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

Open Thread

Use the comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.

Posting this week was light, but should return to normal volume next week.


Putin’s Goals, A Map, For Discussion


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 3, 2022


  1. NR

    We now have conclusive evidence that Ivermectin doesn’t work as a COVID treatment:

    This was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study involving 3,515 patients. The findings:

    We did not find a significantly or clinically meaningful lower risk of medical admission to a hospital or prolonged emergency department observation (primary composite outcome) with ivermectin administered for 3 days at a dose of 400 μg per kilogram per day than with placebo. We found no important effects of treatment with ivermectin on the secondary outcomes.

    The evidence supporting the role of ivermectin in the treatment of Covid-19 is inconsistent. At least three meta-analyses of ivermectin trials have strongly indicated a treatment benefit, and others have concluded that there was no benefit.7,8,18-20 Although the number of included trials involving outpatients varies among the meta-analyses, the overall number of events that occurred in our trial is larger than the number of all the combined events in these meta-analyses. The results of this trial will, therefore, reduce the effect size of the meta-analyses that have indicated any benefits. In addition, a reported trial of ivermectin treatment for Covid-19 was suspected of malfeasance and was withdrawn from publication,9 and other trials have been weakened by concerns about quality.8 A large collaboration of clinical trialists working on ivermectin treatment for Covid-19 has conducted a meta-analysis of trials and has concluded that ivermectin did not offer a treatment benefit when trials that were considered to be of moderate or better quality were examined.6 The WHO has concluded, on the basis of results obtained before our trial, that there existed only very-low-certainty evidence regarding ivermectin and thus recommended against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of patients with Covid-19 outside the clinical trial setting.21 The findings in our trial are consistent with these conclusions.

  2. Keith in Modesto

    Article about a study out of the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia (link below),
    title: “Highlighting COVID-19 racial disparities can reduce support for safety precautions among White U.S. residents”

    The title pretty well summarizes it. As a white US resident, I find this finding entirely plausible.

  3. Z

    Going to be an interesting summer here weather-wise in the northern hemisphere.

    A mild summer would be comforting, but hopes are not high in those regards.

    Lake Powell is way down too.

    With the arctic 70 degrees above normal a few weeks ago, if we have temps in some locations that are “only” ten degrees above normal it’s going to be hell and possibly create power outages and cause thousands of heat-related deaths, not to mention wildfires.

    I suspect that we’ll know a lot more about where we are at climate wise by October. I’ll be particularly keeping an ear and eye open for the weather in Portland, Oregon.

    One hopeful bit of info I read is that although methane is one of the worst hydrocarbons as far as global warming/climate change is concerned it also apparently dissipates faster too.

    I sometimes wonder how much fracking has had to do with this mess. I still can’t believe that we frack with all the poisons that can introduce into our water supply and all the uncertainties concerning that.

    And that idiot Obama bragged about how much oil was produced when he was president. “That was me, people!” Sure, take a bow, assh*le.


  4. bruce wilder


    That study may be many things, but “conclusive” in the context of the disputes over evidence of effectiveness is certainly not one of them.

  5. Willy

    One of our modern strangisms is that a “double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study involving 3,515 patients”, and no doubts heavily peer reviewed (“peer” meaning like-minded experts, and not a buncha random yahoos), can be insta-discredited just because a random somebody on facebook proclaimed the study funded by Bill Gates or something.

    And then that very same person will proclaim that their own man of the hour is incapable of dishonesty, right after being caught in some egregious lie.

    I can remember a time before when science was some hoax. Back when a hoax was a hoax, before hoaxes were science. I’m old enough to remember when Revenge of the Nerds came out. And then maybe not so coincidentally, a few Nerds even became quite rich and powerful. Today we have Revenge of the Idiots, trying to make an Idiocracy quite rich and powerful.

  6. Lex

    If the Russian military sucked as bad as the west argues, then we would be seeing something very different. For one, Russia would have resorted to high altitude bombing of everything rather than continuing its methodical behavior. For two, the US would have let Poland off the leash to enter western Ukraine (with public statements that it was not a NATO operation).

    It’s rather humorous that if you go looking for opinions of the Russian government outside of western sources the consensus is that Russia says what it will do and then does what it says. That it is quite honest for a national government. But in the west, Russia only lies. But of course liars always assume that everyone else is lying.

    IMO, a useful tool for analyzing the whole situation is who looks like they’re panicking. I haven’t seen anything from the Russian side that looks like panic or even major and hurried changes to their plans. Changing plans or modifying them is not, in itself, evidence that things are going terribly for either side. How they’re changed is more important.

    For example, the US was sure that the sanctions would destroy Russia, but now we’ve already backed off on sanctioning agricultural inputs. We’re still importing Russian oil. EUropean leaders are having to tell their constituents that life’s going to get real bad. It all suggests that the west didn’t actually have a planned response to Russia entering Ukraine, and it’s initial response was not thought out at all / based on best-case scenarios. Now the west is scrambling, evidenced by Biden saying the US won’t sanction Russian agricultural inputs and the fact that we never quit importing Russian oil. Rubles for gas provoked open panic and crying about the sanctity of contracts. Did no one game out that Russia might do that? There were no response planned besides whining?

    The west is not run by serious people. And our leadership believes its own propaganda. Like Biden’s Poland speech having a ruble-dollar exchange of 200-1 when it never reached that and was falling fast when the words were spoken. There is nothing to indicate that Russian leadership is suffering from the similar issues except western projection.

  7. Trinity

    In case you missed it:

    A couple quotes, but the entire interview is worth the read (or a listen).

    “So there’s an idea that you motivate people by hurting them instead of by offering an opportunity to develop. And the problem is that the United States strategists don’t know how to develop because they’re neoliberals. And the neoliberalism is all about grabbing unearned income, grabbing other people’s property, grabbing other people’s income without working. That’s what America is. And as you pointed out at the beginning of the program, the American economy is shrinking and [the rest of the world] isn’t shrinking.”

    Regarding the potential for the US to admit defeat and shift to social democracy:

    “I don’t see it because Europe had a long socialist tradition that the United States did everything to try to squeeze out. But America does not have a tradition like that. America has always privatized. It’s basically infrastructure, not left in public hands and so given the fact that almost all of American health care is privatized, you’re not going to be privatized.”

  8. Ché Pasa

    So is there life on Mars? Gil Levin says yes, that his labeled release experiment on the Viking landers in 1976 returned positive results, and nothing since then has refuted those results.

    I tend to agree with Levin and have long suspected that the astrobiologists at NASA are pretty sure of what the answer is, too. But for whatever reason they’re reluctant to say yay and prefer to tiptoe around the question, edging closer and closer, but endlessly complicating the issue so that there can’t be a definitive answer until Elon Musk arrives in his Space Tesla to begin colonization.

    The qu

  9. StewartM

    A Buzz feed article on how soulless and depressing K-12 teaching has become.

    Teachers all over the country describe problems that touch every aspect of our culture and society, from technology dependence to stats-obsessed bureaucracy to a post-COVID behavior crisis.

    I don’t know how if the ‘behavior problems’ are worse, but I do expect that having at the mercy of ‘parents’ rights’ groups and individuals who demand the ‘right’ to control what information their kid can and can’t read or hear, coupled with the utterly soul-less job of ‘teaching the [standardized] test’ would make teaching a nightmare.

    Most of the great teachers I had in school would have been driven to quit by the latter point alone.

  10. StewartM


    What is ‘conclusive’ evidence to you? There is no, none, nada, ‘certainty in science’.

    Cold fusion, anyone? Seems to me like the hypothesis that “Ivermectin can effectively treat Covid” is about on par with that of cold fusion:

    See? Most researchers failed to replicate Pons and Fleischmann’s results, and some that did withdrew their papers when others discovered experimental errors could be the source of their replication. But their *still* are some researchers out there trying to replicate the results again.

    You never get complete consensus in science. Albert Michelson and more than a few other physicists of the time never accepted Einstein’s relativity, even though it was Michelson’s famous experiment and its null result that drove Einstein to develop relativity. Moreover, there are still physicists who want to tweak relativity (though now most doubters want to do so to reconcile it with quantum mechanics). So as relativity is ‘unproven’, should we stop teaching it in schools?

    The accepted standard is that ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’, so that the onus of providing the evidence should fall on those promoting Ivermectin as an effective Covid treatment. That they have utterly failed to do. The New England Journal of Medicine article underscores that point.

  11. StewartM


    Science actually works fine (I think you’re agreeing with that). With Covid, it’s been ‘mostly ok’, though there have been lapse. Science screws up when its conclusions run afoul of strongly held social beliefs and biases; this is why I think the social sciences usually run into more trouble than the physical sciences. Historically, it’s been very hard to study human sexuality without some people or the society at large getting upset because they don’t want to hear the conclusions (studies on homosexuality ran into that problem, even studies that reported widespread homosexuality in animals). In most cases, science folds and either the taboo topic is not studied or the conclusions are heavily tweaked to fit the desired social narratives. I don’t see that has happened with Covid.

    What has gone wrong with science and Covid, I think, is the result of the corruption of capitalism on science. When I hired into my job many years ago, the typical personality prototype of a scientist (using Meyers-Briggs parlor psychology, haha) was that of the INTP–or, the stereotypical absent-minded professor. Someone who resists racing to conclusions, who wants to look yet again at the evidence, who wants to repeat the experiments, who hems and haws about the results when asked by superiors, and who overwhelms his (non-technical) managers with the details.

    What has happened in my tenure, in the Era of Reagan, has been a change in the personality type of scientist–instead of INTPs, it’s the INTJ. “J” personality types cannot resist jumping to conclusions, no matter how premature, no matter how scanty the data, They just can’t help themselves; I’ve sat in meeting where we’re looking at four data points–say:


    And they’ll say stuff like “Yep, definitely a trend there”–without knowing the variance of the experiment (in this case, it’s more like +/- 10 %, at the 95 % confidence level, so with a mean value of ‘2’ you’d have to say that everything between a 1.8 and a 2.2 you can’t really say that these values are different, let alone that a ‘trend’ exists).

    How/why did this happen? Because the non-technical capitalist class wants a ‘yes/no’ or ‘stop/go’ answer, *NOW*. Moreover, they *don’t* want to hear the caveats and details. So the scientists in the corporate world (not only those hired directly by corporations, but those at universities who are hired to consult corporations) are driven to produce that ‘yes/no’ answer bereft of caveats and details. Those that do produce, get rewarded; those that don’t get passed over for promos or (if in a university) get their funding cut. So the INTJ-type scientists rise to positions of greater influence and prominence

    I think that alone is sufficient to explain the West’s Covid “hiccups” and reversals in advice.

  12. someofparts

    I have been doing battle with my own fears lately.

    As is natural in life, we lose track of friends over time. When people retire from the working years of our lives, we disperse. The old neighborhood where I knew everyone and they knew me is gone.

    I know I need to move ahead and make new friends, but this is where my fears get in the way, and I have been giving in to them.

    But then this morning I had a breakthrough. I remembered something Mr. Rogers said. “Find the helpers.”

    Now I see my way forward and there is no need to fear. I am looking for the helpers. I am going to find people who are helping others and I am going to help them.

    Now I see why I have been so disheartened by old friends I was clinging to out of familiarity. They are the opposite of helpers – not actively malign, just petty and self-absorbed. They are indifferent to the world beyond their gated enclaves.

    So, thank you Mr. Rogers.

    There is a small church a short walk from my house that hosts a breakfast for the homeless every morning on their patio. I’m going to introduce myself to those people and see how I can pitch in.

    I will leave my old friends and relations, with their wealth and pretensions, to just drift peacefully away, while I chart a different course.

  13. Trinity

    “The west is not run by serious people.”

    The west is run by seriously pathological, arrogant people.

    “You never get complete consensus in science.”

    This is seriously true. Science is nothing more than a conversation that has been ongoing for five thousand years. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, but it means we know much, much less than some people would have us think. What we know is a pie chart sliver compared to what we don’t know. I recommend the In Our Time podcast, with experts chiming in often about what is not known about a particular field.

    StewartM, your theory on INTJ-type scientists goes a long way to explaining Steven Pinker, although I think his bank balance is another factor. I loved your entire post.

    SOP, I think you are on to something, and let us know how it goes? I’m having trouble finding someone just to help me pick up my car, and family are far away.

  14. Willy


    Yeah, somebody here once said that the MBAs ruined everything, with their Milton Friedman’s profit motive aphorism assuming that the typical idiocratic citizen mob would automatically and always be wise enough to be those all-knowing invisible hands. Maybe that explains why Flyssoulja is more popular than Mozart.

    I was once prejudiced against INTPs who I regarded as the temperamental talent pool where Machiavellians came from. But then I learned that Machiavellians are actually very strong Ts, besides somewhat I. I’d learned to see Meyers-Briggs on a bell curve and not as 16 distinct types as the parlor psychologists might have it. In such a view most INTPs aren’t all that far different from ESFJs. It’s the extreme ones at the edges of the bell curve who’re most different.

    I once tried to figure out which characteristic would be the most influential for ethicality.

    E/I equates most with harm avoidance. Fearlessness if you will. Useful in some situations requiring heroism, but harmful in others such as with those Dunning Kruger types who don’t seem the least bit afraid of the consequences of being wrong.

    N/S equates to intellectual openness, or perhaps pattern matching abilities. Not much influence over ethicality except for maybe in a rapidly changing world.

    T/F is best displayed in that Russian fox experiment where the tame foxes want you to like them. They’d rather wag their tails than plot an escape.

    J/P…, yeah maybe you’re right. I hate big pharma. And I didn’t use to. If the MBAs can get their INTJs to come up with a ‘just good enough to make us bank’ formula instead of investing in INTPs who might be more compelled to continuously look for improvements, then the CEO and his major shareholder henchmen get their golden parachutes that much quicker.

  15. Carborundum

    The real issue is that people place too much credence in bad management tools… like Meyers-Briggs, ironically.

  16. different clue


    Does this small church also have a lawn-load of land where some food-gardening could be done if anyone were interested and the church’s permission and blessing could be obtained?

    And would there be any scope and/or space around this church for planting fruit and nut trees, shrubs and bushes?

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