Some of us were waiting idly at home, teleworking as our society crumbled. We put in the same soul-deadening hours in useless meetings that we always had, only in pajama bottoms. A few of us embraced pretense, continuing to go out without regard for mandates and masks, and pretending that stubbornness and a refusal to engage their brains was the same thing as courage.
Funny thing is, now that we’ve reopened, we’re all doing that last bit. So much for thinking that blind ignorance was for Republicans only.
There’s now no way to tell if the horrible flu that I contracted in Chicago in the earliest days of 2020 was COVID. There was a particularly nasty H3N2 going around at the time, and the list of symptoms is nearly identical, including loss of taste.
But we’re quite certain that my wife and I contracted COVID back in August, not long after getting our second-dose vaccinations. And now we have it again. (She got boosted in between; I didn’t.)
Recently, The Not Fake News reached out to Prof. James Naismith concerning what we believed to be deliberate misrepresentations of his work in alternative media. You may recall the story, or wish to revisit it; the short version is, they reported him as being anti-mask when in reality he’s strongly in favor.
We’ve spent some little time tracking down the origin of the deliberate lie, and were intrigued at the source.
It was a few days later that I did the math — very rough math, mind you; I’m no statistician, and The Not Fake News is a long long ways from The New England Journal of Medicine. (On the other hand, toss dice against me at your peril. Wargamers take note.) And, in the intervening weeks, the answer has changed a bit.
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?
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.