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Thread: The Ferguson effect

  1. #1
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    The Ferguson effect

    Powerline (Scott Johnson) takes a look at Neil Ferguson, the person responsible for the stratospheric estimates of death that might have been. Turns out Ferguson has a history of such estimates.
    Ex-newspaperman Bill Steigerwald is the author of 30 Days a Black Man, which retells the amazing, forgotten and true story of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette star reporter Ray Sprigle’s undercover mission through the Jim Crow South in 1948. Bill also wrote Dogging Steinbeck, which exposed the truth about the fictions and fibs in Travels With Charley and celebrated Flyover America and its people. Blogs, photos, a definitive 1960 Steinbeck/Charley trip timeline and more are at The Truth About Travels With Charley.

    Earlier this week Bill forwarded the link to the 2005 Guardian article “Bird flu pandemic ‘could kill 150m.'” Bill commented on it in a Facebook post that he also forwarded to us and that I draw on here.
    Boldface added:
    We have now met the Imperial College London epidemiologist and professor of mathematical biology Neil Ferguson — the “gold standard” of disease modeling, according to the New York Times and Washington Post. Ferguson is of course the expert whose projections of huge death tolls from COVID-19 in the United States and the United Kingdom have supported the ongoing shutdowns. Ferguson projected as many as 2,200,000 deaths in the United States and 500,000 deaths in the United Kingdom.

    Looking back at that Guardian article, Bill observes that Ferguson has a record of making stupid worst-case predictions about the threat of new viruses. Bill cites “what Prof. Gold Standard said in 2005 about the projected Bird Flu death toll to the Guardian”:

    Last month Neil Ferguson, a professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London, told Guardian Unlimited that up to 200 million people could be killed.

    “Around 40 million people died in 1918 Spanish flu outbreak,” said Prof Ferguson. “There are six times more people on the planet now so you could scale it up to around 200 million people probably.”

    A Department of Health contingency plan states anywhere that there could be between 21,500 and 709,000 deaths in Britain.”

    The Bird Flu’s death toll from 2003 to 2020 is 455.
    And so on with other pending outbreaks. It's worth reading.

    I'm left wondering why his track record wasn't explored earlier.

    I'm thinking ahead a bit, too. Every year we are told about some new flu strain that makes it especially urgent to get the current flu vaccine this year f'sure! So the next time some virus sneaks out of a bio lab somewhere, are we going to throw the country into economic chaos again?

    Will this be a flu season ritual?

    Not for nothing, but almost—because this sounds perhaps as farfetched as Prof. Cassandra's pronouncements—if we thoroughly adopt "mitigation behaviors," such as Dr. Fauci's resolution never to shake hands again, will we lose ordinary resistance to infections and disease? I've read that it's healthy to expose children to pets and dirt, for example, to help build such a natural resistance to allergies, for example.

    I've suddenly become rather suspicious that this whole damn thing is but the Next Thing after the great climate change apocalypse.



    LINK
    • "The Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis." — AG William Barr.
    • "We hold these truths to be self evident. All men and women created by the, you know, you know, the thing." —Joe Biden, explaining the Creator.
    • "The way I see it, there's always, c'mon, there's always money. It's there." —Elizabeth Warren, explaining socialism.
    • “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.... We really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” —Saikat Chakrabarti, then AOC's Chief of Staff.
    • "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." —CNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.
    • "I was not elected to do small things or shy away from big problems.” —Donald Trump.


  2. #2
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    I feel like we've kind of overreacted to this.

    Yes, many people have died - some young and many old but this is typical with ordinary flu. Now, this is on top of the ordinary flu and generally flu deaths are spread out over many months. Since this is "novel", we're seeing a lot of people having the disease in a short time frame.

    That's a problem, obviously.

    However, it's unlikely that any vaccine will eradicate this disease (when we have one) just as ordinary flu hasn't disappeared despite decades of yearly vaccinations. We'll have to live with this.

    After this "season" of the coronavirus, I think we have to accept that this will be a risk for some long time to come and we'll have to deal with it the way we deal with ordinary flu. This will mostly be much better hygiene which will also help with many other diseases we live with all the time but it doesn't mean zero exposure. Kids, especially, need to be exposed to train their immune systems. Nobody likes kids dragging home various maladies but that's pretty much how we develop wide-scale immunity.

    Will some vulnerable people die as a result? Almost certainly, just as they do now. It could be that broad exposure "tames" the virus over time to make it less lethal to some in the community. Or it could go the other way which is a problem we'll have to solve later probably through better treatments for serious cases.

    What we can't do is completely slam shut either the economy or normal human social interactions. That's not realistic.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

  3. #3
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    What we can't do is completely slam shut either the economy or normal human social interactions. That's not realistic.
    Nor can we make slamming shut the economy a go-to remedy for whatever scares us. Lots of people including the president talk about how unprecedented this shut-down is. I think it will be a unique experience in our lifetime. And should be.

    I am very optimistic about a spectacular recovery. I long argued that the economic boom under Trump was in large part due to his unleashing the frustrated economy that had struggled under Obama and the liberal Democrats. Critics retorted that Obama's economy was strong, and to the extent it was that simply testifies how strong that heartbeat really is.

    So I think the economy is incredibly resilient at this moment, and primed to spring back. But that too will be a unique occurrence, and we must not tempt fate.

    It's like impeaching the president. First time, the earth shook. The beast stayed asleep for a century, like Sleeping Ugly. Then there was a triple play in recent decades:
    1. Nixon would have been impeached had he not resigned. The earth shook again.
    2. Clinton was impeached. Ds and Rs split; The Rumplestiltskins threw a foot-stomping tantrum, but the earth didn't shake.
    3. Trump was impeached and people scarcely even remember.


    Classroom teachers know that behavior management "tricks" have a short shelf life. Nothing's quite as sad as watching a frustrated teacher trying a worn-out "trick" that the kids have seen too often.
    • "The Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis." — AG William Barr.
    • "We hold these truths to be self evident. All men and women created by the, you know, you know, the thing." —Joe Biden, explaining the Creator.
    • "The way I see it, there's always, c'mon, there's always money. It's there." —Elizabeth Warren, explaining socialism.
    • “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.... We really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” —Saikat Chakrabarti, then AOC's Chief of Staff.
    • "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." —CNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.
    • "I was not elected to do small things or shy away from big problems.” —Donald Trump.


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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    I feel like we've kind of overreacted to this.
    I'm glad we are able to have the luxury of saying that.

    Brand new, different infection method, no vaccine, incalculable infection rate (but really high) and still no grasp on who lives or dies? Scary stuff.
    "What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

    link

    Time will tell.

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  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    Nor can we make slamming shut the economy a go-to remedy for whatever scares us. Lots of people including the president talk about how unprecedented this shut-down is. I think it will be a unique experience in our lifetime. And should be.

    I am very optimistic about a spectacular recovery. I long argued that the economic boom under Trump was in large part due to his unleashing the frustrated economy that had struggled under Obama and the liberal Democrats. Critics retorted that Obama's economy was strong, and to the extent it was that simply testifies how strong that heartbeat really is.

    So I think the economy is incredibly resilient at this moment, and primed to spring back. But that too will be a unique occurrence, and we must not tempt fate.

    It's like impeaching the president. First time, the earth shook. The beast stayed asleep for a century, like Sleeping Ugly. Then there was a triple play in recent decades:
    1. Nixon would have been impeached had he not resigned. The earth shook again.
    2. Clinton was impeached. Ds and Rs split; The Rumplestiltskins threw a foot-stomping tantrum, but the earth didn't shake.
    3. Trump was impeached and people scarcely even remember.


    Classroom teachers know that behavior management "tricks" have a short shelf life. Nothing's quite as sad as watching a frustrated teacher trying a worn-out "trick" that the kids have seen too often.
    Unprecedented is sorta true (see below) and maybe some "new normal" is appropriate, but not the current police state. That has to be temporary and really only this time for this one. It also needs to hurt those who order it more than it hurts the general population to make sure it's truly needed.

    That said, things were worse in WWII. Good luck getting take out or even some meat 3 times a week back then. "Victory gardens" weren't some social movement, it was "grow your own because you can't get any at the store" stuff.
    "What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

    link

    Time will tell.

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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott View Post
    Unprecedented is sorta true (see below) and maybe some "new normal" is appropriate, but not the current police state. That has to be temporary and really only this time for this one. It also needs to hurt those who order it more than it hurts the general population to make sure it's truly needed.

    That said, things were worse in WWII. Good luck getting take out or even some meat 3 times a week back then. "Victory gardens" weren't some social movement, it was "grow your own because you can't get any at the store" stuff.
    True, and I appreciate the reminder. Moreover, "victory gardens" were an Eden compared to the "loser gardens"—that is to say, the devastation visited on losing societies has always been gruesome, and its effects very long lasting. I count the rebuilding of Germany and Japan after WWII as a crowning achievement of Western civilization, breaking precedent as recent as 25 years earlier, in the Great War.

    The simple principle was the idea that prosperity—and all that prosperity requires, including liberty, security and capitalism—is the pacifier of humanity. A lame image, I confess. Not enough coffee yet.

    I'm coming to a rather dark take on this corona virus experience. I've come to believe major players involved have had a indecent motive from the beginning, still do, and are in effect dabbling in the black arts at the peril of us all.
    • "The Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis." — AG William Barr.
    • "We hold these truths to be self evident. All men and women created by the, you know, you know, the thing." —Joe Biden, explaining the Creator.
    • "The way I see it, there's always, c'mon, there's always money. It's there." —Elizabeth Warren, explaining socialism.
    • “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.... We really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” —Saikat Chakrabarti, then AOC's Chief of Staff.
    • "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." —CNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.
    • "I was not elected to do small things or shy away from big problems.” —Donald Trump.


  10. #7
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    I said early on that this is "concerning" but not the Black Death and that still holds true. I like Scott's idea that any moves to damage the economy or human relationships should hurt the people giving the orders as much or more than than those of us subject to them.

    They may be necessary short-term but we have to make sure they stay short-term and the best way to do that is to make sure the people giving orders experience the same pain as the rest of us. Motivation is a wonderful tool but one usually lacking among the power elite. Motivation drives solutions which is what we need.

    Settling for some endless 'new normal' enforced by State-sponsored bureaucrats is not going to produce solutions - just more of the same as we have seen over and over for decades. We've had huge 'wars' on poverty, drugs, illiteracy, etc., and never solved any of them because the generals directing the wars never had to experience any of them.

    Make them put some skin in the game.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

  11. #8
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    if we thoroughly adopt "mitigation behaviors," such as Dr. Fauci's resolution never to shake hands again, will we lose ordinary resistance to infections and disease?
    Yes.
    And it's a dagum shame. To have to go through life in a constantly chlorox-smelling box...…………… unacceptable.

  12. #9
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    What we can't do is completely slam shut either the economy or normal human social interactions. That's not realistic.
    Which is exactly what is being done. All those 4-ft. high plastic shields now in front of cashiers at 78/11s and grocery stores? ALL to eliminate normal human give-and-take.
    All this kids staying at home from school till they grow even more used to social isolation than they are? What will be the 10-year product...….

  13. #10
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    I'm coming to a rather dark take on this corona virus experience. I've come to believe major players involved have had a indecent motive from the beginning, still do, and are in effect dabbling in the black arts at the peril of us all.
    Dunno 'bout that. But, as with anything new and ramping up at warp speed, there is money to be made.
    EX: sure is some job security 'bout now for toilet paper manufacturers.

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