We Have Revised Our Estimates Somewhat Downwards

Sharing Options
Show Outline with Links


The coronavirus scare has had a narrative arc. There were the initial troubling reports out of China. Then there was time when the alarm was sounded on the basis of the kind of sensational modeling that has a genius for the limelight. Battle was joined, as this was clearly the moral equivalent of war. It is now turning out that the alarms were somewhat overblown. In the meantime, all the howitzer rounds we shot straight up into the air came back down again (our scientists are looking into this), and so enormous damage was done to the livelihoods of tens of thousands.

And So Look Where We Are Now

A model produced by Imperial College was one of the things that set off our current coronavirus frenzy. That model projected 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. and 500,000 deaths in the U.K. The scientist who produced that model has now revised his estimate downward somewhat, into territory southwards of 20,000 fatalities in the UK. He wants to credit the draconian lock down response for this “good news,” but the timing of the lock down and the arrival of the revision doesn’t really support that.

An alternative explanation is that the initial assumptions going into the model were wildly, exuberantly, sensationally, wrong.

As we used to say in the Navy, belay my last. As in, never mind. As in . . . oh, never mind.

In the White House press briefing yesterday, Dr. Birx summed it up nicely and emphasized that the data being collected on the front lines do not support the extreme predictions that had been made. She said, wisely enough, that “models are models.” And the problem does not lie in the fact that models are models (that’s what they are supposed to be), but rather in the fact that under-educated reporters have wanted to treat the lurid predictions of such models as the settled results of an in-the-bank science. But they are not, and are only as good as the assumptions that are fed into them. And the assumptions fed into them are governed by what an observant sociologist, if he were on the top of his game, might want to call hive-think.

I had actually said something about this a week or so ago.

But it must be acknowledged that a good part of the contemporary scientific community has been taken over by modelers, not practicing scientists, and if you doubt what I say, go and count up all the false prophecies that have been thrown at us about climate change. Those were prophecies based on computer models, and they were only as good as the assumptions that went into them. If you boil a bunch of cabbage, the end result is going to be boiled cabbage. This is because computer modeling is governed by another set of rules entirely. And those rules are fine and all, but it must be remembered that they are the rules of another discipline entirely. And one of the fundamental rules of computer modeling is the GIGO rule. And GIGO stands for “Garbage In Garbage Out.”

Me, just a short while ago, being prescient

A Local Matter, If I May?

Our governor apparently gave way to pressure and put the state of Idaho in lock down. Our city council, not to be outdone, extended their emergency order to May 5. And this, with Latah County having no confirmed cases yet. Everybody inside, mom thought she saw a bee.

So if you live here in here in Moscow, I would urge you to go here and sign this petition, which is self-explanatory. Their response to this will indicate clearly whether they are willing to be civic leaders, or whether panic or power or both has gone to their heads.

Oh, Yeah, Joe Biden

In every panic or riot, while everyone appears to be throwing dust in the air in the hope of attracting the kind attentions of Diana of the Ephesians, a glance across the crowded amphitheater would reveal nothing but tempest, tumult, and tomatoes. But with a trained eye, you would be able to see a handful of people working the edges, guiding and directing the maelstrom in the rough direction they would like it to go. It doesn’t always work, and sometimes “bull-riders-of-crowds” get thrown. But the point is that when everyone appears to have lost their heads, there are always some opportunists out there making hay while the sun shines. Or whatever it is you make when the sun isn’t shining.

In what follows, keep in mind that I am not a prophet, or the son of a prophet. I am just an old coot on the bench at the general store, and this is just a bit of stick that I am whittling.

Some people have not forgotten that there is a presidential campaign on., and there are lot of things getting moved around and rearranged while we are all distracted by the virus. The establishment Democrats rallied behind Biden and stopped the Bernie threat. This was done because both candidates would be disasters in the general election, but Bernie would have been an entrenched disaster. He would be right there on the top of the ticket until that ticket made its way down to Davy Jones. Biden, on the other hand, is an entirely moveable disaster, and the play is already being run on him. His responses to the coronavirus debacle have been kind of a mash-up of a blinking hostage video, a stoned deer in the headlights, and a slow motion video of the cheese sliding off the Triscuit. And then, on top of that incoherence, comes now a former staffer from decades ago, accusing Biden of sexual assault. Now we should apply the biblical standards to all such allegations, and I do, but if we apply the Biden standard to them, then we have to believe the woman. Right? And if we believe the woman, it is clear that even as we speak the skids are being greased for, as political theorists might describe it, some kind of switcheroo.

Trump, on the other hand, is someone who has not forgotten for a minute hat he is running for president and, just between us girls, it appears to me that he is doing little else. These are just the musings of someone who sits afar off, but this whole spectacle has the feel of a situation that Trump is taking as a thinly disguised presidential debate. It is not that for the doctors, nurses, and patients, or for the churning general populace, but it is certainly that for all the operatives on the edges of the crowds, trying to steer this thing.

But it turns out that Trump is a natural-born showman, and his approval ratings are the highest they have been in his entire presidency. He can throw trillions around with real panache, and I say this with a grudging and reluctant admiration.