Sunday, March 15, 2020

The ZMan: Modeling Failure

You'd best not click on this link, given that the ZMan is a terrible, awful, unPC naughtythinker.
But it's a very interesting post:
   Now, the experts all say these numbers will explode in the near term. Just as the flu or the common cold starts small, person to person contact causes the infected population to grow quickly. Currently, the claim is the infected population will double every five days, with no end in sight. Italy, for example, could have 200,000 cases by the end of the month, if that prediction is correct. By May a little under one third of the population would have the virus and by June everyone is infected.
   This is, of course, exactly what did not happen in China. In fact, we have no reason to think this will happen at all. We have examples of prior infections, some very serious like the Spanish Flu. We even have a good sense of the infection rate from the Black Death in the middle ages. As far as we know, there has never been a virus with an infection rate like what is being predicted. Maybe this is different. Maybe modern urban life makes us unusually susceptible to a pandemic. Maybe.
   Further, we don’t know as much about pandemics as the army of experts in the media would have us believe. Most of the model makers are assuming the experts on this stuff have their facts right, but there is no evidence to support that claim. For example, the Spanish Flu remains a mystery. We know the strain of H1N1 and we have some sense of where it started, but we have no idea why it ended. We know it ended long before it reached the infection rates predicted for this virus.
   In the fall of 1918, 4,597 people died in Philadelphia in the week ending October 16th from the Spanish Flu. By November, deaths dropped to zero and by mid-month the flu had disappeared from the city. No one knows why. Maybe it mutated into something very mild. Maybe it simply ran out of victims. Maybe limiting social contact finally stopped the spread. No one knows. That’s an important thing to keep in mind about these predictive models. They as yet cannot predict the past.
   This is something that must be plugged into any model for this virus and models for predicting potential outcomes. The models being used will all be wrong and wrong in ways no one can predict. For example, what if there really is an ethnic component to these infection rates. The part of Italy being hit with the virus has a lot of Han Chinese for all the reasons we have non-Europeans in the West. The city of Prato Italy, population 200,000, has been overrun by Han Chinese.
   Could there be an ethnic element here that would explain the numbers in China, Italy, Iran and the reaction by Israel? The Chinese seem to think they are particularly vulnerable to this virus. They have been studying coronavirus for some time, because they have suffered more than any country from it. Lance Welton at VDare has been cataloging the studies on this topic. The media experts dismiss this stuff, but that’s mostly because of the fear of being called racist, which is worse than death.
   The point is the models that are driving the great shutdown of the West are based on assumptions that are most likely wrong. That means the models themselves will turn out to be wrong. Modeling the wrongness may turn out to be the most important project over the next several months. Right now, the public is grudgingly giving public officials the benefit of the doubt. The people have little trust in them, so when things are not as predicted, those public officials better have answers ready.
   For example, what happens if we learn that the outbreak in Italy is centered in their large Chinese community? That’s going to have an effect on public policy, because it will have an effect on public attitudes. Even if lots of actual Italians gets sick, people are going to wonder why this fact was not made clear straight away. They may also wonder why there is a Chinese community in Italy. A whole range of prior assumptions are going to come under new scrutiny with new information.
   How about something simple like the great spread of the virus does not materialize over the next few weeks? Public officials will no doubt claim that the lock down was a success, but that’s like claiming the reason there are no giraffes in your garden is due to installing a garden gnome. Very few people are going to buy it and the more so-called experts push it, the more the people will reject it. The already low faith in public officials will fall even further. There will need a better answer.
   It may not even take a few weeks for the public to grow both weary and skeptical of the state of emergency. A very large chunk of society thinks this is a hoax. Young people are calling it the “Boomer Remover” while taking advantage of cheap airfares. Short of more data to fuel the panic, the public could get tired of this by next week. This approach to the virus can only work with public cooperation, so public officials should assume great public resistance within the next week.
   Some points for consideration:
   The nutty PC leftist ideas that have ruined the humanities have seeped into even places like the CDC, as we've seen pretty clearly. The PC left is--to take just one prominent example--running around declaring--stupidly and entirely out of the blue--that it's racist to call the virus the "Wuhan (corona)virus." Which is, of course, outright stupid. But this sort of nonsense is now common.
   This same intellectual orientation has stretched so far as to assert that there is no such thing as race (or, even more confusedly: that there is...but it' This is a desperate lunge to try to dismiss racial differences. Anyone who'd go that far would say just about anything about the subject.
   It's no stretch to imagine that people infected with such confusions would suppress evidence that a virus affected people differentially on the basis of race. Such people are so confused about the subject that they've convinced themselves that such facts would be racist...or that admitting them would be racist. Or that the world is so plagued by racism that such admissions would cause an explosion of racism. Some damn thing. Probably a combination of them all.
   It goes without saying that there's nothing racist about admitting that facts are facts. But we're talking about something akin to a religion here.
   Unlike the ZMan, I'm not sure there'd be a backlash were we to find out that non-Asians are less susceptible to the virus. There should be a backlash--it would mean that we'd all been encouraged to panic, wreck the economy and elect Democrats because the religion that now affects all U.S. and global institutions decided to feed us misinformation because it accords with their religious dogma. There should be an enormous backlash. 
   But I'm less sure there would be one. 
   Needless to say, the hypothesis in question is unproven, and could well be false. I'd guess it's likely to be false. 
   Thing is: we have good reason to believe that the hypothesis is plausible--the hypothesis about the institutions, that is. We know how nutty the cult of Progressivology is. And we know that such nuttiness is not beyond them. So we have grounds for skepticism about the quality of information we're getting.


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