Responsibility and The System

In the full embodiment of the idea of collective and historical responsibility, you bear some responsibility for slavery and oppression even if you and your ancestors had no direct connection to the purchase and ownership of any slave, because you are part of the system and have benefited from that system.

By that reasoning, if you peacefully protest against racial injustice, but other protestors on the other side of the crowd – or even on the other side of the country – engage in looting and violence, aren’t you guilty as well, as part of the system? That second idea would sound strange and impossible to people, but I am not seeing a distinction.

Our church has taken up a study on racial justice, using a new book which I shall not name, but will mention that I loathe. There are plenty of difficulties right off the bat with trying to integrate Critical Race Theory, or any of the philosophical frameworks of the last two centuries which focus on group identities and  viewing human activities as systems with Christianity.

If systems were that important, we might expect that Jesus would have mentioned them more. The Roman Empire was an interlocking system that had good things and bad about it.  Neither Jesus, nor Paul, nor James, John, Peter, or Luke pay it much mind as a system per se. There is no advocacy that Christians should spend a moment of their time trying to change the system. We might ask ourselves why this is so. Just out of curiosity.

That systems were changed as a result of Christian belief is not at all the same thing as regarding attempts to “change the system” as Christian goals.  To bring things closer to the present day, William Wilberforce did not attempt to “change the system.” His goal was to eliminate slavery in the British Commonwealth, which he saw as a great evil. That “the system” would change as a result was not something he wasted any ink or a single speech on. The downstream effects of our actions are always unknown, and often include unforeseen problems.  We are to estimate those as best we can and take them into consideration, certainly.

There is something about focus on the system to removes our focus from our own actions.  This happens on the credit as well as the debt side of the ledger as well.  When we take credit and think ourselves special and virtuous because of things our ancestors, countrymen, or coreligionists have done that is equally missing the point.  I have a couple of ancestors who fought for the Union to free slaves.  I don’t believe I am owed any thanks for that.

If you are participating in an act, even in only a supportive or indirect role, I think that act does attach to you. At the end of Durrenmatt’s The Visit it is clear that the entire town has participated in the killing and the actions of a single individual do not stand out. Writing in Switzerland after WWII, it is clear that his intent was to tell Germans they all bore responsibility.  I would agree.  But were all Germans equally guilty?  Does a telephone operator or a bartender carry the same weight of guilt as a guard who executed Jews and pried gold fillings from their teeth?  Did a Jew or Gypsy who beat his wife become innocent on the day Hitler came to power?

People who focus on changing, disrupting, or overthrowing one system lose the ability to see the faults of their own system. The system is a snare for the Christian. Well, I suppose for anyone.

40 thoughts on “Responsibility and The System”

  1. a) in so far as any human society can be understood as a system, God alone can perceive things like the state space.
    b) hence the properties of the thing as a system are not something Christians are intended to change their behavior on the basis of.
    c) The martyrs were not called to address systemic paganism, they were called to witness. It was other human beings who slew them for it.
    d) I recently deleted a comment in a discussion of 1984 and the ‘dystopia’ genre. The preceding comment referred to the book as showing a case where the system was too powerful for love. This is not correct. 1984 accurately describes the tendencies of the left cult, but to do so falsely describes the certainty of bureaucracy.
    e) I would argue that the humanities horrifically misuse the concept of a system, which has legitimate uses in computer science and electrical engineering. However, many people in computer science and electrical engineering are driven to technocracy by their own personal flaws; They close their eyes to the fact that some things can not be legitimately extended and usefully applied to human beings.
    f) Conviction of inevitable system behavior in humans is paganism; it is a form of the animism of curves fit to data. This general belief assumes that the curve is a real thing, a law naturally obeyed, even if the ‘data’ it was fit to was cherrypicked nonsense.
    g) The belief that a set of rules can be made, and will then be perfectly obeyed, is fundamental to an over confidence in bureaucracy. It is also wrong, can only ever even seem correct when dealing with ‘well designed’ rules of narrow scope, being applied in a way that those under the rules do not see as malicious.
    h) Rules are designed using information, and implemented using human beings. Neither humans nor machines can have enough information to design a ‘perfect’ set of rules for human behavior under every condition. Where a set of rules is applied maliciously, to a great number of people, you see a crowdsourced attack on the rule set. The totalitarian answer is to make the people fear too much to even admit to themselves that they are doing so. The people still do so, and eventually the system is exposed to circumstances that were not seen during the design process. See the fall of the Romanian SSR. The system fails from preference cascade.
    i) I’m fairly certain that a more general form of this mechanism could also describe that one bronze age collapse.
    j) Orwell was cheating in 1984. The bureaucracy could have never been as reliable as he made it seem, and he did not choose to put all of the failures that could be predicted as realistic on stage.
    h) A take that didn’t cheat would have wound up showing victories of witnessing/love, etc. Or the complete collapse of the society into something that could no longer sustain such an expensive apparatus of oppression.
    j) Again, it was not ‘the system’ in 1984 that murdered, tortured, etc., it was other men.
    k) ‘The system’ is definitely snare for a Christian. It is religious conviction, and must not be syncratized with Christianity.
    l) Islam and Socialism are heresies of Christianity. Islam is a heresy of Christianity, because it claims special qualities for Jesus, but denies His divinity. You cannot truly be Christian if you syncratize in Islam. Socialism is more challenging to argue. However, it has qualities which socialism depends on, that could have only been inherited from Christianity, or maybe religions that were, for any great number of believers, much further away. Socialism would only obtain will to power converts from a culture that firmly believes that the poor are not the moral equals of the rich, and really deserve oppression. Socialism recruits from equality cultures, and then cheats on providing the same to the persons labelled as oppressors. Socialism appeals to the Christian by invoking that we are all children of God. But it is heresy, because it denies the humanity of the oppressor.
    m) The answer to injustice in society is to be Christian.
    n) Study of racial justice, critical theory, ‘systemic’ aspects of society are not things that can be practiced as part of Christianity.
    o) If those things are done in your circle of nominal Christians, to some effect they reflect on your own degree of Christianity.
    p) Human to human relationships do not scale. Dunbar’s number, etc.
    q) A king can not care for ten thousand subjects of his kingdom the way he can for a much smaller number of contacts.
    r) Neither can a politician a millions of a nation’s citizens. The belief that such politicians should care for individuals selects for the sociopathic habitual liars who can most effectively pretend to do so. At best, a politician is motivated by abstractions that happen to correspond to the welfare of those people.
    s) ‘If the Czar only knew’ is a lie.
    t) A human cannot really know about problems of a great many people, they guess. A very few people have the guessing and leadership ability to meddle in the larger matters, and not make things worse by acting on the rules we moderns have been given. We do not have a moral obligation to act on problems of very great scale, as if we were all the greatest of great men. I am not a great man, I have more limited ability, I do not have the personal moral obligation to fix all of the great injustices of the world.
    u) It would be absurd to propose using a neural net system to witness on the scale of hundreds of millions, thereby leading them to salvation.
    v) The best a human can do is witness, on the small scale.
    w) It may do good that you could not have accomplished by deliberate plan.
    x) You may be slain by other men.
    y) It is sort of a paganism that one first makes a plan, then acts on it, then accomplishes the goal of the plan, and only the goal. Real life is much more chaotic.
    z) We lack information about large numbers of humans. At best, we can use a statistical model, and draw conclusions from some collected numbers. It is a paganism take some of the qualities of statistics, but to attempt to draw conclusions without full rigor. Whenever someone says disproportionate, but does not give the error caused by the numbers counted, it is a problem of this sort. Statistics has a theoretical foundation, and when we ignore it in statements about large groups, we engage in magical thinking. Group magical thinking that isn’t validly Christian is syncratism. Teaching racial justice in a Christian church is a serious problem. How do you even know that race is a thing?

  2. I am critical of critical race theory (which does not warrant capitalization, IMO).

    Maybe I should start a movement and call it critical^2 race theory.

  3. The concept of citical race theory is designed to fix blame for failure on others. Otherwise, those who fail would be responsible for thier own actions. That would be SO unfair. Convictions for crimes, bankruptsies, abandoning children, lack of education, negligence at work, all MUST be someone else’s fault.

  4. As near as I can see, the concept of ‘white privilege’ is actually ‘middle-class’ (or better) privilege, for which the beneficiaries feel guilty, and attempt to assuage their guilt by being viciously snobbish and casting their own guilt on lower-class whites.
    This does not come off well, with whites of any class who do not feel they have been advantaged at all by their color, and in many cases, disadvantaged.
    And that the comfortably privileged then insist that this denial of advantage is more proof of irredeemable racism is adding insult to injury.

  5. Our church has also taken on studying race relations using critical race theory. They don’t realize what they are messing with by introducing this into the church. It’s insidious and destructive. Look what it’s done to education and corporations. I’m meeting with our executive pastor this week to discuss their decision. If they continue we will be leaving our church home of 16 years in which my wife has been a women’s study leader and children’s educator. Oh, and she is a person of color and feels as I do about this.

  6. Ah critical race theory, that was derrick bell’s contribution, remember obama lectured at u chicago from his primer, which I discovered in a little known review of his lectures on the eve of his dnc speech, and joel pollak I believe fleshed out more thoroughly at breitbart,

  7. If they continue we will be leaving our church home of 16 years in which my wife has been a women’s study leader and children’s educator. Oh, and she is a person of color and feels as I do about this.

    The “genteel” religions, like the Episcopalians, are losing congregations every year. They seem unable to avoid the latest fad in thinking. One congregation in Newport Beach CA decided it was leaving the Episcopal Church of the US and joining an African Episcopal church that had kept the traditional teachings. The bishop in California then announced that his church owned the church building they had paid for over the years. The church was then fenced off with chain link fencing so it could not be used. The congregation sued but, then last I heard the bishop had sold the building to a real estate developer. Newport Beach land has gotten very valuable. Much more valuable than religion, I guess.

    This story suggests the congregation finally won when the bishop changed.

  8. @ Mike K, that is what usually happens. The denomination owns the building and property. This has been a big issue in the fights over gay marriage, as those pushing for the change do not split off and form their own churches, they keep hammering until they get the denomination to change, forcing the traditionalists to leave and build new buildings. Other congregations, where it doesn’t look like it is going to be a frequent problem, put up with the idea of gay couples and gay bishops elsewhere and muddle along as a congregation, even if more than half are opposed. Because it is hard to leave a church building where one was baptised, or married, or that one’s forebears built. The Methodists are headed for a split, because once the activists find a way to excise the African congregations, they will have a majority vote on gay marriage and they will change the doctrine, insist that everyone smile as they go along, and force the traditionalists to leave. There is considerable attempt by Methodist groups to protect against losing their buildings, but there have been no agreements to that effect.

    To add insult to injury, after the denominational splits, even after keeping the buildings, many of an activist stripe leave the denomination anyway, because their feelings were so hurt during the debates. It’s one reason why those denominations keeping losing members over time.

    I grew up UCC, and later was Lutheran, so I have seen this play out twice in my life already. I hadn’t thought it possible in the Evangelical Covenant Church, but it may happen. Our newer churches that serve immigrants, largely Asian and African, hold the more traditional theology.

    @ Mike-SMO – White changes will not much affect black outcomes at this point. The low-hanging fruit, and even much of the high-hanging fruit, has been picked by that strategy.

  9. @Assistant Village Idiot

    As a follow up to my previous post – I have seen this in the genteel churches as well. However ours is of the Evangelical Free Church of America. Not known for being liberal or unscriptural. I believe that our head pastor was unduly influenced by his 21 year old college student daughter who confronted him with this during the suburban riots. She seems to have argued her theory teachings well and worked on his white guilt. I think he is not well versed on this and to the uninitiated it sounds fairly innocuous. He has leaned upon a professor who teaches at a religious college but is of the critical race theory mindset. I’ve learned this by reading his papers online. Anyway they are forcing my wife to read books on it and are covering it during women’s group meetings. She checks out before that portion of the meeting begins.

  10. Chosen for a PCUSA women’s group that a relative belongs to is the 1619 project. She was surprised that Lincoln was not an abolitionist, though, of course, he was by 1863. I think we can all ask ourselves what apparently Robert George asks his students: would you have been abolitionists if placed in the shoes of a slaveholder in America in the early 1800s and had had the experiences they had had. Lincoln was extraordinary but his experiences were considerably different than theirs – that makes his sympathies more extraordinary. And, of course, he died for the choices he made.

    This generation is easily aroused to shout contradictory slogans and in general shows no more sense of independent nor critical thinking than earlier ones. However, most of his students are sure they would have been brave abolitionists. How many would give their only slave, who would be appraised as the greatest monetary value of anything he had at that time, his freedom? And yet down goes Grant’s statue – a man who fought valiantly to end slavery.

    Yesterday, one of the token leftists on a Fox panel described the Civil War as a great blemish on America. An argument can be made that slavery was a blemish -f although in the context of African and South American and British and Roman and. . . slavery back into the far far past, this seems a much more complicated position than such people seem to think. (The derivation of the word slav, for instance, might be enlightening.) But the war in which 330,000 men died to end slavery and unite the country as one seems less a blemish than an historical, powerful, and in some important ways, proud moment. And the pride in that “rightness” is part of what led to the gracious gestures of some conciliatory choices in the decades that follow – a willingness to see enemies as humans worthy of respect, because the cause was just but in all is that spark of the spirit – the slave and the freed man, the Union soldier and the Confederate one.

    I always come back to Whitman’s “Reconciliation” Perhaps the South should have had its nose rubbed in it a bit more, perhaps the returns of the “lost cause” in ways that were ugly could have been closed. Surely, presidents like Wilson made choices and groups like the Klan even worse. But when Yugoslavia fell apart, I felt proud that the reaction to our particular Civil War was a change of verb – The United States is where The United States are had stood in many minds. And that men like Frederick Douglass understood and proudly stood under the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which recognized rights implicit in our humanity – given to us by the nature of who we were by our creator, ones far greater than any government could give us. And that these “negative rights” were far more important to our definitions of self than any “positive” (and fleeting) ones. And that difference underlies Jay Winik’s April 1865, prompted by those wars more than a century apart.

  11. @ Redina – lots of people left the Covenant to go Evangelical Free (for those who don’t have a scorecard, that is the conservative Swedish to conservative Norwegian switch), but now you guys are having the same issues yourselves. I have no advice for you, except that a calm reading of the four Gospel accounts has a salutary effect on most all of us.

    Ultimately, we have no other solution, as all our worldly efforts will be burned as straw.

  12. And the pride in that “rightness” is part of what led to the gracious gestures of some conciliatory choices in the decades that follow – a willingness to see enemies as humans worthy of respect, because the cause was just but in all is that spark of the spiri

    Joe Johnston lost every battle against Sherman in his March to the Sea. It got to the point that Davis fired him and replaced him with Hood, which was a disaster and Johnston was put back in command. He continued to lose battles and later said, “There has been no army like Sherman’s since Julius Caesar.”

    Sherman and Johnston tried to negotiate surrender at the end, which caused Stanton to attack Sherman in newspapers. When Sherman died Johnston walked in his funeral. Johnston’s aide tried to warn him about the risks of doing so in the inclement weather but Johnston said, “Sherman would do it for me.” He fell ill and died a month later.

    That is the tradition that is being lost by these ahistorical idiots.

  13. Lincoln was an abolitionist long before 1863, there is ample evidence from his own writings and most especially the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Like most politicians, he was rather unclear on what came next.

    Grant was also. As was the case with George Washington’s dower slaves which were actually held in trust by Martha for the benefit of the Custis heir on her death, the salves Grant was associated with belonged to his father in law and were in the custody of his wife Julia and most probably neither one of them could have legally emancipated them. Real history is messy and the number of saints without blemish are very very few.

    There are very few men that worked as consistently, as effectively and as long to integrate the former slaves into society as full participants as Grant.

    I have written previously that if there are too many statues of Robert E. Lee, there are too few of James Longstreet. He spent the years after the war supporting reconstruction.
    For now it seems fairly accurate.

    All of the West Pointers knew and most had good friends on the other side. Many openly mourned the passing those they knew.

    The Confederate names of military posts have a very simple explanation. It was very unlikely that future Doughboys from Georgia would have been enthusiastic to report to Camp Sherman.

    The way to correct bad history is with more and better history. More facts, more evidence, more sources. The attempt to simply erase it is Stalinisim at its most blatant.

  14. the more facts the more sense of human nature the more nuanced understanding of man and history – in the end, the less ideological

  15. I did a double take when I saw the headline to this article:
    For those without a subscription, I believe this is the syndicated version:

    When I first read the headline: “How a Lincoln-Douglass Debate Led to Historic Discovery” , I thought that they had confused Frederick the Black abolitionist with Stephen the Senator and slavery apologist. While that’s possible, the quality of the Journal’s writing and editing has fallen a long ways in the last 20 years, it is more likely a misplaced and confusing witticism.

    In any event, I find it not very surprising that Frederick Douglas would find the portrayal of the freed slave distasteful. I do as well. He was able to overlook this and appreciate the overall intent and meaning.

    I would be inclined to suggest that the remedy to a poor monument is a better monument except for two realizations. First, recent history promises that a replacement would be both uglier and even less comprehensible. Second, that the monument itself is an historical statement of the sentiments and sensibilities of a time that we can at best dimly perceive.

    This would be out and out revisionism, something that used to be considered a hallmark of totalitarianism and repression. Let BLM and antifa build their own damn statue, if they can.

  16. Ginny: “How many [of today’s virtue-signaling students, it they had been alive then] would give their only slave, who would be appraised as the greatest monetary value of anything he had at that time, his freedom?”

    We know the answer to that question. The “Certain Black Lives Matter” crowd wear expensive sneakers laboriously made by human beings living in poverty in Third World countries, and Che tee-shirts made by under-paid non-White child workers. Do the protestors try to do anything to help their fellow human beings alive today — where their efforts could actually make a difference? No, they focus instead on past events which they cannot change, only misrepresent. The protestors treat today’s injustices from which they benefit as “Out of sight, Out of mind”.

    “Certain Black Lives Matter” protestors might like to ask themselves how they are any different from the slave owners of their great-great-great-great-great grandfathers’ time.

  17. I would cite this as evidence that this has turned into nothing but an orgy of destruction:

    If I believed it was ever anything else. What exactly has to happen before formerly respected institutions such as churches disassociate themselves from this? Do they have some threshold number of murdered children in mind? Possibly some sort of table of equivalence between murdered adult bystanders and children? Do they comprehend the utter contempt that they are earning?

  18. What exactly has to happen before formerly respected institutions such as churches disassociate themselves from this?

    Part of this phenomenon is the corruption of organized religion. The Catholic Church was corrupted in the 60s when homosexuals took over the seminaries and nuns were radicalized.

    Much of the story is described in this book.

    The Orthodox Church, which has married priests, has avoided most of this, I believe.

    The Episcopal Churches have been taken over by young leftist ministers who see Social Justice as more important than salvation. The female lesbian Bishop in New Hampshire is just one example.

  19. “People who focus on changing, disrupting, or overthrowing one system lose the ability to see the faults of their own system.” America in a nutshell.

  20. Disappointing news for trolls.

    The media and many politicians inside the Democratic Party continue to shriek over the recent jump in the number of recorded coronavirus cases, seeking to keep the economy closed at all costs — and we mean that literally. Don’t fall for the argument. The data show that, in fact, our pandemic nightmare might well be coming to an end.

    OK, you say, Issues & Insights, how can you say such a thing with so little to back it up?

    Well, firstly, it’s not actually us saying this. It’s the Centers for Disease Control, which reported that the death rate has fallen so far it’s now roughly equal to the threshold for even qualifying as an epidemic, which isn’t as severe as a pandemic.

  21. Ducey seems to be near beer compared to his predecessor, he folded on medicare funding among many hills he deserted, mcsally is kind of a cipher isn’t she,

    of course cuomo’s health department whitewashes their own policies ignoring how their rules mandating covid patients be sent back to assisted living facilities, it’s some other factor that claimed at least 5,000 casualties,

  22. Here’s something that goes into detail on things spread over a lot of threads a couple of months ago:

    Abbot and a lot of the governors have lost their nerve. They were going to “flatten the curve” and did. Now they seem to think they can go for the win. That seems to be a particularly Republican trait.

    The link above goes into detail about how all the tests work off of fragments of the virus or antibodies. As far as I know, the only way to prove that you actually have a particular virus is to use it to infect another susceptible animal. I don’t think anyone knows how many of the wuflu virus sequences are shared with other corona viruses that have been in circulation forever. Since we never used the tests on a large number of asymptomatic people until now, we probably don’t know what the false positive rate is.

  23. @MCS – so those people are dying of some other new virus? That’s much better, you would say? There are excess deaths over previous years, despite the reduced contagion of people staying home and avoiding each other. Pneumonia deaths have spiked “inexplicably” a few times already this year. Stop looking for ways to convince yourself this isn’t really happening and this is all a fraud.

    @ Pen Gun. If you remove the NYC numbers from the US – and I don’t know what you think Canada would have done differently with a metropolitan area that ldense and large – our deaths per million are only slightly higher than Canada’s. Cities and international economies lead in deaths.

  24. Deaths per mill depends on so many things. The particular virus is one of the most difficult things to separate, for example.

    In Canada our curve is pretty flat. In BC very flat, and our medical system is able to handle all the ICU needs with capacity to spare. Your curve is horrifying, and reflects the stupidity displayed all over your silly country as you first pretended it was not a big deal, and then pretended its a threat to your liberty. Damn right its a virus! It will kill your silly ass.

    I spent far to much time trying to get you to take it seriously, and gave up in the face of your stupidity. There is no other word that well describes Americas reaction to this pandemic.

  25. AVI,
    Read more carefully. Wuflu was obviously something. This is more about whether the present test are detecting anything real or more precisely may be also detecting artifacts that are of no relevance.

    The nature of PCR is that first you take the sample and treat it with an enzyme that cuts all of the DNA or RNA, in the case of a retrovirus like corona, into much smaller pieces, called fragments. These fragments, here we are talking in billionths of a gram of genetic material fo all of them together, are then treated so that each is amplified by being replicated many orders of 10 times. Then other material is added that will bind to certain of the fragments from the target. These have a, usually fluorescent, dye attached also. the excess tagging is washed out and then the amount of the dye is measured under the appropriate wave length of light. All of this requires very good lab technique to prevent cross contamination and other problems.

    The question is whether the taggant is specific to this particular corona virus or may also be picking up fragments from other corona viruses that may have genetic material in common. A fair proportion of common colds are caused by corona viruses as an example. This is a non trivial problem. Back in the day, the documentation of the original CDC test showed it could pick up the presence of as few as 100 viruses in a sample which is very sensitive.

    A positive test doesn’t signal the presence of a virus. The virus is long gone, digested into fragments by powerful chemicals. It shows the presence of fragments associated with the virus. The question is how many of these fragments could be coming from other, related viruses. As I said, the proof is to use a suspect sample to infect another organism since viruses need a living host to reproduce unlike bacteria, which can be cultivated in an artificial environment. As far as I know the only suitable organisms are bats, maybe only one specific species, or people. This is the same problem that makes AIDS such a tough nut to crack, where even with the very many advances made in the 40 years since it reared its head, we still don’t have a vaccine.

    Now that wide testing is taking place, there doesn’t seem to be anyone asking why so many positive results are being posted against people with no sign of illness. The answer that the authorities are accepting is that this the wuflu is both deadly and harmless which would make it very strange. A competing explanation that seems equally plausible is that the tests lack specificity and this isn’t getting any attention as we continue to tie ourselves into very expensive knots to control what may be a testing artifact.

    There seems to be evidence from antibody testing that there are partially protective antibodies circulating in the general population. This seems to support the possibility that a similar virus has been in circulation long enough to expose many people.

    My opinion as an interested layman, counts for nothing. That also describes the people charged with actually making the decisions that have thrown millions into unemployment and may be on the verge of doing so again on the basis of a mistaken interpretation of flawed information. The link goes to someone that does have an opinion worth considering. We already know that Fauci and others will lie through their teeth to push their narrative and protect us from having too much information that our poor little minds are incapable of comprehending.

    Then there’s these two links:
    That show Texas has had the fourth most number of cases. And:
    That shows that Texas had 9/100,000 deaths while New York had 171/100,000.

    The media is also desperate to both sell clicks and to protect their preferred politicians from having to account for their disastrous decisions. The joke turns out to be on them since as as many clicks as they have generated from the worried well trying to make sense of this, nobody’s spending money and they’re going broke. All you need to do to confirm that the “fix” is in is remember how the narrative has changed from ventilators, that may have killed as many as they saved, to deaths, once it became clear that ventilators weren’t going to run out, to now ballooning numbers of positive tests with not a mention of declining death rates.

  26. MCS, I agree with much of what you posted except that the virus is technically not a retrovirus. Those require the translation of the RNA to DNA to replicate. This is an RNA virus that can replicate without DNA. It is closer to a messenger RNA genome.

    The total case number has been grossly inflated, maybe by as much as 25%. The cases now being found are, for the most part, in healthy young persons. The idiocy of these Governors, including Ducey in AZ and Abbott in Texas, is to close places like gyms which are wholly used by those at least risk.

  27. And today, Arizona has had the most cases in the world per million residents. Not a country, a state. Its medical system is on the edge of collapsing, and ICU is all used up.

  28. The troll, as usual, is lying. St Joseph’s hospital in Tucson has 22 empty ICU beds. I am having surgery on the 17th, 10 days from now. The surgeon’s scheduler had no trouble scheduling it on the day I chose.

    PenGun, in his hatred of America has no hesitation to lie and he knows nothing about this country and especially the state of Arizona.

    Go away and stew in your hate.

  29. MCS makes very good points.

    Apparently some duplicate reporting of positives is occurring in a number of states. I don’t have solid estimates, but Mike’s is close to what I read.

    Part of the over reporting likely stems from including antibody positive tests in the infection numbers by at least some states. If one accepts an infection rate of 5% and a testing sensitivity rate of 90%, and a specificity rate of 95%, the rate of false positives from antibody testing is 53%. Positive prodictive value is 47%. See Update 76 on presentation of the topic of antibody testing false positives.

    Prevalence (infection rate) is largely estimated by symptoms exhibited and testing accuracy for presence of the virus. If the virus causes large number of asymptomatic results, the calculated infection rate is inaccurate (on the low side).

    The issue of positive virus tests from asymptomatics could be a much lower specificity rate than assumed. So are issues with RNA commonality with other virus strains. Both explained by MCS earlier. This makes the estimated infection rate higher.

    What we do know is that most of the spiking cases being reported are younger and asymptomatic. This helps explain the lower percent of these newer cases being hospitalized (but still increasing, at a lower rate than the declared infection rate).

    Health care providers are not being told to ask these new patients if they have been engaged in protesting, rioting, statue toppling or exclusion zones. Karma is embarrassing.


  30. “Go away and stew in your hate.” Too easy. I am a bit distressed today as a rat I was hunting, to trap and deport, has apparently met my cat. I was admiring his persistence and his ability to loot traps, and although he was a real pest, I am sad.

    I don’t hurt anything as a matter of course. No dead animals to eat and there are no land creatures I will hurt. I did buy some scallops yesterday though, I’m not completely harmless. I take no pleasure at all from all the stupid you are going through, suffering is what living things do, and I am one.

    Death6, sounds like an EVE online name, karma is actually a stone cold bitch. Accounting is like that. ;)

  31. there’s a charming gal whose head of the ontario blm, who surprisingly does not fall afoul of the hate crimes rules that were deployed against steyn and levant

  32. There was an opportunity early on to apply rigor in the gathering of statistics on this. This would have provided trustworthy information on which to base decisions. Instead, the emphasis was on trumpeting big scary numbers that promoted various organizations agendas, truth be damned.

    Providing accurate, repeatable data in an area clear away from health care is the day job. Once data has been poisoned by including unreliable or false information, there’s nothing to do but throw the whole thing out and start over. This is expensive, sometimes obscenely, in a lab setting. In a case like this epidemic it’s impossible. We’ll never know what the truth was or even in what direction it might lie.

    The number of deaths is probably the only number that can’t be gamed. It’s a very noisy number with a lot of natural variation and very hard to tie to specific causes. Here again, the goal in a lot of places was to get a big number and often to deliberately obfuscate the actual circumstances when that would reflect on decisions and policies. There have been some number of people that died from this directly but determining any actual number beyond trying to judge how the total number relates to other years is now impossible.

    We really shouldn’t have needed to be told that any sort of respiratory disease is very bad news in a nursing home and that the longer someone was housed in one with a contagious condition, the greater, all but certain, was the chance that it would spread to others. This is the one clear lesson, proved by experience and low numbers in states that took action to remove contagious patients and provide care away from other patients. And also proved by those states that didn’t.

    I’m sure Cumo didn’t come up with his disaster on his own. He was advised by people that could only see the hospitals being overwhelmed. To be sure, many nursing homes have a habit of transferring patients to the hospital with little reason because that reduces their work load and the cost of providing extra care. What they didn’t do is change course when the ramifications became clear. I think I know why but you can reach your own conclusion.

  33. The number of deaths is probably the only number that can’t be gamed. It’s a very noisy number with a lot of natural variation and very hard to tie to specific causes. Here again, the goal in a lot of places was to get a big number and often to deliberately obfuscate the actual circumstances

    We are in an era where everything is political. The virus has been politicized to the point that all the data is corrupted. Deaths are listed by cause if the individual had a positive test, regardless of circumstances. An example is a gun shot wound in Washington State. Death certificates are often the locus of considerable imagination. I was looking at some of my family tree yesterday and found a death certificate for an ancestor who died in 1925 and the cause is listed as “a fractured wrist.”

    Much of the political motivation has to do with Trump and the fact that it is an election year. Some is pure hatred and envy of America as we see in our Canadian troll. Another question which may not be answerable is whether this was an effort at “germ warfare.” China will conceal any evidence, just as the Soviet Union did in the 1979 Anthrax disaster.

    Apparently China has had previous accidents with biowarfare plants.

    Spy satellites peering down at China found what seemed to be a large biological weapons laboratory and plant near a remote site for testing nuclear warheads, he wrote. Intelligence agents then found evidence that two epidemics of hemorrhagic fever swept the region in the late 1980’s. The area had never previously known such diseases, which cause profuse bleeding and death.

  34. Her5e is one of then rare knowledgeable sources these days.

    Discussing the two strains of the virus.

    This means variation in the genetics of people (not the virus). We already know that (a) mutation in single genes can lead to extreme susceptibility to other infections, e.g Epstein–Barr (usually harmless but sometimes severe), tuberculosis; (b) mutation in many genes can cause disease susceptibility to vary — diabetes (WHO link), heart disease are two examples, which is why when you go to the doctor you are asked if you have a family history of these.

    It is unlikely that COVID was type (a), but it’s quite likely that COVID is type (b). In other words, I expect that there are a certain set of genes which (if you have the “wrong” variants) pre-dispose you to have a severe case of COVID, another set of genes which (if you have the “wrong” variants) predispose you to have a mild case, and if you’re lucky enough to have the right variants of these you are most likely going to get a mild or asymptomatic case.

    There has been some good preliminary work on this which was also under-discussed:

    NEJM paper studied Italy and Spain and found that genes controlling blood type predicted disease severity.

    Also a nice chart of the two strains’ locations.

    It’s now mostly accepted that there are two “strains” of COVID, that the second arose in late January and contains a spike protein variant that wasn’t present in the original ancestral strain, and that this new strain (“D614G”) now represents ~97% of new isolates. The Sabeti lab (Harvard) paper from a couple of days ago is a good summary of the evidence.

    The links are there for those of us who want to follow up.

    Viruses are parasites and the more infectivity, the more successful parasite so evolution leads the way. However, the more lethal, then less successful the parasite. SARS 1 burned out because of the 26% mortality. This strongly suggests the virus is evolving into a mild flu. Those with genetic susceptibility are exceptions. Note:

    You will note that the majority of doctors/nurses who died of COVID in the UK were South Asian. This is quite striking South Asians seem to be very susceptible. East Asians less so.

  35. Mike K: Another question which may not be answerable is whether this was an effort at “germ warfare.”

    Add the possibility that it may have been a successful first salvo in the only type of warfare which makes sense in a nuclear age — economic warfare.

    By establishing Lock Down as the appropriate response to a viral infection (setting aside the question of whether the virus was new or already endemic), China’s rulers set the pattern for Western politicians. But the Lock Downs end up doing much more damage to the service-oriented economies of the West than to the manufacturing economy of China. Damaged Western economies limit the ability of Western politicians to obstruct or impede China in any realm — even if those Western politicians had the desire to do so.

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