Saturday, August 28, 2021

"follow the science"

An email I sent to a friend:


But what if the "science" is actually horseshit?

We see science hypocrisy all around. For example, liberals accuse conservatives of climate denialism, anti-vaxxism, and believing stupid stuff like that the world is only 6000 years old (and yes, some conservatives do believe those things). "Ha!" says the liberal. "See how unscientific conservatives are?" But if you ask a liberal how any sexes there are (there are only two), he can't give you a straight answer because, in his twisted mind, "sex" is a social construction these days, and the term "sex" has become interchangeable with "gender" (technically, the terms are distinct).

Or ask a liberal to "follow the science" about the distribution of intelligence among different races, and he'll tell you, knee-jerk, that any research in that area is inherently racist and given to Eurocentric bias. But the actual science shows that, when taken as collectives, the races show significant differences in IQ. This says nothing about individuals, of course: a lower-IQ race might produce a super-genius, and a higher-IQ race might produce a retard (oh, no! another un-PC term!). What we've discovered about collectives doesn't apply at the individual level. But liberals don't care—it's all racist. And then there are the folks who say "race isn't real" while also maintaining that racism is real. 

Same for the "sex isn't real" crowd, which will also hypocritically claim that sexism is real. Liberals are just as confused and unscientific as conservatives, and this has applications to the COVID virus. A lot of the supposed "science" isn't science at all. Fauci is a good case in point. His advice to the public has constantly flip-flopped. Wear a mask! Don't wear a mask! Wear two masks! It's just like 1984, where you're supposed to forget history. "Oceania has always been at war with East Asia."

Note how everyone focuses, wild-eyed, on the record number of new infections in Korea (확진자 = confirmed infected person), but no one wants to focus on the actual death rate which, in Korea, is exceedingly small. The virus simply isn't killing that many people. It's irrational to treat it as if it were the second coming of the plague. I think it's reasonable to take certain infection-control precautions: wash your hands frequently, wear a mask indoors when among strangers, watch out for crowds, etc. But treating each other like plague victims, especially when the default assumption should be that people are not infected, is plain dumb. And unscientific. People are terrible at assessing risk, and they become irrational in the face of dangers they can't see. If you're that worried about a virus with a 98%+ survival rate, you might as well not step into a car or leave your home. Everything you do carries some risk of injury and death. And the answer to that is... do nothing at all? Never go out? Cease to live your life? Bullshit.

According to this stats map, South Korea, with a population of 52 million, has 245,158 confirmed cases of COVID. That's 0.47% of the population—not even one percent infected. And how many deaths up to now? 2,265. Out of 52 million people, that's a death rate of around 0.004%. Minuscule. A fraction of a fraction of 1%. And people are freaking out, unscientifically, over that? JW and I have talked about this, and he agrees; the whole thing is overblown, and people are just paranoid. Even if you catch COVID, it's not the end of the world. It's like getting the flu for most people. True, a few young-ish people made the news because the virus killed them, but it's rare things that make the news. If it were commonplace, like gang violence leading to gun deaths, no one would report it (just as no one does any in-depth reporting of gang violence leading to gun deaths).

Upshot: it's obvious that a lot of the hysteria surrounding COVID has nothing to do with science. The "science" is being pushed on us by media sources, politicians, and corporations that, like a Stephen King monster, feed on our fear and want to keep us cowed. I'm not against vaccination, but notice how the "science" surrounding vaccination keeps changing. Get a jab, you're good to go. No: you need a second jab. No: you need a booster after a few months. No: you don't get special privileges just because you've been vaccinated. No: the vaccine doesn't prevent you from catching the virus (cf. Boris Johnson, prime minister of Britain, who was recently quarantined after getting infected, despite being jabbed twice). Hell, Trump got COVID and then got over it. Now, no one talks about Trump's infection (or Tom Hanks's, for that matter... remember when he got infected?). How scared should we be of a virus that only takes out the very old and the very sick, i.e., people who're going to die, anyway? Personally, I wear a mask so as not to scare people when I'm indoors. But when I'm outdoors, I'm maskless, and I don't do the cowardly-pussy thing of keeping my mask on my chin so I can mask up if the police are there. The police can fine my ass if they want.

I've heard the counterargument that we follow all sorts of regulations all the time and never dispute them, so why dispute a vaccine mandate? "Do you treat seat-belt laws the same way?" A seat-belt law is usually backed by actual statistics, and it's reasonable. What's happening with COVID is simply not reasonable, and it's not based on the actual statistics. This is not the same thing at all as seat-belt laws and other, similar laws. So I side firmly with the "open the whole country back up and let herd immunity take care of the rest" crowd. Sure, COVID is highly transmissible, and I think that allowing us all to get infected is probably the best way to get rid of the virus. Herd immunity. You can't clamp down fearfully on the economy forever; that, too, will kill millions of folks, especially in poorer countries.

So I'm not anti-vaxx, but I'm also in no hurry to get jabbed, and I think it's bullshit if people think I'm being selfish: they're irrationally assuming, without evidence, that I'm infected. Why would they automatically assume that? What happened to "innocent until proven guilty"? Instead, it's "infected unless shown otherwise." Stupid. Paranoid. Unscientific. They're also irrationally assuming a vaccination makes you proof against the virus, which it obviously doesn't. Even two jabs are not enough in some cases (Boris Johnson again).

Oh, and one final myth to be busted: the media would have you think that white conservatives are the biggest anti-vaxxers. Not true. Minorities are showing a far greater level of distrust in the government (I don't blame them, given how the government fucks everything up; blacks, in particular, remember the Tuskegee Experiment, which is good reason to think the government is your enemy). But if your news diet consists of that bullshit factory CNN, you'll never hear this. That's why you have to expand to watching and reading alt-media—Instapundit, Tim Pool, Michael Malice, etc. Truth comes from seeing both sides of the issue, not just the distorted CNN side (that whole crew can go fuck itself—Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, Brian Stelter). And one thing you learn from watching alt-media is the extent to which mainstream media is a lying sack of shit. They want your money, your fear, and your obedience.

Anyway, enough ranting. I hope one day you'll get "red pilled," as they say, and start watching alt-media sources to balance out the crap you get from CNN, etc. Start with Tim Pool on YouTube or on his own site (TimCast). Pool is a card-carrying liberal and independent thinker who hates the left. I'm not saying you need to change your views, but do try expanding them. The world is more than CNN and HuffPost.

In the Instapundit comments section, a response to Glenn Reynolds, the libertarian author of the article first linked to above:

Nice article, Glenn. Let's hope the words are heeded by someone that holds people accountable.

But I will go so far to say that much, if not most, of the way the COVID pandemic has been treated by the government scientific community is bunk. I was willing to excuse the first few weeks, perhaps months, because we were ignorant of the disease, what with the disease being novel.

But since last year, even before the vaccines became prevalent, it became very apparent to me that almost everything was being driven by fear and not by reason. It certainly wasn't immunological science or epidemiology driving the actions.

Schools were being shut when we realized early on that children were not susceptible; masks were being mandated when we knew most had little or no effect concerning contagion; the disease had proved lethal to the immuno-compromised and elderly, but not deadly to the greater community at large. And those dying were generally suffering from another insidious comorbidity or morbid obesity, jeopardizing their entire well-being.

Now that the verdict is in about the vaccine's efficacy, it's obvious we are going to have to live with this disease, and the best defense is the body's innate ability to create natural immunity. COVID, within a few years, will become as common as and no more dangerous than the seasonal flu. The reason the virus has proven so deadly is because it is new—the same reason smallpox wiped much of South and Central America when Europeans began to arrive. Same for the formation of our country and the Indian population.

Bottom line is that the scientific community has only itself to blame for the cynicism. Fear and loathing is no way to earn public trust.

It's not a matter of denying science. It's a matter of following the actual science. And the actual science doesn't demand that you get vaccinated. But you won't hear that message from bullshit news sources.


John Mac said...

Well said, and pretty much spot on to my way of thinking. I do the "cowardly" mask on the chin thing, but I consider it an act of defiance. I have been asked by enforcement folks to pull it up, and I do until I've moved down the road a bit. There are also checkpoints where the police will detain you if caught maskless. I'm on a tourist visa so I need to obey the silly rules or potentially be deported.

Anyway, the ignorance of the anti-COVID measures makes me angry as hell. Sadly, those measures have done far more damage to people than the virus ever could. And yet, after all this time, we still see lockdowns, curfews, alcohol bans, road closures, and other meaningless and ineffective measures. Why? I think it is just a power trip for those who want to control the lives of others.

Kevin Kim said...

Based on what you've written and what I've seen here in South Korea, the situations in these countries are different. Korea has a bunch of stupid guidelines and regulations, but enforcement is generally much more lax here. Based on your observations, the mask-on-chin thing makes more practical sense in the PI than it does here, so I guess I should clarify that the behavior I'm critiquing is specifically peninsular.