Notes On The Collapse

Debunking Bad Science: Masks?

HEADLINE: Official Data Shows Face Masks “Made No Difference”, Says Oxford Professor

Yes, he actually said this, and yes he’s a real Oxford professor, and yes the data is real. The story still isn’t what you probably are starting to think it is.

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Once More With Rhythm

It’s like a bad divorce, and we’re the kids.

Mommy and daddy are sitting in the courtroom, contentiously splitting up the old Lionel Ritchie records and bickering over every meaningless detail. Two lawyers are each buying a new Porsche out of our college funds before this is done. And our only purpose for being in the room is to act as another token to be battled for.

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If You Can’t Question Science, It’s Not Science

It’s a meme. It’s true… to an extent. But it’s also true, and rather more applicable, to observe that memes are not science.

Here’s how it works: If scientists are unable to question science, it’s not science. If you are not able to question science, it’s still science; you’re just having your freedom of speech infringed.

Because you’re not a scientist.

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COVID: Two False Narratives

It’s not farfetched, if you stop to consider it. CNN’s viewers expect them to… how to put this diplomatically?… to err on the side of safety (and if at all possible, the Democratic Party). And Fox’s audience is used to them opposing CNN as much as is possible. So it’s not at all unreasonable to expect that both narratives are, as AOC famously put it, factually incorrect but morally right.

In this particular example, the narratives are driven by different ways to measure the danger of COVID. Fox uses the population mortality rate (PMR) because it’s low; CNN uses the case mortality rate (CMR) because it’s high enough to be alarming. And both numbers by themselves are completely meaningless. Here’s why.

Let’s say you’re trying to figure out the answer to a simple question: How safe is it for me to fly to Florida over Thanksgiving?

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We Need More Parties

The president flew out today, on his way to Europe to talk up his new spending plan. Which, at present, is half what his first spending plan was and does nothing to reduce our spending deficit, not to mention our debt.

Which is fine. Keynes explained it to us: Why it is that, in tough times, we need to borrow and spend so that the good times return sooner. He used many pages of complicated mathematical formulae to back up his premise, and the number of people who can even understand them much less comprehensibly explain them is tiny, so let’s just take his word on it, shall we? The government is right to borrow and spend. We may disagree on how it spends what it gets—

Ah, but that’s the point, isn’t it? We do disagree. We pretty much all disagree, and volubly, at great length.

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Whose Fault Is The Debt Limit?

At 2 p.m. today, the NBER will release the monthly Treasury update of debt relative to credit. (Here’s a spoiler: It won’t be anything we didn’t see a month ago. We’re up to our ears in debt.) Meanwhile, Congress is rushing back into emergency session for a quick fix to stave off default as our spending continues to increasingly exceed our income. At a time when every politician is casting blame about the rapidly ballooning national debt and the continual political struggle surrounding raising the debt limit, it’s worth our while to examine the larger picture: Whose fault, really, is the precarious condition of our national finances?

It’s tempting for partisans to each blame the other party; it’s easily done, too, as government waste has become proverbial and inefficiency is automatically assumed without the bother of proving it. It’s equally simple for a certain class of people to throw up their hands and blame all politicians, as though they themselves would do better if they were in charge. But even a little brief reflection will show that, while these are satisfying accusations, they can’t possibly have much merit.

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Hallowe’en As Oppression

I read the other day that our modern view of Hallowe’en was created using white suburbia as a model, and that it should be dismantled because the act of Trick Or Treating propagates racial oppression. The gentleman who wrote that had earlier mentioned that I was unqualified to opine on matters of race, as I’m one of the oppressors and couldn’t possibly understand the way he could.

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No Way Out

“There’s no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is — other people!”

– Jean-Paul Sartre, “No Exit” / “Huis Clos”

The latest in the interminable blame-game handoffs that are what passes for normalcy in Washington D.C. is upon us — again. And, as always, it’s everyone’s fault and no-one’s.

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