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Thread started 12 Mar 2020 (Thursday) 15:31
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Coronavirus General Discussion (no politics, no flamewars!)

 
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Capn ­ Jack
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Apr 17, 2020 10:44 |  #2221

digital paradise wrote in post #19048051 (external link)
I watch what is going on around in the world and the long term predictions are correct. They predicted this in 40's and it is happening now. It has been decades so there is a trend you can see. Bumps along the way which is normal but it is consistent. As for this pandemic. You do the best with a short period of time. Nothing wrong with presenting a worse case scenario. The numbers changed because social distancing is working. Science has made my life better and saved lives of loved ones. Scientists told us for 20 years that lead emissions where harmful to humans while the oil companies denied it. They told us the ozone layer was failing and industry denied that as well. While they make mistakes I'll take my chances with science.

Actually, predicted by Svante Arrhenius in 1896. ;-)a

gjl711 wrote in post #19048046 (external link)
Yup, predicted by scientists. They were wrong again. :):). My only point was that they are not as trustworthy as some would believe. Even during this epidemic, they have been wildly wrong on so many things from the numbers of infected, fatalities, hospital needs and such. We have policy makes listening to these guys because they have no clue, but the docs and scientists are not a whole lot better. I have no answers and don't know anything about what is going to happen but evidently, the ones who we are counting on to know, aren't doing much better than me just guessing.

In which way were they wrong? The amount of global warming is still debated because we haven't determined all of the carbon sources and sinks, but there always been a consensus about the direction of warming, even during the 1970's by your own citation. The broad picture of global warming is well understood- it is driven by the laws of thermodynamics (you agree those work, since you drive a car), the laws of light adsorption and reflections (you know those work, since I assume you use a camera, as this is a photography forum). The amount of warming is under discussion, but the range narrows as we learn more.

In this pandemic, the range of estimates is due to having to make the best estimates of how many people are sick, how many were exposed, and a number of other factors. In the USA, despite a 6 week warning, we still can't do the testing properly partly because the CDC created tests that didn't work (cited many times in this thread). The media is also confusing the information, as I just cited in my earlier reply to you. You should try looking at other sources of information than the ones you do. ;-)a




  
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Apr 17, 2020 11:04 |  #2222

Tom Reichner wrote in post #19048031 (external link)
I am just trying to make sure that we are consistent in what we do. . The authorities and scientists have already developed ways of managing mammal populations. . They place each species into a category according to how vulnerable the survival of the species is. . Then their management policies for that species is based on that placement.

Special interest groups have different agendas for different species, and want them managed differently to meet their own ends. . . . But the authorities (normally) do not give in to the special interest groups, saying that Science knows best and that we have to trust the Science and that in almost all cases involving Species of Least Concern, nature needs to be left to do what she does. . . .

But the problem with this is that the authorities and scientists are hypocrites, because they don't treat Homo sapiens the same way as they treat other mammalian species. . . . They are allowing personal feelings and biases to affect their recommendations and management objectives. . Doggone hypocrites!

I don't see a compelling reason to take wildlife management as the model for policymaking when it comes to humans. Your basis for seizing on it, I guess, is that we humans are mammals, albeit domesticated mammals, and therefore nothing else about us is relevant to decisions about managing a pandemic. Yes, we are mammals, but it doesn't follow that nothing else is relevant.

Consider other implications of treating mammalhood as the sole criterion for what to do.

  • Murder is a felony, but killing a nonhuman mammal is no crime in most circumstances. Is this distinction hypocritical?
  • Many people eat the flesh of other mammals with minimal or no qualms, but almost all regard cannibalism as a moral horror. Why is that?
  • Plenty of evidence exists that the human population has grown so large as to destroy the viability of its planet home if the trend isn't reversed. If we were deer, the applicable policy would be a cull. Do you advise it?

So how consistent are all your beliefs, taken together?

OhLook wrote in post #19047878 (external link)
You warn against "being biased by our own feelings and attachments." From what can you derive your concern for the future of the human species except a feeling, an attachment to the idea that it shall continue?

The long-term survival of our species seems to be the only viable thing that we can use as an objective, without our own personal feelings getting involved and causing us to be biased instead of being purely objective. . . .

Whatever the authorities and scientists would do for a population of deer or rats or monkeys, faced with a similar disease, is what they should do with Homo sapiens, if they are to be objective and consistent in what they do.

Well, scientists can't ask rats and monkeys what they want. That's one difference. And if you insist (for unknown reasons) on an animal model, why wild animals instead of domesticated ones, which humans more closely resemble? We make decisions differently for pets and livestock than for deer in the forest.

To say "The long-term survival of our species seems to be the only viable thing" merely repeats your point without supporting it. A scientist making that statement would be challenged to show evidence for it. Wanting long-term survival of our species is a personal value! It comes from feelings. There's nothing objective about it (and why dump on "subjectivity" in the first place?). Look at it this way: if the human species goes extinct, who will regret it?


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Apr 17, 2020 13:24 |  #2223

Pippan wrote in post #19048009 (external link)
I went to school in the 60s-70s and I certainly don't remember learning that we were heading into an ice age, nor that Al Gore was saying the sea-levels were going to rise by 6 metres. And sorry, but your scenario that for every 10 scientists saying one thing, there are another 10 saying the opposite is simply a fantasy.

The thing with science is that it's not like, say, faith. Science involves continual questioning. The way science works is that phenomena are observed and one or more scientists think of hypotheses that might explain the observed phenomena. They then test those hypotheses to the best of their ability and equipment with a view to disproving them. If they can't disprove a hypothesis, they might publish their research in a journal where other scientists can try to disprove their hypothesis. If no-one can disprove a hypothesis it becomes accepted scientific fact (until maybe later more evidence is uncovered that allows for it to be disproved). So science cannot prove anything, only disprove it. And it continually develops as more and more evidence is found.

So yes, hypotheses can be shown to be wrong but there is a consensus among scientists (disregarding a few charlatans) and science, continually developing and questioning, is the most reliable source of knowledge we have.

Unfortunately, thru history we have examples of when the scientists thought Theory A, and then a very long period later they realized Theory B was really correct. And in the period between the beginning of A and the transition to B, the public would have been very wrong in their belief about A.
Yes, science did continue to question itself, and it eventually righted itself. But for a period the scientists were Wrong! So making the rule 'trust the scientists' is rightfully questioned.
On this coronavirus, they might be wrong again. Remember when the scientists as a group felt the best treatment of Tuberculosis was

  • letting out of blood,
  • avoidance of taking meat and alcohol, so as to keep the body fluids in balance;
  • patients moving away from overcrowded living environment, and staying in temperate areas
I am fundamentally a scientist, so I do not inherently distrust them, but then again wisdom knows that the consensus of science has been wrong before, too!

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Apr 17, 2020 13:42 |  #2224

OhLook wrote in post #19048110 (external link)
  • Plenty of evidence exists that the human population has grown so large as to destroy the viability of its planet home if the trend isn't reversed. If we were deer, the applicable policy would be a cull. Do you advise it?
  • No need for a cull. There is a very easy and simple way to reduce the human population, in theory at least. And that is: families are only allowed to have ONE child. That way every new generation will be half the size of the previous generation.

    Mind you getting the self-centred, selfish human race to adhere to such a policy would be rather difficult.


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    Apr 17, 2020 13:57 as a reply to  @ post 19048031 |  #2225

    Tom,
    Having read your post does bring in me the realization of the truth in what you stated...Mankind treats itself differently than it treats all of the rest of nature. But then again it is not entirely coldly indifferent about other species; there are multiple efforts try to preserve species in danger, too! I do have to wonder, though, if the efforts to preserve species isn't a minority effort, and not one reflective of the majority of mankind.

    So to be coldly scientific, one migh simply see how the Darwin Theory plays out...maybe, for example, this marks the beginning of the end of Homo sapiens and marks, in the survivors, a new subspecies which is even better than Homo sapiens. Similar to the transition to the dominance of Homo sapiens a few hundred thousand years ago, maybe what arises is a better subspecies that is more resilient and better resistent to virus invasion, Homo sapiens resiliensis that then dominates for a few hundred thousand more years.
    I do not think that Homo sapiens ever lamented the demise of Homo neanderthalensis although their genetic line lies in some of current mankind. Perhaps in the future Homo sapiens resiliensis does not lament the demise of Homo sapiens either.

    Having expressed that perspective, I will not say it is one that I personally subscribe to as a member of today's society, because I am not an unfeeling coldly scientific individual. But it does make sense, right Spock?!


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    Apr 17, 2020 14:01 |  #2226

    Wilt wrote in post #19048171 (external link)
    I am fundamentally a scientist, so I do not inherently distrust them, but then again wisdom knows that the consensus of science has been wrong before, too!

    Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

    Richard Feynman (external link) one of the great scientists of the 20th century. I really don't understand the discussion about trusting or not trusting scientists. Life is uncertain and you need to make decision based on the best available knowledge. And yes, it might be wrong - but you need to use what you have at hand. Just waiting until we have the facts is not an option if you are not sure if the approaching car might or might not run you over.


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    Apr 17, 2020 14:19 |  #2227

    drmaxx wrote in post #19048185 (external link)
    Richard Feynman (external link) one of the great scientists of the 20th century. I really don't understand the discussion about trusting or not trusting scientists. Life is uncertain and you need to make decision based on the best available knowledge. And yes, it might be wrong - but you need to use what you have at hand. Just waiting until we have the facts is not an option if you are not sure if the approaching car might or might not run you over.

    I think the dicussion about 'trust the scientist (or not)' arises because of what has been transpiring over the past five months. There are those who mistrust the scientific conclusions and delay taking the steps that can mitigate the situation.


    1. There is one opinion that says 'We need to restore normalcy as fast as we can' because of the economic disaster where we are in the midst.
    2. There is the counter opinion that we have to continue social distancing as long as possible because we have no vaccine
    3. There is the in-between opinion that we sustain the general practice of social distancing, but it can be done in a manner which permits restoration to some degree of our economy.


    Hmmm...I was espousing this third perspective weeks ago, that the great minds of our society figure out a way to deal with this virus without killing us economically or medically!

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    Post edited 10 months ago by Tronhard. (6 edits in all)
         
    Apr 17, 2020 15:22 |  #2228

    First I have to admit that I have not gone through 149 pages of posts on this subject - it is obviously as very active topic! So I may be repeating the obvious, and if so I crave your tolerance.

    On the subject of diseases that have caused major loss of life, our species has been ravaged frequently with various plagues, pandemics etc. right back into prehistory.
    https://www.livescienc​e.com …pandemics-in-history.html (external link)

    In those very early days the population was smaller and travel less likely to spread the disease, but the lack of any understanding and countermeasures meant that diseases often ran unchecked and created mass localized casualties. As our population and interactions have increased so have the levels of transmissions. Certainly the last 100 years have yielded several mass diseases of one form or other whose spread has been enhanced by mass movement (as in the spread of Spanish Flu through the return of servicemen from WWI) and other forms of mass transport (particularly air travel) that have made us and our bugs far more mobile. Countering that we have increased our technologies and organizations, but each new disease takes time to recognize, isolate, contain and create treatment.

    There is a conflict between the interests of the authorities, in wanting to isolate us to prevent the spread of disease (and as disease spreads it modifies), and the business community that wants to continue to operate and generate income and wealth. This is not an easy conflict to resolve as it demands that the population accept and trust the advice from experts and are prepared to support what would be considered highly restrictive (and to some draconian) measures to buy time to allow the developments of treatments.

    We have a socioeconomic system world-wide that depends on commerce and the transmission of goods and services. It takes a degree of social responsibility to cease activities and lose financially when those we engage with closely will suffer for the benefit of people we don't know. This lack of empathy is particularly prevalent as our population grows and we engage with large numbers of people. Professor Dunbar, an anthropologist, evolutionary psychologist and a specialist in primate behaviour came up with a number of people to whom we can generally relate and recognize (we don't have to like them but we recognize them) and that is in the range of 150-200 people - roughly the size of a pre-civilized village. The closer the relationship the smaller that number becomes. Conversely, as we widen the numbers of people, so our engagement decreases - in fact we spend time in cities avoiding eye contact because we have no contextual relationship with strangers. One impact of this is a decrease in sympathetic behaviours and that results in a survival conflict where we look after our own interests first when threatened and show less remorse for large numbers of casualties.

    One of the biggest challenges that has always needed to be addressed is knowledge. By that I mean developing the technical, scientific, and medical knowledge to determine the source, countermeasures and treatment of disease. The other is social knowledge. In a crisis, if no authoritative and reliable information is forthcoming, it leaves an information vacuum that is quickly filled with rumour, political agendas and attempts to leverage the situation for material benefit. In this century that has been turbo-charged through the world wide web and social media.

    More and more people are getting their information from totally undocumented sources that proliferate all sorts of theories, projections, accusations and treatments that have absolutely no scientific rigor or truth. Sadly, people are trusting these sources more than the experts in the scientific, academic and medical communities; often because these falsehoods fulfill their own opinions and biases, and they avoid those sources that might undermine their preconceived beliefs. Such behaviours have been turbo-charged by political attempts to undermine science and the 5th estate as a conduit for reliable information, or to stifle the media from coverage at all. This is not limited to one country, it appears in many countries and societies around the world.

    Things are further complicated by our geo-political profiles - and these vary dramatically between nations. It's much easier to control one's borders when living on an island nation (such as I do in NZ), where one can shut physical access to the rest of the world and then deal with the internal implications of infection. Most countries share a land border with at least one other and many are fairly porous - by which I mean determined people can pass through between countries without control. This is even more so where there is conflict, such as in the African continent and Middle East, a situation that is further exacerbated by the existence of massive and poorly resourced refugee camps, characterized by large populations in close proximity.

    So what is the point of all this? Simply put, many of the elements I have described are stacked against us. The frequency and ease of transmission, disease modification. Our own behaviours: distrust, propaganda, political, economic and social agendas, biases and focus on immediate agendas are challenges that make this disease harder to fight. It may take many months for effective and trusted medical countermeasures to be available and until then we will have to do all we can to stop the spread and evolution of the bugs. That will conflict with our fears and desires to hold a normal life and our fear of change. It seems likely that for the foreseeable future we will live in a world of change, like it or not. Seeking a pre-emptive return to normality when we have not got control of this runs the risk of repeat waves and new variants that will defeat the very outcomes we are seeking. And a lot more people will die.


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    Apr 17, 2020 15:22 |  #2229

    Wilt wrote in post #19048192 (external link)

    1. There is one opinion that says 'We need to restore normalcy as fast as we can' because of the economic disaster where we are in the midst.
    2. There is the counter opinion that we have to continue social distancing as long as possible because we have no vaccine
    3. There is the in-between opinion that we sustain the general practice of social distancing, but it can be done in a manner which permits restoration to some degree of our economy.

    These are exactly the type of decisions that should not be left to scientist, but should be done by 'society' = politician in an ideal world. This division of labour was nicely shown in the UK, where the gov decided first to let COVID run its course. The scientist pointed out that this policy would probably mean an excess death toll of several hundered thousand people within a short period of time. It is up to the people to decide if they are willing to pay this toll or cut down the economy. UK politics decided to spare these lives. Similarly climate change. Its not science that says that something should be done - but we as people have to decide if we want to risk the future of our kids or not. The science can help you to make a best guess of the outcome of specific courses of action.

    And just a side-note on climate change: The COVID-19 pandemic requested from the young to show their solidarity and pay a high price to safe us older folks from dying prematurely. We older folks need in turn to seriously consider how we pay back this sacrifice of the young.


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    Apr 17, 2020 15:38 |  #2230

    drmaxx wrote in post #19048219 (external link)
    These are exactly the type of decisions that should not be left to scientist, but should be done by 'society' = politician in an ideal world. This division of labour was nicely shown in the UK, where the gov decided first to let COVID run its course. The scientist pointed out that this policy would probably mean an excess death toll of several hundered thousand people within a short period of time. It is up to the people to decide if they are willing to pay this toll or cut down the economy. UK politics decided to spare these lives. Similarly climate change. Its not science that says that something should be done - but we as people have to decide if we want to risk the future of our kids or not. The science can help you to make a best guess of the outcome of specific courses of action.

    Yep, i agree with this. Scientists discover laws of nature and how things work. Politicians or rulers decide what to do with that information.

    And just a side-note on climate change: The COVID-19 pandemic requested from the young to show their solidarity and pay a high price to safe us older folks from dying prematurely. We older folks need in turn to seriously consider how we pay back this sacrifice of the young.

    I don't think the young are the ones making the decisions. Nor are we old folk in a position to pay anyone for anything. That is because the decisions are all being made by the rulers.

    Anyway, we old folk are so cute that the younger generation loves us for what we are.


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    Apr 17, 2020 15:46 |  #2231

    And now we learn that 39 sailors on the USS Roosevelt had initially tested Negative, but now these sailors test Positive!
    So the current numbers are 15.2% of the tested USS Roosevelt crew are Positive for COVID-19. Not a big change, but what is significant is the fact that 39 patients changed from Negative to Positive!


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    Apr 17, 2020 15:47 as a reply to  @ drmaxx's post |  #2232

    The relationship between science, politics and religion has, through history, been a thorny one. One can point to the persecution of scientists during the inquisition because their explanations for the operation of the world varied with the teachings of the religious elite - and that was all about power.

    Frankly I have never seen a conflict. Science tells us HOW the universe operates, not WHY. It makes no comment on whether what is observed has an origin in intelligence or not, but it DOES carefully seek to understand and explain the mechanisms of our existence. The challenge comes when science conflicts with social, economic and political agendas. That is when the attempts begin to undermine the scientific process and the knowledge that it offers.

    Political and social control is more effective when people are ignorant, because they accept without question the edicts and controls imposed upon them. In a society that has more access to knowledge than at any time in history, it is amazing how little so many of us know. In a recent interview I saw with the great American documentary maker Ken Burns, stated that he decided to make his series The War, about America's involvement in WWII when he realized that 60% of US students thought that the US fought alongside the UK and Germany and against the USSR.

    Without doubt knowledge is power and power based on dogma is threatened by open debate, and a strong and respected Academic and scientific community - the very bases of which are the search for truth and rejection of entrenched ideas.


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    Post edited 10 months ago by Wilt.
         
    Apr 17, 2020 16:07 |  #2233

    drmaxx wrote in post #19048219 (external link)
    These are exactly the type of decisions that should not be left to scientist, but should be done by 'society' = politician in an ideal world. This division of labour was nicely shown in the UK, where the gov decided first to let COVID run its course. The scientist pointed out that this policy would probably mean an excess death toll of several hundered thousand people within a short period of time. It is up to the people to decide if they are willing to pay this toll or cut down the economy. UK politics decided to spare these lives. Similarly climate change. Its not science that says that something should be done - but we as people have to decide if we want to risk the future of our kids or not. The science can help you to make a best guess of the outcome of specific courses of action.

    And just a side-note on climate change: The COVID-19 pandemic requested from the young to show their solidarity and pay a high price to safe us older folks from dying prematurely. We older folks need in turn to seriously consider how we pay back this sacrifice of the young.

    I prefer to think we use 'wise, balanced civic leaders' in consultation with knowledgeable advisors, and not 'politicians' per se.:-)


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    Apr 17, 2020 16:07 |  #2234

    Tronhard wrote in post #19048237 (external link)
    The relationship between science, politics and religion has, through history, been a thorny one. One can point to the persecution of scientists during the inquisition because their explanations for the operation of the world varied with the teachings of the religious elite - and that was all about power.

    Frankly I have never seen a conflict. Science tells us HOW the universe operates, not WHY. It makes no comment on whether what is observed has an origin in intelligence or not, but it DOES carefully seek to understand and explain the mechanisms of our existence. The challenge comes when science conflicts with social, economic and political agendas. That is when the attempts begin to undermine the scientific process and the knowledge that it offers.

    Political and social control is more effective when people are ignorant, because they accept without question the edicts and controls imposed upon them. In a society that has more access to knowledge than at any time in history, it is amazing how little so many of us know. In a recent interview I saw with the great American documentary maker Ken Burns, stated that he decided to make his series The War, about America's involvement in WWII when he realized that 60% of US students thought that the US fought alongside the UK and Germany and against the USSR.

    Without doubt knowledge is power and power based on dogma is threatened by open debate, and a strong and respected Academic and scientific community - the very bases of which are the search for truth and rejection of entrenched ideas.


    Very well-put. Being a lifetime resident and citizen of the U.S., I limit my comments here to people here in the States generally - I find it really sad how many of "us" not only don't know, but don't much care, about science, politics or religion outside their own narrow beliefs and self-interests. I don't think that this was always the case (again, speaking very generally). I'm old enough to remember when most people seemed to be interested in the rest of the world and other systems, or (at least) if they weren't they knew enough to not be proud of that fact, because they knew it was outside the norm. There was a groundbreaking TV show in the '70s called All in the Family, created by the brilliant Norman Lear. The main character - Archie Bunker - was the prototypical narrow-minded bigot, and he was the butt of the show's jokes. Lear was holding up a mirror to American viewers of the "ugly American" in us, and how outdated and harmful Archie's views were then becoming.

    But now, I don't think that the show would be seen the same way at all. Many viewers would probably be cheering Archie on.


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    Wilt
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    Post edited 10 months ago by Wilt. (2 edits in all)
         
    Apr 17, 2020 16:17 |  #2235

    Tronhard wrote in post #19048237 (external link)
    Political and social control is more effective when people are ignorant, because they accept without question the edicts and controls imposed upon them. In a society that has more access to knowledge than at any time in history, it is amazing how little so many of us know. In a recent interview I saw with the great American documentary maker Ken Burns, stated that he decided to make his series The War, about America's involvement in WWII when he realized that 60% of US students thought that the US fought alongside the UK and Germany and against the USSR.

    Without doubt knowledge is power and power based on dogma is threatened by open debate, and a strong and respected Academic and scientific community - the very bases of which are the search for truth and rejection of entrenched ideas.

    We are approaching the point where the World has lost all the people who have personal knowledge and insight about what the Spanish Flu or the Great Depression really was about, leaving us with the ill-informed masses who fail to have a knowledge of history.

    During the Great Recession, I commented to my wife that I could not understand why I was being GIVEN extended benefits for being layed off, with zero in return being asked of me (apart from 'keep trying to find a job'). I said the US Government should put the unemployed to work, on societal benefit projects like infrastructure (fix roads, bridges, restore badly worn stripes on roadways). If we could figure out the social distancing challenges, I think the same 'societal benefit projects' should be done in return for substantial payments (not just 'unemployment benefits' which are a small fraction of ordinary income from jobs.


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