Also, Take Your Own Advice

In his most recent New York Times column Nikolas Kristof encourages four bits of advice, taken from unnamed “public health experts”:

First, don’t swoon at every vaccine announcement.
Second, gather more data.
Third, cautiously open some schools.
Fourth, be relentlessly empirical.

I’ve already pointed out the issue with point 3. The highest hurdle in opening schools won’t be the kids or their parents. Indeed, for every parent who is nervous about sending his or her child to school due to the risk of contracting COVID-19, there are probably three eager for some respite. No, the biggest hurdle to overcome will be convincing the teachers and staff that it’s safe for them to go back to school.

#2 is good advice but not particularly helpful. We’re still gathering data on the Spanish Flu. And the Black Plague for that matter.

WWAREPD? What would a relentlessly empirical person do? Some of the things we are doing have little empirical support, e.g. closing parks and beaches. Wearing face masks outside, ditto.

What should you think about measures which don’t actually have much empirical evidence to support them but there is empirical evidence for measures that are tangentially related and with enough extrapolation, generalization, and umbrage can be claimed to be empirical? There’s a difference between scientific and “scientific”. When does post hoc propter hoc constitute empirical evidence? When you don’t know what else to do?

5 comments… add one
  • Guarneri Link

    “Wearing face masks outside, ditto.”

    Some actions are so close to zero cost that you do them if for only that reason. Our family has observed reasonable guidelines. Not because we fear imminent death, but because they are a minor burden, and out of respect for fellow citizens. I think 90% of the nervous Nellies are completely full of shit. But if it’s easy for me and my family to comply with certain guidelines it’s a first world problem to comply. It’s just common decency with respect to your neighbors.

    Only government types and their advocates abuse situations like this.

  • It’s just common decency with respect to your neighbors.

    That’s the reason I observe social distancing when out-of-doors. Not because I think there’s a risk but because others might be fearful.

  • bob syskes Link

    At this point the issue is not the pandemic, but economic collapse. And I will repeat myself, if a few large states (CA, NY …) remain in lockdown, they will drag the rest of the states down with them.

  • jan Link

    There’s little reason for CA to remain on lockdown. Even in the notorious LA County, where most of the cases and deaths are being counted, 50% are in senior assisted and rest homes. However, when our illustrious Public Health director fastidiously gives her daily updates, they are only raw numbers, spoken with a dramatic flourish when they go up, never having a more informative breakdown where these increases are occurring.

    To add more misery to being shut in and shut down for months, Mayor Garcetti and this director toss around “maybe” dates when things will loosen more – but, it’s always subject to something fairly intangible, vague, and could be changed. Our swift Governor supposedly is leaving everything up to county officials to call, content these bureaucrats/politicians will not want to break out of their confinement any time soon, leaving him clear to pontificate without being accountable for being too strict or too lenient in the management of this virus.

  • Guarneri Link

    I don’t know if you are correct or not, Bob. Only time will tell. I can tell you that I have often commented that old friends in IL are considering moving out. Its on steroids now. The heat has been turned up.

    Our offices are in NY. A partner in Boston. They all have had it. These are upper income, high taxpaying people. The attitude is in place. The mechanics will follow.

    And where do they go? Can you say FL, GA, SC, NC, AZ and TX? We are considering moving the office to FL. Self immolation is not pretty you idiot pols in NY, IL etc……..

Leave a Comment