The Not Fake News Update, 25 November 2021

Happy Thanksgiving! If the return of the Macy’s parade doesn’t interest you, and if you’ve lost track of what’s been happening in the world — the real news, that is, rather than who’s been found guilty and who hasn’t in the new sport of Televised Trial Infotainment — feel free to read on.

And if you’re not interested in what’s happening in the world around you, what are you doing here?

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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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For A War Memorial

(SUGGESTED INSCRIPTION PROBABLY NOT SUGGESTED BY THE COMMITTEE)

The hucksters haggle in the mart
The cars and carts go by;
Senates and schools go droning on;
For dead things cannot die.

A storm stooped on the place of tombs
With bolts to blast and rive;
But these be names of many men
The lightning found alive.

If usurers rule and rights decay
And visions view once more
Great Carthage like a golden shell
Gape hollow on the shore,

Still to the last of crumbling time
Upon this stone be read
How many men of England died
To prove they were not dead.

G. K. Chesterton, 1919

Lest We Forget

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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While SCOTUS Considers Abortion

EDITORIAL

While SCOTUS considers abortion, permit me to suggest that it’s past time we do too.

I’m not talking about trumpeting loudly your positions and the hills you’ll die on. I said “consider” and I mean it. Either it’s important or it’s not; and if it’s important, it demands your attention and honest thought — however painful thinking might be, much less honesty.

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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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