The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

"I'm Sorry, Never Mind"

Emily Latella was one of the many classic Saturday Night Live (SNL) characters in the later 1970s. Created by comedian Gilda Radner, Emily always got things wrong, misinterpreting words and ideas and then fervently pontificating on her misinterpretation. As a consequence, she proposed solutions to problems that didn't exist, she urged crazy and inappropriate actions where none was necessary. When an SNL moderator informed her of her misinterpretation, Emily paused for a sec, and then with comedic timing, said, "I'm sorry, never mind."

As Spring begins to break across broad swathes of America, some members of Team Apocalypse are having their own Emily Latella moments. Democrat governors (and it seems that they're just about always Democrats) are experiencing significant and fully justified pushback from their citizens (who want to be freed from their home prisons and enjoy the spring air in parks and at beaches that were closed for no logical or medical reason). Those same governors emerge from meetings with their state comptrollers in which they're informed that tax money has evaporated and they won't be able to make state payrolls. They listen to their medical experts who must now admit that early models of COVID-19 impact were egregiously inaccurate, often by an order of magnitude or more. They then begin to question (privately, of course) the wisdom of shutting down their state's economy in an uncontrolled and dangerous experiment.

And so, despite the virtue-signaling agony of the hardline progressives who continue to populate Team Apocalypse, those very same Democrat governors (there are of course, hardline Govs who insist on continuing their shutdown policies) are beginning to open up. In essence, the Govs are doing an Emily Latella, "I'm sorry, never mind."

At the same time, the total black-out (enforced by the Democrats' trained hamsters in the mainstream media) against any scientific opinion that questions the wisdom (both medically and economically) of a total shutdown is beginning to shatter. As an example, Freddie Sayers examines the research of Michael Levitt, Professor of Structural Biology at the Stanford School of Medicine and winner of a 2013 Nobel Prize:
With a purely statistical perspective, he [Levitt] has been playing close attention to the Covid-19 pandemic since January, when most of us were not even aware of it. He first spoke out in early February, when through analysing the numbers of cases and deaths in Hubei province he predicted with remarkable accuracy that the epidemic in that province would top out at around 3,250 deaths.

His observation is a simple one: that in outbreak after outbreak of this disease, a similar mathematical pattern is observable regardless of government interventions. After around a two week exponential growth of cases (and, subsequently, deaths) some kind of break kicks in, and growth starts slowing down. The curve quickly becomes “sub-exponential”.

This may seem like a technical distinction, but its implications are profound. The ‘unmitigated’ scenarios modelled by (among others) Imperial College, and which tilted governments across the world into drastic action, relied on a presumption of continued exponential growth — that with a consistent R number of significantly above 1 and a consistent death rate, very quickly the majority of the population would be infected and huge numbers of deaths would be recorded. But Professor Levitt’s point is that that hasn’t actually happened anywhere, even in countries that have been relatively lax in their responses.
Because many members of team Apocalypse are innumerate and others refuse to consider data that conflicts with their narrative, I suppose Dr. Levitt's analysis will fall on deaf ears. But that doesn't make his voice any less relevant than the extremist position being taken by the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Sayers continues:
He [Levitt] describes indiscriminate lockdown measures as “a huge mistake,” and advocates a “smart lockdown” policy, focused on more effective measures, focused on protecting elderly people.
I think the policy of herd immunity* is the right policy. I think Britain was on exactly the right track before they were fed wrong numbers. And they made a huge mistake. I see the standout winners as Germany and Sweden. They didn’t practise too much lockdown and they got enough people sick to get some herd immunity. I see the standout losers as countries like Austria, Australia and Israel that had very strict lockdown but didn’t have many cases. They have damaged their economies, caused massive social damage, damaged the educational year of their children, but not obtained any herd immunity.

There is no doubt in my mind, that when we come to look back on this, the damage done by lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor.
The overarching problem, I guess, is that "I'm sorry, never mind" did no real world damage and was good for laughs when Emily Latella said it on SNL. But when "I'm sorry, never mind" is applied to policies that are doing potentially irreparable (at least in the short term) damage to our economy, our general health, and our way of life, there's absolutely nothing to laugh at.


* Looks like I was in pretty good company when I wrote this.


It's hard not to laugh when the satirical Babylon Bee leads with this headline: "Governor Unveils Innovative 37-Step Plan To Reopen State Over The Next 10 Years." And then follows with this:
Other states have announced they will wait 10-15 years to judge the effectiveness of this 37 part plan before releasing their own plans. The only exception is Texas, whose governor simply said, "We're open, y'all!"