Covid and response

[ 2/10/20 Mischele’s Facebook rant about response to covid and withdrawing from the UN]


Certainly – we need to respect individual rights, and individual lives; and that demands multiple levels of responsibility from each and every one of us, social and ecological systems require it to survive, and we need them to survive.

We must be able to cooperate at every level, and we must be aware that naive cooperation can be exploited, and we must be prepared to do what it takes to prevent such exploitative systems dominating.

So it is deeply more complex than the simplistic and wrong approach suggested above, and some of the concerns behind suggesting that approach are very real.

Covid is a real problem.

It is far more deadly than most viruses of the past hundred years (not so bad as the 1918 flu – fortunately).

Isolation is the only mechanism to beat it in the short term.

If all nations had adopted an isolation approach like we did, then we would have eliminated this virus 4 months ago.

There is so much misinformation out there, spread for the benefit of some set of individuals at some level, that it is really hard to know what is real.

For me, as someone who completed undergrad biochemistry 46 years ago, it is reasonably straight forward.

What we need is cooperation at all levels, and isolation and contact tracing. Stamp it out then get on with life.

And there are certainly multiple levels of agents out there with other agendas against whom we need to be vigilant.

And I have no shadow of reasonable doubt remaining that our lives and our liberty and dependent on our ability to cooperate and to act responsibly as individuals (to the best of our limited and fallible abilities – we will all make mistakes – that is part of being human).


[followed by]

Hi Mischele,

I have not trusted the mainstream media since 1984 when I was reported 9 times over two weeks, and on one of those times I could say what was printed was something like what I talked to the reporter about, but the other 8 bore no relationship that I could find to what was discussed (all words and phrases were reported out of context).

I trust Brian Rose and his so called experts even less.

I started working with PCR myself in 1974. It is something I know a little bit about, and it can be extremely reliable – and everything depends upon the precise context.

What I want people to accept is that there are some very limited contexts where complying with lockdown rules is actually in everyone’s long term best interests. Convid 19 was one of those.

Had the entire world complied with the recommendation to lock down, and had we done that for 8 weeks, then it would have all been over a long time ago, and we would be back to life as normal.

As someone who trained as a biochemist, and has been studying all forms of existential risk, the need to isolate to defeat novel biological agents has been clear to me for a long time – and I and many others have written about it a long time ago. It was actually well known well before my birth.

I do not advise anyone to obey anyone else just because they say so, unless it is a life threatening emergency. Sometimes, in an emergency, it is critical to survival that a single plan is followed. Often it doesn’t really matter much which plan, so long as it is one that has a reasonable chance of working (and often there is a large class of such things).

As someone who has been at sea on boats for many years, mostly as skipper, most of the time everyone just does what they think is most important, and mostly that works. However, in a storm, everyone on the crew needs to work as one, and the command of the skipper is critical to survival, and should be obeyed unless you are absolutely certain that the skipper is making a fatal error.

And sure, there are lots of conspiracies about, lots of secrets, every government and every company has secret plans; as do many non government groups. In a sense that is normal.

And having been involved in many levels of many organisations, I know how difficult it is to actually keep anything a real secret. So I am clear that most conspiracy theories are either error, or deliberate misinformation designed to mask the real plans.

So I have built my life around making direct relationships with many different people in whom I have degrees of trust in particular areas, and I have actually observed their competence in those areas.

I have spent a few hours talking to Shaun Hendy.

I trust his work – and we both understand that all his work is probability based, and contains multiple levels of fundamental uncertainties. Absolute certainty is a total myth in such contexts – anyone who thinks they have it is suffering from a kind of delusion that comes from over simplifying something that truly is complex.

I am clear that there are fundamental issues with the existing systems, however many great people there are in them.

I am clear that the only future for humanity that has any significant probability of long term survival is one that involves universal cooperation between diverse agents.

Cooperation is not control.

The existing focus on multiple levels of control creates multiple levels of risk.

And cooperation has to acknowledge that there are many levels of real boundaries that must be respected, if any of us are to have reasonable probabilities of survival.

Most of the ideas about 5G conspiracy are pure fiction.

The idea that this virus has anything to do with 5G is pure fiction (of that I am 99%+ confident).

So I am most definitely not saying trust authority in all cases.

I am very clear that there are many very good reasons why we should be skeptical of authority most of the time.

And in this case, of responding to a very real biological agent that does pose a very real threat of death to a significant fraction of the population, and poses a lot of long term risks to everyone that very few are conscious of yet because they do not have the knowledge of biological systems to allow them to make such assessments with reasonable degrees of confidence, we should all make real efforts to respect isolation and contact tracing requirements because it is actually in our long term best interest to do so.

And as soon as the virus is under control we ought to be very skeptical of anyone claiming that monitoring and contact tracing is actually in our long term best interests.

So it is a deeply complex situation we find ourselves in, and my commitment is to finding social and political mechanisms that deliver the greatest degrees of security and freedom possible, while acknowledging the reality that all levels of structure have real requirements of limits that are necessary for the survival of that level of structure – like our bodies need skin – for without it our water leaks out and bacteria get in and we die a very rapid and painful death. Every level of structure, including levels of social groups, have levels of structure like that which are required for them to survive.

And what those limits actually are can change a great deal with relatively small changes in context. Nothing simple. Everything constantly changing. Real novelty and real creativity are a constant presence, so everything does actually contain degrees of uncertainty and unknowability. And sometimes we can have very high confidence, and sometimes not much at all.

I have very high confidence that most of the conspiracy theories currently in existence are at some level deliberate misinformation designed to make such individuals who are disposed to question accepted dogma ineffectual.

To be effective, we need to become very aware of the levels of evidence, and the levels of strategy that are actually present.

To have any real chance of survival, we do actually need to be fundamentally cooperative, even as we are very vigilant for any level of cheating strategy against such cooperation.

Nothing simple.

Nothing certain.

Only our best estimates of what seems most likely, and even the best of us will get it wrong some times.

[followed by]

It isn’t as bad as the 1918 influenza, which is a very good thing – the second wave of that one killed about 90% of those infected.

And this one is still about 100 times more lethal than the common flu (fortunately not 10,000 times more lethal).

Masks are minimally useful at stopping you catching a virus particle from someone else, but reasonably effective at preventing you from from infecting others if you have it. That is why they work.

The government has always had power and control.

Anyone who uses the internet or a phone who does not understand that everything can be monitored does not actually understand how the technology works.

There is good reason to fear novel viruses and novel pathogens generally.

While I am not generally in favour of government surveillance, in this instance it is the lesser of the evils present.

To me Brian Rose is an individual who values money above lives and uses science only to the degree that it supports his particular belief set. I see him clearly as a source of disinformation and partial truths spun to form a greater lie. I have watched him. I am not impressed. One could make a strong case that his use of half truths is responsible for thousands of deaths that could otherwise be avoided.

One good example is his rant against obese people. Yes, obesity is a risk factor, but if every fat person suddenly magically became optimal in their weight, it would only reduce the death rate from 1.4% to 1% – still 50 times the death rate from any other flu of recent years.

It isn’t a solution, all it does is increase ill feeling towards fat people, most of whom are fat for reasons of economics, which Rose seems to admire over human life. His hypocracy is deep and does not impress me at all. He does not impress me as anyone worth giving any attention at all to.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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