Category Archives: Science

What are the metrics?

There are many fields of study that seem to lack useful metrics by which to judge their usefulness and effectiveness.

Nutrition science, see below, is certainly one example. Epidemiology and the Covid pandemic is another. There are others. The problem is that experts seem to rarely acknowledge that their past work was insufficient, flawed, ineffective. Instead of learning from the past, they tend to double down on what did not work previously (see, Covid-19).

Good! “Evidence mounts that MMR and TDAP vaccines strengthen protection against severe COVID-19”

They found that patients who had previously been vaccinated for MMR had a 38 percent decrease in hospitalization and a 32 percent decrease in ICU admission/death. Similarly, patients previously vaccinated for Tdap had 23 percent and 20 percent decreased rates, respectively, of these outcomes.

Source: Evidence mounts that MMR and TDAP vaccines strengthen protection against severe COVID-19

Lucky me – I had the MMR vaccine in March of 2021 after asking my doctor about my lack of vaccinations (just smallpox, polio as a child). Serology test found I had measles and mumps when young, but not rubella. So I had the MMR vaccine 4 weeks before getting the Covid vaccine, and Tdap was in 2013. I’ll be getting the annual influenza vaccine this week. Makes me feel like I’ve got moderately strong force field around me – I hope 🙂

“Credentialism” is an old argumentative form

Credentialism is a form of the Appeal to Authority argumentative form. This is considered one of the worst forms of argument – but it is used because it is effective.

Regarding Covid-19, this form is used to shut down those who raise other perspectives and ask valid but perhaps difficult questions.

Rather than address the issues or answer the questions, the response is to say “I have a credential and you don’t, therefore you are wrong“. That is a logically invalid argument, but the Appeal to Authority form is effective at persuading many.

Bertrand Russell said a fact is true regardless of who says it. He had been awarded a Nobel prize (see what I did there?)

I would not imply this is a tactic used only by the Left; however, the Left does seem to favor rule by technocratic elite, so there is that.

“Term ‘breakthrough’ infection raises doubts about vaccines”

Public health is starting to notice they have fucked up all of their public communications:

In most cases, a “breakthrough” means a sudden, dramatic or important discovery. With Covid-19, however, the expression has been used to describe an infection that “broke” through the protective immunity of the vaccine — and this is sometimes misinterpreted as a sign the vaccine is not working.

Source: Dr. Sanjay Gupta: The term ‘breakthrough infection’ raises doubts about vaccines — but it shouldn’t – CNN

Terminology matters.

  • Calling people “non-essential” is unnecessarily cruel.
  • Referring to the public as “compliant” or “non-compliant” is asinine – that term came straight from prisons and was adopted by homeland security types to refer to the public (who they despise, apparently).
  • The term “lock down” comes from what is done in a prison, implying public health views the public as inmates to be detained.
  • Referring to “breakthrough” cases, without explaining how vaccines work to boost the immune system in preparation for fighting a disease, and that yes, you can indeed “test positive” without symptoms. Last year, “asymptomatic” was presented as a scary, strange thing – but most viruses have asymptomatic cases, often the majority of cases. Using “test positive” rather than “is infected, showing symptoms” spikes the numbers higher.
  • The term “elective” surgery means surgery that is not an immediate emergency needed urgently. It does not mean someone decided to have surgery because what ever – it means only there is some time leeway possible.

Public health communications is a disaster and remains a disaster.

Today on Twitter I saw a HUGE number of people expressing their  loss of trust in public health, science, and institutions. Professor Martin Kulldorff at the Harvard Medical Schools wonders how these institutions will ever restore trust.

I saw a HUGE number of people expressing anger, bitterness and that they have fallen into states of depression. They no longer care about anything, there is little that can bring them joy in life.  People are VERY ANGRY right now and public health has no plan to address this other aspect of public health.

Sydney Australia remains in lock down, basically forever

Daily case counts have been climbing for many weeks – the entire time they have been in lock down. The lock down has worked so well, it will be continued for at least another 4 weeks, and some say, until the end of 2021.

SYDNEY, July 28 (Reuters) – The Australian city of Sydney extended a lockdown by four weeks on Wednesday after an already protracted stay-at-home order failed to douse a COVID-19 outbreak, with the authorities warning of tougher policing to stamp out non-compliance.

Source: Sydney adds four weeks to lockdown as Australia COVID-19 cases spike | Reuters

In addition to all the usual lock down rules – don’t travel more than 2.5 km for your home, remain at home at all times, except one person from the home may leave to obtain food or medicine – authorities have told people not to talk to strangers or even look them in the eye (yes, really).

Even science has lost credibility

The pandemic has been devastating to the credibility and trust placed in public health and epidemiology.

That loss of trust extends to science itself.

In the UK, their SAGE Committee employed a subteam of psychologists skilled in behavior manipulation (notably based on fear) and propaganda as part of their Covid-19 response. A UK politician has said they should employ the same methods for climate change policy.

Here in the U.S., there has long been a major focus on fear – even news reports that “experts” felt we must exaggerate the fears.

Continue reading Even science has lost credibility

Experts I listen to

I previously published this list within another post. I am elevating this so that I can link directly to it, as needed, in the future.

Some experts I trust:

  • Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH Infectious diseases MD at UCSF
  • John Campbell, PhD retired nursing lecturer, and nurse practitioner
  • Michael Mina, MD, immunologist, epidemiologist, Harvard Public Health
  • Trevor Bedford, PhD, virus researcher, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center aka Fred Hutch
  • Florian Krammer, PhD, virologist, Professor at Mount Sinai med school
  • Tracy Høeg, MD, PhD, sports doctor and epidemiologist
  • Scott Gottlieb, MD, former FDA Commissioner
  • Vincent R. Racaniello, PhD, virologist and professor, Columbia University
  • Jennifer Nuzzo, DrPH, S.M., Johns Hopkins (her June 2, 2020 “protests more important than fighting a virus” posts were idiotic but she seems sensible before and after that)
  • There are likely many others but those are the ones I follow on social media.

I do not necessarily agree with what they say (but do most of the time) and if I disagree its probably because I have seen something they have not seen or I cannot reconcile the discrepancy. But I trust the above experts as working hard to do the best they can.

Experts I routinely ignore because they have been wrong – repeatedly – and seem focused on incorrect but scary fear porn and gaining celebrity status:

  • Michael Osterholm, PhD, Univ of Minnesota
  • Christopher Murray, MD, PhD, University of Washington, IHME (and anything out of IHME)
  • Eric Feigl-Ding, PhD, nutritionist
  • Neil Ferguson, PhD, Imperial College London (wake me when he learns how to write actual software)
  • I lean towards putting Anthony Fauci, MD on this list. After 16 months of doing everything asked of us, 15 days to flatten the curve is now 16 months, and nearly 600,000 are said to have died “of” Covid-19, which means there is little evidence all we did made any difference. In the winter he forecast a “surge upon surge” due to the holidays, which I have shown is not supported by the data (specifically in California). In March he predicted we could not remove restrictions until daily new cases are under 10,000 or things would get really bad; states removed restrictions anyway and cases continued dropping. He’s the public face of all that went wrong, his fault or not.

Those who are not trustworthy, however, have received the most publicity from the media – which biases the public’s opinion against all experts.

I have lost trust in epidemiology, public health and even science itself. And especially the use of models (and I’ve taught university courses in the design, implementation and use of models). The perpetrators of this nonsense are oblivious to the damage they have done to all institutions. I do not see how public health can restore trust and credibility within my life time – it’s that bad.

Read the whole thread

The researchers appear to lack basic understanding of research design and interpretation. Read the whole thread from this university professor.