Hoyt’s Covid Denial Hits the Big Time

Sarah Hoyt wrote a new version of her critique of epidemiological models (see my post A Study in Denial) for her column in the far-right outlet PJMedia: https://pjmedia.com/blog/modeling-covid-19-and-the-lies-of-multiculturalism/ It’s basically the same points she made in her original essay, nobody really knows and therefore Hoyt knows and therefore she knows that it is all down to culture or population density etc. It is at best wild guesses and half-formed opinions where her credentials are established like so:

“However, as the mother and wife of STEM people for whom physics is a game and who create such models for fun, I know that the accuracy of the model depends on how much you put into it and how much of the real factors on that day, in that place, you can put in.”

Her theory is, of course, another kind of model and it shares with any model all the flaws plus the additional ones of being half-arsed opinion based on a weak grasp of the news.

“For instance, my friend in Albany, Georgia, tells me he assumes part of the reason it got so bad in his neighborhood (the worst per capita in the U.S. last I looked) is that “we are the touchiest, most social people I know,” i.e., there is a lot of touching and hugging. At a guess, this is the reason it got so bad in Italy, too, but not nearly as bad in Germany, where, frankly, people aren’t that touchy/feely/huggy.”

Quite how the UK fits into the Hoyt-Covid-Hugs model of infection I don’t know but I can’t say us Brits have ever been accused of being a very hug-prone nation. It does help resolve what Hoyt things ‘culture’ might be: national stereotypes. Maybe France has a high infection rate because they wear berets whereas Brazil has a different pattern because they wear bikinis? That’s about the level of Hoyt’s analysis.

So if there is nothing new in Hoyt’s PJMedia piece (one of four, two behind paywalls) why am I mentioning it. Well Rush Limbaugh (who apparently still exists even though I’d forgotten about him sometime around 2010) has been praising the column by Hoyt.

“Now, this is a tough case to make. And Sarah Hoyt does a great job in the piece, a very long piece. We will link to it at RushLimbaugh.com. It was published yesterday. But I want to try here because her point is that we get these models projecting how many people are gonna get sick, how many people are gonna die, assuming everybody’s identical, everybody’s the same, gonna behave the same.”


Hmm, so what would Mr Limbaugh or Ms Hoyt suggest instead for a pandemic response? Now consider, neither of them deny that there is a pandemic even if they question the severity of it. Yet consider, there is no reason to believe that Covid-19 is the worst possible novel viral disease that could occur. Notably, the measures that have been seen to work require them to be implemented BEFORE the full severity of the pandemic is known – the earlier the better. So there is no viable scenario in which the response to a novel pandemic can be made with full and accurate models. Nor is there any possible way of creating models that account for every person’s unique individuality (and what a rabbit hole that would be — implying a level of surveillance state of dystopian proportions).

[ETA: For a better discussion of the limits and value of models in this pandemic see this extended cartoon/discussion at FiveThirtyEight by Zach “SMBC” Weinersmith https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/a-comic-strip-tour-of-the-wild-world-of-pandemic-modeling/ ]

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92 responses to “Hoyt’s Covid Denial Hits the Big Time”

  1. “I can’t say us Brits have ever been accused of being a very hug-prone nation.”

    Clearly, works like Fanny Hill, The Pearl, and My Secret Life have given me an unrealistic impression of the UK.

    Liked by 3 people

      • I mean, in my experience as a Brit who has lived and worked in Germany, but is now back in the UK, Germans are much more keen on hand-shaking, and, in social contexts, a bit more huggy, than the British. And yet….

        Liked by 3 people

        • I think Britain (and from there the rest of the English speaking world) grabbed a bunch of stereotypes about Prussia and just applied them to Germany as a whole sometime between 1860 and 1914. Ever since we’ve stuck to them despite repeated evidence to the contrary from actual Germans

          Liked by 4 people

      • @camestros 7.33 pm

        Even Prussia isn’t Prussia. At one beginning with Imperial Germany contained a sizable if disconnected area of Germany (with parts which do not belong to the current FRG) and a majority of the population. The stereotype of “Prussia” was only ever personified by a thin crust of upper middle class and upper class Germans who staffed the administrative state or held power


        I moved in recent years from the Cologne area to Berlin. According to the map in the Wikipedia article I simply moved to another part of Prussia.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yup, Germans are very, very into handshakes. I mean, we had a court case not so long ago where a female teacher sued the father of a student, because he refused to shake her hand, which offended her. The father was an observant Muslim and touching unrelated women was a big no-no for him for religious reasons, but the teacher insisted on her right to exchange germs with everybody she comes into contact with.

        Honestly, I wouldn’t mind at all, if this pandemic would finally cause this handshaking obsession to vanish.

        And yes, “Prussia” does not equal “Prussia”. In theory, I also live in Prussia, though it’s very different from both Cologne and Berlin.In general, we North Germans are considered more reserved than South Germans. We also have lower rates of COVID-19 (except for Hamburg and the Hannover/Wolfsburg area), but that’s not because we hug less, but because most of us don’t celebrate carnival and because fewer of us go skiing.If the virus had spread in fall, at the time of the big funfairs and festivals, we would have been hit much worse.

        Liked by 4 people

      • I would be happy about the death of handshaking. The downside is that I just know it would become yet another goddamn culture war thing in the US (and Canada, hopefully to a lesser extent).

        Liked by 3 people

    • On the positive side, think of it this way. All those times you or I tried to patiently explain basic facts to Sad Puppies and they reacted with incomprehension and we wondered if maybe we weren’t explaining it right? The good news, such that it is, is that even the combined explantory power of every national medical authority in the world and the very real impact of a global pandemic STILL isn’t getting the message across to people who are really, really invested in being horribly wrong.

      Liked by 9 people

      • They don’t respond to facts. They think in terms of emotion — does this make me feel better? smarter? more right about things than everyone else? If it doesn’t feel good, they simply change the facts. Hoyt is a Trump-level expert on this, but her gambit is slightly different — she will say things like “I just don’t believe this fact or statistic, it just doesn’t feel right.” Yeah, well, that’s not how reality works. Or science fiction, for that matter.

        These past three and a half years have really given me an unwelcome insight into the people I share the planet with.

        Liked by 5 people

  2. She doesn’t even get her figures right. Italy is far worse affected than Germany and their death rate is much higher. And while cultural factors do play into the rate of infection, e.g. in Germany the first outbreaks happened where carnival was celebrated in mid February (lots of people partying, kissing and huggong, often in close quarters) and where skiing is popular and schools have “ski holidays” in late February/early March, there are a lot of factors in play, such as numbers of hospital beds, ICU beds, ventilators and nurses, demographics of those who fall ill (in Germany, many of those first infected were young and healthy, hence the death rate was low for a long time, until the virus hit nursing homes, hospitals and physiotherapy clinics), etc… .

    A lot of the spread is also simply down to chance, e.g. Italy apparently had the virus spreading undetected via asymptomatic carriers and the “patient zero” they eventually identified was someone who was extremely socially active and managed to take part in several mass events before displaying symptoms. In Heinsberg, the worst affected region in Germany until recently, their patient zero and his wife, attended a carnival party with 300 others, spreading the virus. The Champions League football match between FC Valencia and Atalanta Bergamo in February 19 with 50000 spectators spread the virurs in both Italy and Spain, etc… A lot of this was just chance and bad luck, mass events allowing the virus to spread, before anybody knew there was a problem.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. You know, if you’re collecting SF wingnut commentary on C19, you’re missing a trick by skipping Leslie Fish’s blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ugh. I hate to see anarchists talking like silly puppies. The hallmark of wingnuttery seems to be making strong, extreme claims without providing any receipts.

      Liked by 1 person

        • “She stopped being an anarchist and started being an alt-right asshole when she said the charlottesville attack was a false flag.”

          Okay, I’m not one for dogma – I’m sure there are many ways to be an anarchist – but the “charlotesville was a false flag” take dilutes the concept of anarchist to the point where it’s meaningless. WTF?

          Liked by 2 people

      • Hey, we have a global pandemic. Let me post about how much I hate a backbencher congresswoman. Glad to hear that she has her priorities straight.

        Also, the sheer hatred against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is something I really don’t get. Fronm my non-US POV, she seems like an intelligent and eager young woman with good political ideas.

        Liked by 7 people

        • “She is an intelligent and eager young woman [also a woman of color] with good political ideas”

          I think you just answered your own question.

          Additionally, she wields Twitter like a Japanese katana, and during House questioning sessions she pins people like butterflies to a display board.

          Liked by 4 people

      • Cora: “From my non-US POV, she seems like an intelligent and eager young woman with good political ideas.”

        Yes, that’s why they hate her. She’s a young, social democrat Latinx woman from NYC who unseated a white man in the primary, then won against the Republican white man in the general, believes government can and should help people through progressive policies and she and her very competent staff slice and dice every one of their right wing pundits who tries to come for her in the media or the Net. She is representative of the future of the Democratic Party and the actual current population of America and so she is their worse nightmare. She blows a lot of bigoted myths up, so anytime she gets media attention, they try to negate her.

        Liked by 7 people

      • Another reply to Connie Collins: AOC is a socialist (she says so herself), so that’s one reason for them to hate her. The other thing is that, like the smartest socialists, she understands how it all fits together — economy and health care and education and bigotry and, probably, people who think coronavirus is just a bad cold. So she ends up winning all the arguments because of this, while her opponent is just repeating the latest thing they heard from Fox News.

        Liked by 7 people

  4. There are days I’ve wondered just how the human race has managed to survive as long as it has. Today feels like one of those days.

    Let me, as a person in the Sacramento area, apologize for unleashing Rush Limbaugh upon the world. He started here, to my chagrin.

    And my last thought: Yeah, the models are off, in the high direction. This is a GOOD thing! The protocols are working! If we look back and say, “why did we have to do all that?,” we did it *right*. It’s like Y2K. Y2K was going to be the apocalypse, the ultimate disaster. And nothing happened. It fizzled because a lot of very smart people spent years updating computer programs to take 4 number dates so that Jan 1, 2000 would start pretty much the same way as Dec 31, 1999 did.

    But people don’t get that. It has to be a conspiracy to destroy their God Emperor. DEEP STATE. Meh.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Hey, one of my online haunts had their Y2K date update to January 1, 19100 ….

      ANd yes, that was it, and as you say, it’s because a lot of people did a lot of work to make it not happen.

      Similar to the arguments about the Hole in the Ozone Layer not ending up that big a thing so we don’t have to worry about global warming. (Ignoring that we did something about the former.) Or the way alarm bells were rung about the rate of forest disappearances so forestry changed its protocols and behaviour.

      Anyone outside the industry that makes the change sees no change **in their life** and assumes no change was made. Or forgets changes we have made as they are the new normal, and feel normal.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. I wonder how the much higher rate in NYC, where people are famously rude to each other, vs. famously touchy-feely San Francisco fits into her model. “I’m walkin’ here!” vs. Summer of Love.

    Oh, as usual it doesn’t, so she’s ignoring it.

    Sensible people would say that it’s because the Bay Area enforced shelter in place much sooner.

    But then she’d have to admit that a city mayored by a Gen-X black woman who grew up in the projects did better than a city mayored by a well-off Boomer white man, and her head would explode.

    She also blithely ignores that all the cases in NYC came from Europe, because apparently DNA typing isn’t reliable enough for her and noted drug addict Rushbo, I guess? Don’t confuse them with facts.

    The University of San Francisco hospital has sent a bunch of volunteer medical personnel to NYC to help out. That’s right, they’ve got trained people to spare. And they’ve disseminated a pattern for people to use on their home 3D printers to make holders for face shields.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Population density? Though San Francisco is, according to Wikipedia, the second most densely populated large city in the US. (A grain of salt here, I started by looking for the population density of New York, and found two different Wikipedia pages, with slightly different numbers. “Large city” because if you go by city and town boundaries, the most densely populated cities in the US are bits of suburban New Jersey.)

      We don’t know, and may never know, how much of this is the effects of people doing the right thing at the right time, or vice versa.

      The outbreak in Massachusetts started with the Biogen conference. One of the people who got sick because of that decided to go home to China, rather than stay in her house here. She took medication to keep her fever down so she could get on the plane.While the plane was in the air, she told the flight crew what she’d done. She was arrested when the plane landed, either because China is generally stricter than Massachusetts on this, or because she had proven that she would hide the infection in order to do things that were likely to make other people sick.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Most of us had begun to forget Rush Limbaugh was still around until Trump gave him the Medal of Freedom award at the State of the Union address at the start of February. So that brought him back into the public eye and he used his returned fame to tell us all, on February 24th, that the coronavirus was the common cold. So he has reason to hope that the pandemic isn’t as bad as predicted. (It’s being hyped by the liberal media you see to use against Trump.) Both for Trump’s sake and for his own reputation.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Although, after some reflection I find myself wishing it had pointed out that where we do understand the parameters well mathematical models can be pretty accurate (I once attended a presentation by someone doing foot and mouth disease modelling for the UK government; their model of how an epidemic would progress if the government took x and y actions fit exactly the way the epidemic did progress when x and y were implemented).

      Also that statisticians and epidemiologists are pretty good at working around dodgy data, and making useful inferences from previous experiences (eg SARS), so we aren’t always making random guesses to fill in some of the holes in the model.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Odds that Rush Limbaugh, who is in his late sixties and presumably undergoing treatment for his advanced lung cancer, is isolating himself from everyone: 100%.

    Although he does appear to have bought his own bullshit about the safety of smoking…

    Liked by 5 people

    • First reaction: You have to be kidding me.

      Second reaction: Of course, Rush. Of course.

      Third reaction: I retract my earlier statement that he’s guaranteed to be isolating himself.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Limbaugh who is in his 60s and has health issues is someone who definitely should get a flu shot every year, just to be on the safe side. Though I also know elderly people who hate shots and think they don’t need a flu shot, because they’re not old, after all. Part of the reason I started getting a flu shot every year (in Germany, it’s not recommended for healthy people under 60) is because I caught the flu two years in a row from elderly relatives who refuse to get vaccinated.

      Liked by 4 people

      • There are some workplaces here who offer flu shots, too. The one time I got a flu shot at a workplace was when I taught at university, where they offered flu shots for students and staff.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nitpick or clarification: Flu shots are recommend for children up to 12 and adults who are 60 or older. Even if you’re 12 to 60 it’s usually covered by insurance (sickness funds / Krankenkassen). Doctors generally recommend it for everyone but they get paid a bit extra for every shot.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Flu shot recommendations in Canada are for everybody over the age of 6 months. I make sure to get one because we visited my mother-in-law over Christmas.

        That is what the CDC recommends as well.

        Liked by 2 people

      • That’s one thing the US does right — everyone of every age who’s able to get a flu shot is told to, every year. And they’re available everywhere, heavily advertised and reasonably priced if you have no insurance, free if you do. We get ours as soon as they’re offered by our HMO, else there’s a harangue at every appointment. Most companies have a day where someone comes in to inject the employees.

        So I’m rather aghast when I hear of people in countries who have universal health care dying of the flu because they don’t get their shots.

        I started getting mine when I was in my 30’s and got a really bad case, missing work — even too sick to do it online, which I could have if I’d been able to sit up and concentrate instead of sleeping and coughing.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I think my office still has somebody come in and give everybody who wants one a flu shot. I’m not in the office that often so I haven’t been there for this in a few years (to the point where I am not 100% sure they still do it).

        At this point, though, I can go into either of Ontario’s two largest pharmacy chains (and presumably most other pharmacies) and get a flu shot for free. Which is what I did in the fall.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Well, it’s been a while since I was under twelve and I don’t have kids, so I don’t know what the recommendations for flu shots for kids are in Germany. Regular flu shots for kids definitely weren’t a thing when I was a kid. But then, vaccination recommendations and also what vaccinations are availbable have changed a lot in the past 30 years. Though I was vaccinated against tuberculosis as a kid, which was fairly uncommon.

        I also had to pay for my flu shot, because my insurance doesn’t cover it for people under 60. I still get it, because I think it’s good to get as many people as possible vaccinated against the flu.

        Meanwhile, my health insurance did pay for the MMR booster shot I got last year. Though my doctor had to special order the vaccine, because MMR vaccinations are normally handled by pediatricians and few adults get a booster, mostly people who work in education or healthcare.

        Liked by 2 people

      • In Ontario, not only is the flu shot recommended like michaeleochaidh mentioned for all of Canada, but in Ontario it’s free, paid for by OHIP. (The free part isn’t true for all provinces.) You can walk into a lot of drug stores and get your flu shot there.

        My workplace gets a nurse in to give the vaccinations at work so we don’t have to leave to go anywhere.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I just like her citation of authority: “as the mother and wife of STEM people for whom physics is a game and who create such models for fun…” Just picture that in other settings: “As the mother of an endocrinologist, let me tell you how to treat that ovarian cancer of yours.” “As the wife of a college security officer, let me tell you how to negotiate for the release of hostages.”

    First, she’s married to or birthed the alleged experts rather than being one herself, and secondly their expertise is in OTHER fucking fields. It’s like an expertise version of six degrees of Kevin Bacon. I know someone who knows someone who knows somebody who once worked at NASA, therefore let me tell you all about Apollo 14.

    She is truly remarkable.

    Liked by 7 people

    • You can’t even call that an appeal to authority because it’s someone else’s falsely-attributed authority she’s appealing to. Is there an ‘appeal to second-hand authority’ fallacy, or does it need to be created?

      Liked by 3 people

    • I was immediately reminded of Trump’s uncle from MIT, from whom 45* inherited his strong grasp of science. Which raises the question – assuming Trump’s implication that Lamarckian evolutionary theory is correct, and his uncle did pass on his science knowledge to DJT, who is Trump’s actual father?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Apparently it’s sometimes so powerful that it crosses the placental barrier of your sibling, if we’re to believe the Orange Man’s claims…

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Lacking sufficient testing, there is so much we don’t know. Nonsense tends to fill that vacuum, but it’s interesting that it’s not random nonsense. Everyone seems to fill it with things that support their secret (or not-so-secret) beliefs and fears.

    An exercise I sometimes do with my Caltech friends is to take a hypothetical we think essentially impossible and then say, “assume it happened anyway; explain why.” (Sometimes I’ll do this when reviewing an SF story where I want to say, “this is really bad science” but I want a second opinion.) It’s a really useful exercise to establish how confident you ought to sound when talking to other people.

    For example, “COVID-19 really does peak in April, and the world gradually goes back to work in May with no adverse consequences. What happened?” I don’t believe this will happen, but how would I explain it if it did?

    Here’s one attempt at this one: It turned out that severity was correlated with initial viral dose. (Some work in the real world has already suggested this might actually be true to some extent.) Social distancing reduced everyone’s dose and hugely increased the number of zero-symptom cases, effectively vaccinating people without them knowing it. Continued social distancing plus a few masks, together with upgraded hospital capacity was enough to win the day. (This one even “explains” why Italy was hit so hard: large families with many adults living together mean one person brings it in and then everyone gets a big dose from breathing each other’s air all the time.)

    Again, I don’t really think the initial viral dose effect is that strong, but I can’t rule it out.

    I suppose I should add that when it comes to making public policy, you obviously can’t base it on the best case you can imagine. You have to go with the worst plausible case, and, for COVID, that’s still pretty bad. (Millions dead in the US alone.) This is something the far-right seems to have a hard time getting their heads around. (You see it with climate change too.) I wonder if they don’t buy insurance policies either.

    Liked by 4 people

    • @Greg
      “It turned out that severity was correlated with initial viral dose. (Some work in the real world has already suggested this might actually be true to some extent.)”

      The Heinsberg study (systematic study of inhabitants of one particularly affected part of Germany) suggests that the initial viral dose does play a role with regard to the severity of the symptoms, though once again there is a lot we don’t know.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It is suspected that the repeated exposure to the virus and relatively high viral load is why so many doctors and nurses fall ill and also die at higher rates. That’s why sufficient personal protection equipment is so important.

        It would also explain why so many bad outbreaks happen in nursing and care homes and other residential facilities. A lot of people living close together and interacting all the time plus a generally vuilnerable population equals a recipe for disaster.

        Liked by 3 people

    • I suspect that your “explanation” for Italy relies on an outdated stereotype. I don’t know about the prevalence of multi-generational households in Italy, but the country has had very low birth rates for many years, which would make large families rare.

      For many days Britain was running a per-capita rate well below the rest of Western Europe. I was wondering whether there was a cultural reason for this, but Britain has followed the same growth curve as the other countries so it looks as if the difference was that it started a few days latter in Britain. It looks as if everyone is undercounting, to varying degrees, so I don’t think we can draw any conclusions from current figures.

      Iran has had a slower growth in the rate of cases than Western Europe, and judging by their mortality rate (higher than China, but lower than Europe) this is unlikely to be due to undercounting. Have they done something right (they messed up their initial response badly), or is their something about the climate or culture that reduces the transmission rate?

      The largest coronavirus hotspot in the US is a pork-packing plant in South Dakota. They finally shut it down yesterday.

      [I see that the title of Hoyt’s column includes “the lies of multiculturalism”. Perhaps I misunderstand her thesis, having only seen it a second hand, but isn’t she claiming that cultural differences make Red State America less vulnerable.]

      Liked by 2 people

      • Multiculturalism is giving respect and “air time” to cultures other than the dominant one — in the US, recognizing and celebrating cultures that aren’t SWM uber-capitalist Christian. (Often with guns.)

        People with tiny souls like Hoyt find this frightening, and so demonize it.

        In her worldview, Red states are all-white Jesus pals who love working for The Man and living far apart, which of course makes them superior, which of course means they’re automatically protected from the virus. :roll eyes:

        Cities are full of non-straight, non-white people, clearly inferior, and white people who don’t mind. Why, some of them believe everyone deserves an education, medical care, and proper food, even if they can’t afford it! Public transportation or small cars with good gas mileage. Gay weddings! Vegans! High rise apartments. So of course they deserve the current plague.

        That outbreak in the 91% white, extremely rural North Dakota must be a hoax. (/sarcasm)

        I suspect the majority of the people working in that plant are Hispanic, though. Most of the dirty work of the US food system — butchering and planting/harvesting crops — is done by Hispanic people. Same with gardening, child care, back of house restaurant labor, etc. Despite the rhetoric of the RWNJ, the Mexicans aren’t taking jobs away from Americans; they’re doing the jobs Americans won’t do at the rates that companies are willing to pay.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, a lot of the South Dakota plant workers are Latino. It was a Latino community organization that helped them organize a worker protest of the non-safe conditions in the plant because Latino workers were coming to them with their concerns about the lack of safety equipment and sanitation and workers getting sick, without paid sick leave.

        A lot of rural areas and states are majority white, but when it comes to the factories, plants, etc., that’s where a lot of the POC population works for low wages and unsafe conditions. So that’s where a lot of the clusters are hitting. This plant got the state governor and Trump pressure to let them stay open as essential services but of course they tried to treat the workers as disposable. Who knows how many other people are sick from the cluster. At least one worker has died from there.

        Most companies should be able to deal with slowdowns or emergency closure calamities for a downturn of a few months. But instead of investing profit capital into equipment, reserves against downturns and crises and insurance for those emergencies to get them through a bad quarter, ghoul capitalists used profits and government windfalls to do stock buybacks, payouts to big investors, debt-laden acquisitions, etc. So they don’t have the cash or the equipment or the insurance. And even now, the big companies that got bailout payments from the stimulus package aren’t using it for what it’s for and are instead doing stock buybacks. The health insurers who are making huge profits at the moment are also not using it to lower premiums but instead doing stock buybacks and threatening to raise premiums next year. They are literally accelerating the collapse of the economy from a temporary downturn to the full-out recession they’ve been expecting for years. The U.S. and much of the global economy isn’t about making things or even about services — it’s about manipulating stock prices for maximum returns for a small percentage of the population. If companies collapse? They just move on to other companies.


      • Iran has a very young population. That might cause the difference in mortality. According to Swedish statistics, it is very unusual to die if you are below 50. They might have more people who got mild cases and didn’t really notice. Or just did not have enough testing equipment due to US sanctions.


  10. So she went from some slight bigotry about the Chinese and Chinese Americans to a full out mess of a model based on bigoted stereotypes? No wonder Limbaugh liked it. Anything that denounces scientists while also trying to sound pseudo-scientific with no evidence is right up Limbaugh’s alley. The guy’s got terminal lung cancer so I don’t know why he’s still on the air, but apparently he’s getting in last dollars he won’t be able to spend hawking vitamin supplements and such.

    Liked by 3 people

    • So Sen. John Cornyn also was floating the models are bad and abused and unscientific bit on Twitter:

      “After #COVIDー19 crisis passes, could we have a good faith discussion about the uses and abuses of “modeling” to predict the future? Everything from public health, to economic to climate predictions. It isn’t the scientific method, folks.”

      And probably his staff got that from some other pundit. So it seems to be a new strategy the rightosphere is trying out and we’ll probably see more of them floating it around, especially as they can also use it for global warming. Limbaugh’s staff probably did a search for right-wingers criticizing models and Hoyt got a boost.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Nope, only models that we should try to slow the spread of the disease to reduce deaths and avoid collapsing our hospitals and healthcare systems can be criticized, don’t you know. Anything that requires businesses to do anything that helps people, even though it creates a thriving economy for their businesses, is bad scientific elitism run amok. Anything that helps millionaires make a short-term economic profit while using resources they don’t pay anything for and looting both government assets and their own company’s assets is a brilliant model that cannot be questioned. Having executives crash Toys R Us, Borders, Payless Shoes and other companies with layoffs, stock buybacks and debt loading is purely coincidence.

        Their big argument now off the model arguments is that the models said a lot of people could die, social distancing shutdown as a solution slowed the disease so that not enough people died (which is what the models also said,) so now we need to stop what’s working and have more people die because rich people are getting bored and don’t want to bother with short term downturn. People need to be willing to die for others’ money for a quarter is their argument — got several Republican Congressmen floating it now. Dead and starving Americans, an increase in homeless people to be disease carriers, the collapse of our hospitals and healthcare systems especially in rural areas where they barely exist, all are necessary because mammon has lost a little weight recently in the crisis. That’s not democracy, of course. It’s good old fashioned aristocracy — the many must suffer and die for the few who are best.

        Most global corporations are actually going to be fine through the crisis of the pandemic. But the oil companies, who still run the Earth, are not happy because shutdown has directly impacted the already slowing demand for oil and gas and extraction efforts besides. So they’re putting pressure on the Republicans and using the rightosphere media to turn demand back on in the U.S. and elsewhere. Oil company execs like the Kochs have never cared how many people they have to get killed for their empires.

        Liked by 5 people

  11. And speaking of oil and autos, the DeVos/Prince family, the Kochs and other white supremacist, theocratic nationalists who want to block schooling for poor kids set up protests today in Michigan and Ohio for the right to infect everybody and collapse the healthcare system (and help the GOP pols in those states take down governors.) Here’s the immediately iconic photo that is mostly getting the reaction of, Holy crap! Zombies!


    Liked by 4 people

  12. Not going to read it, I’ve had enough from ignorant americans this week, both from the left and from the right. From the left there are some enormous amount of graphs based on faulty numbers and weird speculations about the whole of Sweden dying, because Trump is trying to open up the economy and then it will be an apocalypse as in Sweden (where we have reached a plateau in deaths with the healthcare still coping with the situation with ICU to spare).

    And then from the right the argument that US has to open the economy exactly as in Sweden… where we still are in a social lockdown. Maximum 50 guests at restaurants, at least a table between them, no ordering at bar, no mingling, the restaurant closed down if breaking the rules, a decline in use of public transport almost on the levels of Germany, companies getting broke at lack of customers because everyone stays at home out of solidarity. Travelling declined by 90% during Easter holiday.

    So many people I thought were bright, but turn themselves into gibbering idiots because there is an election year. Paul Krugman’s take on Sweden was a great show of his total ignorance about the subject he was writing about.

    Getting a bit tired of it all. Sweden’s policy isn’t as different as other countries as people make you believe. Sure, we don’t have laws or mandated quarantines, but we have *recommendations from the government* which means that if you don’t follow them, you will have the collective pressure from the whole society bearing down on you. So the basic effect is the same.

    And one thing I hear too little about from those morons who wants to open the economy in US. Sickpay! That is the absolutely only reason we have been managing to keep the infection spread under some kind of control. That people can stay home if they are sick. Opening the economy without mandated sickpay and employee job security is just stupid. First implement measures so that people know that they can stay home if they are sick. Then talk about relaxing restrictions.

    I’m irritated at the world now.

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    • There are certainly European countries with tighter lockdowns that have worse growth rates of cases than Sweden and as you point out Sweden has substantial structural advantages in coping with greater growth rates.

      The bigger issue I think, is a nation’s capacity to stick to a plan. Mixed, confused messaging lead to poorly implemented lockdowns – the UK is a clear example were the government bodged critical decisions at key moments.

      Looking at Sweden’s figure’s now…deaths per million its around the European average, Spain, Belgium, Italy, France, UK in much worse positions but a whole pile of other countries in better positions. I suspect it is those structural advantages that means Sweden has avoided so far the point were death rates become compounded by hospitals being overwhelmed i.e. it’s probably one of the few countries in the world that could even have attempted the milder restrictions. On the flip side it isn’t a great advert for milder levels of restrictions — even with everything going for it, the numbers are only good in comparison with the worst outcomes in Europe.

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      • I don’t think you can compare death rates between countries that easily. Sweden counts deaths in homes for the elderly. UK, Netherlands and Italy does not. Belgium counts everyone that is suspected of having had corona. Norway needs doctors to call in to report. Sweden reads directly from the public health registry. And so on. And no one knows if less deaths/day now only will mean for more days.

        Add to that even vaguer numbers such as deaths from increased domestic violence, less exercise or even fewer deaths from less road accidents!

        In short term, I think the measures that can be looked at is if healthcare can cope and somewhat on comparisons against death rates for previous years. And Sweden is not doing badly here.


        But I don’t think any kind of evaluation can really be done this early, especially as many countries are opening up their economies, relaxing their restrictions. There will be several months before we can do any kind of real comparison and for long term effects it will take years.

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      • The worst places right now seem to be crowded facilities such as care and nursing homes. That’s where you get outbreaks with lots of people dying in a short period of time, because they were already vulnerable.

        As for figures, today the local news broadcast some alarming figures about 49 new infections recorded in Bremen (which only has approx. 550 cases, so 49 is a lot) and the usual suspects started screeching about the Easter weekend and people going for walks in the park or maybe having a barbecue. Upon close examination, it turned out that 38 of those 49 cases were the inhabitants of a crowded facilitiy for refugees, who had been quarantined already and now tested positive, even though they didn’t have symptoms yet. And the remaining 11 cases were hardly a dramatic increase.

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    • Even the states led by Republicans are counting deaths in nursing homes and the like. Not counting those is going to lead to the statistics being very wrong, given the increased deadliness in old people and sick people.


      • lurkertype: Even the states led by Republicans are counting deaths in nursing homes and the like.</em.

        Unfortunately, a lot of jurisdictions are still not counting probables, especially if the people are elderly and died at home or in an aged care facility without being given a test. The methods being used are widely disparate — just one more thing the Trump administration has fucked up, in not giving strong guidance to all states and cities on a uniform method of counting coronavirus deaths.

        And yes, you're right, this is causing the scale of the devastation to be greatly underestimated. I read that NYC is experiencing at-home deaths (which, in many jurisdictions, get classified as natural causes in the absence of a coronavirus test) at 4 times the usual rate.



    • Sadly, this virus has also exposed a nasty authoritarian strain among quite a few people on the left. I have had to mute several German folks I follow/interact with on Twitter, because their screeching for more lockdowns, stricter measures, “The expert/politician/regular Twitter user who disagrees wants to kill us all” has become so annoying that I had to mute them or risk snapping. Say something even mildly critical such as “I don’t think a full lockdown is a good idea, because it will cause an increase in depression, suicides and domestic violence” and they’ll attack you. They’ll even attack any expert who is not in favour of the strictest lockdown possible or who is in favour of opening the country back up. And all of these are left and green folks. And of course, they all think Sweden is a giant morgue or something and hundreds of people dying every day.

      The measures against the corona virus have also created a nasty culture of shaming and outright snitching. Certain people, mostly privileged, mostly middle class, mostly left/green/progressive, are constantly complaining that someone somewhere might be violating the regulations. “There are people buying flowers in the DIY store (duh, it’s spring) and some of them are elderly (and quite able to make their own decisions), so close all the DIY stores now.” “There are people chatting in the supermarket parking lot and they’re not wearing masks.” “There was a car with an out of town license plate parked in front of someone’s house.” “There was a disabled person walking their dog.” “Someone somewhere had a barbecue or celebrated their birthday with guests.” “People were walking and biking in the streets and parks on Easter (while maintaining sufficient distance) – OMG, this will mean a new wave of infections.” Because apparently nothing is worse than that people they don’t know and whose circumstances they don’t know and with whom they will likely never interact may be breaking the rules (and 90% of the time they aren’t).

      This whole pandemic virtue signalling and shaming is really infuriating and it’s almost entirely from the left. Never mind that most of the German dead are due to the virus getting into care and nursing homes, physical therapy clinics and crowded facilities for refugees. Hardly anybody died because they caught the virus at a supermarket or DIY store or during a stroll in the park.

      The folks on the right are idiots, too, but then we already knew that. What we didn’t know was that some people on the left would turn out to be almost as bad and very eager snitches. Sadly, the authoritarian strain crosses the political spectrum..

      As for Paul Krugman, he may have won a Nobel Prize, but this is far from the first time he demonstrated his total ignorance of something he doesn’t know about. In fact, Krugman is so regularly wrong about the situation in European countries (and probably elsewhere as well) that I stopped paying attention to him years ago.

      Anyway, I agree with you. I’m also highly irritated and angry at the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. 30% of Swedish deaths and 50% of those in Stockholm comes from homes for elderly care (where 20% of new residents die within a month from moving there in ordinary years). If a country does not include that group, their numbers will look drastically better.

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    • Yes, same here. The vast majority of the dead and especially clusters of a lot of people dying in the same town/city are due to the virus getting into a nursing or care home. If I had a close relative in a care home right now, I would be very worried and desperate to get them out of there. Also, a lot of elderly people end up in such care homes via short term care after a hospital stay or illness. Once there, they are pushed into becoming permanent residents, because there is a lot of money to be made from care homes. My Mom spent a month in a short term care home after she was hospitalised in 2017. That place did fuck all in the way of physical therapy or rehabilitation and she’d have been better off at home. They also clearly didn’t like my Dad and me visiting a lot. After that experience (and that was a state-run facility, not a private for prrofit one), I made sure that none of my parents ever ended up in such a place again even for short term care.

      We have to find ways to make nursing and care homes safer for inhabitants and staff, rather than arguing about whether it’s a good idea to reopen schools or shops on a limited basis. And most of all, we need to find a way to keep elderly and ill people in their own homes as long as possible, because they are much safer there.

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      • In Sweden, homes for the elderly is the final resort. Those living there usually have multiple diseases, dementia or both. It is those that wouldn’t survive living at home. You don’t get to stay in a home for the elderly after being hospitalised. Either you recuperate at hospital or at home with personnel coming to see to your needs.


  14. It makes me really tired and sad to see people like this with such small, angry, cramped minds. It takes so much more energy to be hateful than to be kind.

    My brain is not able to process the reality of all these people saying it’s OK to sacrifice 2-3% of the population. The logarithmic scale that has gotten my attention is not the death tallies (because those are quite logical and predictable based on how contagion works). Rather, I’ve been shocked by how fast and far gone the horribleness of what people (powerful or not) are now willing to say openly and in public has become. I am aware of the post Nixonian long duree… but the past three years are just… wow.

    Liked by 2 people

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