Risk perception and Covid-1984

20 million tests with 423,000 positive results unadjusted for the 2.3% false positive estimate apparently means, to a professor of statistics, that virtually no one may actually be covid-positive given the accuracy of the tests we now have available.

The notion that a proper understanding of risk lies behind the support for lockdowns and all of the other measures taken is without foundation. The chap in the video thinks that because in some abstruse approach to dealing with a set of numbers, that the entire British public will rise up and demand that the entire lockdown and protective apparatus be dismantled and that the health authorities and even the government will be held accountable for some sort of fraud.

What a joke! The real point is that virtually no one cares about the situation at large and in general, but only about themselves. And no one cares that their personal risk is, objectively measured, virtually zero, but only if their personal risk is more than zero. If it is, then lock it all down and throw away the key until you can come back with a vaccine that will with certainty protect ME from death.

To paraphrase Stalin, my death is a tragedy, that virtually no one else is dying is an irrelevancy.

Does anyone really get influenced by any of this: Survival rates for COVID-19?

The CDC last week posted its new estimate of the survival rates for COVID-19, broken up by age.

This link put those number in clear terms:

0-19 years: 99.997%
20-49 years: 99.98%
50-69 years: 99.5%
70+ years: 94.6%

That is, your chance of dying, by age, is as follows:

0-19 years: 0.003%%
20-49 years: 0.002%
50-69 years: 000.5%
70+ years: 0.054%

That may seem like a negligible number to you, but too all to many individuals it is a finite possibility. So far as all this is being conceived, even if someone is under 50 years of age, one chance in 50,000 is much too large, they think,if that one person is ME.

The politics of Covid is understood best by the hysterics and madmen political leaders amongst us. Any perceived risk greater than zero is unacceptable to a very large proportion of the VOTING public. Say this proportion is five percent, and it is likely much larger than that, no government will remain in place if it alienates so many. That’s where this comes from.

That, I promise you, is poll-driven.

The Murdoch Press and the left

From Five myths about Rupert Murdoch published in The Washington Post. Myth Number 1:

1. Murdoch is on the far right.

Fairness and balance aside, Fox News serves up some of the most conservative voices active in American politics. The Wall Street Journal publishes consistently anti-tax and anti-regulatory editorials and opinion pieces. Murdoch’s London tabloids beat the drums for the invasion of Iraq, while his Australian tabloids routinely mock the idea of global warming.

And yet, this is a guy who kept a bust of Lenin in his student chambers at Oxford University. Murdoch founded his native Australia’s sole national newspaper (the Australian) in 1964 and encouraged its reporting on conditions confronting aboriginal peoples. Even though he is hostile to government initiatives on climate change, groups that examine corporate carbon emissions have given News Corp. high marks for monitoring and disclosing its footprint; the company beat a five-year deadline that he set back in 2007 to become carbon-neutral. A naturalized American citizen, Murdoch supports more liberal immigration laws.

Over the years, he has moved to the right. But his cultural conservatism and skepticism of regulation are tempered by more progressive stands, influenced in part by his three adult children with his second wife. And his political instincts prove flexible. Although he went after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a leading Republican, last year for cozying up to President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy so close to Election Day, Murdoch has made common cause with center-left Democrats such as the late New York City mayor Ed Koch and Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was a senator from New York. Similarly, he backed Labor’s Tony Blair for prime minister three times in Britain. He is simply not as conservative as Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes or the Journal editorial page.

And then there is this from Wikipedia:

 At the end of the Thatcher/Major era, Murdoch switched his support to the Labour Party and its leader, Tony Blair. The closeness of his relationship with Blair and their secret meetings to discuss national policies was to become a political issue in Britain.Former [Labour] Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s official spokesman said in November 2009 that Brown and Murdoch “were in regular communication” and that “there is nothing unusual in the prime minister talking to Rupert Murdoch”.

And in Australia.

Rudd certainly has a lot to say about the coverage of the 2007 federal election by this august organ’s parent company in his new book, Not for the Faint-hearted, released today:

True to the Murdoch newspaper and Howard government form guide … The Murdoch press continued with its breathless reporting …

We gave him a hard time in 2007? We gave him our endorsement. The Australian’s editorial, November 23, 2007:

Mr Rudd has spoken of recapturing some of the reform zeal of the Hawke and Keating years … We recognise that no change is free of risk, but we recommend a vote for Mr Rudd.

Rudd hated News’s coverage of his time at a strip joint in New York. Rudd’s memoir, yesterday:

Sure enough … I was hit with the full barrage of Murdoch front-page headlines, screaming RUDD’S STRIP CLUB SHAME and DRUNK RUDD CAN’T RECALL STRIP CLUB …

And our investigations into his multi-millionaire wife’s business dealings. Not for the Faint-hearted, continued:

The Murdoch press stalking her as if she was a criminal … This was a type of McCarthyism; where once a charge is made, then published and sensationalised, it becomes legitimate to publish any subsequent charge …

Didn’t stop our sister paper The Daily Telegraph from endorsing him. November 23, 2007:

The Daily Telegraph believes Kevin Rudd should be the next prime minister … we now believe Mr Howard has reached his use-by date …

As did Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail, November 23, 2007:

Kevin Rudd is a man for his time … he has the support of The Courier-Mail, only the second endorsement we have given federal Labor since the newspaper was established 74 years ago.

The question was not who was responsible but why did anyone think it was the right way to go?

I watched the examination of Daniel Andrews the other day until I could bear it no longer. The major issue seemed to be who had decided to employ these private contractors rather than bring in the ADF. But that was not the right issue. The right issue is why was that decision made? And let us not kid ourselves. The decision was made by Daniel Andrews irrespective of who is being asked to take the rap. As if he didn’t know what was going on. Is everyone an absolute idiot?

But that aside, the question of who is irrelevant. What demands explanation is why it was decided almost immediately to enforce the quarantine within Victoria using unqualified personnel who had to be trained from scratch.

It cannot be because they were a cheaper source of labour, since they cost an additional $18m whereas the ADF were being sponsored and funded by the Commonwealth.

It cannot be because these people had an expertise that would allow them to undertake these tasks with greater focus and with less potential for mistakes. We know that cannot be the case since we have heard from many of them about their lack of relevant skills and qualifications and their absence of training.

We also know it cannot be the case that they had a superior skill set since the virus – uniquely in Victoria – escaped from confinement and went onto to kill hundreds more while being contained everywhere else.

It cannot be because Daniel Andrews wanted to provide more money to his union colleagues by providing them with sinecures that would earn them a tonne of money for providing an essentially simple service, because the task wasn’t all that simple as it turned out. But the money they most surely did receive, lucky them, for taking on a job that was well beyond their capabilities.

So why were these completely unskilled union colleagues of the premier chosen to receive the millions for undertaking these tasks even though they were not even a favoured tenderer for the state and had no requisite skills?

It is obviously a very difficult question because not a single person seems to be able to come up with a plausible answer.

Columnists who try men’s souls

I get all the papers now since there is so little to do that the extra crossword puzzles and sudokus help fill in the day. But these are columns that try men’s souls, I can tell you, and from The Oz as well. And once again, Daniel Andrews is the cause. Let me take you first to Angela Shanahan and her pathetic Let’s give these poor pollies a break. There we find:

The Victorian Premier is held up as an incompetent fool, a crazed ideological warrior with no sense of “reality”, careless of the econo­mic devastation cutting a swath through his state, and adopting totalitarian methods of control.

And so he is and all of that. Angela, however, thinks we are being too hard on this poor, misbegotten sod:

These two premiers [Dan and the premier of Queensland] have become symbols of ideological warfare that preceded the pandemic. Many attacks directed at them have nothing to do with how well, or badly, they are managing to control the spread of the virus in their states. It is a type of proxy warfare. The border closures and even the economic versus fatality arguments are an extension of the ideological warfare that apparently cannot be halted even in times of national emergency.

She then added this, gratuitously to my mind, towards the end, so that I will now feel free to never read another word she writes:

Generally our politicians are men and women of quite high calibre and good character. (If you don’t believe me, look at the two contenders for the American presidency.)

Unbelievable. You can tell almost everything about someone’s politics by their attitude to Donald Trump.

Then we come to Katrina Grace Kelly who writes in her column today, We are managing the pandemic quite well, so stop the wild shrieking. Someone I had long ago stopped reading. The heading did get me in today, but the contents will keep me away for even longer after this. She is discussing the poll results that show Daniel Andrews has 61% approval for his handling of the Corona V:

This data rises above the chorus of remarks by federal coalition politicians, and hyperbolic and often inaccurate criticism from the angry tub-thumpers on SAD (Sky after Dark). On SAD, our Premier is called “Chairman Dan” or “Dictator Dan” and Victoria is referred to as a “socialist republic” and a “failed state”. These insults demean every Victorian, regardless of how they vote.

What about the extra 750 deaths in Victoria, you absurdist goose? The Sky After Dark crowd are trying to tell you something, but you are obviously too thick with sentimental eyewash to take in what they are saying. Any thoughts on the Chinese Road and Brick business? These are the first four comments under “Best”, that is, the comments most in keeping with the views of others.

Fact number one: the Victorian government’s massive incompetence in handling hotel quarantine has led to awful human and economic loss. It’s the biggest failure of public policy and administration in modern Australian history. This, really, is all that needs to be known. Nothing to do with the political opposition or politics more generally. Just sheer, industrial scale incompetence by the Victorian government.

Walking though the Geelong CBD is hard not to notice around 20% of the shop fronts are empty. The economic pain Andrews has caused with the bungled hotel quarantine program is yet to be felt and will linger for years to come. Andrews economic record is headed south at a rapid rate. He wasted $1.3 billion on not building a road and now the road he’s building to replace has a cost overrun of $3 billion and it not even half build. It pretty clear Andrews government is following the trajectory of the Cain Government and like Cain I expect Andrews to jump ship just as the economic pain starts to wash across the deck.

In this country your state of Victoria has failed to control this virus. 700+ deaths , billions lost, thousands of jobs lost, denial of civil liberties resulting in the hardest lock down in the world. People are shrieking because the ALP have lowered the standard of accountability of Government to the point that your Premier sets up an inquiry to investigate a failed hotel quarantine management policy that HE introduced and after months he finally shows up unprepared and doesn’t know who introduced private security guards. And you still “stand with Dan”. And the worst performing state govt in this country probably ever.

Nobody does diversions better than Labor or the sycophantic media cheer squad.

It’s lucky I now subscribe to The Age so I can get some balance in what I read in the press.

Private security

Don’t know why it has taken so long for the penny to drop, but just how ludicrous is this:

A senior Department of Jobs official has been shifted from their role as evidence mounts that the decision to use private security guards at Melbourne’s quarantine hotels was partly driven by a well-meaning attempt to provide jobs under “social inclusion” policies.

The phrase looked so innocuous. Private, I was thinking, as in from the private sector. The notion that that socialist nitwit would prefer to use security guards hired from the private sector is ZERO if not less. What a lying swindler he is, finding yet another way to help bankrupt the state. Meanwhile, how much do you believe this?

Mr Andrews told the official inquiry into the ill-fated hotels program on Friday he had no knowledge of how private security had been put in charge of guarding people.

Those words again.

Andrews fronts the Inquiry today

News and Opinion | Herald Sun

Daniel will front the Inquiry today. The last opportunity to find someone, anyone, who knew what was going on. From Tim Smith from the Victorian Opposition (it does exist):

I don’t recall. No, those meeting notes with my name do not jog my memory. The decision to use security guards was already made, I don’t know by who. That was not my responsibility. I heard something about the ADF, but I don’t recall what.

Each senior figure speaking before the hotel quarantine inquiry should be made to read the transcript of their evidence and donate a considerable sum from their handsome taxpayer-funded salaries to the victims of this disaster for every time they used a version of those words.

Hundreds of Victorians have died. Thousands of businesses have collapsed. Hundreds of thousands of Victorians have lost their jobs.

The people entrusted to navigate Victoria through this pandemic steered it onto the rocks of the second wave — and are now they obfuscate, buck pass, dissemble and perhaps even lie under oath. It is a conga line of incompetence, insincerity and insensitivity. And it is a gross insult to the families who have lost loved ones because of them.

As for the virus, this is really where we are at.

Can we eliminate the virus? No.

Can we be sure that the death rate will never come back to its previous level? No.

Can we stay in lockdown forever? No.

Can we put an end to domestic travel forever? No

Can we put an end to international travel forever? No

Can we keep the productive parts of the economy subdued forever? No

So what are we going to do? At some stage, in spite of all of the uncertainties, even Daniel Andrews will have to open not just the economy but the whole of society up again, however much his totalitarian instincts may stand in the way.

Going to the comments section of the article by Chris Uhlmann on Daniel Andrews (see Call off the Covid Dogs) an article which was published online but not in the papers, these were some of the arguments of those who support the hard lockdowns and the approach taken by Andrews in Victoria. This is the link to the comments section of the article. You can also find the article at the link as well.

So easy to be wise after the event. If Victoria had just let it rip and many thousands died you would have been criticising the government for not doing enough.

When an existential threat appears, I want a leader who takes the cautious approach.

He seems to suggest that it is possible to ring fence aged care facilities. Chris Uhlmann makes it a choice between saving the lives of the elderly and saving the economy.

The only reason the death rate is as low as it is in this country is because we have taken extreme measures.

Until a vaccine is developed (if ever) quarantine and reduction of face to face contacts is the only effective method at the disposal of Governments to protect society.

The Victorian restrictions have been extreme and damaging. However it was the only acceptable response to suppress infection rates to a manageable level.

Chris is entitled to his opinion but he is no health expert, virologist, or scientist. Nor does he even quote or refer to any that might backup his view.

200,000 US deaths in 7 months indicates that this virus is a highly contagious killer. Aust could have had similar (per capita) stats if we didnt act as swiftly and as seriously as we did.

This is not an ordinary pandemic disease like influenza. When it gets any foothold at all, it does not advance incrementally, but exponentially.

The chief medical officers, most scientists and the WHO advises what we should do. The vast majority of leaders and intellectuals of the world advises what we should do. The politicians are listening and acting on said advises.

The ugly truth is we know that you and some other people either measure success in monetary terms or political terms, whilst you say that the elderly are affected you ignore that there is a growing after affect of Covid in younger people, chronic lung disease, heart damage and neurological damage, what does that do to the economy, how would massive chronic disease where people aren’t dead, but unable to conduct a full days work ever again, or wait and manage as we are.

What bizarre logic: using the success of lockdown in keeping cases/deaths low to argue that there should be no lockdown.

Let’s not just consider the death rates when asking was lockdown worth it. Let’s ask if we really want a large percentage of our community suffering from long term disabilities.

Our society has not been destroyed at all Mr Uhlmann, in fact it has been made stronger bar a few in the tin foil brigade.

Andrews has his constituency shrinking though it may be. There will be quite a post mortem on the psychology of the lockdowns and dealing with irrational fears which will come in company with the visiting of the phenomenal costs on the whole of Victorian society. Eventually, Andrews will be remembered as a reckless villain who brought so much destruction of virtually zero compensating gain. Here’s another cartoon that captures other aspects of the Victorian disaster.

Johannes Leak Letters Cartoon published on Wednesday September 9.

The political works of Gary Saul Morson

We have previously drawn attention to Professor Gary Saul Morson’s New Criterion essay “How the great truth dawned,” Professor Morson’s New Criterion lecture “Leninthink,” Professor Morson’s New York Review of Books review “The horror, the horror,” and Professor Morson’s book Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time (Steve wrote about it here).

To these I now want to add Professor Morson’s First Things essay “Suicide of the liberals.”

His Wikipedia entry.