A Fallacy’s Heyday

Post hoc ergo propter hoc is airborne                                                                                        

EVEN though it has been mostly amicable, the circularity of debate here and elsewhere (and everywhere) about the relative deadliness of COVID-19 – especially in relation to the proportionality of government reaction – can be grating to all involved. We want to be understood and we’re struggling. In several posts, I’ve tried to make it clear where I stand on proportionality. There is a relationship between those views and the scientific/statistical question of lethality but not necessarily a direct one. That is, my criticism of fascism as prophylaxis remains the same whether or not coronavirus and bad seasonal flus are within the margin of error to each other or not. This, in turn, is not the same as arguing governments have no role to play in protecting the vulnerable and educating the public to observe a new, strict degree of hygiene (enforced by law).

Moreover, there is no moral or logical obligation to pay deference to a merely “scientific/statistical” conclusion about lethality (not that there is one) vis-à-vis shut-downs of society, the economy, democracy and the rule of law. This global crisis (of body, mind and soul) is an epic case study in how ‘expertise’ should never be left in the company of politicians unchaperoned by subjective moral judgement. For even if the CFR is closer to five percent than 0.1, of itself that tells us nothing about the value of human aspirations ruined, likely excess deaths from despair or the merits of causing so much damage to the living to forestall the demise of a (usually frail) minority; a minority we are called to protect but not at the price of national self-immolation.

If the world’s authority-drunk governments want to ban something new this week – which I’m quite sure they do – they could do a lot worse than prohibit the media from publishing round-the-clock “x new cases” updates. This isn’t a test match and COVID-19 isn’t Steve Smith. Almost all of these “cases” – these people – will recover. Of those who may deteriorate, we know nothing of their overall health or circumstances. Nothing pertaining to crisis scale follows from a raw number of positive diagnoses, nor – necessarily – from a raw number of deaths attributed to coronavirus. The media is promoting dread in terms simplistic enough for an audience of average intelligence to – not understand – but experience. One corollary of this is that governments are now forced by a daily swirl of factoids and unrefined numbers – ‘forced,’ according to their own self-aggrandising psephological calculus – to take “further action.”

Retired pathology professor John Lee has published an excellent piece at the UK Spectator which explains how fallacy and ignorance of coronial protocols are raising death tolls erroneously and corrupting the extrapolations driving shut-down mania throughout the world. He argues that as a new notifiable disease (flu isn’t one, by the way), coronavirus is being listed as the cause of death in patients with far more elaborate medical histories and co-morbidities – as also an atypical exposure to infectious surroundings (namely, hospitals). Filled with useful comparative statistics, Lee’s article is a must-read.

This entry was posted in COVID-19. Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to A Fallacy’s Heyday

  1. Scott Osmond

    You can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre. But the media can run round the clock death numbers, run fear campaigns, make shit up, showing footage from an Italian hospital and claiming it’s from a New York hospital for example, parrot lines from the CCP that everyone knows are lies at best, run opinion pieces as news, claim that they are an essential service and they are never held to account. Snarky tweets and comments on blogs aren’t enough. It’s time that real consequences are felt. Defunding state owned outlets for start, withdrawing press passes for worst offenders and having outlets registor as foreign actors. It won’t happen in Stralia as Scotty is terrified of his own shadow and the Labor lot won’t hit people on their own side.

  2. Beachcomber

    The frenzy of statist excesses from “authority-drunk” governments is not just dis-proportionate, it is irrational and immoral.

    The idea of “saving lives” as an absolute good is absurd and can only gain such prominence in a society that has lost its touch with the elementary truths of human existence.

    Fooled – How Gullible Politicians Promoted the Destruction of the Global Economy and Threw Us into the Abyss of Serfdom

  3. Nob

    Even when broadcast media is careful enough to report textually that X amount died with or after being diagnosed with CV19, verbally they are all over it hysterically as if it means we’re all gonna die from it.

  4. NoFixedAddress

    Good post currencylad

  5. jupes

    Imagine if the government spent 1% of this effort in saving us from I*sl*mic terrorism and Chicom invasion.
    ,

  6. Texas Jack

    I used to love seeing those old end-of-speed-limits signs on the edge of small country towns. I now know they weren’t a sign encouraging motorists to drive as might please motorheads, but I did think they were sign of government trust in the risk assessment ability of citizens and that people could make up their own minds as to what constituted safety.
    Meanwhile, back in the real world, government run by supposedly Liberal politicians has Mick Fuller’s cops running around parks issuing fines for sunbaking, and Josh Frydenberg surely lies awake at night wondering whether he and Morrison have just been teleported onto a live set of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Ken Henry won’t believe his good fortune. These clowns are making Pink Batts look intelligent.
    The good news? There ain’t much, but if you’re a devoted Cat (me, not so much), you’ve got plenty to fight for and over in this forum. Go to it!

  7. Beachcomber

    Lee’s article shows that the panic and hysteria has no basis in the facts. The media and the governing establishment will ignore it.
    Overall mortality rates in a country tell us what we really need to know. The data are there for everyone to see and they are relatively difficult to manipulate and misrepresent. In Italy and other countries in Western Europe where the data are available, the mortality rates are lower than in previous flu seasons. In England and Wales the numbers of deaths registered weekly are almost identical to previous years.
    This is a plague that is not a plague. The West has been easily led into believing it; and then has been eager to commit self-harm. This is perhaps a final descent from Western Civilisation’s great age of Reason. The recent decline has been rapid and we may now have fallen into an abyss.

  8. NoFixedAddress

    If Government want to protect people they could shut down all MSM who are no better than communist inspired pamphleteers.

  9. Bad Samaritan

    Here’s something outta left field maybe….

    If the various pantswetters and teeth-gnashers are correct that Oz is headed for an economic meltdown (it isn’t), and let’s say it’s Weimar Republic MkII ; poverty and despondency reign, will the left blame the usual suspects again? with the Federal treasurer as enemy #1

    I was discussing this with a local pharmacist who is supposed to be visiting Israel in July/August, and I reckon he’s worried: more so than he says directly said to me; a customer, not a friend. My past lives musta made him keen to talk as I did not talk politics until he did, now that fascism and the new thugocracy has appeared here. He is thinking about it.

    Any Cats in similar thought-mode?

    BTW; “It is a hopeless misjudgement to think that one could force a dictatorial regime upon the German nation. […] The diversity of the German people calls for democracy.” — Theodor Wolff in Frankfurter Zeitung, Jan 1933
    , and….
    “the central Jewish German organization (Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens) wrote that “as a matter of course” the Jewish community faces the new government “with the largest mistrust”, but at the same they were convinced that “nobody would dare to touch [their] constitutional rights”. The Jewish German newspaper Jüdische Rundschau [de] wrote on 31 Jan:[82″]

  10. Clam Chowdah

    I think concerns that restrictions won’t be rolled back in Australia once it’s feasible are unfounded. Having observed our otherwise incompetent politicians at close hand over many years the one thing they are not is fascist totalitarians, Catallaxy bed-wetting aside.

    The heavy handed police crap we are seeing here and in the UK is the natural result of organisations with a generally low IQ, so that will need to be taken up.

  11. Mater

    I think concerns that restrictions won’t be rolled back in Australia once it’s feasible are unfounded. Having observed our otherwise incompetent politicians at close hand over many years the one thing they are not is fascist totalitarians, Catallaxy bed-wetting aside.

    You’re probably right, Clam.
    However, the economic ruination has become an unparalleled opportunity for a more centralised and controlling government. I’m leaning towards your thinking that ‘snatching’ power is unlikely, but the socialist cause has made great headway in the last 2-3 weeks.

    Additionally, I don’t, for a minute, believe that this is the last we’ll see of these types of government decrees.

  12. Clam Chowdah

    We can only hope that an economic recovery will provide the contrast that the public needs – between Venezuelan ruination and the benefits of free market success.

  13. Iampeter

    One corollary of this is that governments are now forced by a daily swirl of factoids and unrefined numbers – ‘forced,’ according to their own self-aggrandising psephological calculus – to take “further action.”

    Yea the problem is that there’s no political theory behind any of these actions. They are just random, using “a daily swirl of factoids” as rationalizations.
    Information about the virus is important but that alone is useless to determining what a government should/should not do. What’s needed is knowledge of political theory and there’s none of that in politics or in the commentariat.

  14. notafan

    John Lee is correct, mostly.

    Isolate the elderly.

    Get the low risk demographics back to work ( while acknowledging that isolation of the elderly and international travel restrictions) will have an ongoing impact on some jobs)

  15. Andre Lewis

    While the PM and his ministers are generally competent the reaction to the virus is hard to understand given the actual data about infection rates and the death toll. Certainly steps to contain the spread and protect the vulnerable are necessary but the shut down of business is beyond belief. Last night the PM said we can expect this to last for six months which, if he means it, would entail the destruction of half the small businesses in the country and devastating unemployment for a million or more citizens. The lock down would not last anywhere near that long because many people would start to ignore the restrictions and clash with police trying to enforce it. Civil unrest would get out of hand very quickly indeed.
    The health academics advising the government have a single focus on medical issues but apparently no concept of the social damage wrought by their predictions and proposed actions.

  16. Ellen of Tasmania

    Three thoughts:

    1. Our Tassie Premier said yesterday, I think, that we were ‘in the fight of our lives’. Tassie has 71 confirmed cases. In 2017, 48 people died in this state from the flu. Always ask, “Compared to what?”

    2. We’ve done quarantine for a long time, and when it was about animals and produce we seemed to know just what to do. We didn’t shut up all the dogs or apples or whatever in the state or country – we shut up the incoming problems. Even if the virus really is a problem, how did we forget this because it was people?

    3. Part of the problem with debate and discussion on so many issues now, is that everyone has their own stats, facts and ‘reliable sources’. It’s like we all start off at the central station but follow our own sources out on the various lines. Then we wonder why we can’t discuss it all with quiet respect and logic when we’re shouting at each other from the end of the outer-most branch lines.

    We seem to have got into the habit of a) feeling that we have to have an opinion on everything, and b) polarising. This virus is Spanish-flu-deadly or it’s just a cold (there’s a lot of space in between those two).

  17. Aynsley Kellow

    It is worth noting that in the UK they removed COVID-19 form the High Consequences Infectious Diseases list because of its low mortality. SARS, MERS and Swine Flu are still on the HCID list.
    What does that tell you?
    The secret of this virus is that most of those infected have no symptoms, and that helps it spread. But it kills very few, and then overwhelmingly those who are elderly with one or more comorbidity factors.
    Question: did Australian authorities undertake their own modelling – or did they rely on the now widely rejected Imperial College modelling that caused Boris to panic? It is notable that the IC paper (unrefereed, self-published, Chinese data, model code not published) appeared one day before John Ioannidis published his much less scary analysis based on the more reliable Diamond Princess data.

  18. bollux

    An American economist stated the other day that for every 1% increase in unemployment there were 58000 deaths down the track from despair, alcoholism, drugs, violence, suicides, domestic violence etc, etc. That would be 4000 in Australia annually if the same statistics apply.

  19. Robber Baron

    ScoMo Must Go!

    The governments of Australia have proved themselves incompetent and totalitarian.

    We need a TAX STRIKE.

    I have decided to not pay any future tax bills and inform the governments that I can not afford it’s services due to government policies that have destroyed my income earning capacity.

  20. Bad Samaritan

    Here’s something outta left field maybe….

    If the various pantswetters and teeth-gnashers are correct that Oz is headed for an economic meltdown (it isn’t), and let’s say it’s Weimar Republic MkII ; poverty and despondency reign, will the left blame the usual suspects again? with the Federal treasurer as enemy #1

    I was discussing this with a local pharmacist who is supposed to be visiting Israel in July/August, and I reckon he’s worried: more so than he says directly said to me; a customer, not a friend. My past lives musta made him keen to talk as I did not talk politics until he did, now that fascism and the new thugocracy has appeared here. He is thinking about it.

    Any Cats in similar thought-mode?

    BTW; “It is a hopeless misjudgement to think that one could force a dictatorial regime upon the German nation. […] The diversity of the German people calls for democracy.” — Theodor Wolff in Frankfurter Zeitung, Jan 1933
    , and….
    “the central J German organization (Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens) wrote that “as a matter of course” the J community faces the new government “with the largest mistrust”, but at the same they were convinced that “nobody would dare to touch [their] constitutional rights”. The J German newspaper Jüdische Rundschau [de] wrote on 31 Jan:[82″]

  21. Bad Samaritan

    bollux (9.25am) Linky? Name? When discussing this BS with panicked Fwits it really carries more weight if it doesn’t look like you (not you) haven’t just pulled stuff like this outta ya backside. Name?

  22. BorisG

    It is not rocket science. No need to believe in any modeling studies. This plaque is much more contagious than influenza. Influenza infects about 10% of US population every year, and that is with widespread vaccination. Absent a vaccine, Covid19 would likely infect 80% of the population, give or take. Even if it only kills 0.5% of infected people, do your math. Price of freedom?

    Now, you would say the devil is in detail, and you are not advocating doing nothing, but rather various hygiene and social distancing measures but no shutdowns. Predicting the effect of these measures on the spread of the virus is much harder. surely it varies from a culture to culture even before measures are introduced, and compliance with various measures varies as well. But data (rather than modeling) from the worst affected areas in Europe suggest these sensible measures are not nearly enough to slow down exponential growth in fatalities. Moreover the most recent data from Italy suggests that draconian shutdowns do begin to slow it down, with the total number of fatalities growing by 5% daily rather than 15%. Now Australia is not Italy and social habits are diffident. It would be interesting to see how this would play out in Australian cities. But I suspect our elected leaders decided that they did not want to subject Australian population to this medical experiment, knowing full well the real capacity of our health system (and this much they do know). This is not easy but kind of understandable.

  23. BorisG

    CL, a question: do you oppose shutdowns given your estimates of the magnitude of the threat, or they are never justified for any magnitude?

  24. Rob MW

    Does anyone know whether or not the hydroxychloroquine-azithro regimen is in widespread use here in Australia, or are the regulatory prescription bureaucrats dragging their heels on its use ??

    Just asking because the reports coming out from all over the place are saying that it is indeed hugely beneficial and extremely low cost for a 5 day dose for early detected infection.

  25. Faye

    Dear currencylad, would you mind dividing your work up into more paragraphs please.

  26. Tel

    We didn’t shut up all the dogs or apples or whatever in the state or country – we shut up the incoming problems. Even if the virus really is a problem, how did we forget this because it was people?

    We were told to forget, because “racist”.

    https://theintercept.com/2020/03/05/coronavirus-trump-closing-borders/

    Read down through all the amazing mental pretzel work they come up with to explain this.

  27. Tel

    It is not rocket science. No need to believe in any modeling studies. This plaque is much more contagious than influenza. Influenza infects about 10% of US population every year, and that is with widespread vaccination. Absent a vaccine, Covid19 would likely infect 80% of the population, give or take. Even if it only kills 0.5% of infected people, do your math. Price of freedom?

    No need to believe any modelling.

    Instead we believe what you think “would likely” happen.

    But what do you base that on, if not some kind of model?

  28. Aynsley Kellow

    BorisG: ‘Absent a vaccine, Covid19 would likely infect 80% of the population, give or take.’

    Aside from sounding like an example of the adage that 83% of statistics are made up on the spot, this is factually wrong.

    A vaccine does not prevent infection, but stimulates the immune system to better fight any future infection.

    And Italy is in no way comparable to Australia.

    For some real statistics. Data from Europe show that infection rates are closely correlated with testing rates and around 15% of those tested test positive. But only about 80% of those testing positive show any symptoms, and only 5% show serious symptoms. Only 1% of the dead in Italy had no comorbidity factors, and almost 50% had three or more. The average age of those dying was 80.

    Let’s not exaggerate this. It is highly contagious because it causes few symptoms in most and kills fewer of those infected than SARS or MERS. Deaths are being reported as if dying with COVID-19 is dying from COVID-19, reported by an incurious media.

    Some basic social distancing and good hygiene has been justified, but closing down the economy is of dubious cost-benefit. I don’t hold the pollies accountable for this, at least only in part. More like public health officials, dodgy modelling and risk management processes that exclude a consideration of economics and society.

  29. max

    Environmentalism is a religion
    Written by Michael Crichton (September 15, 2003)

    Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people—the best people, the most enlightened people—do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.

    What does western people believe today?
    Government is a god, and it is going to save us.

    Environmentalism is a religion
    Written by Michael Crichton (September 15, 2003)

    The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.
    We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems.
    Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.

    What if the ‘sky-is-falling’ coronavirus models are wrong?

    Models based on assumptions in the absence of data can be over-speculative and ‘open to gross over-interpretation’
    the model used assumptions because there was no hard data.
    No one knows what fraction of the public is at risk of serious illness.

    Months ago, before the pandemic sky fell around us, many people rightfully doubted or scoffed at computer models that predicted, say, where a hurricane would make landfall or who was guaranteed to win a presidential election or global warming…

    Today everyone believe in computer models.

  30. max

    if it is bad how they are telling us, I would expect to see 100 00 – 100 000 dead every day in India, Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, Bangladesh, Brazil

  31. Faye

    Dear currencylad, Thank you, much appreciated. Faye

  32. C.L.

    You’re welcome, Faye.

  33. Kneel

    BorisG: ‘Absent a vaccine, Covid19 would likely infect 80% of the population, give or take.’

    On what basis do you make this claim?
    Consider that Diamond Princess was a “closed” environment – you can’t run away from it, and you will be exposed to it at some level if you are stuck there for 2 weeks, as the passengers and crew were. Yet only 20% tested positive. So either it’s nowhere near as infectious as we thought, or there are a hell of a lot more asymptomatic cases than we thought, and 80+% did have it, but got rid of it before they got tested. Either way, it doesn’t seem to be a big enough issue to warrant shutting down the economy and putting 100k+ people out of work, let alone 6M+.

    World renowned epidemiologist Ionadis (sp?) says “massive over-reaction”, “not justified” et al based on the available data. Many other epidemiologists agree.

    Add the mortality figures for Europe generally – and most countries thereof (such as Italy and the UK at least) – being lower than average, and what does that say?

    It’s like the general asking the geologist:
    Gen: “What’s the fastest way to get at the water under this mountain?”
    Geo: Thinks, then: “Nuke it”
    Gen: “what about the fallout?”
    Geo: “Not my problem”

    So Covid19 response:
    Gov: “How can we stop this killing so many people?”
    Dr: “Shut everyone inside their house for 6 months”
    Gov: “What about the economy?”
    Dr: “Do you want to save lives or not?”
    Gov: “Gulp! Shut it down!”

    Based on partial data known to be biased to a higher CFR because they are actually showing you TCFR (tested only). Still drifting lower as more tests are done.

    Based on modelling from the same people who said 20k+ human BSE cases expected, they got well less than 10% of that. The same people who insisted that foot and mouth was airborne transmission and insisted on slaughtering 000’s of healthy sheep and cattle on farms with NO F&M at all, “just in case”.

    Swine flu killed >6,000 (60K ?) Americans, and Obama never shut down anything and put no restrictions in place. So Trump should be more like Obama, eh? Can’t imagine too many lefties would argue with that as a general statement – at least until you told them about swine flu.

    “Whatever you do, don’t panic!”
    “What else is there to do?”
    – Fawlty Towers.

    Yes, how very Basil Fawlty we have become… It seems that, just as with “1984”, the bedwetters think that these are both instruction manuals on what to do, rather than warnings about what will happen if you behave that way.

    Sorry, we need real leaders – real leaders don’t ever panic, they focus on fixing things, the options, required trade-offs, etc then do what is best for most. This mob is all panic all the time – disgusting.

  34. Chris M

    Regarding deadliness or CFR of the Wuhan virus as we (sadly) get more infections and time the figures start to emerge. Fifty thousand dead now based on 500,000 that were infected two weeks ago (including fake Chinese data) equals around 10 percent or around 100 times worse than the flu.

    For this to be flu equivalent you would have to believe that 100 times more people have this infection (eg asymptomatic) than the data shows. Or you regard all the data to be bunk and the whole thing faked Alex Jones/ climate scientist level. Time will tell.

  35. Tel

    Sorry, we need real leaders – real leaders don’t ever panic, they focus on fixing things, the options, required trade-offs, etc then do what is best for most. This mob is all panic all the time – disgusting.

    Trump put a good mix of people on his virus task force: Pence (leadership, politics, spokesman); Birx, Adams, Carson, Azar, Fauci, Grogan, Hahn, Redfield, Verma (health, pharmaceuticals); Biegun, Blair (business, politics); Cuccinelli, O’Brien, Pottinger, Wilkie, Szabat (security, border control); Droegemeier (science, technology); Kan, Kudlow, Mnuchin, Liddell (business, economics, finance).

    I would say they have access to far better people than anything we have in Australia.

  36. bollux

    Tel,
    We are very knowledgeable about renewables and climate change. We have endless experts.

  37. BorisG

    I would say they have access to far better people than anything we have in Australia.

    Possibly. And these best minds say if we lifted restrictions we could have 2.4 million deaths. They are saying this, not me. These are best minds.

    Australia is testing many more people per capita than the US. That’s one thing we are better at. But not nearly enough.

    Many people have this virus, are contagious but until this week couldn’t get tested because they did not meet the criteria for testing. They recover a bit, go to work and spread the virus. I know one such guy bere and one in Israel.

    One assumes in other counties where they test less, it is even worse. US is much worse.

  38. Aynsley Kellow

    One of the best minds in the UK, Professor John Oxford of Queen Mary University London, one of the world’s leading virologists and influenza specialists:

    ‘Personally, I would say the best advice is to spend less time watching TV news which is sensational and not very good. Personally, I view this Covid outbreak as akin to a bad winter influenza epidemic. In this case we have had 8000 deaths this last year in the ‘at risk’ groups viz over 65% people with heart disease etc. I do not feel this current Covid will exceed this number. We are suffering from a media epidemic!’

  39. Tel

    Possibly. And these best minds say if we lifted restrictions we could have 2.4 million deaths. They are saying this, not me. These are best minds.

    They never said any such thing.

    Their figure was 2.2 million deaths worst case, if no one did anything out of the ordinary right from the very start. Like all business went exactly as normal and people were not even informed of the problem.

  40. Texas Jack

    Doesn’t matter what the stats are. The mess had been made, and won’t easily be rolled back. Pollies avoiding embarrassment like the plague (sorry) will hide behind some version of “we had a duty to shut it down…”
    It’s a massive media-driven own-goal….

  41. Anon Mahnà

    You can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre.

    Wanna bet? Of course I can.
    In 1919, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., in the United States Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States, emphasised the wrongful shouting of “Fire!” as not constitutionally protected free speech, when he wrote, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

    It is, of course, appropriate sometimes to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre:

    • You are Master of Ceremoniess of a theatre which is presenting a performance of that famed stage-magician, The Magnificent Alphonso Fire; knowing that the audience is well aware that his performances always begin with a voluminous bellowing of his surname, traditionally echoed enthusiastically by the majority of his rapturous audience, you step onto the stage—
    • You are participating in the theatrical tour of a popular quiz show; the quiz-master asks you the question, “What song, performed by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, was featured on that band’s second single and first album, shares its name with many other songs (such as the fifth track on U2’s 1981 album,
    October, and another hit, written by Bruce Springsteen, recorded by The Pointer Sisters for their 1978 album, Energy), and takes its name from one of the four elements in ancient and medieval philosophy, the process of rapid oxidation of material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion?”; unfortunately, your microphone is malfunctioning so, in order to be heard over the noise of the raucous audience, you take a deep breath—
    • An eccentric billionaire bets you several million dollars that you won’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre; having craftily ensured that the terms of the wager don’t preclude providing a warning to the audience, and having obtained permission from the theatre’s manager and ensured that all the staff are aware of your intentions, you step onto the stage just before the curtain is raised, politely explain that you have found a cunning way of contributing substantially to worthy charities, and begging that they will forgive your forthcoming vociferation, which, being without foundation, should cause them no alarm, concluding, “remember, there is no fire, and you are in no danger, but I shall in a moment shout ‘Fire!’ rather loudly,” and, then—
    • A theatre is actually on fire and the rapidly spreading flames have already reached the public address system, rendering it inoperable, but the audience, engrossed in the performance, appears to be completely oblivious to the extreme danger, partly because the fire-alarms, mysteriously silent, might have been sabotaged; knowing that firemen are on their way, and having ascertained that all exits are readily accessible, that the aisles are free of obstacles, and that numerous staff are on hand to assist the egress of audience members, but observing that thick, pungent smoke has already filled the corridors leading to the stage, and that the theatre too may fill with smoke and lethal fumes at any moment, and realising that there is no time for elaborate expositions, or apologetic introductions, you stride to the front of the auditorium as quickly as you can without seeming to be running in panic—

  42. Colin Suttie

    “Possibly. And these best minds say if we lifted restrictions we could have 2.4 million deaths. They are saying this, not me. These are [the] best minds.”

    FMD. The best minds? Neil Ferguson, who previously predicted as many as 400,000 deaths in the UK from BSE (actual number of deaths: 175)? Who previously predicted Swine Flu would infect 1/3 of the world’s population (actual number: quite a lot less than 2.5 billion)? The best bed-wetters maybe.

    Why in the name of all that is holy does anyone, let alone the world’s leaders, repeatedly listen to, assigne credibility to, and act on the recommendations of somebody with this track record?

  43. Kneel

    “I would say they have access to far better people than anything we have in Australia.”

    I’m not sure that’s true, but regardless…

    They (the US, that is) are also cursed with one side of politics attempting to gain political advantage during the crisis, and in so doing, slowing the response.
    These are not people, they’re filthy, amoral animals.
    They’re not even hiding what they’re doing – they already want a “9/11 style” commission into the response, and they want the chief “collusion!” yeller in charge (WSJ reported this).
    These are the people who told you “We’re in Chinatown, come join us” (Mid Feb, IIRC), then want you to believe Trump under-reacted and they knew better, but he wouldn’t listen.
    The same ones that wanted to sneak the Green Nude Eel into “corona virus relief”.
    The same ones that now want to spend more trillions – yes, already planning writing the legislation, by their own admission!
    Without DJT, they’d be truly stuffed. As the only politician in the western world that seems to understand we can’t just stop and start the economy at will, I hope for their sake he prevails. I hope for our sake, we follow quickly enough that we limit to damage enough to save us from a depression – at this point, that seems optimistic, sad to say.

Comments are closed.