CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

How Not To Think About Governments and Emergencies

Aug 31, 2020

It seems a major problem with corona is it causes people to stop thinking:

If you were teaching a class on how to think, on basic logic, and how to avoid fallacious and reckless reasoning, one could simply use the corona crisis to find plenty of material to work with. When people live in fear and feed on the media-generated panic, their ability to think straight tends to take a real dive.

In numerous articles now I have had to deal with all sorts of fuzzy thinking and logical fallacies when it comes to discussing corona, and how governments have dealt with it. Soon an entire book will appear on the matter in which I have contributed a chapter. But one never ceases to be amazed at how folks are thinking – or not thinking – about these issues.

Consider one short comment that came into my site a little while ago: “Australia 583 deaths, USA 180,000. Lockdown policies might be a nuisance but they clearly save lives. I don’t understand your position, Bill. What alternative is there?”

I was intrigued at how much dodgy reasoning could fit into such a short comment. So let me here try to unpack all the faulty thinking and unhelpful reasoning found there. First of all, are we really surprised that the US has more corona deaths?

Um, guess what? The US has more people with sore feet, with heartburn, with impressive shoe collections, with smartphones, with bicycles, with manicured lawns, with pizza craving, and with a love of books. America has more of everything! And why might that be? Could it be because the US has a population of 330 million people, while Australia has only 25.5 million? Duh.

So yeah, we might expect a few more of everything to take place there. Throwing around meaningless numbers as this gal did tells us absolutely nothing. Indeed, each of the 50 US states manages corona differently – as do the various Australian states and territories. So it is quite foolish to compare country with country. At best you might try comparing state with state.

And if you do – even within a nation – you will find vast differences. I have often noted some of these differences between US states. For example, we know that some US states with harsher lockdown measures often have as many, if not more, Covid cases and deaths as those that don’t.

And the same is true here as well. Victoria is far and away the state with the most draconian lockdown measures in place, yet it leads the way with corona deaths. So it seems a good case can be made that lockdowns do NOT make us safer and result in fewer fatalities. Indeed, many experts have said that these excessive lockdowns are simply making matters worse. But that I have documented plenty of times now.

If this gal really wants to know what I think about all this, instead of just asking a rhetorical question, she is free to look over the many pieces I have already written about these matters. But why do I suspect she is not really interested in doing so? She seems to prefer to regurgitate the usual alarmist and panic-driven mantras, while ignoring the actual evidence.

Fictional figures

In addition to the silly suggestion that radically different countries can somehow easily and reliably be compared – instead of contrasted – we also have the issue of faulty figures. I have often noted how various authorities have admitted to rather dubious numbers when it comes to corona cases and deaths.

From early on many have noted the rubbery figures and the dodgy numbers. I have been routinely pointing out these inconvenient truths. Especially in places like America, Covid deaths have been bundled together with other deaths. That is, those who died only because of Covid have often been lumped together with those who died from other causes of death. Sometimes a person was never even tested positive for it.

But even if we just have those dying FROM Covid included with those who die WITH Covid, the numbers will be greatly skewed. Consider this startling admission from the US CDC:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a report stating that just 6% of COVID-19 deaths listed the only cause of death as coronavirus and no other comorbidities. “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death,” the CDC website reads…. Based on the CDC’s data, 94% of people have died with coronavirus, along with one or more other underlying health issues. The CDC’s Aug. 28 update stated that there were 167,558 COVID-19 total deaths, which means 10,053 died solely of coronavirus alone with no other health conditions. www.theblaze.com/news/covid-deaths-percent-coronavirus-cdc

So we can forget the “180,000 deaths” my commentator was fretting over. And we have much the same in Australia. As Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton recently admitted: “For deaths from coronavirus, anyone who’s a confirmed case who dies is classified amongst coronavirus deaths. So, it doesn’t have to be definitively from coronavirus, and in some instances — you know, in aged care — there would have been some residents who were already receiving palliative care who became infected with coronavirus.” caldronpool.com/watch-victoria-says-coronavirus-death-toll-includes-people-who-did-not-die-from-the-virus/

And just today, when we heard of 41 deaths in Victoria, he also admitted that these included those who died many weeks ago – 33 to be exact! “These are deaths that have happened over previous weeks, including going back to late July.” www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-31/coronavirus-australia-live-updates-blog-victoria-jobkeeper/12610938

The numbers are all over the place, and when even the “experts” start to admit how rubbery the figures are, then we all need to sit down, calm down, and not panic. Asking hard questions and thinking clearly is instead the way to proceed here.

All lives matter

As I have also said for a half a year now, all lives matter. Yet the corona alarmists don’t seem to give a rip about the many more fatalities due to the draconian lockdowns. Only one number seems to bother them: the corona deaths (or what is attributed to corona).

I and many others are concerned about all deaths, including the suicides and other deaths that have resulted from this. We know that the social pathologies are rising steadily, including depression, mental illness, gambling and drug addictions, alcoholism, and so on.

Consider another spike: the rise in domestic violence cases because of destroyed economies, lost livelihoods, and over-the-top internment camp measures. As one recent news report states:

Police are performing more than 900 checks on families at high risk of violence each week as COVID-19 creates a wave of first-time victims and perpetrators grappling with financial and employment stresses. Since the start of the pandemic, detectives and frontline officers working on Operation Ribbon say they’ve uncovered more than 5000 domestic violence offences including assaults and breaches of intervention orders.

Officers foreshadowed a rise in abuse during lockdown measures. Victoria Police data prepared for The Age shows 629 perpetrators of domestic abuse have been locked up since the beginning of April. A further 527 were charged and released to appear in court at a later date. Detective Senior Sergeant Rodney Maroney, who leads the southern metro region’s family violence unit based in Prahran, said COVID-19 was creating a pressure-cooker environment for a growing number of families.

The seasoned detective wants those experiencing heightened tensions in the home to know that if they leave home after the 8pm curfew to seek help or to cool off, they won’t be fined for breaching the restrictions. “What we’re starting to see is an increase in what we call COVID family violence, so it’s come about because of the lockdowns and it’s purely based around that financial stress, the unemployment, the uncertainty about where they are going in their futures,” he said. www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/lockdown-stresses-creating-first-time-family-violence-experts-say-20200826-p55pdr.html

And yet this person had the gall to say that all these extreme lockdown measures are merely a bit of a “nuisance”! Um, try telling that to all those who lost their jobs, who lost their businesses, who have mental health problems, who are experiencing domestic violence, who have not been able to see loved ones and family members for many months, and who have lost loved ones due to suicide. The heartlessness of some people utterly astounds me.

Speaking of the Age – and the SMH – newspapers: although normally left-leaning, of late they have come out making some sensible and strong critiques of those who have utterly mismanaged all this. One opinion piece found in those papers said in part:

Millions of other citizens are expected to accept loss of income, loss of personal liberties, loss of wellbeing. And just about everyone is held to account. Those who don’t are admonished, fined and, in the case of the woman who snuck across the border into Western Australia by hiding on a truck, jailed for six months. Just about everyone, that is, except those at the very top….

Everyone is sorry. No one is responsible. Ministers preside over catastrophic failure, illness and mass death. And keep their jobs. And their powers. And their privileges. It doesn’t matter how glaring the failures of their departments, how many people die as a result. The dead go to their graves. The ministers go back to their jobs.

These are not the typical micro scandals of Australian politics – rorted expenses, sex with the staff, lying to parliament. All serious but they do not kill the citizenry that governments exist to serve. These have been mostly avoidable deaths. Of dozens, of hundreds of Australians. People with the same rights as members of parliament. www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/everyone-is-sorry-no-one-is-responsible-covid-exposes-lack-of-ministerial-accountability-20200828-p55qdt.html

The Victorian situation

Here in Victoria our bungling and incompetent Premier who is responsible for our second wave wants to extend his powers indefinitely. He wants to be a dictator for life. I have written about how dangerous and serious this is: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/08/25/smashing-democracy-in-victoria/

It appears that tomorrow the Victorian parliament will discuss and vote on his move to push emergency powers for as long as he wants them. We especially need to keep targeting the crossbenchers on this. Labor is in favour, the Libs are against. So the votes of the others will determine which way this diabolical bill goes.

Here are the 12 crossbenchers that need to be contacted – please do!

Catherine.Cumming@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: 9689 6373

adem.somyurek@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: 9794 0699

Andy.Meddick@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: 5222 1941

fiona.patten@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone:  9386 4400

Clifford.Hayes@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: 9530 8399

Rodney.Barton@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: 9850 8600

samantha.ratnam@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: 9348 2622

Stuart.Grimley@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: 5218 5001

Tania.Maxwell@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: 4700 1787

David.Limbrick@parliament.vic.gov.a
Phone: 9584 4013

Tim.Quilty@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: (02) 6048 6288

jeff.bourman@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone: 5623 2999

And don’t forget to contact the Premier and tell him what you think of this:

daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au 
Phone: 9548 5644

[1780 words]

13 Responses to How Not To Think About Governments and Emergencies

  • Hear, hear bill!
    It’s amazing that the states in the USA that have the biggest death count are all democrat states, yet Trump is somehow to blame even though there is nothing he can do as quarantine’s are a state’s responsibility…
    Another case of “Abbott, Abbott, Abbott” fever from the mainstream Press.. sigh..
    Thanks for exposing the facts despite having to cop some flak…. Israel hated her prophets too!!

  • Bill,
    I am not a statistician or much of mathematician but just looked at total deaths per annum for Australia, 160,000 in 2017, then found 82% of these were age related, about 128,000, or about 10,700 per month on average. In 7 months 22 Jan to 30 August there have been 540 Covid related deaths in the age group 60 plus, 77 per month, about 0.7% of the total age related deaths.
    I do not think this is a statistically significant number. It probably bears looking at on a monthly basis, winter numbers for age related deaths will be higher for sure.
    I wonder why this has not been publicized, maybe I have missed it?
    I am well into the age group, in fact in the highest 10 year bracket by far. So, don’t delay in posting this I may not live long enough to see it. I am checking this with my actuarial son but simply put, there is no substance to the thinking that Covid is a great Reaper.

  • CoVid may be a contributing factor, or hasten the death of someone from a pre-existing disease – to report it as “primarily due to CoVid” is akin to “overservicing” (unnecessary procedures in the living)
    When it is reported as CoVid, when the person tested negative, or in some instances had never been tested at all – this is outright fraud, like charging for a service which never actually took place.
    Overservicing & fraud on living patients has been a great financial drain on the medical system.
    Similarly this overinflated number of CoVid patients & death directly attributable to it, is costing money, even though there may be financial incentive given to pad out the numbers.

  • What frustrates me here is that most politicians, media and medical experts resolutely insist on waiting for a vaccine – either in ignorance or in hope that the Australian sheeple will not wake up to two key truths:

    Truth-1: Covid-style vaccines, like flue vaccines are unlikely to ever be more than the typical 20 to 60% effectiveness. Hence vaccines will need to be updated every year, but still won’t keep up with Covid-19 changes. But the vaccine companies will make their billions as long as Truth-2 re HCQ can be suppressed and we ignore the resultant unnecessary deaths.

    Truth-2: Thousands of doctors worldwide and many countries have significantly reduced their Covid death rates by proactive use of hydroxychloroquine , or HCQ.

    Sadly Truth-2 is studiously ignored: Groups of doctors claiming 100% success in stopping Covid infections in many hundred of vulnerable people have been censored rather than refuted. Apart from embarrassingly hollow and disingenuous claims that HCQ cures are “FALSE”, I’ve searched but found no convincing evidence that the doctors claims are fraudulent. In contrast, claims in famous establishment medical journals, that WHO used to stop HCQ testing, have been thrown out as proven fabrications.

    Meanwhile, our medical establishment, while accepting fast-track vaccine approvals, insist on double-blind long-term testing of HCQ while ignoring HCQ’s proven effectiveness and safety. This denies Australian patients and their doctors the freedom to make their own informed choices.

    Insisting on double-blind testing of HCQ for Covid use is like withholding available potatoes, tomatoes, water, salt and oxygen from starving people because all five can be toxic if misused: so they will be denied to the hungry, until they have been officially tested in a year or three. But “the pub-test” knows that all are perfectly safe in normal use and its better to save a 100 people from starvation at the risk of 1 in a thousand dying from potato poisoning or drowning etc..

    So how effective is HCQ? Rubbery figures make comparisons on a country-wide scale difficult. However, most of the so-called advance countries that actively discourage HCQ use have about 10-times worse death rates than countries that allow or encourage HCQ use. On the level of individual medical practices, or in a single slum in India, the evidence seems overwhelming in favour of HCQ use.

    For copious references to all the above, please see https://tinyurl.com/CovidAnswers.

  • Yes quite right Peter.

  • Having tried and failed to point out the simple stupid stats used to create fear in this matter, the sad truth is that many if not most Aussies
    1 Are only half educated
    2 Couldn’t cope with covariance or simple maths
    3 Have no sense of Risk evaluation and its importance in realistic decision making
    4 Have no idea that microbiology is about ecology not evil agent ideology

  • Once again, thank you Bill for a well-measured and thought provoking article. Indeed, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to compare “apples with apples” at this time. One can only hope that truth will ultimately prevail, that people will be held to account for the mess they have created, not to mention the disproportionate level of fear that has been whipped up by various interested parties. Besides the politicians not having their income, position and privileges affected, one can only imagine who is making megabucks out of all this while our politicians pontificate on the political stage. Could we be witnessing a case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns? Personally, I am heartened only by the fact that I know that God is never surprised by such human ineptitude and always has a plan IF we are prepared to seek it.

  • Ah Bill. Please know I am praying for you and other Victorians!

    In my opinion, the main problem with the lockdown measures has been their generalised and broad scope. For instance, a great deal of pain for a great many people could have been avoided by a quite limited and specific lockdown- for instance, confining Daniel Andrews and co. to their homes and cutting off their internet connections.

  • Very sensible indeed Lauren!

  • Elites: “People with the same rights as members of parliament” what are these people smoking.

  • A country in Africa hardly has any covid because they are already taking HCQ for malaria. Don’t hear that in the MSM.

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