Opinions, Philosophy

Trusting the “Science” and the Delta Variant

We look at the world the wrong way. All too often we think of how things were or are. Will things get back to normal? I wish we could back to simpler times.

That restaurant is good. Those mountains were formed millenia ago. The climate shouldn’t be changing. COVID is bad but viral pneumonia is OK.

Quantum mechanics only happens to subatomic particles.

What’s Wrong With That?

The issue with all these statements is they mask the fact that everything is always in motion. The only constant thing is change.

Those mountains are forming constantly just so slowly we don’t notice.

The restaurant is good yes, but what keeps it good? Why should the workers stay and the menu continue to be attractive? Preferences change, staff change.

While it’s simpler to think of the world as static. My bed doesn’t vanish when I leave the room and reappear as I open the door. Assuming that is the case is overly simplistic and quite possibly wrong. See Hawking radiation – Wikipedia, specifically the particle-antiparticle theorized relation mentioned early on in the Overview.

The world is made up process. Processes to keep things as they are and processes that change them.

I’ll confess, it took me a while to start to appreciate the world this way. And far too long to appreciate what 3-Michelin Star restaurant Alinea (restaurant) – Wikipedia in Chicago means. Off the line, the line of a train of thought.

That’s why they have new menus constantly and get into new things like a mocktail cookbook called Zero.

Silly me, co-owner Nick Kokonas – Wikipedia was a philosophy major after all. And he embraces the change and recognizes this everlasting change. It was also him who helped me realize that you must embrace change. Even more than I thought I was. COVID is here to stay nick kokonas on Twitter: “and, frankly, those who adapted quickly and are thriving are hesitant to show the way. I can see businesses in the restaurant sector that are actually thriving, but given the carnage they smartly stay hidden. The real leaders will be from this group of people. They will emerge.” / Twitter

Many things in the world make more sense once you understand the circumstances of their existence, and continued existence.

Reasoning in the Information Age

In this day and age information is everywhere. I can self-publish this blog. Anyone can. Data and news is rampant.

What has become increasingly dangerous in the world is gatekeeping. It should be a source of pride to teach people but now mere explanations are accepted. We rely on meteorologists to explain the weather, news anchors to explain how we should feel about the world, and academics to explain “the science”.

There is a subtle difference between teaching and explaining. It concerns empowerment. When you teach you enable deeper understanding and challenge. The student may disagree, the student may usurp the teacher. It promotes chaos. When you merely explain you do not invite challenge and that is what is happening today. Increasingly we are delegating authority to those without our best interests at heart.

The only person who can truly know what your best interests is you. The World Health Organization cares about the collective. Fauci in not recommending masks at the onset of the pandemic was caring about his view of the USA, not your life.

Understand that. Accept it. It’s not wrong, frankly it is likely the best way he should act but we shouldn’t trust him, the CDC, or the World Health Organization.

Chomskyism

Noam Chomsky - Pluto Press

Love him or hate him, Noam Chomsky is full of controversial truths. Rivaled by no one except for maybe my wife’s “Tina Truths” as I like to call them.

One especially enlightening truth on the second page of the book “On Language” about intelligistas.

“[intelligistas] pretend to be engaged in an esoteric enterprise, inaccessible to simple people. But that’s nonsense. The social sciences generally, and above all the analysis of contemporary affairs, are quite accessible to anyone who wants to take an interest in these matters. The alleged complexity, depth, and obscurity of these questions is part of the illusion propagated by the system of ideological control, which aims to make the issues seem remote from the general population and to persuade them of their incapacity to organize their own affairs or to understand the social world in which they live without the tutelage of intermediaries.”

Conventional society promotes disempowerment. It encourages people to think they are insignificant and aren’t capable of challenging their facts. Standardized testing, awards, academic journals, PhD advisors, and rankings are ripe of coercion. These all entrench the hegemony of universities in academics and this also applies to many arenas of society.

A recent example of this flawed hegemony was the failure to criticize the IHME COVID forecasts in the beginning of the pandemic. Covid Pandemic: How Youyang Gu Used AI and Data to Make Most Accurate Prediction – Bloomberg It took months before more accurate models were being used, all because a university, the University of Washington, stamped their approval on it.

Want to be a journalist? Have you heard of HARO — Help A Reporter |? It is literally a source finding platform where a journalist says what they want and person agrees to be a source for that want. They love and perpetuate the authority of universities. And the vast majority of journalists care most about their narrative. It’s rare to find a journalist without “a story” and in the information age you can find a source for just about anything.

In general, organizations and people work to protect themselves even if they don’t fully realize the effect this coercion has on their lives.

Thoughts on Delta

Image Library | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC

Now back to why I started this post. The world is in change. It always is. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. COVID was FAST.

Ironically, Delta variant is here and it may very well cement a new era of change.

Embrace the change.

We’ll never go back to a pre-covid world. We will move on but it won’t be backwards. It will be OK. We accept viral pneumonia and now we may very well have to accept COVID in our lives. Committees, aka most governments, aren’t all going to be able to take the actions necessary to fully eradicate COVID, and do it in concert, so it will likely always be around. Booster shots will be necessary and hopefully COVID won’t mutate to an extra, extra terrible form. It is my belief we should be able to do enough booster shots to keep things tolerable but uncertainty remains. Frankly the uncertainty was always there but masked, HA (or too soon??).

Accept the chaos pandemics may bring. Think critically and be weary of information. The success against the diseases before COVID helped this one be worse. Be weary of completely tuning out all information or at the very least be cogniscent of your choices on your life. Truly nothing you do matters as much as you think it does but being a part of society is generally nice in my view.

Delta seems the worst so far but it is difficult to find reports on the death rate to vaccinated people or long term adverse effects rate. Journalist and the public will continue to promote articles that show % increases in the early stages of this wave but the most important metrics will be lacking from everyday conversion.

What’s most concerning is the trend towards a totalitarian state. I can understand some protecting of externalities, (things like polluting drinking water or a pandemic spiraling out of control). What is dangerous is when news companies, yes they are companies, influence citizens and public policy.

The whole uproar about not allowing non-epidemiologists to have an opinion about COVID is absurd. I am not an epidemiologist… posts are silly. Clearly epidemiologists can be wrong and do not always act in your best interest. Journalists sell a story and find sources that support their view.

That’s why the IHME model forecasting not terrible deaths or Imperial model that forecasted millions of deaths in a few months were embraced. “Respected institution” – check. Supports the narrative – CHECK. The best part is you can sell a story on chaos or not a big deal. My favorite type of source these today is “COVID researchers say [BAD Thing]” and it’s a link but the link doesn’t go to the actual research. It goes to the home page of some scientific journal like: COVID IS TERRIBLE AND GOING TO KILL YOU

Corruption/Coercion Examples

Yale Antitrust Scholars Resign Because Director Advises Apple, Amazon (vice.com) — the main issue here was the director’s failure to disclose conflicts of interest

While the corruption of truth may not be as explicit as daily phone calls, certainly the Washington Post or Business Insider won’t fund a deep dive investigative journalism piece on owner Jeff Bezos.

Harvard depends a lot on the status quo of society continuing.

Corporations and people lie all the time Apple Agrees To Pay $113 Million To Settle ‘Batterygate’ Case Over iPhone Slowdowns : NPR. Don’t trust them, accept that they do that.

Chomskyisms Continued

“Compare mathematics and the political sciences — it’s quite striking. In mathematics, in physics, people are concerned with what you say, not with your certification. But in order to speak about social reality, you must have the proper credentials, particularly if you depart from the accepted framework of thinking. Generally speaking, it seems fair to say that the richer the intellectual substance of a field, the less there is a concern for credentials, and the greater is the concern for content.” page 7

Now I don’t 100% agree with this, the social sciences are the toughest fields since the forces of physics appear to be relatively stable and easier to experiment and reason against. And his idyllic view of physics doesn’t ring true in my learnings about the influence of Von Neumann on the development of quantum mechanics and the blackballing by Oppenheimer on David Bohm during a period of intense McCarthyism. The view of “hard sciences” on the social sciences is a classic conflict in academia and a misguided one to an extent.

But Chomsky’s point on credentials looms large. To me it appears very true that we over delegate authority to credentials when the science is more troublesome. That is why public policy is a dangerous thing to leave to “the experts”. Who are minted at universities. Who are vested in the status quo. Who are in bed with politicians, fund managers, and the American elite. The Sources and Uses of U.S. Science Funding (thenewatlantis.com)

There are 2 other profound quotes by Chomsky I could not find but if I recall correctly they were something like:

  • We don’t get upset at companies for lying so why are we surprised when politicians and the media does it? They are companies too
  • Intelligistas are most unaware of their own hypocrisy

— that last “quote” I remember least but it was something to that effect, that people like me and others who write about things like this need to be aware of their own hypocrisy and their holier than though attitude. Another good example is Taleb of The Black Swan, he is great at criticizing but does not do much in the way of offering solutions. I’ve found doing things builds a certain empathy towards creators as it’s always easier to be in the ivory tower.

Question Chomsky, question me. Decide who you can trust and on what.

Trump

How a crowd at a Trump rally responds: An audio analysis - Washington Post

Trump tapped into hatred for the elite. Cancel culture. Woke people. Gatekeeping. Safe spaces. Triggers. This belief that you can’t offend people and shouldn’t be a micro aggressor.

A bit of pragmatic empathy is in order for everyone. Don’t dismiss right leaning arguments on the basis of college degrees.

It is not impossible for leftist thought to be inclusive and reducing the gatekeeping would go a long way. Do not “trust the scientists”. Science is very rarely in complete consensus on an idea and even rarer in the field of public policy. Everyone can do science and arguments should be disputed on their merits, not the credentials of the theorist.

Additional Reading

Why Biden should stop saying ‘listen to the science’ | Grist

Paradox of tolerance – Wikipedia

One of the best news outlets I’ve seen yet about disclosures and integrity About Us – The Nevada Independent

Alfred North Whitehead (the adventure of ideas or process and reality)

David Bohm

El Bulli – Wikipedia was a similar concept to Alinea and now exists as a foundation for research and creativity. elBullifoundation – Feeding creativity

Alchemy of Finance by George Soros

Asimov Three Laws of Robotics – Wikipedia, see the zeroth law, and the prelude to the Foundation has a cool part.

The longer something fails to adapt the more opportunity there is for adaptation. Massimo Bottura reimagined italian food, which is quite “traditional” although many of those traditions didn’t become traditions until some revolutionaries found “new world” produce like tomatoes.

I do recognize the irony that I write in terms of a static universe. Please excuse this shorthand and internalize everything mentioned as static as changing slowly enough it can be written about as static.

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