Historical analogies for the covid-mania

“men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses more slowly, and one by one.” MacKay, 1841.

The Simpsons: 5 Old Characters We Miss (& 5 That Should Probably Be Phased Out)Right now, London and much of Europe are in peak covid-mania, entering another two months of lockdowns on top of the ineffectual lockdowns of 2020. Whilst not credibly leading to any reduced number of covid-deaths, the UK government’s action have so far cost over five million happy years of life just by reducing the quality of life some 10% for a population of 70 million for nearly a year. The roughly one billion pounds of extra borrowing needed per day to buy off dissent and hide the forced collapse of productivity will down the line cost about 1 million happy years of life per month of lockdowns via reduced future government services. Even if they would save 0.2% of the population via the most vulnerable (which they clearly don’t), the lockdowns destroy the equivalent of that ‘promised gain’ in terms of happy years of life every single week of lockdowns. This frankly insane state of play was summed up well by a conservative politician who openly said in parliament (the only place that cant be censored) that “This is a situation of state capture. Government is completely enthralled by a lobby pushing the failed policy of lockdown. Despite the arrival of vaccines, the lobby has signalled that social control won’t end, some restrictions will remain & measures may be reimposed next winter”

To date, the UK government has abandoned its duty to educate children by closing schools, abandoned its duty towards public health by neglecting non-covid health problems, abandoned its duty to ensure the population maintains its livelihood by preventing ‘non-essential workers’ from doing their job, and has demoted the majority of the population to virus risk vectors. Births are now expected to plummet and future deaths of non-covid health problems are assured to be much higher in the coming years. The choice to destroy health, joy, life, and liberty on this massive scale fits the dictionary definition of insanity, ie irrational self-harm. The main thing that obscures the insanity of the situation is that the vast majority of the population has gone along with it, abandoning their own responsibility towards their children, their family, their own futures, and their country. The situation in the UK is repeated in much of sub-Scandinavian Europe and in most states of the US.

The weirdness of the situation is reflected in the contradictions of the policies. The UK covid death cult urges the population to come to a social standstill to prevent infections, but millions of ‘essential workers’ are running around the country as normal. ‘Inessential’ market activities are supposedly shut down, but viewing and selling houses is strongly encouraged with tax-breaks and travel-exemptions, which is because the groups in charge own property and are looking after themselves. Gathering and hugging are depicted as lethal when the general population does it, whilst the police and health workers huddle together. Those who run almost no risk are prevented from gathering in groups (children) whilst those who run the most risks are packed together with many others who are sick in nursing homes and hospitals. State propaganda is seen and heard everywhere, from posters on the street to commercials on radio, whilst censorship of dissenting voices is widespread. After their failed predictions cost them nothing, some medical advisers are already advocating that even if everyone is vaccinated the whole country should lock down next winter anyway, bemoaned only by the odd brave member of parliament. Much of the novel 1984 is thus now reality.

Let us go over several possible historical analogies one can think of for the current situation to try and expand our ideas on what might happen next. I want to discuss the analogies with the Dreyfus affair, the US Prohibition and the Vietnam war, medieval feudal Catholicism, medieval feudal Christian Orthodoxy, and the communist/Nazi crowds of central Europe in the 1920s-1940s.

               The analogy with the Dreyfus affair of 1895-1906.

I have made the argument before, but I should repeat that the intellectual battle of the Covistance against the insanity of covid-mania is most reminiscent of that of the Dreyfusards who needed 10 years to acquit an obviously innocent man who had become the scapegoat of an incompetent state institution (the army), a mistake that was backed up by the vast majority of the French politicians and population. The intensity with which the Dreyfusards were hounded by public opinion, and the gradual recognition in elite circles that they were actually right, feels very similar to the current public ‘debates’ about covid. The composition of the Covistance and its inability to get anywhere fast are also very similar to the experiences of the Dreyfusards.

The main lesson from that period was how easy it is for state institutions to ignore truth and keep going with nonsense for years, no matter how obvious the case to any outsider. It thus tells one the current situation might easily last years and that state institutions do not by themselves see the light but have to be forced into it. Another lesson is that to win the battle one needs money, prestige, and its own outlets. The Covistance has the last two, but not much of the first.

The analogy breaks down when we consider the nature of the victim: now it is whole populations that are suffering, not a single outsider like Dreyfus sent to a far-away island. Also, the suffering now is largely self-inflicted rather than other-inflicted, so in terms of the crowd characteristics of the situation, the Dreyfus affair is a very poor fit for the current predicament.


               The analogy with the US Prohibition 1920-1930

In terms of the widespread popularity of an obvious act of self-harm that quickly became ignored by the elites and yet took years to become widely opposed, the US prohibition period fits today well. In that period, the production and sale of alcohol were banned throughout the US. Then too, lots of minor scientists were falling over themselves to ‘prove’ how harmful alcohol was and ‘thus’ that Prohibition was the thing to do. Then too, there was a whole population movement that saw the Prohibition as a moral thing, keen to signal how much they were all in favour of it. Then too, the restrictions were unworkable and against human nature, so the elites quickly found ways around them via lots of illegal venues, as they have today during lockdowns (private jets are doing brisk business! Lockdowns are for the masses).

In terms of the general delusion inflicted upon and maintained by the population, the Prohibition fits the covid-mania. Yet, the damage of current policies is much worse and the mania is not confined to one country, as the Prohibition was, but has enveloped half the world. More self-destructive and dispersed movements fall apart quicker. Relevantly, the Prohibition lost mass support after about 5 years, taking a few more years for its regulations to be repealed in law. We should expect covid-mania to last less long than that.


               The analogy with the US experience of the Vietnam war

In terms of the bunker mentality of the advisers to politicians, the disinformation by the government, the gullibility of the population, the irrelevance of the collateral damage, and the vitriol against those talking about the victims, the Vietnam war experience seems very apt for today. Also, like the Vietnam war, covid-mania comes with a promise of ‘victory’ after which all is supposedly well.

Another important similarity is that the state then, as now, cannot suppress information and force unity because different countries and states go their own way, meaning that state propaganda and media controls simply cannot be fully effective. There are leaks in the control system and the nagging realisation that other places are making better choices.

The main difference is that the victims are now not millions of poor ‘others’ living far away, but that there are so many victims nearby: the children, the vulnerable, the poor, the alone, etc. So one would expect the unravelling of the state propaganda to be much quicker than it was in the Vietnam war era. Also, the essential falsehood of the promise of a total victory is more obvious this time because we are talking about an endemic disease that mutates and has already dispatched many of those most vulnerable to it. Vaccines don’t change that reality.


               The analogy with feudal medieval Catholicism

In terms of crowd madness, covid-mania does not look like the centuries of stable medieval Catholicism at all. And yet, some of the basic patterns to emerge the last 10 months are highly reminiscent of feudal medieval Catholicism.

For one, in feudal medieval Catholicism, the basic message of the church was that the population was innately sinful and should submit to the representatives of the church for salvation. Whilst they subjugated the masses with stories of how they should atone for their original sin, the church was in a pragmatic alliance with local rulers, taxing the vast majority of the population (the peasants) who were kept dumb and without agency. Propaganda and signs of subjugation were normal fare then, as they are now.

This basic philosophy of sinfulness and subjugation to the ideology and earthly power of the day is very much the package that has won out the last 10 months: people are now treated as viral vectors who should follow the prescripts of their betters and whose most basic social urges are depicted as sinful. Relevantly, the economic reality of today is more feudal than in previous decades, something that has gotten much worse due to the covid policies: our economies have become much more unequal the last 30 years and work-life has become much more top-down, with fewer and fewer workers having significant autonomy. Being bossed around and told to comply with lots of ideological regulations is now a normal way of life for many employees in big organisations, just like medieval feudal society in which the vast majority lived in stagnant villages whilst a small elite of barons and clergy bossed them around and encouraged them to debase and flagellate.

It has been normal for many in the last few years to be told they are sinners who have to repent, such as for instigating the patriarchy or profiting from slavery. What has happened the last 10 months is that the basic notion of innate sinfulness has found a big new story in that we are all viral vectors and that our breath, our body, and our proximity are a danger to others, as others are to us. Our breaths and our social proclivities are our new identified innate sins for which we are now asked to be ashamed and atone.

Big differences are that the information levers available to the church and local rulers were more absolute in the middle ages, and that the church was more organised than today’s wannabe new ideologues. The power reality is also different: now state bureaucracies are the biggest fish in the pond, not churches or ideologues. Also, the alternative ways to live are much more visible and skilled people can move round more easily now than then, at least in Europe and the US (and migration streams towards more liberal areas is increasing rapidly!).

What this means is that the current situation is not as sustainable as medieval feudal Catholicism was. The idea that we will see the strong growth of a new Catholic church in the form of a united ideological organisation (such as an expanded WHO) seems highly unlikely.

The main take-away from the analogy is that the pattern we have seen the last 10 months of elites belittling the population and making them feel insignificant sinners, is an almost perfect carbon copy of the story peddled in feudal societies by the Catholic church. Some sin-story is likely to remain.


               The analogy with feudal Christian Orthodoxy

Whilst the Catholic church was unified and in many ways in competition with local rulers, the Orthodox churches looked more like the medical ideologues we see today. Like Catholicism, they also pushed the sin story, also invited bullies and snitches to enforce their will on the rest, and also inflicted massive propaganda. But, unlike the Catholic church, Orthodox churches are more innately local (there are more than a dozen ones) and tied to particular earthly powers: Orthodox clergy are employed by local rulers and thus do their bidding, whilst the Catholic church is an independent international organisation. This means Orthodox churches respect that power resides in local rulers much more than the Catholic church.

So what we have seen emerge the last 12 months resembles feudal Christian Orthodoxy more than Catholicism: a growth of lots of local religious organisations complete with rituals, sinfulness, propaganda, sacred formulas, and self-flagellations. This also suggest a natural path for the covid-institutions: to form national ideological organisations that assemble a story of the innate sinfulness of the population and the necessity of a new priesthood to save them from themselves. This indeed seems the trajectory we are following at the moment.

Yet, the analogy is not perfect and hence it is not clear we should expect this path to be followed for long. Importantly, unlike Christian Orthodoxy, the covid-orthodoxy is innately inefficient and self-destructive in that it is a death-cult. Taken to its logical conclusion, covid-mania would banish all normal social interaction to the point that our societies cease having children or much of an economy. The ideology is thus purely weakening the societies in which it has nestled, not strengthening them. In contrast, there were positive things about Christian Orthodoxy. It advocated having children and extended families, as well as work and glorious achievements. In contrast, covid-mania is purely destructive, a path that simply cannot be followed to its logical conclusion without imploding way before it reaches its natural goal.

Another major issue is that today’s international economy cannot be constrained in the way the economies of feudal Orthodox countries were: workers cannot be imprisoned and kept ignorant to that extent as they can move to other states, at least within Europe and the US. Mobility undermined stagnant places before: lots of the population of Eastern Europe ran away to the more optimistic and growing places in the 18th to 20th centuries, like the Americas or Western Europe. Optimism and growth attract talent, whilst miserly self-destruction does not. So whilst one can see lots of changes the last 10 months that are very reminiscent of the imposition of a new Orthodox faith structure, it is just not sustainable. The rapid impoverishment and puritan kill-joy attitudes that comes with covid-mania makes it unsustainable.


               The Nazi/communist crowds of the 1920s-1940s

Part of the covid-mania is highly reminiscent of the stories about the Nazis and communists of the 1930s till 1940s. The similarities include the extent of the propaganda, the intolerance, the idea that the national body had elements in it that need to be excised, the power lust of the hangers-on, the war imagery, the meekness of the population, the virtue signalling, the abuse of social science to justify political decisions, the idea of wonder weapons, the widespread snitching on non-compliant neighbours, and the notion of a total war requiring all to put in an effort.

What fits poorly though is that covid-mania is basically only destructive and not constructive. Nazism and communism did not merely entail a story of enemies that needed to be destroyed, but also contained visions of how the populations could live happily and gloriously. They thus allowed whole populations to join in productively to build the promised land. So they lead to a huge outpouring of new art, new economic projects, and new celebrations. They spawned youth organisations and reading clubs, mass rallies and exhibitions. That creativity and enthousiasm made them so dangerous to others. In contrast, covid-mania is a far less energetic and less creative affair, with the population treated as meek lambs needing protection, essentially downgrading the population to not being quite human anymore.

Indeed, the most unique element of covid-mania is how it infantilises the majority of the population and robs them of any role: their work is unimportant, their procreation is unimportant, their health is unimportant (unless its covid), and their social needs are unimportant. Within covid-mania, the majority is reduced to being voters who might get covid. Those are the only two attributes that are still prominent during covid-mania: as potential victims of one particular disease and as voters who need to be kept on board.

History does not provide us with a period in which whole populations were so diminished, so reduced to almost nothing. At least, I cannot think of any period in which we humans inflicted upon ourselves what is being done now in much of Europe and the US. Even in Christian orthodoxy and during the Prohibition, the whole system still wanted the majority to be productive and enjoy family life: the production and procreation of the population still mattered. Right now, neither production nor procreation is deemed even remotely important by the covid-maniacs, an almost unique situation in human history; the kind of situation that applied to conquered populations minutes before they were slaughtered.

What also fits poorly with the crowds of the Nazi/communist period is that the covid cult has no obvious set of future enemies to morph into something more energetic: covid-mania naturally runs out of fuel if all the vulnerable have died or if vaccines lead to less infections. It can try to re-assemble with new infectious diseases or new variants (and you can see many attempts in that direction), but its inherently a weak ploy that can easily unravel. The communists and the Nazis had much more obvious enemies to find, namely those humans not yet ‘with the program’.

Institutionally, covid-mania is also much less secure than the Nazi ideologues or the communists were because the adoption of covid-mania has not required the removal of the old regime: the old regime could just temporarily adopt covid-mania, making it much easier to be shed again than if the new ideology had swept its most ardent fanatics into the seats of power. That makes covid-mania more like the Prohibition: a set of beliefs and prescripts any politician can clothe themselves with, but nothing more fundamental from a political point of view than a few rituals and policies that simply happen to have the unfortunate side-effect of enormous damage to the population.

So I don’t think that we should take seriously the idea that the covid-mania can last as long as the Nazis and the communists did. The attraction of covid-mania is much less, its political footing is much weaker, there are fewer growth opportunities, and the losses are too obvious.


               What the analogies tell us.

Different aspects of covid-mania fit different examples from history of crowd behaviour or run-away ideologies.

The bunker-mentality of the advisers and governments during covid-mania is most reminiscent of the Vietnam war era. The moralising, abuse of science, and general popularity of a self-destructive ideology is most reminiscent of the Prohibition. The covid-story by the elites of how the general population is innately poorly behaved and every form of joy is a risk, is most reminiscent of the original sin story of the medieval Catholic church. The formation of new medical ideological groups around the politicians and the state bureaucracy is most reminiscent of the Christian Orthodox churches. The struggles and difficulties of the intellectual opposition to the covid-mania is most reminiscent of the labours of the Dreyfusards. The basic philosophy of an enemy-within (the virus) that needs to be destroyed by a massive collective effort is most reminiscent of the Nazi and communist crowds.

None of these analogies is perfect, but they do suggest a few lessons for what to expect. One lesson is that the natural course of the mania is measured in years, not decades: the pressures to unravel are stronger now than the pressures during the Prohibition and the Vietnam war, which unravelled in terms of popular support after about 5 years, another 5 years to unwind completely. I currently personally expect most of the unravelling of covid-mania to happen in 2021, though that does not mean the end of madness, only the end of the covid-madness. The pressures built up by covid-mania may manifest themselves in new crowd phenomena.

A second lesson I take from these analogies is that there is unlikely to be a reckoning for those who have damaged their own societies so hugely, just as there was no reckoning for the Vietnam war, the Prohibition, Communism, etc.. Only if a new crowd forms that sees the covid-maniacs as the enemy will there be a reckoning, which is the dark scenario I have talked about in a previous post but still see as unlikely. Hence, (un)fortunately, the covid-maniacs will likely get away with what they have done: in none of the historical analogies above did the population want there to be a reckoning because they had gone along with it all and preferred to just not see the damage they had been party to. Reckonings are done by rival groups, not groups that change their minds.

A third lesson is that the basic pattern of an elite pushing a sin-story upon the general population, in the vein of the original sin-story of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, is likely to remain relevant because our societies are again that unequal. Until optimistic nationalism re-asserts itself and the populations hence resume being truly relevant again, we should expect to see some feudal sin-ideology dominant in the years to come in many Western countries. Maybe a new enlightenment drive emerges as a counter-force to that.

A fourth lesson is the realisation of what is unique about covid-mania: an ideology that almost completely dehumanises the majority of the population. Unlike any time in history I can think of, even the productivity and pro-creation of the population have become irrelevant. Western populations have thus been stripped, with their own consent, of human dignity and joy, reduced to voters and virus vectors. This unique feature is also why we don’t even need to talk about the analogy with the second world war when populations pulled together and emerged more united and with empowered populations: in the second world war the populations were needed to win and actively build up the war machinery, whilst populations today are officially branded the problem by the covid-maniacs and are told to keep out of the way. The populations are thus not being empowered and involved in the covid-wars, exactly the contrary, though many fail to see how irrelevant they have become.

A big existential question going forward is then whether the current Western elites have any real use for the ‘inessential’ parts of their populations and what they will do when they discover their own answers to that question.

This entry was posted in Coronavirus crisis, Cultural Critique, Death and taxes, Economics and public policy, Employment, History, Libertarian Musings, Political theory, Politics - international, Science, Social Policy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Historical analogies for the covid-mania

  1. KT2 says:

    PF says: …”have so far cost over five million happy years of life”.

    Paul, did you miss your lectures on providing balance? I agree here with NG “I don’t think you do yourself any favour by tarring them all with the brush of hysterics and defenders of power.”

    I also agree with NG that “Your basic case may be proven right – we shall see.”, but doubt it. Very much.

    I am sure many commenters here would appreciate for you to provide balance by answering to reverse proposition:-
    “have so far saved over 2 gazillion  unhappy years of life”?
    … you’ll be able to qualify and enumerate ‘gazillions’, as you tell us you are able to do so for your case – easily. Every week. Your answer may see a return of many who now don’t bother.

    Nic & Gigi may provide counsel your reply, as NG wrote in reply to you:
    NG: …” As I understand it Gigi and I presume you are strict consequentialist. It’s deaths and QALYs on one side versus another.”…

    But you don’t provide the “verses another”.

    And because you are now providing analogies, some phuzzy philosophy may be unleashed:-

    “I can imagine no man who will look with more horror on the End than a conscientious revolutionary who has, in a sense sincerely, been justifying cruelties and injustices inflicted on millions of his contemporaries by the benefits which he hopes to confer on future generations.”
    C. S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night(1952)

    “A man wants to earn [ reputation ]
    money in order to be happy, and his whole effort and the best of a life are devoted to the earning of that [ reputation ] money. Happiness is forgotten; the means are taken for the end.”
    Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus(1942), “Absurd Creation” (Tr. Justin O’Brien, Vantage International, 1991,ISBN 0-679-73373-6, p. 103)

    Oh, p.s. PF, what will the mental health outcomes be for the 80% who want the current lockdown? This may help in answering above question.

    “Polls suggest most Britons are in favour of new coronavirus restrictions, despite loud opposition voices

    “Polls have registered solid support for the actions taken by the government at every stage of the pandemic

    “The survey of 1,592 adults in Britain found 79 per cent backed a lockdown – up by 8 per cent from a similar poll on December 22 –  while 16 per cent were against toughening restrictions further.

    “YouGov said those polled included people across all major political parties, regions and ages, with 51 per cent saying they “strongly” supported a lockdown.”…

    Thanks as always. Love the transparent pony!

    pps – As you seem to stretch the bow to breaking point, better read up about godwin too Paul.

    And if someone like me can show your bias and slippage into philosophy and base level analogies, you’d best take NG & Gigi’s counsel.

    • good of you to show your face again. On the 5 million claim, why dont you watch the lecture I gave on that topic that is linked to in the post? It even gives you the data where the claim comes from.
      Funny how you try to find a difference between my views and Gigi’s. Why dont you just ask her whether she agrees with the above?

    • KT2 says:

      Paul, 5m – it was your quote I read and quoted.

      Seriously tricky to discuss this with you.

      ”have so far cost over five million happy years of life” is what you said isn’t it?

      Question for Paul Fritjers: how many happy years of life during covid pandemic?

      I am asking you as you say you are the webby life satisfaction expert here, to provide an answer for the other side of the equation.

      Parse this with your rhetorical scapel if you like. But until we see here in black and white ‘the other sidee from Paul’ we will still understand you have one wing.

      The only person who is going to go back and see what data you’ve linked or referenced is a phd student in 5 yrs rime, because if I listed all yiur references, we’d be arguing about gutters.

      So Paul, please provide us with your wisdom knowlege expertise re: how many happy years of life? Please a Paul, i you are going to direct us to thenarchives or going ro use your formidable rhetoric skills and no direct answer, don’t waste everyone’s time with a rhetoric reply. The silence will say it all.

      • paul frijters says:

        “how many happy years of life during covid pandemic?”
        that too is the referenced presentation (and in various previous posts: do your own digging for a change. I am not your research assistant).

        On the issue of whether my calculations are being taken up, I cant complain actually. I was on Dutch radio this morning, will be talking to the Belgian central bank soon, saw a Canadian calculation using many of my basic numbers and arguments yesterday, have been able to get some of the basic calculations published in major handbooks, etc.
        Do not mistake this blog for the totality of my works or attempts to influence this issue. This blog is also a record for friends, colleagues, and interested academics now and in the future of the latest conclusions I am forming, and I have come to see commenters as yourself as useful flags to readers of what the mainstream thought at the time of writing (it is easy to forget what the mainstream thought years back so comments like yours help to remind future readers). I have also noticed particularly on this issue that many people I had never heard of really appreciate it that someone is writing what they also think, heartened at seeing someone do so openly.
        Or did you think it was all for you?

  2. Jerry Roberts says:

    Thanks you so much Paul for having the guts to publish your outspoken views. In Australia our State Premiers are again playing musical borders, still with popular support but surely a growing voice of dissent among the thousands stranded. We now have to wear masks on internal flights which means I have to buy a car for the 1,700 kilometre trip from Port Hedland to Perth. I have enough problems with claustrophobia in a 737. A mask is out of the question.

    • sorry to hear that, Jerry. It is fascinating to see how popular the rapid impoverishment of Australia remains. Large parts of the broad picture are just completely invisible to the majority, a kind of tunnel vision that was there in the historical analogies talked about above. That’s the hallmark of crowds: a very focused obsession.

  3. ianl says:

    ppps, then …

    1) In step with almost all the Oz MSM and politico/bureaucratic hysterics, why have you completely avoided any analysis of the outcomes in Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam … ?

    No arm-waving about inappopriateness, doesn’t fit, “they’re different” and so on. Just answer the question, thank you.

    As an example of my underlying point, my son and his family (wife + 2 small toddlers), have just left Bangkok after a 3 year contract to begin another in the Middle East (Dubai). Together with every passenger on the plane, they had a required C-19 test + negative result under 8 hours before the plane left. On arriving in Dubai and after sorting the normal customs/immigration/visa issues, they left for a hotel of their choice, then out and about as they started to look for an apartment to call home. NOTE: no quarantine needed because of the negative test in Bangkok.

    Would our Oz hysterics even allow this question to be asked ?

    Arm-waving required. Oz must remain in grey lockdown.

    2) What is your exit strategy from this mess ? Again, just answer the question, please.

    • Hi Ianl,

      is this a question for me or someone else? Not quit clear. However, will give it a go!
      On 1, I have said in several posts and comments how I read the situation in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, etc. I suspect they all have a far higher level of prior immunity in their population because of the proximity to many previous coronaviruses, inclusing the SARS one. I doubt policy has much to do with the covid-outcomes there.
      On 2, I have dedicated various posts on comments on that question. In short, I want governments to have no compulsory restrictions on movements or otherwise, a voluntary protection strategy around the most vulnerable, and the low-risks groups to take up the burden of seeking immunity. Read my previous missives for more.

      • KT2 says:

        Ianl – this is Paul’s ‘burden’ for you.
        “voluntary protection strategy around the most vulnerable, and the low-risks groups to take up the burden of seeking immunity”

        Voluntary protection strategy = lockdown – of your type. Not his type. Feel free to nuance this assertion Paul.

        • KT2 says:

          Mea culpa.
          Jerry Roberts – this is Paul’s ‘burden’ for you. Not ianl.

          ianl – good point “Again, just answer the question, please.” The line “Read my previous missives for more.” is now like asking to read thru the illiad. (Sarc, irony & apposite)

      • ianl says:

        >”I suspect they all have a far higher level of prior immunity in their population because of the proximity to many previous coronaviruses, inclusing the SARS one. I doubt policy has much to do with the covid-outcomes there” (PF response)

        No way of knowing, so just a deflection, I’m afraid. An unacceptable one, sorry PF. Our “experts” simply ignored the published Taiwanese protocols and now we have an ungovernable mess, barely controllable only through police thuggery. I’ve worked across China and SE Asia for over 30 years but I do not think I would have immunity. To be fair, the last coronaviral infection I had was a slight cold in 2011 – seriously.

        The issue of travelling without quarantine imposition after testing negative is that the test results, either positive or negative, are not trusted in Oz. Perhaps a redundancy of testing – but how many times before you can trust the result ? If the results are not trusted, there is little point in being tested.

        The Oz habit of muddling through does not work well in this situation. The Federation is broken, the Parliaments are not convened, the “National Cabinet” is simply used to avoid convening the Parliaments.

        Agreed this seems pessimistic, but I have had only arm waving to any questions I raise. 2021 is shaping as even worse than 2020.

        • Re convening Australia’s parliaments, what, new thing , do you want them to do?

        • paul frijters says:

          Hi Ian,

          well, if you want absolute certainty, go to a soothsayer or a government scientific adviser. If you want to be treated like an adult, then a best guess is what you’ll get on most questions.
          There are many stories doing the rounds on the low covid-cases in Taiwan, Japan, et al. Some say its about vitamin D levels in the elderly population. Others say its the low body weight and high general health of the elderly. Others say its how the elderly are cared for and the general culture on hugging and touching. Plenty of stories, but all guesses. No one knows for sure.

          Ditto on what to do next. You can get an uncertain but truthful opinion or you can be lied to and told something particular is true. Its a basic question of whether you want to be treated like a baby or an adult.

  4. Jerry Roberts says:

    Hi KT2 and Ianl. I am happy to buy into this. I agree with Paul on Covid and many other matters but I excuse myself from mathematical arguments.

  5. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    Oh dear I should have realised those years ago Paul Fritjers would morph into Steve Kates. He was talking about when the USA became the World’s superpower without having a clue what the Washington treaty was or when it occurred.

    now he writes about herd immunity which of course he never defines. sometimes an absurd 20% sometimes an equally absurd 30%.
    Even at this low number the number of deaths is extraordinary but it isn’t apparently but we are never told why,
    It occurred in Sweden we are told. Those of us who are merely mortal pointed out the facts ( google stats) which showed this to be complete and utter nonsense
    was he wrong?? not a bit of it. He cannot even admit to that!

    The Fritjerites must be ecstatic at what is occurring in the UK and the USA. It is the nearest that any country will get near their insane and completely selfish policy.
    Hospitals are near breaking point.
    It would be of course much much worse under their preferred policy but no admission.

    Possibly the worst piece of scholarship was not even thinking about the legal implications. Again no-one has addressed this very important issue.

    Just how would be the the vulnerable be protected please. Soldiers outside aged care homes, retirement villages? How about most of those elderly who live by themselves. What about those with a disability, aboriginals?? Nothing just platitudes

    This virus has not been around a long time. Recently we had a MJA article showing 1 in 3 people getting the virus having long term problems. This echoes what has been written in the UK.
    This is neither acknowledged nor criticised. Nothing.

    Good luck on getting anything at all. Nick asked some time ago for the counter factual.

    We are still waiting

  6. On a lighter note
    Make lamb not walls.

    • paul frijters says:

      that’s hilarious. I heard a few funny old Soviet jokes yesterday that seem apt for the times. From memory:
      “Roosevelt was telling Stalin the US has free speech because anyone could stand before the White House and shout ‘Roosevelt is a piece of shit’ ans no-one would bat an eyelid. Stalin then replied that the USSR also had free speech because anyone could stand in the middle of Red Square and shout ‘Roosevelt is a piece of shit’ and no-one would bat an eyelid”

      another one:

      “An American and a Russian get to the gates of Hell and are given the choice to go to American hell, where one has to eat one bucket of manure every day, or Soviet hell where one has to eat two buckets of manure every day. The American chose the American hell and the Russian chose the Soviet hell. A month later they meet up to exchange notes. The American loudly complains of how awful it is to have to eat a whole bucket full of manure every day. The Russian smiles and says that its not so bad in Soviet hell because they either ‘ran out of manure or someone stole the buckets'”.

  7. KT2 says:

    “Nick asked some time ago for the counter factual.
    We are still waiting”.

    There is no ‘lighter’ lamb by Paul. If we wrote the panic thread in reverse, Paul would be saying he is inciting panic. Panic – about who is correct? !




    January 9, 2021
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb

    “The Lancet article: Maron, Barry J., and Paul D. Thompson. “Longevity in elite athletes: the first 4-min milers.” The Lancet 392, no. 10151 (2018): 913 contains an eggregious probabilistic mistake in handling “expectancy” a severely misunderstood –albeit basic– mathematical operator. “…

    YMMV. Who to trust?
    ● 16 ‘panics’ in “Histories of the Great Panic.”

    Gigi, you probably have the counterfactual and could post it say – tomorrow yes? Quelle horur! We didn’t DO a balanced review. Oops.

    As always I appreciate your efforts and thanks for club pony. Some of this may seem ad hom but hey – we just want you Paul to provide your talents towards balance. Some don’t see it.

  8. Assessing Mandatory Stay‐at‐Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID‐19

    Background and Aims

    The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. Given the consequences of these policies, it is important to assess their effects. We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs (mrNPIs), above and beyond those of less restrictive NPIs (lrNPIs).


    Implementing any NPIs was associated with significant reductions in case growth in 9 out of 10 study countries, including South Korea and Sweden that implemented only lrNPIs (Spain had a non‐significant effect). After subtracting the epidemic and lrNPI effects, we find no clear, significant beneficial effect of mrNPIs on case growth in any country. In France, e.g., the effect of mrNPIs was +7% (95CI ‐5%‐19%) when compared with Sweden, and +13% (‐12%‐38%) when compared with South Korea (positive means pro‐contagion). The 95% confidence intervals excluded 30% declines in all 16 comparisons and 15% declines in 11/16 comparisons.

    While small benefits cannot be excluded, we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs. Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with less restrictive interventions.

    • murph the surf says:

      “Even by the lower government figure – which only measures deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test – the UK is now ahead of the US, Spain and Mexico, where there have been 116, 113 and 108 deaths per 100,000 people respectively.

      The figures are also in stark contrast to counties that have maintained low case and death rates, including Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia where death rates per 100,000 people stand at 0.3, 0.5 and 3.6.”
      There are attempts at control , there are better comparisons to be made.

      • Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia are islands.

        • dont take the bait. Taiwan didn’t lockdown and didnt kill of lots of social and industrial activity. Australia, on the other hand, has seen several lockdowns with hugely negative effects on mental health, children, families spread out over states, employment, trade, migration, etc. Australia is one of the worst affected countries by the usual metrics of years of high-quality life. The NZ government similarly did huge damage to the population.
          Just because the media and most of the population is now obsessed with a tiny fraction of the things that matter in life (egged on by hefty government propaganda) doesnt make the suffering inflicted go away. Its unseen to most, but it is there and needs people who openly acknowledge it and who do not consign the victims to oblivion.

          • Paul sure.
            Nonetheless it really helps if you’re an island .

            • murph the surf says:

              Most of Macau and the New Territories of HK are not islands but they have controlled the disease well.
              Macau is considered Covid 19 disease free.
              G Britain is an island as is Ireland , both are suffering greatly at the moment.
              Poor choices at the outset severely reduce the effectiveness of lockdown actions – trying to advance the argument that GBritain had effective lockdowns is cynical sophistry.
              Paul’s arguments are completely valid and need consideration and it should be recognised that on balance many populations accept the controls and their costs when imposed.
              The general population has a pretty simple metric for when they want direct action – people dying without access to care.

              • The Europeans have tried to do containment and active suppression, repeatedly and they have repeatedly failed.
                For what looks like a complex set of reasons lock-down followed by effective track test suppression is simply not an viable option for places such as Europe.

                And really severely locking-down whole nations for hundreds and hundreds of days at a time is not a viable option either.

        • I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

          Even if your country is not an islands you can ensure that anyone entering the country goes in quarantine.
          If this does not occur you have claytons lockdown and quite possibly the worst of both worlds.

  9. Pingback: Harte Lockdowns helfen nicht, wirken nicht, bringen nichts, schaden nur: Follow the Science! – ScienceFiles

  10. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    I’m sorry but Fritjers is a disgrace.
    If you dare ask a question then he gets all angry.
    He cannot admit he was wrong even when it is quite clear such as Sweden
    He cannot do elementary research ( on changing the law).

    Then of course there are the arguments against lockdowns which are pure claptrap. Are hospitals under pressure under fair dinkum lockdowns or not having a lockdown which means the virus spreads quite quickly. When are the staff over-worked. It is under the Fritjers scenario no matter how extremely vaguely it is specified.

    How about mental health? When is it more likely to rise? In a lockdown which is finite or when there is not one. When people are worried abo t getting it. what occurs when their parents or grandparents get it. What happens if they get it. Will they die or simply be unable to work for some time.

    Oh for someone who was fair dinkum about exploring this issue.

    This problem should never occur again at this previous august blog

  11. Apart from nations that are intrinsically geographically isolated, doing a lockdown that is both severe enough and long lasting enough to (even theoretically) deliver benefit is not possible…..

    What will burn will burn.

    Dear notrampis and KT
    Don’t know what to say( no offence but you are clearly certifiable

  12. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    well you struggle to argue a position.
    Let us take Hungary for example. If you have a lockdown then any people coming by plane must go into 14 day quarantine. you close your borders by road and do the same.

    What is a certifiable person. A person whose position will kill hundreds of thousands of people yet will deny this.
    We see this in the UK and USA. Obviously you cannot have a lockdown so what occurs.
    hospital are clogged up. Certain people are denied entry because of this. Employees are vastly over -worked.

    A person who thinks is good policy is certifiable.

    • Europe has been a common market for yonks . None of the EC members are self-sufficient .

      If EC countries really truly shut their borders to each other( for example quarantined every truck and delivery driver of which there must be tens of thousands etc) they would all quickly run out of essential stuff that has been made somewhere else in the EC for decades.

  13. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    It is a common market for goods and services not a deadly virus.
    We have not run out of anything as yet. Countries can walk and chew gum at the same time. Please note I wasn’t talking about that in the first place but nevermind.

    If I can let us examine possibly the most stupid statement ever made at this blog. Enforced social distancing means increased loneliness ( my paraphrasing.).

    It was noted previously no Fritjerite could provide reasons for this statement let alone evidence.
    Enforcing social distancing means some-one is within the 1.5 metres ( in OZ). That is there are other people involved. So these people suffering from increased loneliness are doing so with other people less than 1.5 metres from them.
    If said people are lonely they can only be lonely because they do not give a toss about their fellow men and women.

    • The Hungarian ambulances engine needs a replacement fuel injection controller, its in a warehouse in Germany . The ambulance driver went to she her elderly dad back in Macedonia . The bloke building the new emergency bay needs 10,000 more nail-gun clips- they are in a warehouse in Spain. The Hospital needs 50,000 masks- they are in a warehouse in the UK. The people doing all those kinds of work need childcare- the people who do the childcare are not well paid and live-sleep in crowded multi generational houses.
      Multiply all of the above by times several million and you might get some idea f the sheer scale of the pragmatic problems you so airily wave away as mere trifles.

      BTW during the peak of the outbreak-lockdown in Melbourne in Australia it became quite common for critical engine parts etc to take two to three weeks ( instead of a day or two)to get from the warehouses in Melbourne to workshops the Sydney region.

  14. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    You are not reading very well.
    I wasn’t referring to commerce. Afterall That affects EVERY country.
    You could fly anywhere in Europe or drive. Do your whatever you wanted to do as long as you obeyed what the lockdowns said.
    Compare that to Australia. It is chalk and cheese.

    • “Let us take Hungary for example. If you have a lockdown then any people coming by plane must go into 14 day quarantine. you close your borders by road and do the same.”

      • I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

        What is it about the sentence you do not understand.

        • . “you close your borders by road and do the same.”
          I presume you mean really close your borders ?

          “I wasn’t referring to commerce. Afterall That affects EVERY country.
          You could fly anywhere in Europe or drive.
          Do your whatever you wanted to do as long as you obeyed what the lockdowns said.”
          If that includes really closing border traffic then obeying “what the lockdowns said.” means no spare parts etc, yes?

          • BTW during the Melbourne lockdown our car broke down in the southern highlands. Normally getting a new injection control unit takes perhaps two days. It took two weeks for the part to get from Melbourne . Fortunately a friend up there lent us their second car for two weeks otherwise we would have been pretty stuffed stuck re getting home , and getting back up there to pick it up once repaired as well.

            Multiply that sort of thing by a few million times a day and you might get a sense of just how huge the logistical systems problems the 450 million people of the EU would quickly face if they did try and do the Melbourne Method.

            • I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

              There were some of us saying changing supply chains would slow growth over the period.
              how many companies tried to change from China?

  15. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    Perhaps you should read more carefully.

    Think about what putting people in a 14 day quarantine really means. Then try adjusting that for car travel. Tourism anyone
    It does have an Australian touch. We only put sailors or those in planes involved in commerce if they had the virus.

    • Think about what putting people who deliver essentials across perhaps several borders in a 14 day quarantine really means.
      Think about how easy it is to without leaks quarantine many many thousands of people

  16. I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

    I di not say that and we did not do that. you assumed that wrongly

    • I’ve simply quoted your statements.

      You seem a living breathing example of:
      It equals True
      It does not equal ‘it’

      By chance you wouldn’t be from a island half way between Greece and the levant ?

      • I am and will always be Not Trampis says:

        you are assumed something that was not there. Lockdown in volve people. commerce is treated separately.
        you really should have known that.

    • murph the surf says:

      Well that failed , sorry.
      The video access may be locked so if you are interested you can google Exeter College, David Webb and you will find the talk dated on Dec 4, 2020.

  17. Final Report on Swedish Mortality 2020, Anno Covidius | systems perestroika – éminence grise

    Very detailed interesting read.

    One of the things he notes is that Swedish hospital bed numbers over the past few decades have been run down by a factor of about 8 ,along with other government systems needed to cope with emergencies of all kinds also being run down.
    A running down of systems ability to cope with unforeseen ( but also sort of predicable) events ,over many decades seems a common factor in all this in quite a few places for example in Victoria and it seems in much of the UK.

  18. Janelle says:

    Those “not within the program” have been labelled “conspiracy theorists,” “white supremacists” or, more recently, proponents of “Trumpism.” Here emerges our real enemy, guys! The new War on Terror! “Domestic terrorists” are the most nefarious enemies we have faced as they look, speak and behave as we do; they have no clear signifiers of their dissent; they are the enemy from within. I suppose that parallels the citizen snooping mentality so infamous in Nazi Germany and under Communism, as you mentioned. Great and thought-provoking read, thank you.

  19. Pingback: Analogie storiche della covid-mania · Ora Zero

    • well, that’s interesting. Some Italian site went through the trouble of translating this piece in Italian, even highlighting particular sentences. No one asked me (not that they need to). Good luck with it, ciao!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *