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A Swede in Germany

Archive for January 2021

Countermeasures more damaging than COVID / Follow-up: Various COVID-19 articles

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I just read a very interesting article on the damage by COVID counter-measures and how they, according to a peer-reviewed study, do more harm than good. This plays in well with things that I began to say as early as March 2020, or roughly ten months ago. (See [1] and [2], as well as quite a few later texts.)

Below, I will discuss portions of this article, but first I want to point to another case of pinning the tail to the COVID donkey. Going by current German reporting*, there are plans to (a) institute a nightly curfew, (b) mandate FFP2-masks** in e.g. stores. As to (a), what is that supposed to achieve?!? The nights are the times when the streets are almost free of people anyway, when there is the smallest risk of infecting or being infected. By locking people in at night, they either lose an option of fresh air and exercise for no good reasons or are forced to move these activities to the day time, when the risks are larger … Utterly idiotic. (Note that bars, discos, and the like are closed to begin with, irrespective of this curfew.) As to (b), either this is an(other) unnecessary measure or it proves that the old/current policy, in place for many months, was deeply flawed. The latter might very well be the case, as it allowed the use of virtually any mouth covering, including home-made masks and the scarf that I, myself, have been using. If so, however, it should have been obvious to begin with, and the old/current policy was mostly unnecessary, a cheap psychological measure, and/or another case of pinning the tail.

*Source is the non-archived Internet version of “ARD Text”. As I try to minimize efforts on this closed blog, I will not research alternate sources.

**Roughly equivalent to the U.S. N95-masks.

To the main issue:*

*Quote marks present in the cited article have been kept to indicate what words stem from the author of the study (one Dr. Ari Joffe) and when the author of the article. This especially as the article appears to, it self, quote another article/interview extensively.

  1. The study, by a previously pro-lockdown physician, claims that the damage outweighs* the benefits by a factor 10 (ten!). I do not know whether this figure pans out, or whether it pans out everywhere**, but it is a strong further indication that the crisis has been horribly mishandled.

    *And this likely limited to health, while measuring the effects of e.g. bankruptcies only indirectly through health effects. (As I began to write, I assumed the opposite, and only discovered my likely error during writing. For reasons of time, I will not research this in detail. This potential misunderstanding might be preserved in sub-optimal formulations below, but will not render the underlying thoughts incorrect.)

    **The study is likely based on Canada.

  2. A particularly important portion reads:

    Explaining further to the Toronto paper why he initially supported the lockdowns, Joffe noted he’s not trained to make public policy decisions.

    “I was only considering the direct effects of COVID-19 and my knowledge of how to prevent these direct effects,” he said. “I was not considering the immense effects of the response to COVID-19 (that is, lockdowns) on public health and wellbeing.”

    Not only does this match my main complaint, that there is no awareness of e.g. opportunity costs and side-effects, but it also points to a danger of listening to experts without applying own thought.

    However, exactly this blind following is often demanded or voluntarily practiced. This, unfortunately, appears to include the politicians who should know better in terms of public policy than the average physician: “Fauci et al. say that X, Y, Z; ergo, we must A, B, C.” Why not consult a few experts on business and economics, a few civil-rights’ lawyers, and whoever else might be relevant in addition to Fauci? Why not a few psychologist and psychiatrists on top of physicians and experts on infectious diseases?

  3. Overlapping, the article claims:

    He pointed out that government and public health experts did not conduct a formal cost-benefit analysis of various responses to the pandemic.

    I would go further: from what I have seen, even an informal cost-benefit analysis has only rarely been made or, when present, had an influence on decision making.

  4. The negative effects are not just economic. As I have pointed out, there are also competing health effects.

    “It turns out that loneliness and unemployment are known to be among the strongest risk factors for early mortality, reduced lifespan and chronic diseases,”

    I would have said “Duh!”, expect that most politicians appear either unaware of or “willfully ignorant” on this point.

  5. The media have been as bad as the politicians (another “Duh!” moment …):

    “Popular media focused on absolute numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths independent of context,” he said. “There has been a sheer one-sided focus on preventing infection numbers.”

    In a bigger picture, this repeats the failure of media (discussed in many previous texts) of providing the population with the information needed to think for themselves: media has a ready-made, pre-chewed opinion and the population should just swallow that opinion.*

    *Note that this is a bad thing even should the media have a sound opinion.

  6. Another big complaint of mine is that the risks of COVID-19 and number of the deaths from it has not been put in perspective relative other causes of death.

    “Each day in non-pandemic years, over 21,000 people die from tobacco use, 3,600 from pneumonia and diarrhea in children under 5-years-old, and 4,110 from tuberculosis,” he noted. “We need to consider the tragic COVID-19 numbers in context.”

Disclaimer: I have not read the underlying study, nor made any attempts at verifying the science or credibility.

Written by michaeleriksson

January 18, 2021 at 9:59 am

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Last (?) thoughts on the 2020 U.S. election(s)

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For what might or might not* be my last update on the 2020 elections, a few remarks. These remarks might be marginally premature, as challenges are still being raised in Congress and there might be some ever so slight chance left in front of the courts, but the chance of an improvement of the result is close to zero and most issues exist regardless. Thus:

*I have been here before …

  1. The treatment of Trump continues to be outrageous, and it remains clear that he is (again!) targeted in a dishonest and hypocritical manner.

    Some Trump supporters riot and Trump is to be considered personally responsible and impeached?!? The worse, as impeachment at this juncture would be a purely symbolic act—and one that goes contrary to Biden’s ostensible message of peace and unity.

    I note that these riots are a drop in the ocean compared to the Leftist riots of 2020; that they were targeted at something that was at least approximately the cause of the dissatisfaction, while the Leftist were directed at innocents; that they were based in a reasonable* and rational* dissatisfaction, while the Leftist were based in reality distortion of e.g. systemic racism or the “racist murder” of someone who likely died of a drug overdose—and where, if in doubt, no trace of racism has actually been demonstrated or even made plausible.

    *Which is not necessarily to say that the actions taken were reasonable and rational.

  2. I have personally experienced the Left close up in two countries (Sweden and Germany) over thirty years of political consciousness, and have seen many examples in many other countries and at many other times through more indirect means, ranging from the modern-day U.S. to the genocides of e.g. Stalin and Mao.

    While no side of a political conflict or issue is likely to be beyond reproach (indeed, often falls considerably short), there has been common trends virtually everywhere and “everywhen”,* that an the-end-justifies-the-means mentality tends be a Leftist issue more often than “Rightist” issue, that political violence tends to come from the Left, that propaganda lies, defamation, personal attacks, etc., tends to come from the Left, disregard for democratic processes tends to come from the Left, and so on. At the same time, the Left is quite often extremely concerned with accusing its opponents of exactly the misdeeds that itself performs.

    *With obvious reservations for complications like some types of abuse being far easier for the party in power.

    This especially if the Fascist/Nazi faction(s) are discounted, which in many ways have more in common with the Left than the “Right” and where the typical association with the “Right” could be seen as a historical accident (or clever Leftist propaganda!), where the application of slightly different criteria would have grouped the Nazis with the Communists instead of the Conservatives on a binary Left–Right scale.*

    *But I re-iterate my rejection of such binary scales as simplistic, misleading, and counterproductive.

    The current U.S. provides many good examples, including the treatment of Trump and the BLM riots. However, it is interesting that the difference has historically been far smaller in the U.S. than in e.g. Sweden and Germany, likely because the “political middle” has traditionally been further to the “Right” than in most European countries, making the likelihood of extremist opinions and methods lower on the Left (relative Europe; not relative the Right) and higher on the Right. There has been a massive shift over recent decades, leaving the U.S. as bad as or worse than Europe.

    A text that I have contemplated writing on several occasions has the theme “how much hate, lies, and violence will it take before the masses understand the true nature of the Left”. Well, it has been at least a hundred years since any thinking and well-informed person should have seen truly massive problems—and, if anything, the understanding seems to have diminished over time.

  3. Overlapping, I note that there has been a massive downturn in the political climate, even globally, during my blogging years.

    For instance, a considerable portion of my early days (2010, give or take) was spent on individual (Gender-)Feminists and other crackpots engaging in gross censorship, distortions, and similar, in lieu of bringing factual arguments to support their claims and ideas. Today, the same outrageous behavior is systematically pushed by the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

    For instance, back then, I could still use cases like the firing of Larry Summers as examples of PC extremism—today, they are everyday occurrences. Indeed, today, the “wrong” opinion expressed two decades ago (regardless of current opinions) or by a spouse (regardless of own opinions) can be grounds for e.g. a firing.

  4. The failure of the courts, especially the SCOTUS, to address the election issues is to some degree understandable,* but it has had extremely negative consequences. It would, I suspect, have been a lesser evil to test these issues thoroughly in court and then, regardless of the winner, have had some degree of confidence in the system and the election—or, if nothing else, a warning shot that might have made future cheating less likely.

    *Due to the risk of violating the separation of powers, setting dangerous precedents, etc.

  5. I am currently leaning towards recommending an abolishment of the Electoral Council—but in quite the opposite way of the Democrats: Let the POTUS be elected based on a vote by Congress,* with no direct popular vote. The people’s influence would still be exerted through the Congressional elections, controversies like 2020/2021 would be far less likely, the federal nature of the POTUS office would be stressed, the importance of the POTUS relative Congress would be diminished to something more resembling the original intention, the enormous costs for multiple campaigns and elections would be reduced, etc.

    *The exact modalities would still need to be thought out, e.g. how and whether both the House and the Senate votes, and whether it is one vote per state or one vote per person.

    A potential downside, admittedly, is that it would be harder for an outsider like Trump to shake things up.

  6. These elections have been extremely disappointing, even the potential distortion of the result through fraud aside: For parts of the election day, it looked as if Trump was winning easily, that the Senate would be easily held, and that there was a chance of the House being turned. As is, with the events of the last few days, not even the Senate is held, and Republican 3–0 has been turned to a Democrat 3–0.

    This is the worse, as this election was of extreme importance in light of the absurd drift Leftwards of the Democrats and their infestation with hate-agendas, pseudo-scientific and racist theories, and whatnot. I have no crystal ball, but the hit that the U.S. is about to take might turn out to be worse than the one FDR delivered. And, yes, to reiterate some earlier text, the U.S. might be heading into its worst internal crisis since the Civil War.

  7. On a semi-tragic, semi-funny note: Has anyone else seen parallels between Kamala Harris and Selena Mayer?

Written by michaeleriksson

January 7, 2021 at 10:36 am

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