How Would It Spread with No Intervention?

The following charts are based on the data found at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/ and represent a trend if there were no intervention. That is an important caveat, as the pictures might be otherwise alarming.

First: Fit the raw data to a curve. This is not necessarily the best fit. I fit a curve to each two points from first major spike (02 MAR 2020) to the next to most-recent data point. I compared each such exponential curve to all others to find the best (least-squares) fit. The resulting curve looks to be a pretty good fit.

A least-squares fit of the data (blue dots) to an exponential curve (red line) as of 18 MAR 2020

Second: What do we do with models? We make predictions. Again, this is assuming that NO INTERVENTIONS have taken place. Certainly they have. While nearly nothing has been done by the hamstrung Federal agencies, states, cities, and private companies have been forced to take the reins. Hopefully we will start to see results soon. But for the time being, we probably won’t see too much change in the next week. So this might be an accurate look.

Extrapolating out based on the previously described exponential curve

Third: Hopefully, the non-Federal agencies’ efforts will have begun to pay off. If not, we could begin to expect something like this in two weeks.

How the exponential growth would look in two weeks, absent any effective mitigation

Fourth: I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not expect this to happen. The Federal organizations will have begun to overcome the sabotage of their capabilities, and state and local organizations will likely have become more efficient. Additionally, at this point, the ocean may no longer be considered infinite. That is to say, as a significant fraction of the population is exposed, the curve must begin to level off. A large fraction will have recovered and will no longer be contagious. A smaller number will have died and will also no longer be contagious. And multiple exposures to an individual from different sources will still only net a single potential infection in that person. That said, this is the point when out health care system would become extremely taxed.

Hopefully, the number of cases will have begun to level off a couple of weeks before we reach this point.

Perhaps tomorrow, I will look at the relative success of South Korea to see the upper end of our optimism.

Fairness (Both Sides)

The main idea exploited by Fox News since its inception was to capitalize on the “liberal bias” of whose existence right wing radio personalities had been insisting since Reagan did away with the “Fairness Doctrine.” Research has since revealed the existence of a strong liberal bias in journalism. What the research did not look into, however, was the most important aspect. Legitimate journalism was strongly biased against the claims of movement conservatives in the same way that science texts are strongly biased against the claims of witches.

The general pattern for the decision-making process is roughly this:

  1. Traditionally, liberals’ claims are often biased in their favor.
  2. Traditionally, conservatives’ claims are often biased in their favor.
  3. The public, in the interest of fairness, gives equal weight to both sides.
  4. The resulting ideas are often fairly accurate assessments.

Roger Ailes’ strategy seems to be this:

  1. Allow the liberals to make somewhat biased claims. (i.e. 2+2=3)
  2. Answer with profoundly biased claims. (i.e. 2+2=39)
  3. Wait for the rubes to to accept the middle point between the two claims as fact.

Result: the rubes accept that 2+2 = 21

Mission accomplished.

or, perhaps, fait accompli.

The Opposite of Science

The opposite of “science” is “bullshit.”

examples:

“I don’t believe in science.” = “I believe in bullshit.”

“Science doesn’t have all the answers.” = “Bullshit has all the answers.”

“I don’t trust science.” = “I trust bullshit.”

Quit Using Our Words

Often I hear a drooling political prostitute use the vernacular of science for moron-baiting purposes. Among the techno-babble words recently acquired by the anti-intelligentsia is “optics.”

The book on optics (Opticks, as he wrote it) was written by Newton himself. Optics is the science of light. “The way morons will see it, if properly guided by my propaganda” is not functionally equivalent. Is it that the words “perception” and “appearance” have too many syllables? Optics is a fairly narrow area of study. I mean that it is very specific, though many would argue that its vast and growing set of applications shouldn’t be called narrow. Screw those guys. Within the field, the word “optics,” when not applied to the field itself, generally refers to items such as filters, lenses, and mirrors. In what way is this similar to “appearance?”

But I guess it sounds educated to the sorts of people that prefer the airheads who deliver their daily dose of bovine excreta to sound smart.

It beats having to listen to actual smart people who will almost certainly disagree with their preferred delusions, I suppose.

Legislate on Snake Oil

Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) form a potent coalition defending the impotent concoctions of the snake oil industry.

I understand that the purveyors of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM, for short) have always had a friendly ear in Congress. That is, a friendly pocket. In addition to those individuals, the recent fashion of acting the part of quasi-Libertarian kook has taken the lower house by storm. Among the numerous incongruous ideas that Antiregulators blather about is that all regulation is bad. In particular, regulation with the potential to cut into the profits of decent wealtho-Americans is simply unacceptable. Clean water and a safe work environment are only the tip of the iceberg of disasters waiting to befall those who would let down their guard.

In such an environment, then, I would take a step with which the anti-governmentarians couldn’t reasonably take issue. Granted, reason is hardly a disqualifying factor for producing excremental arguments on the basis of “Freedom! Or something.”

My proposal is this: any treatment that the FDA does not currently look at may continue to receive the preferential status it currently enjoys as a “health supplement.” But the poultice, potion, or tincture of [insert natural or mysterious sounding name here] would be clearly labeled as a “Quack Medicine.” As well, physicians would be required by law to report any noted effects suspected to be the result of quack concoctions. Ironically, some quack medicines which purport to contain minuscule doses of the ichor of exotic plant or animal parts would actually lose their preferred status as a true quack medicine if the mixture were found to actually contain any of the substance.

I used to give my child colic pills that proved effective. I was shocked to see that the pills were supposedly homeopathic. They were similar to antacid tablets, in their chalky consistency. They felt similar in the mouth as well. The non-scientific conclusion would be that the producer was using an actual effective treatment, but bypassing any quality control or other FDA regulations by slapping on a nonsense label.

Just a thought that will never come to fruition so long as quackery is so damned profitable…