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There are still some scientists left

The BBC reports,

Hydroxychloroquine being ‘discarded prematurely’, say scientists

The Oxford University-led trial is aiming to enrol 40,000 frontline workers around the world.

Investigators hope the large-scale, double-blind randomised study will show if early use of the treatment prevents the virus from getting worse.

“We know now that it doesn’t work in treatment of hospitalised patients,” says Prof Nick White, one of the study’s investigators.

“But it’s still is a medicine that may prove beneficial in preventing Covid-19.”

The UK medicines regulatory body MHRA halted hydroxychloroquine trials, following a now-discredited paper in The Lancet claiming it caused harms.

Trials resumed in late June but the investigators says these concerns over safety, and the drug’s politicisation, have made it difficult to get participants.

I know nothing about medicine and have no opinion as to whether Hydroxychloroquine is any use in treating the coronavirus or as a preventative. But I know enough about the history of science to be deeply frightened by this:

And social media companies have removed viral online posts by doctors who reject the scientific consensus, praising the drug’s effectiveness.

I am just glad to see that there are still scientists such as Professor White who keep an open mind and are willing to go on the record as saying that the politicisation of Hydroxychloroquine may have cost lives. In fact there is no “may” about it: whether Trump is wrong or right on this occasion, the politicisation of science always costs lives. The politicisation of science is the cessation of science.

49 comments to There are still some scientists left

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Democracy is the politicization of everything (eventually).

    The politicisation of science always costs lives.

    Ergo, democracy always costs lives (eventually).

  • Itellyounothing

    Ultimately, everything is bought and paid for in lives.

    Life is fatal every time.

  • Ergo, democracy always costs lives (eventually).

    Every political system ‘costs lives’, just some more than others.

  • APL

    Natalie Solent: “The politicisation of science is the cessation of science.”

    Science stopped in the UK when Thatcher closed down heavy industry and politicians were left with the dilemma: What to do with all those people who now have nothing to do, since we’ve exported all the jobs to the Far East and China?

    Blair’s answer: Convert all the colleges of Further education and the Polytechnics into Universities and park everyone in University for three or four years, coupled with an expansion of what used to be called QUANGO’s, and the institution of the state financed and therefor state directed professional ‘Charadee’ sector.

    Along with that comes ‘University’ studies of how drinking alcohol makes one less inhibited, or engaging in sexual congress might expose one to COVID, the BBC ( AKA British Domestic terrorist operation ) then wheels out some charade whallah to confirm that, ‘yes alcohol does cause one to loose one’s inhibitions’, and yes, we should probably make it more expensive’, and yes, ‘sex is risky‘. ‘Women’s studies’, and the huge expansion of the Marxist dialectic to now idle people with nothing better to do. Sexual congress is an Patriarchal oppressive act.

    The Tories have just completed the Nationalization of British society with their assumption of the authority to order all but State favored activity to cease.

  • Science stopped in the UK when Thatcher closed down heavy industry

    Thatcher just read last rites over it & bowed to reality, most heavy industry was done in UK due to unions pushing up labour costs & state interference in oh so many ways during the post-war era.

  • Mr Ecks

    “We know it doesn’t work with hospitalised patients ” says deceitful hack.

    Hospitalised means near to death–since our precious NHS message was “Fuck off unless you are in a bad way”.

    Still sounds like a hatchet job to me.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    What Perry said. Heavy industry had been in retreat for years although the U.K. does still make things. The trope about how the UK manufacturing base has vanished is not backed by the facts.

    The point about politics and science is undoubtedly true.

  • Mr Ed

    There is lots of manufacturing the in the UK, it just doesn’t need that many (particularly unionised) people to make it work. The large manufacturers are still heavily unionised, like the public sector, but they just about manage to groan on. I suppose the comparatively liberal UK labour laws and social security taxes (take a look at France) give the UK less of a comparative disadvantage.

    The key to any science is to look for a mechanism and to test it as best you can. Is there a proposed mechanism for the drug to work, e.g. by inhibiting components of cellular metabolism in infected cells so that the virus isn’t as able to replicate as effectively as it otherwise would? If so, then there is a scientific basis for exploring the drug’s use.

    Medics are not scientists, some do train in science, e.g. with an intercalated B.Sc. in a medical degree, but medicine is essentially intervening when the body can’t repair itself quickly enough, and/or managing the distress, along with some semblance of ethics and knowledge of anatomy.

  • APL

    PdH: “Thatcher just read last rites over it & bowed to reality, most heavy industry was done in UK due to unions pushing up labour costs & state interference.”

    Maybe. As Prime minister, if anyone could she should have done something to reform the sector. Instead she attacked the Legal profession and gave us creeps like this.

    But back to today, where you might wonder why our government is increasingly communistic. Well the SAGE group that the government uses to formulate its policy has one Susan Michie a paid up and current member of the Communist party.

    From Wiki: ( Yea, I know )

    “Michie has served as a national executive committee member and president of the London Region of the trade union MSF. She is a member of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), but has donated to the Labour Party under the Corbyn leadership. In March 2018, Michie, described as a leading member of the CPB, said that the party would no longer stand against Labour in general elections and CPB members should be “working full tilt” for the election of Corbyn as prime minister.”

  • Jacob

    Many countries use hydroxychloroquine routinely as a prophylactic against malaria. One of them is India. India has a very low number of covid-19 deaths per million inhabitants. This is surprising given India’s terrible density of population, very low level of hygiene and almost non-existent health care system for the masses. India gave all it’s health workers and police HCQ, and a court in Mumbai approved of this practice, initiated by the health ministry.

    Taking HCQ as a prophylactic for health personnel and people caring for infected relatives or people who came in contact with infected persons is a no-brainer. Nothing to lose. Cheap. Harmless – after some 70 years of routine use all over the world.
    Still – it is not politically correct to use it – because of Trump.
    People are dying. People are crazy. Outright crazy.

  • John B

    ‘ “We know now that it doesn’t work in treatment of hospitalised patients,” says Prof Nick White, one of the study’s investigators.’

    Actually we know it does from two trials and clinical experience if given in the early onset of disease, in the right dose plus zinc and vit D.

    As for ‘science’ dying in the UK… something about heavy industry.

    Science has no benefit to Mankind, apart from academic interest, unless and until it can be engineered – see fusion reaction.

    But technology does not need science first. Steam/jet engine technology was invented in 73AD by Heron long before any scientific understanding. Technology is of no benefit until a use is found for it, which means innovation, so it was about another 1700 years before Heron’s technology found a use. It was that innovation, finding a use for a technology, that gave us a steam powered Industrial Revolution.

    The ‘science’ of steam power came later in the 19th Century when scientists’ curiosity was aroused by the use of steam power.

    The real problem with science is Government intervenes, trying to pick winners and steering scientific work in that direction because it is where the grant money is. Nothing to do with the state of industry. In any case UK’s industrial output is higher now than before Thatcher.

  • Paul Marks

    In parts of the 1960s and 1970s tax on industrial investment was over 90% – so anyway who says Margaret Thatcher was responsible for the decline of British industry is wrong.

    As for trade unions – the Act of 1875 was bad enough (allowing OBSTRUCTION of entrance of a business under the military name of “picketing” – as if it was O.K. for unions to act like paramilitary organisations and have “picket lines” as if they were the army or navy), it also put union funds at least PARTLY beyond being sued – even when it was proved that the union was organising criminal, the 1906 Act put the matter beyond all doubt – unions were above the normal laws.

    With this background it is astonishing that British industry lasted as long as it did

    As for Margaret Thatcher…..

    The first three years of the government Mrs T. led were NOT good.

    Taxes (overall) UP, government spending WAY UP, and no real reform.

    My first education into what lying scum the media were came from 1979 onwards – every day they talked about “the cuts” when government spending was actually increasing (on just about everything).

    And James Prior (the Employment Secretary) was an utter waste of space – he just sat there NOT rolling back union power as UNEMPLOYMENT rose and rose.

    Only when Norman Tebbit replaced James Prior was there any real union reform.

    And only when Nigel Lawson replaced G. Howe did taxes overall start to come down.

    The Howe trick was always to point at some tax he had cut – and “forget” to mention the taxes he had increased.

    Like Prior, Howe was a dreadful human being – he really was.

    Yes I know “do not speak ill of the dead” – but history has to be told.

    Mrs Thatcher was surrounded by people who had voted AGAINST her in the 1975 Leadership election – and would eventually destroy her in 1990.

  • thefattomato

    If you replace “science” with “academic politics” all the statements about science failing, in this article and pretty much any article or book criticizing science, make sense.
    So long as the distinction between academic politics and science can be made and explicitly understood by the majority of people, science and applied science, will prevail over the material problems of humanity.
    Fortunately the general public is already sensing that something has gone wrong with “SCIENCE” and it’s experts presented by the media and political class, hence “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts……” M.GOVE.
    The direct social problem is the alienation of science, especially the hard sciences. The general public are not directly engaged with scientific research or it’s mechanisms, they do not feel invested, because for the most part they are not invested in the process.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way – there seems to have been a problem in the understanding of both taxation-government spending AND union power even in 19th century British economics.

    Many (although not all) British economists wrote as-if government services and benefits compensate for taxation – they do NOT. And many (although not all) British economists wrote as if union power can raise wages above what supply-and-demand would have arrived at, without increasing UNEMPLOYMENT – it can not do so.

    If we want high wages and full employment then we have to go for a high productivity economy – which, for example, the United States used-to-be before unions were of any real importance there.

  • APL

    Paul Marks: “Mrs Thatcher was surrounded by people who had voted AGAINST her in the 1975 Leadership election – and would eventually destroy her in 1990”

    1. The Tory party in spades.

    2. Trump be warned ( As if he needed warning ).

  • Paul Marks

    The corruption of science has got nothing to do with “democracy” S.M.

    On the contrary the “Technocracy” (which looks back to such thinkers as Saint-Simon and Francis Bacon) HATES democracy.

    No democratic referendum of the people was held on “lockdowns” and the general Covid hysteria – on the contrary politicians were TOLD what to do by “Public Health experts” who no one had elected – the rule of FAKE science.

    In case anyone accuses me of “Iin foil hat conspiracy theory” – the next meeting of the international elite openly pushing for their totalitarian “Great Reset” is due in Davos in January 2021.

    Note I said OPENLY.

    The totalitarian aims of the United Nation and bodies such as the World Health Organisation, AND the various governments and CORPORATIONS are all a matter of public record.

    The pushing for totalitarianism has been going on for years – whether it is called “Agenda 21”, “Agenda 2030”, “sustainable development”, or now “Great Reset”.

    Back when Mr Blair was Prime Minister it was called “Stakeholder Capitalism” – a nice term for FASCISM (a system by which business and government come together and free competition is banned).

    SM do you really think that people such as Mr Bill Gates are pro democracy? if you do – I can assure you that they are not.

    Covid 19 is being used to SUBVERT democracy – which these Collectivists (indeed Fascists) have hated for many years.

    Of course there are also the Marxists – but they are no fans of democracy either (quite the contrary).

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I am just glad to see that there are still scientists such as Professor White who keep an open mind and are willing to go on the record as saying that the politicisation of Hydroxychloroquine may have cost lives.”

    There are lots of scientists who say that. Hydroxychloroquine has been studied more than any other drug/treatment in the Covid-19 fight, with more than 350 papers published on it. That’s 75% more than the next contenders on the list. A huge proportion of the research resources looking for a cure have been devoted to it. There is no shortage of people taking it seriously.

    Trouble is, the cost in lives of politicisation goes both ways. The publicity resulted in lots of resources being devoted to it. If it turns out it doesn’t work, then it can be argued, in restrospect, that those resources were wasted. The disproportionate diversion of resources slowed the development of a cure, costing lives.

    But I’m not sure that it’s the politicisation per se that does the damage. Political motivation can result in more intensive study and critical challenge, that can drive scientific progress forwards rapidly, so long as it’s done by applying the scientific method. Beliefs should be based on the evidence and arguments that survive systematic sceptical challenge. The problem politicisation introduces is that people cease to use the scientific method – they disallow challenge, or they ignore successful debunkings if the conclusions challenge their ideology.

    That’s what happened in climate science. The initial hypothesis of CO2-induced warming was a plausible one, just as it was plausible that hydroxychloroquine could cure Covid-19. Some initial studies appeared to offer supporting evidence. But when examined more closely, there were gaps and holes in the argument. But rather than recognise the gaps and holes and dismiss the initial claims, they doubled down on them. They did more studies using the same biased methods, and argued from the sheer number of supporting studies, so the critics had to play whack-a-mole. They invented a multitude of exceptions and previously undisclosed conditions and caveats to explain away any negative results, but accepted positive results uncritically. They accused the critics of being politically motivated, or in the pay of the oil industry. They refused to share their data or methods, so it could not be examined and tested. They reversed the burden of proof.

    The scientific debate on Hydroxychloroquine ought to be simple. Do you have a large-scale double-blind clinical trial showing a statistically significant effect, that has survived sceptical scrutiny? Yes or no? Science is not interested in who believes in it, who disbelieves in it, who funds the research, whose ‘side’ they’re on. Show me the empirical evidence, the data; show me the best arguments for and against; show me that the conclusion has survived all attempts to knock it down. The debate ought to be about specific trials and datasets and statistics. And this one isn’t.

  • Paul Marks

    Turning to the medical side.

    Medical doctors have been speaking out since at least March – medical doctors in private practice who do not get customers if they do not cure patients.

    The treatment or Covid 19 is to catch it EARLY (as soon as the symptoms show) then treat with the medically prescribed doses of hydroxychloroquine, ZINC (very important) and azithromyzin.

    The first enables the zinc to get to the virus-and the third deals with other (non viral) infections that may crop up in the patients weakened state.

    Does it work?

    Medical doctors in private practice have been saying since MARCH that it works – the United States, why have they not been SUED TO BITS by now if they are lying?

    Also the far left authorities in places such as New York would have arrested them – they would have found a “legal” reason to do so, First Amendment or not.

    I repeat.

    EARLY treatment, at the correct dosage (prescribed by medical doctors) and with zinc and azithromycin (also at the correct doses – consult your doctor, the sort of doctor you have to pay for).

    Many doctors have been saying this since MARCH.

    Why is the message not getting through?

    Why does even this post still get it wrong – mentioning only one of three components?

    Even if the treatment does NOT work it should still be written out correctly – not missing two out of three things.

    “The Oxford people only mentioned one out of the three things”.

    Yes I know they did – and this is August, and they have been told (repeatedly) since March, I find that baffling.

    “We are going to test a treatment – but we are going to leave two out of the three things out”.

    Why test the treatment at all if you are going to do it WRONG?

    Again – this is August, they have been told (repeatedly) for the last five months.

    Quite a lot of people have DIED over the last five months.

    Alternatively you can trust the government – the governments that declare “Racism” a “Public Health Emergency” and support Marxist BLM riots.

    And the sort of “medical authorities” that produce publications such as the Social Justice Lancet.

    Remember objective truth is “Whiteness” and, therefore, EVIL.

    These are not people you should trust with your health.

    These are the lunatics (and worst than lunatics) who brought us the insane “lockdowns”.

    The “lockdowns” did NOT “save lives” – and the number of people who will die from the medical effects of the lockdowns will dwarf the number of Covid 19 deaths.

    The “Great Reset” types knew-that-from-the-start.

    In the United Kingdom alone the non Covid 19 deaths caused by the lockdown will be at least 200 thousand – via delayed medical treatment (for cancer, heart disease and so on) and other factors.

    Then there is the economic collapse of 2021 to consider – but I am too depressed to go on.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @NiV

    A huge proportion of the research resources looking for a cure have been devoted to it. There is no shortage of people taking it seriously.

    See what Paul Marks said.

    The advocates have said from the beginning that the treatment should be with Zinc (explanations offered as to why) and antibiotics. Also they specified a dosage smuch lower than the ones I’ve seen used in trials. I, like Paul Marks, have been reading this since March. Can you point me to a single one of these

    people taking it seriously

    who has designed and implemented a clinical trial on this basis (asking for a friend?

  • Paul Marks

    The comment of Nullius leaves out a lot of the basic things – for example he talks about one thing out of three and ignores the practical work of the last five months (it is not March now – it is August, we know more now) with thousands of patients.

    Some months ago I would (in my STUPIDITY) have thought this was a series of honest mistakes. But now I understand what Nullius is – no need to harp on about it.

    I just wish I had not been so stupid in March.

    Is Nullius a supporter of the “Great Reset” (or “sustainable development” or whatever the totalitarian project is called this week) – I would say NO he is NOT.

    He would not be expressing doubts about the C02 theory if he was a Great Reset supporter.

    If one consults the website for the next great totalitarian conference (Davos in January) they are still stressing “Climate Change” as well as “Covid 19” and “Racism and Nationalism” and “inequality – lack of social justice” as reasons for their totalitarian world governance project.

    I do not believe that Nullius is really on board with that.

    Almost needless to say – a totalitarian project backed by most of the richest men and largest corporations on the planet is not really about “equality” – it is about POWER and CONTROL.

    The Fascists (for that is what these people are) are not the same as the Marxists – but they both hate liberty.

    Which is one reason why so many of these rich individuals and organisations financially support Marxist terror groups such as “Black Lives Matter”.

    It is not just fear driven Protection Money – they see in these movements people who hate liberty as much as they do (so they fund them).

    Different totalitarian movements are still totalitarian movements – and much of what the Fascists (such as Mr Gates) believe is derived from Marxism.

    After all Mussolini was a heretic Marxist who admired Dr Marx to the end – even though he was shot by orthodox Marxists.

    The education system, the schools and universities, is dominated by totalitarian ideas – which hit the natural sciences as well as everything else.

    A lot of it comes from Marxism – but it is older than Dr Karl Marx, it can be found in Saint-Simon or even in Francis “New Atlantis” Bacon.

    The fake scientists would have loved Bacon – he wanted to forbid real science (such as the idea that the Earth went round the Sun), but have “scientific experts” control every aspect of life.

    Saint-Simon (early 19th century France) loved that – but he also wanted to bring in Credit Bubble bankers in, to plan the economy

    There should be a statue of Saint-Simon at Davos – and in the United Nations in New York (the modern heart of Credit Bubble banking and far left politics is New York City).

  • Paul Marks

    If New York City sums up everything I hate – both in politics and in money and banking, what sums up what I like?

    Most likely a small town like Watertown South Dakota (“what is a lockdown?”) with the Terry Redlin art gallery just outside.

    Or Laurence County (also S.D.) which last voted Democrat in 1916 and where Mr Hurst and Mrs Hurst did GOOD (not evil – the television series is a pack of lies) in Lead and Deadwood.

    There is some real science going on in Lead – about a mile below the surface of what seems to be an ordinary small town.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The advocates have said from the beginning that the treatment should be with Zinc (explanations offered as to why) and antibiotics.”

    Initially they said Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine. Then later they said Hydroxychloroquine with Azithromycin. Then they said Hydroxychloroquine with Azithromycin and Zinc. Then they said Hydroxychloroquine with Azithromycin and Zinc as a prophylactic. Then they said the dose was wrong. The claims keep on mutating, the conditions keep on being added to. That’s a bad sign.

    “Can you point me to a single one of these people taking it seriously who has designed and implemented a clinical trial on this basis (asking for a friend?”

    I don’t know about doses, but it wasn’t hard to find an example of a trial testing the HCQ+AZM+Zn combination. I’ve not looked, but I expect there are lots.

    https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04370782

    But like I said, the question should be simple. Do you have a large-scale double-blind clinical trial showing a statistically significant effect, that has survived sceptical scrutiny? Yes or no?

    The answer at the moment is ‘no’.

    That might change. I would support continued studies for as long as there’s hope. But until it *does* change, the *scientific* position is that we don’t have sufficient evidence to support claims that it is a cure at the moment. As far as science is concerned, it’s still in the same category as aromatherapy. People believe, sometimes passionately, but there’s no proof.

    And everybody ought to take seriously the *possibility* that it really doesn’t work, the early results were spurious, and we’ve all been fooling ourselves. (That happens a lot in science.) Until you have proof that it does, the possibility exists that it doesn’t. And if you find that hard to do, you need to take a good hard look at whether politics might be biasing your own view. 😉

  • David Roberts

    Please see this video from Scott Adams, starting at about minute 4. I can’t fault his logic.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eqmu3h0k7o0

  • neonsnake

    A lot of it comes from Marxism – but it is older than Dr Karl Marx, it can be found in Saint-Simon

    Hm. Not sure that stacks up. Saint-Simon was very much against government intervention, and was anti-hierarchy (in the sense of aristocracy and monarchy, which was relevant at the time). There’s some stuff to criticise about Saint-Simon, most of which is purely due to historical reasons and is not a failing of his, but this ain’t it, chief. He believed very much in “experts”, rather than “politicians”. He believed in people who knew their craft (experts), not politicians who didn’t.

    Saint-Simon is certainly not the first philosophical libertarian (my Daoists predate him by millenia, and I’m sure there’s other groups as well that I’m only loosely aware of), but he may well be the first to use the term “libertarian” in it’s truest sense, as opposed to this pretzeled defense of the status quo that it’s somehow morphed into.

  • Dogleg

    NiV
    The facts you listed at 2:51 make a compelling case that “the answer at the moment is no.” And you must also be right that if HCQ turns out to be not that effective, then the effort spent on it will cost lives: opportunity costs always count.
    Alas, since these insights would also be true of every other therapy on offer at the moment, it is not clear what value the argument has.
    However, and I don’t want to speak for Natalie here, I took the key point of the OP to be not whether HCQ is “a scientifically good therapy” or not, but whether the concept of “scientifically good therapy” even has much meaning now.

    “I know nothing about medicine and have no opinion as to whether Hydroxychloroquine is any use in treating the coronavirus or as a preventative. But I know enough about the history of science to be deeply frightened by this:
    “And social media companies have removed viral online posts by doctors who reject the scientific consensus, praising the drug’s effectiveness.
    “. My emphasis there, not Natalie’s.

    It was bad enough that Dr. Horton in The Lancet politicised HCQ – I imagine no reason needed other than Orange Man Bad – but now, Mark Zuckerberg has decided to cancel it altogether. And that, we are invited to think, is to be that. Worrying about these developments cannot be assuaged by “HCQ really isn’t much use”, even if that is true.

  • David Roberts

    Sorry wrong video, this is the one I meant and it is a lot shorter.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCRGYtMgn4c

  • Nullius in Verba

    “However, and I don’t want to speak for Natalie here, I took the key point of the OP to be not whether HCQ is “a scientifically good therapy” or not, but whether the concept of “scientifically good therapy” even has much meaning now.”

    I took the OP’s point to be that whether or not it works (and Natalie is no more taking a position on that than I am), that it is a really bad idea to start censoring certain positions in the debate. Doing so is counter to science, which is about listening to the best arguments that critics can come up with. I agree with that.

    In this case, the issue was around doctors “praising the drug’s effectiveness“, where the effectiveness has not been scientifically shown. I think it’s not totally unreasonable to tag such posts with a pointer to the other side of the debate, saying that by current scientific standards of evidence, it’s not been shown to be effective. That helps the debate, and helps people make their decisions based on hearing all sides, not just one. But I think it’s counterproductive to block it. It sabotages the public debate, it possibly stymies progress if they should happen to be right, and it makes them martyrs.

    On free speech grounds, I’m in full agreement with Natalie. Whether it works or not, people shoulds be free to advance whatever theories and ‘cures’ they like. There are some difficulties – like if a proposed ‘cure’ is dangerous (like bleach and fish tank cleaner), or damaging for other reasons (traditional Chinese medicine involving bits of endangered species), or part of a fraud (“Roll up! Roll up! Buy my patented Snake Oil remedy at $200 a bottle!”) – but these don’t apply when it comes to Hydroxychloroquine.

    But on the question of whether it actually works, and whether what they’re saying/doing is ‘scientific’, I think some people are getting a bit ahead of the game. It’s scientific to say it should be tested, and there’s anecdotal evidence that it might work. It’s not ‘scientific’ to “praise the drug’s effectiveness” yet. That’s more of a political statement, and so the political act of blocking it is not actually blocking the scientific part of the debate.

    In the meantime, I will leave you to ponder Ayatollah Tabrizian‘s proposed cures for Covid-19. He calls for “more research”. And if people want to try it, and talk about it, and fund research into it, I don’t think the principles involved in saying it’s not our business to ban or block it are any different. 🙂

  • APL

    David Roberts: “… this is the one I meant and it is a lot shorter”.

    @6:10 in: ” second trick they use is weasel words ”

    Heh!

    Scott Adams: ” risk management decision “

    Well, yes.

  • Paul Marks

    “Your theory is that copper turns into bronze”.

    No our theory is that we can use copper, tin and heat to make bronze.

    “I have been watching for ages and none of this copper has turned into bronze”.

    That is because you are not using copper, tin and heat in the correct way.

    “I will construct a double blind test with Peer Review from people funded by the Corporations and the Woke Collectivist billionaires – to see if any of this copper turns into bronze.”

    No you are just not listening – copper, tin and heat, used in the right way will make bronze.

    “I AM listening – and both copper and tin are weaker than bronze, so combining them can not possibly make bronze, and the heat thing is just changing the subject”.

    This is the conversation that doctors and “scientists” have been having for five months.

    Although there have been exceptions – such as an academic epidemiologist at Yale who has pointed out that a lot of academics are politically committed to the “Progressive” cause and believe that the lockdowns and so on are a price that has to be paid for the Greater Good of this cause.

    After all one “can not make an omelette without breaking eggs” – and to the Progressives Covid casualties, either from Covid 19 itself or the far greater casualties from the economic collapse, are acceptable casualties in order to create the Perfect World they passionately believe in.

    It is important to remember that these people do not regard themselves as evil – the horrors of “lockdowns” and so on are all for the Greater Good of destroying “reactionary” society, creating the Great Reset of Social Justice.

    This is where Marxists join hands with Fascists.

    Both want an end to what is left of liberty – and destroying what is left of liberty is what the lockdowns and the Great Reset are about.

    After all as “Tony Heller” is fond of pointing out, even if the treatments do NOT work the correct way to reduce casualties (total casualties – including those from economic breakdown) was to protect the old and those with pre existing medical conditions – and to leave other people, the general population, free to go about their business building up herd immunity.

    The “lockdowns” WERE NEVER ANYTHING TO DO WITH PUBLIC HEALTH – public heath was NOT what the lockdowns (and all the rest of it) was-or-is about.

    The government of Sweden are not “right wing extremists” like “Tony Heller” or Paul Marks – they are Social Democrats. They did not go for a “lockdown” because they knew there was no way they could justify it terms of health policy.

    To have had a “lockdown” in Sweden would, legally, have required a Constitutional Amendment – and the process to get such a Constitutional change would have needed hard medical evidence in a long formal exercise of examination. There would have plenty of opportunity to challenge the case in such a Constitutional process – it would NOT have been like the British Parliament – hysterical panic whipped up with the repeated statements of “we must do this or WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!”. Not so much Private Fraser as Corporal Jones – Private Fraser might say “we are DOOMED” but he would also think carefully and weigh the evidence – unlike Corporal Jones who would run round in a small circle screaming “Don’t Panic” at the top of his voice.

    And the pro “lockdown” people KNEW (from the start) that their argument would not stand up under formal examination – so the lockdowns HAD to be done in an hysterical panic or they would not had been done at all.

    Repeat – the lockdowns were never about Public Health.

    If you do not understand anything else – at least understand that.

    By the way sometimes “the system works”.

    For example the Mayor of Sioux Falls (a Republican – but facing the normal “Public Health” professionals- i.e. Progressive activists trained in the universities) did consider a “lockdown” in April – after three days he withdrew his proposal without formally putting it to a vote by the city council.

    This was because the public made it very clear to this person that they would ignore his demented orders – and they were armed.

    No actual violence is needed – as long as you make the position clear to the political leadership. One needs to be polite – but also firm.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “No you are just not listening – copper, tin and heat, used in the right way will make bronze.”

    Sceptic: OK, prove it.

    Theorist: Here’s an experiment where we put copper and tin in a crucible, heated them, and the result was bronze.

    Sceptic: OK, what was the crucible made of? Was it perfectly clean? How did you heat it? If you used a gas burner, what gas? Did you try several different methods of heating? Was air present, or did you do it under an inert atmosphere, or in a vaccuum? How pure were the copper and tin? Did they have any other materials mixed in? How did you test it? How accurate are your tests? Did you try it without one of the copper, tin, or heat, to confirm that no bronze was produced?

    Theorist: Why do you need to know all that?

    Sceptic: Because in any experiment there are hundreds of other factors present – not just the ones you have introduced based on your theory, but other ones you’re not observing, and that might or might not have an effect. Suppose bronze is actually a mixture of copper, tin, and element X, and the experiment worked because you happened to do it in a crucible contaminated with element X, or the missing element was present in the fuel you used in the gas burner, or the burner nozzle, or in the air, or in dust suspended in the air, or anywhere else. What if instead of a gas burner you used electricity to heat the sample, and it’s not actually heat that matters, but the transformation is the result of electrolysis. What if the copper you used is impure and contains a small amount of element X? What if copper alone *does* produce bronze, and the tin was incidental?

    You haven’t actually proved anything, because you haven’t controlled for all the other potential causes, and eliminated them. In observational trials this is incredibly difficult to do. This is precisely why we do randomised trials. You do the experiment many times using the same set-up, you make sure the only thing you vary is the factors you are studying, and you make sure the variation are not tied to any other possible unobserved causes by making sure *you* control them and assigning them randomly. It’s longer, harder, and more expensive, but it’s the only way to be sure.

    So again, have you done a randomised trial to eliminate all other possible causes and influences?

    Theorist: No. Those trials are still in progress.

    Sceptic: So you haven’t proved your claim that copper+tin+heat makes bronze yet. For all you know, it could be copper + tin + something-in-the-crucible + fuel gas + iron dust from the experiment you did in the same lab two days ago. Right?

    Science is harder than it looks.

  • APL

    Theorist: Why do you need to know all that?

    Sceptic: Because in any experiment there are hundreds of other factors present – not just the ones you have introduced based on your theory, but other ones you’re not observing, and that might or might not have an effect. Suppose bronze is actually a mixture of copper, tin, and element X, and the experiment worked because you happened to do it in a crucible contaminated with element X, or the missing element was present in the fuel you used in the gas burner, or the burner nozzle, or in the air, or in dust suspended in the air, or anywhere else. What if instead of a gas burner you used electricity to heat the sample, and it’s not actually heat that matters, but the transformation is the result of electrolysis. What if the copper you used is impure and contains a small amount of element X? What if copper alone *does* produce bronze, and the tin was incidental?

    Theorist: I don’t have time for this nonsense. I’m just going to go ahead and get my chums to manufacture Bronze. Good luck using your theories of why I don’t have any bronze weapons when my army kicks your door in.

  • Science is harder than it looks. (Nullius in Verba, August 7, 2020 at 10:21 pm)

    So is saying what you mean without giving a misleading impression. (Orwell identifies using a word or phrase with a meaning that is not what the audience assume as one form of propaganda.)

    You doubtless recall the joke (but not just a joke) scientific paper on parachutes being unproven to assist survival when falling from high altitudes. The paper solemnly reported, in standard jargon, the difficulties in recruiting people to a proper double-blind trial in which half would jump out of a plane at 5000 feet without a parachute, under the rules of informed consent. (These rules apparently prohibit the Liverpool Care Pathway approach of making them high as kites before throwing them out at a greater height still.) The study could only recruit after promising the jump would be from a height of 5 feet, and this showed no difference between wearing and not wearing a parachute.

    There is civil proof, criminal proof, double-blind randomised trial proof, mathematical proof, etc. It can be simultaneously true to say

    – standard full-sized double-blind trials of hydroxycholoquine, administered under the conditions its supporters recommend, have not yet been completed

    and

    – many ways of stating the above in the public domain are intentionally or unconsciously deceitful (and, as the OP reports, can, perhaps intentionally, delay completing such trials and offering hopeful treatments in the meantime).

    Trump said it looked promising (IIRC – knowing Trump, he probably said it was very promising, etc.). He was clearly thinking of (or rather, in the domain of) the civil standard of proof. (Or should we define a further standard: political proof?)

    As regards APL’s example (APL, August 8, 2020 at 7:25 am), I think we can safely assume that no ancient power performed the experiment of sending armies randomly equipped with and without bronze weapons against double-blind-selected enemies and carefully assessing the outcomes, before deciding to make all the bronze they could. 🙂

    There’s a sense in which it is desirable to complete all these trials – and to review which treatments are hopeful once that is done. That is not the sense in which the public domain (including the public domain of science) has been propagandised by Trump-haters.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “So is saying what you mean without giving a misleading impression. (Orwell identifies using a word or phrase with a meaning that is not what the audience assume as one form of propaganda.)”

    It depends on your audience. If the audience is determined to misread everything you say, not as you intended it but in the framework of their own political struggle, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get labelled as a misleading propagandist.

    But since I know what they really mean by the term ‘misleading propagandist’, I take it as a compliment.

    “The paper solemnly reported, in standard jargon, the difficulties in recruiting people to a proper double-blind trial in which half would jump out of a plane at 5000 feet without a parachute, under the rules of informed consent.”

    Indeed. There are many circumstances where controlled, randomised trials are impossible or infeasible. Science still works. It can use whatever evidence it can get. But the price for using less powerful methods is that there is a far greater potential for error, and it takes far longer to eliminate all the alternative explanations. It’s slower, and less reliable. And it means you’re going to spend a long time labouring under a variety of delusions and wrong theories and have to fight arguments and controversies between rival theories before you hit on something that actually works.

    “Trump said it looked promising (IIRC – knowing Trump, he probably said it was very promising, etc.). He was clearly thinking of (or rather, in the domain of) the civil standard of proof.”

    And this is the problem with the debate. I wasn’t talking about what Trump did or did not say. I was talking about the science. Trump’s position on the question is entirely irrelevant to the science, and the question of whether there’s scientific evidence that it’s true.

    But science gets politicised. If I argue against the immediate acceptance of Hydroxychloroquine as our saviour, people interpret that politically as arguing/opposing President Trump. And in order to defend Trump, they defend the position on the science he took. They argue with me about the science, thinking it’s really an argument about politics.

    As it happens, I don’t have any particular disagreement with Trump on Hydroxychloroquine. He said at the time he was no expert on the science, he said it looked hopeful, he said it was worth trying, and I agree with all that. You wouldn’t have got 350+ papers published studying the question if the world’s medical researchers didn’t agree. But that doesn’t mean it actually works, or that it not working in any way discredits President Trump. He’s not a scientist anyway so nobody would expect that sort of expertise, he was just reporting a story that was in the news that he thought would raise people’s spirits, and hypotheses getting knocked down is a normal part of science. Infallibility is neither expected nor required.

    And as I’ve said before, I think shifting expectations on fallibility is part of Trump’s political strategy. Conventional politicians get fixated on making no mistakes, on checking every word and running it past spin doctors and focus groups, and that renders them vulnerable. Any mistakes they do make stand out. And it allows the media to lead them around by the nose – if a politician knows that saying something controversial will cause the media to erupt into attacks and criticisms, they won’t say it. Thus the media control the agenda, and the range of acceptable policies they can introduce. Trump won’t play that game. He says what he thinks. He doesn’t fact-check, or spin it. He makes many minor mistakes as a result. And that not only gives the impression of being ‘one of the guys’ to the working-class man on the street – a pretty impressive feat for a billionaire! – but it raises the noise floor on ‘gaffes’, reduces the signal to noise ratio, and makes any mistakes he makes far less noticeable. There is a constant roar of minor criticisms, which eventually turns into background noise that people tune out.

    Given that, it seems odd for his supporters to put so much weight on defending this particular claim of his. It’s just Trump being Trump. It doesn’t particularly matter from a medical perspective – the doctors and researchers are in control of that, and are not going to pay excessive attention to what Trump says – and as a political feelgood story it’s unobjectionable. Medical researchers are researching potential cures. HCQ might not have worked out, but dexamethasone did, and others will. It’s not important to Trump’s political reputation whether it’s true or not, unless his followers make it so. By defending it so vigorously, it becomes inextricably associated with Trump’s position, and this is not a hill you want to die defending. It’s neither important, nor very defensible. It doesn’t matter.

    And in trying to suggest you don’t nail Trump’s colours irremovably to the mast of a possibly sinkable ship, I’m trying to be helpful.

    “As regards APL’s example (APL, August 8, 2020 at 7:25 am), I think we can safely assume that no ancient power performed the experiment of sending armies randomly equipped with and without bronze weapons against double-blind-selected enemies and carefully assessing the outcomes, before deciding to make all the bronze they could.”

    And I think we can also safely say they didn’t go into battle without performing all the proper rituals and making all the proper sacrifices to the Gods. After all, they worked when performed just before the last victorious battle.

    The ancients were particularly prone to superstition. When any especially good or especially bad outcome occurred, they naturally examined all the things they did, and all the unusual occurrences just before the event, to try to spot the pattern. And then next time you do it again, just in case. That builds up into a religion, a whole theory of how the world works with demons and spirits pulling the strings of fate behind the scenes, but whose strings can in turn be pulled by the right prayers and magic.

    If you’re totally fixated on religious explanations for everything, then you might not notice that the worshippers of Ooo-Ra just so happen to be the ones with bronze spears, and that the latter is a better explanation of their success than the former. It’s more obvious that Ooo-Ra granted them the victory.

    Doctors are trying lots of different treatments, often all mixed up with one another, and then trying to pick out of subsequent events which ones might have worked. So some of the doctors noted that patients who received HCQ got better noticably more often. They didn’t notice that the patients who received HCQ were on average 5 years younger, which was perhaps a better explanation. Some patients get all the treatments, where the doctor thinks they’re on the edge and they have a good chance of surviving, while others get none of them, where they’re too ill and it’s seen as hopeless, so those who got HCQ also tended to get steroid anti-inflammatories (which do work). Maybe one ward has a dedicated doctor who tries everything to keep his patients going, including HCQ, while another warn is run by a doctor who is overworked and has no vocation for the job and is inclined to cut as many corners as they can. Sometimes you notice and record these other factors, sometimes you won’t.

    We start with superstitions as our raw material, and then use science to test them and ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’. But to start with, there’s always a lot more ‘chaff’ than there is ‘wheat’. That’s normal for science. But in a media-presented world filled with ‘scientific experts’ it’s not what the public is used to.

  • Paul Marks

    Nullius is still pretending that the lockdowns were about Public Health.

    Nullius you might get away with that in March (at least when dealing with silly over trusting people like ME – for you did fool me in March), but this is now August – you are not going to fool us now.

    “Fool me once shame on you – fool me twice, shame on ME”

    As for science is harder than it looks…….

    The lockdowns and the rest of the Totalitarian agenda were NEVER about science – they were always an international political agenda. There us overwhelming evidence for that now – and no amount of internet censorship will prevent the truth spreading.

    In Preston they have dragged back the “Do not kill Granny” slogan.

    These officials and “experts” are that crude. They really are.

    It is time to tell these people to go away.

    In Melbourne Australia they are copying the People’s Republic of China and locking people into tower blocks. Like a bad Science Fiction – Horror film.

    If Americans were not armed (Australians were disarmed some years ago) they would do that in the United States. Under a “President Biden” the Supreme Court would “reinterpret” the 2nd Amendment, and then the Technocrats (the so called scientists) could do anything they liked to the population – and THEY WOULD.

    As Perry is fond of saying “the state is not your friend”.

    And the “scientists” and “public health experts” (like the professional leftist Professor Ferguson of Imperial College) are nothing to do with real science.

    These are the scum (and the word is justified) who denounced anti lockdown protests but SUPPORTED the Black Lives Matter protests. So much for “science” Nullius.

    And now they have got rid of the 1st Amendment in some American States – “it is not religious persecution – we are forbidding going to church for PUBLIC HEALTH reasons” – pull the other one it has got bells on.

    In Nevada going to church is de facto forbidden, but casinos are fine – more “science” ah Nullius?

    Just as Trump events or other conservative events (such as the Young Americans for Freedom conference that was FORBIDDEN in Dallas, in a blatant violation of the 1st Amendment) are evil – but Black Lives Matter riots (with looting, burning and MURDERING) are SUPPORTED by the “public health experts”.

    For “Racism is a Public Health Emergency” – hundreds of academics and officials signed that Nullius.

    More of your “science”? Is it? Or is it the Frankfurt School of Marxism totalitarian “Diversity” agenda?

    The left has moved from the humanities into the natural sciences – especially “Public Health Policy” – which is a perfect excuse for international totalitarianism.

    And international totalitarianism is what this is about – and has been from the start.

  • APL

    Paul Marks: “In Preston they have dragged back the “Do not kill Granny” slogan. These officials and “experts” are that crude. They really are.”

    Pretty rich from people that have just contributed to the untimely deaths of, ten to fifteen thousand grannies and grandpa’s, by discharging COVID patients from NHS facilities into ‘care homes’*.

    *’Care homes’, they don’t care and they ain’t home.

  • Exasperated

    It was really despicable to politicize the drug HCQ, a treatment that had been used around the world by millions for decades. Although, I’m still on the fence as to its efficacy and never thought it would be a panacea, at the time, it was the only candidate out there. All decent people hoped it would work because of what it would mean for the poor people of the third world. It’s cheap, already widely distributed, and didn’t require any specialized storage, or specialized procedures, or specialized equipment, or specialized personnel to dispense it. In short, A God send for the people outside the wealthy, industrialized West.
    Many medical professionals were discussing HCQ before Trump ever mentioned it. Dr Seheult on Medram, for one, citing in vitro studies from SARS-1.

  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16115318/

    2005 study on SARS cov1.

    SARS cov2 enters cells the same way.

    If the media companies are banning discussion of this one should treat their actions as a rather large red flag.

  • APL

    Exasperated: “It was really despicable to politicize the drug HCQ, a treatment that had been used around the world by millions for decades. ”

    Who politicized HCQ? I don’t think Trump did:- Trump: ” .. a drug called chloroquine and some people would add to it hydroxy – chloroquine. Now this is a common [anti] Malarial drug and it’s shown encouraging, very very encouraging results ” – sounds like a reasonable statement of his opinion, to me.

    This drug [HCQ] or drug combination when used to treat COVID-19 was fought tooth an nail by those promoting a vaccine, and their running dogs. Attempting ( successfully, by and large ) to terrorise the population, by presenting lies and half truths as fact.

    “We need more trials, before we would dare use HCQ to treat COVID-19”. A lie and a half truth.

    The half truth: It would be desirable to know how effective the trio of drug treatment would be with some randomized double blind trials. The lie: that precludes treatment with an HCQ combination on other patients in the meantime.

    But the most outrageous thing is, Doctors are not allowed to make medical decisions without being second guessed by bureaucrats and other jobs-worthies.

    It’s as if the medical qualification a GP, Doctor or Surgeon achieves, isn’t good enough for him/her to make an estimation of the risk/reward for his particular patient, discuss and consult with that patient when recommending or prescribing a medication.

  • APL

    PS: What ever you’ve done to fix the comment system, you seem to have disabled the ability to edit your comment after pressing post.

  • David Roberts

    About science and the media.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “2005 study on SARS cov1. SARS cov2 enters cells the same way. If the media companies are banning discussion of this one should treat their actions as a rather large red flag.”

    The media companies aren’t banning discussion. I linked earlier to a media article that discussed precisely this issue.

    Early hope for HCQ was based on lab studies using vero cells from the kidneys of African green monkeys, which are a commonly used cell culture in experimental work. SARS-CoV-2 can get into cells in two ways. The spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor and the virus is engulfed by the cell in a capsule called an endosome, which an enzyme called cathepsin L breaks open to release the virus inside the cell. The other way is that the spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor and then a different enzyme TMPRSS2 chops off the spike protein allowing the contents of the virus to merge with the cell.

    Vero cells can only be infected by the cathepsin route, and this is the route that HCQ interferes with. Lung cells are also infected via the TMPRSS2 route, and HCQ does nothing at all to stop this happening. Human lung cells are still easily infected in lab tests even in the presence of HCQ. Blocking the action of TMPRSS2 by using HCQ in combination with ammonium chloride resulted in HCQ working ten times more effectively. That’s in a test tube – that still doesn’t mean it will work that way in the human body.

    There’s no problem with discussing it. But to do so honestly you also have to set out the other side of the argument, where a whole bunch of people have tried it and found it didn’t work.

    “The half truth: It would be desirable to know how effective the trio of drug treatment would be with some randomized double blind trials. The lie: that precludes treatment with an HCQ combination on other patients in the meantime.”

    It *is* a lie. Lots of people have been treated with HCQ in various combinations from the start. That’s where these initial reports came from – doctors trying it (in unrandomised and statistically confounded practice) and reporting their observations. People are being treated with HCQ in ongoing randomised trials. There have been 350+ papers published on the topic – more than for any other drug or treatment by a long way. It’s a nonsense to say it’s not being used on patients in the meantime.

    It’s the same principle as aromatherapy. It’s not been proven to work, but there’s nothing stopping people trying it anyway. There’s no problem with discussing research on whether it actually works. What gets people upset, though, is when you have in effect a huge internet buzz around presentations claiming that “Aromatherapy really works! 200 people in our unrandomised, uncontrolled experiment applied essential oils of violet and felt a lot better! The medical establishment is trying to hide the truth about aromatherapy! The medical establishment is trying to ban it!” It’s not true.

    My approach is that you should let them present it but point out to any readers that it’s not true. The social media people are under pressure to stop people being deceived, but don’t want to get dragged into an endless argument with people who don’t understand the need to present actual scientific evidence for their claims, or why their anecdotes don’t count, and so they simply ban it. Obviously, I disagree with them about that.

    But people can and do use HCQ to ‘cure’ COVID-19, like they can and do use scented candles. Doctors can prescribe it ‘off-label’, or participate in one of the many trials. Doctors usually don’t, because messing with unproven drugs can go wrong and do more harm than good. There’s obviously no body of advice on safe/effective doses, since it’s not been shown to be effective. There are ethical problems with what is effectively unlicenced medical experimentation on humans, which many doctors prefer to avoid. But it can be done.

  • The social media people are under pressure to stop people being deceived, but don’t want to get dragged into an endless argument with people who don’t understand the need to present actual scientific evidence for their claims, or why their anecdotes don’t count, and so they simply ban it. (Nullius in Verba, August 14, 2020 at 1:42 pm)

    That is so NOT the principle pressure they are under – or rather, the principle agenda they have.

    Obviously, I disagree with them about that.

    Were that the reason for their restrictions on speech, I too would still disagree with it. Their actual motives are baser and merit greater disdain.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “That is so NOT the principle pressure they are under – or rather, the principle agenda they have.”

    Where does that article specify their motivations? How do you know that preventing harm from unproven and potentially dangerous treatments wasn’t their agenda?

  • Where does that article specify their motivations? (Nullius in Verba, August 14, 2020 at 10:37 pm)

    Where you would expect from my linking to it, Nullius – in its text, very obviously and unmissably explicitly. As the bit I quote says

    These days, politics seems to dictate that if one party says, “The sky is blue,” the other party is obligated to reply, “No, it’s not, and you’re a terrible human being for thinking that”.

    This is a very clear specification of the motivation as political. The immediately following sentence …

    That leaves no room for science, in which the data speak for themselves, regardless of ideology

    … is an equally clear specification that this political motivation not merely trumps the alternative motivation you suggest but literally “leaves no room” for it.

    As the full quote at the link explains, Aytu put up the video immediately Trump mentioned UV because they anticipated (i.e. predicted) my view – that Trump mentioning UV would immediately cause PC social media reaction against UV for political reasons, not any monitoring of accuracy. That was a prediction on Aytu’s part. When YouTube, Twitter and Vimeo pulled Aytu’s video and account within 24 hours, that was even more evidence of their predictive accuracy than they themselves seem to have expected – a confirmatory experimental result in spades.

    So I see the article as not merely specifying the view I presented but providing an experiment with an indicative outcome. The PC social media providers who reacted even beyond Aytu’s fears behaved as one would predict (as Aytu predicted and then some) if #orangemanbad, not an apolitical concern for accuracy, governed their behaviour. But as regards merely specifying, the article is very upfront in telling the reader the quoted writer’s specification of what they think the problem is, making your question read strangely.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “These days, politics seems to dictate that if one party says, “The sky is blue,” the other party is obligated to reply, “No, it’s not, and you’re a terrible human being for thinking that”.”

    But in this case, the first party is pretty obviously NOT saying “The sky is blue”, or anything like it!

    My reading of events was that a report had come out showing that bleach and UV light on external surfaces had been shown to rapidly killed SARS-CoV-2, and Trump had made an offhand comment – such as any scientifically ignorant layman propping up the end of a bar might make – that maybe you could extend the same principle to disinfecting people’s insides. Trump caveated that by saying he wasn’t an expert, just that maybe they should look at it, one would assume anyone with any sense would check it out before trying it, but it is on the face of it an incredibly stupid and dangerous idea. As I’ve said before, I think everyone should by now be well aware that Trump’s comments are not carefully fact-checked before he speaks, and are not to be taken too literally. But as we all know, there are lots of ordinary people who really are that scientifically ignorant.

    So it seems perfectly reasonable to me that others who are only marginally less scientifically ignorant would see any article apparently giving credence or confirmation to Trump’s idea to be promoting what they believed to be an obviously stupid and dangerous idea, and claiming the authority of science to do so. They’re not objecting because Trump said it. They’re objecting because exposing people’s throat and lungs to UV sounds extremely dangerous, and they’re worried people are going to try it and claim they thought it was valid because they saw a scientist recommending it on a reputable social media platform. They believed this to be in the category of promoting dangerous junk science.

    They assumed that people were only defending it because Trump had said it and the political climate is such that if Trump said “The sky is purple with orange and green stripes” that his supporters would defend the claim to the death. (Which some of them probably would.) They wouldn’t know enough science to realise that that wasn’t what this was, and would not wish to enter into an argument about it with what they believed to be politically fanatic authors. So they blocked it.

    This is actually an example of one of the classic arguments about free speech – censors argue that you need to protect the ignorant from error, the defenders of free speech argue that this sometimes censors the truth, because nobody is infallible, and it is far better to debate it and educate the ignorant about the truth that way. They were mistaken and shouldn’t have blocked it. But they were plainly not doing so simply because Trump had defended the idea. They did so because they thought it was promoting a dangerously false belief.

    “is an equally clear specification that this political motivation not merely trumps the alternative motivation you suggest but literally “leaves no room” for it.”

    I don’t agree. Nothing about the foregoing sentences excludes the motivation.

    While reflexive partisan opposition is common in current political environment, it has not been shown that this was a case of it. And even if it was, it doesn’t exclude the possibility that both motivations applied simultaneously.

    Censoring one side of the debate is certainly not scientific, but that says nothing at all about whether it is motivated by politics or some other incorrect belief.

    “That was a prediction on Aytu’s part. When YouTube, Twitter and Vimeo pulled Aytu’s video and account within 24 hours, that was even more evidence of their predictive accuracy than they themselves seem to have expected – a confirmatory experimental result in spades.”

    That’s the fallacy of “confirming the consequent” in spades!

    This is a fallacy of the form: “A causes B. B is observed. Therefore A caused it.” It’s a fallacy because many other things could also cause B. In this case, both anti-Trump bias and basic medical common sense could explain events; you can’t deduce from that that it was anti-Trump bias.

    And the fact that someone claiming scientific credentials failed to spot the “confirming the consequent” fallacy has to make one wonder about the validity of the rest of what they say.

    ” But as regards merely specifying, the article is very upfront in telling the reader the quoted writer’s specification of what they think the problem is, making your question read strangely.”

    I have to thank you for the clarification. When I read the quote, I had honestly not considered fallacious readings of the text. That the political environment is commonly so obviously (to my eyes) doesn’t imply that it was so in this case, and I hadn’t even considered the possibility anyone would read it that way.

    Perhaps it is as Aytu says – that because the other side has said their motivation is this, that you feel obligated to reply: no, it is not, and they are terrible human beings for thinking that? 🙂

  • But they were plainly not doing so simply because Trump had defended the idea. They did so because they thought it was promoting a dangerously false belief.

    That is a bizarre and very forced interpretation.

    They were very plainly pulling the video because it got in the way of selling their very simple-minded “he’s so obviously an idiot that only an idiot could miss it” narrative.

    Trump thinks we can kill COVID by shining a light on it; What an idiot!

    is the desired approach – to let themselves feel good about themselves as much as to sell it to voters – and they pulled the video because it pushed commenters at the very minimum towards a more rational and therefore more restrained alternative:

    Trump thinks we might learn how to cure COVID by shining UV light on it. Now, to be sure, UV has disinfectant properties and sensible medical uses – as anyone who views this video from Aytu will immediately recognise – but we educated MSMers will now explain why the hope that Trump expressed is far beyond the timescale of this current crisis.

    Or, as Nullius chose instead to phrase it,

    is on the face of it an incredibly stupid and dangerous idea

    which is an intemperate way to describe an “it would be nice if” suggestion (Trump was clearly not planning to do a ‘Peter the Great’ and start applying it to those around him 🙂 ). I quite see that if some woman who hated both Trump and her husband decided to kill the husband by burning his lungs and claim at trial that Trump told her it was a good idea, then that would indeed be an “incredibly stupid” (for her) “and dangerous” (for her husband) idea, but that is pretty well the beginning and end of any real danger from Trump’s remark, let alone the video. It would merely underscore that hatred of Trump is their motive if they pretended to think that a Trump-voter, not one of their own, could be in the slightest degree endangered by Trump’s having made that “it would be nice” suggestion, let alone by Aytu’s video.

    I think it is clear that Nullius and I will not reach agreement on this 🙂 – so I suggest we leave it and let readers form their own conclusions in the matter. Nullius concludes by saying that

    I hadn’t even considered the possibility anyone would read it that way

    so readers are best qualified to judge whether no-one, anyone, or almost everyone (else), would have read it that way and/or considered reading it that way.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “They were very plainly pulling the video because it got in the way of selling their very simple-minded “he’s so obviously an idiot that only an idiot could miss it” narrative.”

    I guess we’re all very bad mind-readers…

    “Trump thinks we can kill COVID by shining a light on it; What an idiot!”

    That’s not it at all. You *can* kill Covid by shining a light on it. But UV light also causes cell damage. In the short term it can cause sunburn, in the long run it can cause skin cancer. And that’s with the external skin on the outside of the body, specially adapted to cope with high levels of UV from sunlight. Can you imagine the consequences of sunburn in the sensitive lining of the windpipe and lungs?

    We have been told by medics for many, many years that UV light is dangerous and to slap on the sunblock. Yes, it does indeed work to sterilise surfaces, and is often used for that purpose (especially if the surfaces are delicate and don’t react well to heat or chemical disinfectants). But that’s because of the damage it does. That’s the story the public have been told.

    Now, it’s also true that dangerous, damaging activities can be used in medical treatments. Radiotherapy uses ionising radiation to treat cancer. Surgery uses knives to cut people open. If you know exactly what you’re doing, are careful about doses, use aditional measures to repair the damage, then it’s possible to use dangerous processes in medicine. But it’s not the first connection that comes to mind with the lay public when talking about UV. And if you’re worried about ‘Darwin Awards’ contenders buying their own UV lights off the internet (I know people who have bought some – they’re being sold during the current crisis as a way to quickly sterilise surfaces) and perhaps doing a bit of self-medication, who knows what damage they might end up doing themselves? People can be stupid.

    The worry is absolutely NOT “Trump thinks we can kill COVID by shining a light on it; What an idiot!” It’s “Trump thinks measures used to kill COVID on external surfaces like your kitchen workbench like bleach and UV light can safely be used on the delicate internal organs of the human body, and now a bunch of his supporters who credulously believe every word he says are gonna act on it; What a bunch of idiots!”

    “…which is an intemperate way to describe an “it would be nice if” suggestion…”

    As I’ve said several times, I don’t have a serious problem with the way Trump phrased it. It is a stupid and dangerous idea, but Trump made it perfectly clear he wasn’t claiming any knowledge that it actually worked or was safe, it’s just the sort of question that a non-scientist might innocently ask, and on being told “No, it won’t work” cheerfully accept that. Like, “Heat is a form of energy, and there’s lots of heat in the sea. Can we extract it all by freezing the oceans, and so solve the energy crisis?” For a layman who knows only bits and pieces of science, it’s a perfectly sensible question. But the answer is “No”. And the response to that should be “Oh. OK.”

    Trump innocently made a suggestion. The answer is “No, UV and bleach may be safe on kitchen surfaces but they are generally very dangerous if applied to the inside of the human body.” and the answer to that should be “Oh. OK.” and we all move on. The suggestion claimed no special authority or truth, it wasn’t true, nothing significant or interesting has happened. The media were obviously being quite partisan and unpleasant in saying “Duh! What an idiot!” A few Trump supporters are being partisan and idiotic in trying to argue “No! Everything Trump says is true!”

    “It would merely underscore that hatred of Trump is their motive if they pretended to think that a Trump-voter, not one of their own, could be in the slightest degree endangered by Trump’s having made that “it would be nice” suggestion, let alone by Aytu’s video.”

    That could only happen if there were cases of Trump off-handedly saying something untrue and Trump supporters dying-in-a-ditch defending it as true, rather than saying “Yeah. So what?” And Democrats think there are lots of examples of that!

    Partisans on all sides of the political divide always consider the partisans on the other side to be credulous idiots who believe things that are patently untrue. There’s nothing particularly surprising or unusual about that.

    When we argue that socialism is dangerous, and the “useful idiots” who vote for it are credulous fools, are we solely motivated by hatred in saying so, or do we simply believe that what we just said is correct?

    And do we honestly believe our political opponents could be such credulous fools? That they could possibly believe the things we regard as obviously dangerous and untrue?

    Well, do we? How do you think that’s different?

    “so readers are best qualified to judge whether no-one, anyone, or almost everyone (else), would have read it that way and/or considered reading it that way.”

    It would presumably depend on whether readers are also susceptible to the “confirming the consequent” fallacy! And similar examples of backwards logic. If they are, they they too might well have read it the same way you did. Does that make them “best qualified”?

    But I agree, readers will no doubt form their own conclusions. 🙂

  • APL

    “There are still some scientists left”

    But not on SAGE.

    Neil M Ferguson, was in receipt of funds from the GAVI organisation, itself funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation – an organisation that promotes vaccination.

    All that talk of vaccination as the panacea for COVID-19 at the governments expense ( our expense ) would be just coincidence.

    Of course, Bill Gates is never one to be backward when it comes to screwing another couple of $billion out of government.

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