The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Use comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Cuba’s Big Currency Mistake


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 18, 2021


  1. Gilad Atzmon has written “A Catastrophe Unveils Itself”, reporting on statistics out of Israel:

    The above study reveals that while in February 2021 (31/1-27/2) the unvaccinated dominated the COVID cases by a ratio of 20:1, six months later in June 2021 (6/6-3/7) it is actually the vaccinated who are prone to be infected by a ratio of 5:1. It is the vaccinated who happen to develop symptoms by a ratio of 5:1. It is the vaccinated who are more likely to be hospitalized and develop critical illness. If Israel was a ‘world experiment,’ as Benjamin Netanyahu presented it at one stage, this experiment is now turning into a disaster (at least for the vaccinated). In Israel, the vaccinated are becoming infected at a growing rate and as such are spreading the virus rather than stopping it. We also have a good reason to believe that the rest of the Western world will witness a similar pattern as it has followed the Israeli vaccine doctrine.

    Fortunately, the delta variant, while spreading faster than the original strain, is less deadly. However, I would attribute that to luck; and who’s to say that the delta variant couldn’t have been more deadly?

  2. A relative who has been recently diagnosed with prion disease got the J&J vaccine about 2 months, ago. My email to his neurologist:

    There is a brief, 12 minutes interview of MD/Ph.D/JD Richard Fleming, conducted in April, @
    “Expert Cardiologist Issues Dire Warning: Experimental Vaccines are Ineffective and Could Cause Mad Cow Disease”

    Fleming has stated that, based on animal models, vaccine recipients can expect the onset of both Alzheimer’s and/or prion diseases in about a year and a half.

    It’s not clear to me whether or not he is just talking about an mRNA vaccine, which X didn’t get, or not. At one point (2:30), he talks about “either 13 billion or 50 billion (spike proteins), depending on whether you’re talking about the mRNA or the DNA vaccines, even people that are healthy are now producing this increased inflammo-thrombotic response”

    Also, X’s vaccine wasn’t a year and a half, ago. It was more like 2 months, ago, and put him back in the hospital, I believe. However, in the unlikely event that X is just an outlier, perhaps because of multiple other conditions, the protocols that Fleming mentions might be therapeutic. (In any event, if Fleming is correct, you will be seeing other patients coming down with mysterious, early-onset cases of Alzheimer’s and prion diseases. So, I really hope you at least give a brief perusal of Fleming’s website)

    Fleming’s protocols for treating the vaccine-induced pathology are listed with other protocols @

    Specifically, #8:
    Vaccine Adverse Events & Shedding

    I am attaching this pdf to this email. Unfortunately, while some drugs are dirt-cheap, others are very expensive. I think the general principle of “do what we can”, applies.

    As to vaccines which cause proliferation of spike proteins, causing prion disease, I am attaching another email from Fleming’s website. YOU HAVE TO SCROLL DOWN TO PAGE 19 FOR THIS.

    It was downloaded from “6. Part 5 of the Materials Shown During Presentation”

  3. Trinity

    There’s a sad irony to the promotion of the space race competition between three wildly wealthy men, who gained their wealth by either cheating, removing competition, or both. As one headline I read this morning said: the point is to create the desire to go to space in the population.

    And along the same lines, a new paper on the crisis of social media. There is a link to the paper (no paywall) early in the article. We are way past the point where this should have been looked at.

    “Seventeen researchers who specialize in widely different fields, from climate science to philosophy, make the case that academics should treat the study of technology’s large-scale impact on society as a “crisis discipline.” A crisis discipline is a field in which scientists across different fields work quickly to address an urgent societal problem — like how conservation biology tries to protect endangered species or climate science research aims to stop global warming.”

  4. NR

    So I’ve written here before about the absolute gong show that is the “audit” of Maricopa County ballots in Arizona. In brief, Republicans in the state legislature hired a company to perform the “audit” that has no election experience and is headed by a man who previously tweeted pro-Trump election conspiracy theories. Well, it’s been three weeks now since the “audit” apparently finished, but apparently the company hired is now complaining that they don’t have enough information to complete the “audit.”

    The company is complaining that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors–which is controlled by Republicans, by the way–failed to cooperate despite the fact that they turned over every ballot, every voting machine, and every scrap of paper related to the election. Until they get every single thing on their unreasonable list, and every single thing they might demand after this, the “auditors” insist that they are not going to issue a report.

    However, Arizona’s county election officials have been going through the ballots in every county (not just Maricopa), and this is what they’ve found:

    After looking at more than 3 million ballots from the 2020 election, they discovered 182 cases that were unclear enough they were referred for further review. Four of those cases led to actual charges of voter fraud. None of them involve someone voting more than once–though several cases involved people who tried to vote more than once and were stopped. So in other words, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary for any election.

    Even if all 182 cases were a situation where a Trump vote was switched to Biden–and there is no evidence that happened in ANY of these cases–Biden still would have won Arizona by over 10,000 votes. Of the four voter fraud cases that were charged, two involved Democrats and two involved Republicans.

    So the lesson we can learn here is that despite what right-wingers claim, large-scale vote fraud doesn’t happen, and the system is very good at stopping even small-scale cheaters. People who tried to vote in multiple districts were stopped. People who tried to vote remotely as well as in-person were only able to vote once. People who tried to cast mail-in ballots for dead relatives were caught. Even cases that were unclear, such as voters who might potentially have voted in another state, were flagged and investigated.

    So in summary, while the partisan Republican “audit” is apparently still ongoing with no end in sight, what an actual audit of votes in Arizona shows us is that the things right-wingers claim happen all the time–false mail-in ballots and “votes from dead people”–are actually incredibly rare, easily detected, and the vast majority of them are stopped before they could have even a tiny effect on Election Day results.

  5. bruce wilder

    the lesson we can learn here is that despite what right-wingers claim, large-scale vote fraud doesn’t happen, and the system is very good at stopping even small-scale cheaters.

    Yes, the lesson you may be intended to learn by the counter-narrators of this farce, but not a lesson you ought to learn.

    “Voter fraud” per se would be a highly impractical way to swing an election. But, that just means the professionals are using other means, not least the propaganda coming from partisans generating this absurd controversy. The supposed risk of voter fraud rationalizes voter id laws that are effective as voter suppression — we know that I hope. But “trust the professionals” and “modern high-tech” touchscreens and mail-in ballots are opening the door to unverifiable systems. And then there is the process that made Biden the Democratic nominee — suppressing the news of Hunter Biden’s laptop or larding Sanders’ campaign with campaign professionals straight out of Pelosi’s camp not to mention the Iowa caucus tallying app.

    It is a thoroughly rotten system and if people do not know every detail, their suspicion and paranoia are justified — so naturally the manipulative propagandists pull on the strings of the suspicion until people are operating ineffectually in a dreamscape of pointless charge and countercharge. Rachel Maddow seems really smart to a lot of people and Tucker Carlson, sincere.

    Hand-marked paper ballots, counted by hand in public. Anything else is b.s. “trust us” crapola from whatever side of the aisle.

  6. Hugh

    Voter ID laws and vote fraud allegations are just racist excuses to keep black and brown citizens from voting and so keep the increasingly minority Republican party competitive.

    It is always entertaining to watch the usual people wheel out their usual obsessions to turn what is quintessentially a Republican party scandal into an indictment of the Democratic party.

    Naturally, this makes me into a Democratic operative even though I’ve been an independent all my life, and find very little democracy in the Democratic party or in America generally. What I do find different this time around is the Republicans’ wholehearted embrace of fascism, you know that -ism that isn’t supposed to exist this side of the Atlantic.

  7. Willy

    There’s a sad irony to the promotion of the space race competition between three wildly wealthy men, who gained their wealth by either cheating, removing competition, or both.

    Unless most people don’t know about it. What most people get to see is three wildly wealthy men outcompeting national agencies like NASA.

    I’d rather people with integrity outcompete the PTB in their total war against progressivism. So far, it seems all progressives can do is counter their attacks with facts.

  8. Ché Pasa

    I’d rather people with integrity outcompete the PTB in their total war against progressivism. So far, it seems all progressives can do is counter their attacks with facts.

    And sadly, it’s not working. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t more people who know or believe facts when they can find them. The problem is that it doesn’t matter.

    It’s a contest for power, and that contest takes place on an emotional, visceral level rather than rational level, and for all intents and purposes, it was lost decades ago. The Reagan Revolution, if you will, was the death knell for classical progressivism — something few remember anymore and nothing substantive has taken its place.

    The quest for fascism is all but inescapable now. As that fine old British shopkeeper said: “There is no alternative.”

  9. Hugh

    Trinity, I used to write on the reaction to modernism in the form of religious extremism around the world: Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist. They limit the kinds of questions that can be considered legitimate and give answers, if not solutions to them.

    I am reminded of the last time the Taliban were In power. A minister was asked about a quarter of the population needing international food aid to survive. He didn’t care. It wasn’t part of his world view. It wasn’t his problem even though he was the government.

    I used to think long, long ago that space was the one thing that was too big for a bunch of greedy rich people to get their mitts on. Ah, the days of innocence.

  10. Eric Anderson

    Damn people … there is such a thing as too much speech. The problem is a fractured cultural literacy. There’s really just no agreement on what’s valid anymore. There is no truth w/o a core cultural literacy.

    See here for starters:
    Hirsch is an interesting individual, highly influenced by Gramsci.

  11. Willy

    And sadly, it’s not working. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t more people who know or believe facts when they can find them. The problem is that it doesn’t matter.
    … The quest for fascism is all but inescapable now.

    Well, I see many players and many layers. I’d think it’d be useful to categorize them all to know who’s doing what, who’d be the easiest to peel away from that rotten onion, and who’s just as well ridiculed as an example to the others.

    One example of an outer layer which might be categorized are the recently coerced Trump Latinos. I don’t know all the techniques used to capture them, but assume that for every brainwashing there’s going to be a deprogramming, which seems to work best on emotional levels, like you say.

    One example of a layer close to the rotten core might be categorized as the religious cult clown zombies. The ones I know honestly believe that the left is demonically possessed and co-rules society with Satan and that Fox News is their prophet. Remember the Great Sharia Law Scare? Yeah, neither do they. To move them on a little more quickly to the next ridiculous Satanic Scare, I think that relentless mocking works. We can then point to them as examples of what happens if one resides in an inner layer of modern conservatism.

    What I call “legacy conservatism” seems a dying breed. Instead of watchdogging government overreach or debating the benefits of limited government, this categorization seems to mostly be laying low possibly in a drunken stupor trying to obliviate the cult clown zombie apocalypse which they helped unleash.

    At the very center of the rotten onion mass is of course, quite likely our ever-manipulative PTB, still addicted to their power and control.

    I’d think that all the different possible categorizations and deprogramming strategies they’d each require might take up too much bandwidth here. A topic for another time, perhaps? Or not.

  12. Eric Anderson

    It’s like this. The end of the fairness doctrine was the beginning of Murdoch’s assault on cultural literacy. There may be “two sides to every story,” but inevitably, one of them is the truth. The rise of Fox News and it’s various malign spin-offs kicked the very foundations of understanding out from underneath all of us.
    And for what? To enrich an Australian oligarch.

    It’s really not that complicated. Plain as the nose on your face if you care to look.

    Historians, if they still exist in another 100 years, are going to have a ball with that conclusion.

  13. Mark Pontin

    Eric Anderson: ‘There may be “two sides to every story,” but inevitably, one of them is the truth.’

    That’s a naive, absolutely unwarranted assumption (especially in modern America). And I am being polite.

  14. Eric Anderson

    Go on … explain yourself. I’m itching for a tangle, Mark.
    Bring on some post-modern relativist pap and see how it goes for you.

  15. bruce wilder

    Change of subject, anyone?

    What do we make of the surge of Delta cases in highly vaccinated countries?

    Will the public health establishment have any credibility left?

    I know we are supposed to treat the vaccine-hesitant as moronic Fox viewers (though Fox News is actually fairly vaccine-positive, not that we should check our facts while fact-checking their propaganda — one of us has to be telling the truth (and its us!) because Eric said so.

  16. Eric Anderson

    And do please excuse me, but wtf does “modern america” have to contribute to whether or not verifiable facts (you know, the those things that help us determine “truth” from opinion) exist?
    That “modern america” is so f’d up it can’t differentiate “truth” from Santa Claus is pretty much the entire point. I mean, wtf does “modern” or “ancient” anything have to do with an axiomatic concept?

    Think really hard before you respond lest you get made the fool.

  17. Eric Anderson

    Aww … Bruce is cheeky. How cute.

  18. Hugh

    If you are vaccinated, your risk of contracting covid is very low, and getting a case serious enough for hospitalization is a lot lower than that.

    There is no cure for stupid though. So even in the US where vaccines are readily available, covid is surging among unvaccinated adults 18-49.

  19. bruce wilder

    So how is it that COVID is surging in some (but hardly all) of the most vaccinated places?

    Something does not compute and claims of the efficacy of the vaccines are being walked backed as we speak.

    It is not stupid to be skeptical of the competence of elite authority. I chose to get vaccinated. I respect the choice not to. I doubt very much that rational calculation can morally justify vaccinating the youngest. But I can see tribal thinking on the “left” working itself into a fit of authoritarian dudgeon to rationalize campaigns to force the issue. The Media condescends and Facebook censors, but I rarely see any plainly say there is no charge — that the vaccine is offer for free is apparently a big secret.

    I see that Frank Luntz, the Republican PR Svengali advised the White House on vaccination and Biden’s people naturally decided to do the opposite.

    Of course, it is silly to claim the election was stolen, when it was obviously bought and paid for. Does that realization make any feel better about either Party or the likely fate of the country?

  20. Eric Anderson

    You just had to go and feed the troll, didn’t you Hugh?
    There’s so many fallacious thinking errors where does one even begin?
    Start here:

    Now, here’s Lambert’s comment over at NaCap which is spot on:
    “Note the last line: “The vaccine, while 95% effective, is not 100% effective.” Why the public health establishment cannot convey this simple, comprehensible, realistic message is beyond me. When Walensky burbles: “[T]he science demonstrates that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected,” people can see with their own eyes that what Walensky says is not true, because even if you assume that breakthrough cases are insignificant in percentage terms, this is an enormous country, and the absolute numbers can be quite large.”

    So, thinking error #1, you don’t understand statistics. As I’ve said before, give me 5 bullets in a 100 round chamber and I’ll play Russian roulette all. day. long. There will be breakthrough cases and with a large enough population that doesn’t understand stats there will be people who shit their pants when they look at the large number.

    Second, you worship at the alter of individuality in the name of “freedumb” when if individualist knuckleheads like you took one for the team we’d all, actually, be free of this corona crap.

    Third: “Of course, it is silly to claim the election was stolen, when it was obviously bought and paid for.”
    Objection your honor: Relevance? Scope?
    Does that little ping pong ball rattling around in your head move too fast for you to focus on one topic at a time?
    Breathe Bruce … breathe …. in and out … in and out.
    There you go. That’s better.

  21. NR

    Something does not compute and claims of the efficacy of the vaccines are being walked backed as we speak.

    Walked back by who, exactly? The statistics show that 99% of COVID deaths are unvaccinated people.

  22. bruce wilder

    As I’ve said before, give me 5 bullets in a 100 round chamber and I’ll play Russian roulette all. day. long.

    That would be a blessedly short day. You really do NOT understand statistics.

  23. Mark Pontin

    @ Bruce —

    Studies from Israel, the nation-state with the most fully-vaccinated population on the planet currently — and via the mRNA vaccines, too — may indicate only a 64 percent efficacy of prevention of delta variant cases among the vaccinated. Although relatively few of those cases seem to be serious hospitalizations resulting in fatalities , fortunately.

    That said, we don’t yet know the long-term effects of even apparently mild COVID19 infection. I was just looking at a paper from January that says parts of the bug can cross the blood-brain barrier (in mice studies; I haven’t seen any human studies saying that yet). It can also do antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), too.

    Quite the little Swiss Army knife of pathogens.

    I admit that I expected the vaccines, which target the spike protein that’s the mechanism by which the coronavirus invades our cells, to hold up better, based on the idea that if the spike protein mutated sufficiently to evade the vaccines it wasn’t going to be able to perform its task any longer.

    It looks like I may have been wrong, or at least too optimistic.

  24. Mark Pontin

    Eric Arnold: ‘Bring on some post-modern relativist pap and see how it goes for you.’

    No ‘ post-modern relativist pap’ required. Very simply, when Hitler faced off against Stalin, for instance, was one of them a ‘good guy’ on the side of truth? Of course not.

    It’s just us animals down here on planet Earth and not only are there often no ‘good guys,’ but it’s delusional, dangerous, and destructive to fool yourself into believing there are.

    As for the ‘modern America’ part specifically, I used to work as a reporter and occasionally my work led me to encounter Washington types more directly than you probably have: I’ve got a letter from Joe Lieberman praising a piece I wrote in my files; I’ve had breakfast one-on-one with Newt Gingrich; I’ve sat at senate hearings a few yards away from Hillary Clinton, Lindsay Graham, and such, and observed them; and blah, blah, blah.

    And I can tell you almost all of them are pure scum — human vermin — whatever their party affiliation. They wouldn’t be where they are if they weren’t. No ‘post-modern relativist pap’ involved.


  25. I used to think Israel was the most vaccinated country, but they’re not. See

    Their “fully vaccinated” rate is 60.4%, consisted with Gilad Atzmon’s article.

    They were, however, one of the earliest countries to start vaccinating, with just a few starting, earlier.

  26. Bridget

    And for what? To enrich an Australian oligarch.

    Rupert Murdoch is a Jewish Zionist oligarch first and foremost. His mother’s name was Greene and he was raised Jewish orthodox, though this pertinent fact is never mentioned in most of his biographical sketches. Christopher Bollyn has done good work uncovering Murdoch’s shady history.

    Murdoch has close ties to Larry Silverstein, Frank Lowy, and Lewis Eisenberg, three of the many Jewish Zionists who should be investigated for their prominent role in 9/11.

  27. Bridget

    And I can tell you almost all of them are pure scum — human vermin — whatever their party affiliation.

    Scum and vermin. Sure. And what words do we use to describe their paymasters, who remain in the shadows pulling strings?

    There are no words.

  28. someofparts

    Eric Anderson, Dunning-Kruger is calling –

  29. Since Israel’s vaccination rate is 60%, I multiplied their vaccinated 6/6-7/3 figures by 2/3, to get a more illuminating comparison with the unvaccinated figures.

    The results are:

    —– Critical Hospitalized Symptomatic
    unvax 6 14 257
    vax 7 15 342

    If similar statistics applied to the US, then this would not be consistent with claims by Tony Fauci – a known liar – that “More than 99% of recent deaths were among the unvaccinated”

    Some obvious problems with my statement:
    * these are small numbers
    * Israel is not the US
    * this is a very cursory look

    Never the less, I feel confident that Fauci is lying through his teeth. I welcome anybody to produce evidence that he told the truth.

    Having said that, the tweet by Dr. Natalia Solenkova, that “personal observation” in one hospital is that 85%-90% of covid hospitalization are of unvaccinated, seems more plausible. However, “personal observation”, and from only 1 hospital, does not reliable statistical sampling make.

  30. Hugh

    I am not sure why we should expect herd immunity effects to kick in when we’re not even sure where the vaccination levels for those effects are.

    If you are vaccinated, your risk of getting covid or a bad covid case is very low, for now. But thanks to stupid, selfish, unvaccinated people a new variant could come from that unvaccinated population to which you have no immunity.

    Eric has it exactly right about “freedumb.” These are people who rail against covid restrictions but aren’t willing to do even something as simple and safe as a vaccination to keep all of us safe. They are the very definition of bad citizens. It’s all and always about their rights and nothing ever about their responsibilities.

  31. Eric Anderson

    Mark Pilate:
    Now that, is naive, and a gross distortion of the argument. If we get fine grained on your Hilter/Stalin analogy it’s clear you built a straw man. We aren’t debating here whether or not they were good people. In your example, the two sides of the story are: Hitler: “I have a right to come take your country over b/c we need more lebensraum.”
    Stalin: Piss off, no you don’t.
    Stalin was right. Verifiable facts: 1) Hitler invaded and, 2) Stalin defended — we could further break down their individual stories claiming authority, but those are different arguments that are subject to different verifiable facts.

    Your politician example (and feeble attempt to analogize being a scribe that rubs shoulders with people in power as intelligence) is weak sauce as well. I mean, what’s your argument even? That evil people exist and tend to spin verifiable facts to their advantage?
    But beneath that spin (story) exist facts that allow the person saying “you’re an evil MF’r” to demonstrate why that individual is an evil MF’r who has a right to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

    Cute arguments. But they fail to stand up to scrutiny. Good lord, you just basically took the foundation of rationality and threw it out the window b/c “bad people” exist.
    Do better.


  32. Eric Anderson

    Bruce … make an argument. Don’t just post crap you think you understand, but don’t actually. I want to hear it in your own words.

    That’s nice. But without an argument attached it’s meaningless. I thought we were all taught to show our work in primary school. Apparently that lesson escaped some.
    And btw … you most likely learned about the DKE from me.
    Irony wept …

    Come on folks … I expect better around here.
    Ian buys you books, and buys you books, and all you do is read the cover.

  33. Eric Anderson

    Here we go:
    I’ll let the commentariat read between the lines.
    Truth exists. Defense of the truth matters.

  34. Astrid


    My read on Mark Pontin’s point is choosing between Hitler’s system and Stalin’s system is chosing between two dark shades of gray on offer. Its not Hitler breaking their pact, it’s showing two alternative totalitarian systems (but what modern system isn’t totalitarian?).

    Both are nasty, but nasty in different ways. I know Jews who survive because they were in USSR held territory, they didn’t like Stalin but it’s a clear choice for them. Many European nationalists (including the Victims of Communism foundation which employs Adrian Zenz) have a different opinion. It’s better to recognize that although there both pretty nasty choices, people can rationally want one or the other, and that they are there only choices we have to pick from.

    I think something similar is happening here. We’re debating the false choice within the US system, Republicans v. Democrats, as though there’s a substantive difference between the two. There isn’t one. It’s pro-wrestling fakery of the most dispiriting, unfun, unpleasant sort. Things that matter aren’t on the table. Wrongdoings happening in plain sight are ignored and brushed off. Both side make sure their paymasters are allowed to loot uninterrupted while providing mindbendingly stupid spectacles of Russia-gate and QANON.

    There IS a genuine different option on offer. It comes from countries that still, to some extent, resist the Western Neoliberal Borg. They may be extremely flawed, they may have done horrendous acts in the past and may do so in the future. But they offer genuine alternatives to the bad that we’re told is inevitable. I’m personally inclined to cheer them in and give them a chance, because the devil I know is so bad and because the neoliberal regime had gone out of its way to demonize them beyond their actual crimes. Maybe it can break through to something a little better.

    in debating US v. Countries that will resist US to some extent. The latter is not all white hat, far from it. But the US lies and mudslinging against those regimes make me think there’s something genuinely there.

  35. Thomas B Golladay

    NR is lying as usual:

    @2:58:20 mark.

    The Audit Finding are indisputable and not debatable. More than enough fraud was found to invalidate the election. What is needed is admin passwords to see the source code which were subpoena but not delivered by Maricopa Board of Supervisors.

    Also Voter ID is not racist. Delaware, a deep blue state requires it. Also you can’t drive without an ID or receive services without an ID. Getting an ID is simple enough, go to the local Secretary of State and get one.

    Biden stole the election, no ands, ifs, or buts. Those who aided him in it are damned along with the useful fools who abetted it.

  36. Astrid

    Anytime someone thinks they are especially privileged to the *Truth*, there’s a very high likelihood that they’re suffering Dunning Kruger. They stop listening and continuously reevaluating their positions because they *know*.

    For example, I’m constantly accused of being a Chinese troll because I think I identified enough holes in the Uighur genocide story that I think cui bono says it’s ginned up by the US deep state for nefarious purposes, along pathways that I well recognize. However, I am open to people accusing me of being a troll of finding smoking gun evidence that I’m wrong and the story is true in some way. I am totally open to that discussion and that evidence but so far what I have seen is pathetic and nonsensical, arguments based on authority with the authority coming from the same echo chamber that produced so many previous big lies.

    So far, nobody here has come forward to offer me that smoking gun evidence. Some people provided evidence to the contrary on evident good faith and got shouted down as also bring Chinese troll. Sure a lot of certainty that I’m the Chinese troll even though I have a long track record of writing about things completely unrelated to China and what I wrote about China isn’t even that favorable or rose tinted.

    I suppose it might be something more sinister than just good ole Dunning Kruger at work, but I’m willing to go with the more innocent interpretation because I see so much of it in my “real life” from people who “trust science”.

  37. nihil obstet

    Our postmodern morality has lost the truth. Back before the Enlightenment, Catholics killed Protestants and Protestants killed Catholics. It’s nice now to know that one of them had the truth. Of course, they were still doing it in Northern Ireland until 20 or so years ago. Again, nice to know that one of the sides have the truth.

  38. Z

    The posters here who are railing against the irresponsibility and selfishness of the folks who haven’t gotten any COVID vaccinations are making one huge, unverifiable assumption: that the vaccines would effectively eradicate the virus if only everyone would get them. If that’s a “truth” to you, then I think you ought to take a deep breath, let your emotions settle, and take a fresh look at the situation.

    There isn’t even a year of data out on these vaccines, which were rushed to market by people who had a huge financial incentive to do so and who I’d imagine have been given legal and civil immunity by the government if there are negative side effects, and very little information on the effectiveness of them on the variants on anything beyond the very short-term and yet you zealots are essentially demonizing those of us who haven’t dove head first into the vaccination pool.

    I have to say that it feels like some of these posters are selfishly venting a lot of their frustrations concerning the inconveniences that COVID have bestowed upon them, and very possibly particularly on the negative effects that it has had on them financially and professionally, on to us who at least in part have very rational reasons to be wary of the vaccine due to the aforementioned factors about the unknowns surrounding it as well as very good cause to question the credibility of the authorities that are browbeating us to take them.


  39. Z

    The social neediness of our species makes us vulnerable to weighting the volume of an argument over its content and then getting emotionally swept up into belief.

    Our rulers are very aware of that weakness in us.


  40. Willy

    Just because you think somebody’s a good guy, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. It seems to me it’d be a good thing to know, whether somebody’s out to get you or not.

  41. anon y'mouse

    comment thread quickly devolving to Ad Homsville c/o one particular poster skirting the borderline of true debate.

    maybe Ian should have that policy where you have to pay to make comments.
    that would naturally count me out, and some who pay surely do so to gloriously shitpost without interference.

  42. bruce wilder

    I am a big fan of truth. Che Pasa wrote a good, philosophical comment recently on another thread that made me think about why power prefers lies so consistently. Rather those who seek power are prone to disregarding truth and believing their own bullshit. The Walter Kirn essay Eric links to was excellent. I wish I was a good enough writer to write something like that.

    Unlike Eric, I am not so sure “truth exists”. That points to one of the advantages of bull excretions: the confidence that comes with the absence of doubt and the need to doubt and to qualify every assertion to fit each to the crooked, fuzzy outlines of what is known and unknown. Bull gets to strip all that away, and knows exactly what it “all” means and can dwell in endless speculative counterfactuals. Factual truth is inconvenient that way: its road is frequently unpaved and may not be finished all the way to the desired destination. Truth is often waiting for the next day’s work to creep closer to an answer, an answer that surprisingly may be . . . “no, wrong again.”

    I have done a bit of real research and quite a lot of “research” (looking things up, trying to digest and regurgitate other people’s canned arguments, learning to make new arguments to plan, a plan designed by other minds). Real research can be almost unbelievably costly to conduct, and attempts to do it are often badly and cleverly done to economize, with a lot of bull to justify the cleverness.

    Philosophically, “on the nature of truth”, I am a pragmatist. (Pragmaticist for the pedants who scruple at vulgar, oversimplified versions of “the truth is what works”.) Ironically, in light of what I wrote above, pragmatism holds that science (as a way of thinking combined with the discovery of facts) is “proven” by technology, which implies that truth is power. Not political power apparently.

    A wise fellow taught me that people like the opinions they have.

  43. bruce wilder

    Anecdatum: I had a conversation the other day with a highly successful Hollywood scriptwriter — lots of tv, netflix, amazon you have seen or heard about — and he said he and his s.o. routinely watch news together, but he had rebelled against the choice of Rachel Maddow, preferred by the s.o., in favor of Brian Williams. How do you know who and what to believe?, he asked plaintively.

    He also told a story about how identity politics considerations had affected a project where he was advising the creator-producer on hiring writers and supervising development. The politics of trans and cultural appropriation weighed heavily in the case.

  44. Hugh

    The anti-vaxxers demand absolute certainty. Vaccines don’t get to be good or very good. They have to be perfect and the anti-vaxxers need to know this in advance. Rule 1 for them is set an impossible standard, a standard which if applied to the rest of medicine would do away with medicine. But that’s the trick, isn’t it? Be as irresponsible as you want, throw in some BS justification for that, and then sound hurt when people don’t buy your BS.

    Viruses are a numbers game, a probabilities game. If viruses replicate, they can mutate. The more you allow them to spread, the more you’re giving them a chance to mutate into something worse. But there are people who think they have an absolute right to kill their neighbors and put them at risk, because freedumb.

  45. Astrid

    I believe truth is culturally intermediated. There is what a thing is independent of our minds, but we humans can only digest the thing through our minds. So what is truth is intermediates through all of a person’s cultural and experiential baggage, baggage that exists like a water to a fish. We don’t notice it but our personhood is impossible without it.

    Without that baggage, we wouldn’t even be able to describe what’s happening. But with the baggage, we usually fall into the fallacy of believing our version of reality is the only possible one. The Piraha can navigate their environment without numbers. Just imagine what truth and reality mean to them!

    But I think if we can outline a foundation of human assumption, then a “truth” is possible. But then we need to be very careful about the ground rules for definition and how “truth” gets to us.

  46. bruce wilder

    People get to question authority. They should question authority. And, right now, when authority isn’t looking so good, the guy who loves to warn of a coming fascism, is promoting fascism. Go figure.

  47. bruce wilder

    Astrid, a social species has to find ways to cooperate and a social species that coordinates thru storytelling has the problem that its important coordinating “truths” held in common are necessarily fictions.

    Science, a set of cooperative efforts to find and share knowledge, hit upon the concept of objective fact, developed from methods of measurement. Agree on the method, agree on the measurement, agree on the fact, leave the meaning to marketing.

    In political economy, the meaning of the coordinating fictions is up front and it is not clear if there even is room for fact or measure, though people try if only as part of spreading the manure.

  48. Z


    You accuse the “anti-vaxxers” of absolutism in regards to the proof they’re requiring to get the COVID vaccinations when there isn’t enough data to make an evaluation to get the COVID vaccines based on probabilities in regards to efficacy or potential side-effects even in the medium term, especially in regards to the variants. I guess that’s part of the justifications you deem as bs. Then you implicitly admit to the validity of those concerns by stating that the vaccines might not work against future variants.

    I also understand that there is a time element in your argument as well and an assumption that the future variants will be more dangerous than the current ones.

    I do not consider myself an anti-vaxxer. I have taken vaccines in the past that have been proven to be effective to a high degree and have no dangerous side effects. Now of course there is an assumption embodied in that as well that the vaccine that I’m taking is identical to those that the data comes from and I can’t peer into the vaccine vial to verify that.

    I may yet get the COVID vaccine. I want to see how it holds up against the variants though and to see if any negative side effects come to those that got jabbed already. You may look at this as selfish and irresponsible. Under my circumstances I don’t.

    I also have a suspicion that this virus is a man-made, purposely deployed human being killing machine, but my other concerns, which I’d imagine most would consider more rational, are sufficient to hold off on getting the vaccine for now.


  49. <blockquote.The anti-vaxxers demand absolute certainty. Vaccines don’t get to be good or very good. They have to be perfect and the anti-vaxxers need to know this in advance.

    Well, isn’t this statement just precious? It’s no doubt inspired by the Greta Thunberg Philosophical School of Realism and Rationality.

    A true gem.

    Even if the dire scenarios warned of by Richard Fleming and his ilk don’t materialize, to any significant extent, the data referred to in these comments will doubtless find it’s way into the public consciousness. (unless our masters unleash some sort of distracting armaggedon on us; a suitcase nuke going off in a single major city would certainly dominate the public discourse for quite a while, ya know? This wouldn’t qualify as armageddon; but given the media’s demonstrated ability to hype a respiratory disease with a .15% IFR, you don’t need a global armaggedon; just a single local one, with media amplification)

    The threadreaderapp thread mentioned by bruce wilder was referenced by none other than Robert W Malone, MD. Malone, with the comment “this is worrying me quite a bit”. Malone help create mRNA vaccines technology. He calls himself “the inventor of mRNA vaccines (and DNA vaccines)”

    NOT, I repeat, NOT, your typical “anti-vaxxer”.

    Hopefully, we will have Malone’s insightful and balanced commentary available for years to come. We may not, if a comment Malone (@WRMaloneMD) tweeted 6 hours ago bears bitter fruit:

    “So, I hope that this is hyperbole and an over-reaction, but last night an experienced journalist told me that I need to get security because I was at risk of being assassinated. I do not know how to even begin to think about this. I am just a middle class person. Security??!!??”

  50. Mary Bennett

    “Two sides to every story” is it? Some folks need to watch Rashomon, and or the short story on which the movie was based.

    When it comes to things like international politics, wars and such, I generally find it useful to assume that both sides are lying. Consider the Cold War, for example, in which it is pretty clear by now that both sides were lying about any number of things.

    For a more recent example, the confirmation hearings showed both sides lying. The Democrats were lying about “They’re coming for your healthcare..” Republican officeholders like those pharmaceutical company contributions just as much as do Democrats . Republicans were lying when they insisted that their nominee–an attractive, nice lady–was in any way qualified for the Supreme Court.

  51. Hugh

    Virology, immunology, and science undercut bruce so they just get thrown out the door.

    Trumpers and fascists, but I repeat myself, do exactly the same thing. If it undercuts them, it’s Fake. Covid is a virus that has already killed more than 600,000 Americans. You might think the seriousness of that might reduce the BS in our discussion but it doesn’t stop bruce or the Trumpers for a second.

  52. Chipper

    Bruce Wilder: “Che Pasa wrote a good, philosophical comment recently on another thread that made me think about why power prefers lies so consistently.”

    Anyone have a link to this? I missed it.

  53. Willy

    think about why power prefers lies so consistently.
    What’s to think about? Power plays to win. Sun Tzu. Therefore power players do whatever it takes, playing by the rules, pretending to play by the rules, disregarding the rules… whatever it takes. Power knows that the one with the most weapons wins.

    Rather those who seek power are prone to disregarding truth and believing their own bullshit.
    Not always. Leading oneself to believe in one’s own bullshit requires a modicum of integrity. That’s what mental defense mechanisms are for, people who want to be seen as good and see themselves as good, but prefer to remain oblivious to their own darker impulses. And then there’s the common grifter who knows damn well that they’re full of shit.

    I am not so sure “truth exists”
    Even if complex solutions to difficult problems create even more unforeseen problems, truth always exists, whether you can grasp all the variables or not.

    A wise fellow taught me that people like the opinions they have.
    You needed to be taught that? I’ll add one more. Every time somebody has preferred to explain something to me in bafflegab speak, subsequent events proved that they were actually up to no good. Or insecure. Hint: it’s a power play.

  54. Eric Anderson

    Wow .. a lot of confused voices in this thread. So, I’m going to take another tack.

    Mary Bennett, observe:
    “All mammals are animals. All elephants are mammals. Therefore, all elephants are animals.” Syllogism. We can verify the two facts that lead to the logical “truth” leap that “all elephants are animals.”

    Now, I do not care if 25 different lying politicians are telling me that elephants are minerals. What people do with the truth does not mean the truth does not exist. So yeah, politicians with different motives for spinning the truth can tell all the stories they want about the elephants. But, the fact exists that 25 politicians are lying and the truth is that elephants are animals.

    Holy guacamole. This country is so screwed if this is what passes for intelligent commentary anymore. I mean, Rashomon makes your point??? That is a confirmed micro effect that only applies to small subsets of people. That’s why we have these things called, you know, juries.

    I suspect this type of fallacious thinking occurs because it allows people to more readily strike a victim pose and rationalize their inaction in the face of obvious gaslighting.

    This why the best lack all conviction … it’s exhausting. Easier just let people be dumb.

  55. Eric Anderson

    And furthermore, what he heck do juries do? They sort through “verifiable facts,” debate them at length given their differing perspectives, and arrive at the closet approximation of the truth that they can.

    Rashomon … good lord.

  56. Eric Anderson

    Missed that comment Willy … thanks for a voice of reason.

  57. NR

    I’m still waiting to find out who is supposedly “walking back” claims about vaccine effectiveness when we have data like this that shows their efficacy.

  58. nihil obstet

    Eric has explained it all with his formulation: “the closet approximation of the truth”. (Is there such a thing as a Freudian typo?)

    Most dishonesty is the attempt to win advantage over others. However, much of it is a selection of different criteria or different emphases. Strictly binary thinking keeps us from dealing with each other as we should.

  59. Astrid


    European Christians treated fish as a non-animal for centuries to get around their fasting rules. The Earth centric view of the universe worked for many centuries. Alchemy and astrology were preeminent sciences until they were replaced by other studies. “Truth” evolves with knowledge and in symbiosis with its respective culture. As long as it’s not so out of whack as to put that culture at a great disadvantage compared to neighboring cultures, “defective” “truths” can persist for a very long time.

    For Covid vaccinations, there are so many known holes and unknowns in the dataset that to me, that anyone who claim vaccinations are an end all be all is, well, whatever the hell Hugh is.

  60. Eric Anderson

    Astrid —
    Same thinking error as repeated above.
    Point: How exactly were those persistent beliefs overcome?
    Because a small subset of people had the conviction to stand their ground and argue for truth in the face of overwhelming ignorance.

    Funny, it’s still happening right here. Right now. And you’re not he wrong side of the debate. You all can dislike me. I really give no craps. What other people think of me is none of my business. But please, don’t let me being a condescending jerk make you dumb.

    As to covid: tell me with a straight face that if everyone were vaccinated in this country we wouldn’t have achieved herd-immunity and this problem would largely be behind us? Sure, there might be some localized hot spots, like when the AV’rs gain enough steam in a community to influence a wide enough section of society to forego their measles vaccinations. But, that would be it.

    Fear is the mind killer. And unfortunately, when spread wide enough, it’s also a community killer.

    Why. Is This. So. Hard. For. You. People. To. Understand?

  61. Eric Anderson


    Much greater minds than mine (yes, I can be humble in the face of those that deserve my respect — there’s only a few around here beside Ian though) have grappled with this issue.

    Don’t believe me, fine. How about all these folks — many of whom I’ve read and grappled with the concepts:

    Perhaps, that’s why I immediately jumped Mark on the post-modern relativist pap. Because honestly, that is the only philosophical base that has put a dent in the philosophy of truth. If you’re not arguing from there, you’re not arguing. You’re just spouting nonsense. Personally, I tend toward Chomsky’s view vs. Foucault. And you nit wits think you know something — amazing.

    Stupid Americans … think you have a thought on something and just blah blah blah babble your thoughts with zero insight, reflection, or work to see whose shoulders you’re standing on.

    It’s embarrassing.

  62. Astrid


    I don’t dislike you, I don’t think many of the others debating you dislike you either. Rather, I just don’t think that “truth” is a platonic ideal “there there” that can be disassociated from human perception. Plato thinks there’s an ideal chair, for goodness sake!

    I don’t think my demurral has much to do with post modernist gobblygock. I just think one needs to be very careful with asserting truth and particularly privileged relationship with truth, especially when straying outside of one’s immediate millieu.

  63. Hvd

    Juries as determiners of truth. You’ve got to be kidding. It is an accepted fiction that allows us to sleep after we have decided to punish or reward one of the parties to a dispute.

    At any rate there is little doubt that the truth about this or that exists. Whether one side or the other in a discussion about this or that actually has access to that truth is an entirely different matter and trying to determine the answer to that meta question is ultimately the issue. In some cases neither party has access to the truth. In some cases both parties have access to some but not all of the truth. Sometimes one of the parties actually knows the truth but is lying because the truth hurts their case, etc.

    I always thought that the point of argument is not to bludgeon the other guy into your position but to get a better fix on the truth through the interchange of approximations. You know, learning from the conversation.

  64. Z

    As to covid: tell me with a straight face that if everyone were vaccinated in this country we wouldn’t have achieved herd-immunity and this problem would largely be behind us?

    Is that another one of your “truths”, Eric? Because no matter how hard you pound the table, that sounds more like a belief than a truth to me.


  65. Willy

    Strictly binary thinking keeps us from dealing with each other as we should.

    True. Just because the success average for the vaccinated is much better than the success average for the unvaccinated, doesn’t mean that covid isn’t still out to get you. And then there’s that bit where covid wants to mutate and we’ll possibly need boosters, which hopefully won’t be yet another cash cow for big pharma.

    Plus Elon Musk is our savior.

  66. Astrid


    None of the Covid vaccines has proven to have strong sterilizing immunity so far. It appears that their protectiveness may start to wear off in as little as 6 months. They don’t appear to be nearly as protective against variants. Taken together, I don’t see why even 100% vaccination in one country would necessarily achieve herd immunity, especially once R0 value increases with recent variants.

    This, taken with the lack of protection for anyone unfortunate enough to suffer from a severe vaccine side effect or simply can’t afford to feel sick for a week or longer (at seems at least half of my coworkers took at least one sick day after vaccination and more reported feeling sick or tired after their shots), I think not taking a vaccine can be a reasonable choice, especially for those with autoimmune issues or those who can afford to continue self isolation to wait this out. I probably wouldn’t have gotten vaccinated if my husband and parents didn’t do so and announce their intent to resume normalish life.

    I would say that the hysteria against masking is a whole other thing, but Fauci muddied the water in that one. I also suspect that the deep state was involved in stirring the anti mask sentiments since it would represent a challenge to their surveillance capabilities. I’m planning to wear N95 indoors and not dining indoors for the foreseeable future, despite getting my two shots in.

    It’s entirely possible that the vaccinated carriers will contribute more to Covid variant development and spread than the unvaccinated.

  67. Z

    I would say that the hysteria against masking is a whole other thing

    That’s where I draw my line at: I mask indoors when in public and still would even if I was vaccinated. I’m surprised at how many people have already tossed that considerate, common sense caution aside. I also haven’t dined in restaurants for well over a year and don’t have any near-term plans to.


  68. Jason

    Using absolute risk ratio, the pfizer vaccine prevented 1.9% more COVID than the placebo in the trials. The 95% number they use is the relative risk ratio. They use the better-sounding number for marketing purposes. IM Doc explained this yesterday at Naked Capitalism:

  69. NR

    The right-wing harping on absolute risk reduction has been debunked many times. The simple answer is that absolute risk reduction is highly sensitive to time, and the vaccine trials took place over a relatively short time period. In order for absolute risks (and absolute risk reductions) to be a meaningful statistic, you need a meaningful time horizon, such as 5-year survival rates in cancer treatments for example. A 2-month risk assessment doesn’t mean anything when we are living with the virus constantly.

    Or to borrow someone else’s explanation:

    The way to understand the difference between absolute vs relative risk reduction is this:

    1) Relative risk reduction is approximately a constant property of the vaccine itself. Whatever the risk is of getting COVID, being vaccinated reduces it by some factor.

    2) Absolute risk reduction is a fact that is a historical accident of the time and place in which the trial was run. Whatever prevalence there was, and behavior that obtained during the trial, that sets the absolute risk of infection among the control group, and with a large enough and randomized group, the same risk of exposure will obtain in the vaccinated group, which will be reduced by the relative risk reduction to some other value.

    So the question is really this: Do we care about a property of the vaccine, or of the accidental facts of the time period when the trial was run?

    Relative risk is the main and most important fact about the vaccines.

  70. Astrid

    Absolute risk reduction over 2 months is a relevant consideration if a vaccine sequence turn out to only be good protection for about 6 months. Particularly if there is a non-zero and not clearly understood chance of adverse reactions that must be bore by the individual vaccine recipient.

    And is there any study out on what happens to people who receive more than 2 doses or mix and match doses of vaccines?

  71. Eric Anderson

    “None of the Covid vaccines has proven to have strong sterilizing immunity so far. ”

    Show me any vaccine that has and then proceed with your argument.
    Are you not aware of the huge subset of people that get the flu every year after vaccination?
    What gives? Why the hypocrisy?

  72. NR

    Absolute risk reduction over 2 months is a relevant consideration if a vaccine sequence turn out to only be good protection for about 6 months.

    No, it’s not. It has nothing to do with how long the vaccine lasts. The relevant consideration is how likely exposure is.

    Absolute risk does matter in some cases. For example, if we had a shot that was 90% effective at preventing a certain disease, we wouldn’t want to give it to everyone if that disease only affected 10 people in the whole world. But of course, COVID is not a rare disease. If the vaccine prevents 95% of infections, then that’s 95% of however many occur, which is a more relevant number than comparing to how many happened to occur in the control group in some particular study.

  73. Eric Anderson

    And btw … I can tell by the responses none of you responding read the links I posted.
    Buy you books, and buy you books, but all you do is read the cover because you’d rather be right in your own heads than actually do the work.

    Haven’t done too much commenting around here lately and I guess I had to be reminded again why. Sorry Ian, better things to do with my time. I’ll keep reading of course, but I don’t think I’ll be wading into the comment swamp anymore. It’s toxic.

    I’m out.

  74. Jason

    Everyone please try to respond to Eric appropriately. He’s trying to help us. He may even save us from ourselves.

    Psychopath much?

  75. Synoptocon

    One of the more useful cognitive approaches when trying to deal with potentially ambiguous data (belief vs. truth) is to explicitly and copiously predict as a means of engaging in the hypothetical. Predicting A is true, what correlating phenomena would we expect to exist and what would we expect to have risen above our detection threshold given the instrumentation available? If B, same, same. (ref. Bob Jervis)

    Seems to me the best indicator of what things would be like with high fraction vaccination is whatever’s happening cognate settings. Don’t know what that looks like in the excitable states, but up here we’ve largely staunched that bleeding wound – and that’s with some surprising levels of hesitancy among staff who are still circulating in the community.

  76. Jason

    A “meaningful time horizon” is pertinent.

  77. Synoptocon

    IM Doc’s own framing of the data indicates that it requires 52.63 immunizations to protect one person from getting COVID. Put another way, that means it takes 52.63 immunizations to protect one person from something with a case fatality rate (in my country) of 1.9%. Sounds like a good tradeoff to me.

    (For the record, I agree that absolute risk reduction is a BS approach – but even it says the calculus works.)

  78. Jason

    I agree that absolute risk reduction is a BS approach

    Hmmm. Absolute absolute risk reduction is illogical. Absolute relative risk reduction is illogical.

    Oh gee, it doesn’t fall into a neat little package. The definitive statements I make on blogs are beginning to interfere with my own sense of integrity . What is my ego-identity to do?

    I’m beginning to feel like Eric Anderson. God help me.

  79. Well, in Israel, ignoring the fact that the first 2 two of the following statements is not statistically significant, and that we are conflating the data for the original covid strain (or strains) with the data for delta variant

    you are MORE likely to have a critical covid case if you are vaccinated
    you are MORE likely to be hospitalized if you are vaccinated
    you are MUCH MORE likely to be symptomatic if you are vaccinated
    you are MUCH MORE likely to be infected if you are vaccinated

    I have to wonder if talking about risk reduction even makes any sense. At all.

    Somebody needs to go through the data, and do a more nuanced breakdown than what is presented on @holmenkollin ‘s twitter feed. I generally don’t care about “cases” (no. of infections, as per test), however, I did find another @holmenkollin tweet funny, regarding the distinction between test results and disease:

    Covid realists:

    „These lab ‚cases‘ don’t equal disease. Let‘s just look at hospitals & deaths“

    Coronists: NO! Every CASE is one too many!

    „erm..cases are surging correlated to vaccine“


    „ok as we said. Can we please..“

    Coronists: NO!! It‘s killing people!

  80. Z

    Professor Anderson,

    I’m sorry if I injected toxicity into your classroom this week and disappointed you by not doing the homework you assigned me.

    l promise to come to class better prepared and with an improved attitude next week for your lecture on “The Truth About Critical Race Theory”.

    Your devoted student,

  81. Astrid

    I’m just confused that anyone in 2021 still thinks Platonic truth is the hill to die on.

    If the vaccine’s ability to act as a firebreak on transmission is uncertain, then we are indeed down to absolute risk reduction within the period of efficacy, when calculating the social and individual utility of the vaccines. The fatality rate was (seems like the new variants are sickening more young people) much lower amongst younger people, who are also less likely to get vaccinated. For them, the chance of Covid death seems significantly lower than 4 in 10,000 calculated by the average absolute risk. Throw in uncertainty about actual effectiveness, unknown long term side effects, and known adverse short term side effects, and I think it’s pretty reasonable for people to refuse vaccination at this point in time, particularly if they can mitigate Covid risks with masks, supplements, and social distancing.

  82. Willy

    Covid-19 is bad. You don’t want to get it.

    Big pharma is not to be trusted.

    American government is dysfunctional with most government officials being corrupt having been bought by corporate interests.

    Dividing any entities which might unify to fight against big pharma + corrupt government is exactly their plan. Keeping the little people squabbling amongst themselves with no resolution towards any truth works well to prevent them from coalescing into significant oppositions to the corporate/government hegemony.

  83. Plague Species

    I think it’s pretty reasonable for people to refuse vaccination at this point in time, particularly if they can mitigate Covid risks with masks, supplements, and social distancing.

    Problem is, those refusing the vaccines by and large refuse to properly mask and social distance. I’m not sure what you mean by supplements. If supplements is what I think it is, there is every bit as much Big Supplement as there is Big Pharma. Both are burgeoning industries and it just so happens Big Supplement uses Big Pharma as its foil to sell its snake oil and it is snake oil.

    As Harvard Health’s Patrick J. Skerrett notes, according to the terms of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, supplements with established ingredients (i.e. those that had been sold in the U.S. before ‘94) can be marketed without any evidence that they are effective or safe. “Compare this hands-off approach with the strict rules and regulations for drugs,” Skerrett writes. “No drug can be sold until the FDA has proof clear proof that it is safe and effective. And every FDA-approved drug must be made to strict specifications.”

    One can imagine that some pharmaceutical drug makers might fume over this situation. After all, while they take on the serious and costly work of running intensive drug trials and conducting post-market surveillance, dietary supplement makers can just grind up a few plants, put them in a bottle and then forgo responsibility. Except for one thing: the reality is that even though the regulations on pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals are as different as night and day, the companies creating them are not.

  84. Synoptocon

    To be clear, I think I would have no issue with absolute risk reduction – if we could actually compute a number with some assurance. The challenge is that while we know the number of people who subsequently tested positive for COVID in the two samples, we don’t have a reliable denominator (I would think this should be the number of study participants exposed to COVID in scenarios that would be expected to result in infection for the median patient – kind of akin to LD50).

    With the clinical studies, the total number of members in each group (per IM Doc, 40K across both) is arbitrarily large for this purpose, but we don’t know by what factor. Is it 5X, 10X, what? No clue. Contemporary test positivity results from the donor populations for the study should give us some insight, but there’s still going to be self-selection bias.

  85. NR

    There are cases where the relative risk reduction can be somewhat misleading. For example, say there’s a rare genetic condition out there that runs the risk of developing life-threatening complications later in life. Say there’s a medication you can take that reduces the chance of those complications by 99%. However, only 1 in 1 million people have the genetic condition.

    In that case, a 99% relative risk reduction would sound like a lot, but since the condition only affects 1 in 1 million, all that means is that the risk drops from 1 in 1 million to 1 in 100 million.

    However, that’s not like COVID at all. COVID is everywhere and is highly transmissible. That means everyone needs the risk reduction. Therefore, the relative risk reduction is the most relevant thing to consider. Furthermore, that’s just the individual risk reduction. In the presence of widespread vaccination, the percentage of the population that will actually be infected drops. And this isn’t even considering the economic consequences of letting COVID run rampant.

    The bottom line is that if you get vaccinated, your risk of hospitalization, severe disease, or death from COVID drops by 99% or so, your risk of being infected in the first place drops by 80-90%, and the risk of children, the elderly, and others in contact with you being infected by you drops by some large amount as well. The systemic risk to the hospital system drops a lot. The economic risk drops a lot.

    Despite the right-wing anti-vax disinformation campaign, those are the facts.

  86. Astrid

    I’m thinking of vitamin D or sunlight, zinc, and maybe prophylactic use of ivermectin. All cheap and safe. BCG vaccination would be another prophylactic option in lieu of COVID vaccines. We don’t know their actual effectiveness against COVID, but they do have long proven and understood safety/usage guidance.

    Vaccination has turned the behavior of the vaccinated “believe science” crowd (the amount of glee of my PMC cohort to going back to restaurant dining, summer vacations, and summer camps is palpable) to resemble those who don’t believe in COVID, and also upped the difficulty of enforcing masking and social distancing to pretext those with autoimmune issues. The 2021 vaccination event may well lead to acceleration of development of more infectious and potentially lethal variants

    TLDR – we’re on our own. Stock up on N95, doomsday food stash, football helmets and Mad Max fetishwear.

  87. Plague Species

    They are not options in lieu of vaccinations. They are, however, Big Pharma one way or another. Coming and going, either way they have you.

    Ivermectin is not cheap when used as those advocating for it suggest which is a 3mg tablet once a day. Ivermectin is also Big Pharma. It would be more advantageous for Big Pharma to push Ivermectin over the vaccines, in fact, if it was one or the other. Instead, Big Pharma pushes both. The vaccines through official channels and Ivermectin through misinformation channels.

    The price for Ivermectin tablets is $2.50 per tablet. 365 days per year X $2.50 per day = $912.50 per year. Cheap? Hardly. And certainly not cheap compared to a one time jab per year for the vaccine that will run less than $100.

  88. Plague Species

    I agree with you Astrid about the vaccinated crowd. Many are acting as though they are now immune and everything is just fine and dandy and even if cases are surging because of the spread of the Delta variant, it’s the dirty unvaccinated who are responsible and they’ve done their part by being poked.

  89. Momma mia! OCA has been caught, red-handed, doing cultural appropriation!

    Call the id pol enforcers, right now!

  90. Astrid

    6 pack of horse dewormer can be had for $20 at Tractor supply store. I don’t think that the current prophylactic COVID protocol require daily doses.

    Stock up on toilet paper. You can always use it if you run out of Mad Max fetishwear. And maybe some pitchforks and clubs too, just in case you live in an interesting neighborhood. Plus pitchforks are great for loosening and spreading mulch and compost.

  91. different clue


    I see in the tweet picture that AOC is wearing eyeglasses. Eyeglasses were invented in Europe. She is not European. She is culturally appropriating “eyeglasses” which she has no right to colonially appropriate. Someone should liberate her culturally appropriated eyeglasses and take them away from her.

    Ethno-grievance Identy politics is fun.

  92. NR

    Oh and by the way, if anyone is interested in actual facts about what’s going on with COVID in Israel, instead of conspiracy theorist ramblings on Twitter, this is a good place to start:

  93. re: article:


    There’s 11 comments to that article, any nobody has noticed how stupid it is to compare a 3rd wave to a 4th wave, and give credit to the vaccine, without looking deeper. As a minimal refinement of their ‘analysis’, the 3rd wave data needs to be disambiguated – those never vaxxed + unvaxxed that became vaxxed before the 4th wave vs. unvaxxed – and then the relative improvement between these 2 populations determined, with respect to the 4th wave.

    (Even this is crude, even after throwing out people who straddle categories. You’d have to break down by age range, also; preferably account for other confounders like co-morbidities.)

    Consider nearby Jordan, which has an 18.9% vaccination rate. Their current ‘wave’ also looks like a zit, compared to their previous wave. Shall we credit their vaccination, when their unvaccination rate is 81%??

    Although it would cause a loss of some TV audience, I fault programs like Laura Ingraham’s that, e.g., interview people who have drawn attention to the Israeli fiasco for not going into enough depth to disabuse people who just swallow the Washington Post type propaganda so readily. Perhaps they could do it offline (with respect to the show; the ‘offline’ program would be an online video on demand) and prominently call attention to it during their relatively fast paced TV shows.

    Once again, Virginia: the Gilad Atzmon data shows that the most recent month-long interval, it is vaccinated,/b> people who are more likely to have a serious illness due to covid. No, the difference won’t be statistically significant. In fact, the numbers of both cohorts are so small, I wonder if they are even statistically significant, on their own.

    Now, as per Atzmon, if you go back even 1 month to May 2 – June 5 data, you see that , on a per capita basis, the serious illness amongst the vaccinated was only 27% compared to the unvaccinated.

    2/3(9 + 17) / (16 + 46) = 17 / 62

    Ah, for the good old days, when you felt so invincible because you let your government include you in a Big Pharma experiment! But if you continue to allow Washington Post type propaganda mesmerize you, well, maybe you’ll be happier.

    Dream on, brother!

  94. Jim Harmon

    “Biden stole the election, no ands, ifs, or buts. Those who aided him in it are damned along with the useful fools who abetted it.” — Thomas B Golladay

    That’s a lie, and everybody goddamn well knows it.

  95. NR

    Yeah, sorry, Atzmon is wrong. Not surprising, considering he’s a musician with no scientific background. First let’s look at some numbers.

    On 13 July, 399 vaccinated people tested positive for the virus compared to 320 unvaccinated people.

    So about 55% of new cases are vaccinated people versus 45% unvaccinated. Wow, that sounds really bad! You really are more likely to get sick if you’re vaccinated!

    Except, no. Those numbers are only the numerators. You also have to consider the denominators–the number of people in each cohort. In Israel, 85% of adults are vaccinated. Meaning that the vaccinated population is about 6 times bigger than the unvaccinated population. So if there were equal chances of infection regardless of vaccination status, we’d expect to see 6 times more vaccinated people infected than unvaccinated. If you were more likely to be infected if you were vaccinated, we’d expect to see more than 6 times as many cases.

    Instead, we see much, much less than that. It’s only about 1.25 times as many cases among vaccinated people.

    An actual epidemiologist explains it here:

    But, if you prefer to get your scientific information from musicians on Twitter, you can believe whatever you want to, I suppose.

  96. NR


    Lies are Thomas’s stock in trade.

    Regardless, the fact remains that the election was not stolen, every single audit and piece of evidence has shown this, despite right-wing efforts to make up lies to the contrary.

  97. NR

    And once more, here is the proof that fraud did not change the result of the election in Arizona, despite what Thomas and his fellow right-wing liars claim:

  98. I did “consider the numerators”. Which is why I multiplied the Atzmon’s vaccinated figures by 2/3, reflecting the fact that 60% of Israelis are vaccinated.

    This doesn’t seem inconsistent with 85% of adults being vaccinated, and probably isn’t.

    Having said that, you are correct to prefer the 85% adult vaccinated rate to the 60% total population vaccinated rate, for purposes of comparison with the unvaccinated, as the young are far less likely to have a serious covid episode than adults. So it makes sense to ignore them, and just focus on the adults.

    So, using the 85% figure to adjust the data related by Atzmon, we instead multiply by (.15/.85), or .176, to get:

    .176(11 + 23 ) = 5.98 ~ 6

    Comparing 6 to 20, we see that on a per capita basis, the unvaccinated are 20/6 ~ 3x likely to have a serious disease, from covid, in the June-July timeframe.

    Without expending the energy to try and adjust for the additional vaccinated that occurred in this time frame, compared to the prior months’ data, I’ll recalculate using the .176 adjustment:

    for May – June:
    .176(9 + 17) / (16 + 46) = 4.576 / 62 = 0.0738, so the unvaccinated were 13x as likely to have a serious disease, from covid.

    This is still ‘moving’, but not in the right direction, for advocating for the vaccine’s long term effectiveness.

    What about “cases” (which I think just means asymptomatic, positive test results)?

    .176( 1271 ) / 257 = .87, so the unvaccinated were 1.15x as likely to present a case.

    Color me unimpressed. I don’t think they can roll out booster shots before July’s data is accumulated. So, I expect the vaccine to show itself ultimately worthless in the Israeli scenario, in this time frame, for cases. And possibly ultimately worthless for serious illness.

    For such transient benefits, they have tossed the dice with respect to the nightmare possibilities, of prion diseases, Alzheimer’s, and Reduced Effort Tolerance leading to heart failure. I truly hope the nightmare scenarios never materialize, as basically almost everybody in my ‘local’ family has gotten vaccinated.

    “Throwing good money after bad” is dumb, in general; and morally criminal when it comes to public policy.

    Dr. Malone reported that his “friends in the FDA” told him they are seeing 2 “signals” that were completely unexpected, in the data. One was accumulation of spike proteins in ovaries. (I don’t remember the other one.) Can this becomes catastrophic enough for the Israeli fertility rate to collapse?

    Apparently, the Israelis are eager enough to find out.

  99. NR

    Meanwhile in the United States, 97% of COVID hospitalizations and 99.5% of COVID deaths are among the unvaccinated. Source:

    So yeah, I’m gonna wait for a better source than a musician’s Twitter feed before I jump on the anti-vax train.

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