acting with lockdowns etc or say everything is fine.

If they say everything is fine, then either 1) things are, in which case they look good after the fact for remaining calm or 2) things go south and they can deflect and point to other countries that are in the same boat.

If on the other hand they warn of incoming disaster and lock things down, still one of two things happen. 1) everything is indeed fine and they get destroyed for crashing the economy. or 2) the economy gets locked down and the pandemic isn't so severe. But the damage to the economy is still there and there will be no higher death count that could've happened to compare against. In this case they probably won't get much credit either.

So it seems to them then start acting early brings no benefits and only downsides.

devy said 2 months ago:

Fox News deserves class-action lawsuit for their lies and the damages it caused for making people who watched their news disregarding the social distancing rules.

https://news.yahoo.com/fox-news-reportedly-fears-early-11453...

hi41 said 2 months ago:

Honest question here. I am not an American but watching the scene.

Fox News also pointed out several things that the left media wrong.

1. Washingtonpost telling in early Feb that public should be wary of government asking for a shutdown. The video showed that Bill Maher wanted the pandemic so that Trump gets ousted.

2. Fox News also pointed inaccuracies in npr’s article.

Looks like each side is blaming the other.

How do you tell which side aid correct. The left too wants to destroy Trump’s reputation. Left is a hateful group which wants to bury the right.

standardUser said 2 months ago:

I've been amazed at how eager people have been to stake out and defend firm positions regarding this pandemic. We know this is an unprecedented global crisis with no good analogies, and we know that new information comes to light literally every single day. But instead of acknowledging this and taking a patient and flexible approach, we have everyone from the president on down taking hard positions about how this will play out, when it will end, how many people will die, what will happen after it ends and so on.

Even under the best possible conditions, humans are famously bad at predicting the future. Why then, when faced with a situation that is riddled with known unknowns, are so many people so eager to declare they know the future? And how do these fabricated declarations help us in any way? They only serve to obscure how truly in the dark we are about our current predicament.

formalsystem said 2 months ago:

Taleb elaborates on this idea quite a bit. Opinions are irrelevant, what matters is your position. Opinions are useless without a downside.

For example, don't tell me that you think Microsoft is a good or bad company. Tell me how many shares of Microsoft you own or how you're shorting Microsoft.

jonnypotty said 2 months ago:

People are being entertained not informed.

nurettin said 2 months ago:

People don't care about the distinction.

burtonator said 2 months ago:

My father-in-law doesn't believe in evolution. He also believes in a ton of other crazy conspiracy theories.

Now, every time he talks about something political, I make it clear his opinions are not welcome in this family and that until he can stop spreading disinformation he's sitting at the intellectual kids table.

The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. If he can't get this basic scientific fact correct then he's almost certainly wrong about everything else. At best everything he argues should be held with a massive red flag.

If you're scientifically illiterate you don't get to participate in society.

codeproject said 2 months ago:

We, science-oriented people, should be doing something about it. We have the power and resources. Politicians are only part of the problem. The ignorant voters is the major issue here. There was the weapon of mass destruction propaganda which precedes the Iraq war. Now powerful but ignorant people failed to stop the coronavirus even though there were stark examples from china. And we have even a greater challenge ahead, which we can’t afford to fail again. There are 220,000 people working for the video industry which has an annual income of 25 billion dollars. How many people are employed to educate people about the big issue ahead like protection of habitat? Back in the early 2010s, I did a project which is trying to interest people In keeping track of politician statements and assign scores to their credibility. Unfortunately, I can’t find anyone to invest in such a project. I just knew back then if we don’t change the status quo, the media would lose credibility. Unfortunately, I was proven right. The “ fake news “ becomes the big news back at the 2016 election. I am still paying the big daddy to keep the website registered so that I can brag a little.

spamizbad said 2 months ago:

Honestly if the Iraq war didn't result in media accountability I doubt the Coronavirus will either.

sjg007 said 2 months ago:

I mean we knew before the pandemic that Fox News has zero credibility. We knew that the President has zero credibility. We will soon see that austerity promoting economists never had credibility either. We will see UBI enabling a massive amount of entrepreneurship. We know all of these things and we knew them before too. Some people refuse to understand these things because their job And perhaps identity depends on not understanding it.

lazybreather said 2 months ago:

I see much of the discussion is directed towards left-right narrative. There is an issue of false pretense in the media which everyone agrees to. Then why make it a left-right conversation instead of staying right on the matter at hand? It doesn't get anywhere if the argument is about who started it first or who did it more. That's besides the whole point. And then people from each group point out individual comments someone from the opposite group made. If we have a pyramid of "importance", the discussion just spirals into the bottom and just brings in more and more nonsense. Let's stop it here. I remember PG talking about 'labels' in one of his posts. It is very relevant here. The issue quickly gets into a trivial fight between groups who labelled themselves. And for whatever reasons want to stay labelled the rest of their lives. Which is demeaning to the very life one has.

thereyougo said 2 months ago:

If everyone talks only based on facts on TV, the world will be a better place, but they're also won't be that many different news channels.

You see... This shows care about the rating, and keep us informed. In times like this, when people are watching the news 24/7 they must find people who can talk and give their opinion. In many cases, the information appear to be wrong.

matthewaveryusa said 2 months ago:

This implies that the general population cares to know who is swimming naked. The post truth era is the very idea that the general public no longer cares about truth. PG is not embracing reality if he frames this around Warren Buffet's quote. Basically PG is like "hey look at all those naked folks there!!" not knowing that he's at a nudist beach.

gregwebs said 2 months ago:

And also those that called it early should be seen as more credible. Chris Martenson was putting out youtube videos in January warning about the coming pandemic. He has been continually calling for masks as well: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRgTUN1zz_oeQpnJxpeaE...

People don't have the time to deeply engage in subjects themselves to understand what is true. So we take a shortcut of uncritically adopting ideas from elsewhere. I see this usually play out as the most repeated ideas coming from any direction are the ones taken as correct. There is some amount of ranking of sources: the New York Times or in some cases a professional network is given a higher ranking. But normally none of the sources are experts.

tannhaeuser said 2 months ago:

I've had this idea for some time already where if you post something news-like, you should attach a link to your sources, like "citation needed" for non-Wikipedia text. I know that sounds bland and like basic journalistic practice - but it is not, nor should be followed by professional/accredited journalists who of course need to be able to protect their sources and publish on their own site; it's intended for social media only. The idea is to get people used to look for a badge or some such at the bottom of a text that, when absent, immediately should ring a bell and put people on alert. Basically, it adds a "who said this" or cui bono dimension to every published text on aggregator sites unless it appears on a dedicated site.

Maybe we could have a competition for graphic artists and award a prize for the best icon or visual idiom for this?

brain5ide said 2 months ago:

How is that different from what happens now with links being added?

Also, journalists (or let's call them news media agencies) often abuse this by reporting of "claims by this" on the topic rather than the topic and in that way refusing any iota of responsibility for what they put on the spotlight.

tannhaeuser said 2 months ago:

I guess technically it's not different, but if used in a visually consistent way and followed widely, it could help critical thinking and add awareness to the fact that there are interested parties and spinsters behind most published material, rather than invite a habit of passive consumption/believing text just because it appears on shiny digital or printed media.

sixstringtheory said 2 months ago:

Tangential regarding Dr. Drew. I remember watching Loveline on MTV and hearing it a bit on radio when I was younger, and remember thinking how progressive him and Adam Corolla sounded. When I discovered much later that they're still going on podcasts, I've tuned in a couple times over the last decade but usually wind up cringing or disagreeing. I used to think Adam Corolla was mostly funny and made some good points, now I find him pretty distasteful. What happened, did they shift in their outlooks/politics/behaviors/etc, or did I and I'm just realizing how they've always been? It just seems like as I get older, many people in the generations ahead of me are getting crazier, and it makes me worried that at some point I'm going to lose my grip on reality. How does this happen?

koheripbal said 2 months ago:

I think that may have more to do with how you evolved than how they did.

dmitryminkovsky said 2 months ago:

I've got a sort of morbid fascination with the COVID denial scene on Twitter. Every few days I check out this guy Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii, 500k+ followers), and it's been interesting to see how he's adapted. This tweet captures it well:

https://twitter.com/classiclib3ral/status/124681200696072601...

Not sure if Paul is looking at this kind of thing, but from this essay I'm not sure he really grasps how fractured the media consumption landscape is at the moment. The tide hasn't come out from under many, if any, of these people. Their position is as strong as ever. They have their own moons, their own oceans and their own tides.

Gibbon1 said 2 months ago:

You'd probably like this. Compare.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Mar 2nd.

https://twitter.com/germanrlopez/status/1247210000155643904/...

San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Mar 2nd.

https://twitter.com/germanrlopez/status/1247210000155643904/...

dmitryminkovsky said 2 months ago:

Wow I'm based in New York so I've been on the Bill de Blasio beat and totally missed London Breed. She nailed it. Holy moly. Big ups to London Breed!

(Were those supposed to be two different links?)

Gibbon1 said 2 months ago:

I tried to make them two different links, one to Blasio and the Other to Breed. Didn't work.

I feel some of the difference might be due to California's experience with fires and earthquakes. The politicians have a habit of listening and acting on what public safety officials tell them. And the public tends understand. For instance last year they started shutting off the power during high wind events. They aren't happy with PGE but no ones been calling for the politicians heads over it.

jerkstate said 2 months ago:

I think that the video linked is unnecessarily partisan. Lots of politicians and media of all mainstream ideologies got this wrong. At the same time, plenty of woke progressives were telling us that the US/China travel ban was racist and unnecessary on Jan 31, and are now saying that it wasnt done soon enough. Plenty of conservative-leaning news outlets and politicians were sounding the alarm bells since January as well. Lets be honest, lots of public figures screwed this up, and it does your credibility no good to engage in partisan blame games instead of either just shutting up or working towards realistic solutions that keep us safe and prosperous at the same time as respecting our constitutional freedoms (in the USA). The world deserves better.

theschwa said 2 months ago:

This is likely the case, but can you site some sources?

jerkstate said 2 months ago:

Here are a few examples: https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/04/coronavirus-pandemic-...

I should be clear, I have no love for windbags like Hannity and Limbaugh but when you want to talk about credibility, you should have at least a modicum of self-awareness of your tribal alignment.

unexaminedlife said 2 months ago:

That's not even enough. We need their own words, coming from their own mouths, to be available online forever (compiled and meticulously categorized). If I tell someone that a news anchor has a terrible history of stating falsehoods, why should they believe me? I need to have a URL where I can go to obtain ALL of an individual's public statements about things, and rigorous details as to why the things they said were false.

Ideally it would be available via a decentralized source.

AND ideally a crowd-sourced platform so anyone can contribute.

Also we need the government to define different TYPES of news. Opinion-based and fact-based. Fact-based obviously will be held to extremely high standards, but the hope would be they would be rewarded for it in the market.

silexia said 2 months ago:

Excellent point Paul! How can we actually do a better job of keeping track of credibility? There are so many talking heads that it is hard to remember who said what and who is or is not credible. You almost would need a Black Mirror style AR credibility score floating in view?

clairity said 2 months ago:

you have to hone your bs meter by making lots of mistakes. incidentally, that's life in a nutshell.

qznc said 2 months ago:

There is plenty of sites to track predictions: https://www.metaculus.com http://longbets.org http://www.knewthenews.com https://predictionbook.com

I try to record predictions I find in the news. Most statements by politicians and journalists are too vague though. You need to get from "more people will die from COVID-19" to "more than 1.000.000 people will die from COVID-19 before May according to worldometers.info".

smsm42 said 2 months ago:

Predictions on random internet sites are cheap, worth thing you risk is losing a little money or some imaginary Internet points. Politicians are in a situation where their predictions can cost lives, they are forced to make them - and in most cases, they have no information and no ability to make any proper analysis of the situation. So they just do what they've done most of their professional lives - they bullshit away.

jgrahamc said 2 months ago:

Most humans have a really hard time with exponential processes. They are hard for them to spot and truly understand. So when something goes 1, 2, 4, 8 they see it as linear and when it's doubling with larger numbers they suddenly get it. And then it's too late.

Someone said 2 months ago:

1, 2, 4, 8 isn’t that different from 1, 3, 5, 7.

You need more sample points, larger multipliers, or prior expectation of seeing an exponential curve to see that as exponential growth.

dntbnmpls said 2 months ago:

> 1, 2, 4, 8 isn’t that different from 1, 3, 5, 7.

What? The former is exponential and the latter is linear. They are the definition of different.

The 30th number in the first series is 536870912.

The 30th number in the second series is 59.

ash said 2 months ago:

> [1, 2, 4, 8] is exponential and [1, 3, 5, 7] is linear.

You can't say just from 4 data points. Real data is noisy. Imagine each number is ±1.

nullc said 2 months ago:

To be fair, people-- even experts (checkout the first 538 survey of experts) and authorities-- have happily pretended covid19's behavior was linear even when the linear fit was many sigma away from the measurements...

I agree that it's worthwhile intuition in many cases, but really not here and even people equipt with both the data and the mathematical expertise to use it there have also made many bad calls on this.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
5cott0 said 2 months ago:

There is still a concerted, coordinated effort to signal boost reckless armchair epidemiologists arguing that COVID-19 is "just the flu" and the response is destroying the economy for nothing and/or a prelude to totalitarian police state.

esel2k said 2 months ago:

But without protecting these politicians here - over here in Europe we were more strict and did not play it down as much. What I have missed from the medical and country leaders is 1-a median age of deaths 2-death statistic that showed symptoms according to corona. Just stating infection number doesn’t mean anything.

For me the homework is not only on the political side but also to the medical side to present the right statistics - even if it might be ethically borderline. Because only when the threat is defined to economy, healthcare system and danger for specific groups then you can do a clear data-driven decision.

WalterBright said 2 months ago:

"this is the most accurate test of credibility we're ever likely to have"

I doubt it. Getting one random prediction right doesn't confer credibility. Getting several right becomes more interesting.

mapgrep said 2 months ago:

Here are the "journalists" (mostly commentators, actually) in the video Paul Graham links:

Sean Hannity (Fox News)

Rush Limbaugh (independent, right wing)

Pete Hegdeth (Fox News)

Lou Dobbs (Fox Business)

Tomi Lahren (Fox News)

Jeanine Pirro (Fox News)

Dr. Marc Siegel (Fox News)

Geraldo Rivera (Fox News)

Laura Ingraham (Fox News)

Jesse Waters (Fox News)

Matt Schlapp (shown on Fox News)

Dr Drew Pinsky (shown on Fox News)

Ed Henry (Fox News)

Ainsley Earhardt (Fox News)

I think it's misleading to call this "a video of TV journalists and politicians." It's a video of Fox News journalists and Rush Limbaugh and right wing politicians.

cityzen said 2 months ago:

I'll be downvote for this but couldn't you say the same thing about this epidemic of unprofitable, over-valued "unicorns" propped up by VC money?

"The answer, I realized, is that they didn't think they could get caught. They didn't realize there was any danger in making false predictions. These people constantly make false predictions, and get away with it, because the things they make predictions about either have mushy enough outcomes that they can bluster their way out of trouble, or happen so far in the future that few remember what they said."

nostrademons said 2 months ago:

I think this is assuming malice where incompetence may be a more likely explanation.

I was in the "it's just a flu" camp through early February, and then changed my mind pretty dramatically a few weeks before the U.S. (or Hacker News, for that matter) consensus shifted. It wasn't that I held an insincere belief beforehand; it's that the data initially supports two possible interpretations, and that as more data becomes available, "it's just a flu" becomes less likely and "this is a serious pandemic that will result in lots of life" becomes more likely.

For me, the critical pieces of information were details about what the Chinese definitions of "mild", "severe", and "critical" cases meant. I'd seen the death rates by age, which had a death rate of under 0.2% for people under 50 and it going up to 6-11% for > 70. I'd also seen case breakdowns where illnesses were described as 80% "mild", 15% "severe", 5% "critical", and 2% "death".

A logical conclusion to draw from that is that for 80% of cases, it really will be just a flu, an additional 15% would be a really sucky flu (pneumonia not requiring hospitalization), and 5% of mostly elderly patients require hospitalization.

The information that changed my mind was the clarification that 80% mild was broken down into 40% mild (cold symptoms) and 40% moderate (walking pneumonia), the 15% of severe cases all required hospitalization, and that hospitalization rates were not that different (factor of 2x, rather than factor of 30x) between young and old people. That and some math about how many hospitalizations that is vs. hospital beds available in the U.S, and the reports coming out of Italy that made it clear that the high death rate was not because of China's air pollution or smoking rates (both of which were reasonable hypotheses with the data available, particularly the increased male mortality and preponderance of smoking among Chinese men).

On a systemic level, it's entirely possible that the decision makers simply have not updated their mental models with this new information. There are a bunch of cognitive biases why they wouldn't: normalcy bias, unwillingness to look at unpleasant facts, and commitment bias (once they've publicly stated that it's just a flu it's hard to walk that back without looking like a fool). There's no need to assume that they're willfully spouting bullshit because they know they won't get caught. It's entirely possible that they're spouting bullshit because they believe it.

s9w said 2 months ago:

But both sides are irrationally being confident. The doomsdayers at least as much as the "flu-bros". I think it's fair to challenge the massive interventions being taken and the economic damage.

Lewton said 2 months ago:

> But both sides are irrationally being confident.

Being "doomsdayer" does not necessarily mean confidence in the situation. It's more about accepting that overreacting is much more desirable than underreacting when facing something exponential where you're constantly 2 weeks behind knowing what the reality is

BaronSamedi said 2 months ago:

> accepting that overreacting is much more desirable

I wish that were true but it is not. It is entirely possible to take actions that make a bad situation worse. The consequences of an economic shutdown, for example, are unknown. The worst case of global depression and supply chain disruption is just as bad as the virus itself, if not more so. I do not know how one makes good decisions in a situation of highly uncertain knowledge and severe consequences.

I think we are in "less bad" territory, i.e. how do we balance multiple considerations such that while not leading to any outcome that could be considered "good", is at least not catastrophic. I don't envy those who have to make such decisions.

Lewton said 2 months ago:

When you're in a situation where the severity of the outcome doubles every 4 days and you do not have clear information about where the curve will break, underreacting will result in extremely bad outcomes much much much more often than overreacting

For a simplified example just compare the cost of taking actions that make you break the curve 4 days too early with the situation where you break the curve 4 days too late

generalpass said 2 months ago:

> When you're in a situation where the severity of the outcome doubles every 4 days and you do not have clear information about where the curve will break, underreacting will result in extremely bad outcomes much much much more often than overreacting

> For a simplified example just compare the cost of taking actions that make you break the curve 4 days too early with the situation where you break the curve 4 days too late

But does it seem that implausible that cooler heads might find a solution that doesn't cost at least $20 trillion?

Lewton said 2 months ago:

It seems obvious that the US could have handled it so much better and cheaper if they had not kept ignoring the situation in China and then Italy (which made Europe wake up)

But even in the situation the US is now, doing something, anything, now. Might still be a lot better than the alternative

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
Juliate said 2 months ago:

That would be ignoring the extent of the economic/societal damage that is caused by the disease itself, would there not be any intervention to try to control the spread and its consequences on the medical infrastructure as well as all the other ones.

The problem with this kind of situation is that, unless you take action when it feels too early, all you will have at the end are your tears and saying "it was too late".

lazyjones said 2 months ago:

Yes, we also need to get used to dealing with uncertainty in assessments, predictions, computer models. Media are far too prone to blowing unlikely extreme possibilities out of proportion, when we need to see the whole range of possible outcomes clearly.

claudeganon said 2 months ago:

The problem with much of the challenges to the massive interventions is that they might not have been necessary if countries like the US had a competent and urgent response when the crisis first emerged. But they didn’t, and you can’t go back in time, so the choices are lockdown or let masses on masses of people dies and overwhelm several vital services.

gadders said 2 months ago:

I think the issue is that Faucci, Imperial College in the UK, are (as they should) optimising for a single function - to minimise deaths. However, if we followed this approach for road traffic, no car would be allowed to travel further than 10 miles per hour.

Someone needs to take an economic look at the Corona minimisation strategies. We do this already for other policy areas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_of_life). Does the economic impact divided by the Value of Life look in line with other areas?

linuxhansl said 2 months ago:

+1000

> Now that we've seen the results, let's remember what we saw, because this is the most accurate test of credibility we're ever likely to have.

I have very little hope here. Collective memory does not seem to last more than a year. The cynic in me believes that once toilet paper is available in pre-corona quantities again, we'll forget about the harmful mis-predictions.

And if recent history is an accurate indicator, then I'm afraid folks are still going to get away with lies and false predictions (not to even speak of harmful actions.)

hanoz said 2 months ago:

> Now that we've seen the results, let's remember what we saw, because this is the most accurate test of credibility we're ever likely to have. I hope.

PG obviously has better things to do than watch as much current affairs punditry as me, because people verifiably fail such credibility tests all the time, there just aren't enough of us keeping a tally, and the interviewers don't go out out their way to pick the pundits up on it because they're all part of the same circus.

mirimir said 2 months ago:

... or part of the kayfabe.[0]

0) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22796845

MarkMc said 2 months ago:

Lots of people here are pointing to Philip Tetlock's book Superforecasting which describes these forecasting problems, and also a more rigorous, scientific approach to forecasting.

Interestingly, Tetlock's 'superforecasters' predict a 30% chance of more than 350,000 coronavirus deaths in the US: https://goodjudgment.io/covid/dashboard/

This is up from 17% on March 21

techbio said 2 months ago:

“As of today there are x,y00,000 cases and n,000 deaths reported due to coronavirus—here to discuss the new numbers is political correspondent Not A. Statistician.”

DrNuke said 2 months ago:

More worringly, this epidemic is also destroying the layer of benevolent hypocrisy that kept globalisation together among young people worldwide: the Chinese virus, the Italian siesta, the Northern stinginess, the British take it on the chin, the American insurance or die, and so on are the latent prejudices now rubbing salt into wounds and adding insults to injuries. It will be extremely difficult to have that utopian, dreamy benevolence back soon.

seemslegit said 2 months ago:

If the politicians and media outlets editors who downplayed coronavirus in February predicted they could say it, get a lead time on the market and prep time for themselves and those with access to better data and estimates and not generally end up in worse shape politically and economically than if they admitted the full severity at the beginning and be right about all those things, are their predictions still bad ?

danans said 2 months ago:

> The answer, I realized, is that they didn't think they could get caught. They didn't realize there was any danger in making false predictions.

There was no danger to them, and a lot of the same old hay to be made from the faithful in the meantime. The problem is that the "meantime" didn't last long enough, and now many of their faithful are instead fearful.

skrebbel said 2 months ago:

Not to take anything away from the greater point, but I like that this is basically Paul Graham's way of making a YouTube comment.

99_00 said 2 months ago:

If mitigation works it will look like the virus was over-hyped and was never a real threat because death tolls will be low.

miguelmota said 2 months ago:

Seems like in today's age most of the content display on TV news is purely for entertainment purposes, or "infotainment" so to speak. More eyeballs means more ad revenue. Anger is a stronger emotion than love so news outlets like Fox News love to stir up drama to keep attracting their base viewers.

david_w said 2 months ago:

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, Sweden puts into practice what they only speculate about:

https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2020/04/covid-19-and-swedis...

cma said 2 months ago:

> Now, if I were the suspicious type, I might suggest that Sweden’s coronavirus policy was, from the very beginning, formulated with this endgame in mind: the weeding out of aged and infirm Swedes in order to free up residences, welfare benefits, and Lebensraum generally (pardon my French) for Muslim immigrants

Read a real source instead of this nazi garbage

ChuckMcM said 2 months ago:

The less you know, the more confident you are in believing what you are saying is accurate.

It has been my experience that as I learned more, my statements became more and more equivocal until these days I tend to think more about various probabilities of what might be correct. I miss the surety of youthful opinion.

randallsquared said 2 months ago:

> Now that we've seen the results, let's remember what we saw, because this is the most accurate test of credibility we're ever likely to have.

No, this is a terrible test of credibility. Journalists and politicians often go the other way, amplifying the danger, or outrage, or worry. Taking the outside view, it's overwhelmingly likely that any forecasted pandemic or disaster doesn't happen; we almost always get sky-is-falling predictions and then nothing really seems to happen from the perspective of most viewers or readers. Swine flu, bird flu, ebola, zika, on and on: these have previously in media-market memory been hyped as global catastrophes in the making, and then they turn into localized awfulness. This time, there were many more people than previously who seemed willing to espouse the outside view that this would probably blow over, and it seems incredibly ironic that this time, it didn't go away, and now those same categories of people who have been previously criticized for fear mongering are being lambasted for not fear mongering enough...

thewindowmovie said 2 months ago:

There were enough actual data and evidence out there to conclude this was actually a pandemic. Whole cities and countries were being shutdown and ICUs under strain when these people were going on TV encouraging people to travel. It is well known that some of this host work for a channel which is biased towards the president and that seem to have affected how they covered the news rather than based on available evidence.

DanBC said 2 months ago:

> we almost always get sky-is-falling predictions and then nothing really seems to happen from the perspective of most viewers or readers. Swine flu, bird flu, ebola, zika, on and on: these have previously in media-market memory been hyped as global catastrophes in the making, and then they turn into localized awfulness

...because WHO and those local regions spend considerable time and effort preventing catastrophe.

randallsquared said 2 months ago:

Yes, they did (along with, in many cases, considerable external aid from other NGOs, etc). However, from a height, it looks somewhat similar to how China's response to Wuhan prevented catastrophe... It didn't fully prevent it, but that was hard to know two months ago for most of the talking heads PG was calling out.

corpMaverick said 2 months ago:

In case you didn't click. The video is unsurprisingly Fox News. A disinformation machine. It just got very real. They aren't protecting anyone's interests at this point and they can get many people killed, including the same oligarchs that benefit by it.

nickthemagicman said 2 months ago:

I would love to see a project that does fear sentiment analysis of news media sources.

I go to NY Times or Fox news and it's seems like so much fear based reporting.

I go to NPR or BBC and it seems much more level headed.

Would love to have an objective measurement of fear based sentiment analysis of news sources.

0x8BADF00D said 2 months ago:

Making a correct prediction is difficult. Especially if you see something the vast majority of people don’t see. It takes quite a bit of risk to make a contrarian prediction, which is why the payouts are higher if the contrarian prediction comes true.

sharker8 said 2 months ago:

I agree that there was a certain amount of "nobody's going to watch this tape" going on in the heads of the incorrect prognosticators. But I also think that there's a strong 'in group out group' effect. It goes something like this: Whether I'm wrong or not, this is the 'approved solution' of the network I am on. And whether I'm wrong or right, we can rewrite this later with a little help from our friends. In their world, while its not OK to state inaccuracies, it is OK to state inaccuracies in support of some dogma like "the economy must go on". That is why we now see messaging coming from the right saying "this will be over, and the question when it ends will be who killed the economy to save a few people". And that version of the story is enough to vindicate any previous inaccurate statements for the audience these speakers care about.

nostromo said 2 months ago:

This image I saw on Twitter really sums up his point well:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EUvf_SmUUAEMRiR?format=jpg&name=...

yters said 2 months ago:

I totally agree, and we need to hold all sides accountable, not just the favorite bugbear.

Thing is, there are credible voices taking a counter perspective, and they should be heard and given blame (and praise) for their accuracy in prediction.

maitredusoi said 2 months ago:

This is because nobody is an epidemiologist over-night. So now you will be able to discard any proposition from those kind of people, those one who are trying so hard to be smart, but that obviously can't become over-night ;)

Animats said 2 months ago:

"These people constantly make false predictions, and get away with it, because the things they make predictions about either have mushy enough outcomes that they can bluster their way out of trouble, or happen so far in the future that few remember what they said."

Neither of which applies this time.

Here's a project for someone who works in the video space. Start with a Trump speech. As soon as he says something demonstrably false, the image freezes and a loud buzzer sounds. The picture of Trump shrinks and moves to a corner of the screen. Then the correct information appears, possibly including a contradictory clip from Trump. After that, the main video resumes.

Advanced version: do this in real time with machine learning.

Now that would get you hits on Youtube.

shard972 said 2 months ago:

You just did

buboard said 2 months ago:

Pg should write about what seems to be the real epidemic in america: politics. When people politicize a chemical compound , you know things are dangerously wrong

Mc_Big_G said 2 months ago:
guscost said 2 months ago:

This cuts both ways.

redthrow said 2 months ago:

Avoiding news [1] and people who don't bet on their prediction [2] go a long way.

[1] https://www.gwern.net/docs/culture/2010-dobelli.pdf

[2] https://www.econlib.org/archives/2016/01/i_changed_my_mi.htm...

known said 2 months ago:

"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else" --Churchill

andy_ppp said 2 months ago:

I agree with the sentiment, however I think the apparent problems with Trump and politicians in general around this will not be that they got caught talking bullshit, it's that voters don't care because we've started supporting sides like they are football teams rather than being thoroughly critical of their actions. I'm not even sure a million people dying would lead to disorganised, slow and stupid government being at fault according to the people and in fact the higher the toll I'd guess the less likely accountability is to happen.

fulafel said 2 months ago:

Aren't these just cult leaders? They'll just explain away the outcome as a new surprise conspiracy.

simion314 said 2 months ago:

Disappointingly politicians and their supporters pushed the narrative into blaming X or Y.

I would politely ask HNers who were in the is just the flu camp to reflect (please don't comment, just reflect) why I was wrong, what bias or whatever flaw my thinking had and avoid blaming X or Y for your mistake. Btw I am not accusing people here, I also was not anticipating things to go like this.

threepio said 2 months ago:

783 comments and no one noticed Warren Buffett's name was misspelled?

kgwgk said 2 months ago:

Probably most of us didn't bother to read the thing we're commenting on...

classified said 2 months ago:

> ...to talk confidently about things they don't understand.

Oh, the irony!

deepaksurti said 2 months ago:

>> Instead they just continued to use their ordinary m.o.,

m.o. = modus operandi

Dowwie said 2 months ago:
nimblebill said 2 months ago:

What about the NYC Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot tweeting in February (https://twitter.com/NYCHealthCommr/status/122404315585253786...):

As we gear up to celebrate the #LunarNewYear in NYC, I want to assure New Yorkers that there is no reason for anyone to change their holiday plans, avoid the subway, or certain parts of the city because of #coronavirus.

And then again in March (https://twitter.com/NYCHealthCommr/status/123429834432909312...):

Despite this development, New Yorkers remain at low risk for contracting #COVID19. As we confront this emerging outbreak, we need to separate facts from fear, and guard against stigma and panic.

Or the NYC Chair of New York City Council Health Committee tweeting (https://twitter.com/MarkLevineNYC/status/1226566648729133056):

In powerful show of defiance of #coronavirus scare, huge crowds gathering in NYC's Chinatown for ceremony ahead of annual #LunarNewYear parade. Chants of "be strong Wuhan!"

If you are staying away, you are missing out

Or Bill de Blasio tweeting (https://twitter.com/BilldeBlasio/status/1234648718714036229):

Since I’m encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus, I thought I would offer some suggestions. Here’s the first: thru Thurs 3/5 go see “The Traitor” @FilmLinc . If “The Wire” was a true story + set in Italy, it would be this film.

Or does it only count when its Fox News?

beepboopbeep said 2 months ago:

Yes, those are mistakes as well. We don't have to delve into whataboutism in order to point out the wrongness of something.

Nuzzerino said 2 months ago:

Are you sure? I saw a different video where media outlets of all types were saying similar things. The infamous deleted "Vox" tweet where they said it would not be a deadly pandemic, for one example.

I don't think linking a partisan outlet singling out a partisan outlet from the opposite side of the isle is a good way to treat this issue. PG apparently doesn't either, and didn't name names.

Source: https://i.imgur.com/Tn0UtWT.png

hangphyr said 2 months ago:

Many news media companies have been engaging in just that, trying to point out (hypocritically) where their competitors attempted to downplay the threat of the virus. It's not so much a problem with news media being wrong, it's a problem with most of them skewing towards pundit commentary and OP/ED's on the news, rather than just reporting the news.

If the news media blankly reports what is happening, and avoided adding layers of interpretation on top of it, their reputations would be in better shape right now.

dominotw said 2 months ago:

> OP/ED's on the news

What the stance of opinion pieces. ppl seem to say opinion articles cannot be judged because they are opinions by definition. I find that infuriating but i have to bite by lip and agree.

eg: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22697313

theandrewbailey said 2 months ago:

Looks like a lot more outlets got it wrong: https://twitter.com/standwithPrager/status/12454088056907694...

licyeus said 2 months ago:

What's the timeline of media outlets figuring this out? Fox was downplaying / claiming this was a hoax as late as March 10 [1], whereas other outlets woke up early February (eg, the WaPo headline in your screenshot is from Jan 31).

1 - https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/on-fox-news-s...

e2021 said 2 months ago:

De Blasio was telling people you couldn't get the virus on the subway and other nonsense well into March.

thomas2718 said 2 months ago:

Some days ago I stumbled on this page: https://www.unfoxmycablebox.com/. It says that Fox News finances itself largely by hidden subscriber fees which are part of a cable or satellite TV subscription. It proposes to write your provider that you do not want to support Fox News. For example, AT&T subscribers pay 24$ per year to Fox News.

What do you think about it?

malandrew said 2 months ago:

What Paul is describing pretty much describes most of the mainstream media, regardless of political bias.

If anything, it's the rampant bias that has produced so many blindspots.

bcrosby95 said 2 months ago:

Nah, Fox just clutched onto their ignorant statements longer than most media companies.

dominotw said 2 months ago:

while those are most blatant examples. There are plenty of examples from left wing sites too. All those people seem to have simply gone "underground" eg: https://twitter.com/rojospinks?lang=en from the famous 'travel bans dont' work'.

how do you know hes only referring to right wing websites?

jeffdavis said 2 months ago:

I feel like, rather than coming together, people are just backing into their partisan corners again. This is really not a partisan thing.

It looks like California and Texas are making better choices than NY or Florida. Trump was too slow to act on testing, but was criticized for acting too quickly with the travel bans. The most credible and forward-thinking leaders on pandemics include George W Bush[1] and Arnold Schwarzenegger[2]; and their best-laid plans crumbled under later Democratic administrations.

Credibility is a funny thing. For some things, people are very credible but still drop the ball in big ways. Honestly it's just hard to know how someone is going to act in a major disaster. I would have guessed that if anyone were to overreact on a Chinese virus pandemic, it would be Trump. And people that are highly competent during normal situations might start behaving strangely and lose credibility quickly during more interesting times (like lying about masks not helping ordinary people).

There isn't a magic team of scientists that has all the answers. There is a science to pandemics, but there's a fair amount of guesswork, as well, especially when China was hiding so much information. Politicians need to make decisions based on incomplete information. So do doctors, for that matter.

So let's have some humility and realize that a lot of formerly-credible people are also in the process of screwing this up. It's not just the shoot-from-the-hip politicians.

[1] https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/homeland/pandemi... [2] https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2020/03/31/...

est said 2 months ago:

> especially when China was hiding so much information

Or the media rarely report any information because it's Chinese? Search for covid-19 papers published in Jan, Feb most of them were from China. Some of the data directly contradicts with Chinese CDC numbers.

zzzeek said 2 months ago:

Might PG have included the critical point of this video is that they are all conservative voices? Right, that would be too "divisive".

pjscott said 2 months ago:

The voices on this particular video are all conservative because it's a clip from the Daily Show, not an unbiased sample, and of course they're going to mainly pick on the other side. People on the right are making similar lists of grievances against left-wing media, and if you looked exclusively at those, you'd get the impression that downplaying the coronavirus is a liberal thing.

(My own pet interpretation is that political news reporting is a circus, reality-adjacent at best, and most journalists leave you worse-informed for having listened to them regardless of their party affiliation.)

grappler said 2 months ago:

Frankly, those of us on the blue side have a pretty good track record. Not perfect, but pretty good. Then, there is Red America. Let's not kid ourselves with some kind of equivalence: “oh, both sides have this issue”. It's not remotely close.

Sure, Trump is bad and his sycophants in the media are bad. But they are symptoms. The disease is the people who put them there and have been keeping them there, by not holding them to account: Red America.

sagichmal said 2 months ago:

pg saying something like this without a touch of irony is just (chef's kiss)

strangattractor said 2 months ago:

VC's do it all the time.

jswizzy said 2 months ago:

If you think politicians and journalists are bad wait until you see what the experts are saying.

InfiniteBeing said 2 months ago:

There are numerous examples of people on both sides of the political spectrum comparing this virus to the flu and downplaying the severity, but then the switch was flipped.

At times I've believed that this virus was an absolutely terrible virus, and at other times I've believed that things were overblown.

I've read and seen interviews of more calm and rational experts and think that perhaps the original claims were more correct, or at least the response by governments are more damaging than the virus itself.

In the end this virus' run may end up not being worse or not much worse than a flu season of a certain level of severity as initially thought, but the future consequences on our rights and liberties by media induced panic and state authoritarian measures might be long lasting.

I really don't want to see certain people calling others fascists, nazis and communists in the future after seeing what they've supported during our current times.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pcQFTzck_c&feature=emb_logo

stevetodd said 2 months ago:

Liberalism and conservatism are essentially religions—there are core fundamental beliefs to them and a community surrounding it. Rejecting the political party is not just rejecting beliefs but also rejecting family, friends, and social structure. The battle has become so much more about red vs blue, left vs right, that principles and facts are no longer relevant. The vitriol and lack civility in the current political environment all but guaranteed this outcome.

Fox News is deeply wrong, but we should all look inward to our own behavior and if we’ve been unkind or unrespectful, we should take responsibility for creating this situation. Do you really think that yelling at, shaming, or embarrassing people will get them to change? I don’t think research supports that position.

choward said 2 months ago:

> Liberalism and conservatism are essentially religions

I somewhat agree but I would argue that it's the Democratic and Republican parties that are religions, not the philosophies themselves. They both are fine on their own just like religious philosophies.

It's the people who basically form a cult, give it a name, and interpret the philosophies that are the problem. It becomes all about growing your cult to be bigger than the other cults so you have more power. To get people interested you attack the other side instead of having intelligent debates. They operate within there own echo chambers.

Most media companies pick a side and then attack the other side. People like watching other people get very emotional so that leads to more viewers. It's why there are so many "reality" shows.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
deepender99 said 2 months ago:

economic crises is also coming...

jamsb said 2 months ago:

HTTPS isn't supported :(

thesaint said 2 months ago:

What global warming?

bonzojim said 2 months ago:

The covid19 is

the same old scam just like global warming, it's bleeding heart Democrats at work spewing thier lies, it's just another virus that's be actually killing less than all the other flu's known and getting rid of the weak and free'ing up hospital beds, a little quicker than ordinary pneumonia already does. Climate change be which is natural is fine, been happening for millions of years, man has poisoned the earth for only 200 years and the earth is doing ok with carbon emmisions from natural occurences for Milenia. No need to think man is so powerful to hurt this planet we share, it's all bull crap and know they feel the need to ruin the economy with liberal based media causing mass hysteria and general public panic to oust a republican president that the powerful left doesn't want in office come November. More people are dying from run of the mill influenza strands leading to pneumonia than covid19 just at a slower rate, 500,000 a year worldwide vs covid19 at current time 75,000 and it's on a downslope as I type only possibly peaking as high as 200,000, if that. Don't believe the hype, I'm surprised we haven't heard from Al and tipper gore about the virus on top of the bill crap global warming scam that they now refer to as climate change

brokenmachine said 2 months ago:

I'll feed the troll...

US https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

Worldwide https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Look at those "Total Deaths" charts, and you're seriously claiming we're on a downslope.

robomartin said 2 months ago:

Sorry, this isn't fair at all and it suffers from the issue that is common in politics and political coverage, regardless of network: Taking everything out of context.

The video linked in that article is a tour-de-force of out of context snippets. Anyone could splice together a video just like that one with material from any TV news network or politician, from the tip of South America to the extremes of Siberia and everything in between.

In many ways, and sadly, PG reveals (perhaps proudly) his own bias on this front. This is very much a hit job on Fox News and the right. One can't claim intellectual superiority and do this at the same time. Sorry.

This isn't to say that Fox News isn't without fault. They are. Everyone is. NOBODY understood this well enough to say anything intelligent about it. NOBODY, from politicians to doctors and, yes, newscasters and celebrities.

What we can say is that nearly everything that was said or predicted during the early phases of this thing by almost everyone has now been proven wrong by this cruel virus and its behavior. That isn't an indication of nefarious intent. Ignorance? Yes. Malicious intent? I doubt it. Political battle? Yes, likely, sadly...because nobody really understood this thing was going to get ugly.

Faulting anyone, from Trump to local officials is, from my perspective, intellectually dishonest and counterproductive. This is where I have a problem with the media. I am sure the founders did not pen the first amendment with the intent of providing protection for extreme political alignment in the media. We have, somehow, allowed this to happen, and, what is worse, we have not come up with a way to curtail it.

Watching US coverage and press conferences is a display of just how politically aligned the media has become. Their focus is, 24/7, to attack the political party they are not aligned with. In order to accomplish this they are more than willing to take things out of context, distort reality, fabricate narratives and disseminate lies. As someone who works hard to remain as neutral as possible, a registered independent who has equal disdain for both major parties, this is truly revolting to watch. Sometimes I feel like a visitor from another planet watching from an orbiting spacecraft while the people below play stupid games to destroy each other rather than unite for the benefit of all. Unbelievable.

While I agree with most of the observations in this article I wish PG had taken the time to find real examples of ignorance without resorting to a left-wing hit piece on the right wing by using an array of out of context pieces cut together.

While I can't be on a spacecraft orbiting above the US, I can take a look at what our approach to COVID-19 looked from other parts of the world. For example, SkyNews Australia:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdKLx5MhTpk

Dr. Oxiris Barbot, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health herself, was, for some incomprehensible reason, telling New Yorkers to just go out, gather, use subways and change nothing other than wash their hands and stay home if they were sick:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2DetEolgOg

And, before someone says "you took that out of context" (I did not edit the video so...), here's a full press briefing where she goes into clear detail about "no need to do any special anything...":

https://youtu.be/NEhLOp7UGNM?t=1659

I mean, this is the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health!!!!

I cued-up the video to her statement so you can see and hear it from the horses mouth and confirm what I present above. If interested, I urge you to rewind to the start and watch the entire press briefing. If you do, you'll hear a bunch of good things and a bunch of incomprehensibly bad things, among which are:

    - Just like the normal flu
    - We should relax
    - We don't think it's going to be as bad as it is in other places
We have been ahead of this from day one • Go about your lives • Go about your business • There has to be prolonged exposure • Just wash your hands • There is no need to do anything special anything in the community, we want New Yorkers to go about their daily lives, ride the subway, ride the bus, go see your neighbors • We have the equipment • It's not like we are dealing with something we haven't dealt with before • We have the ability to address this • We have the capacity to keep this contained • Like the normal flu
gbpz said 2 months ago:

Thanks for the sanity. This site is slowly devolving into reddit with out of context political videos that, while they certainly carry merit, lack a holistic view of the time period and the media opinion of the time.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

One way to push back is flagging, when appropriate. I have started flagging no-content comments (such as the pun threads) which I believe indirectly encourages this culture. The site mods are fairly responsive.

robomartin said 2 months ago:

Sorry, this isn't fair at all and it suffers from the issue that is common in politics and political coverage, regardless of network: Taking everything out of context.

The video linked in that article is a tour-de-force of out of context snippets. Anyone could splice together a video just like that one with material from any TV news network or politician, from the tip of South America to the extremes of Siberia and everything in between.

In many ways, and sadly, PG reveals (perhaps proudly) his own bias on this front. This is very much a hit job on Fox News and the right. One can't claim intellectual superiority and do this at the same time. Sorry.

This isn't to say that Fox News isn't without fault. They are. Everyone is. NOBODY understood this well enough to say anything intelligent about it. NOBODY, from politicians to doctors and, yes, newscasters and celebrities.

What we can say is that nearly everything that was said or predicted during the early phases of this thing by almost everyone has now been proven wrong by this cruel virus and its behavior. That isn't an indication of nefarious intent. Ignorance? Yes. Malicious intent? I doubt it. Political battle? Yes, likely, sadly...because nobody really understood this thing was going to get ugly.

Faulting anyone, from Trump to local officials is, from my perspective, intellectually dishonest and counterproductive. This is where I have a problem with the media. I am sure the founders did not pen the first amendment with the intent of providing protection for extreme political alignment in the media. We have, somehow, allowed this to happen, and, what is worse, we have not come up with a way to curtail it.

Watching US coverage and press conferences is a display of just how politically aligned the media has become. Their focus is, 24/7, to attack the political party they are not aligned with. In order to accomplish this they are more than willing to take things out of context, distort reality, fabricate narratives and disseminate lies. As someone who works hard to remain as neutral as possible, a registered independent who has equal disdain for both major parties, this is truly revolting to watch. Sometimes I feel like a visitor from another planet watching from an orbiting spacecraft while the people below play stupid games to destroy each other rather than unite for the benefit of all. Unbelievable.

While I agree with most of the observations in this article I wish PG had taken the time to find real examples of ignorance without resorting to a left-wing hit piece on the right wing by using an array of out of context pieces cut together.

While I can't be on a spacecraft orbiting above the US, I can take a look at what our approach to COVID-19 looked from other parts of the world. For example, SkyNews Australia:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdKLx5MhTpk

Dr. Oxiris Barbot, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health herself, was, for some incomprehensible reason, telling New Yorkers to just go out, gather, use subways and change nothing other than wash their hands and stay home if they were sick:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2DetEolgOg

And, before someone says "you took that out of context" (I did not edit the video so...), here's a full press briefing where she goes into clear detail about "no need to do any special anything...":

https://youtu.be/NEhLOp7UGNM?t=1659

I mean, this is the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health!!!!

I cued-up the video to her statement so you can see and hear it from the horses mouth and confirm what I present above. If interested, I urge you to rewind to the start and watch the entire press briefing. If you do, you'll hear a bunch of good things and a bunch of incomprehensibly bad things, among which are:

    - Just like the normal flu
    - We should relax
    - We don't think it's going to be as bad as it is in other places
    - We have been ahead of this from day one
    - Go about your lives
    - Go about your business
    - There has to be prolonged exposure
    - Just wash your hands
    - There is no need to do anything special anything in the community,
      we want New Yorkers to go about their daily lives, ride the subway,
      ride the bus, go see your neighbors
    - We have the equipment
    - It's not like we are dealing with something we haven't dealt with before
    - We have the ability to address this
    - We have the capacity to keep this contained
    - Like the normal flu
These are not statements made by talking heads in news shows. These are the leaders of the US state with the most cases and most deaths. They are not taken out of context. And they are clearly telling people to, effectively, go out there and get infected.

This is the real reason for which places like New York and Louisiana are in such trouble. Their leadership failed the people. They failed miserably. They were ignorant, political and just plain wrong. And they got everyone infected. It's one thing to start with a handful of cases. It's quite another to tell people to pile into subways, festivals, restaurants and other high-traffic public environments and effectively help the virus replicate. You then start your odyssey with thousands of cases, not a handful, which can't end well.

Either we dismiss this as collective ignorance and excuse it as such, or we don't. Yet, other states took it very seriously. People took it seriously. The trigger for most was when Trump shut down travel from China. That was on January 31st. Love him or hate him, an neutral observer would instantly understand this was a seriously out of band move and one that could not have been taken lightly or unilaterally. That was a very strong signal that something was seriously wrong.

For me, that event, added to the R0 data that was coming in, told me this was serious and it high likelihood of going way beyond China. During the first week of February I bought three months of supplies for our family. Various states around the nation started to take measures as well. Places like NY and Louisiana, instead, decided closing the doors to China was racist and, as if the virus cared about political defiance, actually promoted mass gatherings and helped the virus spread and infect large numbers of people.

Yes, I agree with the general message issued by PG. However, I strongly suggest the article needs to be edited in order to remove the intellectually dishonest and politically one-sided focus. It simply isn't true and it is wrong. There's a very direct and well documented link in the video and Twitter record of who in the US is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of people getting infected and likely tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of people dying.

This isn't a joke. People are losing partners, mothers, fathers, siblings, sons and daughters. Let's not lie or distort the truth due to political alignment and effectively join the very group we are accusing of being dishonest.

known said 2 months ago:

Next version of #CoronaVirus should infect only Politicians; Earth will become a better place for Humans;

edw519 said 2 months ago:

Instead they just continued to use their ordinary m.o., which, as the epidemic has made clear, is to talk confidently about things they don't understand.

Those of us with I.T. managers have been putting up with this forever:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

What a ridiculous zeal.

Hardly anyone at this point is arguing that there actually is an issue. After all, flu is still a dangerous illness, esp. for certain groups of people, so even plainly calling this COVID thing "just a flu" is not equivalent to saying that it's not an issue. It's your framing of the phrase "just a flu", that makes it look like some kind of heresy or insult.

And, most importantly, why do you call out only journalists and politicians, while there are many perferctly credible people, - first of all, medical experts, - who keep saying, that the scale of panic is dumb? How about doing some reading and fact-checking before crying wolf?

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

As this comment seems to be controversial, and I'm getting many downvotes, I'd like to provide a couple of links for anyone interested in the topic.

John Ioannidis MD of Stanford University:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6MZy-2fcBw

Knut Wittkowski, for twenty years head of The Rockefeller University's Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGC5sGdz4kg

A collection of fact-checked links to public statements and critical research about COVID-19, updated DAILY (scroll to bottom for the most recent additions):

https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-covid-19/

tigershark said 2 months ago:

It’s an insult. Covid-19 is in the best case 30 times as deadly as the flu while being twice as contagious. Calling it just a flu and downplaying it is actively causing thousands of deaths.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

You seem to be mentally unstable. There is nothing insulting about being skeptical. I have facts to back my statements, can you say the same for yourself?

tigershark said 2 months ago:

You didn’t post any fact. Only a meaningless link to Iceland numbers. Thanks for insinuating that I’m mentally unstable by the way. That is certainly a very stable and mature behaviour.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

You post fear-inducing bullshit with a straight face, get insulted by something that challenges your beliefs and carpet-bomb all my comments in the thread. That's the definition of a crank.

paulgb said 2 months ago:

"just the flu" to me implies that we can treat it like the flu, i.e. go about life as usual and stay home if we catch it. It seems beyond obvious at this point that that's not the case. (Hopefully soon there will be a vaccine and it will become the case.)

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

But it literally is a strain of flu. And staying at home, sleeping and drinking a lot of water is exactly what the majority of people who contracted COVID are doing at the moment. Or do you believe that there are 1.3 million people in hospitals or cemeteries right now?

paulgb said 2 months ago:

> Or do you believe that there are 1.3 million people in hospitals or cemeteries right now?

No, but I believe that in contrast to the flu, there are millions of healthy people (rightly) staying home right now.

Are you saying that the lockdowns are unwarranted?

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

I'm not in the position to make such statements, but there is quite a number of medical professionals, who say exactly this: massive lockdowns of general population aren't necessary.

As for me, I personally believe that the medicine is worse than the disease in this case. We can be quite certain at this point that there will be lots of casualties from the economical disruption, and whether the unconstrained virus could have caused more suffering is a question to be answered.

paulgb said 2 months ago:

> but there is quite a number of medical professionals, who say exactly this: massive lockdowns of general population aren't necessary

Who?

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

Consider this your homework. Google hasn't shutdown yet.

paulgb said 2 months ago:

Congratulations on finding a way to turn not having evidence to back up your argument into being condescending.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

I just don't think you are seriously asking for information, because there is shitload on the Web already, but rather mocking me (judging by your one-worded response, which is rude). But in case I'm wrong, here's a nice collection of links to begin with, updated daily: https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-covid-19/ Scroll to the bottom for most recent updates.

nullc said 2 months ago:

> But it literally is a strain of flu.

No, it literally is not. The flu is caused by influenza. Covid19 is caused by sars-cov-2, a relative of SARS-CoV which caused SARS ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severe_acute_respiratory_syndr... ). It is also a (more distant) relative of HCoV-OC43 which is one of the many viruses that cause the cold.

The problems that influenza and sars-cov-2 cause for us are pretty different: Influenza mutates fairly quickly so we're not able to stop it completely with our otherwise highly effective vaccines, while even though they mutate comparatively much slower we don't have any effective drug treatments for coronaviruses: Some are not dangerous enough to have been economically interesting to develop treatments for while others were stopped by non-drug interventions (like the sick people dying too quickly and the detection of fever before the virus was highly communicable).

Symmetry said 2 months ago:

Interestingly there's a variant that attacks dogs that's a bit more severe and people have actually developed a vaccine for that variant. Well, it might also be that it's a lot easier, regulations wise, to develop a vaccine for dogs than for humans. It works great but your dog has to have a booster every year or two to keep full immunity.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

A vaccine has already been developed for cats. It turned out vaccinated cats suffer greater from the nCov due to increased reaction from the immune system.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

I was saying that this is yet another virus strain that causes flu-like illness, i.e. cold with fever, etc. Leave your pedantry for someone else.

tigershark said 2 months ago:

No, it isn’t. The flu doesn’t require hospitalisation in 15-20% of the cases and doesn’t have a mortality rate of 1% in the best case. Please stop spreading misinformation.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

https://www.icelandreview.com/ask-ir/whats-the-status-of-cov...

27,000 samples

1,500 confirmed

37 hospitalized (2%)

460 recovered

Here's the official stats from Iceland. How would you comment these numbers?

tigershark said 2 months ago:

What I have to comment? We know what is the death rate in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, South Korea. 1500 cases is ridiculously low to take any conclusion, they are far behind the curve.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

Who is "we"? Actual scientists say the opposite: most numbers are meaningless and misleading, because we don't know, how wide the virus has spread. Are you that lazy-minded to not even try to check the links that I have provided?

tigershark said 2 months ago:

Then why you post utterly meaningless numbers based on 1500 reported cases far behind the curve and ask for my comment? And please stop insulting me, you have gone too far.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

Dr Ioannidis, for one example, thinks that Iceland's numbers are actually representative in contrast to US, Spain, Italy, etc. He's an expert, what reasons do you have to not at least consider his opinion (and many others') as viable?

And it's not my fault that you're so touchy to be insulted by opinions that challenge the ones you hold. There's hardly any valour in throwing downvotes left and right on every post by the person you disagree with either.

nullc said 2 months ago:

I tend to reserve it for people who use "x is literally y" as the totality of their argument. :P

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

You see, only a few months ago for the majority of people the word "flu" was a perferctly fine umbrella term for all of these viruses, including multiple coronaviruses. Now everyone is an expert virusologist with rigorous fervor for miniscule details. This is silly and drives us into the wrong direction, because the actual illness is not very different (it's a fact), but the amount of attention payed to it leads to huge overreaction. Oh, it's a relative of SARS, god forbid, oh my god, we're all going to die! Bullshit.

rsynnott said 2 months ago:

> But it literally is a strain of flu

Eh? No, it is not. Who told you this? Whoever it was, stop listening to them. Bloody hell.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

I was using the word "flu" in the broader sense. People commonly refer to virus-caused colds as simply flu. So what I was trying to say was that this is yet another virus that causes "flu".

rsynnott said 2 months ago:

Ah, I see, ‘flu’ in the ‘broader sense’ of basically bloody anything.

Yes, I’ve got a touch of the bubonic plague today. Oh, I’m using ‘bubonic plague’ in the broader sense; I stubbed my toe.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

Note that it's you who is grossly exaggerating. Got anything meaningful to say regarding confirmed difference between flu and covid?

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
aaron695 said 2 months ago:

I'd like a website recording people telling others to not wear masks.

Hold them into account.

throwawaylolx said 2 months ago:

Why focus only on the low-hanging fruits at one end of the spectrum? How about all the scientists who made doomsday predictions that failed to materialize?

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

Err on the side of caution works quite well when modelling things that are rare but that can have devastating effects.

throwawaylolx said 2 months ago:

This is a nonsensical approach unless you consider the damage caused by overprotective measures such as the rapidly increasing number of people who are filling for unemployment every day.

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

Right. So, in your opinion, how many people would you be willing to give up for the economy? What ages? Prior conditions? What about yourself? Your family?

We've been conditioned over the last 100+ years that life - especially life of white people, but never mind that bit - is precious. So now, when white people's lives are in danger you suddenly want to go all super rational and equate lives with paying out unemployment? Good luck with that.

throwawaylolx said 2 months ago:

GDP correlates with life expectancy, so you can't separate deaths and economy as if they were behaving in isolation from each other like you seem to assume in your tantrum.

jacquesm said 2 months ago:

Yes, they are correlated. But they are not correlated in such a way that you're going to be looking the people that you've just condemned in the eye. Nor do they have voting family members that will remember that when ballot time rolls around.

So this utilitarian argument you are making is going to be a very difficult one to put across and if you feel otherwise about it then it is up to you to stick your neck out, I want no part of it, and neither do most people. The argument that the handicapped, aging and ill should be disposed of has been made before, it didn't end well.

eanzenberg said 2 months ago:

At the time, if you believed Chinese data, and the WHO, then you should have concluded this was no worse than the flu.

xster said 2 months ago:

Media: China's gone mad full dystopia, welding people shut inside their apartments, stopping trains, removing people of all their freedoms.

Media: tis but a cough.

andrewtbham said 2 months ago:

The flip side is all the people that got it right on twitter.

And continue to make insightful predictions:

https://medium.com/@andrewt3000/covid-19-and-hypoxemia-697bc...

madads said 2 months ago:

Disappointing to see that MSM and more disappointing that even here there are not more people questioning the data and situation.

Also, where did the free thinking go? Not ostracising everyone that has a different view than the current world narrative.

There are dozens of sme in virus-related fields that are voicing the opposite of what govs and msm are saying. This is a great lesson for us all.

Let’s see it dismantle our current “ways of living”. Time for something new!

markvdb said 2 months ago:

Paul, you're absolutely right about the corona virus being the clearest credibility test fail for these people yet.

But you also write: "These people constantly make false predictions, and get away with it, because the things they make predictions about either have mushy enough outcomes that they can bluster their way out of trouble, or happen so far in the future that few remember what they said."

I'm not so sure about that. These politicians and journalists have consciously a/b tested their audiences into tribes of absolute uncritical loyalty. They feed on anti-intellectualism and cheap gut reactions.

At a certain level of responsibility, incompetence becomes malice. These people are far beyond that threshold. They will soon have the blood of thousands on their hands.

I'm not sure the people of the US will be able to keep them to account, but I certainly hope so.

dntbnmpls said 2 months ago:

> What struck me about it was not just how mistaken they seemed, but how daring.

Really paul? You are struck by how wrong journalists and politicians are? They exist to lie and push an agenda. You've written in the past about the shady aspects of the news industry. And I seriously doubt you harbored any positive views of politicians.

> These people constantly make false predictions, and get away with it, because the things they make predictions about either have mushy enough outcomes that they can bluster their way out of trouble, or happen so far in the future that few remember what they said.

They make false predictions and get away with it because their agenda and the agenda of their fans/supporters line up. This is true of the fox side and the cnn/msnbc side. Have you forgotten about the predictions of yellowcake? The predictions of a short war in iraq? Remember mission accomplished? What about the predictions of a Hillary victory? What about all the predictions about trump/russia collusion? What about all the predictions that trump would be tossed from office/resign/jailed/etc?

> And the tide has just gone out like never before.

No paul. They've all been shamelessly naked sun bathing on the beach for everyone to see. It's not like they are hiding their bias.

> Now that we've seen the results, let's remember what we saw,

I doubt it. Just like people seem to have forgotten what a hack trevor noah is. In just the last few years, if people cared about being lied to, everything from Rolling Stones, NYTimes, WaPo, Fox news, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, etc would be out of business.

Brian Williams lied at NBC and then got a job at MSNBC. Isn't that nice?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Williams#Controversies

I hate to say it but your post seemed more like an attempt to win political points rather than expressing disappointment in the news industry since you were already fairly skeptical of the news industry to begin with.

http://paulgraham.com/submarine.html

abstractbarista said 2 months ago:

Honestly, it actually hasn't been materially worse than the flu yet. So this article's premise is basically worthless.

We have 70k dead as of 3/6/2020 and it's already slowing. The flu kills between 290,000 and 650,000 worldwide yearly, according to the WHO.

The actual "damage" this virus has "caused", which the flu doesn't, is the economic shock of everyone being forced at once to not go out and spend. We have rightly done this to save the weaker among us, at the great expense of the masses' financial future.

nojvek said 2 months ago:

We have 70k dead as of 3/6/2020 and it's already slowing. One would definitely have to take 70k number with a grain of salt. There are many deaths that have gone unreported because there weren't enough testing kits. Many countries aren't reporting deaths because their government wants to save face. Iran comes to mind.

What's different about this virus is in just a span of a few months it has claimed 70k deaths. At the rate people are dying, if we just let it run its course without any social distancing (like flu runs its course), we could have millions of deaths.

COVID-19 is ~10X deadlier than flu looking at the current numbers.

If we just let the economy go as is, with our healthcare overwhelmed and >1% of our population dying, that would be terrible. I don't know if I want to live in such a heartless world. Remember even young people are dying albeit at a lower rate.

One of my friends who did get COVID-19 explained that its not like a regular flu. The feeling of having a brick on your chest and not being able to breath is real. It really tires you and brings your worst fears to life. The worst 2 weeks of his life.

That is not a description of regular flu ^

javagram said 2 months ago:

Your comparison doesn’t make sense, the same measures we are using to save lives from coronavirus also stop the spread of the flu. For instance in Hong Kong the flu season ended 3 months early because they began social distancing in January to protect themselves from coronavirus.

The difference is the flu is much less deadly than coronavirus when you catch it. The only reason flu deaths are higher for the year at the moment is because the flu is already spread worldwide starting every year in flu season, which begins around September/October in the northern hemisphere, whereas Coronavirus didn’t even emerge in humans till late November/December, was highly localized to one region of China and transmission out of china was slowed by a dramatic lockdown of 750 million chinese citizens and travel restrictions placed by external countries in January.

The video Paul Graham references includes many examples of people saying they aren’t worried about the disease and that even if they catch it there’s no reason to be worried, in reality we are seeing plenty of relatively healthy people who would not have been killed by flu dying from the disease.

eisa01 said 2 months ago:

It's not common for the flu to overload the healthcare system as you've seen in several places across the world. The reason it hasn't been worse is that people have acted and started to stay at home before the government issued orders

Not sure when it last happened, 1918?

bvinc said 2 months ago:

In what metric is it slowing?

dekhn said 2 months ago:

I'm a biologist and I have no trouble saying with a straight face that, as of yet, COVID-19's true health impact has been lower than that of a bad year of flu. I don't care about TV commenters- by the metric of # of deaths (not potential number of deaths, or total cost to the medical system, or impact on economy), COVID-19 has been less than a bad year of flu.

This isn't to say COVID-19 isn't bad, or doesn't have the potential to become worse. Instead it's saying that i'm shocked we don't take a preventable disease like annual flu more seriously, and that we've internalized the cost of all those deaths.

(I know people get really riled up when I say the above. If it makes you angry, please take the time to write a cogent, reasoned response based on data, not anecdotes or emotions. We know that people's anecdotal experience has a strong effect on their personal feelings, and that this is an emotionally charged time.)

lovehashbrowns said 2 months ago:

You're looking at the impact of this virus AFTER we've already implemented shelter-in-place measures, banned certain international travel, tanked our global economy, attempted to prepare hospitals with additional supplies, and we've yet to hit the peak, right?

And you're also noting that the US currently has 9,616 recorded deaths from COVID-19? Whereas data puts the worst flu season since 2010-2011 at 61,000 (2017-2018) deaths over an entire year, right? Again, with various provisions to help slow this virus already in place?

And you're also noting that hospitalization rates would include the regular flu, typical hospital visits that require an ICU, AND hospital visits from COVID-19, right?

Sure, I get the point of taking the flu more seriously, and I agree 100% with you. But to try to make the point that COVID-19 has been less bad than a bad year of flu is pretty pointless and also misleading. A more appropriate comparison would be to go back in time to Dec 2019 and have no countries put anything in place and let COVID-19 run wild. But at that point, you're sacrificing people just to make a dumb comparison that COVID-19 isn't much worse than a bad year of flu.

Also it's disingenuous to pick the worst season of flu. Let's compare COVID-19 to 2015-2016's 23,000 influenza deaths and see how, after all these provisions, we're already at 9,616 COVID-19 deaths in the US in April.

https://public.tableau.com/profile/jonas.nart#!/vizhome/COVI...

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html?CDC_AA_refVa...

daveguy said 2 months ago:

You may be a biologist, but you are definitely not an epidemiologist.

It is at least 10x more lethal and much more contagious. We will bear the brunt of it in the US because we didn't take it seriously for so long. The only reason we aren't at 2,000+ deaths per day in the US is because now we are taking it seriously. That death rate sustained for a typical flu season (4 months) would be 240,000 deaths. This is serious. If we never took it seriously the death toll would be well over a million. And that is just in the US. Downplaying the severity of it will get people killed.

Yes we should take flu more seriously. But that doesn't make this not so bad.

dekhn said 2 months ago:

My training was in a hospital medical center and I'm familiar with epidemiology. I think most claims about total deaths due to covid are uninformed speculation based on incomplete data.

You are making predictions that we have absolutely no confidence about. That's not helpful. I'm saying we don't have the data to claim what you're claiming.

nickthemagicman said 2 months ago:

You're missing context. It's 10x more lethal in CERTAIN DEMOGRAPHIC GROUPS.

The data so far shows that it's the same lethality or less in people under 60 y.o. with no pre-existing conditions which is a huge proportion of the world and it may even be LESS because 80% of those tested have NO OR MINOR SYMPTOMS so who knows how many have it and haven't been tested!

It's not even remotely serious at all in that population.

Context matters in epidemiology am I incorrect?

daveguy said 2 months ago:

No, it's more like 5-10% lethal in certain demographic groups. It is 10x as lethal (1% as opposed to 0.1%) in the general population. And there has been enough testing in some regions to know pretty well. The pandemic is stressing hospitals wherever there is a large enough concentration of people. The flu just does not do that. Mainly because we have vaccines to keep R0 1.2 to 1.3. When we get vaccines it may be even less contagious than the flu. But right now it is significantly more contagious and significantly more deadly.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
standardUser said 2 months ago:

It's an interesting point. The flu is "baked in" to our healthcare systems. Just like cancer and heart disease and a thousand other ailments that we can accommodate almost all of the time. Maybe the end game of this pandemic will be expanding our healthcare systems to accommodate the annual surge of COVID-19 cases?

But in the meantime, we're stuck with a pandemic that is not baked in, so while it may be "less bad" in some ways than the flu, it is catastrophically worse because no healthcare systems are prepared to deal with it.

dekhn said 2 months ago:

Bad flu years aren't baked into healthcare systems; hospitals have to set up tents in parking lots to handle the extra flux of patients, and tens to hundreds of thousands of people still die.

akiselev said 2 months ago:

When's the last time the annual flu caused upwards of 50-80% ICU occupancy rates in several countries simultaneously?

That's the difference between biology and medicine.

dekhn said 2 months ago:

But given the severity and high death rate of flu, shouldn't it also have that high level of hospitalization, or perhaps covid shouldn't have such a high rate?

It's unclear at this team what purpose super-intensive hospitalization for covid serves. That's something we're only going to understand in time.

(note, I did my training at a hospital medical center and my biology work was health-oriented).

danans said 2 months ago:

> But given the severity and high death rate of flu, shouldn't it also have that high level of hospitalization,

Your question is circular. It assumes that the severity and death rate of flu is the same as with COVID19. There's no reason to believe that's true at this point.

> or perhaps covid shouldn't have such a high rate?

The hospitalization rate is what it is. People aren't going to the hospital with COVID19 for the fun of it. They're terribly sick.

said 2 months ago:
[deleted]
nickthemagicman said 2 months ago:

The difference is that biologists look at macro data and medical professionals look at micro data.

OF course there are a few ICU's with high occupancy rates due to the nature of the disease and the intensity with which it hits high population areas with older populations.

However, overall on a MACRO level WORLD wide it's no worse than a season of the flu.

chillacy said 2 months ago:

If the crux of your argument relies on looking at what has happened so far without looking at projections into what could happen, then I have some stock to sell you. You'll buy at the top since the last quarter's earnings were good, right?

dekhn said 2 months ago:

Can you keep the discussion fact-based?

chillacy said 2 months ago:

The facts presented do not support the conclusion because COVID-19 is not the flu. This is the logic I see in the post:

1. COVID-19 has not killed more people than the flu in the US so far

2. Therefore COVID-19 is comparable to the flu

3. We have not responded so seriously to the flu in the past as we are to this new virus

4. Therefore... people are messed up, I'm shocked

I'm pointing out that [1] does not imply [2] for the very basic reason that the situation is still unfolding. I think you even recognize this ("This isn't to say COVID-19 isn't bad, or doesn't have the potential to become worse"), so I'm wondering why you would pin your conclusion on COVID-19 being comparable to the flu.

A pretty good video summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVIGhz3uwuQ

noad said 2 months ago:

You're a biologist who also was in the Navy special forces and you also worked at Google for 20 years? I'm guessing you were the Google company epidemiologist on staff, right?

You're so accomplished! Is there anything you aren't a 100% certified expert on?

jmull said 2 months ago:

Simple numbers tell us the deaths so far from covid-19 have been less than an average flu season. But so what?

You're not actually suggesting anything so there's nothing to get directly angry about. But since you don't suggest anything, you leave it to people to infer what you really mean, and then there may be good reason to get angry.

Are you suggesting that we should have treated covid-19 like the flu -- although one without a vaccine -- and just went about our normal lives? If so, how much faster do you think our medical systems would have been overwhelmed and what do you think we could have done about that? You can crunch numbers... estimate the numbers dead from covid-19 without any curve-flattening efforts and the additional dead due to the medical system being overwhelmed.

Or are you suggesting something else? We can't read your mind over the internet.

dekhn said 2 months ago:

Hmm, that's a good point. my main point is that we should treat flu more seriously (personally I would prefer legally mandated vaccines with extremely limited exceptions, and more funding into improved vaccines that have a higher effectivity).

My second point is about the response to covid. To me it's unclear (and it won't be clear to the epidemiologists for a few years) whether the reactions we have taken had the effects we predicted. Much of what we're doing now, it's actually unclear what would have happened if we hadn't has social distancing etc, due to the extremely low rate of testing.

Another issue is that large numbers of scientists have dropped their regular work and are working on covid... most of them will not produce useful results (in terms of health care) and instead, their daily work is being forgotten. This will have long-term consequences for scientific productivity without having a large outcome for covid.

I think making predictions on how many people "could have died" when we're doing extremely limited testing isn't helpful.

jmull said 2 months ago:

> we should treat flu more seriously

Agreed (though in the US we do have a yearly nation-wide vaccination program, imperfect as it is, and largely staff and equip hospitals to handle the high-water mark of cases).

> I think making predictions on how many people "could have died" when we're doing extremely limited testing isn't helpful.

I disagree with that. The alternative to making imperfect predictions (predictions are imperfect by nature) is to not make predictions. Without predictions you can't make reasonable decisions to direct your future.

Of course, when your predictions are too far off you can't make good decisions to direct your future either, but that just suggests you should try to make the best predictions you can (hence the science and study of epidemiology), not that you shouldn't make predictions.

If you don't make predictions (or you make them based on hunches or by other low quality means) you're just throwing yourself randomly into the future and are unlikely to get good outcomes.

nickthemagicman said 2 months ago:

Since there's no vaccine...what you're suggesting is a perpetual game of Covid whack-a-mole.

We come out of quarantine it blows up again, we go back into quarantine.

That's as infeasable solution as this current lockdown quarantine.

dekhn said 2 months ago:

So far most data I've seen shows that people who were infected have some immunity. However, it's not clear yet what the annual effect of immunity will be - for example, we haven't sampled enough people/viruses to know in detail whether that immunity persists when the virus mutates.

Epidemiologists are likely to know the answers to these sorts of questions in a few years.

nickthemagicman said 2 months ago:

Every single other known Coronavirus builds immunity.

Hundreds of thousands of patients and no reports of repeat healthy patients.

Preliminary studies with macaque monkeys show that an immunity is built.

There's plenty of data to show that an infection is built.

nickthemagicman said 2 months ago:

*immunity to infection

nickthemagicman said 2 months ago:

Completely agree. The data backs you up as far as infections/fatalities.

The rational data is: under 60 with no pre-existing conditions..you're basically immune.

This whole thing appears to be a massive fear campaign.

But if you bring up ANYTHING counter to the prevailing narrative, you're viciously attacked by people. VICIOUSLY. Like you're some sort of murdering child killer.

No one is interested in discussion or thinking about this. They just repeat the narrative.

The people I've discussed this with... it's all mantric repetitions of 'flatten the curve' of 'social distancing saves lives' and people have not looked at the data or anything to back this up!

I feel like the average person could be told to wear a dog cone to 'stop covid' and we would have a population of people walking around with dog cones around their necks.

It's actually disappointing and embarrassing.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

I commented on this earlier, and my karma is sinking due to all the crazy people downvoting each one of my comments in that thread.

To all of these people and anyone sincerely interested in the topic I'd like to post an interview with Dr John P.A. Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and professor of epidemiology and population health, as well as professor by courtesy of biomedical data science at Stanford University School of Medicine, professor by courtesy of statistics at Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences, and co-director of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS) at Stanford University, that hopefully sheds the light on the true amount of fear-mongering and plain stupidity in the media right now:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6MZy-2fcBw

Here are some of his thoughts in written form:

https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-a...

As you may see, he is much more reserved about the subject than many of the people in the comments to this submission.

What does this have to do with PG's blog post? Well, PG's post is blatant and dogmatic witch-blaming, while the people, that he is blaming, may actually be right. And they definitely have the right to express their opinion on the subject.

jMyles said 2 months ago:

The ironic part is that Ioannidis has been a hero on HN for a long time now - I imagine that's where you discovered him, as I did.

And it's not just him - his colleagues Eran Bendavid and Jay Bhattacharya, who are presently conducting the first large-scale antibody test have also had a more sober tone. And David Katz. And Frank Ulrich Montgomery. And Albert Ko.

I mean, I understand that somebody disagree with the matter of how to interpret a situation in which available data is thin, but throughout this thread, I'm seeing a lot of people denigrate anybody who is taking a more cautious approach instead of fanning the flames of panic.

Let's try to stay science-based here, if we can do that.

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

+1

And thanks for /r/PrepareInsteadOfPanic, good stuff!

jMyles said 2 months ago:

No problem; it's been keeping me sane as well. :-)

Where'd you find out about it? Did I tell you?

atomashpolskiy said 2 months ago:

No, I just checked your profile. Pity that there are so few followers, you got some interesting links there. It's crazy how everything is in the open, but almost everyone acts like it does not exist (not only with corona, but also in general). Keep it up, brother!

rsgalloway said 2 months ago:

Here's an article from Mar 26 in the NEJM where Fauci writes that C19 may be no worse than a severe flu season:

"If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%)"

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2002387

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., H. Clifford Lane, M.D., and Robert R. Redfield, M.D.

heimidal said 2 months ago:

Your choice of clipping that sentence is incredibly disingenuous.

The actual quote is “This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

They are not saying COVID-19 is the same as a flu, they are saying its mortality rate is closer to a bad flu year than to SARS or MERS. And that’s only half of the story — they go on to say that the rate it is spreading is what is truly worrying even if the mortality rate is low.

Please stop spreading disinformation.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

Your quote is better than theirs, but your criticism ('incredibly disingenuous', 'spreading disinformation') is hyperbolic and assumes bad faith.

Edit: This would be true even if they didn't provide a link to the source, which they did.

bitminer said 2 months ago:

Paul Graham has the insight granted by hindsight of 3 weeks to 6 weeks of facts and evidence. The video cited shows clips from January, February, March, only one as late as March 15.

And he uses the undefined and unusual phrase "false predictions". What, please, is a true prediction?

The purpose of these commentators is not news, it is entertainment. The fact they are talking through their ass is part of their attraction. It is all bullshit and viewers know it. As does Paul Graham:

> Instead they just continued to use their ordinary m.o., which, as the epidemic has made clear, is to talk confidently about things they don't understand.

Paul Grahams' analysis is also subject to the same critique:

> let's remember what we saw, because this is the most accurate test of credibility we're ever likely to have.

hkai said 2 months ago:

Flu in the US: 0.13-0.28% mortality [1]

Covid-19 in China: 0.50-0.66% mortality [2, 3]

I mean from numbers it is indeed not much worse than flu, but we don't know the potential extra deaths caused by running out of ICU beds.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/past-seasons.html

[2] https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1327

[3] https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.05.20031773v...

kgwgk said 2 months ago:

If you’re giving the CFR for flu as deaths/symptomatic you should do the same for COVID-19: 1.23% to 1.53%. That’s a factor of seven worse.

When you consider as well that everyone is susceptible and you may have infection rates well over the 5-15% you get for flu it’s at least an order of magnitude worse.

leereeves said 2 months ago:

And that's with a century of research and experience treating serious cases of influenza, and none for Covid-19.

Covid-19 is serious, but the major crisis right now is that it's new, and the medical system is struggling to adapt.

fiftyfifty said 2 months ago:

Exactly, we have both vaccines and ani-virals to use against the flu and the death rate is still that high? We've got neither of those things for Covid-19 to date...